Road Maps Are Powerful When Linked To Business Outcomes

The use of road maps to illustrate technology plans is fairly widespread. Whether it's a vendor explaining its product plans or a technology architect showing the evolution of a particular area of the infrastructure, road maps are great for communicating what happens when. And when plans as illustrated by the road map get sign-off, they can become a useful tool in change management as well. Someone wants your key resources for a special project? Fine, but all the dates on that road map they just approved just shifted six months to the right. Road maps tell the story of what to expect an organization to accomplish for the foreseeable future, and that's what makes them powerful. 

That's why road maps that link traditionally difficult-to-explain areas of technology, such as those related to information management, to specific and highly desirable business outcomes can be a major win for architects looking to communicate what they're doing and why. There's always been a Catch-22 about explaining the value of complex technologies to audiences with no appetite for technical complexity -- but with needed sign-off authority for key resources (like funding). If the EA team has credibility (OK, that can be a big "if"), just showing the interrelationships between business outcomes, business capabilities, IT projects, and required activities in the various EA domains can satisfy the need for "explaining" that complex technology. Or for explaining the need for that not-well-understood architecture process that requires business involvement, such as information architecture development or governance. 

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Business Technology Governance — An Update On Our Research

Craig Symons and I are undertaking an initiative to refurbish Forrester's research content on business technology (BT) governance. Here's an update:

Since we launched this initiative in September 2012 with the report “The Future Of Business Technology Governance," we have added two more documents to our collection. The first, “The What And How Of Decision-Making,” discusses the types of outcomes BT governance needs to deliver and the activities producing these outcomes. The second document, “The Who Of Business Technology Decision-Making,” overviews the structures, roles, and responsibilities that make the governance outcomes and activities happen.

We plan to add more research and organize it around the six building blocks illustrated in the following figure:

The assumption underlying the entire collection is that BT governance is IT governance done well — a process that builds consensus among business stakeholders on how to effectively evaluate, prioritize, direct, and track technology investments for optimal business results.

Based on the research done so far, we believe that BT governance requires strong CIOs who are able to master the art and science of building three reinforcing capabilities:

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Create Your Transformation Strategy For Digital Experience Delivery

 

Forrester clients can access the full report here. The research is part of Forrester’s playbook (warning: pay wall) to advise application development and delivery (AD&D) leaders on strategies to deliver digital customer experiences. 

Digital customer experience is the next big opportunity for AD&D professionals. Business leaders responsible for marketing, sales, and support need advice and guidance from AD&D leaders as they select vendors and technologies. They need AD&D (working with colleagues in enterprise architecture) to establish the technical services and tools to deliver and optimize cross-channel customer experiences. And they need AD&D's expertise in project and program management and software quality assurance. To grasp this opportunity, the typical AD&D organization must transform to be quicker; master new technologies and relationships; and broker, as well as build, digital experience solutions. This research outlines how to create a strategy for this transformation, both for AD&D shops just beginning the digital experience journey and organizations already well down the path.

Key takeaways from this research:

  • AD&D should play a strategic role in digital experience delivery. Enterprises can outsource to consultants some, but not all, of the design and implementation work required for cross-channel digital customer experiences. Core services will remain strategic assets best managed by AD&D professionals. The question for AD&D leaders is how to gain a place at the table with their enterprise's business leaders.
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Make data confidence index part of your BI architecture

I often see two ends of the extreme when I talk to clients who are trying to deal with data confidence challenges. One group typically sees it as a problem that IT has to address, while business users continue to use spreadsheets and other home-grown apps for BI. At the other end of the extreme, there's a strong, take-no-prisoners, top-down mandate for using only enterprise BI apps. In this case, a CEO may impose a rule that says that you can't walk into my office, ask me to make a decision, ask for a budget, etc., based on anything other than data coming from an enterprise BI application. This may sound great, but it's not often very practical; the world is not that simple, and there are many shades of grey in between these two extremes. No large, global, heterogeneous, multi-business- and product-line enterprise can ever hope to clean up all of its data - it's always a continuous journey. The key is knowing what data sources feed your BI applications and how confident you are about the accuracy of data coming from each source.

For example, here's one approach that I often see work very well. In this approach, IT assigns a data confidence index (an extra column attached to each transactional record in your data warehouse, data mart, etc.) during ETL processes. It may look something like this:

  • If data is coming from a system of record, the index = 100%.
  • If data is coming from nonfinancial systems and it reconciles with your G/L, the index = 100%. If not, it's < 100%.
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Ericsson's Biggest Challenge Is Complacency

At its recent analyst event, Ericsson outlined its strategy, product, and service ambitions. Ericsson remains the overall benchmark for network infrastructure vendors. The company has a leading market position in the growth segments of mobile broadband and network services and delivers a solid financial performance — despite the disappointing Q3 2012 results. Still, in my view, Ericsson has several challenges that it needs to address:

·         The cloud strategy is built on a questionable assumption.Clearly network infrastructure is becoming more, not less, important for cloud-based solutions. Ericsson therefore assumes that carriers are well positioned to be cloud providers. But CIO perceptions suggest otherwise. CIOs tell us that carriers are far from the preferred choice for cloud-solutions (see Figure 9 in the “Prepare For The Connected Enterprise Now” Forrester report). Carriers therefore need help in addressing the potential of cloud computing. For instance, Ericsson’s cloud solutions ought to help carriers cooperate with cloud partners regarding embedded connectivity in devices and applications.

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An effective transformation to Agile can't ignore strategic sourcing decisions

Agile and Lean transformations depend to a great extent on cultivating a good sourcing ecosystem. The decisions you make around the partners and providers supporting your transformation and projects will be at the core of a successful strategy. But sourcing strategy needs to go beyond just resource or services providers (read outsourcing) and address a larger ecosystem made of Agile SW development and delivery choices, collaboration and communication capabilities for distributed teams, and teams' physical work spaces, standard equipment, and office layout.

In September, I published a report on how to source your Agile strategy, that describes what the ecosystem looks like and how to navigate it effectively, the document is part of our larger research container on Agile - The Agile and Lean Playbook.  The report gives an overview on how large vendors, SIs, and medium to small consulting organizations can (not) help you with your Agile journey but also what you need to do to be successful. Here are some of the takeaways from the research:

  • What you think about Agile and Lean might not be what your SI thinks. You need to take control of your own destiny with Agile and Lean. Change your application development and delivery sourcing strategy to embed the best talents around the world to help you make it happen. But be careful with the traditional SIs, because Agile is as disruptive to them as it is you, and if they have not been seriously transforming themselves, it will be hard for them to deliver Agile services to you. Some good alternative new fully Agile players exist, including highly specialized external consulting firms. You might want to start testing the ground with these options.
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Yes, Social Media Is Risky — Find A Way To Make It Work

We just published a report explaining all the risks inherent in the use of social media and presenting best practice tools and techniques to manage those risks effectively.

Social media is one of the top three concerns for enterprises in 2012, according to our recent Forrsights Security Survey, and it’s easy to see why: Malware, social account hijacking, data leakage, HR concerns, regulatory compliance — these are just some of the most frequently cited challenges. And with new social media gaffes coming up all the time, like KitchenAid’s offensive tweet during one of the US presidential debates, American Apparel’s Hurricane Sandy Sale, and news of Twitter user accounts getting hacked recently (as well as LinkedIn accounts earlier this year), companies have good reason to worry about their workforce having free, unrestricted access to social networks.

Here’s the problem: You can’t stop it. Sure, you can institute a zero-use policy and completely forbid your workforce from using social media at your company, but we found this is an impractical and ineffective solution.

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The Rise, Fall, And Rise Of Software Asset Management: It’s More Than Just A “Good Thing To Do”

To describe software asset management as “red hot” right now might be an overstatement, but it is definitely at the top end of very warm. Three things have spurred me to write this quick blog:

  1. The growing number of Forrester client inquiries – unlike with IT service management (ITSM) where most relate to tool selection, these inquiries are very much about “getting started.”
  2. A recent webinar with CA Technologies where my somewhat “SAM 101” presentation seemed to be very well received: https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/6505/60233 (registration required).
  3. Jon Hall, of BMC, published an IT asset management (ITAM)-related blog (Let’s work together to fix ITAM’s image problem) in which he shares not only his insights but also what I would call “BMC IP” – what Jon calls an asset management benchmarking worksheet.
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The Forrester Wave: Email Content Security

It is with great pleasure that I announce the completion of my first Forrester Wave™: Email Content Security, Q4 2012. I’d like to thank the research associates (Jessica McKee and Kelley Mak) who assisted me with this project. We performed a 47-criteria evaluation of nine email content security vendors. Given my background as a practitioner and solutions engineer, one of the key requirements to participate was unsupervised access to a demo environment. I had access to the environments throughout the evaluation process and found them to be a great option for validating features and “getting to know” the user interfaces. Here are some of the key findings:  

Email security is a critical component of your portfolio
Email is a key component of business processes within enterprises and must be secured. Despite the fact that email security is low on the spending priority list, it’s critical that organizations safeguard email. Email is a popular attack vector for targeted attacks, and HIPAA and PCI mandate that emails containing confidential data be secured.
 
Advanced capabilities differentiate vendor offerings
Vendors are delivering enhanced capabilities in response to the threat and compliance landscape. Big data analytics are leveraged to combat targeted attacks. Encryption capabilities have been improved and simplified. Channel DLP is now robust and feature-rich.
 
The delivery model is shifting
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Bring Your Own Technology: The Lines Between Work And Personal Technology Are Blurring

Bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) is no longer driven by do-it-yourselfers choosing their own devices for work — instead, a rapidly growing population of workers across industries and regions is embracing a wide spectrum of bring your own “fill-in-the-blank.” BYOT now spans hardware, platforms, and apps, plus cloud services like storage and collaboration.

Just how big is this trend? According to Forrester's Forrsights Workforce Employee Survey, Q4 2011, of nearly 10,000 workers worldwide, 53% bring their own technology for work. The rapid growth of mobile BYOT devices within business is reminiscent of Web adoption during the mid-1990s. After early handwringing and resistance, followed by rapid growth and innovation, the Web emerged as an indispensable tool. No one thinks twice now about using the Web for work. BYOT will follow a similar pattern.

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