Yesterday, MindTree and their executive team came to Boston. The event had the typical flavor at first, but what we very quickly heard was that KK’s (CEO, Krishnakumar Natarajan) strategic view sounded remarkably similar to what Forrester has recently been advocating - traditional IT services vendors must evolve to compete in the next decade of tech market changes. Though it would be presumptuous to say we saw the evolving offshore vendor dynamic first, Forrester recognized the same trends and client demands that KK and his colleagues presented. In the end, it looks as though MindTree has made demonstrable strides in three keys areas, which border on proof rather than simple marketing-white-wash, to attest to their evolution:
Client-centricity: Every IT Services firm will claim a paramount focus on clients. MindTree is one of the few who have told us (with some specifics) that they have actively wound down some outlying clients, in an attempt to re-double their efforts where they have a shared culture and a strong potential for future growth. We heard directly from a client that this will likely result in a move to managed outcomes. So there it is: work so tightly with a preferred vendor that the trust necessary for a managed services relationship is not only logical – it’s inevitable.
I'm a dedicated podcast listener, and one of my current favorites is the BBC's In Our Time. The host, Melvyn Bragg, selects a bewildering array of topics, such as Daoism, the Battle of Bannockburn, random numbers, the medieval university, and metaphor. A recent episode about the Industrial Revolution unexpectedly and unintentionally turned into a very lively discussion about the sources of invention, a topic that's near and dear to application development and delivery professionals.
Here's the punch line to this discussion: Not everyone's brain is ready to conjure up new ideas, so you need a catalyst. And here's the connection to this blog: serious games can be that catalyst. Our brains regularly need to be shaken up this way, during both those magisterial moments when we're trying to look over the horizon and the more desperate moments when, as I discuss in a new study, we need to dig ourselves out of a hole.
In Forrester's 149-criteria evaluation of 10 platform-as-a-service (PaaS) vendors, we found that Microsoft and salesforce.com led the pack because of their comprehensive features for application development and delivery pros and strong strategies in the category. Cordys, LongJump, Caspio, WorkXpress, WaveMaker, and Google were the next-strongest vendors (in order) in our analysis, followed by OrangeScape and Tibco Software. Our analysis shows which PaaS vendors are best for professional developers and which are best for business developers. Our analysis also reveals a very immature market with lots of potential risks for buyers.
The PaaS market is a sprawling, fast-changing, and immature market. Most PaaS vendors are small, and even big vendors like Google and Microsoft have incomplete, new products. Salesforce.com has the most mature PaaS, but it just acquired an entirely new PaaS product (Heroku), and its fit into the portfolio and strategy isn't yet clear. The PaaS market's immaturity is also evident in the relatively low scores registered by many of the vendors in our Wave analyses. Whereas many Forrester Waves have four or more Leaders, ours only has two.
Our evaluation of PaaS products for professional developers ("coders") uncovered a market in which salesforce.com — one of the PaaS pioneers — has built a powerful product, market position, and strategy and in which Microsoft has quickly also built a leading position.
Our evaluation of PaaS products for business developers ("business experts") uncovered a market in which salesforce.com is the only Leader. But upstart vendors — most notably Caspio and WorkXpress — provide very strong alternatives. Microsoft does not appear in this analysis because it does not yet offer tools for business experts in its Azure product line.
Forrester surveys show that enterprise infrastructure and operations (I&O) teams that are well down the virtualization path are shifting their priorities to deploying a private cloud. While you can certainly build your own, you don’t have to anymore. There’s an abundance of vendor solutions that can make this easier. In response to Forrester client requests for help in selecting the right vendor for their needs, we've published our first market overview of private cloud solutions. Through this research we found that there are a variety of offerings suited to different client needs, giving you a good landscape to choose from. There are essentially five solution types emerging: 1) enterprise systems management vendors; 2) OS/hypervisor vendors; 3) converged infrastructure solutions; 4) pure-play cloud solutions; and 5) grid-derived solutions. Each brings the core IaaS features as well as unique differentiating value.
How should you choose which one is right for you? That very much depends on which vendors you already have relationships with, what type of cloud you want to deploy, where you want to start from, and what you hope to get out of the cloud once it's deployed.
Hewlett-Packard reported its financial results for the quarter ending on April 30, 2011, early in the day on May 17, a day sooner than expected. Dell reported its financial results the same day, at its normal time at the end of the day. In many ways, as we will see in a minute, the results were similar. Yet the financial market reaction was dramatically different. HP's stock price dropped by 7% during the day, while Dell's stock price rose by almost 7% in after-hours trading. Bloomberg News, in its article on the two companies' results, headlined what it saw as the reason for the different performance: "Dell Shares Rise After Corporate Spending Gives Company Edge Over Rival HP."
I am not a stock analyst, nor is Forrester in the business of analyzing or forecasting stock performance. But the divergent responses of the stock market to the financial results of HP versus Dell do have implications for vendor strategy, while the underlying results show where the tech market is headed.
First, let's compare the actual numbers. HP's revenues in the quarter were up by 3%, and right in line with expectations, while Dell's revenues were just 1% higher, and lower than expectations. Dell's sales to business rose by 3%, while HP's sales increased by 8%. Dell's sales to consumers fell by 7%, slightly better than the 8% drop in HP's sales to consumers. So far, very similar numbers between the two vendors, with HP actually doing better than Dell in the quarter. So, why the market perception that Dell outperformed HP?
This post is to announce and describe the 2011 Groundswell Awards, specifically the internal "management" category: innovation, collaboration (including social), and mobile. As my Empowered coauthor, Josh Bernoff, writes:
"We had this idea in 2007 that we could surface the best, most interesting, most effective social applications with an awards program. At the time, I never realized just what a fascinating variety of programs we'd encounter. So we kept doing it."
"The purpose of this post is two-fold -- to officially announce and open up the site for entries to the 2011 awards, and to celebrate some of the most amazing entries of the last five years."
Read Josh's recap of the award's five-year history here.
Starting last year, we expanded the field to include three internal “management” scenarios in line with our book Empowered. The awards this year are for:
Employee Mobile Application:Help employees solve customer and business problems using smartphones and tablets.
Employee Collaboration/Social Application:Help employees connect and work together.
Entering into a new competitive segment, especially one dominated by major players with well-staked out turf, requires a level of hyperbole, dramatic positioning and a differentiable product. Cisco has certainly achieved all this and more in the first two years of shipment of its UCS product, and shows no signs of fatigue to date.
However, Cisco’s announcement this week that it is now part of Microsoft’s Fast Track Data Warehouse and Fast Track OLTP program is a sign that UCS is also entering the mainstream of enterprise technology. The Microsoft Fast Track program, offering a set of reference architectures, system specification and sizing guides for both common usage scenarios for Microsoft SQL Server, is not new, nor is it in any way unique to Cisco. Fast Track includes Dell, HP, IBM, and Bull. The fact that Cisco will now get equal billing from Microsoft in this program is significant – it is the beginning of the transition from emerging fringe to mainstream , and an endorsement to anyone in the infrastructure business that Cisco is now appearing on the same stage as the major incumbents.
Will this represent a breakthrough revenue opportunity for Cisco? Probably not, since Microsoft will be careful not to play favorites and will certainly not risk alienating its major systems partners, but Cisco’s inclusion on this list is another incremental step in becoming a mainstream server supplier. Like the chicken soup that my grandmother used to offer, it can’t hurt.
Forrester is in the middle of a major research effort on various Big Data-related topics. As part of this research, we’ll be kicking off a client survey shortly. I’d like to solicit everyone’s input on the survey questions and answer options. Here’s the first draft. What am I missing?
Scope. What is the scope of your Big Data initiative?
Status. What is the status of your Big Data initiative?
Industry. Are the questions you are trying to address with your Big Data initiative general or industry-specific?
Domains. What enterprise areas does your Big Data initiative address?
Why BigData? What are the main business requirements or inadequacies of earlier-generation BI/DW/ET technologies, applications, and architecture that are causing you to consider or implement Big Data?
Velocity of change and scope/requirements unpredictability
Analysis-driven requirements (Big Data) vs. requirements-driven analysis (traditional BI/DW)
Cost. Big Data solutions are less expensive than traditional ETL/DW/BI solutions
I realize I'm posting two rants in a row here (my last one was on marketing being a dirty word), but this is important! I just read in the WSJ that it's time more CIOs report to the top... my initial reaction was "oh come on, really, are we still on with this old chestnut?" -- the thing is, I couldn't agree more. But here's what gets me -- we were saying this in the '80s. The hope back then was that, as more CEOs stepped up who had grown up with technology, things would change and more CIOs would report into the CEO. Clearly this was pie-in-the-sky optimism ... so what went wrong?
Traditional wisdom (aka analysts) suggests that it's up to the CIO to "earn" a seat at the table by demonstrating leadership, delivering business value from IT, and lots of other hoops to jump through. While my colleagues and I work diligently on research to help CIOs achieve this, I can't help feeling there is an alternative perspective we are missing, and that's what drove me to write this blog post.
What percent of your IT budget do you spend on "keeping the lights on"? If you're anything like a typical company that I work with, the answer is more than half. That doesn't leave much money for spending on new initiatives and projects — in fact, in 2010, the average IT organization spent less than 25% of their IT operating and capital budget in these categories. Most companies that I speak with tell me they wish it was more, but they get constantly caught up in the day-to-day "firefighting" which leaves little time and budget to spend on new innovations, more proactive measures, and new initiatives. And the treadmill just keeps getting faster and faster as more projects are piled on with little or no additional budget to help implement them.