Keeping The Lights On Keeps Decision-Makers Awake: OBS Can Help Them Rest More Easily

Business continuity is a top concern of global business and IT decision-makers. Headline news has made these concerns all the more acute – from the political unrest that characterized the “Arab Spring” and continues to plague certain countries in the Middle East to earthquakes, flooding, and other natural disasters across the globe. Those concerns become more acute as multinationals expand into new geographies such as Africa – a trend evidenced by recent announcements by HP and IBM.

Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets and Priorities Tracker Survey and Forrsights Business Decision-Makers Survey confirm that both IT and business decision-makers prioritize business continuity to ensure ongoing operations of their businesses. “Significantly upgrading disaster recovery and business continuity” was the third-highest IT priority of both IT and business decision-makers with 68% of each reporting it as a critical or high priority, behind only consolidation and greater use of analytics. That is to say, although cost controls through consolidation and better business intelligence came out ahead, keeping the lights on keeps corporate leaders up at night.

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100% Uptime, Always-On, Always-Available Services, And Other Tall Tales

We live in a time when customers expect services to be delivered non-stop, without interruption, 24x7x365. Need proof? Just look at the outrage this week stemming from RIM's 3+ day BlackBerry service/outage impairment. Yes, this was an unusually long and widespread disruption, but it seems like every week there is a new example of a service disruption whipping social networks and blogs into a frenzy, whether it's Bank of America, Target, or Amazon. I'm not criticizing those who use social media outlets to voice their dissatisfaction over service levels (I've even taken part in it, complaining on Twitter about Netflix streaming being down on a Friday night when I wanted to stream a movie), but pointing out that now more than ever infrastructure and operations professionals need to rethink how they deliver services to both their internal and external customers.

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Are CRM Solutions Soon To Be Displaced By Dynamic BPM?

As I mentioned in a blog post last April, in the midst of the buzz in the CRM technology world about “social” and “mobile,” I continue to see rising demand for customer management solutions that have a strong core of workflow and business process management capabilities. I call this phenomenon “CRM meets BPM.”

I have just launched a research cycle to delve into the topic more deeply and would very much like get your perspective on this trend.

This emergence of process-centric customer management solutions is being driven by an increasing recognition by companies, particularly in services industries, that if they want to deliver great customer experiences, they must learn how to get control over their “untamed processes” that touch customers.

My colleague at Forrester Craig Le Clair, who coined the term, says “untamed business processes form in the seams and shadows of the enterprise, require a balance of human and system support, and cross department, technology, information, and packaged application silos to meet end-to-end business outcomes.”

Classic untamed processes that touch customers in the financial services industry include all types of service requests, such as product change requests, customer onboarding, negotiated documents, proposals, product support, claims, underwriting, and loan origination. Another type is incident management — for example, dispute resolution, complaint management, and order exception management.

Here is the hypothesis that I am testing:

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Compliance And Cloud – Responsible Or Accountable?

It’s interesting how many threads there are on the Internet that still debate the difference between these two words: “responsible” and “accountable.” Oddly enough, today I stumbled across two definitions, from seemingly respectable sources, that hold diametrically opposite views! To me, the answer is simple – you can delegate responsibility, but accountability remains fixed.

This is a key point in the extended enterprises in which we now function. Firms are now made up of a myriad of offshore and outsourced services, running on systems that are similarly fragmented and distributed across vendors. This complex tangle of people and data represents a huge challenge to the CISO, who remains accountable for the security, and often the compliance, of his employer yet is no longer responsible for their provision.

With a methodical and comprehensive process and a surfeit of resource (please stop laughing at the back!), the CISO does, however, have the ability to follow the data trails and manage risk down in this regard. Unfortunately, with the advent of cloud, things are taking a turn for the worse. Cloud vendors are reluctant to be scrutinized, and the security and compliance demands of the CISO can often go unanswered. If cloud really is to be a mainstay of computing in the future, something has to give – we need to find a balance where compliance and security assurance requirements are met without fatally undermining the cloud model. This is a key topic for 2012 and something we’ll be following with interest.  

As security professionals, we remain accountable for resolving these issues, no matter how much responsibility has been pushed to third parties and cloud vendors. So, how do you minimize the workload involved in managing the third parties that make up your extended enterprise, and how do you gain assurance around cloud vendors?

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Will Oracle Listen To The External Keynoters At Oracle Openworld And Help Customers Cut Their Maintenance Costs?

I’ve just returned home from San Francisco where I was attending the Oracle Openworld 2011 (#OOW11) event. Overall it's a good event, although, as usual, a bit frustrating. Instead of examples of how customers are using its products to transform their businesses, the Oracle keynotes always descend into technical detail, with too little vision and too many unimpressive product demonstrations and ‘paid programming’ infomercials (if I had wanted to listen to Cisco, Dell, and EMC plugging their products, I’d have gone to their events).

When, a month ago, I accepted Oracle’s invitation to attend #OOW11, I thought I’d be able to escape the oncoming British autumn for some California sunshine and watch some Redsox playoffs games on TV. Well not only did the Sox’s form plummet in September like a stock market index, but Northern California turned out to be 20° colder than London. But despite that, and the all-day Sunday trip to get to the event, one can’t help being impressed by the attendee buzz and by the logistical achievement, with over 45,000 attendees accommodated around the Bay Area and bussed in and out every day to the conference location. Luckily, Oracle looks after its analyst guests very well, so we were within walking distance at the excellent Intercontinental Hotel.

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Agile Software Is A Cop-Out; Here’s What’s Next

Never has a new trend annoyed me as much as Agile. Right from the get-go, the Agile Manifesto revealed the weaknesses and immaturity of the founding principles. The two most disturbing: “Working software is the primary measure of progress” and “Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.” These are

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CIOs: Collaborate With Your Peers And Forrester Analysts To Discuss, Debate And Shape Your Ideas

Last week, Forrester launched its CIO Role Community, a place for CIOs (and other IT leaders) exclusively to engage in conversations and discussions with their peers. This community will also provide you an opportunity to continue the conversations on existing content and highlight future areas of interest. You are invited to post your questions, comments, thoughts and ideas and have other CIOs and Forrester analysts to chime in with their opinions, best practices and lessons learned on these areas.

Forrester analysts will be actively participating in communities by responding to your questions, adding their insights to existing conversations and asking questions of you, the CIO, to create a more precise purview, and drive our research agenda — ultimately making it more timely and relevant to you.

Already, a wide range of topics are being actively discussed, from the criticalness of operating in the Asia Pacific region and other emerging economies, to setting clear business priorities without a PMO.

Head over to the CIO Community, browse the discussions, and let your voice be heard. Respond to an existing post, or post your own discussion!

(Also, be sure to follow @Forr_CIO for timely updates about the CIO Community activity.)

We’re waiting to hear from you!

Cisco and Citrix: Enhancing the Value of Desktop Virtualization

Cisco announced today a five-year strategic alliance with Citrix in the desktop virtualization space.  As a first outcome of their new alliance, Cisco WAAS will be optimized for Citrix XenDesktop.  It’s designed to improve the end-user experience such that it has “LAN-like” performance.  This translates into the capability of a more rich Unified Communication experience—HD quality video, faster print jobs, and improved app performance.  Rather than buying several products to get this done, this is nicely packaged as one solution for virtual and physical desktops.

What does this mean for Sourcing and Vendor Management (SVM) professionals and what can you do? 

1.       If your organization isn’t looking at this, it will be forced to within your next refresh cycle.  While Desktop Virtualization has been around for years, it’s more recently been attracting enterprise customers at a very robust growth rate.  Most resellers I’ve spoken to enjoy double digit semi-annual growth rates as high as 40% in inquiries and many of them include desktop virtualization on tablets.  At this stage, most companies are still in education mode, but adoption appears to be steadily increasing.  If you’re not working on it right now, spend the time to get educated on the various flavors and the elements of the project that lead to savings for your organization.  ROI will vary from company to company due to the varying desktop environments.

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How Not To Deal With IT Service Failure

I need to make this brief; the failure of the lump of plastic that used to be my BlackBerry has made me very time-poor today …

It has been an interesting year for RIM and for the BlackBerry. RIM has seen the erosion of its corporate mobile-email dominance (as employees prefer the usability of iPhones and Android devices), its brand was adversely affected by the BlackBerry Messaging Service being "the weapon of choice" for the thugs involved in the London riots, its tablet play has limped into the iPad's market, and now we have the prolonged service outage ... Sorry service OUTAGES.

The extent of the outage has been and continues to be shocking (there is no way it should have been this severe). But to me, in my capacity as an analyst, and observer and advisor on IT service management best practice, the real issue here is how RIM has handled the situation.

In managing the outage, RIM has acted like an old-fashioned technology vendor rather than a modern-day service provider; while we talk about BlackBerry devices we are really buying into the BlackBerry service. And we expect that service to be consistently delivered relative to service promises and our expectations thereof.

While we would prefer there not to be an interruption to service, most of us appreciate that "stuff" happens. When there is a service-affecting issue, we have a set of minimum requirements as customers that need to be catered for:

  • Firstly, we want early notification and a speedy resolution or a work around. As a minimum, that the service provider is visibly seen to be applying significant and varied efforts to the resolution of the issue. We want to see that the service provider cares.
  • Secondly, we want our expectations to be managed. Communications should keep us informed and be honest about when we should expect service resumption.
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The Top Technology Trends For The Next Three Years

We just released our 2011 update to last year’s EA top trends report, The Top 15 Technology Trends EA Should Watch: 2011 To 2013. In 2011, we have expanded our coverage by releasing two documents of 10 trends each:

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