The new book Empowered highlights the benefits of empowering HEROes (highly empowered and resourceful operatives) within the workforce. As we approach our first-ever CIO Forum in October, I’m looking around for great examples of how governments are using social technologies to empower employees to serve empowered citizens.
When I think of government IT projects, I often think of multimillion-dollar projects lasting years before going live. But it doesn’t always have to be that way, as the following example illustrates.
Peter Koht is a HERO working for the City of Santa Cruz Redevelopment Office. In 2009, the city was facing its worst budget crisis (a problem familiar to many city officials). Running out of options, the city had already shut down civic services such as the community pool, museums, and a family resource center when it faced up to the reality that the people of the city needed to be involved in the decisions about what services to cut. Unfortunately, the voices too often heard at civic meetings were representatives of the extreme viewpoints at either end of the political spectrum. In an effort to collect more ideas from the silent majority, Peter suggested the city could tap into social media to connect with its citizens. Lacking any kind of budget or resources, Peter had to rely on the help of three volunteers to get a community site up and running in a week.
Peter Hambling, CIO of Lloyd’s of London, the venerable insurer, has made Facebook a priority for customer communications that required board approval. But more on that later. First, some background . . .
It's the nature of things. Some people look for ways to do things better — and that includes your employees. Some of your employees are questing for a better way to get things done. If there's a better way out there, they'll find it. That's a good thing because the thing they're trying to do better is their job. Serve your customers. Solve your business problems. Improve your operations.
It's always been true: Incremental innovation and process improvements have always come from those closest to the problem. It's the basis of kaizen, a system where employees continually improve manufacturing processes. It's also a founding principle of Six Sigma — tap employees' relentless, incremental quality improvements.
Recently, I published a report about a small software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendor, Dimdim, which is having success in the crowded Web conferencing market. Like many small vendors, Dimdim provides a free service tier, generously allowing up to 20 participants into the free meeting, to help drum up business. The report, though, did not simply highlight the number of users that Dimdim has captured in four short years of existence -- over 5 million -- but also its success in attracting partners like Intuit, Novell and Nortel CVAS. Why? For new vendors entering crowded markets, attracting partners is vital for two reasons:
Partners open doors to new markets. In crowded markets, incumbent vendors and new entrants jostle to serve customer needs. For the new entrants, the customers that can be wrangled through media hype and analyst buzz is minimal. Mass appeal comes from firms with strong working relationships with a range of buyers in a number of markets -- e.g., oil & gas, healthcare, government -- embracing a small vendor's offering and introducing it to their clients.
One of my favorite things to do here at Forrester is judge the Groundswell Awards. Started by Josh Bernoff as a way to drive increasingly practical discussion regarding the real benefits that derive from exploiting social media, judging these Awards is among the most collaborative things we do within Forrester's research community. Moreover, as we compare submissions across years, the Awards give us a chance to ask, "How is the state of the art changing in the world of social media?" Finally, each and every submission becomes a case that we can use over and over as we help clients navigate the turbulent waters of the social sphere. Very cool stuff.
Imagine the Forrester analysts that help role clients with social media -- Josh et al. -- sitting around a virtual table discussing the details of each individual submission. We consider all the POST attributes -- people, objective, strategy, and tools/tactics -- highlighting what's innovative, what's working, and what's generating returns. It reminds me a bit of being a kid and getting the Sears Catalog in the mail at the beginning of the holiday season. For those that weren't around before Lindsay Lohan was born, the Sears Catalog was the compendium of every toy, sporting good item, musical instrument, etc., that could possibly emerge from that big box from Grandma. Like me with my siblings, we analysts metaphorically sit on the sofa with the Groundswell Award submissions in our laps, pointing at the examples that we think are most cool and worthy. I say "like," of course, because I haven't yet found myself bouncing off the walls, screaming gibberish, like I did when I first saw the red bicycle I got when I was nine years old.
Having temporarily relocated to Eastern France – far from Paris and closer to Switzerland and Italy – I recently had the pleasure of experiencing my closest Cisco TelePresence site in Rolle, Switzerland, on the north shore of Lake Geneva for a discussion with Paul Mountford, President of Cisco’s Emerging Markets Theatre. Cisco’s Emerging Market’s strategy has focused on what they call “country transformation,” which revolves primarily around increasing the penetration of broadband. For FY11, Cisco will shift the message from country-wide transformation to something that rings closer to home (literally and figurative) with talk of “life-changing” stories through “life-changing” networks. While still a little lofty, the message resonates deeper than country transformation, which speaks primarily, if not exclusively, to high-level government officials. More a topic for Davos than for a boardroom or a living room.
Forrester's latest forecast for the technology economy is bullish, which by extension means good news for providers of software and services focused on improving corporate sustainability.
In our new outlook for IT spending by businesses and governments, we estimate that the market will hit $1.58 trillion in 2010, up almost 8 percent from the depressed 2009 level, and grow by a further 8.4 percent to $1.71 trillion in 2011 (global purchases expressed in U.S. dollars). U.S. government data about the overall economy, and tech vendors' Q1-Q2 financial reports, buttress our expectation that IT spending will growth at more than double the rate of the overall economy in 2010-11 and even beyond. See the details in Andrew Bartels's latest report here.
We expect that some of the prime beneficiaries of this positive outlook for IT spending will be those services and software suppliers that are focused on helping clients improve their sustainability posture. In particular, we are very positive on the outlook for sustainability consulting, and for enterprise carbon and energy management (ECEM) software.
Our research team is working now on reports that will update our outlook and spending forecasts for these two exciting markets. As we work with clients in enterprise IT organizations, it's clear that the "green IT" of yesterday is becoming the "IT for green" of tomorrow; that is, IT organizations and infrastructure are increasingly being deployed to meet the corporatewide sustainability challenge, not just improving IT's own energy efficiency and CO2 footprint.
Without a doubt, the tech industry’s new economics are creating major tumult in the marketplace. “Services,” not products, and “in the cloud,” not on the computer, are just two of the major trends forcing IT services providers to continually predict future market demand and adjust strategy accordingly. More than ever, it’s imperative to understand where firms will rely on third-party providers in the coming year . . . and also where they’ll increase spend.
As you may know, Forrester fields a 20-minute Web survey each year to commercial buyers of enterprise IT services as part of Forrester’s Forrsights for Business Technology (formerly named “Business Data Services”). This year, we’ll continue to collect responses from IT decision-makers at companies with 1,000 or more employees across the US, Canada, France, the UK, and Germany. As we’re designing the survey now, our commitment to strategists is that we’ll write the questions with your underlying need in mind: to predict and quantify tech industry growth and disruption.
Here are a few new questions you’ll be able to answer with our 2010 data insights:
Which areas of innovation are turned into business- or IT-funded projects? . . . How mature is vendor governance/oversight compared with three years ago? . . . How are firms dealing with the rising influence of Digital Natives? . . . What are the plans, strategies, and barriers for moving from a staff augmentation to a fully managed services model? . . . How will an uptick in selective sourcing strategies translate to you as the service provider tailoring your go-to-market plans according to current customer challenges?
And, of course, we’ll continue to ask traditional questions around services plans, budgets, and preferred vendors.
The deadline to submit your entry into the Forrester Groundswell Awards is on August 27, just two weeks away. The submissions we received last year, which we wrote up in this Forrester report, provided invaluable assistance to Forrester clients seeking ways to optimize Groundswell-related investments.
We hope you’ll participate this year as well. Josh Bernoff, one of the authors of Groundswell, just posted his advice on how to create a great entry. I have reposted it below for our technology industry clients:
If you haven't entered yet but plan to, this advice is for you. (If you just want to see other people's entries, click on the items at the left of the Awards site.)
Our new book, Empowered, will be in book stores on September 14. But for a real-world conversation about what it means to unleash employees to solve customer problems using readily available technology, come to our Content & Collaboration Forum in Maryland just outside of Washington, D.C. on October 7 and 8.
Yes, this is a pitch to come to a Forrester event, but I promise you that it will be worth your time if you're looking for help with such Empowered topics as enterprise social, empowered employees, iPad in the enterprise, innovation, collaboration in the cloud, videoconferencing, and IT consumerization as well as deep dives into critical topics like search and taxonomy, enterprise content management, and what it means to be a content & collaboration leader.
You'll get two days of my Forrester analyst colleagues' presentations and face time as well as keynote presentations from some great and experienced content & collaboration executives. GM's Steve Sacho is way ahead of the curve in understanding how to turn consumerization from IT threat to business opportunity. Richard West of the defense firm, BAE Systems, is bringing his story of how investments in knowledge management and collaboration have empowered employees to work more efficiently together to solve customer problems. Both speakers as well as Zach Brand, head of all things interesting at NPR Digital Media (yes, that NPR), will share their stories, lessons, and experience.
VMWare has got it down: Sell a virtualization solution with anchor applications (and seats) that no service provider can live without, starting with email. This is the call we made when VMWare bought open source email and collaboration provider Zimbra from Yahoo! last February. And now they've delivered with the upgraded Zimbra Collaboration Suite Appliance 6.0 targeted at service providers and other virtual cloud hosters. What it means:
What it means #1. VMWare is solidly in the market to provision service providers with email. Service providers that want to resell Google or Microsoft's email have the benefit of low capital costs and rapid deployment. But service providers that don't want to resell another vendors' cloud services need a solution that runs at low cost on cheap servers with easy peasy provisioning. That's what the Zimbra collaboration appliance promises. Will it deliver? Love to hear from service providers on this one.
What it means #2. VMWare drives another nail into the coffin of on-premises business email. At $5/mailbox/month for cloud email, if you take away client software and mailbox administration costs, our analysis shows that it costs twice as much to host a mailbox yourself than to host it in the cloud. This offering gives service providers around the world the opportunity to compete at that price. So who would use on-premises email? Only someone with stringent requirements, massive scale, or a recent upgrade. Even the federal government is moving to cloud-based email as GSA has announced.