IBM Adds Fresh Coat Of Paint And New Tires To BPM Offering, But Still Needs To Rev Engine

Today, IBM announced the next release of its BPM suite environment, dubbed IBM Business Process Manager V7.5. This version represents IBM’s first attempt at unifying the core Lombardi Teamworks platform with IBM’s legacy WebSphere Process Server environment.

So far, IBM is following the product integration roadmap John Rymer and I laid out in our report published immediately following IBM’s acquisition of Lombardi.  With today’s announcement, IBM checks off the first point of integration on our list: establishing a single repository across Lombardi Teamworks and Websphere Process Server. With Business Process Manager V7.5, IBM will deliver a single repository for process assets that leverages Lombardi’s impressive “snapshot” version management and governance capabilities, providing a unified approach to administering and reusing process and integration assets.

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The Essential Metrics For Infrastructure And Operations

One thing that I’ve found in common across infrastructure and operations groups of all shapes and sizes is that they are continually searching for the ideal set of key performance indicators. A set of metrics that perfectly measures their infrastructure, demonstrates the excellence of their operations, but are still simple and cheap to collect. At least once a week I speak with a client searching for the holy grail of metrics, hopeful that I hold that coveted knowledge. They’re inevitably disappointed to find out that I don’t know what the best set of metrics is, and that I truly think that it doesn’t exist! Sorry if I’m bursting your bubble, but there is no essential set of metrics for all infrastructure and operations organizations. What makes sense for one organization to measure may be completely useless for another organization. What may be very simple to collect at one company is nearly impossible at another.

While I don’t believe in the myth of a single set of perfect metrics for all organizations, I do think it is valuable to learn from other organizations what they are measuring in order to compare them to your own metrics (and maybe steal some of theirs), which is why I am gathering a list of metrics from infrastructure and operations groups globally in order to form a database of metrics. Once we have a good number of metrics on this list, I will work to consolidate them down to the most commonly cited metrics and collect a benchmark on them. We’re calling this project “Forrester's Consensus Metrics For Infrastructure & Operations” and I really hope you’ll consider contributing to it because we can’t do this without your input.

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How Should EA Work With App Delivery To Remain Relevant?

I visited a client recently, a large company with global operations and a large application delivery organization. A senior VP in charge of a large part of that organization told me an interesting story about its experience with a change in the way it approaches EA over the past few years. In brief, he said:

  • “A few years ago our architects were mostly dispersed into various parts of the delivery organization; we didn’t have an EA group.
  • “Then we recognized that we needed an EA group to better manage our use of technology, so we pulled those people out of delivery and formed them into an EA group.
  • “Since then EA has spent a lot of time understanding our business, building capability maps, and focusing on a more strategic level.
  • “But now I’m hearing cries of anguish from the delivery teams that they don’t have enough direct engagement and support from the architects in their delivery efforts. The delivery teams are concerned that EA has moved too far away from the actual delivery of business value, that EAs are not helping enough, and that it’s harming the effectiveness of the delivery organization.”
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What Can CIOs Learn From Marketing?

Play House at Forrester Marketing Forum 2011This week I was the lone IT analyst attending Forrester's Marketing Forum (Twitter #fmf11). Although I was there because much of my research overlaps with my colleagues covering marketing roles, I can't help feeling CIOs are missing out by not attending this event.

For many years I have believed that a successful CIO must understand marketing -- especially if he/she ever aspires to the CEO or COO role. Although today's marketing professional is more dependent upon technology than ever before, marketing is too often the part of the business least understood by IT.

With awareness comes understanding: which is why I think it is essential for IT professionals, and especially CIOs, to attend conferences like the Marketing Forum. These events help develop a much greater understanding of the challenges faced by the marketing professionals in your organization -- and will no doubt stimulate many new ideas about how IT can help.

Here's just a sampling of some of the thinking heard at the Marketing Forum this week in San Francisco:

We heard from Practice Leader David Cooperstein that CMOs are suffering a crisis of confidence: most feel they don't have enough budget, executive support, or marketing technology to meet the new digital challenge. (The CIO message: your CMO shares your pain.)

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Drivers To The Cloud And Other Lawson CUE Takeaways

I had the pleasure earlier this week of attending Lawson Software’s conference and user exchange, aka CUE, in Boston.

The midmarket ERP apps vendor had the singular misfortune to throw its annual user party at a time of great uncertainty for both Lawson and its customers. Lawson has yet to respond to an unsolicited $1.8 billion acquisition offer from ERP rival Infor, aside from acknowledging receipt of the offer on March 11. Despite the Infor elephant in the room, CUE was a good-humored affair. Lawson execs exhibited grace under fire while customers expressed concern but remained cheerfully stoic and pragmatic.

Do you think Lawson will end up part of Infor? Alternatively, will it remain independent or will it be bought by a private equity firm and no longer be publicly traded à la Epicor? As apps vendors try to navigate fluctuating revenue mixes — rising subscriptions versus falling maintenance — being privately held may prove to be an attractive option.

Lawson is currently evaluating whether to break out subscription revenue as a separate line item in its next fiscal year. Of its 4,500 largely on-premise customers, around 350 use a Lawson SaaS product, the fruit of purchases such as Enwisen and Healthvision. Like other apps players, Lawson’s embraced Amazon.com’s EC2 as the cloud infrastructure for its HCM, M3 and S3 ERP apps. Several Lawson cloud services early adopters at CUE talked about their organizations’ experiences and there were some similarities in those stories:

  • They faced hardware refreshes and/or obsolescence of the app and database versions they used
  • They were already successfully running third-party SaaS apps or remotely hosted software
  • They used Lawson managed services as a steppingstone between the on-premises and cloud services worlds
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Attend Forrester's Webinar On Transforming Your Application Delivery Organization

Are you under increasing pressure from your business colleagues and sponsors to deliver more business value, faster, with higher quality? Have you been experimenting with new processes like Agile and new technologies like cloud as ways of meeting those objectives? Are you looking to transform your delivery capability, whether top-down or bottom-up?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should pursue this special opportunity, which is open to all: next Tuesday, April 12, at 11 a.m. Eastern, I'll be delivering a webinar on Transforming Application Delivery, together with my colleague Diego Lo Giudice. Diego is one of the authors of our recent report on this topic, together with Dave West. I edited this report. I hope you can join us!

Regards,
Mike Gilpin

How IBM And HP Are Strengthening Their IT-For-Sustainability Offers

How IBM and HP are Strengthening Their IT-for-Sustainability Offers
 
Over the past few weeks, computing giants HP and IBM have made significant new thrusts into the market for sustainability software and services. At first look, both companies are strengthening their commitment to "IT for sustainability (ITfS)" -- the use of information technology to help their customers meet their sustainability goals.

Both are prominently featuring "energy" in their messaging in keeping with the current customer focus on that side of the consumption/emissions coupling. And both are emphasizing a combination of software products and consulting services, the two segments of the market that we at Forrester have been tracking for some time now, as regular readers of this blog know by now.

But under the surface there are more differences than similarities in the approach that these two suppliers are taking to ITfS; differences that illuminate divergent strategies, philosophies, and experiences between them. Let's take a closer look.

HP is going broad; IBM is narrowing its focus. With its initial "Energy and Sustainability Management Services" entry, HP is leveraging its data center design and implementation expertise into buildings and other assets across the enterprise. It is stressing a holistic, top-down approach, starting with assessment workshops and other methods to help customers get their arms around the size and shape of the energy/carbon/resource issues.

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Change Management: A Critical Component Of Any New Business Process

Think of how often you hear the term change management in relation to a new business process. What’s your reaction? Is it “More of that high level stuff that sounds good, but . . .” or is it “Give me something concrete that I can really use to help my staff understand this new process and feel more comfortable with the change”? Methodologies, frameworks, and best practices abound, yet up to 60% of change management projects fail — and these failures are expensive. Should businesses just accept the fact that changes like the introduction of a new email system, a merger or acquisition, or a larger business transformation project are just going to be tough, and no resources are really effective?

Change management can work, but it’s a hard, continuous, and often frustrating process with no shortcuts. Any change management must have detailed planning, strong executive support, continuous and varied communications, assessments to gauge successful milestones, many training approaches, and reinforcement until the process becomes part of the new culture. The change leader needs deep experience in organizational change management. Whether this person is an external consultant or an inside person with a change management background, in most cases this leader also will need to develop a strong team relationship with the project manager.

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Facebook Opens New Data Center – And Shares Its Technology

A Peek Behind The Wizard's Curtain

The world of hyper scale web properties has been shrouded in secrecy, with major players like Google and Amazon releasing only tantalizing dribbles of information about their infrastructure architecture and facilities, on the presumption that this information represented critical competitive IP. In one bold gesture, Facebook, which has certainly catapulted itself into the ranks of top-tier sites, has reversed that trend by simultaneously disclosing a wealth of information about the design of its new data center in rural Oregon and contributing much of the IP involving racks, servers, and power architecture to an open forum in the hopes of generating an ecosystem of suppliers to provide future equipment to themselves and other growing web companies.

The Data Center

By approaching the design of the data center as an integrated combination of servers for known workloads and the facilities themselves, Facebook has broken some new ground in data center architecture with its facility.

At a high level, a traditional enterprise DC has a utility transformer that feeds power to a centralized UPS, and then power is subsequently distributed through multiple levels of PDUs to the equipment racks. This is a reliable and flexible architecture, and one that has proven its worth in generations of commercial data centers. Unfortunately, in exchange for this flexibility and protection, it extracts a penalty of 6% to 7% of power even before it reaches the IT equipment.

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Forrester’s 6 Categories Of Best Practices For Customer Service Knowledge Management

The right knowledge, delivered to the customer or the customer service agent at the right time in the service resolution process, is critical to a successful interaction. When done correctly, knowledge personalizes an interaction, increases customer satisfaction, reduces call handle time, and leads to operational efficiencies.

Embarking on a knowledge management project is hard. Concerns include:

  • Worries about cultural readiness and adoption. Many executives don’t understand how activities done by a knowledge team translate into real business outcomes and don’t support these programs with the adequate resources for success.
  • Concerns about making content findable. The best content is useless if it can’t be found when needed. “Findability” has to do with search technology, a solid information architecture, and giving users alternate methods to search for retrieving knowledge.
  • Questions about keeping content timely. Knowledge must be kept current, and new knowledge must be published in a timely manner so that it can be used to answer new questions as they arise.
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