Big Changes In Information-related Roles And Processes -- Evolution Or Apocalypse?

Gene Leganza
It’s not news that business user self-service for access to information and analytics is hot. What might not be as obvious is the overhaul of information-related roles that is happening now as a result. What’s driving this? The hunger for data (big, fast, and otherwise) to feed insights, very popular data visualization tools, and new but rapidly spreading technology that puts sophisticated data exploration and manipulation tools in the hands of business users. 
 
One impact is that classic tech management functions such as data modeling and data integration are moving into business-side roles. I can’t help but be reminded of Bill Murray’s apocalyptic vision from “Ghostbusters:” “Dogs and cats, living together… mass hysteria!” Is this the end of rational, orderly data management as we know it? Haven’t central tech management organizations always seen business-side tech decision-making (and purchasing, and implementation) as “rogue” behavior that needed to be governed out of existence? If organizations have trouble now keeping data for analytics at the right level of quality in data warehouses, won’t all this introduction of new data sources and data lakes and whatnot just make things worse?
 
Well, my answers are “no,” “yes,” and “no” in that order. The big changes that are afoot are not the end of order and even though “business empowerment” translates to “rogue IT” in some circles, data lakes/hubs and the infusion of 3rd party data have actually been delivering on their promise of faster, better business insights for the organizations doing it right. 
 
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This Time, AI Is Truly Here To Help Build Intelligent Applications

Diego Lo Giudice

What’s taken artificial intelligence (AI) so long? We invented AI capabilities like first-order logical reasoning, natural-language processing, speech/voice/vision recognition, neural networks, machine-learning algorithms, and expert systems more than 30 years ago, but aside from a few marginal applications in business systems, AI hasn’t made much of a difference. The business doesn’t understand how or why it could make a difference; it thinks we can program anything, which is almost true. But there’s one thing we fail at programming: our own brain — we simply don’t know how it works.

What’s changed now? While some AI research still tries to simulate our brain or certain regions of it — and is frankly unlikely to deliver concrete results anytime soon — most of it now leverages a less human, but more effective, approach revolving around machine learning and smart integration with other AI capabilities.

What is machine learning? Simply put, sophisticated software algorithms that learn to do something on their own by repeated training using big data. In fact, big data is what’s making the difference in machine learning, along with great improvements in many of the above AI disciplines (see the AI market overview that I coauthored with Mike Gualtieri and Michele Goetz on why AI is better and consumable today). As a result, AI is undergoing a renaissance, developing new “cognitive” capabilities to help in our daily lives.

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Analyst Spotlight Podcast With John Kindervag

Stephanie Balaouras

It's February: time for another S&R Analyst Spotlight Podcast! This month, Forrester VP, principal analyst, and Zero-Trust creator, John Kindervag, joins us. Listen in to learn more about John and his research. While you're at it, be sure to check out our First Look newsletter, which contains an interview with John along with links to his most recent and upcoming research. If you are not already signed up for our First Look newsletters, please email srfl@forrester.com. 

New to the podcast and want to hear more?  Check out our past interviews with analysts Ed Ferrara, Heidi Shey, Renee Murphy, and Tyler Shields.

Click below to listen to the podcast!

John Kindervag Image

To download the mp3 version of the podcast, click here.

The Data Digest: Celebrating China's New Year And Consumer Tech Boom

Anjali Lai

Today marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year. Kicking off the 2015 lunar calendar and the year of the goat (or sheep or ram), today celebrates the emergence of spring, the coming together of families, and the arrival of good fortune. Given China’s prosperous technology evolution, the superpower has a lot to look forward to. According to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data, the country is already home to the most mobile-savvy population on the planet, with nine out of every 10 metropolitan Chinese online adults using a smartphone; within the next two years, the nation will see an additional 200 million unique smartphone subscribers: 

What will happen when the world’s largest mobile phone market becomes even bigger?

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Five Shades Of Grey (How software buyers and license managers should be compliant without being submissive).

Duncan Jones

Any procurement or asset management professionals who have seen the new movie based on E.L.James’ best selling novels may have noticed the similarity between the eponymous antihero and a license management services consultant.  Mr. Grey will use charm and threats to persuade you to run his audit scripts on your network. You have an obligation to demonstrate your compliance with the software license terms, but that doesn't mean that you have accept his opinion about what those terms actually mean.

Sources inside some large software companies tell me that license audits generate 20% to 30% of their license revenue. Although a lot of that will represent deliberate or reckless under-licensing, many of the disputes that I hear about involve software salespeople abusing some licensing shades of grey to pressurize customers into paying them money. It is difficult to predict how a court will interpret nineties contract language in the current technology context, so many companies pay up rather than risk a compliance lawsuit. Here are five questions of interpretation that no lawyer can answer:

  1. Who is really using my software? I continue to hear risible interpretations of ‘use’ and ‘access’, such as the software company that claimed motorists were users because they saw output from its database when they drove past an electronic road sign. I’ve previously suggested a standard interpretation of use in my report Let's Clear Up The "Indirect Access" Mess based on the concept of interaction - i.e. both input by a user and output by the software. Enterprises need to persuade their vendors to accept this interpretation urgently, otherwise the Internet Of Things will bankrupt you.
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Can people change markets?

Fatemeh Khatibloo

As many of you know, the customer insights practice at Forrester traditionally focuses on the collection, management, analysis, and use of customer data to business practices. Over the past few years, I've been writing research about the changing face of the "collection" and "use" parts of that equation -- that is, how privacy and personal identity and data management tools will change marketers' access to consumer data, and how they're allowed to use the information they do have. Now I'm taking this research a step further.  

I've just started examining the history and future of consumer-driven market shifts, and would love to interview you if you have a position on this, theoretically or practically.

The hypothesis:

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What Will Come Of Recent Content Marketing Deals

Ryan Skinner

Last year we announced in our report about tools and technology for content marketing that:

Marketers must mix service providers and software solutions to serve their needs . . . vendors bifurcate into service partners and software solutions.

Increasingly, we’re seeing those two camps – the service providers, usually agencies, and software tools – merge in the market. Last year, WPP took a small, strategic stake in Percolate to “strengthen its capabilities in fast-growing sectors.” Then, yesterday, Havas Media announced a strategic partnership with Newscred thus:

NewsCred’s cloud-based software, combined with Havas Media Group’s expertise and data analytics, gives clients access to an unrivalled and fully integrated management tool covering the complete content marketing value chain across all platforms: from content strategy and planning to production and validation through to content curation and publication. 

I spoke with Newscred’s CEO, Shafqat Islam, to cut through some of the jargon and tell me what this means. The two will elevate an informal relationship into a specific go-to-market strategy where Havas provides strategy, creative and paid media/analytics, while Newscred’s in for the content technology backbone and its licensed and original content offerings.

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SnapChat @ $19B? Property On Exclusive Islands Is Expensive

Julie Ask

Two things matter in mobile: audience and data. SnapChat has audience.

  1. Audience matters because consumers are using fewer and fewer applications on their mobile devices. Brands can no longer pursue a “destination” strategy and expect consumers will come to them. They need to go engage consumers where they are. Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp for $19B gave us a sense of just how valuable audience depth, reach and usage is.

  2. Data matters because it helps us simplify or improve mobile experiences by anticipating the needs of customers or to improve the value of advertising - if you are monetizing your app that way. Under Armour just paid $475M for MyFitnessPal for the audience, food database and personal data.

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Cognitive Computing Is Changing Healthcare, Slowly

Skip Snow

Artificial intelligence’s (AI's) reputation is having a significant reputational uplift. We have an Academy Award-nominated film, The Imitation Game ( http://theimitationgamemovie.com/), about arguably the father of AI, or even modern computing, that advocates passionately for the power of AI. We have IBM founding a new division, "Watson," based on the premise that cognitive computing can in fact be a profitable cloud-based business service that IBM offers.

Looking at my own domain of punditry "software for healthcare," I have to ask what, if anything, does all of this AI thaw means to the technology, operational, financial, and marketing executives in Forrester’s client base? To answer that we have to look what products or solutions have entered the marketplace that are capable of changing the core models of healthcare.

After over a year of research, we are capable of saying that cognitive computing is important to healthcare and is more than a science project. What we have found is that there is a divide between big health care business and smaller ones. The big businesses, the ones that are true centers of excellence in the provider, payer, and drug research arena are using the advances of cognitive computing machine learning and big data to innovate in fundamental ways.

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Ensure Brand Longevity With A Sustainable (Technology) Strategy

Sophia Vargas

While green and sustainable initiatives haven’t traditionally been a high priority for business technology decision makers, the growing urgency of climate change continues to place scrutiny on large resource users. In today’s hyper competitive marketplace, your customers, employees, partners, and possibly regulators are demanding more transparency in company operations and products.

In reaction to this trend, many organizations have already started to embrace sustainable initiatives as an opportunity to showcase creativity, technological achievement, as well as their brand’s commitment to the environment and broader community. In order to investigate this trend, my colleague and principal analyst Jim Nail and I set out to better understand the technology, processes and marketing strategy behind corporate sustainability initiatives.

The resulting report “Bolster Your Brand With A Greener Technology Ecosystem” outlines the buisness case and technology roadmap for sustainable initatives, intended to help your organization achieve and communicate operational excellence, while simultaneously providing further differentiation for your brand and organization.

The unexpected appendix

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