The IT management software and operations communities have been buzzing this week about reports that Microsoft acquired IT process automation vendor Opalis Software. We have unequivocally confirmed that this rumor is incorrect. Opalis has NOT been acquired by Microsoft. It remains an independent entity, at least for now.
Opalis, based outside of Toronto, has repeatedly reported impressive revenue growth over its short history. For the past few years, it has been a desirable morsel for larger vendors seeking to add strong process automation to their portfolios. Many have expressed interest, but its success allows Opalis to command a high premium that no suitor has yet been willing to pay.
past Tuesday Autodesk conducted its annual Manufacturing Analyst Day event in
Lake Oswego, Oregon, and I had the opportunity to catch up with executive
leaders across the company’s spectrum of product brands (i.e. Alias for
conceptual design, AutoCAD and Inventor for engineering design, and, more
recent acquisition additions, MoldFlow and Algor for simulation). Contrary to
my original perception that Autodesk offers affordable, no-frills product design
tools to lots of smaller, mom-and-pop companies, I learned that their business
is significantly shifting to include more direct sales to large,
enterprise-level manufacturers like Intel, Nestle, and Parker Hannifin. In
fact, approximately a quarter of Autodesk’s manufacturing business now comes from
customers with over $2 billion in annual revenues, and it’s their fastest
growing segment within this vertical.
I just wrapped up the NAC Market Overview and it’s now live. This is the first Forrester NAC market overview and builds on the work I did for the original NAC Wave last year. I must say that the market overview is far less strenuous and we know it delivers almost as much value. It’s fair to say that I enjoyed this research piece, but I still need to gear up for refreshing the Wave next year. Until then, we can share a lot of good stuff about this market overview and I welcome your thoughts on it.
Writing this market overview was a great learning experience. And it’s even better when you can have meaningful conversations around the research. For example, I saw that someone started a discussion about the NAC solutions on LinkedIn’s “Network Security - IPS and NAC” forum. And very timely that someone referenced this market overview in the discussion — good to see readers benefit from these reports.
Yesterday evening, Microsoft announced at the 2009 Annual Educause Conference that they would be rolling out SharePoint-based collaboration and productivity services for universities via Live@edu. While this news arrived quietly at a conference to which collaboration software vendor strategists rarely pay attention, it is potentially game changing in the collaboration platform space. Let me say that again: the fact that Microsoft is getting SharePoint in the hands of the future business leaders of America (and beyond) during their formative years is potentially HUGE. But let’s back up for a second and bring everyone up to speed. For those unfamiliar, Live@edu is Microsoft’s hosted email and collaboration suite targeted at universities. It’s a free service that in the last four months saw over 5,000 schools sign up. One of the underlying goals of Live@edu is to get college students ready for the real world by letting them play with Microsoft tools in college.
At Forrester’s Services & Sourcing Forum earlier this month in Chicago, Patrick Connaughton and Duncan Jones led a breakout session on common problems with software selection, organizing the selection process, and negotiations strategy. Below are some tips from clients and vendors at the session.
Plan ahead One client recommended plotting the next 90 days of negotiation milestones in order to plan sourcing’s involvement. This helps you structure your approach so that you close the deal at the point when you have the best leverage. Formalizing and documenting the process also helps you demonstrate to the business that you did your homework.
Get involved before the vendor selection phase Establish the value of what you do and let the business know how you can help throughout the process. Bring information the VPs don’t have, like benchmarking. The earlier you are brought in, the more you can plan ahead, and the better your understanding of what is important to the business before you meet with vendors.
Focus on differentiators The RFP process is so mature that vendors often respond in a way that highlights themselves without showing any real differentiators. Don’t just use packaged, boilerplate RFPs — pare down the criteria to reflect what’s important to you.
You have more leverage as an early adopter, and when replacing a competitor In both cases the vendor is likely to send the A-team and to concede higher discounts. The vendor may see you as a potential marquis client that can act as a reference and even speak at events.
It had to happen eventually. The success of iPhone (now used by 14% of US, UK, and Canadian smartphone-using information workers) is driven signficantly by "there's an app for that." So that while a huge congratulations! is in order, getting to 100,000 applications available was just a matter of time. Mostly consumer apps, of course, but a growing number of business applications, including Cisco WebEx, Oracle Business Indicators, Roambi's Visualizer data dashboard toolkit, and Salesforce Mobile.
But what IT professionals need, particularly those focused on making information workers productive with smartphones, is much better support for managing custom and prepackaged business applications. (That along with a bunch of things like more robust security, easier device management, stronger encryption, more policy-based control over the device, things that RIM does but the largely Microsoft-controlled ActiveSync solution doesn't. But more on that another time).
Focusing here on applications, it's time for us all to insist that Apple make it easy for IT professionals to:
Support wireless application downloads.The current iTunes or iPhone Desktop Configurator solution just doesn't cut it for businesses. They need over-the-air download and update capability.
Push application updates. How else can IT feel confident that a business application will work?
Configure applications remotely. How else can in-field changes be supported?
Rosslyn announced today the launch of its free SaaS automated spend analysis tool, RA.Pid. This effort to bring spend analysis to the masses enabled by a SaaS deployment model is long overdue. Traditionally we see spend analysis solutions deployed as license based solutions installed locally on site. In today’s economy, companies are looking for alternatives to that model and Rosslyn really hits the mark with this offering. What was previously reserved for the most advanced procurement and sourcing teams is now being packaged into a simpler to use and setup solution -- enabling less advanced companies to get their feet wet. Click here to see the press release.
We followed up with some key questions you are likely asking about this free solution. Here are the highlights:
Forrester: How long can the user stay active without a fee? What other terms and conditions should we know about? Rosslyn Analytics: Organizations can use RA.Pid for free as long as they want. The only caveat is that one person per company is permitted to use RA.Pid for free. Subsequent corporate licenses cost $150 per person, per month.
Forrester: Are there any limitations on the volume of data? Number of uploads? Interfaces? Rosslyn Analytics: The data limit is 100 MB. This means a user could upload as many completed data templates (as many times as they want) up to this limit.
Forrester: Who owns the data? For example, does Rosslyn own it and could you in turn use it for benchmarking with other clients?