Smart Product API Extends Product Value, Leads To Smart Connected Landscape

In our February 13, 2012, “Mobile Is The New Face Of Engagement” report, we talked about the important link between smart products and mobile apps. A key to that link is creating a smart product application programming interface (API) that allows third parties to easily write apps that tap into the data feeds from the connected offerings, extending the value of that product with an “app ecosystem.”

As a precursor to an upcoming report that will lay out the smart connected product landscape and the unique combination of IT and product development skills required to build them, Forrester interviewed Cédric Hutchings, the general manager of Withings, a leader in the connected medical device segment.

The highlights of the discussion with Cédric included:

  • Company vision. The company seeks to improve the value of everyday devices through connectivity and apps.
  • Role of API. An API enables different services that could not be built in-house; it makes it easy for third parties to get data flow and integrate it into app. As a result, Withings has an ecosystem of more than 40 third-party apps that integrate with its Wi-Fi-connected bathroom scale.
  • Cloud value proposition. A personal wellness data dashboard allows consumers to manage health across a range of devices and inputs/apps from Withings and other companies.
  • Smart product skill requirements. These requirements include a mix of user experience, embedded software/product development talent, traditional IT web, database and middleware competencies, and partner management liaison capabilities.
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What Business Are You In?

After wrapping up our CIO Forum in Paris last week, I can definitely say CIOs and IT leaders care about strategy. The theme of this year's conference was "Collaboration To Co-Creation," and we included a number of sessions directed at helping IT leaders step up and influence business strategy.

A highlight of the forum was Peter Hinssen's talk on The New Normal — you can see a sample of Peter delivering an earlier version of his presentation on YouTube (http://youtu.be/s_w04xb4MqM?hd=1). And Peter's talk perfectly framed the strategic themes of the conference.

Through a number of keynote and track sessions, CIOs discussed transforming IT to have an even greater impact on business outcomes. Central to this theme was the exploration of Forrester's new BT Strategic Planning Playbook, including a workshop-style session where CIOs got to exchange experiences on moving their organizations away from being order-takers and toward strategic partners with lines of business.

It's clear from the discussions I had with many of the CIOs attending that IT leaders sense new opportunities to partner in developing effective business strategy and moving toward co-creation. But there are challenges ahead; here are a few I shared in Paris in a short session on co-creation:

Language is important. What we say and how we say it are critical. Even speaking plain English is challenging. For example, in England one might say "put the money in the boot" (probably only likely if you are a bank robber but I like the imagery so bear with me). What we might imagine is something like this

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What I Learned About Telecom Pain At Forrester’s SVM Forum

I recently had several one-on-one meetings with SVM professionals at two Forrester SVM forums — in Vegas late May and Paris mid-June.

One major pain point was mentioned by a number of our clients: Why are those so-called global service providers so bad at working with local PTTs to get circuits upgraded? And what can we do about it?

This question has never gone entirely away during my 15 years at Forrester working with IT/SVM professionals. However, during the past 18 months, it's being raised regularly, and irrespective of who the client's global telecom provider happens to be, including all of the big four (AT&T, BT, Orange, Verizon). Additionally, this is unlikely to change as the larger operators increasingly automate their customer service and managed-WAN monitoring and ticketing systems and also try to impose them on foreign operators. It should be possible, however, to improve predictability about change management timelines and new service lead times by working either via your firm's local IT and SVM team or, alternatively, with a local telecom agent third-party contracted to work with local exchange carriers in an important market for your business.

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Common Market Trends Emerge As More ERP Vendors Bet On SaaS ERP

In the Business Apps Casino, change is afoot. For a long time, one table – software-as-a-service ERP – attracted a limited number of players and fans. However, over the past 12 months, an increasing number of ERP vendors have lined up to place sizeable SaaS bets, while more potential customers are paying close attention to the gambles those vendors are making.

In Forrester ERP inquiries, it’s now the norm for clients to ask us about SaaS ERP. In fact, it’s unusual to field a call where SaaS isn’t mentioned. Firms may be actively considering a future change in deployment model or simply wanting to kick the tires on SaaS ERP adoption, pros and cons, and comparisons with on-premises ERP. They also seek more information about SaaS ERP market players and likely future entrants. In general, what’s changed since a year ago is that companies want to include SaaS ERP options in their assessments.

Each ERP vendor’s SaaS bet differs somewhat from those of its peers, determined both by the type of customers it’s aiming at and architectural concerns. However, there are some shared themes:

  • Repurposing existing apps. Some ERP vendors began their SaaS endeavors with apps targeted at small and midsize businesses. They’re now working to deepen the functionality of those apps to appeal to a broader, more enterprise audience. There are two key approaches: 1) expand the scope of an existing SMB product and aim it up market; or 2) carve off functionality from a SaaS midmarket apps suite (while retaining that suite) and create a new enterprise app.
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New Job? Look For ‘Career Accelerating’ Qualities

My colleague David Johnson wrote a good blog earlier in the week on ‘Your Best Chance for Long-Term Employability as an I&O Professional’in which he discussed the key areas that I&O Professionals should focus on for employability. This and the recent wash of articles, especially in the UK, in regards to the IT skills gap got me thinking about the IT market from an employment perspective. With the various pressures facing I&O Professionals it is more important than ever to have a personal career plan which focusses on your career aspirations or at the very least a personal career vision.

I think one of the important aspects of this personal career vision is to have a clear understanding of the type of I&O organization that you would like to work for. Why? Well, in the same way in which a business selects the right candidate, it is important that that I&O Professionals select the right company which will help in their long term career vision. With this, I would like put forward the idea that, as I&O Professionals, we should be looking for certain organizational ‘career accelerating qualities’ during the recruitment process. My initial list is below and you may not find an organization which meets all these qualities but some will be more important to your personal career plan than others.

  1. A strong I&O vision linked to the overall business mission – I would look to assess this by asking the interviewer(s) for both the overall business mission with a view to clarifying whether the I&O vision is in harmony with this. Put simply this will help you get a feel for how integrated and thus how important I&O is to the business.
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ServiceNow Finally Goes Public: Which Way Now?

It’s been a long time coming; I’ve been having conversations around ServiceNow’s IPO or their acquisition by another vendor for as long as I have been an IT analyst (and that’s late 2008). Last night its initial public offering price was set at $18 (above the previously expected $15-17 range – yes, even after what happened to Facebook) and I assume trading will have commenced by the time you are reading this blog.

But I’m not a market analyst, I’m an IT industry analyst … so bar there being a major hiccup with the valuation post-trading the real meat for me is what it all means for ServiceNow, its customers, and the IT service management tool market. And let’s not forget other software markets that it no doubt has its eyes set on. Build a platform and then exploit it – why not?

So let’s get you up to speed with ServiceNow

ServiceNow was started by Fred Luddy, the ex-CTO of Peregrine Sytems, in 2004 with the intention of making a better IT service management (ITSM) tool: "The IT industry deserves a tool that just works. We're going to give it to them." So much has happened since then: rapid growth in customer numbers and revenues (and market share), in employee numbers, and in the solution’s capabilities. In capability terms, today’s offering is a radically different beast to the initial offering – SaaS (or more specifically its PaaS) has allowed ServiceNow to grow the offering at a spectacular pace.

Where is ServiceNow now? Some quick facts and opinions

Without boring you with a ten page overview of the current ITSM tool market and ServiceNow’s capabilities, ServiceNow sits with the two previous heavyweights of the ITSM tool space (BMC and HP). BUT ServiceNow is more than just a SaaS ITSM tool:

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Desktop Virtualization and End-User Computing – Partial Fit… At Best

Demand for mobility is rising dramatically, but IT support is not keeping up. Over the next 12-18 months, we expect a majority of Asia Pacific (AP) organizations to begin to feel the pain of poor mobility strategies. Now is the time to define and manage mobility as part of a broader end-user computing strategy – this must include desktop virtualization initiatives, including (but not limited to) virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). But while server virtualization is now accepted as a fundamental design principle and part of any data center implementation or refresh, that doesn’t mean desktop virtualization will follow suit. Long touted as a means to simplify desktop provisioning and management – and hence improve the efficiency and effectiveness of an organizations’ end-user computing strategy – over the past decade desktop virtualization has been driven primarily by CIO’s desire to lower hardware costs – by delaying or skipping PC refresh cycles – simplify application provisioning, and increase compliance and control of desktop infrastructure in areas like data security and patch management. Desktop virtualization doesn’t adequately address all end-user computing requirements since it’s essentially focused on eliminating the client device from the equation. This is particularly true for VDI. Thin (e.g. ‘dumb’) clients won’t work in a world where a growing percentage of users – not just information workers – are mobile and expect access to key resources but also expect those resources to be optimized for the particular device they’re using. With the explosion in device usage and changes in end-user expectations, IT is being forced to expand its focus around end-user computing from ‘control’ to ‘engagement’. Desktop virtualization will remain a key component of many organizatons’ end-user computing strategies, but its role will remain

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Use Cases For Specific BI Tools

I get the following question very often. What are the best practices for creating an enterprise reporting policy as to when to use what reporting tool/application? Alas, as with everything else in business intelligence, the answer is not that easy. The old days of developers versus power users versus casual users are gone. The world is way more complex these days. In order to create such a policy, you need to consider the following dimensions:

  •  Report/analysis type
    • Historical (what happened)
    • Operational (what is happening now)
    • Analytical (why did it happen)
    • Predictive (what might happen)
    • Prescriptive (what should I do about it)
    • Exploratory (what's out there that I don't know about)
  • Interaction types
    • Looking at static report output only
    • Lightly interacting with canned reports (sorting, filtering)
    • Fully interacting with canned reports (pivoting, drilling)
    • Assembling existing report, visualizations, and metrics into customized dashboards
    • Full report authoring capabilities
  • User types
    • Internal
    • External (customers, partners)
  • Data latency
    • Real time
    • Near-real time
    • Batch
  • Report latency, as in need the report:
    • Now
    • Tomorrow
    • In a few days
    • In a few weeks
  • Decision types
    • Strategic (a few complex decisions/reports per month)
    • Tactical (many less-complex decisions/reports per month)
    • Operational (many complex/simple decisions/reports per day)
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12 Pieces Of Advice For IT Service Desks – From A Customer!

Following the recent announcement of Forrester’s Voice of the Customer winners and while we wait for the release of a new Forrester book on Outside-In thinking, it seemed an opportune moment to look at the IT service desk from the perspective of its customers (or end users if you are still that way inclined). So the main body of this blog has been written by such a customer – they don’t work in IT they are just heavily dependent upon IT to do their job. This is how they feel …

Pre-service desk - old skool IT support seemed to work

It feels as though life was much easier before the service desk was introduced into my life. One “IT guy” supported circa 100 staff and was accessible via phone, email, IM, and by simply walking across the office floor.  Times change, businesses grow, and technology becomes more complex and so we have to move on.   The local (and friendly) “IT guy” gets replaced by a faceless IT team, usually locked-up in the basement floor, and suddenly we have to jump through a series of hoops to get our IT queries answered.  There are incidents, requests, catalogs, and tickets, and all my colleagues and I want to know is “Why can’t I log into my email?” and “Can you fix it quickly, please?” 

Thinking bigger picture

That said in reality does it really matter to a customer whether:

  • Their IT support is run by one “IT guy” or via a service desk?  
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New CSC CEO Makes Moves To Reinvigorate The Firm

Two weeks ago at the CSC analyst conference, Forrester sat down with new CEO and President Mike Lawrie. He was refreshingly frank about what the issues were and his road ahead. Based on his due diligence before taking the job, Mike concluded that the firm had the right strategy; it just could not execute. The overlying issue was the GE-style operating model that had every service line as its own P&L and was not focused on delivering an integrated solution to the client. Executive compensation and goals were misaligned and uncoordinated. The other factor that exacerbated these organization and alignment issues was a management model that would not make tough decisions and fostered the one-off solution culture.

Mike says that he has agreed with the board that it will take three plus years to turn the company around and fully establish itself as a leader. He sees it as a three-phase evolution. First, he needs to get the company fit – lowering operating costs by a billion dollars/year and improving margins and the bottom line.  With the financial house in order, he will then focus on growing the business by focusing on key opportunities like next-generation cloud-based infrastructure services and vertical software solutions. And the third phase of the reinvention will focus on leveraging leadership within those key segments.

Toward these goals, Mike is bringing in new leadership to fill roles in key areas like CFO, infrastructure outsourcing, and Federal systems. He will also be following Accenture’s lead by creating a separate software group with the true product discipline to actively compete in the vertical applications space and update its current packages. He will also simplify the offerings and build the size and capabilities of the sales organization.

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