Horses for courses?

Mike Gualtieri

Quarterhorse_2 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.

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Prioritizing Your Retail IT Investments

George Lawrie

George Lawrie By George Lawrie

With retail confidence and global cargo volumes at their lowest for 5 years, retailers face increased pressure to identify quick ways to minimize costs, reduce unplanned mark downs and avoid incidence of “out-of-stock”, while trying to stretch margins, improve the merchandizing mix and increase customer satisfaction.

One retail executive told Forrester “I have any number of proposals to engage in multi year, multi million IT projects. But we don’t have the luxury to indulge in those. My boss needs results now. I need to prove that we are making progress against our financial and strategic objectives in the next quarter or two.“

To help our readers, Forrester is currently exploring simple retail IT investments that can yield immediate results. Got ideas or input? Take our confidential survey on Retail IT Investment Priorities to help develop a framework that will help identify quick wins and self funding IT initiatives that are capable of generating returns for shareholders in six month or less.

Get engaged. Get insight. Join Forrester's IT Research Panel to participate in more survey studies like this one.

Cloud Or No Cloud You Still Have To Write Code

Mike Gualtieri

Mike_gualtieri_formal01I am experiencing Cloud fatigue already. If I hear anyone even come close to uttering the word "Cloud 2.0", I might be found hiding in the Forrester fitness room in a fetal position. I am a fan of Cloud computing and my colleague James Staten has a great report on cloud in the enterprise. I think that cloud computing such Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, IBM, Google AppEngine, and others are legitimate and have a great future in infrastructure. What I am not a fan of is the buzzword grab going on by many technology companies saying they work in the cloud, have a cloud strategy, or have a new cloud offering à la SOA, Web 2.0, and whatever is next. Vendor X can work in the cloud. Well, no kidding. You just spin up your platform in the cloud and run your app on it.

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Spotlight: C++ is still cool

Mike Gualtieri

Mike_gualtieri_lamp Sometimes enterprise IT development shops that are doing development in Java, C#, VB.NET forget that it all began with C++. Invented in 1981 by Bjarne Stroustrup, C++ was arguably the first popular object-oriented language even though languages like Smalltalk proceeded it. Java was first released by Sun in 1995, fourteen years after C++ was invented.

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Are Great Application Developers Making A Comeback?

Mike Gualtieri

"I don't want 10 developers. I want 3 great ones", is what a client told me when I asked him how his company was responding to the economic crisis. Of course, I think this is good advice even in good times and I think we have gotten away from this is recent years. Why? I think there are couple of reasons:

  1. Outsourcing changed the focus from finding great developers to hiring large numbers of developers.
  2. Project managers and business analysts worked their darndest to separate developers from the business problems that develoeprs need to solve. Agile has mitigated this a bit, but treating developers like machines on an assembly has been in fashion for years now.
  3. There are fewer great developers because back in the day people passionate about software development gravitated towards a career in application development. Now it is a career choice for many and percentage of great developers has been diluted and thus they are harder to find.

I am asking every application development professional I talk to, including you, the following questions:

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"... we had the data, but we didn't have the information..."

Boris Evelson

Borisevelson

By Boris Evelson

I know I am in the right business. Over 25 years ago, when I was a junior programmer on Wall Street, I heard the CEO of Citibank, Walter Wriston, say during one of the company meetings that “information about a transaction was going to become more important than a transaction itself”. I pondered on his prediction of the impending information revolution and decided to get into the business. I have not felt sorry ever since.

That is until now. I saw a good portion of my savings plan evaporate, some friends loosing their jobs on Wall Street in droves, and out of control media predicting, what basically amounts to, the end of the world (well, at least economic and social structures) as we know it.

What went wrong? While I am obviously not qualified to comment on the disastrous chain of events and a failure at every single link of the entire credit value chain (yes, I am not going to mention unreasonable social programs, uneducated consumers, greedy bankers and investors, ineffective risk rating agencies, and government regulation paralysis – did I miss anyone?), I am somewhat qualified to partially blame failed Business Intelligence at some levels of the credit value chain.

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Revolution? Please, not again!

Boris Evelson

Borisevelson By Boris Evelson

I am appalled at what has been happening in the economy lately. Seems like we are moving from one crisis management to another. First it was the oil price increase crisis, now it’s the credit markets crisis, while the oil crisis seems to have disappeared. There are revolutionary approaches to solving these crises being thrown around very lightly and carelessly these days: nationalization of certain industries, redistribution of wealth and other extremist approaches. Haven’t we learned from history? Don’t we know by now that revolutions do not work? It’s been proven time and time again in Soviet Union, China, Cuba and many other nations that revolutions only lead to disasters: terror, holocausts, starvation, turning societies and social structures upside down, and people leading miserable existence. I know. I lived in one of those countries. I do not want to live in another country going through revolution.

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BI Crystal Ball – Next Gen BI may be closer than you think

Boris Evelson

Borisevelson By Boris Evelson

Most modern large enterprise Business Intelligence (BI) tools are very robust and feature rich these days. Up until a few years ago BI users could blame vendors for most of their BI ills. This is getting harder and harder to do. Many of the BI tools, especially the ones reviewed in our latest BI Wave, are very function rich, robust, stable and scalable. However, while the tools have really improved for the better over the last 5, typical BI issues and challenges remain the same as when I first tackled them as a BI programmer over 25 years ago: silo’d implementations, incomplete data sets, dirty data, poor management and governance, heavy reliance on IT, and many more.

We are right now in the middle of running a BI survey, exploring these and other BI issues. While the results are still pouring in, the preliminary findings are 100% supportive of the evidence we’ve collected qualitatively and anecdotally over the past few years:

  • Not all data is available in BI applications
  • Data is less than 100% trustworthy
  • BI applications are somewhat difficult to learn, use and navigate
  • Most of the reports and dashboards are developed by IT, not end users
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Global GS1 Adoption

George Lawrie

GS1 offers the opportunity to standardize the attributes that retailers and their suppliers exchange, reducing the need for retailers to maintain on-boarding portals and for manufacturers to publish their item master data to multiple retailers in multiple formats. Yet anecdotal evidence suggests disappointed adoption particularly in Europe where Forrester hears “things are different” and “retailers can’t use GS1 standards without significant modifications”. I would welcome comments from readers. Are the GS1 standards really only appropriate to the allegedly homogeneous market of North America or are they a universally attractive way to simplify new product introduction? If GS1 falls short of European and international requirements or the requirements of smaller firms then what specifically is lacking?

Excel As A BI Tool? Not So Fast!

Boris Evelson

Borisevelson By Boris Evelson

Ever since our latest BI Wave was published a couple of weeks ago, I keep hearing comments about why we have not included evaluation of Excel as a BI tool. For example, Rajan Chandras, one of the contributing editors to the Intelligent Enterprise, poses really good arguments in his recent blog on why, when and how Excel can and should be used as a BI tool. Excellent question, everyone!

  • As I wrote in my very first report when I joined Forrester, Ouch! Get Ready - Spreadsheets Are Here To Stay For Business Intelligence: "Spreadsheets - the most widely used business intelligence (BI) tool - are a permanent fixture in enterprises because no other analytical application outperforms them in flexibility, ease of use, and ubiquity."
  • Furthermore, I consider Excel a major component of BI Workspaces: BI Without Borders.
  • And last, but not least, we do place a heavy emphasis on Excel as a delivery vehicle or UI for all BI environments in our Wave.
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