An Active Year In Strategic Talent Management And More To Come In 2011

At Forrester, we think of strategic talent management as made up of four pillars: Recruiting, Performance (including succession and career development), Learning, and Compensation, which sit on top of the core HR system that manages employee records and transactions. These four pillars of HRM (human resource management) have taken on critical importance in the past year. Organizations find talent that they must bring up to full productivity as quickly as possible. Leaders want to make sure employees have performance goals and appropriate formal and informal training to help them meet these goals. For those strong performers, variable compensation rewards their work efforts. Technology is available to automate all these processes, but up until this year, few vendors provided functionality in all four strategic HRM pillars.

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The Millennials' Journey Into Adulthood

A New York Times article, “What Is It About 20-Somethings?” written last summer has stayed with me as I continue to talk with clients about the Millennials and how they approach work life. This article talks about the new growing-up phase of today’s Millennials as a distinct life stage called “emerging adulthood” and relates it to “adolescence,” which was a new term 100 years ago when 12- to 18-year-olds began staying in school instead of starting to work at 12 or 13. Many young people in their early 20s are not following the path of past generations — graduate high school, go on to college, graduate, find a job, marry, start a family, and eventually retire. Rather, 40% of today’s Millennials move back home at least once, have many jobs as well as romantic relationships in their 20s, travel, do what appears like nothing, and go back to school. They are exploring and feel no need to rush to make work or personal commitments. They are the product of their Baby Boomer parents who, although they worry about their children making it on their own, provide support and encourage them to find what’s right for them. Millennials as children were encouraged to explore as they participated in a variety of sports, drama, music, and other enriching children-focused activities during and after school. It’s not surprising that they now want to explore many career and life options and don’t feel any obligation to follow the traditional approaches to adulthood. We also see government regulations allowing parents to keep their children on their health insurance until they are 26.

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10 From 2010

Looking back on 2010, I put together a list of my top 10 favorite things that made a difference in my year and was surprised to see how heavily travel featured in my list:

Pandora One:  I love listening to music while working, so my iPod is always close by. But this year I discovered Pandora – a music streaming service that finds and plays songs based around any favorite song you use to seed it. You can create multiple “stations” around different songs, composers, bands and even combine multiple seed songs on one station. I have created music stations for every genre of music to suit my mood. For example, while writing research I listen to one of six classical stations and while chilling with a glass of my favorite wine I listen to a station I called… "glass of wine radio"! Pandora offers a free version supported by ads and a premium version, Pandora One, which offers unlimited high-fidelity ad-free streaming for $36 a year. This year I moved to Pandora One because I wanted the higher-quality music feed and I love finding new music through Pandora. I regularly listen to Pandora on my PC, through the desktop app, and on my BlackBerry, which I connect to my home audio system to play music back through my hi-fi. http://www.pandora.com

Netflix Watch Instantly: I don’t watch a lot of TV, but my wife and I are real movie buffs so having easy access to movies through streaming is a big deal for us. We love the variety available through Netflix and their watch instantly service. As well as watching movies, we also find ourselves watching TV series through the service. http://netflix.com

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In 2011, IT Will Continue To Deploy Business Process Capabilities

It’s the end of the year — time to look back and reflect on what’s going to happen next in IT.

Since Forrester predicted the death of IT 10 years ago, most IT departments have undergone significant reorganizations, first to consolidate duplicate applications and platforms, then to become more services-focused, and now to increase IT’s business process orientation.

But there’s life in the old dog yet. As our 2010 survey of 141 business process professionals showed, only 21% of the executives driving business process improvements are CIOs or process professionals reporting to IT — meaning that despite good intentions, IT plays a limited role in business process initiatives.

Many experts see the deployment of business process centers of excellence (COEs) as a panacea to IT’s process orientation problem. Set up to provide business technology (BT) services across business units — such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), business process management (BPM), customer relationship management (CRM), and business intelligence (BI) — business process COEs play a crucial role in efficiently developing and broadcasting innovative process-oriented practices across the business units.

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Among Large Tech Vendors, Microsoft Does The Worst Job Of Reporting Its Revenues

To keep track of what’s happening to the tech market, I collect quarterly data on the revenues from more than 70 large IT vendors. Accordingly, I spend an unhealthy amount of time looking at their quarterly earnings releases, analyst presentations, and 10-Q and 10-K reports — making me something of a connoisseur of vendor earnings releases, at least from the perspective of revenues and their breakdown by products and geographies.

From that perspective, Microsoft wins the prize for the most opaque earnings release. First, 2003 was the last time it provided its revenues by geography and its revenues from sales to original equipment manufacturers. Since then, there’s been no data or even guidance on its geographic revenues. Second, it does not break out sales to consumers from sales to business and government, although it does report the growth rates in its sales of Office and its other information worker products to consumers or to enterprises. Third, about every year or so, it re-juggles its product line revenues, shifting product revenues into or out of different product lines. While it generally restates the revenues for the prior eight quarters to bring them into line with its new business unit categories, it doesn’t provide guidance or data on prior years, making comparisons with past years very challenging.

I considered ranking other vendors on the transparency of their earnings releases. But I decided it would be more useful to describe the kind of data that I as a technology analyst — and other vendor strategists analyzing the tech market — would like to get from vendor earnings releases.

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Finding the right vendor partner for your IT organization: HCL

Over the past few months I have had the opportunity to spend some quality time with a number of IT vendors such as HCL, Fujitsu, Oracle, and Dell. This has been some time coming, but over the next few weeks I am taking the opportunity to summarize the overall perceptions I have received from these vendors when evaluating them from a CIO perspective - i.e. as a potential partner for your IT organization and your business. Today I'll tackle HCL, and will move onto the other vendors throughout January. The goal of these blog posts is to give an overall perception of the vendors - something that we don't particularly capture so well in a Wave or vendor analysis where we are focusing on one particular capability of a large vendor. I am trying to capture the "culture" or "style" of the vendor, as this is something that is hard to include in a Forrester Wave, but it IS something that makes a significant difference to the partnership in the longer term.

HCL. A company that is comfortable in its own skin.

That is the way I would summarize HCL. They are a company that know where they have come from and know where they are now, and have a pretty good idea that in five years time they will be nothing like they were or are. They don't know what that future is, but they know they have to put the capabilities in place to ensure the organization can effectively morph into that future form in order to achieve longer term success. Employees First, Customers Second is the first step on this pathway, but it is only that. It will not shape the company that HCL is tomorrow, but it will probably provide the groundwork and internal culture to allow the smoother change.

Confident. Capable.

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The Evolution Of Enterprise Carbon And Energy Management Software

Forrester just published my comprehensive research report (approx. 40 pages) on the current state and future prospects for enterprise carbon and energy management (ECEM) software. We surveyed more than 40 suppliers, did interviews and demos with more than 20, and drew upon our ongoing discussions with consultants, service providers, and of course enterprise buyers that are participating in the takeoff phase of the ECEM market. One of the interesting takeaways from our research is that the carbon and energy management market is actually three market segments, not one (see figure below):

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5 Tech Vendors' Different Views On The IT-for-Sustainability Opportunity

5 Tech Vendors' Different Views on the 'IT-for-Green' Opportunity

My analyst duties took me to a number of industry and tech-vendor events this fall; in fact, looking back at my calendar, I have been out of my home area in Boston for nine of the last 12 weeks. The upside of all that time in airplane seats is that I get to meet and interact with leaders across the technology industry, including supplier companies, large and small, and their customers and partners.

In the first 10 days of December I spent time with five important technology suppliers, each of which has very different views on the opportunity in the broad arena of IT-for-sustainability (i.e., how information technology products and services help corporations achieve their sustainability goals).

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IT Confronts The Splinternet

Just posted an OpEd piece on IT's role in supporting the Splinternet. The Splinternet is a lot like the Internet except that it's fragmented by devices and passwords (and media formats and screen sizes and location). Customers don't get a single experience across mobile, social, and Web channels today. But they need to. Marketing is scrambling to give customers the mobile apps and social engagement they desire, scambling to overcome the Splinternet. But marketing can't do it alone.

The most digitally advanced firms and organizations on the planet realize that they need a whole-company response (and that includes all of IT as well as customer service, sales, and product development; supported by finance and legal and ops) already and are investing to deal with the Splinternet. (ESPN, NPR, Amazon, Google, and Bank of America come to mind.)

I won't repeat the article here, but I will point out that IT has a choice to make. It starts with a logic argument:

  • Customers expect a single experience across the Web, mobile, and social channels.
  • IT is the only part of the organization that can stitch together all of the systems across all of the channels to deliver that single experience.
  • Therefore, IT needs to step up and confront the challenges and opportunities presented by the Splinternet.
  • Therefore, IT must work even more closely with marketing, sales, customer service, and product development.
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Global Competition For "Doing Business"

I've written about the World Bank's Doing Business Index in several blogs and reports.  One of my favorite graphics from my "Where In The World?" report on market opportunity assessment looks at the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) - relative to a selection of other emerging markets - in terms of population and then compares their rankings across three economic and political indicators: Doing Business, Economic Freedom, and eReadiness.  The point is that "bigger is not always better" in terms of a potential market to enter. 

Saudi Arabia has used the World Bank's Doing Business Index as a critical measure of its 10 x 10 initiative - a program of reforms launched with the objective of being in the top 10 countries for doing business by 2010.  They missed the mark in 2010. But with the 2011 new rankings, we can congratulate Saudi Arabia's reformers for making it to 11 x 11. 

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