Ariba Live 2010: Crowdsourcing, Rhythm Drums, And A Touch Of Good Old Fashioned ERP Badmouthing

Today started with breakfast in the supplier pavilion at Ariba Live and I have to say, this place is PACKED. Ariba reports over 1,000 attendees and there’s hardly an empty chair. In fact, they had to pull in extra chairs at the back of the room for the keynote sessions. I’m no economist but a filled to capacity software vendor event is a good signal to me that companies are now starting to revisit major application investments that have been on hold for the last two years.

Taking a walk to scope out the breakfast bounty I did notice that the services procurement vendors, Beeline and Fieldglass, both had booths set up front and center in the supplier pavilion. These are well spent marketing dollars as each vendor looks to position themselves to fill Ariba’s whitespace in what’s becoming a white hot software category. D&B was also a very visible sponsor, another smart move given Ariba customers’ insatiable appetite for supplier information and data enrichment services. The opening on the main stage had the typical flash, bang introduction with a live band and Blue Man Group styled actors creatively called the “Cloud Guys” moving to the “complex rhythm of commerce.” As I soon realized, this was not the last time we’d hear the term “cloud” at this event. The nice lady sitting next to me (who will remain anonymous to protect the innocent) leaned over and asked me, “I see cloud this and cloud that everywhere — what does it all mean?” Good question.

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Contact Center Managers Embrace Home Agents As Smart Move

Propelled by the adoption of IP telephony, more contact center managers are getting serious about ramping up their home agent program. Many pilots for home agents are now expanding into larger agent populations and compelling companies to take a closer look at its benefits and risks. Forrester’s 2010 survey of contact center decision makers found that 35% of companies had plans for expanding their home agent program during the next 12 months.

I think to successfully augment contact center operations with home based agents you need to take the proper precautionary steps to ensure a secure environment for both workers’ and customers’ data, have adequate help desk support available during all shifts and establish clear guidelines for managers of remote agents. Forrester clients with home agents report positive benefits, such as improving their recruitment opportunities, attracting higher educated and more experienced workers, and lowering their absenteeism and attrition rates. However, there are also concerns regarding the management of home agents, such as more time troubleshooting for PC problems and less visibility on their after call work activities. I believe these factors can be reduced by appointing a virtual support team to supervise remote agents and providing them with easy access during working hours to subject matter and technical experts who can deliver immediate support for the more complex issues.

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Join Forrester’s New Online Community For Application Development & Delivery Professionals

Hello, I have exciting news! Hot on the heels of our new blog platform, Forrester has launched an online community for app development and delivery pros focused on the key business challenges that leaders of application delivery organizations face every day. The community is a place for leaders to exchange ideas, opinions, and real-world solutions with each other. Forrester analysts will also be part of the community, helping facilitate the discussions and sharing their views.

The community is open to all application development professionals.

Here’s what you’ll find:

  • A simple platform on which you can pose your questions and get advice from peers who face the same business or technology challenges.
  • Insight from our analysts, who weigh in frequently on the issues and point to relevant research. 
  • Fresh perspective from peers, who share their real-world success stories, best practices, and templates.
  • Content on the latest technologies and trends affecting your business — from Forrester and other thought leaders.

 

I encourage you to become part of the community:

  • Ask a question about a complex business or technology problem.
  • Start a discussion on an emerging trend that’s having an impact on your work.
  • Contribute to an existing discussion thread from a community member.
  • Share templates with your peers for common artifacts like job specs or requirements.
  • Suggest topics for upcoming Forrester research reports.
  • Create a community profile.
  • Share your perspective with others.
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And The Long Sought Replacement For Email Is . . .

Email sucks, right? It undermines workplace communication and knowledge sharing with its 1-to-1, letter-writing paradigm. Its lame attempt to be open and communal via carbon copies (yes, that’s “cc”) leads only to splintered conversations and further confusion. And then there are attachments, which are modeled on the stuff that used to accompany your letter. 

(“Dear Sirs: Enclosed please find the 1500 page unsolicited manuscript of my first novel, entitled  ‘Email: Threat or Menace? – A Comedy.’ I have also enclosed a testimonial from my 8th-grade creative writing teacher, Mrs. Cartwright, and a home movie of my visit to Walden Pond. I trust you have a Super-8 movie projector handy?”)

 Attachments mock security policies and the effort to establish a single version of the truth, and they surrender control over the structure and flow of a multiple-part presentation to the random whims of the order in which the receiver opens (or, doesn’t open) the multiple attachments.

Enterprise 2.0 enthusiasts (count me in) have argued for several years that Email’s manifest deficiencies could and would be overcome with open, social, and dynamic 2.0-based communication and collaboration tools. However, there’s also long been the recognition that Email – or rather, Email users – would not go down without a fight.

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No Half-Stepping: IBM Re-Enters The B2B Service Provider Market In A Big Way

This morning IBM announced that it has reached an agreement with AT&T to buy its Sterling Commerce division for $1.4 billion. This is a true win-win situation with both parties gaining something valuable. IBM gets a functioning B2B network with 18,000 customers and a strong selling and fulfillment product line while Sterling Commerce gets access to true SOA capabilities via the WebSphere product line. There are real opportunities for synergies here. IBM is re-entering a market that it exited in 2005 when it sold its IBM Business Exchange Business to GXS, the world's largest B2B service provider. More on this later. What's your impression? Drop me a line at kvollmer@forrester.com.

Thanks,

Ken

SAPPHIRE NOW 2010 – The Quest For Innovation

 

 

 

The Name

This year SAPPHIRE officially changed its name and became SAPPHIRE NOW. Why? Different answers from different people. Those that should know said: "The new name stresses the urgency." Urgency for whom, SAP? And will the next SAPPHIRE be named SAPPHIRE THEN? Never change a successful brand.

The Event

Another premiere for SAPPHIRE was the simultaneous show in Orlando, US and Frankfurt, Germany. With 5,000 attendees in Frankfurt, 10,500 in Orlando and 35,000 online participants, this was the biggest SAPPHIRE event ever. I must admit I was concerned going to Frankfurt while everyone in Walldorf desperately tried to escape to Orlando. Who wants to attend a second-hand event? But now I’m a believer. SAP managed to balance the important parts of the show between Orlando and Frankfurt. Keynotes were held simultaneously in both locations via virtual video connection and speakers in both cities. In general I never had the feeling I would miss anything important in Frankfurt simply because it was the smaller event overall. It didn’t make a difference if I couldn’t attend another 400 presentations in Frankfurt or 800 in Orlando from the total of 1,200+ presentations – I had a packed agenda and got all that I expected and needed, including 1:1 meetings with SAP executives like Jim Snabe. The simultaneous, virtual set-up not only helped to save a lot of cost, it created a sense of a bigger virtual community and underlined SAP’s ambitions for more sustainability. To all that traveled intercontinental: Shame on you, next year stay in your home region!

The Stars

Like every show SAPPHIRE 2010 had its stars as well:

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What Is A City, Let Alone A "Smart" One?

While I started my previous blog post with the observation that KACST was not a “city,” Caroline Spicer, Strategy and Market Development Leader for IBM Global Business Services, made the point later in the day that there is not “a city” but many models of cities depending on future vision. There are a couple of points to draw out here. There is not one model of a smart city.  Cities can focus on particular initiatives based on their leaders’ (and their constituents’) priorities and vision for the future of the city. As Caroline pointed out these might be:

  • The well-planned city – focused on urban design and development
  • The healthy and safe city – focused on health
  • The sustainable eco-city – focused on the environment
  • The city of innovation – focused on science and technology, the knowledge base
  • The city of commerce – focused on trade and retail
  • The cultural or convention hub – focused on tourism
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The Evolution Of Green IT: A Forrester Video Series, Part 1

[Scroll down to view Forrester’s “The Evolution Of Green IT” video… don’t worry, it’s only 3:30 minutes.]

At Forrester, we’re always exploring new ways to connect with our clients and fit into their busy schedules. And as an analyst on Forrester’s IT Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) research team, I’m well aware of how time-pressed our clients can be. The I&O professional is oftentimes characterized as the “fire fighter” of the IT organization, dropping everything at any hour of the day to ensure their business’s critical IT infrastructure – from servers to PCs to mobile devices – is running without a hitch… and on-time and on-budget.

With that said, I’m particularly interested in “testing” out video to supplement my published research and my blogs on the Forrester.com website. To that end, below is part one of a two part video series on “The Evolution Of Green IT” – a topic I am increasingly receiving client inquiries on as organizations try to determine their green IT maturity and future trajectory.

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IT Forum EMEA 2010: Talking Cloud With James Staten

At Forrester's IT Forum EMEA 2010 this year, cloud computing is one of the hot topics that everyone wants to talk about. There are so many implications for every IT professional from CIO on down. Forrester Principal Analyst James Staten has become one of the most widely read and influential analysts on the topic and will be presenting his ideas at both the US event in Las Vegas next week and Lisbon June 9-11. We decided to get some insight into his event content plans to get the dialog going.

YATES: Hi James. You've been researching cloud computing for a couple of years now. What new ideas and lessons will you bring to our Forums this year?
STATEN: I want everyone to know that cloud computing is no longer an "if" but a "when." You must take steps now to understand what it really is, how and where it can deliver value to your organization and how you need to approach managing it. Is it best to stick with SaaS or should you be deploying new services directly to the public clouds like Amazon EC2 or Windows Azure? What applications are candidates for the cloud, and which should remain in-house? And for how long? Those are the questions I'll be tackling in my keynote speech in Las Vegas. In the track sessions in Las Vegas and Lisbon, we'll be diving into justifying your cloud investments. We'll review the ROI of cloud computing, identify the most efficient uses of infrastructure cloud services, apply what others have learned to our attendees' organizations.

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“What BI Is Not” Forrester TweetJam Recap And Takeaways

On May 13th, Forrester analysts Boris Evelson, Jim Kobielus, Gene Leganza, Holger Kisker and Noel Yuhanna joined me in hosting a data management TweetJam on the topic “What BI is Not!” using the hashtag #dmjam. (You can still see the results and ongoing conversation if you search the hashtag.)

During this one-hour TweetJam, we asked the following questions, leaving 10 minutes of Tweet-time between each question:

  • Do you prefer the broad or the narrow definition of BI? Should ETL, DQ, DW, MDM be considered part of BI?
  • How should we differentiate BI and analytics?
  • What’s the difference between business intelligence and other forms of “intelligence” like competitive intelligence, market intelligence?
  • Is convergence of structured and unstructured information hype or reality?
  • Is BI looking only through the rear-view mirror, or should historical and predictive BI be one and the same?
  • How will social media impact traditional BI?

The response to this event was extraordinary, and we have a large community of data management and BI thought leaders who joined the conversation to thank. During that single hour there were over 360 Tweets with 65 unique Tweeters actively joining the conversation (not including those who only listened). If you include Tweets leading up to the event and the continued conversation after the event, we’ve seen over 480 Tweets and over 100 Tweeters … and growing.  

But what did we accomplish (aside from providing an entertaining distraction for a number of people)? Below, I’ve summarized a sampling of the takeaways that were shared by some of our participants on each question:

1. Do you prefer the broad or the narrow definition of BI? Should ETL, DQ, DW, MDM be considered part of BI?

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