Certain events serve as wake-up calls. In the case of some, the anticipation of these events is enough to spark action or change behavior – maybe even spur technology investment. As technology marketers, we need to recognize the opportunity that these events provide. Obviously, we also need to be ready to exploit them.
Which events could be catalyzing events from a technology purchasing decision? It could be as simple as the approach of a new millennium: Y2K fears spurred major investment. New regulation is an easy one to identify: IT buyers scrambled to upgrade security and implement data archiving and discovery software after the passage of the EU Data Protection Act and subsequent country-level legislation, as was also the case following passage of HIPAA, SOX, Basel II and others. The events of 9/11 certainly spurred concerns about cyber and other types of security. More recently, following last week’s blackouts in Brazil, leaders issued new commitments to energy reform. Natural disaster, crime waves and other negative events also catalyze technology investments.
Recent research undertaken by Forrester across Asia Pacific has indicated that while there is clearly a strong drive to improve the efficiency of IT systems, this will not often be through the implementation of process improvement systems, such as ITIL or CMM.
Major IT Management Themes In Asia Pacific
Source: Enterprise Global Technology Adoption Survey, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East, And Africa, Q1 2009
So why has interest in these processes suddenly plummeted in Asia Pacific? While I have no strong evidence of the answer to the question, the many discussions I have had with IT leaders across the region leads me to believe that a number of factors have lead organizations to delay or put a stop to their ITIL process improvements and their broader ITSM initiatives.
Recently, Forrester surveyed a number of CIOs to collect benchmark data on staffing ratios and spending. This is a new initiative within Forrester and one that is not yet complete. We did this for three reasons:
Benchmark questions (called inquiries at Forrester) on staffing have become relatively common. Examples are “Can you tell us the average share of IT Staff as a % of total staff by organization size” and “Would you have specific spending figures for IT infrastructure?”.
This kind of data in conjunction with other data and analysis can identify problem areas.
Staffing benchmark data along with spending and other data are objective measures of IT organizations.
Though our initial sample size is small a preliminary view of the data shows that:
Last week at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference we found more evidence of the changing nature of enterprise collaboration. Both customers and vendors provided evidence that social networking was quickly moving into the enterprise landscape and warrants the attention due a potential game changer. There are three trends that warrant attention:
Forward thinking organizations are developing broad collaboration strategies that embrace social networking while recognizing and managing associated risk. In fact, it is becoming clear that a well managed strategy with regard to social in the enterprise should lower risk associated privacy, security and compliance. Sounds counter-intuitive? Well, transparency is a beautiful thing.
The vendor landscape is vibrant. At many conferences these days, the standard refrain is "in this economy". Not here. Vendors are investing heavily in new capabilities and are being rewarded with robust business.
Great line from Rocky, one of my favorite movies, as Apollo Creed's manager recognizes that the underdog needs to be taken more seriously. In this particular scenario Cisco is the underdog. I'm currently listening to Cisco's vision for collaboration and in this market, they are an underdog. Microsoft is the 800 pound gorilla and IBM is a pretty big beast as well. In a market dominated by a small number of software powerhouses, why do we want to take Cisco seriously? For a few reasons:
The market is going through multiple disruptions: the move to the cloud, the move to unified communications, the increasingly pervasive adoption of Web 2.0 technologies, etc. A market in disruption is an opportunity.
Cisco is already a player. Really. WebEx is a big part of many organization's collaboration portfolio and was the first commercially successful SaaS based collaboration offering. They own a lot of eyeballs and they are good at SaaS. The Jabber acquisition was a key move that is just beginning to show full value by delivering standards based presence and IM across the entire portfolio.
Microsoft announced the general availability of Exchange Server 2010 yesterday. For information & knowledge management professionals and for the productivity of information workers, there are five good reasons to upgrade:
Much cheaper storage. Exchange 2007 introduced a new storage model, where the email server manages direct-attached storage. Exchange 2010 extends that capability and in the words of one beta customer, "We have reduced the overall costs for our storage by 30% while increasing the usable disk space nine times." This benefit comes from using cheap direct-attached storage in lieu of storage area networks.
Support for much bigger mailboxes. Most firms limit mailbox size to 100-250 MB for good reasons: storage cost, nightly backup windows too short, eDiscovery hassles. Exchange 2010 has much faster I/O (Microsoft says 15 times faster than in Exchange 2003) and improved storage management that allows direct-attached storage and cheap disks. Net it out, and it becomes much easier to expand the mailboxes to 1-2 GB.
Cisco's John Chambers has made "collaboration" a strategy for the company's customers and employees. And enterprise GM Tony Bates is now tasked with driving that strategy. I'm writing from Cisco's launch event in San Francisco. (Well, it's actually still going on.)
There's a lot to digest and analzye, which we'll do over time. But I wanted to share some early thoughts . . .
This week's announcement marks Cisco's formal entry into the broader collaboration market, long fragmented and dominated by IBM and Microsoft for applications and by Tandberg and Polycom for video conferencing.
The company claims 61 products and features, but the key components are email, instant messaging, web conferencing, social software, and video conferencing as well as network-based services like a business TelePresence directory and policy-controlled content tagging. And in the words of Tony Bates, "a video stream runs through all of it."
Cisco's strategy for collaboration fascinates me because it's bold and frankly orthogonal to Microsoft's desktop productivity path and IBM's workgroup history. It's also enterprise-grade by default, unlike Google's consumer-first approach. But I'm fascinated and I believe IT pros should be interested in Cisco's solutions for three reasons:
What is the CIO's role in driving social media into organizations? Listening to many of our clients it seems that it is often that of "social police" - IT gets asked by legal to block any and all social media applications. While in some cases security concerns drive the decision, in others it's deemed a compliance issue. There are also those who believe blocking social media improves productivity.
The trouble with this approach is that it assumes social media can and should be stopped with technology. The fact is many people are already using web-enabled social applications in the workplace on their own personal smartphones (
Last month I had the pleasure of keynoting the "International IT Convergence Conference" in Seoul, sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy. It was a fascinating combination of academic conference, government policy discussion, and technology trade show. And also my first opportunity to visit Korea.
The theme of the conference, and topic of the panel discussion I participated in, was "IT convergence." Convergence means many things to different people; in this case, convergence means the collision or combination of information technology and other industries, i.e., embedding IT capabilities in transportation, healthcare, construction, and etc. The case was well-argued by a number of speakers, and the example stories were compelling: phones becoming pocket computers, ships becoming floating computers, buildings becoming hi-rise computers, and the like. And we didn't have to stretch too far to imagine that big parts of the IT industry itself will eventually be subsumed into these other industries, becoming as important and ubiquitous -- and invisible -- as, say, electric motors.
Big opportunities for IT hardware, software, and services. But I felt it important to point out that such embedding or tailoring of IT systems into industrial and consumer systems will come with risks and challenges for IT suppliers, including: