The Collaboration Device – Dell Streak Fits New Category

The Dell Streak launches this morning in the UK at O2 and Carphone Warehouse. Dell calls the Streak a 5” tablet – I see a slightly larger touchscreen smartphone that I hope will be ideal for collaboration tasks. While I have not performed a hands-on test, I did talk with Neeraj Choubey, general manager of tablets in Dell's Communications Solutions Group.

What does the Streak have? A 5” screen displays navigation, browser, and social networking. In addition to connectivity via Wi-Fi, 3G, and Bluetooth, the Streak boasts two cameras – a 5 megapixel camera on the back for taking pictures with the dual LED flash and a backward-facing VGA camera for videoconferencing. All this runs on Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipset and Google Android operating system.

Dell Streak Picture from Forrester Briefing

In today’s mobile world, information workers attend one or more meetings every day, and almost a third of their team members are not collocated with them (Ted Schadler writes about this in his report, “A Day In The Life Of A US Information Worker”). They are also out of the office more and more frequently – more than a third of information workers are out of the office regularly. This calls for solutions and devices that enable these mobile workers to communicate and collaborate – and the Streak fits nicely into market whitespace to fill this need.

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StrateTalk No. 3: Mark Foster, Group Chief Executive – Global Markets And Management Consulting, Accenture

StrateTalks (Strategy Talks) are summaries of my in-person exchanges with leaders at service and solution providers.

[05/13/10] It was 6:30 a.m. on Thursday morning when I checked out of the hotel and headed to Prudential Tower, where Accenture’s Boston office is located.

On the way there, I saw Mark Foster walking in front of me.

Mark joined Accenture in 1983 and has been the group chief executive for Accenture’s management consulting growth platform (technology and business process outsourcing [BPO] represent the two other growth platforms at Accenture) since 2006. However, Mark not only oversees the management consulting business but is also responsible for the growth, differentiation, and innovation agenda for Accenture overall.

He was also the person I was scheduled to meet at 7:00 a.m. to discuss Accenture’s strategy for innovating itself. Over the course of several meetings with executives of the management consulting leadership team, I identified some interesting ongoing initiatives intended to drive Accenture’s differentiation. I’d been wondering if these initiatives were just brewing in isolation or were really part of an overall strategy. This was the reason I needed to talk with Mark.

I called out to Mark; he turned around and greeted me. Together, we walked to the Prudential Tower, passed security, and took the elevator up to the Accenture floor.

What interests me about Accenture, besides the obvious facts around strategy, service portfolio, and go-to-market approach, is its culture — the true source for innovation and differentiation for any company. Accenture’s culture is in my opinion very consistent. If you talk to a consultant, manager, or an executive such as Mark, all reflect this open and collaborative culture.

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StrateTalk No. 2: Amy Quigley, VP Of Marketing, Continuum

StrateTalks (Strategy Talks) are summaries of my in-person exchanges with leaders at service and solution providers.

[05/11/10] After a long, but interesting, briefing with a service provider on its green IT and sustainability consulting services portfolio at our Cambridge, Mass., office, I jumped in a cab to Harvard Square.

I then met with Amy Quigley, VP of marketing at Continuum, an interesting firm. Why? More on that later. Amy has been with the company for about two years now. Prior to Continuum, she was in leading marketing roles at other firms, including Molecular and ATG.

What is Continuum? This was the overarching question I had had in my mind since contacting Amy about having this more philosophical-flavored chat.

Continuum’s Web site notes that it is an innovation and design consultancy. According to Amy, Continuum has three domains of expertise: brand, design, and strategy. I’m primarily interested in Continuum’s strategy approach, which is truly different. The firm leverages primarily design and creativity, rather than analytical, tools to help clients with their strategy. Some call this approach “design thinking”.

However, I do not like this term, and Amy agreed that it does not perfectly capture how Continuum attempts to position itself at executive levels. This is also one of the reasons why her company is currently undertaking a major repositioning effort. Amy shared some of the company’s early slides with me, and I agreed that the company is going in the right direction; for example, the firm is merging its areas of expertise and is creating research communities focused on business opportunities.

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StrateTalk No. 1: Kevin Bolen, Partner, Innosight

StrateTalks (Strategy Talks) are summaries of my in-person exchanges with leaders at service and solution providers.

[05/11/10] It was a sunny Tuesday morning in Cambridge, Mass., when I met with Kevin Bolen, who is one of the eight partners of Innosight. Before joining Innosight in 2007, Kevin was the chief marketing officer (CMO) of Lionbridge Technologies.

It’s been a while since our last chat and I was eager to get an update from Kevin on Innosight’s business and his perspective on the innovation consulting landscape.

As with most of the innovation consulting services specialist firms, Innosight was born through the innovation of a new paradigm/model. In this case: disruptive innovation, introduced by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen. He founded Innosight with Mark Johnson in 2000.

Ten years later, the firm employs about 50 people and is a publication machine. Why? At Innosight, partners/directors aren’t the only employees publishing articles and books such as Mark’s latest book, Seizing the Whitespace: Business Model Innovation for Growth and Renewal; even analysts (who are entry level at Innosight) are eligible to write.

For more than a year the firm has focused in particular on business model innovation (BMI) in publications and client engagements. BMI is certainly one of those buzz words that is slowly starting to annoy me. Why? All examples mentioned in this context are just a handful and always the same. Certainly, innovating a business model is as easy as grabbing an “Apple” from a tree.

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AT&T Business Solutions Drives Technological Innovation Into Practical Use

VMware’s Cloud Portability Promise Powered By Google

VMware’s Cloud Portability Promise Powered By Google

Every week the platform as a service (PaaS) market has something exciting happening. After VMware recently announced a partnership with salesforce.com to jointly develop vmforce, the virtualization expert today managed to be part of Google’s latest announcement of Google’s App Engine for Business. This is specifically important for ISVs.

Still, one of the biggest strategic concerns that ISVs have in  moving their applications into the cloud is the long term safety of an investment into a single technology stack or hosted PaaS offering. Led by IBM and other major vendors (except Google) the open cloud manifesto was launched last year along with other standard efforts to make the cloud more interoperable and portable. Actually, many cloud offerings even mean a double lock-in for ISVs – into the specific new technology stack and in many cases into the single hosting service of the PaaS vendor. The history of Java and web services teaches us that the path through standard bodies can be a solid basis to avoid these vendor lock-in situations. However, the tech industry has also learned, mainly from Microsoft, that the establishment of de-facto standards, evolved out of originally proprietary approaches, can in some cases be a faster path to market share.

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What Facebook And Google Can Learn From Avast! And AVG

The latest string of privacy fiascos from Google and Facebook lead me to wonder if they will ever learn to respect their consumer users. For both companies, I think one of the dynamics behind this is the fact that their these consumers aren’t the ones from whom the companies collect revenue, the incorrect conclusions the founders and executives derived from that, and the cultures they developed within their companies as they grew based on these erroneous assumptions.

Google has an almost innate ability to develop applications and services that unleash the power of the Internet to transform people’s lives. Yet the engineering culture that drives such stellar technical achievements is what hinders Google in their relationships with consumers. Google doesn’t have what it takes to run a consumer business: it’s just not in their DNA. This is how we can hear on the one hand about how Android is a smashing success from an engineering perspective and is purportedly now outselling the iPhone in the US, while learning the same week that Google is going to stop selling Nexus One direct to consumers.

To succeed with consumer products would require Google to have more polish and quality assurance beyond the core engineering challenge (versus relegating some services to the purgatory of perpetual beta), development of consumer customer support services (a la the Nexus One), and of course a more respectful approach to users (see: privacy).

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SAP Acquires Sybase To Capture Mobile Momentum

Earlier this week SAP acquired Sybase for $5.8 billion. Blogs from my colleagues Stefan Ried and Holger Kisker primarily address the database and business analytics components of the acquisition. However, it is important to recognize how prominently SAP emphasized Sybase’s success as a mobile middleware platform and solution provider as a key driver of the acquisition. SAP highlighted the importance of extending mobile applications to billions of mobile users worldwide over any device as a strategic imperative. Forrester’s 2010 survey of IT decision makers in nearly 2,000 North American and European enterprises highlights the critical role of mobile applications and smartphone devices in corporate strategic initiatives. When it comes to mobile applications, 45% of enterprises prioritize supporting more mobile applications for out of office users as a critical or high priority in the coming year, and 33% state that supporting more mobile applications for employees who work in the office is an important or critical priority. In addition, supporting the use of more smartphones is an important or critical priority for 44% of enterprises.

The Sybase acquisition will enable SAP to deliver mobile applications to the growing number of individuals using mobile devices and smartphones. Sybase has a suite of mobile solutions including the Sybase Unwired Platform, a mobile client development platform which supports device platforms including RIM, Google Android, and Apple iPhone. The Sybase 365 mobile messaging platform supports messages for over 700 enterprise customers, including many leading communication service providers. Mobile assets account for about one third of Sybase’s $1.2 billion revenues, and are the fastest growing segment of the business.

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Finally, SAP Is Acquiring (At Least A Mobile) Middleware

Finally, SAP Is Acquiring (At Least A Mobile) Middleware

SAP’s customers and the analyst community have been speculating about the possibility of SAP acquiring a middleware company for a while. After it had missed out on acquiring one of the heavyweights like BEA and hesitated over TIBCO and Progress Software, SAP and Sybase agreed yesterday on the $5.8 billion transaction.

Sybase used to be a database, but its database’s visibility in the market decreased so dramatically that, in a recent Forrester survey, it wasn’t considered to be a primary database choice by any application domain. A good share of the 4% of open source databases used in the ERP space are actually SAP’s open source MaxDB (based on SOFTWARE AG’s original ADABAS D), which is a default for SAP systems if a customer doesn’t provide a third-party database like Oracle or DB2. SAP is unlikely to replace this default database with Sybase. This would be an even less important database than MaxDB, which integrates well with NetWeaver. But different analysts have different opinion and you might like to look for Boris Evelson's take on the impact of Sybase's database. If SAP runs a careful post-merger process, it will recognize Sybase’s database knowledge and employ all the engineers who have already developed in-memory database capabilities to bring Hasso’s idea from the Palo Alto “garage” to full product availability. While SAP has deployed in-memory capabilities in its analytics technology stack, the in-memory capabilities for transactions are still in the lab.

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Polycom – Smooth Transition Of Leadership

Affirming Polycom’s faith in Andrew (Andy) Miller’s strategy (he has been the public face of Polycom’s drive to develop an open collaborative ecosystem), the board announced today that he will replace Robert (Bob) Hagerty as CEO. Mr. Hagerty is also leaving his position as Chairman of the Board, where he will be replaced by lead outside director, David DeWalt, the CEO of McAfee, who has been on Polycom’s board since 2005. Bob will be retained in an advisory role by Polycom’s Board of Directors, and will support Andy in executing his strategy, but primarily he plans to pursue a more relaxed pace of business activity following his departure.

Andy Miller joined Polycom approximately 10 months ago as executive vice president of global field operations, having been a senior executive in the industry for nearly two decades. Mr. Miller held senior roles at Monster and then IPC Systems (a communications reseller/integrator) after serving TANDBERG as CEO from 2001 to 2005. Prior to joining TANDBERG as CEO, Mr. Miller had been with Cisco Systems serving in a variety of senior marketing and sales roles. Mr. Miller has been a vocal proponent of delivering video and audio communications (not just conferencing!) in the context of the open, unified communications value chain. He is the executive I believe to have been most influential in the formation of the Polycom Open Collaboration Network, and I expect to see more from him and Polycom on that topic soon!

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