Social technology is certainly a hot topic, but for many CIOs the emergence of islands of social technology across the enterprise feels like a touch of déjà vu.
IT has been here before, having to clean up islands of automation that left organizations unable to coordinate information and react rapidly to changing market dynamics. Many organizations are already pressing ahead with multiple social media initiatives aimed at solving business or customer challenges — and that's preferable to doing nothing. But should CIOs help their organization step back and take a more strategic perspective on social technologies? By doing so, I believe CIOs can help avoid integration challenges down the road.
I'm suggesting that the more mature organizations (where social technology is well-established) should begin to refocus social technology efforts in support of a broader business strategy. At the same time, IT needs to help ensure the technologies being deployed meet the technology architecture needs of the business of today and tomorrow.
This is the subject of a recent report called "Social Business Strategy." The research takes a strategic look at how organizations are using social technologies and reinforces the suggestion that CEOs need to establish a social business council. We need to think beyond point solutions in order to maximize competitive advantage.
Last week, Forrester gathered its 1,200 worldwide employees together for an offsite meeting in Boston to kick off our agenda and plans for 2011 and beyond. It was the first time we had gotten the whole company together under one roof in 4 years; the company has grown by roughly 50 percent since the beginning of 2007.
Part of our offsite was devoted to research agenda planning around the big themes that we have identified for the technology industry in the coming year. And we have quite a strong research agenda in the sustainability arena, focusing on how large companies are using IT systems, software, and services to help meet their sustainability goals.
Our research agenda starts with our big-picture point of view on the state of the technology industry. And that is a good place to be! The global technology industry is at the beginning of a multi-year up-cycle of industry innovation and growth, during which investment in tech products and services will grow considerably faster than the overall economy. This was true in 2010 and will again hold true in 2011 and 2012 (see Figure 1).
Sorry, this will be a quick one so I don't have time to build in an Animal House reference. I've been following all of the "expert" commentary on Twitter about Tibco's Tibbr announcement. At first glance, Tibbr appears to be another entrant in a crowded space that includes Yammer, SocialText, Salesforce (sorry again, a quick one so I don't have time for what deserves to be a very long list, you get the idea).
Tibbr is not a me-too entrant in this space. Tibbr leverages Tibco's unique position to drive highly relevant information into an incredibly compelling new knowledge worker experience. The link between critical line of business data and the average knowledge worker in an enterprise has long been more tenuous and less effective than it should be. Tibco has an investment in enterprise application integration that might astound the uninitiated. So here is an example of how an internal microblog/activity stream might look in a Tibbr-enabled world:
"Joey's Diner has the best clams casino. I can't get enough of them." — Get over yourself, no one cares what you're eating. And by the way, your self-indulgence is creating noise that is blocking critical signal.
"The Knack are back. Great concert last night at the Konocti Harbor Inn." —See above, you get the idea.
"I'm working on a huge proposal for a key client, has anyone done a big deal with legal" — Great, now we're getting somewhere.
"Inventory levels of widgets are critically low in Kansas City store" — Holy mackerel, that's important. Thanks, Tibco, for making a massive investment in building integration to my inventory system.
What will retail will look like in 10 years? This is an important question for many CIOs and CEOs, and not just those in the retail sector.
To get a feel for the future of retailing, earlier this month I made my annual pilgrimage to the National Retail Federation (NRF) conference and expo in New York. The most significant difference I noticed between this year and last year was that in 2010 everyone was talking about multichannel retail while keeping an eye on social technologies as a future trend. This year the buzz was around full channel integration/retail-anywhere or what might be called "zero-channel retail."
For many years retailing has been broken out into "channels" based upon how products are put into the hands of the consumer. Channels include: retail stores, outlet stores, Internet, catalog, etc. In the past each channel was managed independently of the others (recall how some retailers actually created separate companies to run their Internet retail business). Last year there was a big focus on how to integrate online and physical retail into one, seamless channel.
Ah, the good ol’ days, when technology customers just wanted smaller, faster, and cheaper. Well, they still want that, but that’s not all they want. They want business outcomes: the differentiated business capabilities that technology makes possible realized with minimized risk.
Today’s business technology buyers are embedding technology deeper into their organizations. They’re using technology to not just record business, but to uniquely mediate customer interactions, stream offerings, and shape market futures.
These differentiated business capabilities are complex, requiring customers to effect a multitude of trade-offs, implementation choices, and organizational changes. The journeys businesses take to achieve differentiated capabilities are uncertain. Outcomes, therefore, often are unknown.
Business technologists have learned the hard way that happy outcomes are not achieved simply by purchasing the right stuff. The real challenge is to successfully transform technology investments into business capabilities, at the least cost, risk, and time.
Ultimately, business technologists have learned that outcomes are co-created by vendors and users.
But most vendors are still set up primarily to sell products. Product portfolios, marketing activities, and sales behaviors still presume that customers largely are passive in the value-creation process, as though the act of buying and achieving outcomes was one and the same.
Most vendors simply do not try to sustain engagement across a customer’s entire outcome lifecycle.
The public sector is certainly hot these days – definitely in the hot seat, in hot water. Concerns about public sector finance persist, with the discussion in some cases targeting specific causes beyond just vague notions of overspending. The Economist recently came down pretty hard on public sector unions.
However, for some tech vendors, the public sector really is hot – as in a hot opportunity. Despite revised earnings and warnings about public sector forecasts by some tech vendors, others are instead optimistic. Steria, a French IT services company, is not too concerned about the lingering malaise of the public sector, although it has not been immune to the crisis. A UK public sector spending moratorium in 2010 brought all projects of more than £1 million to a temporary halt, for review. Steria and other suppliers and service providers held their breath through much of the fall.
It's important sometimes to step back from the obvious trends and look at things that lie just beyond the light. So in addition to the clear trends in play: mobilizing the entire collaboration toolkit, moving collaboration services to the cloud (often in support of mobile work); and consolidating collaboration workloads onto a full-featured collaboration platform, here are six counterintuitive trends for 2011 (for more detail and an analysis of what content & collaboration professionals should do, please read the full report available to Forrester clients or by credit card):
Consumerization gets board-level approval. Consumerization is inevitable; your response is not. In 2011, tackle this head on. (And read our book, Empowered, while you're at it -- it has a recipe for business success in the empowered era, a world in which customers and employees have power.)
The email inbox gets even more important. I know the established wisdom is for email to get less relevant as Gen Y tweets their way to business collaboration. But come on, look at all the drivers of email: feeds from social media, universal, pervasive on any device. Email's here to stay. But it's time to reinvent the inbox. IBM and Google are leading this charge.
The cloud cements its role as the place for collaboration innovation. The cloud is better for mobile, telework, and distributed organizations. And cloud collaboration services will get better faster than on-premise alternatives. Full stop. The math isn't hard to do. A quarterly product release cycle beats four-year upgrade cycles and every time.
Last month I launched an online self-assessment and survey tool to help you — business process change agents and architects — determine the sustainability of your business process management (BPM) change effort. The source of inspiration for the assessment criteria I used is the conclusion of the Harvard Business School's Evergreen Project.
Evergreen analyzed the impact of 200 different management "best practices" on the performance of 160 business organizations over a time period of 10 years. The researchers studied broad areas such as strategy, innovation, and business processes, as well as specific practices, and concluded that organizations that truly produce superior results excel at four fundamental practices:
Devise and maintain a clearly stated, focused strategy.
Develop and maintain flawless operational execution.
Develop and maintain a performance-oriented culture.
Build and maintain a fast, flexible, flat organizational structure.
Many organizations have seen large swings over the past two years in IT spending on technology, business spending on technology, and the way that IT and business interact to best manage business technology. Have you seen changes in your budgeting and planning cycles? Does the business expect more (or less) from IT today, as compared to two years ago? How well aligned is your IT organization to goals? We’ve seen these changes in many of the organizations we’ve been speaking with. But what about your organization? Please let us know what’s going on in your organization by taking this short survey on budgeting, planning, and alignment. If you’re a member of our CIO panel, you received an invitation to participate in this survey, and we’re hoping that you’ll let us know what’s going on in your organization. If you’re not currently a member of the panel, you can join our panel by clicking here. Thanks. We’ll publish the results in March or April.
Okay, so Verizon Wireless (VZW) now will offer iPhone 4s to its customers on its 3G network. (The official launch date is February 10, 2011). What does this mean for content & collaboration professionals? A lot, as it turns out, as yet another brick is laid in the post-PC future.
Forrester customers can read the new report by my colleague Charles Golvin analyzing the impact on the industry and the consumer market. Here are some thoughts on what this deal means for the enterprise and for content and collaboration professionals. iPhone-on-VZW means:
You have yet one more reason to support iPhones. Mobile service provider choice is important on smartphones and tablets, both to provide good network coverage to employees and also to keep competition high hence prices low. AT&T Mobility’s lock on iPhone in the US was one reason some firms have been reluctant to support iPhone. With iPhone-on-VZW (not to mention the aggressive $30/month introductory pricing for an unlimited data plan), that barrier is gone.
Yet more employees will bring their personal iPhones to work and ask for your help. Verizon Wireless has been driving the consumerization of Android devices; it will now also spend some money promoting and selling iPhone-on-VZW. This will only increase the “osmotic pressure” of employees aka consumers bringing their personal devices to work. And they will want more than just email on their personal smartphones; they will also ask for SharePoint and the employee portal and and and . . .