Step back and think: How would you answer the question, “What does your IT group deliver to your business?” Your answer will indicate how you think about the relationship between business and technology, and, in turn, it will affect your business agility and your business-IT alignment.
If you answer anything close to “IT delivers and integrates solutions to meet business requirements,” your mental model boils down to thinking that your solutions support the business: Business is one thing; solutions are a separate thing. If the business has a problem, let it come ask IT for some application to address the problem — maybe IT will even help the business figure out what it needs. Each application supports (typically overlapping) parts of the business, and IT performs whatever behind-the-scenes integration is necessary to gain some degree of coherency across the whole. The result is the sort of siloed spaghetti application mess that most organizations are dealing with — even if SOA and BPM and the rest make it easier to deal with.
As the year comes to a close, it’s good to put a wrap on it by reviewing all the shifts — both subtle and seismic — that have rocked the world of enterprise architecture (EA). I really enjoyed Gene Leganza’s recent look back — and look ahead — on the top 15 EA technology trends, and not just because he incorporated findings from my recent Empowered reports on social network analysis and analytics-driven engagement in multichannel customer relationship management (CRM).
You can read those Empowered reports to get a deep dive on how those trends evolved in 2010 and what we see on the horizon for 2011 and beyond. Fundamentally, Forrester considers deep customer engagement through social media as a hallmark of the leading-edge customer service operation. A growing range of companies have established social-media-based customer communities for service and support, involving various blends of social media, blogging, and other approaches.
It’s no surprise that Dell is bidding on independent storage vendor Compellent as they are still licking their wounds from the loss of 3PAR in a head to head megavendor bidding war which ended with HP winning (?) at $2.4BB. Dell announced today that they have offered $27.50 per CML share, which equals around $876MM, and represents a discount of around 17% to the $33 CML was trading at when Dell first made the offer (increased significantly over the past couple of weeks by speculators anticipating such a deal). The discount is a surprise -- 3PAR and Isilon (bought by EMC for $2.2BB in mid November) had similar revenues, employee counts and customer counts, so I had thought that the $2BB mark was the going rate for established independent storage firms, but then, I’m not a financial analyst, so maybe I’m missing something there.
What I do know is that it is hard for Dell to say in September that they are willing to spend $2BB+ on a storage vendor, and then when they don’t win, to say that the EMC partnership and their EqualLogic products is all they need. EqualLogic has been a great product in the SMB end of the market and a big revenue generator, but hasn’t moved Dell into the realm of enterprise IT leadership that they so crave. The EMC deal has limited margin for Dell as a partner, and doesn’t establish them as a visionary provider with the chops to solve big enterprise problems. So, it’s no surprise that they felt they had to do something.
Early next year I'm going to ask Sourcing & Vendor Management professionals to vote on which software companies' licensing policies they most resent as Unfair. Fairness is a subjective quality, but it seems to me that some policies penalize customers for circumstances beyond their control that are unrelated to the value they are getting from the software. Others have serious consequences that may not have been apparent to the buyer when he agreed to the contract. Fair software pricing charges some companies more than others, but in a logical, transparent way that is related to value. Jim Hagemann Snabe (SAP's co-CEO) explained software pricing best practice extremely well in this recent interview with Computerweekly.com's Warwick Ashford:
"Q: What is SAP doing to meet user demand for greater clarity on licensing and pricing?"
Michael Brzozowski, the creator of Watercooler, the internal social media system for HP, recently left HP for Google.
Talents move around all the time, especially in the bay area where the industry is rife with interesting opportunities. However, in this case, the departure of Mr. Brzozowski has put the fate of the Watercooler system in question.
To understand why this is worth blogging, we need to first understand what the Watercooler system is about. Many of you may not know this, but Watercooler is a social media system that currently has 100,000 users! Brzozowski originally started Watercooler aggregate RSS feeds from across the company. Over time, it has morphed into a social media aggregation platform that aggregates content from HP’s internal wikis, microblogs, various discussion forums, and social bookmarks. The system has a documented set of open APIs and supports a powerful and expressive set of content filters across different social media systems. It is also integrated with HP’s user directories.
Brzozowski wrote a nice paper on a study he conducted with Watercooler data. Published in Group 2009, the study revealed some interesting facts about social media usage inside HP. Perhaps one of the most concrete statistics arguing for the value of enterprise social networks to date, Brzozowski’s paper points out that 69% of all Watercooler blog users subscribe to content generated by someone outside their business unit. This kind of cross-company instant collaboration is a huge benefit as a social media system because it provides a user community.
One of the most common questions I get is: How to we assure (or, improve) the adoption of a CRM solution in our organization?
In the past, the clumsy user interfaces (UI) of CRM solutions have turned off users, causing them to reject the solutions offered by their IT departments. In response to these complaints, the leading CRM solution providers, such as Oracle Siebel CRM and SAP CRM, have invested heavily to improve the UIs in their most recent releases. The same is true for midmarket solutions like the Sage family of CRM products, CDC’s Pivotal, and Sugar CRM. salesforce.com has achieved great success with its pioneering UI that incorporates the ease-of-use characteristics of consumer-oriented solutions that employees are used to working with in their private lives. And Microsoft Dynamics CRM applies the vendor’s knowledge of the use patterns of desktop applications, and incorporates the familiar Outlook UI paradigm, with a focus on improving user productivity.
In addition to choosing a CRM solution with a modern user-friendly UI, what can you do to improve adoption? Here are eight tips that I picked up working with the CRM leader at major bank:
Define your business processes before selecting technology. "One key to success was that we defined a standardized sales process before we purchased the technology to enable it. We had a team of users study our sales processes and define better ways of working for the future.”
MyCustomer.com recently asked me what my thoughts were about CRM: Why initial CRM projects failed, what has now changed to make deployments successful, and what the future holds for CRM. Here is the first part of my point of view, as well as a link to a series of three published articles from MyCustomer.com.
Question: Nearly a decade ago, estimates suggested that a very large proportion of CRM projects were failing. What were the main problems undermining CRM projects in those days?
Answer: The main problems undermining CRM projects a decade ago were mismatched expectations with reality in three categories: technology, process and people.
The first CRM systems were not fully baked and had large feature holes that were not always communicated to the purchaser. The technology was not intuitive or easy to use. It was hard to implement with long time-to-value and hard to become proficient in its use. It was even harder to change the business processes that had been implemented — changes that were necessary to stay in line with evolving business needs.
CRM systems were also difficult to integrate with a company’s IT ecosystem, which meant that many actions needed to be repeated in multiple systems. (For example, consider a CRM system that was not integrated into a company’s email system. This means that a sales person would have to cut and paste a customer communication from their email correspondence into the CRM system, which was labor intensive and often not done. )
On the heels of Forrester's GRC Market Overview last month, this week we published my Governance, Risk, And Compliance Predictions: 2011 And Beyond report. Based on our research with GRC vendors, buyers, and users, this paper highlights the aggressive regulatory environment and greater attention to risk management as drivers for change. Specifically, here is a brief summary of the top five trends we will see next year:
Increasing vendor competition will continue to bring more choices and more confusion. Strong market growth will encourage more technology and service vendors to get into the market, which means the fragmentation (which I've discussed previously) and confusion will continue.
Can you remember a year when your business both (1) grew in a healthy way and (2) changed more slowly than the year before? Besides a company’s early startup years, such would be the exception, not the rule. So, in 2011, your business is likely to continue accelerating its pace of change. A recent Forrester report, The Top 15 Technology Trends EA Should Watch: 2011 To 2013, named both business rules and SOA policy as items for your watch list — because both of them help accelerate business change.
Back in the mainframe days — and even into minicomputer, client/server, and Web applications — nearly all of the business logic for every application was tightly wrapped up in the application code. A few forward-thinking programmers might have built separate parameter files with a small bit of business-oriented application configuration, but that was about it. But, business changes too quickly to have all of the rules locked up in the code.
Some have tried the route that businesspeople ought to do their own programming — and many vendor tools through the years have tried creatively (though unsuccessfully) to make development simple enough for that. But, business is too complex for businesspeople to do all of their own programming.
Enter business rules, SOA policy, and other ways to pull certain bits of business logic out of being buried in the code. What makes these types of approaches valuable is that they are targeted, contained, and can have appropriate life cycles built around them to allow businesspeople to change what they are qualified to change, authorized to change, and have been approved to change.
Most, if not all, technology improvements need what is commonly referred to as “complementary inputs” to yield their full potential. For example, Gutenberg's invention of movable type wouldn't have been viable without progress in ink, paper, and printing press technology. IT innovations depend on complements to take hold. The use of internal cloud differences will affect applications, configuration, monitoring, and capacity management. External clouds will need attention to security and performance issues related to network latency. Financial data availability is also one important cloud adoption criteria and must be addressed. Without progress in these complementary technologies, the benefits of using cloud computing cannot be fully developed.
Internal cloud technology is going to offer embedded physical/virtual configuration management, VM provisioning, orchestration of resources, and most probably, basic monitoring or data collection in an automated environment, with a highly abstracted administration interface. This has the following impact:
More than ever, we need to know where things are. Discovery and tracking of assets and applications in real time is more important than ever: As configurations can be easily changed and applications easily moved, control of the data center requires complete visibility. Configuration management systems must adapt to this new environment.
Applications must be easily movable. To take advantage of the flexibility offered by orchestration, provisioning, and configuration automation, applications must be easily loaded and configured. This assumes that there is, upstream of the application release, an automated process that will “containerize” the applications, its dependencies, and its configuration elements. This will affect the application life cycle (see figure).