Earlier this morning, Google announced its intention to buy Motorola Mobility for 12.5 billion in cash or $40/share. There are three broad justifications for the deal:
Access to the Motorola patent portfolio which it could then license to partners like HTC and Samsung to protect against the long arm of Apple's lawyers.
An integrated hardware/software play to compete with Apple. The problem with this logic is that the deal does not address the fragmentation on the Android platform, which is the bigger issue.
The set-top business to bolster its lagging Google TV offering.
This said, the deal leaves Google in a very awkward position of being half-pregnant and trying to be a provider of an open source "environment" while at the same time competing with its "customers." It also means that there are four integrated hardware/software offerings: Apple/iOS, HP/WebOS, RIM/QNX, and now Google/Motorola, and potentially a 5th if this deal emboldens Microsoft to pull the trigger on the long-rumored full takeover of Nokia. The Apple story of simplicity and focused innovation at the app level has won out over complexity and innovation at all levels. Unfortunately, the deal extends the overall market fragmentation at a platform level well into 2013 to the frustration of developers.
So where does this leave the Asian OEMs HTC, Samsung, and LG? If Microsoft passes on the Nokia acquisition, this deal could throw Windows Mobile a temporary lifeline. Forrester can hear Steve Ballmer and company pitching the Asian players on how Microsoft is the only hardware agnostic player left and that HTC, Samsung, and LG should increase their support for Windows Mobile as protection against Google favoring its own hardware play.
In IT service management “circles” there’s a lot of talk about Social Media (with new terms like “Social ITSM”) and Cloud (with debates such as “Is Cloud the death knoll for ITSM and ITIL?”), but what about another aspect of the changing business and IT landscape that doesn’t get enough attention – Mobile?
We all have mobile devices (and I am deliberately stressing “devices” here), I don’t know whether I am a good or bad example having travelled recently with a work laptop and BlackBerry along with personal Android and iPhone devices, and an iPad. I know, how sad. But mobile devices, and their use and management, pose a serious challenge to I&O organizations.
“Enterprise Mobile Technologies: Individual employees are able to put the latest mobile devices and apps to productive business use faster than their employers can. Our data suggests the most highly mobile (and highly paid) employee segments (33% of the information workforce) already embrace these tools to make themselves more productive from work, from home, and from the road. What it means: Companies have little control over who uses these.”
Consider the following scenario: It’s a hot summer day and a prospective customer walks into your store to buy an air conditioner. He evaluates several models and then buys one — but not from you. It turns out your competitor located two miles away is offering the same model at a 20% discount. How did he know this? He scanned the product's bar code using the RedLaser app on his iPhone, which displayed several local retailers with lower prices than yours. If he had been willing to wait three days for shipping, he could have purchased the exact same model while standing in your store from an online retailer at a 30% discount.
This type of technology-fueled disruption is affecting all industries, not just retailers. Since the early 1900s, businesses relied on competitive barriers such as manufacturing strength, distribution power, and information mastery. But this is all changing in the age of the customer, where empowered buyers have information at their fingertips to check a price, read a product review, or ask for advice from a friend right from the screen of their smartphone.
To compete in the age of the customer, your business must become customer-obsessed. As Forrester’s Josh Bernoff (@jbernoff), SVP of Idea Development and author of Groundswelland Empowered, advocates in his latest research: “The only source of competitive advantage is the one that can survive technology-fueled disruption — an obsession with understanding, delighting, connecting with, and serving customers.”
I need your help. I am conducting research into business intelligence (BI) software prices: averages, differences between license and subscription deals, differences between small and large vendor offerings, etc. In order to help our clients look beyond just the software pricese and consider the fully loaded total cost of ownership, I also want to throw in service and hardware costs (I already have data on annual maintenance and initial training costs). I’ve been in this market long enough to understand that the only correct answer is “It depends” — on the levels of data complexity, data cleanliness, use cases, and many other factors. But, if I could pin you down to a ballpark formula for budgeting and estimation purposes, what would that be? Here are my initial thoughts — based on experience, other relevant research, etc.
Initial hardware as a percentage of software cost = 33% to 50%
Ongoing hardware maintenance = 20% of the initial hardware cost
Initial design, build, implementation of services. Our rule of thumb has always been 300% to 700%, but that obviously varies by deal sizes. So here’s what I came up with:
Less than $100,000 in software = 100% in services
$100,000 to $500,000 in software = 300% in services
$500,000 to $2 million in software = 200% in services
$2 million to $10 million in software = 50% in services
More than $10 million in software = 25% in services
Then 20% of the initial software cost for ongoing maintenance, enhancements, and support
Thoughts? Again, I am not looking for “it depends” answers, but rather for some numbers and ranges based on your experience.
It’s hard to avoid the tired old metaphors of “explosion” and “flood” when speaking of the exponential expansion of Internet and other digital content. Consider this startling factoid: According to Google’s recent Think Quarterly on innovation, “In 2003, five exabytes of information existed. Now we generate that every two days.”
Three key factors drive the spike in inquiries Forrester has seen this year about translation technologies, practices, and service providers. The first is this inundation of content. Even if only a tiny percentage of it could be valuable in other languages, it overwhelms the capacity of human translators.
Second, the strongest growth in consumerism and purchasing power is happening in countries with young populations and expanding economies, such as the so-called BRICs and CIVETs. (That’s Brazil, Russia, India, and China plus the more obscure Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, and Turkey.) Maintaining a consumer-oriented web presence in a single language today is akin to selling only to left-handed customers.
(And it’s futile anyway. Site visitors can use services like Google Translate to render your site in dozens of available languages, without your knowledge or any control over the quality of the translations.)
Finally, even if you ignore the consumer opportunities – and many companies still do – there’s the challenge of multilingual employee collaboration. Due to an overemphasis on the technology, many global enterprises seem surprised to learn that their slick new collaboration platform doesn’t do much to help the French collaborate with the Koreans or the Saudis if there is no common language.
Fiction writers I've met have said that the hardest section of a novel to write is not the beginning or ending but everything that happens in between. The middle chapters trace the course of the protagonist's struggle in way that must be both engaging and credible. The story of how people adopt Agile successfully also has a beginning, middle, and end. The middle part here, too, poses some of the most difficult challenges. The first chapter is a grabber, with teams energetically and fervently doing daily stand-ups, blazing through sprints, christening a product owner, prioritizing their backlogs, and living through all the other exciting events that happen at the very beginning.
And then the plot takes a different turn. Success at the small team level is fantastic, but how do you fit into a development organization? What if you need to work with an offshore team? How do you maintain velocity when builds take several hours or maybe even a full day? Is it possible to deal with compliance requirements without a significant amount of automation? How do you work better with the ops team so that the speed of deployment matches the speed of development?
Since Agile went mainstream, the number of teams reaching the difficult middle chapters of Agile adoption has increased markedly. Both I and my colleague Dave West answer questions about the middle phases every day. Many of these questions also arise during the yearly conference that the Agile Alliance holds in the US. (This year, it's in Salt Lake City to mark the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Agile Manifesto in nearby Snowbird.)
Mobile access to information has increased its importance in your work environment. Consider that two-thirds of your US and European workforce works remotely at least part time. Accessing email, surfing the Net, collaborating with a colleague, or posting tweets from your mobile device is the norm and no longer a luxury. But can this mobile elite access your most valuable information assets?
If you’re like me, you want to be able to access your work information from any of your many devices -- i.e., your laptop, iPad, and iPhone. Wouldn’t it be ideal if that access were transparent across all the devices, picking up where we left off as we moved from device to device? While mobile computing has matured in many areas, the ability to access and manage documents on a mobile device lags far behind many other capabilities, such as email and collaboration. What I want to see in a mobile ECM application is the same type of capability that we see in Twitter applications. I can send and receive tweets from any device with the same functionality and experience.
The vendors that have a mobile application are either delivering an early release or have limited the number of devices they are supporting. Most ECM vendors deliver some form of mobile access to their ECM solution. Those that don’t have a mobile application provide reduced functionality through a mobile web browser. So does that mean that all you need to do to create a mobile ECM strategy is to wait for your ECM vendor to provide an application? The answer is no, as I contend that technology is always the simplest piece of an ECM implementation.
A successful rollout of a mobile ECM strategy involves many more dimensions besides technology. You must also consider the people and process aspects. Here are some of the questions I plan to answer at our upcoming Forum:
For those of you that put up with my tweeting on Twitter, you will already know that I am obsessed with customer service. Or to be more accurate, I am obsessed with being treated like a customer. While a polite Englishman at heart, I am not prepared to tolerate poor customer service. In the words of David/Bruce Banner, “You won’t like me when I am angry.”
“But what has this to do with ITIL?” I hear you screaming at your screen. Please bear with me as I recount last Saturday night and Sunday morning (thankfully there is no link to the film of the same name).
Last weekend I spent a single night at a “chain” hotel. The customer service upon arrival was excellent, on the back of my loyalty card I received a room upgrade and complimentary soft drinks and chocolate bars in the room. Ah, the world was good and I was “living the dream.” I felt like a valued customer. Fast-forward to the following morning and the picture couldn’t have been more different.
During the night the room had been so hot that it was difficult to sleep. “You should have turned down the heating or opened the window,” I hear you cry. Check and check. The wall-mounted thermostat made no difference. The window, somewhat morbidly, had been screwed shut. I didn’t call down to reception as I couldn’t face a handyman/woman messing around in my room in the middle of the night (if they were actually available).
Many organizations expect EAs to be the source of technology innovations. They are broadly knowledgeable, experienced, connect-the-dots kind of people you might naturally expect to come up with reasonable ideas for new approaches and technology. When you think about it a bit, this expectation is misplaced. Here’s why I think this:
The best technology innovators are users who have a problem to solve; motivation to solve a specific problem affecting their lives is the key ingredient. EAs just don’t have these kinds of problems; because they operate as a bridge between business and technology, most often they are attempting to solve things that affect other people’s lives. Please don’t get me wrong: EAs are always looking for new, innovative ways to improve things. But this doesn’t replace the “I gotta fix this now” kind of motivation inspiring most innovations.
So am I saying organizations should take EAs out of the innovator role? Yes and no.
Here at Forrester, we have been writing and talking about topics such as Innovation Networks and new roles for business technology for a while. I think that EAs are better placed at the center of an Innovation Network where they connect innovation suppliers (lead users who are dreaming up new ways to solve their problems) with innovation users (other folks who can benefit from a generalization of the solutions the suppliers come up with). In addition, EAs can bring innovation implementers — the team members who know how to actually make innovations into solutions that work for more than just one individual or group — into the conversation.
So what should you do?
Send EAs on a mission to find people doing innovative things in IT and the business. This has a side effect of connecting EAs to the frontlines, where they might discover all kinds of things.
I’m in Las Vegas attending Infosys’s Connect 2011 client event, and one of the recurring themes in sessions and side conversations has been the nature of Strategic Partnership. The phrase risks becoming a meaningless cliché, so I was interested to research what it actually means to Infosys execs and clients. I got some interesting, varied perspectives.
A large CPG company’s central IT group described its interpretation in a couple of sessions. It demands, among other things, a strong cultural fit, a commitment to win:win solutions to problems, and regular meetings with partners’ CEOs. This group has 12 “strategic partners” who get a lead role in a specific area, but may not even be considered in other areas, even though they have good solutions in their portfolio. I might argue the semantic point about whether this means they are merely ‘important, at the moment’ rather than ‘strategic’. However, the key point is that the two parties’ commitment to making the partnership work creates a better, stronger commercial framework than any legal agreement could deliver.
Raj Joshi, MD of Infosys Consulting, described his group’s Value Realization Method (VRM) that formally tracks each project’s expected business benefits from the initial project business case through design and implementation and onto ongoing value delivery. Joshi stressed the importance of shared incentives, such as risk/ reward sharing commercial models, in ensuring projects’ success.