Decide Now: Is SharePoint In The Cloud For You?

Rob Koplowitz and I collaborated on this research.

The days of Microsoft SharePoint being only a locally installed software product are over. Microsoft's commitment to SharePoint in the cloud is evident in its massive data-center investments, its costly retrofitting of the code base to support multitenancy and access via subscription, and its emphasis on "cloud" in sales and marketing efforts. SharePoint Online's potential value is intriguing: lower costs, faster implementations, automatic upgrades, and more. The reality: Office 365/SharePoint Online are still only release two, and Microsoft usually needs three releases to get a product right. The questions you face: Will SharePoint in the cloud work for your organization? Is your organization ready to capture the benefits now? Should you wait for the proverbial release three of this Microsoft product — or should you engage now? This research answers these questions using the experiences of early SharePoint Online adopters and analysis of Microsoft's product capabilities today.

In Forrester's experience, most application development and delivery (AD&D) professionals do not fully understand either the significance or impact of SharePoint's shift into the cloud. How could they? Most have no experience with either of Microsoft's SharePoint-in-the-cloud offerings — Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) or its successor, the SharePoint Online component of the Office 365 suite. Those who do have experience with SharePoint in the cloud can help the rest of us begin to plan for the shift ahead — and according to them, we'll need very thorough plans to succeed.

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Agile Teaches Us An Important Lesson About Innovation

The story of Agile is more than just one chapter in the history of software development. It's also an extremely valuable case study in innovation, an elusive and often humbling process that doesn't work in quite the way that we instinctively think it should.

The trajectory of Agile points toward increasing the value of the software delivered. However, it started with no metric of value and almost no notion of what happened outside the development team. Instead, the first phase of Agile, as I describe in the recent publication "Navigating The Future Of Agile And Lean," focused primarily on changing the behavior and world view of developers working together in a team. Therefore, you won't find anything in Scrum or XP that says, "This is how you know your software is better." Instead, these methodologies told you how to work more effectively as a team. Presumably, better results would follow.

In fact, the framers of the Agile Manifesto sought to change the whole notion of methodology, according to Martin Fowler:

Engineering methodologies have been around for a long time. They've not been noticeable for being terribly successful. They are even less noted for being popular. The most frequent criticism of these methodologies is that they are bureaucratic. There's so much stuff to do to follow the methodology that the whole pace of development slows down.

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Thoughts On Customer Service Solutions For The SMB Market

In a conversation with Alex Bard, CEO of Assistly (now desk.com, part of salesforce.com), I learned a few interesting things about customer service solutions for small to medium-size businesses (SMBs): (1) Companies can be too small to have customer service organizations; (2) the main competition of vendors of SMB customer service solutions is not each other, but Post-It notes and Gmail; and (3) the service that SMB customers demand is exactly like the service that enterprise customers demand.

So what do each of these points mean?

  • Companies can be too small to have customer service organizations. Without a formal customer service organization, customer-facing personnel such as customer relations managers, CEOs, and marketing folks are on the hook to answer customer inquiries. These employees wear many hats, are on the road a lot, and communicate constantly with one another. And, more than likely, their companies also don’t have formal IT organizations. This means that customer service software must be tailored to a business user: easy to deploy, easy to configure, and supporting a multitude of mobile devices. Customer service software must also have built-in collaboration features, alerts, and notifications allowing personnel to quickly work together on a customer issue for quick resolution.
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Which Contact Center Technologies For Customer Service Deliver The Most Business Value?

We know that the contact center solution ecosystem that customer service organizations use is made up lots of complex technologies, as highlighted in our  latest TechRadar™report. So how do you know what technologies are the right ones to invest in — the ones that will deliver real business value?

To figure this out, Forrester partnered with CustomerThink to survey customer service organizations to understand the adoption rate of 18 contact center technologies. We also looked at the business value that these technologies deliver as defined by three questions: 1) How critical is each to business success? 2) What is the technology’s market reputation for value? and 3) How difficult is it to implement and use? Here are our highlights, and you can find actual statistics in our report:

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2012: The End of The World Or The Year Of Banking Platform Mergers And Acquisitions?

Some people say that the old Maya calendar predicts that the world will end in the year 2012. Will this happen? Most likely no. Without judging anybody’s beliefs in this ancient calendar: Some experts say that the Maya calendar is like a five-digit odometer in your car: When it reaches 99,999 kilometers or miles, it will restart at 0. However, 2012 is beginning to show the ingredients of the long-expected stronger consolidation in the banking platform space.

While it is not yet clear whether Misys and Temenos will merge to move out of the gap between gorillas and antelopes, French software and services company Sopra announced “a project to acquire a majority stake in the Belgian company Callataÿ & Wouters (C&W).” For obvious reasons, it is too early to provide any detailed comment on this announced merger. However, I see two initial areas of interest:

  • Sopra’s ability to integrate the new capabilities technology-wise and organizationally. Sopra has acquired firms in the past. However, its acquisition speed has accelerated enormously: It acquired Delta-Informatique in October 2011 and proposed the acquisition of Tieto Corporation’s UK financial services product business and the UK subsidiary of Business & Decision on February 13 — just four days ago.
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To Be (To Cloud) Or Not To Be (Not To Cloud) BI

My colleagues and I have just completed yet another engagement with a large client — one of dozens recently — who was facing a to be or not to be decision: whether to move its BI platform and applications to the cloud. It’s a very typical question that our clients are asking these days, mainly for the following two reasons:

  1. In many cases, their current on-premises BI solutions are too inflexible to support the business now, much less in the future.
  2. The relative success of cloud-based CRM (SFDC and others) solutions may indicate that cloud offers a better alternative.

These clients put these two statements together and make the reasonable assumption that cloud BI will solve many of the current BI challenges that cloud-based CRM solved. Reasonable? Yes. Correct? Not so fast — the only correct answer is “It depends.”

Let’s take a couple of steps back. First, let’s define applications or packaged solutions vs. platforms (because BI requires both).

Packaged solutions

  • Subscribe to a solution-like CRM
  • Provide standard business functions to all customers (which makes it different from “hosting;” see below)
  • Difficult to tailor to specific needs
  • Usually are used synonymously (but incorrectly, see below) with software-as-a-service (SaaS)

 Platforms for building solutions

  • Subscribe to tools and resources to build solutions like CRM
  • Provide standard technical functions to developers
  • Contain limited, if any, business application functionality
  • Usually labeled either as platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).
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Three CXM Trends For 2012

As I recently celebrated my fifth anniversary as a Forrester analyst, I reflected on how my coverage area has changed. For the past five years I've covered the web content management (WCM) market. This has been a healthy market, and I still get plenty of interest from my clients on this topic.

But the context of that interest has changed markedly, particularly over the past year. When clients used to ask about WCM, they wanted to know about WCM and WCM only. But these days, they ask about WCM in the context of other technologies supporting customer experience, such as commerce, CRM, and analytics. Our clients have reached a logical conclusion: WCM isn't the end-all-be-all for digital experiences but instead is one piece of the customer experience management (CXM) puzzle.

And the market will continue to evolve in 2012. In particular:

  • Watch for an avalanche of acquisitions, both big and small. Though larger vendors have multiple pieces of the CXM puzzle, no one has yet put together a complete portfolio. Vendors are still missing some critical pieces, such as rich media management (IBM), commerce (Adobe), and testing and optimization (Oracle, SDL). Watch for the CXM vendors to compete to fill these gaps. High-reaching best-of-breed WCMs such as Sitecore may not remain independent for long.
  • Contextualization will become the byword. Forget complicated business rules and template schemes. Technology to contextually adapt customer experiences based on user segment, browsing behavior, locale, and device will be high priority. Vendors will make strides so that customers can increasingly take an "automate + optimize" approach: automating contextualization for most experiences and manually optimizing it for a few high-profile experiences, such as home pages.
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Two Truths And A Lie: Software Development In 2020

When getting introduced to a new subject or new people, we sometimes play a game called "two truths and a lie." The basics of the game are simple: Anyone introducing a subject - or themselves - states two truths and one lie. The audience then has to identify what the lie is. 

Below, you will find three bullets related to our future of software development research. Two are truths as identified by our research, one is a lie: 

  • Software's fueling today's disruption, becoming embedded in everything to make technology useful, usable, and desirable.  
  • Software development expertise will increasingly be centered on Java, .NET, and proprietary development and application platforms. 
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects software-development-related roles and jobs to increase at double the national average through 2020. 
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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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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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