How Much Time Do You Spend On Business Innovation?

That’s one of the questions we’re asking in our survey of business innovation practices, organizations, and technology use.

For the last few weeks, Forrester has been fielding a survey on innovation (as well as IT organization and IT governance). Do you want to find out how you stack up in areas such as:

- Innovation teams, processes, and funding models?

- Challenges to successful business innovation?

- Use of technology to support business innovation?

You can take this and the other surveys at: https://forrester.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_56Y0hU6NNIJKwfO (specify "Innovation" up front to go to that part of the survey).

Benchmark data from the survey will feed into our Sustained Business Innovation Playbook. We're aiming to publish the results in December or January. If you're not a client, enter your email at the end of the survey, and we'll share the results with you.

. . . and thanks in advance for sharing your experiences.

Chip Gliedman

You’re Running Out Of Excuses To Not Try Microsoft Windows Azure

If you have dismissed Microsoft as a cloud platform player up to now, you might want to rethink that notion. With the latest release of Windows Azure here at Build, Microsoft’s premier developer shindig, this cloud service has become a serious contender for the top spot in cloud platforms. And all the old excuses that may have kept you away are quickly being eliminated.

In typical Microsoft fashion, the Redmond, Washington giant is attacking the cloud platform market with a competitive furor that can only be described as faster follower. In 2008, Microsoft quickly saw the disruptive change that Amazon Web Services (AWS) represented and accelerated its own lab project centered around delivering Windows as a cloud platform. Version 1.0 of Azure was decidedly different and immature and thus struggled to establish its place in the market. But with each iteration, Microsoft has expanded Azure’s applicability, appeal, and maturity. And the pace of change for Windows Azure has accelerated dramatically under the new leadership of Satya Nadella. He came over from the consumer Internet services side of Microsoft, where new features and capabilities are normally released every two weeks — not every two years, as had been the norm in the server and tools business prior to his arrival.

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Want To Transform Your Business Processes? Get To A Single Version Of The Process

Most of us understand the criticality of creating and maintaining a single version of the truth for business data. We “get” the problem instinctively because so often, as individual consumers, we are the victims of disjointed, inaccurate, siloed information. To operate effectively, businesses must have trusted data that provides a 360-degree view of the customer and a comprehensive, accurate view of product information. This need has driven many companies to invest in master data management (MDM) and has even fueled the acquisition of MDM software by BPMS vendors who have a vision for how process and data technologies can work together.

As my colleagues have noted in other research reports, a single version of the truth for data helps companies:

  1. Deliver a consistent and reliable experience across multiple communication channels — such as voice, email, chat, and social channels.
  2. Optimize customer-facing processes such as contact management, customer segmentation, and campaign management using trusted customer, transaction, and third-party data.
  3. Deliver product information management for merchandising.
  4. Maintain an official system of record for employees. 
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Resources For Coping With The IT Impacts Of Hurricane Sandy, Near Term And Long Term

As we watch the hurricane Sandy news unfold, our thoughts are with the individuals and companies impacted by the storm. It's clear that a disaster of this magnitude will have lasting effects on how IT organizations plan for and react to natural disasters. Best case, I hope business technology leaders take note and learn from the experience, making planning for such events a priority for their organizations. Many of Forrester's largest clients already have comprehensive business resiliency plans in place for events like this, but many others do not. In terms of reacting to Sandy, my colleague Stephanie Balaouras just posted a great checklist of best practice activities for IT leadership teams to consider in the coming days as they work to restore IT operations for their organizations. Longer term, as Forrester's Rachel Dines will tell you, planning for events like this requires a lot more effort.  

Forrester's CIO Practice wishes those impacted a safe and speedy recovery. 

The Road To Social Business Starts With A Burning Platform (Part I)

(@TJKeitt has also published this post.) My colleague TJ Keitt and I have completed a six-month investigation into social business and collaborative transformation. As the title of the report suggests ("The Road To Social Business Starts With A Burning Platform"), these complex workforce programs work when there is a compelling motivation to change among employees, business sponsors, and IT. All three groups must adapt on the fly as the initiative unfolds. A picture tells a thousand words here: Linear road maps fail; interactive, interconnected road maps driven by a burning platform succeed.

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Presenting Four Cases That Can Help You Transform Your Organization Into A Social And Collaborative Business

My colleague Ted Schadler and I recently completed a six month investigation into social business and collaborative transformation. As the title of the report -- The Road To Social Business Starts With A Burning Platform -- suggests, these complex workforce programs work when there is a compelling motivation to change behaviors among employees, business sponsors, andRead more

A Structural Tune-Up For An Applications Organization

I was talking with a client the other day about the reporting structure of her applications organization. The group had a single leader, but underneath, it was subdivided into groups that were a combination of technology (website, data analytics, intranet), business unit (four major ones), and IT processes (QA). The leader of this group knew that every organization is different based on the culture, size, maturity of managers and a dozen other factors. However, she was seeing a lot of friction between groups and wanted to know what structural changes other organizations had made and what the tradeoffs were.

We started by talking about the direction of the organization. In particular, she needed to determine if the business units were moving to greater integration of their data and processes or whether the business silos formed were just fine. Though most organizations are moving to greater integration, this is not an obvious answer, as some companies have run-off business areas that are in maintenance mode and may be kept separate. For this call, she asked that we assume the company needed greater integration. There were other drivers around growth and cost containment that we discussed as well.

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Best In Cloud Award Winner - Congratulations From Forrester

 

Computerwoche Germany has organized this week the second annual BestInCloud Award. I had the honor to be on a jury for this unique award again. The BestInCloud Award is really unique, as it does not simply compare cloud products. It is looking at successful implementations of real cloud projects in Germany. The balance of great customer value AND a good leverage of an underlying cloud IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS is the secret source to convince the jury. I'd like to congratulate this year's winners and share with you what impressed me personally most with these projects:

 

SaaS - Public Cloud: arvato systems GmbH 

Customer: Janssen KG

Project: farmpilot - mobile farm management 

This project was the only SaaS application heavily leveraging mobile access to the cloud in addition to bringing multiple companies, including farmers, contractors, and agricultural traders, together in a way it would never be possible if a single company owned a system on premises.

 

SaaS - Privat Cloud: Plex Systems, Inc.
Customer: Inteva Products, Inc.
Projekt: Inteva Products, Inc. implemented an integrated ERP system for manufacturing

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Huawei Reaches The Next Stepping Stone In Its European Market Activities

During Huawei’s 2012 EMEA Analyst Event in Amsterdam, Huawei emphasised once again its commitment to Europe and its dedication to innovation. With sales of $3.8bn, 7,300 staff, around 800 of which are in R&D, and 10 R&D centres in Europe, Huawei has positioned itself as a leading provider of network infrastructure in the region. The main themes that we picked up during the event are:

  • Its carrier activities are increasingly dominated by software. Huawei emphasises the role if IT and software as a core focus area of its carrier network infrastructure activities, which still account for 74% of sales, going forward. Softcom, Huawei’s strategy to drive software defined networking and to move towards a flatter network architecture, is central to this transformation. By 2017, Huawei aims to generate around 40% of its network infrastructure revenues from software-related activities. The central goal of Softcom is to decouple applications from hardware in the network infrastructure and to integrate multiple operating systems into one cloud-based operating system. To succeed, Huawei needs to attract top IT expertise. Its partnerships with leading universities and research organisations like Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft go some way.
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Meeting Of The Minds 2012: A Glimpse At The Future Of Work And Innovation

A few weeks ago, I attended the Meeting of the Minds 2012, a conference dedicated to urban planning and sustainability, or smart cities. The conference was a great balance of academics and nonprofit advocates, city practitioners, and technology vendors. That is to say, it was exactly what it set out to be – a “meeting of the minds” – and was refreshing for those of us who spend a lot of time in the technology world. 

 The event started with several walking tours of San Francisco. I joined the Arts, Innovation and Sustainability Tour of Central San Francisco. The tour started with several LEED-certified buildings, including the headquarters of the tour’s host, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research (SPUR), a nonprofit, public-private collaboration with a mission of promoting urban innovation in the city. Next up was the 5M Innovation Project, which is itself an example of urban innovation. 

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