Making Business Sense Of Consumerization

I am currently setting up a research project on the impact consumerization is having on companies. Just as a quick reminder, we define consumerization as:

An approach by which employees use technologies such as smartphones, tablets, and cloud Internet services that they master at home or discover on their own to get work done. 

The more I dive into the subject, the more difficulty I have making sense of it. Based on interviews and discussions with experts and practitioners, I’ve divided opinions on this topic into two camps. Let me profile them clearly to make the differences evident:

  • Marketing people tend to see consumerization as a Groundswell phenomenon: Give your employees access to social platforms from Facebook to Twitter, arm them with tablets and access to apps, and let a new era of creativity and innovation explode.
  • IT experts need a clear implementation plan — waterfall-like if possible: First you capture requirements; then you plan the implementation and secure budgets; then you develop, integrate, and test the apps, etc.
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Win-Win Tech Curriculum Collaboration: Vendors Contribute To Solve Skilled Labor Shortages

A few months ago I wrote about my first trip to Rio. One of the observations that had jumped out at me at the time was the repeated message from IT services firms: Lack of skilled labor was their biggest challenge. Forrester's Forrsights survey findings confirm: Education and skilled labor is the No. 1 constraint to technology implementation globally, particularly in emerging markets. In Brazil, 58% of respondents in our Forrsights Budgets and Priorities Tracker, Q4 2010 survey reported concern about insufficient skilled technical labor or relevant technical training as an obstacle to implementing IT solutions. That compares with only 16% reporting skills as an obstacle in the UK.

That message has been repeated to me several times since during trips to emerging markets. On my visit to Orange Business Services' (OBS's) Major Service Center (MSC) in Mauritius last month, the OBS team emphasized that they had selected Mauritius as a strategic location in part because of the availability of skilled labor. Mauritius, with an emphasis on information and communications technology (ICT) as the third pillar of its economy, has a goal of doubling its ICT labor force in three years. The government recently announced an ICT Academy with industry partnership to train 1.3 million young people and promote the software and business process outsourcing (BPO) industries in the country. ICT vendors and services providers such as OBS are participating in that initiative.

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Huawei Analyst Summit 2011: Extending The Competition To Mobile Devices And Enterprise Solutions

During its European Analyst Summit in London, Huawei provided details regarding two crucial elements of its expanding market positioning: It outlined its intention to launch mobile devices and enterprise solutions. Although Huawei has been engaged in these activities in China for some time, it is a new and exciting step for its European strategy. Competitors should not underestimate Huawei’s ability to take business away from them in these areas.

Huawei’s mobile device range for Europe is small, but very effective. The company targets the low-end smartphone segment with a €100 device (Blaze), the mid-market (Vision), and high-end (Honour), in addition to a tablet (Media Pad). The marketing strategy is to position these devices as affordable, easy-to-use, and reliable (i.e., the “Volkswagen of the mobile devices”). All devices are touch, have fast processors, crisp screens, and retail at about €100 below competitors’ offerings. Timing is good for Huawei, given the relative weakness of the competitive landscape, especially RIM and Sony Ericsson. Initial customer feedback on sites such as Amazon.com reflects positive customer experiences.

The fact that Huawei has no consumer brand in many European countries should not be a great obstacle. Rather, Huawei could use this factor in order to involve its emerging customer base to build a brand using social networking and viral marketing. Traditional big-board advertising campaigns would be pointless: Nokia will dominate the traditional channels with its Lumia campaign in the coming months. The main channels for Huawei will be MVNOs like Fonic, consumer electronics outlets like Phone4U, as well as selected larger operators.

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Beyond Study Abroad: There’s Vendor Opportunity In Education’s Global Expansion

[Co-authored with Rachel Brown]

Recently, two top-tier American universities announced plans to launch new global satellite campuses. Yale University will partner with the National University of Singapore to set up a joint campus in Singapore, and MIT, which already has a global campus in Abu Dhabi, is partnering with the Skolkovo Foundation to develop a graduate research university in Skolkovo, Russia. Yale University and MIT are not the only universities to expand globally. In fact, having a global satellite campus (or even multiple global satellite campuses) is a growing trend among universities trying to remain competitive in an increasingly global world (see the “flight map” figure below).

The expansion of universities poses a huge opportunity for technology vendors who are already accustomed to “going global.” Technology vendors can offer universities a way to bridge the geography gap through technologies such as intercampus networks, videoconferencing, and content-sharing platforms that allow students and faculty at global campuses to stay connected with the home campus. However, vendors need to be aware of the many challenges that are inherent in education ICT. To learn more about the global campus phenomenon and how vendors can seize this opportunity, check out my latest report, "Opportunities In Education’s Global Expansion: Tap Global Enterprise Experience and Local Expertise."

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Are Sustainability Conferences Sustainable?

That was my thought as I sat down to a lovely banquet dinner to kick off the Low-Carbon Earth Summit (LCES) in Dalian China a couple of weeks ago. I was lucky enough to be on the keynote agenda at this conference and was sharing dinner with local dignitaries from Dalian and some sustainability luminaries from around the world.

My fellow keynoters hailed from Germany, Brazil, China, Switzerland, and the US. And one of the topics over dinner was the coming round of sustainability conferences, COP 17 in Durban, South Africa, next month; the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi in January; and Rio+20 in Brazil next June, all part of what the UN has dubbed its "Sustainable energy for all" initiative.

Which got me to thinking: Is it sustainable for all these experts to be flying around the world attending sustainability conferences? The "industry" of creating more sustainable business, home, and public environments should be a role model.

All of us involved in improving sustainability should take a look at our travel schedules and see if cutting one or more of those long-haul flights can be part of our "carbon diet" for the coming year.

And we should pay attention to technology-enabled alternatives, like the VERGE virtual conference run a few months ago by my friends at GreenBiz. Videoconferencing, webcasting, and other technologies can help habitual conference-goers like myself to separate participation in an event from travel to the event.

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Edmonton Offers Urban Planning Classes: Opportunities To Take Citizen Engagement To The Next Level

I love the idea of the Edmonton’s Planning Academy, which offers planning courses to anyone in the city.  What a great way to get citizens involved in the complex challenges of city planning!  It made me want to live in Edmonton.  OK, so maybe I’m kind of addicted to school, and taking classes (corporate learning programs, continuing studies programs and even the Red Cross have seen me in their classrooms in recent years).  But really, this one looks so cool I had to write about it. 

The City of Edmonton’s Planning Academy’s goal is to “provide a better understanding of the planning and development process in Edmonton.”  And, it grants a Certificate of Participation following completion of the three core courses and one elective.  These three core courses include:

  • Use Planning: The Big Picture.
  • Getting a Grip on Land Use Planning.  
  • Come Plan with Us: Using Your Voice.

And, the elective course options include:

  • Transportation.
  • Urban Design.
  • Transit Oriented Development.
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