I’ve recently returned from SAS Institute’s Annual Analyst Event held June 23-24, 2008 in Monte Carlo. At this event, SAS leadership revealed a roadmap to amplify, with the most effective decision science yet developed, the judgment of professionals in a wide range of industries including retail and consumer goods. Forrester noted specific new science based processes, deployable without restrictions about legacy transaction applications for:
Merchandise planning. The most critical decision in any consumer goods value chain is which merchandise to stock. But this decision, although ultimately driven in retail by the buyer’s judgment, must draw on data and analytics that evaluate, based on historic demand) the relative likely revenue and margin resulting from different merchandise portfolios, and test the feasibility of the portfolios against constraints such as store space or labor availability or the firm’s available working capital.
Size optimization. For retailers selling footwear or apparel a statistical understanding of the distribution of sales by size by store is vital in order to meet consumers’ needs and avoid mark downs and stock outs. It’s well known that consumers’ sizes vary from one region or country to another, with Norwegians for example in general being taller for example than Greeks but retailers need powerful sparse data analytics to plan for the differences in populations that visit urban and out of town stores.
Space optimization. Retailers provide space in stores in proportion to their expect sales and margin for each merchandise item. But the complex tradeoffs between affinity items, with different margins and attracting different promotional funds simply demand an enterprise analytic approach rather than single user planning tools.
Readatwork is certainly one of the cleverest sites I've seen in a while. You can read a few short stories on line, in an interface that looks like the standard Windows desktop and PowerPoint. Now, it just needs more content.
In the beginning of the year, Harvard Business Publishing launched a collection of online simulations as part of its curriculum that expose learners to real business situations and enforce essential corporate skills. Learning simulations are interactive models of real-life processes, events, or interactions that have distinctive learning outcomes. Users can manipulate variables that change the state of the model — they can make mistakes, learn from them, and try again — emulating a real "learning by doing" approach. With these online simulations, learners can engage in common business situations within realistic scenarios, and learn how to fine-tune their communication, analytical, and decision-making skills.
The first simulation, Universal Rental Car is a pricing simulation focused on teaching employees pricing skills in a managerial environment, as learners take on the role of regional marketing manager at a rental car agency, and are tasked with pricing rental cars in cities across Florida. Sample the Universal Rental Car simulation (login = user, password = user) for three rounds, and explore the Prepare, Analyze, and Decide tabs.
Well, actually vice-versa! The configuration management database (CMDB) is a hot topic these days in IT. With my arrival at Forrester, I am ambitiously building upon the solid foundation of thought leadership my colleagues have built on CMDB. One topic I wish to address is the notion that people (yes, you and me) are configuration items within the whole CMDB discussion.
When people talk about CMDB, they usually refer to infrastructure components as CIs. In some more enlightened cases, they accept that applications and business services are also CIs. As we assemble all of these CIs into cohesive views of our world, we need to include another critical domain -- us.
That’s right, no view of the IT or business landscape is complete without considering the roles of the people. Some of us are technology support, some are users, some are external customers, some are executives, and some are outsourced service providers. In the context of business services, we are integral elements to the service definition.
Some will interpret this concept of relegating people to CIs as cold and demeaning. This is certainly not my intent, but when you realize that we are all cogs in the greater business machinery, it quickly becomes apparent that we are normalized at some structural level to business impact strikingly similar to infrastructure. That’s not cold, it’s just the way it is in a sound service model. It doesn’t mean anyone is any less witty, charming, or warm.
This year's data model Since there are no industry-standard approaches to product requirements, most PM organizations improvise the data model for product requirements. As with any data model, over time, requirements information evolves. Even though PM teams craft their own data models, these evolutions seem to be pointing in some common directions.
Therefore, I'll be writing a couple of posts about these evolutions in the PM data model. Right now, my data is very impressionistic. Whether or not this topic turns into some serious research, I'd be interested in hearing what you, Dear Reader, think about the requirements data model. Please voice your agreement or disagreement to the Comments section of this post.
Sometimes, these common directions in the requirements data model reflect outside efforts at standardization. For example, the Six Sigma approach suggests that you should track particular kinds of information. If you're in the minority of product managers who use a requirements tool, you'll have a data model suggested for you, in the design of the tool itself. (Though you'll need to morph that data model into your own version, which is one reason why customization options are critical for requirements tool adoption.)
Actually, it's a double feature. Two research documents are in the editing process:
The long-awaited results of our survey of product managers, in which we ask what they do, to whom do they report, what are their chief concerns, and how does any of this resemble what they think product management should be.
A shorter piece on what makes the technology industry (TI) different from other markets. (Spoiler alert: Rapid innovation isn't 100% wonderful, but there are easy ways to avoid the bad side-effects.)
Bottom line for IT Infrastructure and Operations professionals? Your next purchase of a backup-to-disk appliance or backup software will have integrated deduplication functionality, given the slew of announcements from all the major storage players. It’s no longer just pioneering vendors Data Domain and Diligent beating the deduplication drum — it’s all the major storage vendors.
In addition, based on the direction of NetApp, you need to start thinking about how the rest of your storage environment would benefit from integrated deduplication functionality like your VMware environment (server and desktop) or end-user home directories.
NetApp plans to introduce integrated deduplication technology in its NearStore VTL some time this year. In the meantime, the company is promoting the availability of deduplication on its production FAS storage systems and touting the huge benefits of deduplication in VMware environments.
On June 24, 2008, Oracle announced its intent to purchase Skywire Software. This potential acquisition has three very strong positives:
Skywire enhances Oracle's ECM offering. Skywire Software has a document output management arsenal that includes Whitehill Technologies (InSystems) and Docucorp International, both of which the company acquired in 2007. Skywire's customer communication solution fills gaps and creates opportunities in Oracle's overall ECM suite. Universal Content Manager and Imaging and Process Manager can now provide complete structured solutions -- built for statements and bills for the print channel, and interactive output management -- creating direct marketing material, or collaboration and workflow for creating enrollment kits. In addition, pain points in customer communication can be addressed more broadly when Skywire's DOM solution is combined with Oracle's web content management products to provide a more complete multi-channel solution.
We've established that 10 GbE is now ready for the enterprise, which means it is time to start worrying about whether your Internet service provider (ISP) is adopting 100 gigabit Ethernet (100 GbE). ISPs aggregate enterprise traffic and connect you to the Internet over high speed optical networks that must ensure the adequate bandwidth and quality of service (QoS) you require.
While the majority of customers won’t fill their 10 GbE pipes this year or next, many will; advanced applications such as high definition video streaming, video conferencing, data replication, and wide area clustering for business continuity will tax bandwidth. Moreover, corporate networks will take advantage of the better bandwidth of 10 GbE to shift to IP-based Unified Communications (UC.) Forrester Research found that 36% of enterprises in North America and Europe have deployed or are rolling out UC this year with another 36% evaluating it. All these high-bandwidth services require strong QoS to meet enterprise needs and drive adoption.