Putting HR Into I&O - Future Skill Requirements For I&O Leaders

As we move toward 2012, I can guarantee that many I&O leaders will have reviewed/defined what their strategy priorities are for the coming year, 3 years and maybe 5 years are. Hands up though: Who has had in-depth planning conversations around I&O people skill requirements?

I am not just talking about what technology skills are required to support these strategy initiatives but about I&O professional or soft skills required to ensure that your I&O function survives and prospers during the evolution currently happening in the world of enterprise IT - How many hands are still up?

During a recent Forrester I&O Leadership Council meeting, I led an interactive session based on my recent I&O Council exclusive report entitled "Tomorrow’s I&O Leaders Require An Equal Blend Of Technology And Business Acumen." This session utilized the results of an I&O Council Leadership survey to analyze what skills are required by successful I&O leaders and which skills should I&O executives be looking for when recruiting high-performing teams. From a high level the results show the following:

The results may already be pretty clear to you but how will you develop business and industry experience personally? How will you work with HR to ensure that these skills are uncovered during future recruitment processes? Also take a look at the executive-level skill requirements - do you think that these are easily applicable to a CEO role as we progress through this decade?

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Sharing The ITSM And ITAM Goodness Of CA World: 20+ Presentations To Download

It’s not really a blog but it’s definitely post worth writing (OK, cut and pasting).

I missed CA World this year, as CA Technologies held a specific IT analyst event a few months earlier that I sadly couldn’t attend. And when I say “missed” I mean more than just “didn’t attend”; I really did miss the event that is CA World, particularly the people – both CA Technologies employees and their customers.

All is not lost, however, as not only were presentations available via the Web, CA Technologies has made a significant number of the IT service management (ITSM) and IT asset management (ITAM) presentations available post event:

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Microsoft's Shrinking Window For Tablets: Its Fifth-Mover Product Strategy Is Late

Forrester is bullish on Windows 8 as a product for consumers. With Windows 8, Microsoft is adapting Windows in key ways that make it better suited to compete in the post-PC era, including a touch-first UI, an app marketplace, and the ability to run natively on SoC/ARM processors. This pivot in product strategy and product design makes sense as we move deeper into an era when computing form factors reach far beyond traditional desktops and laptops.

But in a new reportSarah Rotman Epps and I look at Windows 8 tablets, specifically, through our product strategy lens. What do we see? On tablets, Windows 8 is going to be very late to the party. Product strategists often look to be “fast followers” in their product markets. Perhaps the most famous example is the original browser war of the 1990s: Microsoft’s fast-following Internet Explorer drove incumbent Netscape out of the market altogether.

For tablets, though, Windows really isn’t a fast follower. Rather it’s (at best) a fifth-mover after iPad, Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, HP’s now-defunct webOS tablet, and the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. While Windows’ product strategists can learn from these products, other players have come a long way in executing and refining their products — Apple, Samsung, and others have already launched second-generation products and will likely be into their third generation by the time Windows 8 launches.

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The Nook Boutique: How Channel Matters To Product Strategists

The link between product strategy and channel is often overlooked, but strong: In our most recent survey of product strategy professionals, 33% say that they, personally, define the channel strategy for the products they sell. In other organizations, product strategists must work with more specialized channel strategists. Either way, channel is a determinant of success in any product strategy.

In the consumer electronics industry – and more specifically, the rapidly changing tablet market – channel presents a major challenge to product strategists. Most product strategists sell their tablets at Best Buy, a retailer that receives high foot traffic from engaged buyers, but which contains a lot of competing models. It’s easy for any individual tablet product to get lost at Best Buy, particularly when the retailer is offering plenty of Android tablets with limited meaningful differentiation among them. Buying end caps (which are expensive, if differentiating) can help, but it’s not always clear that the Blue Shirts can explain every tablet’s value equally.

Apple has this quandary beaten: Its Apple Stores form the core of its retail channel, and after a product like the iPad has been popularized, Apple also sells via mass-market retailers like Wal-Mart and Target. Competitors haven’t been able to match Apple’s winning formula, though Microsoft is starting to roll out its own stores.

Barnes & Noble offers the most interesting test case: As Sarah Rotman Epps has written, the brick-and-mortar stores play a very central role in the product strategy of the Nook Tablet. The new Nook Boutique has finally launched (see photo below); how is it stacking up?

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Top 10 Cloud Predictions For 2012: The Awkward Teenage Years Are Upon Us

As 2011 begins to wind down, we can look back on the progress made over the last 11 months with a lot of pride. The market stepped significantly forward with big gains in adoption by leaders Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Rackspace, significant growth in the use of clouds for big data, training, test and development, the creation of landmark new services, and the dawning of the App-Internet era. Cloud technologies matured nearly across the board as did transparency, security, and best practice use and adoption. But there’s much more growth ahead as the cloud is no longer a toddler but has entered the awkward teenage years. And much as found in human development, the cloud is now beginning to fight for its own identity, independence, and place in society. The next few years will be a painful period of rebellion, defiance, exploration, experimentation, and undoubtedly explosive creativity. While many of us would prefer our kids go from the cute pre-teen period straight to adulthood, we don’t become who we are without surviving the teenage years. For infrastructure & operations professionals, charged with

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Christmas 2011: The First Mass Customized Holiday Season

Ah, Black Friday: What would the post-Thanksgiving shopping bonanza be without a visit to the local mall? This year, I was keen to perform some gumshoe research on a theme I've been talking about all year long: mass customization, a product strategy that's ready for prime time across multiple industries.

A trip to the Natick Mall (yes, "Mall," no longer "Collection," New Englanders) reveals that mass customization isn't just the future; it's the present. In fact, it's hiding in plain sight. Build-a-Bear Workshop, Hallmark, Lego, and LensCrafters are all stores in the Natick Mall that offer significant customization for consumer products. Burberry is the latest Natick Mall vendor to offer mass customization; I am quoted in Time magazine this week (here, but subscription required to view the link; page 82 in the December 5 paper edition) discussing how luxury clothing and customization fit together well. As I've written before, one of the benefits of employing mass customization is that it empowers consumers to create products that express their personalities -- a particularly relevant feature for clothing and apparel products.

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Paging The IT Organization: You Need To Support The People Not The Technology

Sorry but I’m “frustrated of Peterborough” (but not directly at IT for once).  Having just come off a half an hour call with two “major credit card provider” customer service staff, I’m frustrated to within an inch of screaming at someone. In some ways this blog is my outlet (but there is interesting stuff eventually).

You might think I'm overreacting, however, when one’s time is so limited these days, it is difficult to rise above the fact that I wasted 20 of the 30 minutes most likely because the “major credit card provider” has off-shored its customer support to save money (please note that the off-shoring is an assumption on my part based on my interactions).

But what has this to do with IT?

Hopefully you didn’t need to ask this question … I had an issue with a credit card service; many have issues with corporate IT services. We all call up, we all expect a quick resolution, and many expect to be treated in a customer, rather than supplier, focused manner.

Oddly enough, I spoke about this exact point at the itSMFUK London Regional yesterday … from an IT service management perspective (well specifically a service/help desk perspective). That we are now too focused on the mechanics of things (tool and process, AND scripts) and that, in some ways by virtue of this, we have “dumbed-down” the IT service desk.

This is not intended as an insult to service desk people, they have a difficult job: a job where they day in, day out, deal with the fallout from IT failures and the potentially unhappy customers. In an environment where there is very little “good news” or praise.

So what went/goes wrong?

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HP Expands Its x86 Options With Mission-Critical Program – Defense And Offense Combined

Today HP announced a new set of technology programs and future products designed to move x86 server technology for both Windows and Linux more fully into the realm of truly mission-critical computing. My interpretation of these moves is that it is both a combined defensive and pro-active offensive action on HP’s part that will both protect them as their Itanium/HP-UX portfolio slowly declines as well as offer attractive and potentially unique options for both current and future customers who want to deploy increasingly critical services on x86 platforms.

What’s Coming?

Bearing in mind that the earliest of these elements will not be in place until approximately mid-2012, the key elements that HP is currently disclosing are:

ServiceGuard for Linux – This is a big win for Linux users on HP, and removes a major operational and architectural hurdle for HP-UX migrations. ServiceGuard is a highly regarded clustering and HA facility on HP-UX, and includes many features for local and geographically distributed HA. The lack of ServiceGuard is often cited as a risk in HP-UX migrations. The availability of ServiceGuard by mid-2012 will remove yet another barrier to smooth migration from HP-UX to Linux, and will help make sure that HP retains the business as it migrates from HP-UX.

Analysis engine for x86 – Analysis engine is internal software that provides system diagnostics, predictive failure analysis and self-repair on HP-UX systems. With an uncommitted delivery date, HP will port this to selected x86 servers. My guess is that since the analysis engine probably requires some level of hardware assist, the analysis engine will be paired with the next item on the list…

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Another Reason Not To Cloud Wash - Real Cloud Services Are Maturing Fast

We know that enterprise infrastructure & operations (I&O) professionals are under tremendous executive pressure to get to yes on cloud computing and that this can be an uncomfortable proposition. Understanding the security, maturity and return on investment from cloud services can be challenging, and in many cases you might argue that you provide the same capabilities from your own data center. But there's no denying that enterprises are increasing their consumption of these services and that their value proposition is unique and compelling - if not to I&O directly.

Since cloud became a household word, vendors and enterprises alike have jumped to declare victory on cloud with services and infrastructure implementations that really don't deliver cloud value but have the same foundation - something we call "cloudwashing." This is a dangerous gambit as you claim legitimacy but don't activate the same economics, deliver the autonomy that cloud services offer to your internal users and aren't standardized or automated enough to deliver transformative agility. In other words you claim cloud but are achieving only incrementally better value. 

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Have You Considered BI for IT Service Management?

A few months ago, I blogged about the fact that, while we were getting “excited” about Cloud and Social in the context of IT service management (ITSM), we were somewhat neglecting the impact of Mobile on our ability to deliver high-quality IT services (Social? Cloud? What About Mobile?). At the time, with the title of the blog tantamount to IT buzzword bingo, I chuckled to myself that all I needed was to throw in a reference to Big Data and I could have called “house.”

What do we do with all the data imprisoned within our ITSM tools?

Big Data? No, not really, more BI

While the Big Data perspective will be seen as a little too “large” from an ITSM tool data perspective (the Wikipedia definition of Big Data describes it as “data sets whose size is beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to capture, manage, and process the data within a tolerable elapsed time”), I can’t help think that these considerably smaller ITSM data sets are still ripe for the use of business intelligence (BI).

We have so much valuable data stored within our ITSM tools and, while we leverage existing reporting and analysis capabilities to identify trends and snapshots such as Top 10 problem areas, do we really mine the ITSM tool data to the best of our ability?

If we do (I can’t say I have had ITSM tool vendors making a song and dance about their capabilities), is it something that is both easy to implement and use?

Why am I bringing this up now? Are things changing?

Hopefully yes.

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