Online Collaboration Tools Address A New Set Of Business Challenges, But Are They Ready For Your Business?

Today, we published our first Forrester Wave™ on the cloud strategies of online collaboration software vendors, evaluating how eight vendors -- Box, Cisco Systems, Citrix Online, Google, IBM, Microsoft, salesforce.com, and Yammer -- are constructing collaboration services. Unlike a traditional Forrester Wave, this assessment was designed to look at how these vendors are addressing the lingering questions many IT leaders have about online collaboration technology:

  • Is it ready for the prime-time enterprise spotlight?
  • Will it keep me secure and compliant?
  • Does it fit into my business environment?
  • Is the vendor in the online business for the long haul?
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Is Duct Tape Holding Together Your Data Architecture?

Let’s face it: managing data is not an easy task. The business certainly wishes, and may even think, that this is the case. So, we cut corners on fulfilling data requirements to meet short-term demands. We lay aside more strategic investment that would best support our strategies, have a wider value across the business, and build toward a proper foundation for the long term.

Today, our data architecture gets held together with duct tape. Even if we have used the new “pretty” duct tape that comes in colors, camouflage, and animal patterns, it is still duct tape.

What we are now faced with is more data silos, inconsistency in data quality, and challenges to provide a single view of your business. Investments made to provide a strong data foundation have either withered behind business as usual or have been collecting cobwebs from lack of use. I call this data technical debt, and it is holding your business back both in getting information the business needs and allowing for agility to meet the increasing variety of use cases.

To move forward, what are things we can do?

1.      Make sure there is a strong vision for a desired state.

2.     Recognize milestones needed to achieve the desired state.

3.     Continuously align project requests to milestones to ensure progress is made on the vision.

4.     Align and consolidate projects with similar milestone contributions to expand the value of vision widely and faster.

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The Customer Service Market Keeps Consolidating: Consona And CDC Software Merge

Or perhaps I need to title this blog "Another One Bites The Dust" as this is just one more merger in the multitude of mergers and acquisitions that are happening  in the customer service space.

On August 7, CSC Software merged with Consona Corporation to form a new entity called Aptean (see the press release about the news here). There have been no details communicated about the go-forward plan for both companies’ products, but here are my views about their respective CRM assets.

Consona, founded in 1986, has its roots in ERP. Over the years, it has acquired a number of ERP solutions, which include DTR, Cimnet Systems, AXIS, Encompix, Intuitive, Relevant, and SupplyWorks - which have good strengths in a variety of vertical markets. More recently, it has acquired an open-source, SaaS-based ERP software vendor, Compiere. In 2006, it made a foray into the CRM market by acquiring Onyx CRM and then KNOVA for knowledge management (2007) and SupportSoft (2009), a support automation vendor. Its recent CRM focus has been on customer support automation application for the high-tech vertical, as there is good synergy between CRM, support automation, and knowledge management for this user base.

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Big Data Meets Cloud

Cloud Services Offer New Opportunities For Big Data Solutions

What’s better than writing about one hot topic? Well, writing about two hot topics in one blog post — and here you go:

The State Of BI In The Cloud

Over the past few years, BI business intelligence (BI) was the overlooked stepchild of cloud solutions and market adoption. Sure, some BI software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendors have been pretty successful in this space, but it was success in a niche compared with the four main SaaS applications: customer relationship management (CRM), collaboration, human capital management (HCM), and eProcurement. While those four applications each reached cloud adoption of 25% and more in North America and Western Europe, BI was leading the field of second-tier SaaS solutions used by 17% of all companies in our Forrester Software Survey, Q4 2011. Considering that the main challenges of cloud computing are data security and integration efforts (yes, the story of simply swiping your credit card to get a full operational cloud solution in place is a fairy tale), 17% cloud adoption is actually not bad at all; BI is all about data integration, data analysis, and security. With BI there is of course the flexibility to choose which data a company considers to run in a cloud deployment and what data sources to integrate — a choice that is very limited when implementing, e.g., a CRM or eProcurement cloud solution.

“38% of all companies are planning a BI SaaS project before the end of 2013.”

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Large Telecoms Offer A Full Menu Of Security Services, But Not Without A Little Indigestion

Guest Post From Researcher Chris Sherman

 Last month, Ed and I spent a couple days in Paris with Orange's management team for their annual analyst event. Overall I was impressed with Orange’s innovation in business service offerings as well as their extensive global reach. Many of the large telecoms (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc.) have had to and very much want to expand their business offerings. The telecoms clearly see platform-as-a-service as the natural extension of their core telecom business. Just selling bandwidth is no longer sufficient for these companies, which is in fact now a commodity business. Orange is no exception. This evolution in the telecom business model has been successful due to the industry’s ability to:

  • Offer endpoint and network security optimization solutions coherent with their existing bandwidth business. With their unique vantage point over the network, the telecoms are ideally placed to deliver “clean pipe” Internet service by stopping outside network threats before they reach their customers’ endpoints. For instance, Orange’s DDoS protection service can leverage their large global footprint and control over the infrastructure to gather intelligence and exercise defensive measures farther up the stack than most of their non-telecom competitors.
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Atos Aims To Cloud-Enable Chinese Companies

 

In November 2011, Atos and Yonyou (formerly Ufida) announced the creation of a joint venture dubbed Yunano™ aimed at the European SMB market. The two companies are at it again, this time focusing specifically on the Chinese domestic market.  I recently met with Herbie Leung, CEO of Atos in Asia Pacific, to discuss the partnership and future market opportunities in China. This new agreement essentially covers three areas of collaboration:

  • Bringing PLM and MES expertise to Yonyou customers. With more than 1.5 million customers, Yonyou is one of the largest software providers in China with strengths in ERP and CRM solutions. However, the company lacks capabilities in adjacent areas like product lifecycle management (PLM) and manufacturing execution systems (MES). Following the SIS acquisition, Atos has significantly strengthened its capabilities in these domains and will offer them to Yonyou clients.
  • Helping Yonyou’s customers migrate to private cloud architectures. The lack of private cloud technical skills in China led Yonyou to leverage Atos’s expertise to develop private cloud assessment workshops and ERP migration services targeting the China market. Atos will in turn leverage Canopy, a company it recently created in partnership with EMC and VMware to provide cloud solutions to its clients globally.
  • Helping Yonyou expand into new markets in Asia. Like many Chinese companies, Yonyou has global aspirations.While theYunano joint venture focuses on bringing Yonyou’s ERP solutions to the mid-market in EMEA, the new partnership will leverage Atos go-to-market capabilities to take the Yonyou solutions to other markets in Asia.
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Agility At Scale Requires Both Discipline And Creativity

A common question we analysts hear from our clients is, "How do we scale our Agile efforts?" Now, let's be clear: the question is not how to get Agile to work in a large project. Sure, there are challenges in making Agile work within big teams, but there's a much bigger concern. Organizations invest in Agile, or allow Agile experiments to blossom, and then try to capture the Agile magic in a bottle and mass produce it across the organization. 

That's an entirely different challenge, with ambitions and uncertainties that are both Texas-sized. (I'm in Dallas, so I'll use Texas metaphors. So shoot me. Wait, no, I take that back.) The uncertainties have many faces, including (but in no way limited to) issues like:

  • How many projects or products should employ an Agile approach?
  • Can we expect our outsourcing partners to use Agile as widely as we do?
  • Do we need a common tools strategy to support Agile?
  • How much diversity of Agile approaches within teams is a good thing, and how much is counter-productive?
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Agile Transformation Needs A Very Specific Roadmap

We've seen a number of misconceptions about Agile come and go. For example, the urban myth that Agile is all about velocity gets far less circulation. More people have seen Agile in practice, witnessing first hand the other potential benefits (more chances for mid-course corrections, greater predictability of outcomes, better business/IT alignment, etc.) than just writing code faster. More people are starting projects with these potential benefits in mind, so Agile has clearly moved past the perception that it was some perverse cult of speed. Speed has no intrinsic business value, aside from keeping a twitchy software developer who has consumed way too much Mountain Dew from chewing his own foot off in frustration about delays and obstacles.

 
Agile Gets To Specifics Quickly
Business value is the goal for Agile transformation; benefits like quality, predictability, and business/IT alignment are either measures of that value or steps needed to achieve that value. Both topics require a lot of clarity or specificity. Otherwise, Agile can look a lot like a road trip gone horribly wrong: we're not sure where we're going, how close we are, or whether we're going the right way at all.
 
Agile succeeded brilliantly because it started with some very specific practices and values. Don't end a sprint without working code. Keep your backlog prioritized. Build the expectation of new or changing requirements into planning. Don't build your plans on information you don't have. That's a lot more-specific guidance than something like"Achieve this maturity level and you'll be fine" or "Follow this KPI to the ends of the earth."
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Prepare Your People For The Future Of IT Service Delivery

At our core we are “IT people” (hopefully you are shouting at your screen, “No, I'm a business person!” but please bear with me), so it is all too easy for us to look at the future of IT service delivery purely from a technology perspective; that is, to be absorbed by the opportunities and challenges such as bring-your-own-device (BYOD), mobility, social, shiny SaaS ITSM tools, and cloud per se.

For instance, my colleague Glenn O’Donnell can often be heard saying that “the future of service management is an automated one,” and, unless you have access to the report from which I lifted this quote (and much of this blog), it is too easy to forget about how the “yellow brick road” to the future affects our people. Glenn’s report covers this in some detail, and I have politely stolen some of it to include below.

Looking at the future from an employee perspective = fear

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TechnoPolitics Podcast: Microsoft Windows 8 - Bold Move Or Catch Up

Forrester TechnoPolitics guest Frank GillettMicrosoft is faced with its biggest challenge ever - to stay relevant in a post-PC era. Is Windows 8 the answer, a first step on the path, or will it fall flat? Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Frank Gillett's expert analysis reveals all. Frank is a member of Forrester's Business Technology Futures team. His current focus is on the dynamic between consumer and business technology markets, the future of back-end and end user hardware in the post-PC era, and a new and emerging software platform - the personal cloud. 

Podcast Listening Options

Click here to download Forrester TechnoPolitics MP3 file

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