It’s always the short questions that make my job interesting. Like this one.
Gil, do you think companies will cut back on Enterprise Web 2.0 in light of the economy?
First reaction--it depends. I’m an analyst, that’s always our first answer. But what does it depend on? What are all the factors at play and how will this impact your decisions? So, here’s my read of the Enterprise Web 2.0 trends based on many conversations with my clients and vendors. I will focus specifically on wiki and social networking tools used to improve internal collaboration and knowledge sharing. These are gaining momentum and acceptance within the enterprise. (See my TechRadar report for the details on what Forrester sees in scope for Enterprise Web 2.0.)
There will be a slowdown of IT-driven collaboration projects in 2009. But there will be increased interest in business-driven collaboration projects. Why? There is a technology populist movement, and has been for a while. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) typically operate with little IT support and rely upon vendors for collaboration services – nothing new here. But we find that business units in enterprises, especially those in companies with politically weak IT departments, are increasingly behaving like SMBs, and they are going out and provisioning technology on their own. This is a form of institutional Tech Populism.
Vodafone announced thisweek a recommended cash offer to acquire Wayfinder Systems AB. This is not a done deal yet but my first take is:
- Wayfinder like other software vendors really pioneered the market for navigation on mobile phones. Initially, the Swedish company (at that time named Itinerary systems) started in as a R&D project in the mobile phone division of Ericsson in the 90s! It is thus no surprise that Wayfinder recently announced an intensification of its global collaboration on GPS handsets with Sony Ericsson, one of its main clients. Back in July 2007, the company acquired Finnish application provider Navicore.
- According to its interim report (ending September 30th 2008), Wayfinder wanted to focus on a small number of global partners and to planned to reduce costs by 30% in 2009. The company reported close to 2,5M activated user accounts but only 294,000 paying users, who had activated a paid for application in the past 18 months. Vodafone's offering value Wayfinder at around €23M. I am not a financial analyst so I won't comment the cash offer in detail but from an industry perspective, it seems to me:
* this is a small amount of money for a global operator like Vodafone
Following the publication of this article in Moconews, I had a call with Greg Ballard, CEO of mobile gaming company GLU.
Glu is adamant that despite a smaller size than EA Mobile or Gameloft, the company is very well placed in porting games on the balkanized mobile handset market. He righlty pointed out that if smaller in revenues, Glu has a scalable business and claimed to be ahead of its competitors in some regions of the world (n2 after EA in the US and after Gameloft in Latam, n1 in China and Australia). He also made the point that Tetris still represents a significant chunk of EA revenues. Looking back at the Jamdat acquisition in December 2005, I have no other choice than to agree.
So, let me precise that my comment "the larger companies have economies of scales that their smaller rival doesn’t" mainly addresses the smaller players in the mobile gaming industry. Despite consolidation that took place over the last few years, this market is still very fragmented. Also, it is fair to point out that Gameloft's developer/production/porting teams represent close to 90% of the workforce (and thousands of employees). But I am not a financial analyst so I can't really make a call here.
eApple recently released its top downloaded applications on the AppStore since launch in July 08. No mention of the split here between apps downloaded on the iPhone and on the iPod touch.
Top 10 Free Downloads (Overall). My comments in italic
1-Pandora Radio (music, 2 million iPhone subs who spend 90 minutes listening on average) 2-Facebook (social networking) 3-Tap Tap Revenge (game) 4-Shazam (music) 5-Labyrinth Lite Edition (game) 6-Remote (entertaining app) 7-Google Earth (only launched 2 months ago!) 8-Lightsaber Unleashed (cool and fun app, close to a game for Dark Vador fans...) 9-AIM (highlights the strength of AOL Instant Messaging in the US vs Europe) 10-Urbanspoon
Can we please put a moratorium on all the gloomy news? Duke just released a study of CFOs where the key finding is that we're in for at least another 12 months of stagnation. Will someone acknowledge that there is a glimmer of hope in, of all places, at least one part of the retail world which according to conventional wisdom, should just be getting pummeled? I've been maintaining that eCommerce is insulated from the worst of it because there continues to be channel shift because it's just easier to shop online and perhaps most compelling, it's a channel where consumers can easily find the best price for anything they want to buy. I have two sets of datapoints to support this. The first is the Chase Paymentech Pulse Index which captures actual transactions from 25 of the top web merchants. Through Tuesday, December 9, the last 33 days of online shopping have actually been great. In fact, consumers have, when measured on a YOY calendar basis, spent 15% more this year than last year. This is remarkable given that Thanksgiving fell later in November this year and we've had fewer days to build upon the momentum that Black Friday always creates.
Last week we conducted an experiment of sorts – a “jam session” of five teleconferences, each involving a panel of Forrester analysts.The tone of each call was to get beyond a “hunker down” mentality and to use this climate as an opportunity to make lasting improvements to how we run IT.
Seventeen analysts in all took part, addressing topics of lean IT, value and vendor management, innovation, and improved communications – topics of particular interest in this economy and what’s sure to be a period of tighter IT budgets.
If you haven’t yet heard the latest news on the American political scene, let me fill you in: Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and soliciting bribery. Among the alleged offenses is that the Governor planned to sell the Senate seat of President-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder, or, if no offers met his expectations, to take the seat for himself for personal gain. One is reminded of the remark, often attributed (perhaps incorrectly) to Mark Twain, that the United States has “the best politicians money can buy.”
Even if I didn't do research for a living, I'd be very excited about Zeotrope, a joint venture between the University of Washington and Adobe. Scrolling through Web content as it changes over time is cool. Scrolling simultaneously through multiple kinds of content--like, say, the consumer confidence index, unemployment, and gasoline prices--is incredibly cool.
It's not too early to remind ourselves of the risk of jumping to conclusions when using a tool like Zeotrope. The usual warnings about spurious relationships and logical fallacies still apply. Still, what a potentially useful tool, if used for good.
On December 17, I'll be co-presenting (with Ryan Martens, founder and CTO of Rally Software) a webinar, "Making Agile Work For Your Bottom Line." This is part two of a series, "Agile In Turbulent Times," that Rally is hosting. (Click here for the link to the series.)
* SPOILER ALERT *
Yes, Agile definitely can have a profoundly positive effect on your bottom line. In fact, it addresses directly some of the chief sources of financial anxiety for technology companies.
Agile is also a change that's necessary in the evolution of the technology industry. "Turbulent times" just raises the urgency of making the change, if Agile is right for you. My inevitable historical analogy is how the maniple defeated the phalanx. I say no more until Thursday.
I was on a conference call with my Research Director, Mike Gilpin and colleague Charles Brett the other day discussing complex event processing and business rules when suddenly Mike and Charles starting talking about "horses for courses". Say what? We went from talking about events and rules to horses and courses? I never heard this expression before so I asked. And, for those of you who think that I am provincial, I asked several other people in our Cambridge, Massachusetts office and they were dumbfounded as well.