Empowered: Forrester's Great New Book And An Opportunity To Participate In Web 3.0 -- Which Can Help Enhance EA Influence

My colleagues Ted Schadler and Josh Bernoff are preparing the launch of their coauthored new book, Empowered, after the success of Josh Bernoff’s Groundswell. Basically, Empowered’s message is: "If you want to succeed with empowered customers, you must empower your employees to solve their problems . . . . From working with many, many companies on social technology projects, we've found that the hard part is not just the strategy. The really hard part is running your organization in such a way that empowered employees can actually use technology to solve customer problems.” (Josh Bernoff, Groundswell blog post).

Coupled with Smart Computing — a new cycle of tech innovation and growth within the technology industry that Andrew Bartels described — this movement toward empowered employees represents what I consider to be Web 3.0: the next generation of Internet/intranet/extranet usage that will benefit the enterprise and employees. By adopting “Web 3.0,” enterprises can expect productivity improvements of 5% to 15% as well as improved customer satisfaction.

Enterprises should prepare themselves to benefit from Web 3.0 by:

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How Mature Is Your Firm's Use Of Social Technologies?

Social technology, which includes blogs, microblogging (Twitter), social networking tools, and next-generation collaboration platforms, is a fundamental shift in how businesses use technology. As Forrester describes in Groundswell, your customers are becoming empowered through their use of these technologies, and your business must adapt to this changing relationship. And in our forthcoming book, Empowered, we examine how the people within your business are driving business impact through their use of these same technologies. 

Grass-roots experimentation and use by your business’s staff is good – but real business impact is when your business adopts and uses these technologies. This requires your business execs to put in the frameworks, guidelines, coordination, and governance to maximize benefit while prudently managing risk. 

Forrester is embarking on research to develop a Social Technology Maturity Benchmark that incorporates these steps. Because maturity will be an important issue for you in your role of charting your firm’s business technology strategy, we’d like your input on this. Colleagues in Forrester’s team serving Interactive Marketing professionals are conducting a survey of both business and IT leaders, including CIOs, Infrastructure and Operations professionals, Sourcing & Vendor Management professionals, and Enterprise Architecture professionals. Here is their introduction to this survey:

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Can Thousands Of Tiny Processors Compete With Traditional Enterprise-Class Systems?

Well, I guess we're going to find out. Earlier this week I met with Andrew Feldman, one of the founders and CEO of SeaMicro -- and he's betting that his Atom-based server can beat traditional Xeon-based systems. According to Andrew, the Atom processor is way more efficient on a per-watt basis than CPUs like the Xeon. Sure, it's not as fast, but it makes up for it by being cheap and power efficient, which lets you put a lot of them to work on tasks like web applications. Basically, SeaMicro puts 512 Atom-based servers into a 10U chassis, which provides virtualized network and storage resources as well as management over all these systems. This is not a big SMP box -- it's literally 512 servers that share common infrastructure.

According to SeaMicro, you would need 1,000 dual-socket quad-core Xeon systems to achieve the same SPECint_rate benchmark as 40 of their systems. If my math is right, that would be 40 * 512 Atom servers=20,480 Atom CPUs, compared with 1,000 Xeons * 2 sockets * 4 cores = 8,000 Xeon cores. 

One of the most interesting technical hurdles SeaMicro had to address in building this server is the interconnect for all these processors. Rather than going with PCI-e or another off-the-shelf interconnect, SeaMicro's architecture has more in common with IBM's Blue Gene.

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Architectural Agency

Recently one my clients, Mike Rehorst with Northwestern Mutual, sent me this link to a TED presentation by well-known architect (in the building sense) Joshua Prince-Ramus:


During the first 8 minutes or so, the presenter makes a number of excellent points about how architects have abdicated their power to act. (He actually calls us cowards.) The rest of the presentation is an amazing example of what happens when architects take the responsibility to make their creations come to life. As with most TED videos, it is well worth the 18 minutes it takes to watch it.

Mike and I had been talking about the role of architecture and how architects respond to their organizational context. For many architects there is a big divide between representation and what Prince-Ramus calls agency – taking action. Too often we create “genius sketches” but accept little accountability for making them real. We expect the organization to embrace them and do the “easy” work of implementation. I’ve got news for you. Creating the architecture – those genius sketches – is the easy part. Getting the organization to embrace them and make them its own is the hard part. Of course we know that; we just don’t act on the knowledge.

By way of example: I occasionally recommend to architects that they need a small team of developers to implement some parts of architecture like an ESB or SOA components. I get the “we’re architects man, we don’t do that” response. Well ... maybe we should. Maybe we should “own the problem” instead of pointing our finger at others

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Taming Invoice Processing: Still Work To Do

In this podcast, Principal Analyst Craig Le Clair will discuss one of the classic untamed processes, invoice processing. Results from a survey of accounts payable departments will be shared, highlighting current pain points of automating the accounts payable process. Also discussed is how enterprise content management and EIPP can possibly help to tame accounts payable.



Oracle Emerges From The Wilderness With Its BPM Suite 11g Release

Today, with some fanfare, Oracle announced its Oracle BPM Suite 11g Release. Although the product has been GA since late April, Oracle is just now launching a major campaign to announce and promote the new release.  

The Oracle BPM Suite 11g release comes as a long-awaited announcement for former BEA customers that built large-scale BPM practices and competency centers around BEA's AquaLogic BPM (ALBPM) Suite offering.  Since Oracle announced its acquisition of BEA in January 2008, many of these customers have been scratching their heads trying to figure out whether Oracle was going to kill BEA's BPM Suite in favor of Oracle BPEL. And in some cases, Oracle helped fan the flames of confusion by putting out conflicting messages about which product would survive.

Prior to joining Forrester, I led a dedicated BPM practice for a global consulting firm based in Washington, DC. I stood up the practice with Fuego - a leading BPM suite vendor at the time - as our premier BPM suite partner. We transitioned to partnership with BEA when Fuego was acquired by BEA in 2006. And then finally transitioned to partnership with Oracle, when Oracle acquired BEA in 2008. Over the past 5 years I've had a front row seat - across sales, delivery, and support - to the evolution of the product that Oracle now calls Oracle BPM Suite 11g. I've seen its sparkles and its warts over numerous large-scale implementations for public sector and commercial customers.

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How Would You Sell Business Architecture To Your CEO?

Consider the following scenario. You have realized that your firm can benefit from having a documented business architecture – perhaps based on business capabilities – not for any one issue or need but rather as a general framework for planning, strategic execution and coordination by different parts of business and IT. You are in a meeting with your CIO, making the case, when the CIO says, “In a couple of minutes our CEO is dropping by. You can make your case to him. If he’s interested, we’ll go ahead.” 

OK – that scenario may seem like kind of a stretch – after all, how often does the CEO drop in on the CIO and want to listen to a pitch on business architecture? Well, something like this happened to me recently, and I’d like your thoughts on how to make the case. I was visiting a client – the head of EA at this client (a medium-size financial services firm) – when he said, “I’ve started to lobby with our business management that we need a business capability map. The CEO is dropping by and would like to hear the reasons from you. I think you’ll have about 15 minutes.”

Talk about a challenge! When CEO arrived, after initial introductions, this is the case I made:

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Big Data Center Operators Keep Getting Bigger

It is becoming very clear that data center facilities have metamorphosed from small computer rooms to industrialized facilities. Due to the cost and complexity of running such a facility, we believe that many firms will opt to get out of that business and use data centers that are built and run by firms that focus on mission-critical facilities. Most of us are familiar with suppliers like AT&T and Savvis, but very few have noticed the larger data center wholesalers behind the scenes. This is partly because data center wholesalers are more focused on facilities than IT, leasing large chunks of capacity, entire data centers, or even supplying data center space to popular hosters and outsourcers that resell them to corporate buyers.

However, for firms with large data centers that aren't interested in outsourcing IT, it sometimes makes economic sense to go directly to wholesalers like 365 Main, CoreSite, and Digital Realty Trust. Or maybe just CoreSite and Digital Realty Trust. As of yesterday, almost 1 million square feet of 365 Main data center space was acquired by Digital Realty Trust, which brings their portfolio to somewhere just shy of 16 million square feet.

From a technical architecture standpoint, we believe that larger, more efficient, and industrialized data centers are the future of IT. As servers have multiplied and become more power-hungry, we find that firms with older facilities have fewer architectural choices. For them, highly utilized racks of blades are simply not an option because they can not provide the required environment.

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