Welcome To Retail, Google

As I wrote following the launch of Google's Nexus One phone and its online retail store, Google will be an influential retailer, but isn't today because what they offer isn't different from what's available from carriers or merchants like Best Buy or Amazon — it's only differentiated by its exclusive on a hot device.

Most people who buy phones today want to feel the heft of the device, play with its UI, get a sense of the experience of using it since they're making a long term commitment to it. As a result, most phones are sold at operators' retail outlets or at physical retailers. During the launch event I asked Google's Andy Rubin, the driving force behind Android, whether they felt that they may in the future need to expand to include physical retail (such as a carrier partner's stores). He said no, that consumers are increasingly going to buy their phones online just like they buy digital cameras. He is likely correct, but (again, as I wrote) that time is well into the future.

What wasn't explicit in my question, and which the initial flurry of Nexus One sales experiences has exposed, is the stark reality that being in the retail phone business involves a lot more than the sale itself. Today the news is full of stories of Nexus One owners frustrated at their inability to get access to a human being to help resolve problems or answer questions related to their new phone. (It hasn't helped that the device itself appears to have some problems accessing T-Mobile's 3G network, and that buyers may not have checked the presence of 3G coverage where they live and/or work.)

What lessons should we draw from this?

Read more

The Forrester 2010 Integration Alternatives Update Is Now Available

Our annual evaluation of application, process and data integration solutions is now available on our Web site; "2010 Update: Evaluating Integration Alternatives" by Forrester analysts Ken Vollmer, Rob Karel and Noel Yuhanna.

Here's the executive summary:

"Just as in 2009, technical innovation and merger and acquisition (M&A) activity have continued to have a significant impact on the integration space. The most common trend has been the expansion of existing

Read more

Social Computing Becomes An Enterprise IT Sourcing Issue

If you believe the outpourings in the media, social computing is set to turn our lives on their heads. It's true that we've all had to learn a new Internet language over the past decade. A recent poll made "tweet" (posting a message on Twitter) the word of the year for 2009. But how important is social computing in the workplace? No doubt many individuals (even some outside California) have welded tweeting into their lifestyles.

Read more

Why VMWare Bought Zimbra: It's The Seats, Stupid

Zimbra has been the sleeper cloud-based email provider for the enterprise. I've known about the Bechtel deal -- roughly 50,000 seats globally -- for some time, but couldn't talk about it. Though it's been a while since I've spoken to Ramesh May, he did share some important facts with me:

1. Zimbra's code base is open source, with a 20,000 active members in the community. The Zimbra code base runs on Linux. It can be downloaded to run on-premises and it also is the foundation of Zimbra's cloud email service.

2. Yahoo! Zimbra was selling an email seat for $28/mailbox/year for 50+ seats. We'll be interested to see how the pricing changes.

3. The company was working with the community on adding instant messaging, expanding widgets, and building an offline email client. We also saw some interesting mashup and document viewing features.

4. Back in April, the company had 130 employees, 600+ .edu customers, 44M mailboxes, and 60,000 customers.

So why hasn't Zimbra been bigger on the national stage selling its hosted (80% of seats) and on-premises (20% of seats) email and calendaring solution? Two reasons.

First, Yahoo! did not build a direct sales force that way Google and every other enterprise email provider did.

Second, because a lot of these seats are sold through service providers. Comcast and NTT Communications have been selling Zimbra seats. You may be running Zimbra and not even know it.

So now it becomes clearer why VMWare bought this massively successful email provider. 

Read more

Case Study #2: How Lenovo Implemented Customer Service Social Media Best Practices

The Second Case Study on Customer Service Social Media: How To and The Results...

If you have been following this blog, you might remember that I posted this a while back. But with the new year here, I thought it might be good to repeat some of the case studies while adding new ones... just incase you missed them or incase you wanted a refresher as you start down the path of providing a solution to your company social media needs!

This is the second case studies in the series on Customer Service Social Media Best Practices! You might be wondering what I meant by "ownership." In organizational change management language... there are three stages of project success - awareness, buy-in and ownership. Here ownership doesn't me "owning" like it's mine - not yours. It means taking 100% responsibility for leading and faciliating solid, genuine, collaborative relationships with the whole company to further the whole company's succcess. Here's more details on how Lenovo accomplished their social media goals!

Why Did Lenovo Consider Social Media?

When Lenovo acquired the IBM PC computing division, they realized customers were talking about their products on 3rd party forums like notebookreview.com and thinkpads.com. They felt left out of these important customer conversations. To remedy that, they took ownership and lead the customer social media interactions.

Read more

BPM Suites: Picking Up The Pieces The Day After

There’s no doubt about it. The BPM suite market has fundamentally changed, now that IBM announced plans to buy Lombardi, and Progress Software sealed the deal on Savvion yesterday. Two little vendors . . . and you would think, given all the reaction, that something really big happened. But in many ways, that’s the case.

Ok, why are these two deals so important? Lots of reasons, including:

Read more

Razor, Blades, and 10x: Key to Value-Based Pricing in the Data Warehousing Appliance Market

Price-performance is everything in data warehousing (DW), and it’s become the leading battleground for competitive differentiation.

As I noted in a blog post last month, the price of a fully configured DW appliance solution has dropped by an order of magnitude over the past 2-3 years, and it’s likely to continue declining. In 2010, many DW vendors will lower the price of their basic appliance products to less than $20,000 per usable terabyte (TB), which constitutes the new industry threshold pioneered by Oracle, Netezza, and other leading DW vendors.

But that’s just a metric of price, not price-performance. Ideally, each DW appliance vendor should be able to provide you with a metric that tells you exactly how much performance “bang” you’re getting for all those bucks. In a perfect world, all vendors would use the same price-performance metric and you would be able to compare their solutions side by side.

But, as I noted a year ago in another blog post, truly comparable cross-vendor DW benchmarks have never existed and are unlikely to emerge in today’s intensively competitive arena. No two DW vendors provide performance numbers that are based on the same configurations, workloads, and benchmark metrics. And considering how sensitive these performance claims are to so many variables in the vendors’ solutions and in customers’ production environments, it can be quite difficult to verify every vendor performance claim in your specific environment.

Read more

Taking a stand. You go Google!

Just sharing a blog that could make a huge impact on the business, economics, and politics of China.  I’ve excerpted the key portions for you below:

A new approach to China

1/12/2010 03:00:00 PM

Like many other well-known organizations, we face cyber attacks of varying degrees on a regular basis. In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident–albeit a significant one–was something quite different.

First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses–including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors–have been similarly targeted. We are currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the relevant U.S. authorities.

Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.

Read more

It's Open Season In The Integration Space!

During the past month there has been a rash of acquisitions/mergers announced that will have a direct impact on many integration software and service providers. First let's look at the details.

IBM's announcement that it will acquire Lombardi tops the list with the highest potential customer impact. The IBM WebSphere stack is widely used and the Lombardi acquisition will provide stronger human-centric BPM features to what is already available to IBM customers. Look at Clay Richardson’s blog for more specifics on the IBM/Lombardi deal.

Read more

What’s Your Sourcing Archetype?

In 2010 the bottom line for sourcing groups is where and how you deliver value to your business. Successful teams are those that truly recognize what it is that line of business stakeholders need from their IT providers — either cheap cost effective service delivery; better operational performance or unique and competitive solutions that change the game. Based on my dealings with clients and analyzing Forrester inquiry data, I’ve detected three distinct sourcing archetypes at work, each guided by different motivations, metrics and engagement types.

Read more