Everything You Wanted To Know But Were Afraid To Ask About BI

How does an enterprise — especially a large, global one with multiple product lines and multiple enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications — make sense of operations, logistics, and finances? There’s just too much information for any one person to process. It’s business intelligence (BI) to the rescue! But what is BI, and how does BI differ from reporting and management information systems (MIS)? What is the business impact, and what are the costs versus the benefits? What is the appropriate strategy for implementing BI and achieving continued BI success? Our new report will give business and IT executives an understanding of the four critical phases of strategizing around BI to achieve business goals — or “everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask” about BI. Here’s a sneak preview of the kinds of topics the report covers and the kinds of BI questions one needs to ask in order to build an effective and efficient enterprise BI environment:

  1. Prepare For Your BI Program
    1. The future of BI is all about agility. IT no longer has exclusive control of BI platforms, tools, and applications; business users demand more empowerment (or make empowered changes without IT involvement), and previously unshakable pillars of the BI foundation such as relational databases are quickly being supplemented with alternative BI platforms. It’s no longer business as usual. Ask yourself:
      1. What are the main business and IT trends driving BI?
      2. What are the latest BI technologies that I need to know about?
      3. What’s out there beyond traditional BI?
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Why Don't Agents Collaborate More Often? It's Been Shown To Increase Call Resolution And Satisfaction Scores

Empowering customer service agents with relevant, complete, and accurate answers to customer questions remains one of the major challenges in contact centers today. The past 10 years have seen efficiency and productivity gains squeezed out of the mechanics of routing and queueing a call to the right agent pool, screen-popping the customer information to the agent’s desktop, case management, and workforce optimization. Less attention has been placed on allowing agents to access information and informally collaborate with one another. Its no wonder that more than 70% of the time of an average call is spent locating the right information for the customer.

In many contact centers, content is created by groups of authors who are disconnected from the day-to-day conversations that agents are having with customers and who are unfamiliar with the language and terms that customers use. All content follows the same basic create-edit-publish cycle, irrespective of its usefulness in answering customer questions.

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Q1 2012 Data Shows Economic And Tech Market Softness At Start Of The Year

While I am still relatively bullish on the 2012 tech market outlook for the US (see our April 2, 2012, "US Tech Market Outlook For 2012 To 2013" report), I have to say that the data we got on the US economy and on the US tech market was a bit softer than I expected. US real GDP growth came in at 2.2%, a bit lower than my expectation of 2.5%. On the positive side, consumer spending rose by 2.9% in real terms, and residential construction continued to improve. On the negative side, business investment in structures was weak, and government spending fell at both the federal and state and local levels.  More to the point, business investment in computer equipment and communications equipment fell from Q4 2011 levels, though computer equipment investment still was almost 8% higher than levels a year ago. Software investment, though, was up strongly — by 8.2% at an annualized rate from Q4 2011 and by 8.4% from Q1 2011. 

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Progress Software Lowers Its Sights

Clay Richardson, Mike Gilpin, and I collaborated on this blog post.

I don’t normally blog in response to news events, but I feel obligated to blog about Progress Software’s strategy shift, announced last week (April 25, 2012). The reason: Before the shift, Progress was an independent alternative to the top-tier vendors of enterprise application platforms (Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and SAP); after the shift, it is not (see the figure below). Progress will now be a much more narrowly focused, specialist vendor.

Henceforth, Progress will provide its established OpenEdge application development platform (including OpenEdge BPM and a cloud-based version), its DataDirect Connect database drivers and integration tools, and its Apama (complex event processing) and Corticon (business rules management) platforms primarily for financial trading. Progress will no longer provide the following products, seeking to either sell them to other vendors or spin them out as independent companies:

  • Savvion BPM
  • Sonic ESB
  • Actional services management
  • Artix object request broker
  • DataXtend data integration server
  • FuseSource object request broker
  • ObjectStore database
  • Orbacus object request broker
  • Orbix object request broker
  • Shadow host integration products
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2 Big Shifts Taking Us To More Resource-Efficient Computing

In the last couple of weeks, I finally put a couple of pieces together . . . the tech industry is pushing hard, down two parallel tracks, toward much more resource-efficient computing architectures.

Track 1: Integrated systems. Computer suppliers are putting hardware components (including compute, network, and storage) together with middleware and application software in pre-integrated packages. The manufacturers will do assembly and testing of these systems in their factories, rather than on the customer's site. And they will tailor the system — to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the system — to the characteristics of the workload(s) it will be running.

The idea is to use general-purpose components (microprocessors, memory, network buses, and the like) to create special-purpose systems on a mass-customization basis. This trend has been evident for a while in the Oracle Exadata and Cisco UCS systems; IBM's Pure systems introductions push it even further into pre-configured applications and systems management.

Track 2. Modular data centers. Now, zoom out from individual computing systems to aggregations of those systems into data centers. And again, assemble as much of the componentry as possible in the factory rather than on-site. Vendors like Schneider, Emerson, and the systems shops like IBM and HP are creating a design approach and infrastructure systems that will allow data centers to be designed in modular fashion, with much of the equipment like air handling and power trucked to the customer's site, set up in the parking lot, and quickly turned on.

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Business Continuity Standards Don’t Matter -- But They Should

The current state of business continuity management (BCM) standards? Abysmal. According to a joint Forrester/DRJ study, 69% of respondents said that British Standard (BS) 25999 did not influence or only somewhat influenced BCM at their company. It’s not much better for NFPA 1600, 70% of respondents said that it did not, or only somewhat, influenced BCM at their company. I find this shocking. BS 25999 is one of the most widely recognized standards for BCM worldwide and NFPA 1600 has been popular in the US for years. In addition, the U.S Department of Homeland Security’s Private Sector Preparedness Program (PS‑Prep) recognizes both of these standards for assessing preparedness. If you’re wondering what standards respondents named in the “Other” category, it was mostly the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) and NIST. Not surprising but also a little disheartening, it’s clear that unless compelled to do so, most BC professional would not adopt or follow a BCM standard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even if you don’t intend to certify to these standards, they should strongly influence your BCM program. Why? It’s because:

  • They provide a foundation and a common vocabulary for BCM best practices and processes. This is important if you need to implement BCM across a geographically dispersed enterprise or you have to work with a multitude of global partners on joint preparedness.
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Smart Computing, Cloud Computing, And Mobility Will Boost US IT Budget Spending In 2012

A week from tomorrow, I will be presenting a keynote on Smart Computing at Forrester's EA Forum in Las Vegas and later the same day a presentation on US IT spending with my colleague Chris Mines to Forrester's CIO Forum. The common theme in both presentations is that new technologies like Smart Computing, cloud computing, and mobility will drive companies to increase their tech spending and investment in 2012 and 2013. 

The Smart Computing keynote presentation will draw on research from my report on "Smart Computing Connects CIOs With The Business," in which I discuss the ways in which sensors, RFID, M2M, advanced analytics, mobile devices, and collaboration platforms and applications are allowing CIOs to address previously unaddressed business problems, using various combinations of these technologies that will vary by industry. I will focus on specific industry examples in trucking, healthcare, and health insurance. 

The US Tech Market Outlook presentation will include Smart Computing along with cloud computing, mobility, and IT consumerization as technologies that will cause US tech budgets to rise by over 7% in both 2012 and 2013 — well above the 4% to 5% growth in nominal GDP that we expect. Most of the numbers we will share will be those from our most recent US tech market report: "US Tech Market Outlook For 2012 To 2013 -- Improving Economic Prospects Create Upside Potential." However, Chris and I will also provide the very latest tech market data from government and vendor reports. 

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Mobile Backend-As-A-Service: The New Lightweight Middleware?

It’s no secret that demand for mobile applications is skyrocketing in both the consumer and enterprise space. To meet that demand, application development shops are continually looking for new ways to accelerate development of apps that meet their consumers’ needs. In response, many new ISVs are beginning to offer a set of cloud-based, server-side mobile services to make app development quicker and easier to deploy. ISVs are referring to those services as “mobile backend-as-a-service” (not a particularly good name, but we’ll use it for now). MBaaS offerings sit squarely between the existing platform-as-a-service vendors and the full end-to-end solution space occupied by mobile enterprise/consumer application platforms (see Figure). I’ll go into more detail on the other layers of this mobile service triangle in the future, but for now let’s take a look at the MBaaS space.

Why should I use an MBaaS solution?

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Data Discovery And Exploration - IBM Acquires Vivisimo

Today IBM announced its plans to acquire Vivisimo - an enterprise search vendor with big data capabilities. Our research shows that only 1% to 5% of all enterprise data is in a structured, modeled format that fits neatly into enterprise data warehouses (EDWs) and data marts. The rest of enterprise data (and we are not even talking about external data such as social media data, for example) may not be organized into structures that easily fit into relational or multidimensional databases. There’s also a chicken-and-the-egg syndrome going on here. Before you can put your data into a structure, such as a database, you need to understand what’s out there and what structures do or may exist. But in order for you to explore the data in the first place, traditional data integration technologies require some structures to even start the exploration (tables, columns, etc). So how do you explore something without a structure, without a model, and without preconceived notions? That’s where big data exploration and discovery technologies such as Hadoop and Vivisimo come into play. (There are many others vendors in this space as well, including Oracle Endeca, Attivio, and Saffron Technology. While these vendors may not directly compete with Vivisimo and all use different approaches and architectures, the final objective - data discovery - is often the same.) Data exploration and discovery was one of our top 2012 business intelligence predictions. However, it’s only a first step in the full cycle of business intelligence and

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Google Drive Could Be Huge

Today Google announced Google Drive as a solution to store, share and synchronize content across multiple devices. Big deal? Yes, this could be a very big deal. Why? Here's the deal: Up until now Google has addressed the enterprise by attempting to displace two of the most deeply entrenched applications, email and productivity. Let's face it, email is big, messy and expensive to move. Not to mention risky. Doesn't mean organizations don't do it, they just will do it on their own time and terms. And that's just email. Want to take Microsoft Office away from me? Pry it out of my cold dead hands. I'm happy to use Google Apps for certain stuff, but I need my Office. So basically, until Drive, Google was attempting to move some pretty tough stuff. Their addressable market was small firms (some of whom have and will grow large) and really forward-thinking organizations that were willing to make a pretty dramatic change. Large, risk-averse enterprises? Not so much. 

Then came Google Drive. Content storage is in the midst of a massive upheaval. Three indicators:

  • Users are becoming increasingly dependent on Dropbox for file synchronization, and IT is not always happy about it. Geez, I just want to have a file I start on my laptop at work available to peek at on my smartphone on the train home. Oh yeah, I also want it on my tablet while I'm at home watching Suburgatory. And, I may want to point a colleague to it. Sounds reasonable. IT, you don't want me to use Dropbox. Watcha got instead?
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