Applications development people can't stand the Luddites in the operations group, and ops people hate those prima donas in apps dev - at least that's what we are led to believe. To explore the issue, two of my colleagues who write to the infrastructure and operations (I&O) role - Glenn O'Donnell and Evelyn (Hubbert) Oehrlich - invited me to participate in an experiment of sorts. They arranged a joint session for the I&O Forrester Leadership Board (FLB) meeting, and I was the sole applications guy in the room - a conduit for I&O FLB members to vent their frustration at their apps dev peers. For those who aren't aware, FLBs are communities of like-minded folks in the same role who meet several times a year to network, share their experiences, guide research, and address the issues that affect their role.
We infused the session with equal parts education, calls for joint strategic planning across all IT work, and a bit of stand-up comedy - Glenn noted that as representatives of our respective roles, he and I were actually twin sons of different mothers. I noted that in that context that our parents must have been really ugly. Once we opened the session for discussion, the good folks in the room wasted no time in launching verbal stones my way. Now, I'm no IT neophyte: I've been in the industry since 1982, and I'm no stranger to conflict - I grew up with 3 older brothers, and we all exchanged our fair share of abuse as siblings will. Still, I wasn't quite prepared for the venting that followed. To summarize a few of the main points, I&O sees apps folks as:
TECH DYNAMICS: Last Friday, June 25th, the US House and Senate reached agreement on a financial reform bill, which is likely to pass and be signed into law.* At first glance, this legislation has nothing to do with the IT industry directly. But buried in this bill is a provision regarding debit card fees, which could serve as a model for how end users of software could bring about a change in something that is very important to the economics of the software industry — software maintenance fees.
Now, software maintenance fees have been one of the givens in the software industry in perpetual license deals. Typically set at 18% to 22% of initial license fees, they are fixed in stone. An enterprise software buyer can try to negotiate a discount on a license fee; a really smart one can negotiate a deal where the maintenance fee rate is applied against the discounted license fee, not against the list license fee. But software vendors rarely discount maintenance fees.
Why? Established software vendors depend heavily on maintenance fees for the bulk of their revenue. Almost half (49%) of SAP’s revenues and Oracle’s applications revenues in 2009 came from maintenance fees. Oracle’s middleware business earned 55% of its calendar 2009 revenues from maintenance fees.
And yet maintenance fees are one of the biggest sources of complaint from enterprise software buyers. Every so often this dissatisfaction breaks into the open. SAP faced massive client unrest when it raised maintenance fees for most customers during 2009. SAP tapped the biggest vein of resentment about maintenance fees: fees on old software. Old software is the crux of the problem with maintenance fees: It tends to be stable and therefore requires little support.
The Court found that the method by which Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) members are appointed does not grant the Executive branch sufficient oversight because of the restrictions on when members can be removed from their position. According to Chief Justice Roberts' opinion, "The consequence is that the Board may continue as before, but its members may be removed at will by the (Securities and Exchange) Commission." And for those arguing that SOX doesn't have a severability clause that maintains the act's legality even when a portion of it is overruled, Roberts clarifies that "the unconstitutional tenure provisions are severable from the remainder of the statute."
Two weeks ago, Forrester went to Brazil for Brasscom’s (the local IT and country promotion group) Global IT Forum in Sao Paulo and Rio. One of the most interesting and insightful presentations was by Jairo Avritchir, Brazil IT site director of Dell. Jairo talked about Dell’s experiences and how the firm’s utilization of the country and its rich IT talent pool had evolved. Initially, it was largely in support of the company’s local sales and manufacturing operations. Today, the center has emerged as a BI and analytics hub for the global organization. Given the 40% appreciation against the dollar over the past eight years, the COE strategy around higher-end BI skills was the only way the center could compete with India. The Dell example clearly points out how both clients and vendors need to think about and fully utilize their alternative geography investments. A blog post at Computer Weekly touches on this topic as well.
The recovery of IT spending late in 2009 and early in 2010 has sent the local players in India and multinationals scrambling for find talent. The fact that firms cut back hiring and reduced their bench to maintain margins has degraded suppliers’ ability to respond. As a result, vendors have turned to poaching talent from competitors. At its analyst day, Cognizant was honest that it had increased to 16% up from 12% for the trailing 12 months. One small vendor that Forrester spoke with said that it had peaked at almost 30% over the last quarter. Another said it was in the mid-20s for certain practices; yet another two multinationals said that it had seen a similar overall rise to Cognizant, but in some of the packaged application areas it was in the mid-20s.
The impact of this sudden increase attrition? Forrester believes that this spike coupled with the clients need to deploy more quickly and cost effectively will drive the much broader adoption of solution accelerators and other non-linear IP models. Today best practice is to get 5% to 7% of revenue. We expect that that percentage could easily double over the next 18 months as vendors deal with attrition and clients clamor for faster deployment of solutions.
On my current trip to India multiple Indian and multinational companies asked where we saw the future of a global delivery model headed. This caused me to reflect, and here is my formal answer: There are a number of areas where we expect to see changes that not only reflect the maturing of the market but also changes in buyer demand. Forrester expects that developments and investments will take place along four vectors.
A continued focus on building out domain and technology centers of excellence.To date, these activities have been fairly isolated to one or two technologies like SAP or the mainframe and one or two top verticals. That will continue to expand especially on the domain or industry side. The COEs will be required to support the greater focus on specific business process for application work and the need to build out a portfolio of solution accelerators with a high level of domain input.
Building out a network of centers with a new wrinkle.With every day, it is becoming clearer that no single country is going to match the scale and breadth of India. In many cases, expansion had been driven by one or more clients looking to expand in a particular market like Latin America or China. Forrester believes that there will be a greater focus over the next two to three years around turning each alternative geography center into a particular center of excellence to clearly differentiate its capabilities and cost structure from the India mother ship.
An extension of process investments into the multicenter world. The current process investments have been largely at a center-by-center level to improve an individual location’s consistency and predictability. The emphasis will now shift to the knowledge management, collaboration, and social networking tools to allow firms to tap into the COEs in the alternative geographies.
Last Monday, Stephanie Balaouras and I recorded a podcast on a recent hot topic amongst Forrester clients — Enterprise Role Management (ERM). For the most part, people understand fundamental provisioning so I wanted to take this time to go through ERM in a little more detail.
Over the past few months, I have been asked many questions about taking ERM to the next level — about how to expand and automate identity management infrastructure. Before determining whether this is the right step for your company, however, it's important to understand the two most important benefits from doing so and also recognize the prerequisites.
Among others, two benefits of ERM are security and compliance. Achieving a more mature role management system will increase your organization’s security around information sharing, and it will enable understanding of the segregation of duties. Before achieving this level of security and compliance, it’s important to simplify your identity repository and create a clear-cut set of records. This allows for a recertification phase when managers can take the time to revoke or grant access to existing accounts. Once you have created a clean, up-to-date role management database, your organization is ready to look forward to taking ERM to the next level.
After speaking with many clients on this topic, I have garnered a solid list of best practices that everyone should be aware of before attempting to strengthen any ERM system. These practices include data points around user population and recertification timelines, whether or not a hierarchical approach should be adopted to organize roles, and the value of tools such as Web single sign-on and security incident and event monitoring as they relate to role management.
Organizations continue to face risk for security breaches. Normally, we talk about the risk of security breaches being fines and other costs around loss of PII, per California Senate Bill 1386 and similar laws in 45-or-so other states.
The FTC specifically identified these practices (among others) that constituted insufficient care:
Last week, Forrester released results from our “Global IT Budgets, Priorities, And Emerging Technology Tracking Survey.” Highlights of the survey are reported in Chris Mines’ recent blog, the title of which gives you the gist of our findings: The Overall IT Budget Environment Has Turned Positive.
However, there were some very interesting differences across some of the geographies we surveyed. Respondents in emerging markets tend to be more optimistic than their counterparts in more mature markets. When asked about the outlook for their industry, 51% of respondents in Latin America thought that 2010 would be a very good or somewhat good year, followed by 36% in Emerging Asia (China and India) and Russia, with North America and Western Europe lagging behind with only 31% and 25%, respectively. Big difference in outlook between Western Europe and Latin America! On a more positive note all around, these numbers were much more positive than the outlook of respondents in last year’s survey. In 2009, only 8% of respondents in NA and WE expected a good year – really not very optimistic about their industry outlooks. Emerging Asia (without Russia) was 15%, and Latin America was 21%.
In case you weren't able to join us at our Forrester IT Forum in Las Vegas last month, here is the video of my keynote session on how enterprises should be thinking about incorporating cloud computing into their IT strategy. Bottom line: consider cloud a new part of your overall IT portfolio and something that can help you cost optimize your business.
I welcome your feedback on this content and learning how you are incorporating cloud into your strategy and how we can help you take the most advantage of this important shift in the IT landscape.