Build Innovation Zones Into Your Architecture

Forrester’s recent book, Empowered, describes the type of technology-based innovation by frontline employees that can cause nightmares for enterprise architects. New tools for business innovation are readily available to anyone, ranging from cloud computing and mobile apps to social networks, scripting languages, and mashups. Faced with long IT backlogs and high IT costs, frontline employees are building their own solutions to push business forward.

What worries architects is that (1) solutions built with these new tools — with little or no vetting — are being hooked to enterprise systems and data, opening potentially big risks to reliability and security, and (2) the siloed, quick-hit nature of these solutions will drive up ongoing costs of maintenance and support. Traditionally, architects use enterprise standards as their primary tool to ensure the quality, efficiency, and security of their organization’s technology base. However, when applied in the typical “lockdown” fashion, standards can stifle innovation — often because vetting a new technology takes longer than the perceived window of business opportunity.

To deal with these conflicting pressures, architects must forge a new equation between responsiveness and technology control. The business value of responsiveness, combined with the typically limited size of enterprise architecture teams, means that most organizations cannot wait for architects to vet every possible new technology. Thus, you must find ways to use architecture to navigate the tension between the business value of responsiveness and the business value of a high-quality technology base. The key is to build innovation zones into your architecture; Forrester defines these as:

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How To Develop A Social Innovation Network

Customers already use social technologies to wrest power away from large corporations. Now employees are adapting social technologies in pursuit of innovations to support these empowered customers; Forrester calls these employees HEROes (highly empowered and resourceful operatives). By designing social technologies as part of their Innovation Networks, CIOs and their IT teams help establish new Social Innovation Networks — innovation ecosystems employing social technologies to enhance HEROes' innovations. These Social Innovation Networks help drive faster, more effective innovation across the enterprise. And CIOs must rise to the challenge of nurturing and developing these networks while structuring their IT teams to fully support them.

In an earlier post, I described how we’re entering a new era of social innovation. Building on these concepts in subsequent research has led to the latest report “CIOs: Support HEROes – Create Social Innovation Networks Using The PACT Framework” (and yes, I’m guilty of introducing yet another acronym).

PACT: Process, advocates, culture, and technology

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Miss Our Webinar "Building High-Performance Developer Teams"? Go To This Download Site!

From its birth as one of the highest-rated track sessions at IT Forum earlier this year to its recent publication as the Forrester report "Best Practices: Building High-Performance Application Development Teams," Jeffrey Hammond's research on the techniques that leading development shops use to drive their success has been wowing application development professionals.

Are you facing this challenge? Are your business stakeholders demanding faster delivery of more innovation? Is the software you deliver increasingly vital to the success of your business? Then you should download the content from this recent event:

Webinar: "Building High-Performance Developer Teams"
Hosted by: Jeffrey Hammond, Principal Analyst, and Mike Gilpin, VP and Research Director
Duration: 1 hour

Click Here To Download...

Description: Replay this Webinar to:

  • Learn how to adjust your recruiting practices to attract the right creative professionals for your team.
  • Understand what creates an intrinsically motivating culture for developers.
  • Discover how best to manage your teams with a streamlined set of Lean software development practices that maximize creative “flow.”
  • See what “next practices” are emerging in the most advanced shops to further drive breakthrough performance.

Please listen to our session; Jeffrey and I look forward to the opportunity to share our research with you in the future and to help you apply these learnings in your shop.

Regards,
Mike Gilpin
VP/Research Director
Forrester Research

The Path To Revolution In Management Consulting

This past May, I was on a plane when I created the first version of the path to revolution (see figure below) in management consulting, and which I am sharing with you today. This figure has not really changed much since then, but I have been developing the underlying structure to help me, as well as executives at consulting service providers, segment and map the new portfolio of existing and evolving services that have bubbled up in the wake of the increasing diversification of delivery options. My interactions with a number of executives over the past few months have helped me in this early validation process.

I recently started a discussion about what constitutes management consulting 2.0 in The Forrester Community For Vendor Strategy Professionals. This opened up the discussion on innovation in management consulting to a broader audience. While the community discussion has triggered quite a number of views (already more than 1,200 views), there are unfortunately just four (very valuable) responses so far. I encourage you to weigh in to the discussion (and to also check out others such as those on an apps-everywhere world and Smart Computing). You’ll also find new contributions from me there soon.

In the future, we will see four main approaches to delivering value to clients from management consulting service providers (which begs the question as to whether the phrase “management consulting” is not fading into obsolescence anyway):

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SaaS Removes Excuses For Flying Blind

A recent conversation with executives from Clarizen, a software company in the work/project/task management realm, shows how profoundly SaaS can change the innovation process in technology companies. However, you won't get the most beneficial changes unless you're willing to make an investment.

During our briefing, I asked the CEO of Clarizen, Avinoam Nowogrodski, and the VP of Marketing, Sharon Vardi, whether being a SaaS vendor made it any easier to resolve the sort of questions that vex technology vendors. Their response: "Of course it does."

Here's one of those vexing questions: Why don't more customers move from a pilot to full adoption? The usual first answers blame someone else's department for the disappointing conversion rate: Your product stinks. Your leads stink. Your salespeople stink. 

Round-robin finger-pointing like this thrives in an informational vacuum. If the only hard fact available is the conversion rate, marketing can accuse sales of presumed incompetence; sales can claim that the current bug count might have an effect on customer satisfaction; development can claim that it's bogged down in too many special requests from strategic customers; and so on.

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