What Is The Definition Of An "Application"?

Phil Murphy

What is the definition of an "application"? We are "applications development and delivery professionals" - surely we have this question nailed, don't we? The question keeps coming up in different contexts, and since there are many potential opinions, a blog is the perfect place to spur debate. Here are some (simplistic) questions to generate debate:

  • Is a Web page an application?
    • If not, how many Web pages does it take until I consider it an application - 10, 100, 1,000?
  • Does size matter? (Please behave yourselves with this one.)
    • Is the size of the code base a pertinent factor?
  • What about SharePoint sites, Access databases, and spreadsheets? Are they applications?
  • Where do COTS and packaged apps fit?
  • Does the technology I use affect the definition?
    • If I use a scripting language for a quick-and-dirty task, is that an application? 
  • Does SOA erode the definition of an application?
    • Do we cease thinking about applications as entities and think about them more as containers that hold collections of SOA services?
  • How does open source affect the definition?
  • How does my role affect my perception of an application?
    • Do developers and users use similar definitions?

I have my opinions - in fact I just finished a draft piece of research on it that will be published in January, but what are your opinions?

As Application Rationalization Grows Hotter In 2011 - Vendors Will Play Catch-Up

Phil Murphy

In his report on the top technology trends to watch in 2011 to 2013, my colleague Gene Leganza called out application portfolio management (APM) as one of a number of "planning and analysis tools to manage the future." Forrester clients seem to agree with Gene; in fact they aren't even waiting until 2011 - their interest has been building steadily throughout the second half of 2010.

One case in point: thousands of unique client hits in Q3 alone on a new report entitled Assessing Your Applications - Metrics That Matter Drive Better Rationalization Decisions. I noted similar levels of interest in the companion workbook, Forrester's Application Scoring Workbook, in Q3. Together they indicate that clients have a strong interest in educating themselves on how to streamline and rationalize their application portfolios.

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The Evolving Successes Of CRM - Part 2 Of 3

Kate Leggett

MyCustomer.com recently asked me what my thoughts were about CRM — why initial CRM projects failed, what has changed to make deployments successful, and what the future holds for CRM. Here is the second part of my answers, as well as a link to the published article.

 

Question: What has improved/changed to make CRM implementations more successful now?

Answer: My flip answer is that we’ve all grown up. Our technology has matured, we now have best practice processes to scope, implement, and deploy CRM systems, and we understand the organizational commitment and achieve the ROI that CRM has been promising us for the last decade.

A more factual answer is that CRM systems are now feature-rich, with best practice and industry-specific workflows built into them. This means that customers can choose to adopt these best practices without needing many man-months of customization work. The CRM architecture has evolved to make them immensely scalable, more easily integratable with other IT systems, as well as easily changeable to keep in step with changing business needs (think about all the mergers and acquisitions that have happened in the past several years, and the IT changes that have had to quickly happen to preserve the customer experience). There are also SaaS solutions available to achieve a rapid time-to-value, and we see a significant uptick in SaaS CRM adoption. Vendors and system integrators have a proven track record of deploying, tuning, and optimizing CRM projects to achieve quantifiable ROI, and this knowledge can be easily leveraged.

 

Question: What typically characterized a CRM project 10 years ago? And what do you believe typically characterizes a CRM project today?

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Deutsche Bank Implements TCS BaNCS For Its International Subsidiaries

Jost Hoppermann

For some time there have been rumors about Deutsche Banking having selected TCS BaNCS for some or all of its international subsidiaries. Today, both Deutsche Bankand Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)published a press release announcing that Deutsche Bank will implement TCS BaNCS Core Banking as its new core banking platform for Global Transaction Banking (GTB). The first international subsidiary, which is located in Abu Dhabi, went live three days ago. I discussed the deal with N. Ganapathy Subramaniam (NGS), the president of TCS Financial Solutions.

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Join Forrester’s TweetJam On Advanced Analytics: December 15 At 12 pm US Eastern Time

Holger Kisker

Are you interested in business intelligence, wonder about the future of the analytics market or have a question on advanced analytics technologies?

Then join the Forrester analysts Rob Karel, Boris Evelson, Clay Richardson, Gene Leganza, Noel Yuhanna, Leslie Owens, Suresh Vittal, William Frascarelli, David Frankland, Joe Stanhope, Zach Hofer-Shall, Henry Peyret and myself for an interactive TweetJam on Twitter about the state of advanced analytics on Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. EDT (18:00 – 19:00 CET) using the Twitter hashtag #dmjam. We’ll share the results of our recent research on the analytics market space and discuss how it will change with new technologies entering the scene and maturing over time.

Business intelligence is the fastest growing software market today as companies are driving business results based on deeper insights and better planning, and advanced analytics is the spearhead of BI technologies that can untap new dimensions of business performance. But what exactly is ‘advanced’ analytics, what technologies are available and how to efficiently use them?

Much more detailed information can be found in the blog of Forrester analyst James Kobielus who will lead us through the discussion during the TweetJam. Above you see an overview graphic listing the different elements of advanced analytics today, taken from his blog.

Here are some of the questions we want to debate during our TweetJam discussion:

  • What exactly is and isn’t advanced analytics?
  • What are the chief business applications of advanced analytics?
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The Right Target State Architecture For Banking Platform Transformation

Jost Hoppermann

Our Q3 2010 Global Financial Services Architecture Online Survey shows that 79% of the surveyed financial services firms are either already working on transforming their application landscape or plan to start this effort by 2012 at the latest. The need for greater business agility and flexibility, new business capabilities, and improved ability to cope with changing markets, offer more differentiation, and increase market share are key drivers for a large share of these financial services firms.

Coping with these drivers requires a large amount of architectural flexibility; therefore, architectural flexibility needs to be an integral element of any decision in favor of or against a given architecture or off-the-shelf banking platform within a transformation initiative. Consequently, it does not come as a surprise that 43% of the surveyed firms expect that more than one-third of their business applications will leverage service-oriented architecture and use business services in the next 18 to 24 months and an additional 19% think that more than half of their applications will utilize business services within that time frame.

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Get On Board: A Copernican Shift In The Focus Of Your IT Delivery

Randy Heffner

Step back and think: How would you answer the question, “What does your IT group deliver to your business?” Your answer will indicate how you think about the relationship between business and technology, and, in turn, it will affect your business agility and your business-IT alignment.

If you answer anything close to “IT delivers and integrates solutions to meet business requirements,” your mental model boils down to thinking that your solutions support the business: Business is one thing; solutions are a separate thing. If the business has a problem, let it come ask IT for some application to address the problem — maybe IT will even help the business figure out what it needs. Each application supports (typically overlapping) parts of the business, and IT performs whatever behind-the-scenes integration is necessary to gain some degree of coherency across the whole. The result is the sort of siloed spaghetti application mess that most organizations are dealing with — even if SOA and BPM and the rest make it easier to deal with.

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CRM: The Challenges We've Had; Our Issues Today - Part 1 Of 3

Kate Leggett

MyCustomer.com recently asked me what my thoughts were about CRM: Why initial CRM projects failed, what has now changed to make deployments successful, and what the future holds for CRM. Here is the first part of my point of view, as well as a link to a series of three published articles from MyCustomer.com.

 

Question: Nearly a decade ago, estimates suggested that a very large proportion of CRM projects were failing. What were the main problems undermining CRM projects in those days?

Answer: The main problems undermining CRM projects a decade ago were mismatched expectations with reality in three categories: technology, process and people.

The first CRM systems were not fully baked and had large feature holes that were not always communicated to the purchaser. The technology was not intuitive or easy to use. It was hard to implement with long time-to-value and hard to become proficient in its use. It was even harder to change the business processes that had been implemented — changes that were necessary to stay in line with evolving business needs.

CRM systems were also difficult to integrate with a company’s IT ecosystem, which meant that many actions needed to be repeated in multiple systems. (For example, consider a CRM system that was not integrated into a company’s email system. This means that a sales person would have to cut and paste a customer communication from their email correspondence into the CRM system, which was labor intensive and often not done. )

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Business 2011 Gets Faster; Business Rules And SOA Policy Get More Important

Randy Heffner

Can you remember a year when your business both (1) grew in a healthy way and (2) changed more slowly than the year before? Besides a company’s early startup years, such would be the exception, not the rule. So, in 2011, your business is likely to continue accelerating its pace of change. A recent Forrester report, The Top 15 Technology Trends EA Should Watch: 2011 To 2013, named both business rules and SOA policy as items for your watch list — because both of them help accelerate business change.

Back in the mainframe days — and even into minicomputer, client/server, and Web applications — nearly all of the business logic for every application was tightly wrapped up in the application code. A few forward-thinking programmers might have built separate parameter files with a small bit of business-oriented application configuration, but that was about it. But, business changes too quickly to have all of the rules locked up in the code.

Some have tried the route that businesspeople ought to do their own programming — and many vendor tools through the years have tried creatively (though unsuccessfully) to make development simple enough for that. But, business is too complex for businesspeople to do all of their own programming.

Enter business rules, SOA policy, and other ways to pull certain bits of business logic out of being buried in the code. What makes these types of approaches valuable is that they are targeted, contained, and can have appropriate life cycles built around them to allow businesspeople to change what they are qualified to change, authorized to change, and have been approved to change.

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How To Measure Global Success And Regional Relevance?

Jost Hoppermann

Similar to the past few years at this time of year, we are in the process of preparing a global banking platform deals report for 2010. As we have done since 2005 to help application delivery teams make informed decisions, we will analyze deals’ structure, determine countable new named deals, and look at extended business as well as key functional areas and hosted deals — all to identify the level of global and regional success as well as functional hot spots for a large number of banking platform vendors.

In the past, some vendors told us that they are not particularly fond of us counting new named deals while only mentioning extended business, renewed licenses, and the like. Why do we do this, and what is the background for this approach? First, extended business as often represents good existing relationships between vendors and banks as it represents product capabilities themselves. Second, we have asked for average deals sizes and license fees for years, but only a minority of vendors typically discloses this information. Thus, we do not have a broad basis for dollar or euro market shares — and I personally shy away from playing the banking platform revenue estimates game.

An Alternative Counting Model Could Be Implemented Easily . . .

Consequently, available data makes counting new named deals the only feasible way to represent an extending or shrinking footprint in the off-the-shelf banking platform market — and thus to also represent customer decisions in favor of one banking platform or the other. Some vendors suggested introducing weights for the size of the bank and the relevance of the seven world regions (for example, North America and Asia Pacific). We could easily do so, but there are problems with this approach:

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