The Future Of The Mobile Web Just Became Bright

Great apps are generally native apps. I discuss with our clients daily that, given unlimited time and money, every app should be native, as this affords the ultimate in user experience. Unfortunately, budgets rarely use the word "unlimited," so compromises must be made. Commonly, one of the first tactical directions away from native is to the mobile web. This asks users to painfully type a URL on their device and then suffer through a browser experience that takes away from the immersive experience that the app should convey. This all changed with Mozilla Junior, a browser being developed for the iPad targeted directly at the iPad user. Thanks to some outstanding design decisions, the mobile web now has a very bright future:

  • A browser without chrome. This is the biggest stylistic deterrent to mobile apps. Today’s mobile web experience is always wrapped in browser “stuff” known as chrome (URL bar, navigation buttons, toolbars, etc.). Junior changes this by providing a browser with no chrome at all. This allows you, the mobile web developer, to use the entire screen as your app canvas. Native interactions (swipes/long presses/etc.) can now be fully implemented without fear of accidentally pressing a browser button.
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The European Tech Market Will Grow By 1.2% In 2012 And 3.1% In 2013 – If The Euro Does Not Fall Apart

Making a tech market forecast always runs the risk of being overtaken by subsequent events.  This risk is particularly acute in Europe in June 2012, when the whole euro project hangs on the brink of potential failure.  Yet with Forrester's European CIO Forum conference occurring this week in Paris, we had to make a call on the outlook for the European tech market, rather than wait until the outcome becomes a clear. 

So, here is my assumption: the European Union and the European Central Bank will patch together a set of policies that will keep Greece in the euro, provide financing to keep Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain functioning as economic reforms take hold, and offer enough stimulus to prevent something worse than the current, mild recession.  As such, in our European tech market report published today (European Information And Communications Technology Market 2012 To 2013 -- Spending Growth Comes To A Halt As Europe Slides Into Recession), Forrester is predicting that purchases of information and communications technologies (ICT) by European business and governments will grow by a feeble but still positive 1.2% in 2012 in euros, and a weak but slightly better growth of 3.1%.  Let us hope that the alternative of a euro break up, a subsequent deep recession, and a collapse of tech buying similar to that in 2009 does not make this one of the shortest lived predictions we have made.

The details of our European tech market outlook are as follows:

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IT Service Management AND Automation: Now That's A Double Whammy Of Business-Enabling Goodness

A recent Forrester report helps IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders understand the business and IT impact of service management and automation (SMA). While both IT service management (ITSM) and automation can be used effectively in isolation, I&O organizations should be seeking to use them in tandem for an "amplified" business impact.

The General Benefits Of Service Management And Automation

The general benefits of SMA can be divided between the I&O organization and the business, though these benefits often overlap:

While SMA is much more than the adoption of IT infrastructure library (ITIL), the ITSM best practice framework, thinking and processes — ITIL's benefits are quite reflective of the general benefits of broader SMA. In a survey of 491 members of the USA chapter of the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF), Forrester found that organizations which adopted ITIL experience the following benefits:

  • Improved staff productivity that allows the business to become more competitive (85%).
  • Heightened quality of service that improves business uptime and customer experience (83%).
  • Reduced operational costs to reinvest in new and innovative initiatives (41%).
  • Improved reputation with the business (65%).
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Consumers Drive Channel Preference To Achieve Effortless Customer Service

A new study commissioned by Nice about consumer channel preference complements Forrester’s data quite effectively and adds more data to the understanding that customer service does not need to be exceptional but just needs to be frictionless, easily and efficiently delivering answers to customer questions.

Here is some recent Forrester data from our latest Consumer Technographics® survey about US customer service trends:

  • 45% of US online adults will abandon their online purchase if they can't find a quick answer to their question.
  • 66% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide a customer with a good online customer service.
  • 29% prefer to use online customer service rather than speak with a live person on the telephone.

Data from the Nice survey says that:

  • 50% of respondents say that if they cannot easily achieve resolution, they will turn to the contact center.
    • Which supports the point that service needs to be frictionless and effortless.
  • 40% of respondents expect agents to be informed of their experiences upon beginning the conversation and to be able to successfully resolve their issues quickly.
    • Which supports the point that companies need to value a customer’s time.

In addition, the Nice survey conveyed:

  • When asked what customers like about assisted service, 50% of respondents cited FCR as their #1 reason for consulting a live agent. 33% of respondents they derive satisfaction from dealing with knowledgeable reps with specialized training.
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First ARM Benchmarks – The Race Is On

This week, sandwiched between the annual Structure Big Data conference and the International Supercomputing show in Hamburg, Germany, ARM startup and HP partner Calxeda also found time to release the first well-documented x86 versus ARM benchmarks. The results, shown below, are very positive — while there are some caveats that we need to note, the first generation ARM SOCs seem to deliver on their basic promise of much better performance per Watt.

The benchmark, which compares anew ARM SOC from Calxeda to a Sandy Bridge (not Ivy Bridge) low-end Xeon server with the same number of cores, shows that the Xeon CPU, while delivering more performance, has a very large deficit in workload per Watt, which is one of the key value propositions of the ARM community. Benchmark details*:

Interpreting The Benchmark

First of all, this is a single benchmark, and its relevance is limited to its domain — lightweight web serving on a small web server with 1 Gb network. We cannot interpolate results based on a faster network configuration (although my guess is that this configuration is bottlenecked by the network, and a faster Xeon would not make much difference), nor can we extend the interpretation to other workloads. But within the benchmark domain, this early comparison tells us some important things:

  • Even with the current V7 32-bit architecture, the ARM CPU does indeed deliver impressive power efficiency.
  • Absolute performance, especially considering the huge difference in clock speed, is higher than most of us expected.
  • As a basic proof point, this benchmark succeeds as a proof of concept — AMR servers are indeed in the ballpark versus their initial promises.
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DCIM — Updates And Trends

Only a few months since I authored Forrester’s "Market Overview: Data Center Infrastructure Management Solutions," significant changes merit some additional commentary.

Vendor Drama

The major vendor drama of the “season” is the continued evolution of Schneider and Emerson’s DCIM product rollout. Since Schneider’s worldwide analyst conference in Paris last week, we now have pretty good visibility into both major vendors' strategy and products. In a nutshell, we have two very large players, both with large installed bases of data center customers, and both selling a vision of an integrated modular DCIM framework. More importantly it appears that both vendors can deliver on this promise. That is the good news. The bad news is that their offerings are highly overlapped, and for most potential customers the choice will be a difficult one. My working theory is that whoever has the largest footprint of equipment will have an advantage, and that a lot depends on the relative execution of their field marketing and sales organizations as both companies rush to turn 1000s of salespeople and partners loose on the world with these products. This will be a classic market share play, with the smart strategy being to sacrifice margin for market share, since DCIM solutions have a high probability of pulling through services, and usually involve some annuity revenue stream from support and update fees.

How Big Is The Market?

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Where IT Metrics Go Wrong: 13 Issues To Avoid

In a recent Forrester report — Develop Your Service Management And Automation Balanced Scorecard — I highlight some of the common mistakes made when designing and implementing infrastructure & operations (I&O) metrics. This metric “inappropriateness” is a common issue, but there are still many I&O organizations that don’t realize that they potentially have the wrong set of metrics. So, consider the following:

  1. When it comes to metrics, I&O is not always entirely sure what it’s doing or why. We often create metrics because we feel that we “should” rather than because we have definite reasons to capture and analyze data and consider performance against targets. Ask yourself: “Why do we want or need metrics?” Do your metrics deliver against this? You won’t be alone if they don’t.
  2. Metrics are commonly viewed as an output in their own right. Far too many I&O organizations see metrics as the final output rather than as an input into something else, such as business conversations about services or improvement activity. The metrics become a “corporate game” where all that matters is that you’ve met or exceeded your targets. Metrics reporting should see the bigger picture and drive improvement.
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National Broadband Network (NBN) In Singapore Bringing New Thinking Of Selling Consumer Services

I was in Singapore two weeks ago and had the chance to meet Malcolm Rodrigues and Greg Mittman from an emerging broadband service provider called MyRepublic. MyRepublic is a new service-based operator (SBO) licensed in Singapore in 2011, purpose-built for Singapore’s national broadband network (NBN). Since the launch of the NBN service in Singapore, it has created new opportunities for SBOs to lease the network from OpenNet, the company that operates the NBN in Singapore and sell high-speed fiber broadband services to consumers and businesses in the island country. And MyRepublic is one of the most interesting companies I have seen, with an innovative business/go-to-market model that:

  • Has an operational model based on light assets. Leveraging the NBN network and a neutral operation company, MyRepublic is able to get access to the nationwide fiber broadband network at the same price as other established telecom operators in Singapore, including the incumbent SingTel. It only needs to put its own gateways and other limited network assets at OpenNet for service provisioning, network monitoring, billing, etc.
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Let Big Data Predictive Analytics Rock Your World

I love predictive analytics. I mean, who wouldn't want to develop an application that could help you make smart business decisions, sell more stuff, make customers happy, and avert disasters. Predictive analytics can do all that, but it is not easy. In fact, it can range from being impossible to hard depending on:

  • Causative data. The lifeblood of predictive analytics is data. Data can come from internal systems such as customer transactions or manufacturing defect data. It is often appropriate to include data from external sources such as industry market data, social networks, or statistics. Contrary to popular technology beliefs, it does not always need to be big data. It is far more important that the data contain variables that can be used to predict an effect. Having said that, the more data you have, the better chance you have of finding cause and effect. Big data no guarantee of success.
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Microsoft Pokes Its Partners With A Stick Named Surface -- And That's A Good Thing

See these excellent analyses by colleagues Sarah Rotman Epps and Dave Johnson on the Surface.

I can totally understand why the Windows team wants its own tablet. After all, Apple has been running away with the most important device category since, well, the touchscreen smartphone, for years while Microsoft and its OEM partners have been watching glumly from the sidelines. Actually, Microsoft has been developing Windows 8 and Windows RT to compete, so not just watching glumly, building product, actually. But OEM partners like Samsung and ASUS have been developing tablets on Android, not Windows.

Along comes Microsoft Surface, a tablet aimed at "work and play." So why does Microsoft feel the need to compete with its most important partners? Three reasons that CIOs should tune into:

  1. Surface (presumably) sets the bar for other tablet OEMs. PC makers have been racing to the bottom to meet your stringent price requirements while still trying to compete. That of course created the market gap that Apple swooped into with the MacBook Air that your employees love. Microsoft can't let that happen with tablets. So job one for Surface -- and it better be frickin' great -- is to prod partners to make great tablets. So even if partners like Dell and HP are angry about the move, it could pay off in better Windows tablets. And that could pay off for CIOs as you look for a tablet you can manage and more importantly, run Office on.
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