At Forrester, each of us as analysts keep in regular contact with our clients and the industry through a process known as Inquiry. For workforce computing, this includes Benjamin Gray, Christian Kane, Michele Pelino, Onica King, and Chris Voce. Any Forrester client with Inquiry access can arrange for 1:1 time with an analyst to ask questions and seek advice, or simply ask for a response by e-mail. Most analysts also take advantage of the opportunity to ask a few well-considered questions of our own. Taken together with data, briefings from vendors, ongoing research and client advisory, the inquiry process helps us keep our eyes and ears focused on what matters to I&O professionals, and provides critical insights into their pain and needs. In this blog, I'll share my unvarnished responses to a client inquiry I received just last week:
1. What do you see as the most important trends in End User Computing for the next 3-4 years?
2. What will be the role of each type of device in an organization such as ours (financial services)?
3. What's the best way to find out what our employees need? What do other firms offer different types of workers?
4. Do you have any economic numbers about those devices (i.e. TCO per year)?
5. Do you have any data or examples from other firms like ours?
I’ve just participated in two webinars about innovation. Claire Schooley and I hosted How To Foster, Manage, And Sustain Innovation. And Forrester alumnus, Navi Radjou, who is now with the Center for Creative Leadership and author of Jugaad Innovation just gave a webinar on that topic. Navi talked about “doing more with less”—a big concept sweeping through emerging markets like India and Brazil. Navi argues that improvised ingenuity has taken a backseat to structured innovation, leading to high R&D costs and stifled creativity. And he took a swing at Six Sigma, arguing that it gets 99.999% sameness, or “better sameness” in Forrester’s view.
Forrester defines innovation as:
the transformation of a business process, market offering, or business model to boost value and impact for the enterprise, customers, or partners.
It’s time to think creatively about ideas for innovation. Look to:
I bet in your head you just sang “What’s Going On” to yourself – I hope that you did, it’s a classic. Anyway, it’s that time again … my Forrester colleague Glenn O’Donnell and the itSMF USA are set to launch their annual itSMF USA/Forrester IT service management (ITSM) survey and I can’t help think that, as we are in a radically different ITSM world from when they did the last survey, the results will be significantly different – showing that we have upped our collective ITSM game.
What do I mean by “radically different ITSM world”?
At a CIO roundtable that Forrester held recently in Sydney, I presented one of my favourite slides (originally seen in a deck from my colleague Ted Schadler) about what has happened r.e. technology since January 2007 (a little over five years ago). The slide goes like this:
Source: Forrester Research, 2012
This makes me wonder: what the next five years will hold for us? Forecasts tend to be made assuming most things remain the same – and I bet in 2007 few people saw all of these changes coming… What unforeseen changes might we see?
Will the whole concept of the enterprise disappear as barriers to entry disappear across many market segments?
Will the next generation reject the “public persona” that is typical in the Facebook generation and perhaps return to “traditional values”?
How will markets respond to the aging consumer in nearly every economy?
How will environmental concerns play out in consumer and business technology purchases and deployments?
How will the changing face of cities change consumer behaviors and demands?
Will artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and capabilities completely redefine business?
Here's a flash of the blindingly obvious: More and more products are going digital. You know this, but what I'm interested in is how they are going digital and to what degree. I see three major aspects: (1) the product itself becomes digital; (2) a physical product adds digital technology; and/or (3) processes and context around a physical product become digitally infused. Let me offer a sort of continuum of examples, and then I want to ask a question:
Music (nearly 100% digital). The greater part of music bought these days is in the form of a 100% digital product.
Health band. With a health band (e.g., Fitbit, Nike FuelBand), I don't really care about the physical product, but I'll put up with it to get the digital benefit: lots of data (and more) about my workouts and health.
Cameras. A digital camera is a physical product that uses a combination of physical and digital technology, and I actually care about some of its physical design (e.g., lenses). It produces a 100% digital artifact (photos), and the process around the photos is digitally infused.
USB picture frame. Part physical, part digital. By replacing the center of a picture frame with a digital screen, I get a new twist on an old standby. But, working with the digital part still requires a high degree of physical manipulation (carry a USB drive to the frame, etc., etc.).
WiFi picture frame. Part physical, even more digital. The WiFi bit bumps it way above a USB picture frame in terms of seamless integration into a digital world. I can email a picture to the thing, or maybe tag a photo on Facebook and suddenly it shows up.
Is it me, or does the network industry remind you of Revenge of the Nerds? Networking was cast aside in the cloud revolution, but now companies are learning -- the painful way – what a mistakes that was. Don’t kid yourself one bit if you think that VMware’s acquisition of Nicirawas mostly about developing heterogeneous hypervisor data centers or reducing networking hardware costs. If you do think that, you’re probably an application developer, hypervisor administrator, or data center architect. You’ve been strutting your newly virtualized self through rows of server racks over the last five year, casually brushing aside the networking administrators. You definitely had some outside support for your views: Google, VMware, and even OpenFlow communities have messaged that networking organizations aren’t cool anymore and need to be circumvented by coding around the network, making it a Layer 2 network or taking over the control plane.
To be fair, though, networking vendors and networking teams helped to create this friction, too, since they built their networks on:
40 years of outdated networking reliability principles. The current state of networking can be in many ways traced back to ARPANET’s principle: a single method to reliably communicate a host of multiple sets of flows, traffic, and workloads. Basically, voice, video, and all applications traverse the same rigid and static set of links that only change when a failure occurs. The package didn’t matter.
Mobile security and operations continues to be one of the hottest topics for organizations across industries. Mobility holds the promise of fostering new innovations, reaching new audiences and, most importantly, creating never-before-seen user experiences and business opportunities. For example, productivity gains brought on by “anytime”, “anywhere”, “any device” access are already revolutionalizing customer service, collaboration, and supply chain management, and many other aspects of business processes.
But delivering what mobile promises in a secure and safe way is a difficult proposition today. The mobile technology ecosystem is changing a million miles a minute: many technologies are still maturing, which led to a fragmented and semi-technology market. As a result, Security & Risk (S&R) and Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) professionals struggle to enforce consistent IT security and operations policies in this new environment where mobile devices have become the norm and customers and employees alike have come to expect certain business functions delivered over the mobile channel, regardless of the risk.
The Mobile Security & Operations Playbook contains content designed specifically for IT security and operations professionals to address these challenges. The playbook covers four key strategy aspects: 1) Discover: articulate the value of mobile security and operations in business terms; 2) Plan: set the strategy for mobile security operations; 3) Act: execute the strategy; and 4) Optimize: measure and optimize mobile security operations. To see a high level overview of the playbook, download the executive overview report.
Here’s the hard truth:IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) teams are becoming less relevant. This will only accelerate now that we are in what Forrester calls “the age of the customer” where bring-your-own-technology policies and “as-a-service” software and infrastructure proliferate.
In this new world, developers still need compute and storage to keep up with growth. And workers need some sort of PC or mobile device to get their jobs done. But they don’t necessarily need you in corporate IT to give it to them. Case and point: employees pay for 70% of the tablets used for work.
At the end of the day, if you can’t deliver on what your workforce and developers care about, they will use whatever and whoever to get their jobs done better, faster and cheaper.
Much of this comes down to customer experience, or how your customers perceive their every interaction with the IT organization, from your staff in the helpdesk to corporate applications they access every day. Here’s a proof point on how much customer experience matters from Forrester’s soon to be published book, Outside In: over a recent five-year period during which the S&P 500 was flat, a stock portfolio of customer experience leaders grew 22% percent.
I’ve participated in cloud events in four different countries over the past two weeks. Attendees were primarily senior and mid-level IT decision-makers seeking guidance and best practices for implementing private clouds within their organizations. Regardless of the country of origin, industry focus or level of cloud-related experience, one common theme stood out above all others during both formal and informal discussions – the importance of effective communication.
The key takeaway – don’t get dogmatic about terminology. In fact, when it comes to cloud-related initiatives, choose your words carefully and be prepared for the reaction you’re likely to get.
‘Cloud computing’ as a term remains over-hyped, over-used, and still often poorly understood – because of this, typical reactions to the term are likely to range from cynicism and doubt to defensiveness and derision and all the way to outright hostility. Ironically, the fact that it’s not a technical term actually creates more confusion in many instances since its meaning is so general as to apply to practically anything (or nothing, depending on your point of view or perhaps your level of cynicism).
At all four events over the past two weeks – and in fact in nearly all discussions of IT priorities I’ve had over the past six months – CIOs and other senior IT decision-makers have consistently made clear that ‘cloud computing’ as a general objective or direction isn’t a top priority per se. However, they are unanimous in their belief that data center transformation is essential to supporting business requirements and expectations.
Agile Practices Create The Need For Other Practices
Agile is a big topic that goes far beyond a set of practices and principles. Change the development cog in the larger software machine, and you change how other parts of the machine operate, too. It’s a deliberately disruptive change that’s supposed to make the software development and delivery machine become more adaptable, produce a higher quality product, or satisfy some other goal that makes people willing to ride the tiger of disruptive change.
Lean helps sustain Agile while driving it in the direction of value, flow, team empowerment, and waste reduction. Other practices, such as continuous delivery and design-driven development, also complement, reinforce, and supercharge Agile transformation.
As analysts, we might treat these developments as an excuse to write research that amounts, more or less, to a list of what’s hot and what’s not. Are more organizations taking a broader approach to DevOps challenges instead of just focusing on continuous delivery? Are Agile-friendly requirements practices, such as visualization, storyboarding, and serious games just a passing fad or permanent additions to the requirements toolkit? How many organizations have adopted test-driven development, and what are the barriers to adoption?
While these questions are important, and the answers more than a little interesting, they’re insufficient. Forrester is in the business of providing practical advice, not academic musings, so that software professionals can apply innovation strategies such as Agile and Lean immediately to the decisions they have to make today.