CTIA, one of the wireless industry’s biggest conferences of the year, is happening this week in Las Vegas and Microsoft is garnering the most headlines. Why? It officially announced Windows Mobile 6.1, which is expected to hit the market "within the next couple of months." Forrester received a hands-on preview of it a couple of weeks ago and we couldn’t help but leave the meeting feeling like Microsoft’s playing catch-up to superior handheld device user experience providers like Apple and RIM. Still, it’s a good sign that Microsoft is focused on simplifying the user experience moving forward.
Microsoft has been heads down for years keeping IT happy and it’s been pretty successful given that 54% of the 531 North American businesses we recently surveyed support Windows Mobile-powered smartphones. However, Microsoft is now facing pressure to improve the user experience so that it’s pleasant for workers’ personal lives as well as their professional lives. The biggest changes that Windows Mobile 6.1 will bring include a more PC-like browsing experience, threaded SMS conversations, improved search, and simpler navigation (e.g., an improved home page and one-tap connection to a wireless network).
These experience improvements are clearly evolutionary rather than revolutionary. But Windows Mobile 6.1 proves two things:
Today’s announcement of the promotion of Leo Apotheker to co-CEO of SAP AG signals an orderly transition of command as current CEO Henning Kagermann’s contract expires in May, 2009. Mr. Apotheker has clearly been heir apparent since Shai Agassi’s departure a year ago. Although SAP put a positive spin on his sudden departure, evidently Mr. Agassi was not next in line for the job.
Mr. Apotheker, a 20 year veteran with SAP, has served as head of worldwide sales and most recently as Deputy CEO. While the practice of co-CEOs could be problematic in some environments, SAP has done this before as Dr. Kagermann ascended the throne and succeeded Hasso Plattner, now Chairman of SAP’s Supervisory Board. The transition should be orderly and Apotheker is well-suited for the job.
Additional changes within SAP’s Executive Board were also announced in the same press release. Jim Haggeman Snabe, Bill McDermott and Erwin Gunst were promoted to the Executive Board. Snabe will manage product development for both the SAP Business Suite and Netweaver. McDermott will take over responsibility for worldwide sales. Gunst, the current head of EMEA operations, will become the company’s first Chief Operating Officer. The need for a COO signals the growing complexity of the business in maintaining controls over acquired businesses (e.g., Business Objects) and new products and business models (e.g., Business ByDesign). Snabe and McDermott represent new blood on the Executive Board as well, rising stars that have done well in their respective areas.
As is clear from the general pattern of my Forrester I&KM blog posts, I'm closely tracking the penetration of complex event processing (CEP) into the world of real-time BI and data warehousing (DW). I'm working on a report now providing best practices for real-time DW, which will be available later in Q2. I'll follow up with a trends document on CEP for real-time BI in Q3.
Another post on Finextra discusses some recent research out of New Zealand that determined that the longer an authentication process drags on -- the more gantlets a user needs to run before being let in a site's front door -- the less secure those users perceive the site is.
I met with Ocarina Networks founder Carter George for the first time this week and was genuinely excited about the dramatic data reduction that their cutting edge technology promises. Ocarina aims to reduce the number of bytes that go into file storage through a combination of data deconstruction, deduplication, and compression. Deconstruction breaks complex file types into basic components, deduplication spots block level similarities and replaces them with hashes, and compression squeezes the de-duplicated components beyond what traditional compression techniques can with more complex whole files.