There seems to be a renewed interest in Africa. Is it that those who follow emerging markets have tired of China and India? Is it the recent events in North Africa that have sparked interest and hope for the region? Or could it be that, as McKinsey Global Institute put it, at least some African countries “have turned a corner and are now on the path to sustainable growth and poverty alleviation?”
From a technology perspective, it is also likely that finally with recent developments in both undersea cable and satellite links, the Internet has arrived in a way that makes Africa a viable market for ICT. And by that I mean not just for low-cost, bottom-of-the-pyramid solutions and not just South Africa, both of which have long been on the radar of some technology vendors for some time.
I’ve been studying Africa on-and-off for over 20 years now. In 1989 I took a one-way ticket to Bujumbura, Burundi (yes, I did have to look it up on a map first), traveled to Bukavu, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), where I spent the summer, and eventually settled in Bossangoa, Central African Republic, where I was a high school math teacher for two years. At that time there were no telephones in my city although it was the largest in the region, and only limited lines into and out of Bangui, the capital. I spoke to my parents three times in two years, which is very hard to imagine in these days of Skype and Facebook. Needless to say much has changed in Africa as well.
At Forrester we have published our first Enterprise Social Platform Wave. I first entitled this blog "Enterprise Social Landscape Matures" but then realized that while the market has moved dramatically forward, it's hardly mature. Rather than mature, it often reminds me of my teenage son. Sometimes mature, sometimes not so much. The fact is that about 57% of enterprises are making some investment in enterprise social in 2011. Which means that 43% are not yet doing anything. There's a lot yet to be determined about this market. Yet, we see signs of growing up. There are some very large deals going down as some enterprises set standards and deploy pervasively. Jive, one of the vendors in our Wave, recently filed for IPO signaling maturation of the space. Some 800-pound collaboration gorillas have jumped into the space, including IBM and Microsoft. Cisco is making a move from the strength of its voice and video positions. OpenText is coming in from the content side. And there is still plenty of room for smaller disruptors with Atlassian, Socialtext, NewsGator, and Telligent all making waves in this growing market. Nine vendors were featured in the Forrester Wave:
Steve Spear not only lectures at MIT and leads workshops on continuous process improvement throughout the US and Europe, but he has also authored a book on the topic called The High-Velocity Edge. Most interesting is how close Steve gets to his subject; he’s not content to observe from afar. For example, he embedded himself into a Toyota team to develop a tier one supplier and has since then worked with Toyota on supplier leadership development. He worked with a hospital’s clinical staff to eliminate terrible complications like infections and patient falls while increasing capacity and reducing cost; he also helped develop and deploy the Alcoa Business System at Alcoa. Steve’s clients range from healthcare providers to manufacturers to food service companies to high-tech companies — making him conversant in businesses producing everything from potato chips to microchips. As a result, he not only speaks as an academic authority, but can also claim insight into how work gets done in the real world.
In today’s technology-fueled marketplace, the underlying systems, automated processes, and communications channels become crucial to continuing and growing your company’s revenue stream and customer engagement. As has occurred so many times over the past decades, there is an accompanying swing of the centralized IT/decentralized IT pendulum, with customer-facing departments, such as sales and marketing, acquiring their own technology solutions from cloud or SaaS vendors to meet customer needs. In the best organizations, these technology decisions and business-sponsored implementations are done within the framework of sound IT planning and long-term integration goals. For such decentralization to work right, IT and marketing must work together to provide the solution framework that integrates the customer-facing with the back office with both groups tied into the plans and goals of the other so that both can move in parallel towards the same goals — satisfying the customer and increasing revenues.
Our September CIO-CMO Forum 2011 will dive into the details on how IT and marketing work together at successful organizations. Right now, we’re interested in where you fall on the spectrum — how you and your IT department tie in to your company’s revenue metrics, customer satisfaction metrics, and marketing processes. Let us know in our Q3 2011 CIO Motivation And External Customer Satisfaction Survey. If you provide your email, we’ll send you a summary of the results.
In the course of a recent business technology strategy project, I prepared a presentation on the current forces of change in the IT industry and their impact on enterprise IT. I designed the presentation around the following three questions: “Is the IT industry becoming smart?”, “Does the consumerization of IT drive innovation?”, and “Is your organization prepared for the change?”. Based on Forrester’s research, I’ve provided a few directional statements that answer each question along with some links to the Forrester research reports that back them up. Enjoy the reading!
Is the IT industry becoming smart?
Smart computing is the stealth engine of IT’s market growth
One of the many interesting topics of discussion we get into in our Social Business Strategy workshops is around the social ecosystem. This is the name I have given the collection of business capabilities potentially enhanced by one or more social technologies.
First let me define social technologies. Note I’m using the word “technology” quite deliberately in place of the more common term “social media” because social media is too often associated with consumer-facing technology as deployed in support of marketing. In defining the entire social ecosystem I prefer the more generic “technology”. I define social technology as “any technology that enables one-to-many communications in a public forum (or semi-public if behind a security firewall)”.
Create a social profile of the customer. The Radian6 acquisition is brought to bear here. Salesforce proposes using this technology not only to understand customer sentiment, but to take a snapshot of indivdual customers by using their interactions with social media to learn who they are. This information is used to build a "social database" which can round out a customer record in the CRM system.
In June, Forrester convened a roundtable of some of its leading thought leaders on business process and customer experience to discuss empowering customers through business process transformation. This is also the topic of Forrester's Business Process Forum later in September and our Tweet Jam on September 8 from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm ET (hashtag: #BPF11).
Connie Moore: Where are enterprise suites going now that the game-changers — mobile, cloud and social — are giving new life to some apps that were looking long in the tooth? Do you think that big enterprise suites like CRM or ERP can empower customers, or do they automate the status quo? If they merely automate the status quo, how do you deliver business transformation?
Eighteen months ago, I wrote a market overview report, "The Advent of Enterprise Carbon and Energy Management Systems." Returning from vacation last week, I was sifting through the recent news from suppliers in this nascent market, and thought it would be an opportune time to revisit the principal predictions I made in that report. It's actually something that we in the industry analyst world do not do often enough -- take a look back at our predictions and see how events have or have not conformed with our forecast.
So here goes:
Prediction No. 1: IT is the buyer of ECEM systems. "During the next few years [I wrote in December 2009] we believe that enterprise IT organization will emerge with the clear ownership role [for] ECEM systems. IT will bring its expertise in data analysis, data integrity, network connectivity, and overall systems architecture to bear on the corporate sustainability challenge. The faster that data sources for ECEM become more instrumented, more granular, [and] more real-time … the faster IT will move to the center of ECEM system evaluation, implementation, and operation."
Have you ever thought seriously about the future of business processes? If not, it’s time to. With trends coming at us fast and furious — business transformation, the age of the customer, mobility, cloud, social, process outsourcing — processes of the future will look very different from how we work today.
Forrester is in the process (pardon the pun) of looking at business processes in 2020. We’ve interviewed 10 major thought leaders at large global organizations and a number of systems integrators and vendors in the BPM space. Wow, have we learned a lot from these deep thinkers! Many of the trends they identified are already being actively worked on in their companies — so these are not just pipe dreams — and include:
A major strategic alignment between business process transformation and customer experience
Very little concern about technology issues — because they believe the technology will work well (and this is not what keeps them up at night even now)
A major focus on standardizing processes across the globe so that work can easily flow to the lowest-cost labor at any given moment
The belief that processes will run in the cloud (private or public) and that businesses will consume processes-as-a-platform
A strong conviction that IT will largely vanish into the business
The need for access to global talent pools driving some of the need for business process transformation
The expectation that being dynamic and turning on a dime will be critically important