Learning Simulations: Harvard Business Publishing Sets The Stage For Exploring Real Business Situations

Claireschooley_2By Claire Schooley

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.

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IT-GRC: Who is and who is not

Marc Othersen

A message for IT-GRC vendors:  I am constantly bombarded by vendors touting "I have an IT-GRC solution for you to look at!"  Since I cover the IT-GRC space, I naturally am interested. In many cases, my interest quickly turns to disdain after the vendor product demo.  Why?

Simply, most IT-GRC "vendors" are not IT-GRC vendors. An IT-GRC vendor, by our definition, automates the governance, risk, and compliance lifecycles to provide seamless integration and data sharing.  Most of the IT-GRC "vendors" I get briefed on automate IT controls, not IT-GRC lifecycles. For example, Brabeion automates policy management (a governance process), the testing of IT controls (a compliance process), and the assessment of IT risks (a risk process). Brabeion, therefore, is an IT-GRC vendor. Sun Microststems' identity and access management product automates access controls and NetIQ's SIEM product automates event monitoring controls.  Neither of these companies are IT-GRC vendors or have IT-GRC products.

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Clockss Ticking On Digital Preservation

Not a moment too soon, libraries, universities, and publishers across the globe have flicked the switch on a collaborative digital archiving project that promises to preserve important scholarly content forever.

Graft: Organ and Cell Transplantation, a journal from SAGE Publications, just went out of print and has moved years of its online content to the community managed Controlled LOCKSS archive. The archive uses the Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe open-source technology developed by Stanford University and is geographically dispersed across nodes at universities from Edinburgh to Virginia.

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NetSuite Breathes Fresh (Open) Air With Recent Acquisition

NetSuite’s tuck-in purchase of Boston, Massachusetts-based OpenAir signals a significant movement towards consolidation in the SaaS space, similar to what we’ve been seeing in the on-premise world. OpenAir, which focuses on providing PBS Solutions for professional services organizations, will be wholly retained, along with its 65-member staff.

Why the fuss?

The $26 million acquisition and eventual web services integration, if successful, is important for two reasons:

• OpenAir professional services customers gain end-to-end engagement planning, execution, and maintenance across one platform through integration with NetSuite’s ERP/CRM/E-commerce suite.

• NetSuite gains an additional industry client base of services-centric industries through the OpenAir platform.

The BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) for users:

• Professional service organizations will have a broader choice of end-to-end solutions to manage their engagement-based business.

• The combined company provides a proven, lower cost subscription model (see Salesforce) as an alternative to an on-premise environment.

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Pitney Bowes Picks The Right Path By Reaffirming Its Managed Services Business

CraigleclairSherimcleishBy Craig Le Clair and Sheri McLeish

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CIs are People Too!

Glen O'Donnell 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.

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Semantics Or Deeper Philosophical Issues?

By Allison Thresher
Discussions with clients in recent inquiries and at the first edition of the Building The Vendor Management workshop inspired this blog.

Forrester defines the sourcing lifecycle as including three major elements: preparation, execution, and vendor management. While everyone seems to agree about the activities included within this lifecycle, we’ve found that there exists significant debate concerning what falls into each area as well as what you might call these elements (sourcing? Procurement? Vendor management?).

To illustrate: in the case of demand management, one could say that this hits at both the preparation and vendor management phases of the cycle. Moreover, from an organizational standpoint, this might well be the responsibility of either procurement or the vendor management group. 

We’re interested to see how our clients and readers weigh in on this issue. Please feel free to leave comments or questions on this issue. Analysts from the team will be weighing in as well.

Deduplication Hits The Mainstream

Stephanie 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.



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Oracle To Purchase Skywire Software – DOM And ECM Continue Pattern Of Convergence

CraigleclairBy Craig LeClair

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.

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Throw out your test lab: Virtualized workloads can be trialed in the cloud


Every enterprise struggles with performance testing. You never have enough hardware, you can’t mimic production, the build up and tear down process is far too time consuming and let’s not even get into the hassles of scheduling. Virtualization can help in that environments can be stored as templates easing setup and with tools like VMware Lab Manager, scheduling and environment management are made easier, but the hassles of shared time, resource constraints and stress testing remain.

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