ERP Versus Best-Of-Breed — Emptoris' SAP-Shop Customers Give Their View

My tireless research of sourcing and vendor management technologies has brought me to Barcelona, for Emptoris’ EMEA customer conference. I’d like to assure my colleagues in Boston, still cold and still "0 and . . .",  that I’m not writing this while sitting in the sunshine at an open air café, sipping a cold cervesa and watching the lightly clad señoritas walk by. I’d like to assure them that, but I can’t, because this is exactly what I am doing. Hopefully you’ll also be able to experience Barcelona if you attend our IT Forum here in June:,9179,2510,00.html

I saw some very good presentations by customers about their implementations of Emptoris’ sourcing site. As a fearless analyst, I asked the question about the elephant that, while not actually in the room here in Barcelona, is certainly present in the customers' IT environment, namely SAP. All the speakers were procurement professionals in supposedly SAP-shops, so why had they chosen Emptoris over SAP’s sourcing and CLM products?

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Consolidation Continues In The EDI World

Forrester published its most recent evaluation of B2B service providers in October 2009. At that time, the market was dominated by three large providers: GXS, Sterling Commerce, and Inovis. Shortly after this report was published, the consolidation began, with GXS and Inovis consummating a merger in December 2009. In June 2010, IBM announced that it had acquired Sterling Commerce, which was at that time the #2 provider of EDI VAN and B2B managed services. And last week, Liaison announced that it had acquired nuBridges (including its VAN, managed services, MFT, and hosted security capabilities). Bottom line, the market landscape looks significantly different than it did just 18 months ago.

What does this mean for clients who have significant EDI and B2B needs?

  • For starters, there is obviously less competition than there used to be, and this could lead to higher prices over the long haul (though the current economic problems are having a dampening effect on this so far). 
  • Secondly, clients with a long-standing relationship with a particular provider may experience some service issues during the transition to the new organization, and we have heard some reports of problems in this area. Clients need to be diligent in holding new providers responsible for delivering the same level of service (or higher) than what they were receiving previously.
  • Clients should pay close attention to B2B service provider contracts that may be expiring in the next year and make sure to leave enough time for effective analysis of alternatives in support of contract renewal negotiations.

There's A New Name In The Telecom Expense Management Landscape

There’s a new name to remember in the Telecom Expense Management (TEM) vendor market space – as though there weren’t already enough to keep you busy, with hundreds of businesses in North America alone marketing themselves as TEM vendors.  But fear not, you can also toss one of those names in the memory archive because Invoice Insight, a 10-year veteran in this space, has recently rebranded as Xigo. Why? To shed the “old school” image of a vendor focused solely on telecom invoice management. Invoice Insight – excuse me, Xigo – and much of the TEM market has moved beyond the simple value proposition of validating invoices and disputing charges.  Many of these solutions address the effective management of all telecom-related activities, including inventory and asset management, ordering and provisioning management, workflow automation, and even device disposal. It’s this focus on the more complete life-cycle management of telecom assets that instigated the change in name. A name, Dave Snow, Chief Marketing Officer at Xigo says was chosen to be “timeless for a timeless brand.” Ahmmm, the verdict is still out on the name.

But along with its rebranding, Xigo introduced its family of products: Xigo enterprise, Xigo pro, and Xigo now – the latter of which is free. Yes, that wasn’t a typing error. They’re offering their entry product, Xigo now, an automated service built to analyze the wireless bills of companies with up to 50,000 mobile phones under management, for free – for those of you outside the US whose interest may be piqued, sorry, for now this is just a US freebee. But why are they doing this at all? Surely not out of the goodness of their hearts. They are, after all, a vendor playing in a highly competitive marketplace. Well there are a couple of good reasons:

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Three Megatrends To Master For Application Development

Hockey god Wayne Gretzky said, "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." For application development professionals, three megatrends show you where to skate to be more successful:

  • Megatrend 1: Get faster. The recession that started in December 2007 created a hunker-down mentality. The sentiment for IT became: "We need to do more with less." As we emerge from the recession, albeit in an unresounding way, the new sentiment is: "We need to get faster." The pace of business change continues to accelerate, and that in turn has intensified the need for application development professionals to deliver and change applications faster. The industrialization of application development has failed. Scrap it. You must get faster, and that means changing your process, changing your technology, and changing your organization. Software development is more akin to making a movie than to making widgets on an assembly line.
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Would You Know A Product If You Saw One?

Over the weekend, I attended the Silicon Valley Product Camp, one of the yearly un-conferences for product managers in the US, Canada, and beyond. During one of my sessions, a look into the role of product management in the innovation process, I posed some basic questions to the audience. What is innovation? As a group, we had lots of potential definitions. What is a product? This question elicited almost no answers.

That result wasn't a surprise. For years, we've been hearing about how difficult it is to define product management. Perhaps that has something to do with the difficulty of defining the thing that product managers manage. We think we know products when we see them, in much the same fashion as Justice Potter Stewart famously defined obscenity, but we're a bit challenged to put into words exactly what they are. We can easily define them in the negative, such as consulting offerings that aren't products or IT projects that aren't products. We've all heard that products have life cycles, which isn't nearly as Darwinian as one might expect. (Many ideas that don't deserve to become products, do. Many that deserve to die, don't.) But, if pressed, we're at a loss to define what products are.

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Intel Ups The Ante At The High End With New E7 CPUs

Bigger, Better, Faster Xeon CPUs

Intel today publicly announced its anticipated “Westmere EX” high end Westmere architecture server CPU as the E7, now part of a new family nomenclature encompassing entry (E3), midrange (E5), and high-end server CPUs (E7), and at first glance it certainly looks like it delivers on the promise of the Westmere architecture with enhancements that will appeal to buyers of high-end x86 systems.

The E7 in a nutshell:

  • 32 nm CPU with up to 10 cores, each with hyper threading, for up to 20 threads per socket.
  •  Intel claims that the system-level performance will be up to 40% higher than the prior generation 8-core Nehalem EX. Notice that the per-core performance improvement is modest (although Intel does offer a SKU with 8 cores and a slightly higher clock rate for those desiring ultimate performance per thread).
  • Improvements in security with Intel Advanced Encryption Standard New Instruction (AES-NI) and Intel Trusted Execution Technology (Intel TXT).
  • Major improvements in power management by incorporating the power management capabilities from the Xeon 5600 CPUs, which include more aggressive P states, improved idle power operation, and the ability to separately reduce individual core power setting depending on workload, although to what extent this is supported on systems that do not incorporate Intel’s Node Manager software is not clear.
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Cloud Strategies On The Brain

Recently, it seems that IT professionals cannot turn around without seeing another industry announcement involving the word "cloud."  I am guilty too -- in fact, the SVM team at Forrester has written extensively on the topic of what cloud strategies mean to sourcing and vendor management professionals.  Cloud impacts every technology, service category, industry vertical, geography, and company size differently. But despite impressive growth in software-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service still takes a back seat to more conventional outsourcing “towers.”

My colleague, Wolfgang Benkel, and I recently published The Forrester Wave™: Global IT Infrastructure Outsourcing, but we realize there are unique regional considerations, which we covered in separate market overview reports for North America and Europe. In terms of what client references told us about what they are actually outsourcing from their IT infrastructure outsourcing providers, services like help desk, deskside, and storage management predominate, while old (which are on their way out, i.e., mainframe) and the new (which have tremendous growth potential, i.e., IaaS) technologies are among the least represented.
















We will present the findings from this Wave in a teleconference on May 12, 2011. Click here to register for the teleconference now.

RSA’s Acquisition Of NetWitness Validates Forrester’s NAV Concept

Today EMC’s security division RSA announced the acquisition of NAV (Network Analysis and Visibility) vendor NetWitness. Some pundits have suggested that this is a direct result of the recent breach of RSA, but Forrester has been aware that this acquisition was in the works long before the breach was known. In fact, the public announcement of the acquisition was delayed by the breach notification. It is fortuitous timing, however, as the RSA attack shows the need for improved situational awareness.

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Stop Gambling On New Technology To Change Your Company's Culture

I’ve spent most of my career working with IT people making IT decisions on behalf of people who use technology for work. What I love about IT people is their utter devotion to the idea that technology can profoundly change how people work. To improve their productivity, to remove barriers to collaboration, to spark groundswell innovation, and more. Just the other day, I spoke to one named Fred who said to me: “We’re introducing new technologies to change the culture of our organization.”

What a courageous and inspirational idea coming from an IT leader. We’ll just assume he meant to add “…for the better.”

I hear stuff like this all the time, particularly when Content & Collaboration Professionals are planning major initiatives for social technologies, mobile technologies, and collaboration tools inside companies with market caps that dwarf the GDP of entire countries. Big ones. And of course I hear it in the tech trade mags I read, at conferences, and from human capital people fretting about baby boomers turning into octogenarians, and the nano-toting-angry-birds-playing, malcontent Millennials sporting ADD-like technology tendencies at work. I’ll work for a Millennial one day. I’m not critiquing. Just observing.

So back to Fred. Assuming like me you work around folks from IT, I’ll ask: will Fred succeed?

Personally, I don’t gamble in casinos, but I do at work. I place bets on people I hire, budget dollars I spend, arguments I think I’ll win (but often lose), and even on the research ideas analysts on my team come to me with. After all, with luck, the right bets will put my three kids through school someday.

But I’m not betting on Fred.

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Forrester Projects 8% Growth In US IT Purchases In 2011, And 10% In 2012

Forrester just published our latest forecast for the US market for business and government purchases of information technology (IT) goods and services (April 1, 2011, "US Tech Market Outlook, Q1 2011 -- Building a Springboard For Even Stronger Growth in 2012"), and we have raised our 2011 and 2012 outlooks: we now forecast 8% growth in the US in 2011 (up from our 7.4% forecast in January) and 10.3% in 2012 (compared with a 9.3% forecast earlier).  For the broader ICT market (information and communications technology, adding in telecommunications services), 2011 growth will be 6.8% compared to a 5.1% rise in 2012. 

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