A Billion Smartphones Require New Systems Of Engagement

It's a technology big idea: that organizations can best serve their customers, partners, and employees with new "systems of engagement." (Thanks to Geoff Moore for permission to define and use his term.) Let us explain why.

First, the logistics. John McCarthy and I spent the last eight months sifting through the patterns that have emerged from firms that have harnessed mobile, social, big data, and cloud technology: 100 conversations; 61 interviews with experts; and Forrester surveys of 10,000 business and IT decision-makers, 10,000 global information workers, and 50,000 consumers. Out of that research we've just published a 28-page report for Forrester clients that we will deconstruct and re-assemble via blog posts over the next few months.

We began by looking for the unintended consequences of a successful mobile app, expecting to find some best practices in experience design, middleware APIs, server deployments, app development, and organizational alignment. We found those things and captured them in the report. But we also found something more important: a new  ability to empower customers, employees, and partners with context-rich apps and smart products to help them decide and act immediately in their moments of need.

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Strong Authentication: Bring-Your-Own-Token Is Number Three With A Bullet

In approaching the research for my recently published TechRadar™ on strong authentication, at first I struggled a bit with overlapping concepts and terminology (as can be seen in the lively discussion that took place over in the Security & Risk community a few months back). The research ultimately revealed that form factor matters a lot -- smartcards in actual card form, for example, have some properties and use cases distinct from smart chips in other devices. So smartcards became one of the 14 categories we included.

The category that quickly became my favorite was "bring-your-own-token." BYOT is Forrester's term for the various methods (sometimes called "tokenless") that leverage the devices, applications, and communications channels users already have. The classic example is a one-time password that gets sent in an SMS message to a pre-registered phone, but we see emerging vendors doing a lot of innovation in this space. You can get a surprising amount of risk mitigation value from this lightweight approach, in which you can treat provisioning not as an expensive snail-mail package, but as a mere self-registration exercise. In a world where hard tokens and smartcards prove themselves to be, shall we say, imperfectly invulnerable, lightweightness can have a value all its own. In fact, BYOT showed up just behind these two venerable methods in the "significant success" trajectory on the TechRadar.

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Will Emerging Markets Bypass The US On Cloud?

South Korea has better broadband than we do. Australia has faster wireless networks. And according to Forrester’s Internet Population Forecast, by 2013 the number of online consumers in emerging markets will dwarf those in the US and Western Europe. In Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets and Priorities survey, these same countries are putting far more priority on cloud computing than we are. Does this mean we could lose our lead in cloud?

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Verne Global And Colt Technology Show A Zero Carbon Data Center – It’s Real, Running, And Impressive In Iceland

Data centers, like any other aspect of real estate, follow the age-old adage of “location, location, location,” and if you want to build one that is really efficient in terms of energy consumption as well as possessing all the basics of reliability, you have to be really picky about ambient temperatures, power availability and, if your business is hosting for others rather than just needing one for yourself, potential expansion. If you want to achieve a seeming impossibility – a zero carbon footprint to satisfy increasingly draconian regulatory pressures – you need to be even pickier. In the end, what you need is:

  • Low ambient temperature to reduce your power requirements for cooling.
  • Someplace where you can get cheap “green” energy, and lots of it.
  • A location with adequate network connectivity, both in terms of latency as well as bandwidth, for global business.
  • A cooperative regulatory environment in a politically stable venue.
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Giving Back To The ITSM Community: We Move, If Slowly, But With Purpose

It started as a blog called Giving Back To The IT Service Management Community – a personal plea for anyone involved in IT operations, IT service delivery, IT support, etc., to “give back” to the larger community. Hopefully it highlighted (or reminded us of) the need for the creation of lower-level, more granular, and ultimately more practical best/good practice information that is freely available to IT service management (ITSM) practitioners; as a quick start mechanism and/or to prevent the continued reinvention of the wheel by organizations wishing to better themselves.

Many (OK, some) ask “Where has this gone?” or “Where is the free content?” Great questions, but ones that I will conveniently avoid (hopefully like a skilled politician); although others involved, I expect and hope, will provide updates on this in the comments section below.

To some Back2ITSM might appear yet another forum for “the usual suspects” (bagsy me be Verbal Kint) to “socialize” themselves to their ultimate downfall. However, I beg to differ. I feel that this has legs, no matter how short those legs might eventually be; which brings me to the reasons for this quickly written blog:

  • I still need to feedback the limited but interesting responses to the Back2ITSM survey.
  • I want to publicize some Back2ITSM “coming soons.”
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Rewind And Replay For Web App Vulnerabilities

Security threats develop and evolve with startling rapidity, with the attackers always seeking to stay one step ahead of the S&R professional. The agility of our aggressors is understandable; they do not have the same service-focused restrictions that most organizations have, and they seek to find and exploit individual weaknesses in the vast sea of interconnecting technology that is our computing infrastructure.

If we are to stand a chance of breaking even in this game, we have to learn our lessons and ensure that we don’t repeat the same mistakes over and over. Unfortunately, it is alarmingly common to see well known vulnerabilities and weakness being baked right in to new applications and systems – just as if the past 5 years had never happened!

A recent report released by Alex Hopkins of Context Information Security shines a light on the vulnerabilities they discovered while testing almost 600 pre-release web applications during 2011. The headlines for me were:

  • On average, the number of issues discovered per application is on the rise.
  • Two-thirds of web applications were affected by cross site scripting (XSS).
  • Nearly one in five web applications were vulnerable to SQL injection.

It makes depressing reading, but I’m interested in why this situation is occurring:

  • Are S&R professionals simply not educating and guiding application developers?
  • Are application developers ignoring the training and education? Are we teaching them the wrong things or do we struggle to explain the threats from XSS and SQL injection?
  • Are our internal testing regimes failing, allowing flawed code to reach release candidate stage?
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Oracle Throws In The Towel And Acquires A Cloud Talent Management Vendor

The rumor circulating for the past few weeks has now been confirmed: Oracle is buying Taleo, a global talent management vendor, for $1.9 billion. This is just another — albeit important — acquisition in the strategic talent management space. All companies must have core HR systems in place, but now it’s equally important to look at the strategic part of HR: the performance, succession, career development, and learning components as a layer resting on top of the core. Companies want to retain, develop, and reward their employees and need these applications in place for efficiency and effectiveness.

With this acquisition, Oracle gets a vendor with these talent management components in a pure SaaS deployment model, which provides ultimate flexibility. However, the offerings in the suite are not equally robust. Taleo is known for its recruiting app; to become a suite vendor, it added performance, which has gotten mixed reviews, and learning, which is not best in its class. Learn.com, the vendor Taleo acquired for learning, works OK for the midmarket, but its functionality does not hold up well for large global and enterprise customers.

Oracle can’t buck the SaaS tide any more. SaaS is the preferred deployment model for talent management, and the large ERP vendors like SAP (finalizing its acquisition of SuccessFactors) and Oracle are now joining the movement. Oracle offers Fusion, but a lot of work still needs to be done to develop this into a full SaaS talent suite. Once this deal closes, watch and see how Oracle positions the Taleo offerings with Fusion Talent Management.

Oracle Moves Solidly Into SaaS With Taleo Acquisition

Oracle Corporation announced its purchase of Taleo for $1.9 billion on Feb. 9, 2012, signaling a major shift in its stance on software-as-a-service (SaaS) and talent management applications. The transaction is expected to close midyear 2012, subject to regulatory and stockholder approvals.

Oracle has long held a “we can build it better” position on talent management, learning, and recruitment applications but struggled to compete with best-of-breed talent management vendors like SuccessFactors (recently acquired by rival SAP), Taleo, Kenexa, Cornerstone, and SumTotal Systems. Oracle has been reticent to offer these (or any other) applications via SaaS, preferring a licensed/on-premises business model that provides early revenue recognition versus the deferred revenue model of SaaS.

In fact, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has been outspoken in his anti-SaaS stance in recent years, changing his posture somewhat with the Oracle Public Cloud announcement at last October’s Oracle OpenWorld conference. Meanwhile, the HR apps market shifted overwhelmingly to the SaaS (subscription-based) deployment model, which has become virtually ubiquitous in recruitment, learning, and talent management and is also growing in core HRMS via ADP, Ultimate Software, and Workday.

By acquiring Taleo, Oracle puts itself back in the game for SaaS recruiting and talent management. Taleo is a market leader in recruitment automation and has a competitive portfolio of products across performance, compensation, and learning management. The $1.9 billion deal price is more than six times Taleo’s 2011 annual revenues of $309 million, a high premium but substantially less than the $3.4 billion and 11-times revenues that SAP recently paid for SuccessFactors.

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What’s A Facebook “Like” Worth?

Facebook LikeIt seems everyone’s obsessed with Facebook’s IPO right now. And while CMOs are beginning to understand the possibilities of Facebook, and other social technologies, to connect and engage with customers, many CIOs remain unclear on the value of Facebook.

A question many business executives ask is this: “What’s the value of having someone like your page?”

On its own, maybe not much. But the true potential lies in the ability to collect insights about the people who like brands, products or services – be it your own or someone else’s.

For example, the chart below shows the percentage of consumers by age group who have “liked” Pepsi or Coca-Cola. These data suggest Coca-Cola is significantly more popular with 17-28 year olds than Pepsi, while Pepsi appears more popular with the 36-70 crowd. I pulled these data points directly from the Facebook likes of each of the brand pages using a free consumer tool from MicroStrategy called Wisdom. Using this tool I can even tell that Coca-Cola fans are likely to also enjoy the odd Oreo cookie and bag of Pringles.

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The Merger Of Misys And Temenos — Moving Out Of The Gap Between Gorillas And Antelopes

Less than a week ago, initial information became public that Misys and Temenos may intend to merge. On February 7, 2012, a press release stated that “Temenos and Misys today confirm that they have reached agreement in principle on certain key terms and are in continuing discussions regarding a possible all share merger of the two groups.“ Now Misys and Temenos have about one month to finalize their merger — or abandon it. It is obvious that this merger has the ingredients to become one of the most significant mergers in the banking industry in the past few years. With the probability of the merger now sufficiently high, here is my initial take.

There are two obvious reasons for this potential endeavor of Temenos and Misys (let’s call the combined company MIsys-TemeNOS [“MiNos”] for the time being to avoid terms such as “new company” or “NewCo”):

  • A broader and deeper product portfolio for banking and capital markets. While Temenos has been a Global Power Seller in Forrester’s global banking platform deals survey for years, Temenos has so far struggled to win a large number of major banks as customers for its banking platform. The combined portfolio could make “MiNos” more attractive for larger as well as smaller potential customers — with an even broader set of point solutions as well as integrated apps offerings such as banking platforms.
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