As I fly to IT Forum in Las Vegas, I am reading with interest the latest copy of Wired Magazine. Within the normal collection of interesting geek-fest, I stumbled upon a story about Pixar.
It appears that making films is a bit like software projects. They tend to be late, cost too much money, and the value of the project is hard to determine. There is one picture company that does not follow this trend. Since their inception, Pixar has gone against the Hollywood Norm, delivering nine films and nine massive hits. Wouldn’t it be great for application development professionals to be as successful, delivering fantastic projects that are both successful and of high value? So what can application development professionals learn from Pixar?
Pixar have built a fantastic company with great people working on very creative and imaginative projects. But four things stand out as things app dev pros can learn from:
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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!
Like every show SAPPHIRE 2010 had its stars as well:
I get this request almost on a weekly basis: "Boris, my BI vendor is offering me the following discount, is it a good deal or not?" The first question is what are you comparing it to? It reminds me of an old joke: Q. How much is 5 times 5. A. Depends on whether you're buying or selling. Many of the vendors do not publish or reveal list prices, or even if they do, they are revealed only under NDA to each client, so good luck comparing what the vendor told you and what they told another client. So what ARE you comparing it to?
Another problem, IMHO, is that many of the vendors muddy the waters with CPU based prices, clock speed based prices, etc. Yes, CPU, server, core based prices make sense if you are growing and want to lock in a good deal now, before you grow and expand. But in the end, you, the buyer, still need to figure out how much the software costs you per seat, per user. So with both of these challenges in mind I looked through my 20+ years of notes on BI contracts and per seat license costs and came up with the following. Notice, an interesting X-factor (obviously, I fixed the numbers a bit to have it look nicely like that):
BI output consumer, no interactivity $300
BI output consumer, with light (sort, filter, rank) interactivity $600 (or 2x)
BI output consumer with heavy interactivity (interactive dashboards, search, etc.) $1,200 (or 4x)
One of my favorite research coverage areas is the evolving world of open source software. I like it because innovation is the watchword for the space – evolving technology, evolving business models, and evolving developer culture are fascinating to watch (if you don’t have the opportunity to write code yourself, watching other bright people figure out the best ways to do it is the next best thing). One of my favorite descriptions of the space from the early days of free software is Eric Raymond’s The Cathedral and the Bazaar. If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend doing so.
For the past year or so, I’ve been thinking more and more about the evolution of the Cathedral/Bazaar model, and its eventual end state. If we stick with the commercial analogies through time, we move past guilds and exchanges, and we find ourselves at today’s commercial masterpiece – the shopping mall. In the shopping mall, the landlords provides common conveniences like plumbing, heating, and free parking, and tenets hawk their wares. Small startups might rent pushcarts in the center atriums, while anchor stores like Macy’s and Sears get big hunks of display space at the ends of the mall.
I think we’re beginning to see the development of the Mall as an alternative to the Cathedral/Bazaar model. The Eclipse Foundation is a good example of mixed source development, with anchor stores like IBM and Oracle. Now after spending time at Google I/O this week I think it’s pretty clear we have another mall forming – “The Mall of Google.”
I interviewed 58 business and IT executives to uncover best practices for wringing more value from CRM deployments. I found that successful companies focus on five proven strategies. Attention to discipline in execution is what sets CRM winners apart.
1. Redouble efforts to promote user adoption. New CRM processes and technologies that have a clear benefit for users but are not properly introduced to the organization will not be adopted. These initiatives can quickly grind to a halt when they run up against "not invented here" (NIH) attitudes of users who feel that they have not been consulted about their needs. A good example of how to bring users into the fold is a multinational bank that I interviewed that had more than 3,000 CRM users. It invited 84 users to participate directly in the CRM vendor selection decision. These users attended videoconferences to review vendor solutions and then voted for the one that best fits their needs. This was followed by a series of Webinars that enabled users from around the world to view and critique prototype solutions developed by the CRM team. Finally, the end solution was tested in pilot programs in four countries. This process built a strong user constituency that eagerly embraced the final solution.
My friend and highly respected colleague, Wayne Eckerson from TDWI, posted a great article called “Purple BI People”. In the article he described some of the best practices for business and IT alignment, and cross-functional skills sets needed for successful and effective BI professionals. Wayne, I loved the blue cow analogy, you know that I always think in metaphors, analogies, similies and associations. But, while I completely agree with Wayne in his near term assessment, best practices and recommendations, I would like to suggest another long term point of view.
Can business and IT ever align on BI? Can business ever be satisfied with IT for delivering successful and effective BI applications? Is there such a thing as BT (Business Technology, the phrase that Forrester coined and promotes) in BI?
I used to think we could deliver on that promise. Not so sure it’s that straightforward now. Just look at some of the hopelessly diametrically opposing business and IT priorities. I hear the following complaints from my clients day in and day out:
Business is all about revenue generation. While IT can support that, much more often cost cutting is IT's highest priority.
Business wants solutions now. Not tomorrow. IT needs to go through due diligence of testing and approving BI applications. Right now, on demand does not sit well with IT.
Business wants to react to constantly changing BI requirements. IT has to plan.
Business sometimes is willing to do something “quick and dirty” – even at the expense of potentially jeopardizing accuracy and adherence, compliance with standards. IT is all about compliance and sticking with standards.
I have long resisted and will continue to resist for the foreseeable future any notions that the BI market is commoditizing. A single simple look at the BI maturity in enterprises and next gen BI technologies is a simple proof that we are far, very far, from any kinds of commoditization. Consolidation is quite a different story. Last week's SAP acquisition of Sybase and my roaming the exhibitor / partner floor at SAPPHIRE in Orlando are two more proofs. On a huge SAPPHIRE exhibition floor I could count software partners by the number of the fingers on my hands. Why? Because everyone who matters has been acquired by a competitor! Most of the exhibitors were management consultancies, systems integrators and other SAP implementation partners. Hence, a lesson to independent BI vendors: offer your own full BI stack or position yourself for an acquisition. No other long-term options in my mind.
But as always I welcome all and any comments and opposing views.
Monday, May 17: I'm on my way to SAP's SapphireNow to figure out where the world's largest enterprise vendor is taking its customers after buying Sybase. Is SAP's future mobile apps? Newfangled "in-memory" architectures? Cloud-based apps? Or is SAP just grabbing a database to compete with Oracle's?
I know you've got questions too about the future of enterprise applications -- and not just about SAP's direction. I've had many discussions with individual Forrester clients about the future of applications over the years, but never with everyone. Now, OutSystems and I have come up with a new use of social media to open the doors on a worldwide Q&A on the future of applications. Visit What's the Future of Applications? Ask Rymer for details.
We call it "social consulting." Here is how it works:
1. During the next week, visit the "Ask Rymer" site and post your biggest, baddest questions about the future of applications. We've got to account for change agents ranging from the Apple iPad to Smart Computing approaches to cloud computing to Lean Software to understand the future of applications. And we've got to continue our progress toward software that is designed for people and built for continuous change.