The Battle Of Partner Eco-Systems

On the need to analyze, compare and rate partner eco-systems – please vote.

The world is becoming more and more complex and so are the business challenges and their related IT solutions. Today no single vendor can provide complete end-to-end solutions from physical assets to business process optimization. Some large vendors like IBM, Oracle or HP, have extended their solution footprint to cover more and more of the four IT core markets hardware, middleware software, business applications and services but still require complementary partner solutions to cover end-to-end processes. Two examples of emerging complex IT solutions include:

  • Smart Computing integrates the physical world with business process optimization via four steps: Awareness (sensors, tags etc.), Analysis (analytic solutions), Alternatives (business applications with decision support) and Action (feedback loop into the physical world). A few specialized vendors such as Savi Technology can cover the whole portfolio from sensors to business applications for selected scenarios. However, in general a complete solution requires many partners working closely together to enable an end-to-end process.
  • Cloud Computing includes different IT resources (typically infrastructure, middleware and applications) which are offered in pay-by-use, self-service models via the internet. The seamless consumption of these resources for the end user anytime and anywhere however requires multiple technologies, processes and a challenging governance model often with many different stakeholder involved, behind the scene.
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Contract Lifecycle Management: "Currently using, but in a limited way"

Last week I had the opportunity to present the first half of a teleconference on contract lifecycle management (CLM) hosted by the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) and Zycus. You should be able to view the recording in its entirety within a week or so here. It was a good session covering the basics of CLM as well as some specific best practices so I recommend taking a look. As part of the presentation we polled the listeners on a few key questions and I'd like to share the results as well as some insights.

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Three Top Questions To Ask a BI Vendor

By Boris Evelson

 

An editor from a leading IT magazine asked me this question just now, so I thought I'd also blog about it. Here it goes:

 

Q1: What are the capabilities of your services organization to help clients not just with implementing your BI tool, but with their overall BI strategy.

 

The reason I ask this as a top question, is that most BI vendors these days have modern, scalable, function rich, robust BI tools. So a real challenge today is not with the tools, but with governance, integration, support, organizational structures, processes, etc – something that only experienced consultants can help with.
 
Q2:  Do you provide all components necessary for an end to end BI environment (data integration, data cleansing, data warehousing, performance management, portals, etc in addition to reports, queries, OLAP and dashboards)?
 
If a vendor does not you'll have to integrate these components from multiple vendors.
 
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Windows 7 Early Adopters Were Satisfied Upgraders

We've just published two new reports concerning Windows 7 adoption and satisfaction, leveraging Forrester's Consumer Technographics(R) data. 

The reports show that Windows 7 penetrated the consciousness of the market by the end of 2009, with a strong majority of US consumers aware of the product.  We also found that consumers who adopted Windows 7 in Q4 were generally very satisfied with their Windows 7 PCs. 

Perhaps the most interesting finding of the reports involves upgrade behaviors. Historically, most consumers have not upgraded their PCs with new OSes -- though Mac users and some technophile consumers have been an exception on this count.  Instead, the majority of consumers have acquired new OSes when they purchase their new PC.  These are known as "replacement cycle upgrades." 

With Windows 7, however, upgrade behavior was much stronger.  Why?  In short, Windows 7 is a thinner client program than was Windows Vista, meaning that it works well on older hardware configurations.  In the past, OSes were designed with Moore's Law as an underlying assumption -- that is, that newer PC hardware would be significantly faster and more powerful than the previous generation's hardware. Windows 7, however, is a less burdensome OS than Windows Vista.  The rise of Netbooks, the physical assets of multi-PC households, and an attachment by many consumers to their Windows XP machines all contributed to the need for a sleeker, thinner Windows OS, which Windows 7 delivered. 

Among early adopters of Windows 7, in Q4, for the first time upgrading behavior matched replacement cycle purchasing, as this Figure shows:

 

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Jive Enters The Innovation Management Space

I just took a briefing from Jive Software about their new innovation management tool, Jive Ideation.  The fact that Jive is now formally dedicated to the innovation space is significant – a move that has ramifications for the broader innovation management market, and for sourcing professionals. 

Forrester has been covering the innovation management market for several years, and written about it as a “unique” market.  We have always, however, recognized that the distinctions between this market and other markets -- particularly the social collaboration market -- were thin.

The arrival of Jive into the ideation space shows just how thin those boundaries are.  Jive has made a name for itself over the past few years as a social collaboration tool.  The company differentiates on its ability to connect a wide variety of enterprise users (both internal and external), and integrate easily with a host of technologies – making it appealing to a range of business and IT buyers.  Since collaboration is a critical component of innovation, its not a stretch to see how Jive’s collaboration tools can be applied to their client's innovation objectives.

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Should the VMO own contract lifecycle management?

 

I'm currently researching the ROI of the Vendor Management Office (VMO) -- looking to help answer key questions like:  

 

  • Of the services the VMO provides to the company, which have the most value?
  • What are best practices for establishing VMO credibility across the org?
  • How is VMO performance being measured?  


With about 25 VMO interviews completed so far I've seen a surprising trend -- when asked what VMO services provide the most value to the organization, contract lifecycle management is consistently front and center.

Now, it makes sense that many VMOs are involved in some stage of the contract as an IT domain expert but these folks are actually taking ownership of the entire process -- building contract templates, authoring, owning the approval and review cycles, as well as ongoing monitoring. Some VMOs are also even leading the charge to bring in new software tools to automate this process and get better control of overall contract lifecycle management (CLM). Why?

Given the unique, complex and risky nature of many IT contracts, the CPO's organization is staying hands off and relying on the IT specialists to create a favorable deal that’s enforceable. 

OK, makes sense. Buy why should the VMO really own the process end to end?

My initial reaction is no, it shouldn’t. And many of my VMO interviews agree -- but have still heroically stepped in to fill the void short of an alternative.  

What do I recommend?  

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No No No: The Curiously Absent Architecture of Postmodern Analytic Databases

Some say architecture is destiny. But it seems as if the world of analytic databases is moving on many fronts in all directions with no particular destination. That, in fact, is probably a good working definition of “postmodern.”

That’s the only reasonable conclusion you can draw from the sprawling mess of a movement known as “NoSQL.” It defines itself by what it is not, which would be easy to do if all it were rebelling against were something well-defined, such as the need to use Structured Query Language (SQL) to access, query, update, and manipulate data, or the need to store and manage that data in third-normal-form relational databases.

But no.  The NoSQL movement seems to fancy itself a catchall for all things “next-generation database,” though even there it is not clear what exactly they’re rebelling against. Check out this “NoSQL” scoping definition on the movement’s principal website: “Next Generation Databases [are] non-relational, distributed, open-source...horizontally scalable... modern web-scale databases....schema-free, replication support, easy API, eventual consistency, and more.”

Whew! If that non-definition didn’t leave you gasping for breath, the unruly menagerie of “No SQL” database approaches listed on the website will completely rob you of your oxygen supply. Apparently, this movement includes an unholy host of old and new database approaches, including wide column store/ column families, document store, key value/ tuple store, eventually consistent key value store, graph databases, object databases, grid database solutions, and XML databases.

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Who Is Responsible For BPM At Your Firm?

During Forrester’s most recent 2010 Global Business Process Improvement Online Survey of 141 companies we identified three types of organizations: a) organizations in which the process improvement team works separately from IT (to the extent they operate entirely independently); b) organizations where IT leads the improvement program and c) organizations where the process improvement team operates independently, but works closely with IT. 

 

I have two questions to you:

  1. Which of these three types is more mature from a governance point of view a, b, or c?
  2. For the type you think to be most mature, who is responsible, accountable, contributing and informed (RACI) for making process improvement decisions?
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Frequent Computing Customers Need Local Providers: Where are the "Cloud Team" and "Cloud Alliance" Partner Programs?

flightmap.PNGHello from Dubai!  I arrived a few days ago for customer visits across the region including UAE, Qatar and Bahrain.  Although I’ve traveled extensively, this is my first trip to the Middle East. 

As a frequent flyer (both in terms of travel and airline loyalty), I looked first to my preferred airlines when I booked my flights to the region.  Neither of them (yes, I fly two airlines regularly which suggests that I’m not all that loyal) provided service to my destinations.  So, I looked for a partner airline – one that is part of my preferred airlines’ networks.  I went with Emirates which not only serves the Gulf States I was planning to visit, but enabled me to stay within network and collect my frequent flier miles. Why do I mention this?  Well, I have been thinking about that model of a “Star Alliance” or a “Skyteam,” and how it could apply to service providers of other kinds. 

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TIBCO jumps onto MDM M&A train with acquisition of data matching vendor Netrics.

On March 25, 2010 TIBCO Software announced that they acquired Netrics, a small, private data matching vendor.    TIBCO and Netrics had a pre-existing OEM relationship that was originally announced in June 2009, where TIBCO embedded the Netrics match engine into its Collaborative Information Manager (CIM) master data management (MDM) solution.  

Netrics differentiates its advanced matching engine by describing how it “Matches data based on a mathematical model that mimics human perception of similarity, identifying hidden relationships in the data.”   The Netrics matching engine includes a self-learning capability that improves the confidence in its matches over time by also evaluating manual matches made by business users.   Netrics business and technology approach to this market made it a ripe (and obvious) acquisition target since it developed the match engine to be completely embeddable in existing applications with the vast majority of its revenue coming from OEM and SI channels. In addition to TIBCO, Netrics current MDM OEM partners also include Data Foundations and Kalido. This bodes well for TIBCO’s ability to further integrate these capabilities into its product portfolio.

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