The Whats Of Insurance Gets Some New Hows

One of the things that people like about the insurance industry is that the business of insurance doesn't change much.  Insurance carriers have pretty much done the same thing:  rate risk, issue policies, settle claims, sell through agents, and invest our premiums, all the stuff that makes them insurance companies.  We’ve talked a lot about this idea of “business capabilities” here are Forrester, essentially the notion of what an industry does.  These capabilities change very slowly, if at all.  Capability changes are usually the result of some big structural economic change--think of the now-modern and booming Russian insurance industry growing after the collapse of the former Communist state.  Of course, the way in which those capabilities get executed in a mature insurance market is influenced by what’s going on outside the four walls of carrier and can change very quickly.  

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What Are Enterprises Really Doing In The Cloud?

You know there are developers in your company using public cloud platforms, but do you really know what they are doing? You suspect it’s just test and development work, but are you sure? And if it is production workloads are they taking the steps necessary to protect the company? We have the answers to these questions and you may be surprised by how far they are going.

It’s tough being an infrastructure & operations professional these days. According to our ForrSight surveys, for every cloud project you know about there could be 3 to 6 others you don’t know about. Business unit leaders, marketing and sales professionals and Empowered developers are leading the charge. They aren’t circumventing I&O as a sign of rebellion – they simply are trying to move quickly to drive revenue and increase productivity. While every I&O professional should be concerned about this pattern of shadow IT and its implications on the role of I&O in the future, the more immediate concern is about whether these shadow efforts are putting the company at risk.

The bottom line: Cloud use isn’t just test and development. In fact, according to our ForrSight research there’s more production use of IaaS cloud platforms than test and development and broader use is coming (see Figure 1 below). The prominent uses are for training, product demonstration and other marketing purposes. Our research also shows that test and development projects in the cloud are just as likely to go to production in the cloud as they are to come back to your data center.

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The Content Security Forecast Calls For Clouds

I am very excited to introduce my first Forrester report, "The Content Security Forecast Calls For Clouds."  I wrote the report to help guide your strategy on SaaS based email and web content security.  During my inquiries, I am frequently asked about content security in the cloud:

  • "Is web SaaS mature enough for enterprises?"
  • "Will SaaS help secure my mobile and remote users?" 
  • "What about the hybrid model?"
  • "What are other organizations doing?" 

In the report, I take a closer look at these questions, and I also address the benefits and challenges associated with the SaaS model.  I leave you with multiple deployment options and specific recommendations for your journey to the cloud.  If you have questions or comments please let me know, I would love to hear from you. 

Who Owns Your Data?

We’ve been talking about the alignment between business and IT for some time now. Last week, I asked the question to some colleagues, “Who owns the data in an organization, the business or IT?” Several jumped into the fray and gave justifiable reasons as to why it was one or the other. After giving it much thought over a few days, I couldn’t really say either or. 

Why? Because the reality is that we ALL own the data. I wrote in my previous post about data tying many areas of the business together, and ultimately, IT is a PART OF THE BUSINESS.  It’s time to start realizing that, and stop making it a BUSINESS vs. IT issue, because that’s no longer the case. The common goal of any organization should be to make an enjoyable customer experience. Data=business intelligence=better customer offerings. It’s a simple equation and outcome that doesn’t care whether it belongs to business or IT. If the customer experience isn’t enjoyable, everyone suffers in the end. 

So how do I&O teams integrate more into the overall business? How does the business leverage more of IT?  By understanding what the end goal is and making it happen as a team. There’s a number of ways this can happen, including assembling project teams based on initiatives, bringing together the network, server, storage, apps, marketing, and sales team together. Everyone needs to learn and understand the value of data. This is not an easy feat, but one that must happen if we want to break down the wall that continues to stand as a divide between business and IT.

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Corporate Culture Clash Looms With Oracle’s Acquisition Of RightNow

The acquisition of RightNow by Oracle makes sense for both companies’ CRM solutions strategies. Oracle wants to beef up its overall “cloud” portfolio. This is a strength of RightNow, one of the pioneers of the SaaS deployment model. It also needs a stronger play in the customer service sector — an area that salesforce.com targeted several years ago. This is the core domain strength of RightNow.

RightNow has had good success, posting strong growth over the last several years — but a $250 million software company found itself at an awkward size to compete against giants like Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft.

The big risk to this deal is that the corporate cultures of Oracle and RightNow could not be more different. Oracle’s bare-knuckle approach to sales and how it treats customers is the complete opposite of RightNow’s ethos of client centricity and flexibility.

Many clients that have chosen RightNow may not be happy to hear that Oracle is their new software supplier for customer service. And the employees at RightNow are likely to find working for Oracle an unpleasant contrast to Montana-based RightNow’s corporate ethos.

More Market Consolidation With Oracle Acquiring RightNow: More Questions Asked Than Answered

It’s exciting to see the news of yet another acquisition in the world of customer service with the announcement of  Oracle’s intent to acquire RightNow. Today’s contact center ecosystem is complex and comprised of a great number of vendors who provide overlapping and competing capabilities. I’ve previously blogged about what these critical software components are. The reason why these acquisitions are good is that they align with what customers want: a simpler technology ecosystem to manage from both a systems perspective and a contractual perspective. And suite solutions available from unified communications (UC), CRM, and workforce optimization (WFO) vendors are evolving and include comprehensive feature sets. These vendors have either built these capabilities out or acquired them via M&A activity — and we expect more M&A to happen.

Now, to focus on the RightNow acquisition. This acquisition, at a high level, is a win-win for both companies:

  • RightNow gets the big-company marketing, professional services, and sales reach of Oracle to grow beyond its current run rate and compete more effectively with salesforce.com, Microsoft, and to a lesser degree SAP. Forrester rated RightNow as a leader in our Forrester Wave™ for CRM and CRM customer service suites.  
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Fast Cloud Identity Provisioning

Back in July, I wrote about a new RESTful API that cloud providers and provisioning vendors are working on for doing identity provisioning and synching: Simple Cloud Identity Management, or SCIM (like the milk). At last week's Internet Identity Workshop -- only five months after this draft spec made its formal debut! -- I had a chance to see the SCIM developers' live interop session in action. The interop saw successful participation by the likes of Cisco, Ping Identity, Sailpoint, salesforce.com, Technology Nexus, and UnboundID, with user accounts being securely created and torn down rapid-fire over the ether.

What's more, in talking with a more traditional on-premises identity vendor later in the week, I discovered that they loved how SCIM was shaping up, and planned to check it out ASAP as a way they could expose their own provisioning functionality.

In this Zero Trust world, with perimeters melting all over the place, I'm seeing signs that this lightweight API trend for IdM functionality is only going to accelerate. What do you think? If you're coming to Forrester Security Forum in a couple of weeks, I hope you'll grab me for a conversation about how this trend impacts your plans.

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Détente In The Networking War Signals A New Area Of Choice For I&O

I almost fell out of my chair a week ago Friday when HP posted a link to an overview of the Cisco Fabric Extender for HP BladeSystem. If it hadn’t been for tweets by Cisco, HP’s 180-degree reversal would have gone unnoticed in a time when mudslinging has become the networking industry’s de facto message, nowhere more apparent than in Cisco’s live video by Rob Lloyd, “Debunking the Myth of the ‘Good Enough’ Network,” and HP’s two-year shock-and-awe campaign against Cisco and its architecture with such posts as:

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Are You Happy With Your IT Service Management Tool?

IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) people have long bemoaned their service desk or IT service management (ITSM) tools. It’s a fact of life, well ITSM-life anyway, and analysts will often pepper conversations with clients (and anyone else that will listen to them) with comments such as “that on average an organization will change ITSM tool every five years.” Some analysts quote longer, others quote less. In many ways, whether it is three, five, or seven years is unimportant. It is the fact that organizations are changing tools that is.

In a soon to be published joint Forrester and itSMF USA survey and report my colleague, Glenn O’Donnell, offers up an interesting service desk tool statistic: that, with the exception of SaaS tools, approximately 30% of responders are unhappy with their service desk tool.

Source: http://www.forrester.com/rb/Research/state_of_it_service_management_in_2011/q/id/60866/t/2

Of course, one could argue that this is a little “glass half empty” (that I’m an analyst trying to line the pockets of ITSM-tool vendors) and that the “full glass” view is one where 70% of responders are happy with their service desk tools.

Yes, I could take this view, but I would be doing the ITSM Community a disservice. The big question for me is “why is SaaS only at 4% dissatisfaction?”

I’m sure many would say things like:

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Supplier Risk And Performance Management Takes Center Stage At Emptoris’s Customer Event

Having attended Oracle’s customer event a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it to Emptoris’s Empower event this year, but I'm glad I was able to attend. The quality of the external speakers, the access to Emptoris execs, the content mix (high-level procurement trends and implementation best practices), the plentiful opportunities to chat with customers, partners, and employees — all these made it an extremely valuable couple of days.

A key event theme was the urgent need for procurement leaders to improve their risk monitoring and mitigation processes. For instance, according to Deloitte Consulting’s 2011 CPO survey, nearly 60% of respondents believe their risk exposure is higher than a year ago. Emptoris’s President & CEO Patrick Quirk explained his company’s response, with an ambitious roadmap to convert the acquired Xcitec product (now called Emptoris Supplier Lifecycle Management)  into a comprehensive supplier risk and performance management suite (SRPM), in line with our description of this category: FAQs About Supplier Risk And Performance Management Software.

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