Microsoft's Blah Tablet Strategy

Steve Ballmer's presentation to financial analysts this Thursday deserves a special place in the business wing of the Museum of FUBAR. After months of Apple iPad commanding the attention of, oh, say, the world, here's the best response that Ballmer had. 

Now, we've got some other competitive actions coming back, and we'll talk about slates and tablets and blah, blah, blah, blah ....

Just like we had to make things happen on netbooks, we've got to make things happen with Windows 7 on slates. And we are in the process of doing that as we speak. We're working with our hardware partners, we're tuning Windows 7 to new slate hardware designs that they're bringing them to market. And, yeah, you're going to get a lot of cacophony. There will be people who do things with other operating systems. But we've got the application base, we've got the user familiarity. We've got everything on our side if we do things really right.

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Thought Leadership Project: Moving Briskly

Since earlier this week, when we launched our research project on thought leadership in the technology industry, we've already received some very valuable feedback in the Forrester community, where the research plan (a.k.a. the development document) lives. We're looking for as much additional feedback about the topic and approach as we can get before the actual research begins. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed or will contribute soon.

As I explained earlier this week, this is our first venture into Agile Research Development, a very different way of doing research. Since it's officially Agile, I'll use even the thinnest of excuses to explain how we're applying Agile principles. Pictured here is our Scrum Master, Eric Hsieh, taking a picture of our initial list of items that we're putting into the backlog. That chart sits right next to my desk in the Foster City office of Forrester, so I threw in another shot that gives a peek at the scenic view from my desk. (If you've never been to Foster City, it's the mini-Venice of the Bay Area. I could kayak to work.) Also taken from the Agile canon are the user stories that define how we expect the collaboration between us and the Forrester community to operate. 

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Security Vendors: Think Of Mobile As A Lifestyle, Not Just A Platform

There’s been a minor flurry of activity in the mobile security space lately. On the vendor side we have McAfee’s acquisitions of tenCube and Trust Digital and Symantec’s investment in Mocana (Symantec’s acquisition of VeriSign’s security business has mobile implications as well). In other developments, we have the new ruling that it’s legal to jailbreak your (i)phone and AT&T’s breach of iPad owners’ personal data, and you can see that the mobile security space is getting interesting.

Many of the vendor moves in this area – including, but beyond, the acquisition and investment activity mentioned above – are merely extending anti-malware to the smartphone. We’re still in the early days for mobile malware, and it’s premature to expect much traction by providing malware protection on the smartphone (as I blogged about here).

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Thought Leadership: Bringing The Community Into Research In An Agile Way

Today's a very exciting day for me. As you know, I'm a member of a team of Forrester analysts who write research specifically for product marketers and product managers in the tech industry. A few weeks ago, we launched a community for product marketers and product managers. Now, we're bringing those two activities together by including our PM community in every stage of a research project. Plus, we're using an Agile approach. And you're all invited.

(Role-based research. The voice of the customer, expressed loudly and regularly through social media. Agile as the vehicle for applying what customers say to the product we're developing, in the most rapid and substantive way possible. I guess we do read our own research.)

What's The Topic?
We've yet to meet a product marketer or product manager who isn't interested in thought leadership, given its attractiveness and elusiveness. Gaining recognition as a thought leader is only the first step. Having achieved that exalted status, how do vendors convert thought leadership into tangible business benefits?

For our first venture into this new research approach, thought leadership was an easy choice of topic: important, popular, practical, and manageable.

Where Does The Community Fit In?
The community has a bigger role to play in this project than just suggesting a topic. We need your suggestions and feedback throughout the entire research process, from inception to publication. For example, before doing the primary research, we'll draft a list of interview questions. Since thought leadership has no end of interesting aspects, we want to make sure that the questions we ask go straight to the issues that matter most to product marketers and product managers. Here are but a few examples:

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ShoreTel Champions Conference – Brilliant Simplicity

I’ve just returned from ShoreTel’s Partner Conference in San Diego, and while the weather was uncharacteristically gray, the executives were exceedingly bright. ShoreTel continues to capitalize on its SMB momentum with its “Brilliant Simplicity” tagline, emphasizing the ease of deployment of its solution for IT administrators, users, and buyers alike. ShoreTel executives were exuberant about their five straight quarters of revenue growth and committed to investing heavily in R&D and sales, highlighting current products (including the announcement of ShoreTel 11) and future directions for the company. Here are several significant items that ShoreTel stressed:


ShoreTel for IBM Lotus Foundations. Already available on the market for four months, this self-healing UCC appliance is easy to deploy, configure, and maintain. IBM has had problems developing market momentum with other partners — Mitel, NEC, and Nortel — but current CEO John Combs stressed that the value of the solution combined with the strength of ShoreTel’s partners would set it apart. I believe this appliance will be a winner.


ShoreTel Virtualization. Ed Basart, chief technology officer spoke about future ShoreTel deployments having the ability to be centralized or distributed depending on the customer’s unique communication patterns and needs as the software for server and switch components is ported to run on VMware. I think ShoreTel will do well to capitalize on the market interest in virtualization, and that capability will provide a calling card for ShoreTel at potential enterprise accounts as it continues to increase the potential scale of its solution.


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The partner opportunity in cloud computing - Microsoft WPC

What is the opportunity for Microsoft partners (or other VARs, SIs, ISVs and technologists) in the emerging cloud computing space? Don't think of cloud as a threat but as an opportunity to ratchet up your value to the business my evangelizing and encouraging their transition to the cloud. How? At the recent Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference I addressed this issue in an Expo Theater presentation. Missed it? Now you haven't:

Watch the video here.

Share your thoughts here by commenting below.

- James

Friday Wrap-Up: Book Reports On PM, Marketing, Startups, And Agile

Here are several readable posts about other readable content.

Also worth noting, Rich Mironov has a great presentation on the product challenges facing startups.

NTT Aims To Be An ICT Superpower

NTT is set to buy Dimension Data (DiData) for US$3.2 billion. For decades, customers have lamented their traditional telco service providers’ lack of IT integration depth — today, NTT appears to be putting its money where its customers want. Following in the footsteps of more focused deals like BT’s acquisition of Wire One or AT&T’s acquisition of VeriSign’s Global Security Consulting Business, the acquisition of Dimension Data signals NTT’s intent to be a superpower in worldwide information and communications technology (ICT) solutions delivery. But, make no mistake, it is still only a small acquisition for NTT — as one of only three telcos in the world with more than US$100 billion in revenues, the US$3.2 billion acquisition price will have only incremental effect on the firm’s balance sheet.

Other than the right to say NTT owns a highly respected global ICT integrator, what’s in the deal for NTT?

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Forrester Forrsights For Business Technology: Launch Of Enhanced Global Data Set On Cloud, M2M, Services, Mobility And More

Every day, I chat with tech strategists about how they can stay ahead of a market that is shifting under their feet. We see from recent economic news that tech companies are leading the way through this recovery. In particular we are discussing the new models of delivery (cloud), the shifting buyer/influencer (business, IT AND the employee) and new technologies (new compute models, etc.). The buyer is the key to knowing what will happen in the next 5 years — not rearview shipment results. 

We have just launched Forrester’s Forrsights for Business Technology — our new global business data offering providing a 360-degree view of all buyers/influencers at firms (from 2 employees to global multi-nationals). Forrsights replaces and enhances our previous Business Data Services offering and is designed to help you predict and quantify tech industry growth and disruption.  

We made this change to orient our data insights around the questions that strategists need to answer:

  • “What is the global adoption rate of disruptive technologies like cloud computing, M2M, and virtualization?” . . . “How will this change over time?” . . . and “How do adoption rates vary by industry and around the world?”
  • “Who are the key influencers of major tech buying decisions?” . . . and “What are their priorities?”

You will see Forrester’s Forrsights data pop up in this blog from time-to-time, but if you’d like some more info right now, check out the Forrester Forrsights portion of our Web site. Let us know what data you need to help make your decisions!

Tank You For Making Innovation Work

In the tech industry, the earlier in the innovation process a developer works, the greater the prestige. Lower in the status hierarchy are developers who work on performance and scalability issues, build integrations with other systems, handle security issues, and (heaven forfend!) help the QA team set up test environments. 

Of course, the customer has a much different set of priorities. Sure, new products and features are interesting, but their value is moot if the technology doesn't work. How many concurrent users can the system bear before it keels over? Are the big security holes plugged? Has anyone else run version on Ubuntu 10.04? These questions determine whether a customer buys your product and how likely they are to remain a customer after they've tried to deploy it.

Remember The D In R&D
Some of the larger technology companies have decided to make a serious investment in fixing the problem. While sensitivity training might help some development teams better appreciate the contributions of some of their members ("Looks like the performance guy needs a hug!"), there's no replacement for a well-staffed, well-equipped, dedicated effort to ensuring that the technology works as advertised. Or, just as importantly, doesn't work as advertised, so that the customer knows what sort of configurations and use cases to avoid.

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