"Anywhere, Anytime" Work Means IT Must Provide The Right Technology, To The Right Person, At The Right Time

Giving workers flexibility in when, where, and how they work is a hot topic right now. The US federal government has passed legislation to make telecommuting easier and multinational firms, like State Street, are instituting programs to let employees choose when and where they work. Why are organizations emphasizing this so much? Mobile and remote employees have more control over their work/life balance and won't have to stop working if circumstance prevents them from coming to the office. Furthermore, they can easily be collocated with clients and allow the company to reduce its real estate and carbon footprint. However, as this chart from my new report, Demystifying The Mobile Workforce, shows, information workers may be moving more quickly to this flexible way of working than their companies currently acknowledge: 66% of the North American and European workforce work outside the office at some point during a month.

If business leaders and their counterparts in IT are to get in front of this trend, they have to understand their mobile and remote workforce. For example, who is shifting work between the office and home? What technology are they using to do so? Do they believe that the company is doing a good job of providing them the policies and technology to work in this way? If business and IT leaders can't answer these questions, they will be hard pressed to accurately:

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Key Questions To Ask: HP’s New Converged Infrastructure Solutions

Today HP announced its new Converged Infrastructure solutions. The solutions include four offerings which are designed to help the enterprise IT organization with a one-stop shop for cloud and data storage solutions.

This move by HP offers a fix to the problem many IT organizations are facing: options abound in the marketplace for data center hosting/management, on-demand bursting capabilities, and cloud solutions. It can be confusing. HP packages these offerings up nicely to offer an end-to-end solution with a common management platform. HP's consulting services complements this and can even offer an upgrade path to move to a private/public/hybrid cloud.  I believe the new Converged Infrastructure solution should help cut down on managing multiple vendors and move to a more consolidated and integrated approach, with faster deployment times. 

However, the picture is not that simple as many complications arise around contractual performance metrics and SLAs. If the main idea of these offerings is speed-to-market, I'd specifically look into the following SLA considerations as you're preparing your business case and/or negotiations:

  1. What are your scaling requirements? Some of the HP offerings include the bursting of on-site resources.  If required, what would you need them to do and how quickly?  What would the consequences be if they weren't able to hit those targets?
  2. What are your security and contingency plan requirements? I would argue that SLAs in the cloud will differ based on your industry. If you're a healthcare provider building a cloud solution, your requirements may involve storing data in a private cloud due to HIPAA requirements. If you're a government organization, your requirements may involve certain data residing in a certain country.
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HP Stirs The Pot With New Converged Infrastructure Offerings

HP this week really stirred up the Converged Infrastructure world by introducing three new solution offerings, one an incremental evolution of an existing offering and the other two representing new options which will put increased pressure on competitors. The trio includes:

  • HP VirtualSystem - HP’s answer to vStart, Flex Pod and vBlocks, VirtualSystem is a pre-integrated stack of servers (blade and racked options), HP network switches and HP Converged Storage (3Par and Left Hand Networks iSCSI) along with software, including the relevant OS and virtualization software. Clients can choose from four scalable deployment options that support up to 750, 2500 or 6000 virtual servers or up to 3000 virtual clients. It supports Microsoft and Linux along with VMware and Citrix. Since this product is new, announced within weeks of the publication of this document, we have had limited exposure it, but HP claims that they have added significant value in terms of optimized infrastructure, automation of VM deployment, management and security. In addition, HP will be offering a variety of services and hosting options along with VirtualSystem. Forrester expects that VirtualSystem will change the existing competitive dynamics and will result in a general uptick of interest it similar solutions. HP is positioning VirtualSystem as a growth path to CloudSystem, with what they describe as a “streamlined” upgrade path to a hybrid cloud environment.
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Maturing Social Media Initiatives

Forrester’s book Groundswell made the power of social media tangible with real-world examples and laid out a framework to help onboard organizations. However, many companies today still struggle to benchmark their social media journey, manage bottom-up social activities, and prove the ROI of social media activities. The new chapters published in the just-released expanded and revised edition of Groundswell highlight some best practices. Here are some of them:

  • Understand why you are embarking on the social journey, and connect social media objectives to the company strategy. Ask hard questions like “Will my social presence help move the customer satisfaction needle?”, “Will it help sell more products?”, and “Will it deflect costs from my service center?”.
  • Treat social media as another channel in which to engage customers. Customers still want to call you (a surprising 67% of the time), email you, and chat with you. Make sure that your processes, policies, and communicated information are the same across all channels — traditional and social.
  • Connect your social media efforts. There may be many social media technologies used within your company. Ensure that there is some level of coordination between internal organizations so that you can uphold a consistent experience and brand for your customers.
  • Start small and staff social media initiatives with existing employees who understand your customers and your business. This is important to help extend your brand — your DNA — to your social channels.
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Product Management Without Portfolio Management Has Limited Value

Practically everyone who visits the Vatican stops to take a picture of the Swiss Guards. Ditto for the Queen's Guard at Windsor Castle, the Royal Life Guards at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen, and the Evzones at Greece's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Those multicolored uniforms may not have a place on the modern battlefield, where camouflage is far more important than panache, but they do attract the tourists.

If, by this measure, these ceremonial units have some value (albeit none militarily), why not have more of them? You could post the newly created Sartorial Guard at tourist locations that haven't been attracting enough foot traffic lately. And who knows, they might even attract more recruits into the real military. (Though I'm not sure what the career path is once you've held the rank of Feldweibel in the Swiss Guards.)

Obviously, I'm not being serious. Once you start manufacturing new ceremonial units, you cheapen the brand. You don't need more than one as a "loss leader" in the military, and there's no need to get the people who actually fight up in arms. Figuratively, that is.

Here's why managing a portfolio is critical for managing products. It wouldn't be hard to find some enterprising "champion" for a new Swiss Guards-ish unit who was willing to sew the uniforms and stand around looking fierce. (We call them re-enactors, and we don't put them on the public payroll.) No matter how much attention they attract, they'll still be a failure from a national perspective.

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Apple’s iCloud Takes The Lead In Pursuit Of The $12 Billion Personal Cloud Opportunity

Apple’s announcement of iCloud today coincides with the publishing of a major Forrester report for vendor strategists, “The Personal Cloud: Transforming Personal Computing, Mobile, And Web Markets” that describes the technology, markets, US market sizing, and the key players for this new form of personal computing that spans the job and personal lives. For a take on what Apple’s WWDC announcements mean for Consumer Product Strategists, please see the blog post, Apple’s iCloud Further Cements Platform Loyalty With Superior Total Product Experience, from my colleague Charlie Golvin.

The personal computing experience has become a major pain in the neck, as people add smartphones and tablets to the growing number of PCs they use at work and at home – more than half the US online population, about 135 million people, have the challenge of managing their content across multiple PCs and smartphones.

Forrester believes that a new computing experience is emerging, based on the personal cloud concept, that will redefine the computing experience around a user’s personal and work information, so that it’s seamlessly accessible across all of an individual’s devices. The growing personal cloud ecosystem is characterized by:

  • A $12 billion market value by 2016, with $6 billion of it from direct subscription revenue.
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Apple’s iCloud Further Cements Platform Loyalty With Superior Total Product Experience

At today’s Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple unveiled iCloud, the company’s long-expected solution for the multi-device, multi-connection world. With iCloud, Apple has liberated its customers’ iPhones, iPads, and [more recent] iPod touches from their tether to a Mac or PC, recognizing that these products play an increasingly primary role in their owners’ lives. For product strategists (vendor strategists can read my colleague Frank Gillett's take here), the most important attributes of iCloud are:

  • Its pricing. How much does iCloud cost Apple’s customers? Zero. Zip. Zilch. Well, at least in the basic form that Apple contends will suffice for a vast majority of its customers, iCloud is free for anyone who owns an iOS or MacOS device provided she doesn’t require more than 5 GB of storage for all the stuff Apple will hold on her behalf. Apple’s message to its customers is: you’ve always got your stuff, on whichever device you prefer at this moment. This stands in stark contrast to other cloud-based services like Dropbox and Sugarsync that force consumers to think carefully about butting up against their storage limits, just as the soon-to-be-the-default capped data plans force them to think about how many bits are traveling up and down which network.
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Hadoop: What Is It Good For? Absolutely . . . Something

Enterprises have options. One of the questions I asked the firms I interviewed as Hadoop case studies for my upcoming Forrester report is whether they considered using the tried and true approach of a petabyte-scale enterprise data warehouse (EDW). It’s not a stretch, unless you are a Hadoop bigot and have willfully ignored the commercial platforms that already offer shared-nothing massively parallel processing for in-database advanced analytics and high-performance data management. If you need to brush up, check out my recent Forrester Wave™ for EDW platforms.

Many of the case study companies did in fact consider an EDW like those from Teradata and Oracle. But they chose to build out their Big Data initiatives on Hadoop for many good reasons. Most of those are the same reasons any user adopts any open-source platform: By using Apache Hadoop, they could avoid paying expensive software licenses; give themselves the flexibility to modify source code to meet their evolving needs; and avail themselves of leading-edge innovations coming from the worldwide Hadoop community.

But the basic fact is that Hadoop is not a radically new approach to processing extremely scalable data analytics. You can use a high-end EDW to do most of what you can do with Hadoop with all the core features — including petabyte scale-out, in-database analytics, mixed-workload support, cloud-based deployment, and complex data sources — that characterize most real-world Hadoop deployments. And the open-source Apache Hadoop code base, by its devotees’ own admission, still lacks such critical features as the real-time integration and robust high availability you find in EDWs everywhere.

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The Promises Of Vendor Service

Just recently, I had an interesting customer experience — or, to be more precise, my daughter had it, as it involved her laptop computer from one of the top international Internet PC vendors. It was only a little defect — more an annoyance than a real fault. Since we bought “next business day service,” it should have gotten fixed right away. It played out differently in real life.

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What Kind Of Business Architecture Tool Do You Want?

I am increasingly being asked the question: “What tools are business architects using?” My answer is short but not very helpful: “Microsoft Office.” In a recent Forrester survey of more than 250 organizations, 80% of the respondents said they used PowerPoint, Excel, or Visio. Thirty percent or less also use a variety of other tools, including the typical EA tool suites and process modeling tools.  

My question to the business architecture community is: “What kind of business architecture tools do you want?”

Here are a few attributes to spur your thinking:

  • What business architecture elements do you want to manage: goals, strategy, capabilities, processes, services, organization, etc.?
  • How would you like to see the tool packaged: totally integrated (one tool does it all), separate components, integrable modules?
  • How important is it that your business architecture tool integrates with the more technically focused EA tools?
  • What kind of platform do you want your BA tools to run on: desktop, server, cloud?
  • How would you like the pricing structured: one-time purchase, lease, SaaS model?

Let me know what you think. You can reply here, or even better, reply on Forrester’s new EA Community, where it is easier to follow the conversation: http://community.forrester.com/message/13450#13450