We want to recognize your good work in employee mobile, innovation, and collaboration or social projects. You'll find them in the Business to Employee (B2E) category. We're also very interested in the best B2C and B2B scenarios. CIOs care about all three, of course.
I recently spent a few days in Connecticut, USA, with Pitney Bowes. So why, you ask, is a CIO advisor who spends most of his time talking about the future of business technology in Asia Pacific spending time with a company that makes machines that stamp mail? That is a good question, and one I hope to answer while at the same time showing where I believe Pitney Bowes can help in your organisation.
So Pitney Bowes stamps mail. Yes — but they see it differently. They see that they enable communications with customers. Interesting. But mail is declining — right? Yes, it is, and Pitney Bowes has made many acquisitions to position itself as the leader in the digital mail space. And they have gone from just providing the communications capability to working across the entire customer lifecycle. Acquisitions of Portrait Software, MapInfo, Group 1 Software and many of the other firms they have acquired in the last 10 years have given them the ability to do:
- Customer profiling and segmentation
- Data preparation and composition
- Multi-channel customer output
- Customer response management
- Response analysis
It’s exciting to see the news of yet another acquisition in the world of customer service with the announcement of KANA Software’s intent to acquire Sword Ciboodle. Today’s customer service technology ecosystem is complex and comprised of a great number of vendors that provide overlapping and competing capabilities. I’ve previously blogged about what these critical software components are. The reason why these acquisitions are good is that they align with what customers want: a simpler technology ecosystem to manage from both a systems perspective and a contractual perspective. And suite solutions available from unified communications (UC), CRM, and workforce optimization (WFO) vendors are evolving and include comprehensive feature sets. These vendors have either built these capabilities out or acquired them via M&A activity — and we expect more M&A to happen.
Now, to focus on the Sword Ciboodle acquisition. This acquisition, at a high level, is a win-win for both companies:
KANA has historically sold point solutions for knowledge management, email, and chat to the eBusiness owner or owner of the digital communication channels within an organization, not to the owner of the contact center. Ciboodle has had the opposite challenge, historically selling to the owner of contact centers. This acquisition will allow deeper market penetration, targeting an increasing breadth of buyer profiles.
■ CRM solutions are widely adopted, and buyers plan to increase investment. In fact, 50% of the 556 North America and European large organizations we recently surveyed have implemented a CRM solution (a marketing, sales, or customer service application). An additional 23% have plans to adopt a CRM solution within the next 12 to 24 months.
■ Consolidation alters the vendor landscape. In response to the demand for solutions that support the cross-channel, end-to-end customer journey that defines the quality of the experience an organization delivers, large CRM vendors such and Oracle, SAP, and salesforce.com have acquired direct competitors or have snapped up companies in adjacent spaces to broaden the range of their offerings.
I recently had the chance to spend some quality time with Dell in Singapore at their event for Forrester analysts in the Asia Pacific region. As Dell is a company traditionally known for its hardware products, I had low expectations – to date, few of my CIO clients would consider Dell a “strategic” supplier.
However, I was pleasantly surprised – Dell is reinventing itself from a PC and server supplier into an IT solutions provider. The benefits of the acquisition of Perot Systems and various software assets in North America and around the globe are starting to pay dividends in Asia Pacific.
As a late entrant into many of the newer markets they play in, they have the rare advantage of being able to do things differently – both from a solution and a pricing standpoint. From data centre transformation through legacy migration and application modernisation, to networking solutions, Dell is attempting to be disruptive player in the market – simplifying processes that were typically human-centric, and automating capabilities to reduce the overall burden of owning and running infrastructure.
Their strategy is to stay close to what they know – much of their capability is linked directly to infrastructure – but their open, modular, and somewhat vendor agnostic approach is in direct opposition to the “vendor lock-in” solutions that many of the other major vendors push.
Corporate customers of cloud services are not having much fun when negotiating with emerging cloud suppliers.
Forrester clients seeking support for their longstanding contractual preferences ranging from access to supplier data centers for due diligence to more robust terms for liability and mutual indemnity, just to name a few examples, are facing frustration when cloud suppliers refuse to accommodate them. While cloud suppliers themselves are mindful of their need to be more flexible for large enterprise customers in theory, actual concessions are few and far between, and in some cases customers either grin and bear it or walk away.
Is it only a matter of time before cloud suppliers accommodate the same kinds of concessions and flexibility routinely accommodated by traditional outsourcing firms? Not necessarily. It is tempting to think that increased flexibility on the part of cloud providers will inevitably grow as a consequence of greater maturity; the reality is more complex. The very outsourcing suppliers that have routinely accepted these requests are becoming less anxious to take additional risk in client engagements, especially while cloud suppliers are allowed to skate around potentially thorny issues like liability. Yes, the outsourcing suppliers are willing to provide an indirect contracting model for cloud services while taking on additional service delivery risk in many cases, but there are limits to their forbearance.
I had an interesting follow-up conversation last week with Dmitry Chikhachev of Runa Capital. I asked what he was seeing in smart cities and civic innovation among Russian startups in these areas. Dmitry’s response supported my own observations that governments need to focus on the basics.
What kinds of innovation are you seeing in the public sector in Russia?
Many processes in the public sector are still supported by paperwork. One example is visa applications. To obtain a visa you need an application, on paper. You need copies of supporting documents. In Singapore, paperwork has been eliminated. You upload everything. And, you get a barcode via email to be shown with your passport when entering the country. To do this requires process change within government, which in turn, requires data handling, integration, electronic signature, and personal data protection — a combination of relatively high-tech solutions.
Within Russia, this kind of change — the shift to paperless government — is happening at the regional government level in Russia. Tatarstan is the most advanced from this point of view. (But on a promising side note, the Minister of Informatics from Tatarstan just got promoted to the federal level.) Government interaction with Tatarstan is already paperless.
Who is providing the solutions to support a paperless government?
Bridgekeeper: "What ... is your name?"
Traveler: "John Swainson of Dell."
Bridgekeeper: "What ... is your quest?"
Traveler: "Hey! That's not a bad idea!"
We suspect Dell's process was more methodical than that!
This acquisition was not a surprise, of course. All along, it has been obvious that Dell needed stronger assets in software as it continues on its quest to avoid the Gorge of Eternal Peril that is spanned by the Bridge of Death. When the company announced that John Swainson was joining to lead the newly formed software group, astute industry watchers knew the next steps would include an ambitious acquisition. We predicted such an acquisition would be one of Swainson's first moves, and after only four months on the job, indeed it was.
Technologists love definitions. In fact, technologists particularly like arguing about definitions.
The term "BT" for example, is constantly under debate. Is it IT or BT? What is BT anyway? How is it different? This line of questioning really doesn't help deliver business results. I often equate it to trying to define "happy."
A poor business perception of IT's performance could actually be a strong indicator that IT is being driven more by arguing about definitions than getting stuff done. I've seen these "definitional disagreements" bring many technology supported business projects to their knees, the classic being data warehousing projects or CRM implementations.
Whether you understand (or like) the term BT or not, the key to achieving better technology integration with business strategy is to avoid discussions about definitions. In fact, the magic answer is in the dictionary definition of happy itself.
delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person.
characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: a happy mood; a happy frame of mind.
This is the conclusion of a recent research project on the future of IT governance. I am writing this summary of facts and findings hoping to get your feedback.
Here is what we did in the project: We started from the recently released COBIT 5 framework to set a baseline for what good IT governance is. We then assessed 15 case studies and selected nine that displayed characteristics of good IT governance. We also interviewed 25 technology management experts, asking them "whether and how IT governance will need to change when organizations adopt smart technologies such as a mobile, social, analytics business process management (BPM), and cloud."
What is the conclusion? The more your organization invests in smart technologies for business innovation, differentiation, and productivity improvements, the more you will need good IT governance for managing these investments. And because developing good IT governance is a learning experience filled with trial and error, the earlier you start applying good IT governance as a continuous improvement process, the faster you will benefit from it and your investments.
But what does this mean in practical terms? We identified five directions for change. They nicely fit with the COBIT principles:
1) Make technology development an integral part of business strategy.
2) Focus on cross-functional business alignment.
3) Engage employees at all levels of the organization.
4) Maintain an integrated IT governance framework and single ownership.
5) Develop separate responsibilities for IT governance and IT management.