I spent a jam-packed day with security software and services provider AVG last week, checking out their 2013 product line-up for free antivirus and paid premium products, and participating in roundtable discussions with press, analysts, and AVG executives about consumer security, mobile, privacy and policy. Here are my reactions to what AVG is doing:
LIKE: Consumer data (yes, I’m biased here, being the data nerd). AVG has lots of it and it’s all free. This is awesome because it’s a great resource not just for the industry but for other parties to use in education and awareness program design. They’ve done studies across 11 countries for their Digital Diaries studies, surveying parents and kids of different age brackets from 0 to 17 to understand online behaviors and attitudes. Here’s a data nugget that caught my attention: by the time they are two years old, 81% of children have some kind of digital footprint (online photographs, personal data, email and/or social networking accounts). 81%!
Wouldn't it be nice if your employees actually asked you this question before they went off and signed up for a cloud service or deployed a new app to a cloud platform? If they did ask, would you know what to tell them? Forrester's research shows that most enterprises wouldn't have a clear response or know where to point the employee for better guidance. Oops.
The answer to this question is actually pretty simple in concept but more difficult than you think in execution — you need a cloud use policy. What should be in this policy? What form should it take? What tone should it carry? Where do I start? All these questions are answered in my latest research report on writing an effective cloud policy. And some of its guidance may feel very counterintuitive. First of all, this will probably be a much softer and more malleable policy than others you have in your company. The cloud is still evolving, and thus your policy will need to do the same. What you might not allow today may be perfectly ok tomorrow. And unlike other IT policies, it's highly likely that IT isn't the most knowledgeable team about cloud within your company. Be prepared to work with the true leaders in crafting this policy — fail this and you shouldn't even try.
It's too late for your policy to say, "The use of cloud services is not allowed," so you need to start from an assumption that it is already happening — and that more of it is happening behind your back than in front of your nose. In fact, any policy that takes a draconianly negative tone probably won't go over very well (it might just be blatantly ignored).
With two thirds of 2012 completed, it has become clear that the global tech market is not going to grow as fast this year as we had expected in January. Back then, we predicted that business and government purchases of information technology would grow by 5.4% in 2012 when measured in US dollars. In our latest forecast (see September 10, 2012, Global Tech Market Outlook 2012 To 2013: Economic Weakness Will Slow, But Not, Stop Growth), we now expect growth of 1.3%. Much of this slowdown is due to greater-than-expected strength in the US dollar against other major currencies. Measured in local currencies to eliminate currency fluctuations, we project 2012 growth will be better at 3.6%. Still, this too is lower than our January prediction of 5.3%, which is the result of slower economic growth in the US, Europe, China, and India.
I want to point out that, apart from the currency effects, the slowdown is concentrated in one geography – Europe – and one tech product category – communications equipment. In local currency terms, the tech markets of the US and Asia Pacific will grow by 4% to 5%, while emerging markets in Latin America and Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa will expand by over 8%. The weak spot will be Western and Central Europe, where the tech market will shrink by 2.5%. On a similar basis, software, IT consulting and systems integration services, and IT outsourcing will grow by 4% to5% or more, and computer equipment by almost 3%. But communications equipment purchases will decline by almost 1%.
Traditional antivirus techniques have been fighting a losing battle for years. Popular hacker exploit kits pounce on new vulnerabilities quickly while advanced tools such as polymorphic viruses propagate their malicious intents. As a result, signature databases (known as “blacklists”) have ballooned in size, causing strain on a company’s infrastructure and endpoint performance. Combined with the fact that antivirus vendors miss a significant number of the unknown or zero-day threats, many security professionals are left questioning their antivirus-centric approach to endpoint protection. As the number of malware samples rise, this traditional "Whack-A-Mole" blacklist strategy of signature-based antivirus protection is simply unscalable.
This is a guest post from Anjali Yakkundi, a researcher serving application development & delivery professionals.
Organizations today often take a broad focus on digital customer experiences, which carries great risks for your firm: too much experimentation for not enough return; too much duplication and waste; and too little use of data to drive and measure business results. And often, IT professionals are only involved at the end of a digital experience strategy. I’ve spoken with many individuals who recount instances when the business only comes to IT when it's ready to implement a campaign or a large-scale digital experience initiative.
The result? IT ends up playing the “no man” to marketing teams (or eBusiness, or sales, or product teams), which then makes the IT-marketing divide even greater. Instead, IT must be an enabler for exceptional customer experiences. IT pros can and should provide major contributions to – if not help lead - their firms’ digital customer experience strategies along with marketing, line-of-business, and/or eBusiness leaders.
How can IT begin to take a more vocal role in the creation of digital experience strategies? Start by aligning better with the business, defining your technology architecture, redefining your policies and procedures, and updating your “must-have” IT skill sets.
Vanity Fair ran a terrific article in its recent August issue, entitled "Microsoft’s Lost Decade." The gist of the article is that since 2000, Microsoft, under the guidance of CEO Steve Ballmer, has fallen flat and failed in most new arenas it’s tried to enter: e-books, music, search, social networking, etc. It also highlights that in recent years, Microsoft has been much more of a follower than an innovator. So it should be no surprise then that at our recent Forrester Research sourcing and vendor management Forums, I found that the one vendor that inspired most discussion, disagreements, and polarized opinion amongst the attendees was Microsoft.
Why? The theme of our Forums was "innovation," and this question repeatedly arose: Is Microsoft ready to take back a position as a leading innovator? It certainly dominates the market, and its huge revenues always cause mutterings of discontent (or is it jealousy?) from others in the market, but when it comes down to innovation — and to paraphrase Monty Python — just what has Microsoft ever given us?
Let me give you a straw poll of comments overheard at our recent Forums:
· Various operating systems for the fledgling PC market had been around before IBM handed the golden goose to Microsoft to deliver an operating system for its entry into the PC market place.
· On the desktop, Lotus 123 was the first good spreadsheet and WordPerfect was the first good word processing program. Both were crushed when MS Office came along offering what many at the time thought were inferior products in Excel and Word, but which enjoyed the benefits of being bundled into one integrated suite.
The anniversary of my two-year tenure at Forrester quietly snuck by me last week, and when I remembered about the milestone, it gave me pause to think about how much the customer service landscape has changed these past years and how quickly it keeps on changing. Here are my key thoughts:
The customer service landscape is complex. We mapped the maturity and business value of 24 key contact center technologies in our Forrester TechRadar™ on this topic and found a number of technologies – case management, channel management, WFM, IVR, etc. – at the peak of the maturity curve, which is no surprise given that contact center operations are focused on productivity and process optimization. However, there are newer technologies such as real-time decisioning, process guidance, interaction analytics, VOC, and social service that are starting to be leveraged by companies needing to differentiate themselves on customer experience. I expect to see an acceleration of technologies used in organizations outside of customer service to start being leveraged by contact centers.
Last Friday, we hosted our first roundtable in Singapore focusing on the IT services industry in Asia. The goal of these quarterly events is to create a community of services leaders who can network and exchange ideas on the growth opportunities and challenges in the region.
Senior leaders from 14 large services vendors gathered this morning to discuss how a perfect storm of technologies (including cloud, social, big data, and mobility) is transforming the way clients engage with service providers in Asia. Forrester analysts John McCarthy, Frederic Giron, and Dane Anderson brainstormed with business leaders from services vendors including Atos, BT, HCL, HP, and IBM around the four factors that are reshaping the IT services industry (see Figure 1):
The restructuring of the Asian economy. The economic uncertainty has now spread to emerging markets, and economic growth is expected to slow down significantly in India and China this year. Forrester has revised its IT services spending forecasts downward by two to four percentage points in these countries for 2012 and 2013. Participants corroborated this downgrade and mentioned they were seeing the process of making decisions on large transformation projects getting longer, especially in the manufacturing industry.
"The set of methods, tools, and technologies used to analyze customer data - where the goal is to inform customer acquisition and retention, enhance customer relationships, and drive customer profitability."
Enterprise architects I talk with are struggling with the pace of change in their business.
We all know the pace of change in business, and in the technology which shapes and supports our business, is accelerating. Customers are expecting more ethics from companies and also more personalized services but do not want to share private information. Technology is leveling the playing field between established firms and new competitors. The economic, social, and regulatory environment is becoming more complex.
What this means for enterprise architects is that the founding assumptions of EA — a stable, unified business strategy, a structured process for planning through execution, and a compelling rationale for EA’s target states and standards — don’t apply anymore. Some of the comments I hear:
“We’re struggling with getting new business initiatives to follow the road maps we’ve developed.”
“By the time we go through our architecture development method, things have changed and our deliverables aren’t relevant anymore.”
“We are dealing with so many changes which are not synchronized that we are forced to delay some of the most strategic initiatives and associated opportunities.”
The bottom line is that the EA methods available today don’t handle the continuous, pervasive, disruption-driven business change that is increasingly the norm in the digital business era. Our businesses need agility — our methods aren’t agile enough to keep up.