What, Exactly, Is A Strategy?

 

I work with a lot of CIOs and heads of strategy in Australia and the Asia Pacific area – particularly concerning the development and updating of their IT strategies. As a part of our strategy document review service, I have seen plenty of approaches to IT strategies – from “on a single page” position statements through to hugely detailed documents that outline every project that will take place over the next 5-10 years.

While it can be argued that an IT strategy can’t really be strategic at all if it is just responding to business needs and requests (isn’t that just an IT plan?), the broader question of “what, exactly is a strategy?” is rarely touched upon.

I was fortunate to be invited to TCS’s recent Australian customer summit in Sydney. I was particularly attracted by the high caliber of the speakers and audience. One of the speakers whose presentation I found fascinating was Richard Rumelt, from UCLA Anderson – author of the book Good Strategy, Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters. His presentation focused on “what makes a good strategy, and how do you identify a bad one.” I really like his definition of what a strategy is:

A strategy is a coherent mix of policy and action designed to surmount a high-stakes challenge.

The basis of a good strategy is to diagnose the challenge, develop a guiding policy and create coherent policies and actions.

You know it’s a bad strategy when it:

-          Is all performance goals (i.e., we plan to increase our profit margin by 30% by 2015)

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How I Turned My iPad2 Into A MacBook … Well Almost!

As my regular readers know, I try to provide something thought-provoking for most of my blog posts. But every so often something comes along that makes me go “wow, I really need to share this.” This is one of those times.

Like many analysts here at Forrester, I have an iPad (my own, not the company’s) which I often use for work — especially when travelling (which we do a lot). And like many people, I’ve grown used to the tactile feel of a real keyboard — so every now and then I’d yearn for a real keyboard to use with my iPad.

Apple Wireless KeyboardBeing an Apple fan, I first bought the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. While this is a good keyboard, it has a couple of major flaws for my use. Firstly, it doesn’t actually hold the iPad, so you have to position your iPad somewhere you can see it while typing. For this reason you can’t easily use it anywhere there isn’t a good flat surface near you on which to stand your iPad. And secondly, it’s not very convenient to travel with as it’s so long — who wants to walk around with a sleek iPad and a huge keyboard? I needed something more compact.

Then while building my Amazon wish list for the holidays I came across a nifty little keyboard that seemed too good to be true. On Amazon it’s called an "Apple iPad 2 Aluminum Bluetooth Keyboard Case Cover Stand" supplied by MiniSuit. I couldn’t resist adding it to my wish list.

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Deutsche Telekom Demonstrates Willingness For Cultural Change As Part Of Innovation Drive

I attended Trend Forum 2012 last week in Bonn, effectively an analyst day where Deutsche Telekom presented its innovation strategy. There was no focus on overall group strategy. Still, innovation matters greatly as part of the repositioning efforts of telcos. As the role of telcos in the value chain is weakening, largely due to increasing competition by over-the-top providers (OTTPs), telcos need to differentiate themselves increasingly via service provision and their ability to innovate quickly and prolifically. Failure to do so will cement their status as transport utilities for OTTPs.

Deutsche Telekom’s Core Beliefs focus on: a) building its platform business by partnering with software firms; b) leveraging the cloud by providing high QoS and secure connectivity; and c) leverage differentiating terminals through device management and customer experience provision. These Core Beliefs form the basis for pursuing its focus growth segments in digital media distribution, cloud storage, cross-device digital advertising, classified marketplaces, and mobile payment in addition to the core telco business. These targets match up well against our evaluation of best cloud markets for telcos.

A defining characteristic of next-generation network (NGN) infrastructure and the move towards cloud-based business models is openness. As a consequence, OTTPs increasingly deal directly with end customers across the network. Relationships between telcos and other members of value chain become more complex. Emerging cloud services by telcos need to become network agnostic to deliver cross-network solutions and ensure cloud interoperability. Deutsche Telekom has made significant progress in the recent past to adapt its strategy to these new telco realities.

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Mobile Governance Initiative In India: A Step In The Right Direction, But With Caveats

The Department of Information Technology (DIT) of India recently launched a paper on “Framework for Mobile Governance” that aims at providing fast and easy access of public services to citizens through mobile devices. In view of the limited success of the e-governance initiative in India (low Internet and PC penetration coupled with implementation-related issues), the shift in the government’s approach to using mobile as an alternative delivery medium for public services is a step in the right direction. According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), there were roughly 894 million wireless subscribers in India as of December 31, 2011, and it is encouraging to see that the government is finally realizing the importance of mobile in achieving its e-governance initiative. I have taken key highlights from the mobile framework published by DIT:

  • Creation of a cloud-based Mobile Services Delivery Gateway (MSDG) based on open standards, which will be shared with all central and state government departments and agencies at nominal cost to facilitate e-governance services delivery on mobile devices.
  • Incorporation of various channels such as voice, text (email and SMS), GPRS, USSD, SIM Toolkit (STK), cell broadcast (CBC), and multimedia (MMS) for mobile-based services.
  • Development of mobile-complaint sites for all government departments and agencies based on open standards.
  • Creation of a government mobile app store which will be integrated with MSDG.
  • Development of an integrated payment gateway for citizens to pay taxes and bills for other public services through mobile.
  • Integration of mobile infrastructure with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) platform.
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3 Ways Carbon Management Software Firms Can Capture The Market

It's a challenge for every company with a software "solution" for sale: it's a solution, but for what? Are customers looking for an all-encompassing solution to a big problem, or a targeted solution for a small problem? Do they want an interconnected suite of software modules, with a common data model, common look-and-feel, and discounted price tag, or a small-bore program that will automate a currently manual process?

For the suppliers of enterprise carbon and energy management (ECEM) software, this age-old problem is especially challenging since the range of potential functionality is so broad, and the array of potential stakeholders, influencers, and buyers is so wide.

Consider the "word cloud" depicted in Figure 1 below, which shows a subset of the labels for such software.

And in parallel, the motivations of potential buyers of ECEM shown in Figure 2 below:

Click image for larger version

Since most companies do not face cut-and-dry regulatory requirements for emissions reporting, matching up the motivations of the buyers with the functional scope of the product sellers is a time-consuming exercise of workshops, pre-sales consulting, assessments, and, inevitably, drilling a lot of dry holes.

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