IBM threw a big event in New York City on Thursday, October 1, and Friday, October 2, to publicize its Smarter Cities initiative, part of its Smarter Planet marketing message. The event featured an impressive list of politicians (Mayor Bloomberg, NY Governor Patterson, governors from Vermont and North Carolina) and CEOs (CEOs from ABB, Verizon, American Electric Power, etc.). I was part of the crowd of hundreds of attendees and IBMers on Friday, and my colleague Doug Washburn attended on Thursday.
It would be easy to dismiss this as part of hype machinery that IBM is running to build awareness of and create customers for its Smarter Planet initiative and the emerging offerings that it is creating under that rubric. But I think there is more going on here. What IBM is really doing is creating a vision - or more precisely, half a dozen visions - of how a new generation of technology can help address some critical challenges facing the planet. Visions of course can easily become hype. But as several speakers noted, visions are also a necessary first step in any transformation process, building awareness of what can be different at the end that will inspire people to start the journey. And IBM to its credit put concrete examples behind the proposals.
Here is what IBM is doing right:
Focusing on key social and economic problems facing many countries around the world. Cities and national governments face challenges of providing healthcare more efficiently, improving the quality and delivery of education, managing greater and greater volumes of people travel and goods transportation, providing public safety and security in the face of increased threats of terrorism and persistence of crime, and encouraging energy conservation and alternative energies to counter global warming. These are the problems that IBM's Smarter Cities initiative focused on.
In many of my recent conversations with CIOs and IT infrastructure and ops professionals, I’m noticing an increasing interest in understanding how green IT will evolve.
Why do IT leaders want this vision? In the short-term, IT leaders want to ensure they’re not missing out any easy opportunities for savings they haven’t thought of yet. And over the long-term, IT leaders developing their green IT strategies want to strive for a broad scope of projects that reduce the environmental impacts — and of course costs — within and outside of IT.
2009 was the year we focused on virtualization and consolidation of IT infrastructure to drive down costs. Virtualization and consolidation will remain top initiatives in the second half of 2009 as IT organizations strive to save more by expanding virtualization and driving up the ratio of virtual machine to physical server. But what’s next? For one, virtualization is changing IT management, processes, and roles but most organizations have yet to adapt. Second, a lot of initiatives were put on hold in 2009 to focus on projects that had an immediate return on investment. As a result, many organizations put off infrastructure upgrades, postponed ITIL process adoption, and stepped back from process automation. But in order to achieve the next level of IT operational efficiency we’ll need to reprioritize these initiatives. And by doing so, we’ll be in a better position to selectively leverage web, cloud, and outsourcing services to eliminate some costs completely.
If you want to learn more about these topics, please join my complimentary Webinar, "Transforming IT Infrastructure And Operations in 2010" on July 16th at 11AM EST. You can register for the session by visiting: www.forrester.com/ioassessmentwebinar.
I had the privilege of hosting the Green IT 2009 conference in London back in May and wanted to share a couple of observations about that terrific event. I often tell clients in the U.S. that I am taking "a trip to the future" when I go to Europe; in particular, UK public sector organizations are probably the most advanced anywhere in terms of green IT behaviors (or should I say behaviours?).
Two statements I heard from IT procurement people at the conference that should be on the radar screen for vendor strategists looking to anticipate the next wave of enterprises' green requirements, and for IT planners looking to get more aggressive about their company's green IT initiatives:
Requirements for longer-lifecycle IT equipment. Planned obsolence is going to become obsolete. Expect your customers to require longer warranty periods, modular/upgradeable designs, and lifecycle-based carbon footprint analysis from you and your gear. Companies are realizing that, as one conference attendee put it, "we puts lots of bodies in motion" when they order new equipment.
Increasing demand for green/renewable energy. No matter how efficient a data center is, it can't really be green unless it's powered by green energy.
The latest services spend data from Forrester’s Q2 2009 Enterprise IT Services Survey is in, and it isn’t pretty. When 710 IT services decision-makers were asked how current economic conditions will affect their IT services spending over the next 12 months, 56% stated they expect a decrease of at least 5%. Conversely, only 14% expect an increase of at least 5%. The remaining 30% expect spending to remain more or less the same.
Let’s take the 56% that expect at least a 5% decrease in IT services spend. When we asked these 399 people what their firm’s top IT priorities would be over the next 12 months, one priority (out of the 12 we gave them) overwhelmed the rest — renegotiate rates with current players. Eighty-three percent — yes, 83% — rated this either a high or critical priority. Only 3% said it wasn’t on their agenda. To compare, none of the other 11 priorities, which included things like moving to a fixed-price pricing model, implementing or expanding the use of offshore resources, and taking a more consolidated, single vendor approach, cracked 50% in terms of being viewed as a high or critical priority.
Some recent buzz in the industry would have you believe that “SOA is dead,” but that just isn’t the case — SOA is far from being dead, outdated, or irrelevant. In fact, its use and influence are still growing. A recent Forrester survey indicates that 75% of Global 2000 organizations will be using SOA by the end of 2009. 60% of current users are expanding their use of SOA, and a substantial number recognize SOA’s strategic business value and are using it on a sizable portion of their solution delivery products.
Stories of less-than-successful results may dent its reputation, particularly in today’s climate of pessimism and uncertainty, but when done right SOA has the potential for broad-reaching positive impact on the enterprise. Instead of getting caught in the hype or jumping ship on their SOA efforts, CIOs should keep in mind that:
deeper into enterprise PaaS, Salesforce went live in June with Force.com Free
Edition, offering free access to the platform for up to 100 users, and Force.com
Sites, allowing customers to build their own branded public-facing Web sites
that integrate with CRM and other apps on Force.com.
are hosted on Salesforce’s infrastructure, users obtain the common benefits of
cloud IT services — faster roll outs, as well as passing capital and operations
costs (configuration, management, reliability, and scalability) to the vendor.
It's been a while since I blogged - and even longer since I did something a bit light hearted - so I thought it's time to make a comment on something about tech that has been bugging me recently.
So Michael Jackson and technology seem like very loosely related issues - and they definitely are. But the death of such a "big name" is quite a rare occurrence - and it makes people think back to the last time someone with such a high profile passed away, and how they reacted then. And at the same time, it demonstrates how technology, that is ultimately designed to connect people, actually ends up keeping us apart (or at least reminding us of the fact that we are apart).
When I think back to the last big "star" that passed away, in any territory of the world connected to the United Kingdom, it was probably the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. This happened in August 1997. In North America, people have been comparing Michael Jackson's passing to that of Elvis, Buddy Holly, and the likes. Such big events act as markers of time. People remember where they were when they heard of Elvis', President Kennedy's, and Lady Diana's deaths. And often these were shared experiences - people remember who they were with at the time - as often they heard this information from other people. I remember driving on Spit Road in Sydney when it was announced on the radio that Diana, Princess of Wales, had passed away. I had my partner (now wife) and friends in the car with me at the time. We shared the experience, and somehow even bonded over it.
Ever since I read today that Goldman Sachs formerly employed a $400,000 programmer, I have been contemplating a career change. What software could Sergey Aleynikov develop that you or I couldn't also develop for $400K per year? Whatever, he knows must be valuable because he apparently left the Goldman job headed for a better one that would have paid him 3 times that amount. He would have that is, if he hadn't been arrested by the FBI.
Sergey is probably not writing any code right now, because he has been charged with "theft of trade secrets" by the FBI after he alledgedly stole codes used for sophisticated automated stock trading, improperly copied proprietary computer code, and then uploaded it to a computer server in Germany.
I have been thinking lately about the differences between wants and needs and how they shape our lives. Most of us are pretty clear about what we want and go after it. What we need is a little less clear. Sometimes we know what we need but avoid it (“I want that chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream smothered in fudge sauce” versus “I need to lose some weight”) and sometimes we don’t know what we need and just let our wants drive us (I want to yell at my staff – so I do, but what I need to do is listen to them).
I think what drives many of EAs’ problems is not misalignment with organizational needs (though some of the more theoretical EAs certainly are misaligned as they seem to think architecture is the center of the universe). The real problem is not clearly understanding the difference between what an organization needs and what it wants and having the ability to manage the disparity between the two.
So what do organizations want? For the most part business units and the IT development teams that are aligned with them want to develop solutions that they are comfortable producing. This translates into using technologies and techniques they have been successful using in the past. EA wants them to do it differently and that difference always introduces risk. The risk may be real or imagined, but it doesn’t matter to the PM. Both are real to him. So bottom line, the organization wants to continue using the methods of the past because they are the best predictor of success they have.