You Need To Act More Like An Interactive Agency…

Two weeks have passed since our successful AD&D and BP Forums in Boston. I’m still struck by conversations we held there and continue to hold now with many of you on how your teams can help deliver to your firm’s ever-important customer experience outcomes. Following one tip can help you either get ahead of this issue or catch up to the expectations of your stakeholders…act more like an interactive agency!

Note I didn’t say “transform” into an interactive agency. No, at the end of the day you have responsibilities to your organization the agencies your business peers use often don’t – you have to manage, operate, and maintain what’s been delivered. What I did say was “act” like one, and in doing so you’ll need to:

  1. Revisit your talent. For those of you that haven’t outsourced big portions of development, make sure you have great, creative developers, build a high-performance development team, and up-skill your business analysts by putting personas and customer journey maps into their tool kit. Why? The agencies your peers use have and cultivate these skills. At minimum, you'll be in a better position to manage and maintain what they’ve put in place if you have complementary skills of your own. If you have outsourced development, we can help you make the case to bring back the right pieces.
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Are Your Risk Management Efforts Enabling Partnership Opportunities?

Forrester's Security and Risk Management clients often describe the frustration they feel when they are not included in important initiatives until after decisions have been made. Lately, this situation has been especially pronounced among decisions to enter partnership agreements based on service, performance, and cost considerations... with risk management only brought in later to identify and mitigate potential points of exposure.

At the same time, Forrester's Sourcing and Vendor Management professionals find themselves facing their own challenges when it comes to managing the risk of partner relationships. In a Q3, 2011 suvey of 575 Sourcing and Vendor Management professionals, top concerns related at "X-as-a-service" relationships included the lack of recourse if a vendor fails or goes out of business, the lack of a clear way to assess risk of a third party, and inability to manage how providers are handling data. ( Source: Forrsights Services Survey, Q3 2011)

In order to bridge this gap, Security and Risk Management professionals need to deliver a streamlined way to insert risk identification, analysis, and evaluation steps within their organization's existing vendor management lifecycle. Forrester customers who have taken this approach - for example, by introducing short, 10-15 question surveys to determine whether more detailed vendor risk assessments are warranted - report better oversight of vendor risk and better involvement in the decision making process. In some cases, Security and Risk Management professionals have even reported casting a decisive thumbs-down vote to block a new vendor contract because it represents unacceptable risk.

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End User Computing Predictions for 2012: Civil Disobedience Escalates - Part 1

Sedition is simmering in the halls of corporations the world over, as the thirst for productivity and new tools grows faster than IT organizations can quench it with supply. 2012 promises to be the most transformative year for end user computing since the release of the IBM PC in 1981. The escalation of 4 trends - each individually interesting but together explosive, will bring phase changes in the way Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operatives work, and offer previously captive employees new options for productive freedom by this time next year.

  1. As in IT revolutions past, on the front lines are restless high-performers (executives, technology pros and creatives), whose nature drives them to push the limits of themselves, their tools, and their support networks, and bring their own technology to the office when their employers won't provide it. More employees will bring their own computer to the office than ever before in 2012 - most of them Macs - and if IT won't support them, they'll find another way that doesn't include IT.
  2. Cloud-based applications and services such as Dropbox and Projectplace are convincing these folks that they can get better results faster, without IT involved. And these services are priced at a point where it's cheaper than a few skinny soy chai lattes (no whip!) every week, so many employees just pay the tab themselves.
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Cover Your Assets; Use IT Asset Life-Cycle Management To Control IT Costs

The IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) organization is no different from any other business function. It employs a multitude of assets to create corporate value. Traditionally, however, I&O’s ability to manage its IT assets has been weak, from both a financial control and an IT asset life-cycle (ITALM) perspective.

Far too often, an I&O organization lacks the necessary controls to avoid IT wastage or remain compliant with software licensing or regulatory requirements. Thankfully (or unfortunately), to date most I&O organizations have been able to get by. But the-times-they-are-a-changing, as do-more-with-less efficiency mandates are prioritized, vendor software audits increase, and the business places greater focus on what IT costs and the value that internal IT delivers. Something has got to give and I&O leaders can step up their game and respond to these internal and external pressures by improving asset management processes to ensure that IT assets are leveraged to maximize the value generated for their parent business.

A recent Forrester Report – Updated Q4 2011: Cover Your Assets; Use IT Asset Life-Cycle Management To Control IT Costs – offers advice on where ITALM can help and what I&O leaders need to do.

Where Can ITALM Help?

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Netflix Revises Strategy ..... Again!

Netflix has come to its senses and revised its strategy in favor of the customer. After a recently announced decision to split out its DVD business from its streaming business, Netflix received a barrage of criticism from customers -- including my last blog post, where I questioned the wisdom of this strategy. Today, CEO Reed Hastings announced a 180-degree about turn -- well done Mr. Hastings. While it would surely have been wiser to have made a better strategic decision in the first place, changing course in face of customer criticism at least shows Netflix is still willing to put its customers first.

This turn of events highlights the difficulty of getting strategic planning right. While abstract analysis of strategic options may point to an optimal choice for any set of circumstances, any strategic analysis which ignores customer impact is fatally flawed. As my colleague Luca Paderni and I pointed out in our recent keynote at the Forrester CIO-CMO Forum, companies must become customer obsessed. Indeed, we highlighted Netflix as an example of a company that had succeeded in large part because it was customer obsessed and had mastered the customer data flow in a way that increased customer value.

There is a lesson here for us all ... success in the future will go to those companies willing to become customer obsessed and put the customer ahead of Wall Street.

Holistic Integration Is A Top Tech Trend...But What Is It?

Forrester has identified holistic integration as one of the top ten technology trends for the 2012 to 2014 timeframe. But what is it?

Holistic integration is a strategy that promotes a combined approach for meeting the application, B2B, process, and data integration needs of the enterprise. The process begins with a comprehensive planning effort that analyzes the specific demands of each area and identifies common approaches that can improve integration efforts across these former functional silos.  

In the past, organizations have shied away from a common approach to their integration needs, as the available tools generally focused on a single area. But that is changing rapidly. Today’s integration solutions can provide application, B2B, and process integration in a single integrated stack. And some vendors are also adding data integration functionality into the mix. This means that holistic integration is more than just a planning exercise; it is also an implementation strategy. Bottom line, a holistic approach to integration is becoming more feasible with every passing day.

We will be writing more on this trend in the coming months, but for now refer to the recent tech trends report for more details. Here is a link: http://www.forrester.com/rb/Research/top_10_technology_trends_ea_should_watch/q/id/60921/t/2

Will The Bring-Your-Own-Device Phenomenon Help Propel Desktop Virtualization?

I recently appeared on CIO Talk Radio to discuss the growing challenge brought by increased diversity of computing devices in the workplace and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. There is no question that customers are increasingly embracing their own technology in the workplace, and in many cases believe the technology they themselves own is superior to that provided by their employers. The tablet computer is certainly one big part of this, and the ultimate impact may be as disruptive as that brought by the original PC.

IT executives like Steve Phillips, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Office of Avnet, my co-panelist on the CIO Radio broadcast, are beginning to see that desktop virtualization provides a potentially useful means to separate the realm of the corporate environment from the private world of the device user in this increasingly diverse environment. Outsourcing suppliers are definitely seeing this trend. They are gearing up for the potentially significant opportunity by running pilots and helping customers implement desktop scenarios, although with some differences from the past: For one thing, a focus on a more selective tiered approach to desktop virtualization as opposed to a one-size-fits-all. That tendency, along with the accompanying high cost for bandwidth, were a stumbling point in the past, as well as several other factors described by my colleague Steven Johnson.

But what do you think? And if considering desktop virtualization, do you envision a role for service partners or will you go it alone?

What Vendor Risk Criteria Do You Monitor Constantly?

Most of my clients today monitor at least their key suppliers to mitigate risk. But the criteria they look at are mostly limited to the contractual ("Do I get what I pay for?") and financial ("Are they stable?") performance of those vendors in scope. While the delivery performance information comes from the SLA tracking, the financial information comes either from the supplier's balance sheet or from services firms providing such information on a subscription basis.

I am interested if you are monitoring other criteria? If yes — which ones, and how do you get the data needed for such analysis?

“Run IT As A Business?” Do You Really Know What This Means?

The IT Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) community has long been awash with management buzzwords and phrases such as "think outside the box," “bare metal,” “IT-to-business alignment,” “ivory tower,” “NextGen,” “people, process, and technology,” “innovation,” "what does good look like?" and “resonate.” More recently we have had to endure such gems as “cloudwashing,” “hash tag abuse,” “virtual sprawl,” and “cloudenomics” (please take a deep breath, don’t let them wind you up).

Another longstanding “buzzphrase” (no, I didn’t make this word up) is that I&O organizations need to “run IT as a business.” I imagine that most of us have used it (I plead “guilty” milord), at least in conversation, but do we really know what it means or what we need to do for I&O to achieve a business-like state?

Firstly, the “run IT as a business” mantra is wrong – well, partially. I&O organizations must indeed adopt practices to run as a business function, but not necessarily as a full business in itself.

One of the most prevalent areas in need of attention is that of the ITIL-espoused discipline of IT financial management. In that business-success not only stems from having a great product (or service) coupled with great customer service, there also needs to be an understanding of the cost of provision, the cost drivers, and the margins involved. Not having this understanding can only expose I&O’s lack of business acumen and capabilities, and make it difficult to compete in the new IT delivery landscape.

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Steve Jobs: The Accidental Architect Of Consumerization

Okay, so maybe it was Steve Jobs's plan all along. To make tools so profoundly useful and totemic that everybody wants one. But surely in the dark days of the 1990s and early 2000s, nobody could have seen that Steve Jobs and Apple would overtake the enterprise. But it happened.

First was iPod. After an enthusiastic start restricted to a few million Macintosh aficionados, Apple ported iTunes to Windows and suddenly 100 million people were using iPods. And a new gadget was weighting down the pockets of business travelers and everyday employees. And then it wasn't so heavy after all as Apple volume-priced the flash memory market and shank the gadget to nano size.

Consumerization whispered, "I'm coming." IT wasn't too worried, but it did scramble to keep iTunes off of corporate desktops. [It didn't matter. People have computers at home.]

Next was iPhone. In the winter of 2008 before there was even an App Store, the guy behind the pizza counter at The Upper Crust in Lexington was swiping at his iPhone revealing page after page of colorful icons. When I asked him what that little swipey motion was all about, he replied, "Oh, these are apps. Games and instant messaging and movies and stuff. I get 'em off the Internet. There are hundreds of them." And I (and Apple) knew that the world had changed. Steve Jobs and team launched the App Store so tens of thousands of developers could build hundreds of thousands of applications. And make billions of dollars selling their work.

Consumerization knocked on the door saying, "I'm here and I want to get email on my iPhone." IT said no way and kept buying BlackBerrys.

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