In discussions on cloud computing, I often talk to architects who have been told to create a "cloud strategy." This sounds appropriate enough, but there’s a devil in the details: When the task is "create a Technology X strategy," people often center strategy on the technology. With cloud, they aim to get a good definition of pure cloud and then find places where it makes sense to use it. The result is a technology strategy silo where cloud is placed at the center and usage scenarios are arranged around it. The problem with this is three-fold:
Considering the full business dynamics of any given usage scenario, there is a wide continuum of often strongly competing alternatives to pure cloud (including cloud-like and traditional options).
The rapid pace of market development means that business value equations along this continuum of options will keep changing.
Your business needs integrated strategy for many technologies, not simply a siloed cloud strategy.
Many product strategists are, like me, old enough to remember software stores like Egghead. Those days are gone. Today, consumer packaged software represents a very limited market – the software aisle has shrunk, like the half-empty one at the Best Buy in Cambridge, MA (pictured).
Only a few packaged software categories still exist: Games. Utilities and security software. And Microsoft Office – which constitutes a category unto itself. Some 67% of US online consumers regularly use Office at home, according to Forrester’s Consumer TechnographicsPC And Gaming Online Survey, Q4 2009 (US). Office is the most ubiquitous – and therefore successful – consumer client program aside from Windows OS.
Office 2010, Microsoft’s latest release, will continue to succeed with consumers. On the shoulders of Office 2010 rests nothing less than the defense of packaged software in general. It’s also the most tangible example of Microsoft’s Software Plus Services approach to the cloud – a term that Microsoft seems to be de-emphasizing lately, but which captures the essence of the Office 2010 business goal:
To sell packaged client software and offer Web-based services to augment the experience.
It's time for IT to get out of the business of running everything itself and move into the role of delivering technology value to the business. This is a core theme that runs through a large majority of Forrester's research and our advice to clients. But exactly how do you make this transition? Well, a good example can be found in Amylin Pharmaceuticals.
Bob Calderoni and Tim Minahan, Ariba’s CEO and CMO respectively, explained their vision for the future of supplier networks at the company’s Ariba Live customer event this week. The basic concepts, of a B2B community with value-adding services for sellers, such as prospect discovery and multi-customer e-invoicing, is one I’ve advocated to network providers for a long time, including in my report of internetwork interoperability (Enterprises Should Push Supplier Networks To Deliver Interoperability). The community concept is certainly fashionable at the moment, with lots of business-to-business (B2B) technology vendors trying to match the success of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the like. The big question is whether Ariba can achieve the universal reach that the commerce cloud will need if it is to deliver value to its members.
Social media consumers don’t seem to be worried by monopolies. As my daughters tell me, people of their age have to be on Facebook to know what’s going on. There’s no point using other services like MySpace or Bebo (or, for older readers, Yahoo Groups, Geocities, Friends Reunited, and their equally overhyped predecessors), because everyone uses Facebook, and the community only works if everyone’s in it. It’s the same with B2B eCommerce — supplier-side members want to know about all the relevant parties (i.e., RFX’s), and party organizers (i.e., buyers) want to publish the invitation in one place yet still reach all their potential friends. In practice, this means the community must either be:
a) a broad stratus formation covering everything,
That's how one of my client meetings started at last week's IT Forum in Las Vegas. Now, normally this would concern me. It could be a sign that jobs are scarce, unemployment is up, or that Infrastructure & Operations professionals are being let go. But that's certainly not the case. This was actually someone proactively seeking a new job. His company — a large US manufacturing firm — was merging with another firm and he felt it was time to move on.
This led to the first of three interesting observations at last week's Forum. Here are my top three I&O takeaways in no particular order:
I’ve been relatively quiet for a while – for two reasons: (1) I’ve been making the rounds, IBM PCTY in various countries, Forrester analyst days, client meetings, etc., and (2) I’ve been doing some serious research because I’ve decided that it is time to revisit my IT Financial Management report from last year. Why?
First of all because the market is really heating up. Every client conversation these days sooner or later turns to IT Financial Management in general and how to better understand and manage the IT budget specifically. Secondly, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is an adoption s-curve for IT financial management similar to the one for business service management that I published a few years ago. See the Implementing BSM report.
Here is what I am proposing:
And last but by no means least, a few vendors have started to take the next logical step – taking IT Financial Management to the cloud. This is important because Cloud Financial Management offers the critical information that allows businesses to accurately plan, budget and gain cost control over their cloud computing spend. This is a discipline that, we believe, will become essential as cloud computing in its various guises (public, virtual private and private clouds) begins to dominate the business world.
Stay tuned for an update on who’s playing in that market.