The Coming PC Management Crisis: A Hypothesis

When it comes to management, less is more
I was at an industry conference recently, standing in the booth of a large PC maker while being indoctrinated with the latest word: "You can manage it with existing tools!" - a marketing director beamed, as he waved a new Windows 8 tablet under my nose. He seemed so happy I thought for a second he might grab my hand and drag me skipping through the tradeshow floor followed by a troupe of merry singing penguins, like a sort of demented convention center edition of Mary Poppins.
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Build Best-In-Class Digital Customer Experience Teams: Five Questions For AD&D Pros

I’ve read a few headlines proclaiming that IT is dead and marketers are the future in this age of the customer. We reject this widely cited notion. After all, what’s the point of great design, user experience, and marketing strategy if you can’t use technology to deliver the right experience to the right customer? IT is far from dead. IT just needs to evolve and take on a new look and feel in order to keep up with the digital customer experience (CX) imperative.

Traditional IT shops will need to rethink how they are organized and hire for new skill sets in order to keep up with digital CX projects. We recommend that application development and delivery (AD&D) pros answer these five questions when organizing around CX:

  1. Will you be a lead actor or a supporting player? There are three main roles that AD&D pros can play for digital CX projects: provide back-end services; design, architect, and implement projects; and partner with marketing to take on a CX leadership role. There’s no “right” role. Depending on your maturity, you’ll want to take on the role that best suits your organization.
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When Does Standardization Make Sense?

Standardized IT systems can appear to make a lot of sense – standardization can be cost efficient, aligned with industry approaches and can help promote re-use.  However, the business advantages standardization yields can be easily replicated by competitors.  So what are the trade-offs and when does it make sense to choose standardization?

Standardization is typically preferred when cost efficiency is the motivation and/or when there is a requirement for interoperable IT components and process interfaces.   The cost motivation is straightforward and is particularly appealing to organizations that are subject to cost pressures in their own market. Selecting standardized technology can yield immediate savings. The combination of multiple suppliers and ease of interchangeability creates a buyer's market. This can stimulate ongoing price reductions.  The drive to achieve cost efficiency through standardization can be seen in all stages of technology deployments.  In the design stage, selecting standardized technologies can increase interoperability and reduce complexity in system design. In the deployment stage, standardized products can enable a more predictable operating environment that is typically less costly to manage. In the operational stage, use of more standardized technologies may increase access to skilled personnel.  Interoperability is an increasing concern for many organizations, especially those that operate in markets where eco-systems and partnerships are critical factors or those markets in which merger and acquisition activity is common. The process of linking or bringing together multiple heterogeneous IT systems can be greatly simplified when IT environments are built from highly standardized systems.  

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Judgement Day for Data Quality

Joining in on the spirit of all the 2013 predictions, it seems that we shouldn't leave data quality out of the mix.  Data quality may not be as sexy as big data has been this past year.  The technology is mature and reliable.  The concept easy to understand.  It is also one of the few areas in data management that has a recognized and adopted framework to measure success.  (Read Malcolm Chisholm's blog on data quality dimensions) However, maturity shouldn't create complancency. Data quality still matters, a lot.

Yet, judgement day is here and data quality is at a cross roads.  It's maturity in both technology and practice is steeped in an old way of thinking about and managing data.  Data quality technology is firmly seated in the world of data warehousing and ETL.  While still a significant portion of an enterprise data managment landscape, the adoption and use in business critical applications and processes of in-memory, Hadoop, data virtualization, streams, etc means that more and more data is bypassing the traditional platform.

The options to manage data quality are expanding, but not necessarily in a way that ensures that data can be trusted or complies with data policies.  Where data quality tools have provided value is in the ability to have a workbench to centrally monitor, create and manage data quality processes and rules.  They created sanity where ETL spaghetti created chaos and uncertainty.  Today, this value proposition has diminished as data virtualization, Hadoop processes, and data appliances create and persist new data quality silos.  To this, these data quality silos often do not have the monitoring and measurement to govern data.  In the end, do we have data quality?  Or, are we back where we started from?

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Solving the Complexity Conundrum

'Reducing complexity' is a reason frequently given by organizations when instigating an application rationalization initiative.  However, complexity can be challenging to define and measure in all but subjective terms.  For many organizations embarking on rationalization, the primary focus is the reduction or elimination of complexity.  Complexity is often associated with higher costs and reduced adaptability or agility.  However, where the value of complexity to the organization is high (due to the competitive advantage or ability to maintain/defend a market position and brand equity), these may be prices worth paying.  EAs play a critical role in defining those areas where complexity can add value and what the trade-offs are.  This enables organizations to take a more rounded view of complexity in the context of application rationalization.  

Complexity to Achieve Market Differentiation
When competitors use similar IT systems, their capabilities and efficiencies in serving customers probably will be similar to yours. In effect, this makes organizations more interchangeable. To mitigate this, organizations seek an edge in terms of service differentiation, capability or cost. This consideration is particularly important in highly populated marketplaces. For example, many services organizations use quality of service or customer reputation as key tools for online sales. This means that IT capabilities and efficiencies play a major part in defining these organizations' relative market positioning.  
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Are You Like Oracle When It Comes to the Cloud?

Oracle makes itself an easy target for the ire of the cloud community when it makes dumb, cloudwashed announcements like last week's supposed IaaS offering. But then again, Oracle is just doing what it thinks it takes to be in the cloud discussion and is frankly reflecting what a lot of its I&O customers are defining as cloud efforts. 

Forrester Forrsights surveys continue to show that enterprise IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals are more apt to call their static virtualized server environments clouds than to recognize that true cloud computing environments are dynamic, cost optimized and automated environments. These same enterprise buyers are also more likely to say that the use of public cloud services lie in the future rather than already taking place today. Which fallacy is more dangerous?

The latter is definitely more harmful because while the first one is simply cloudwashing of your own efforts, the other is turning a blind eye to activities that are growing steadily, and increasingly without your involvement or control. Both clearly place I&O outside the innovation wave at their companies and reinforce the belief that IT manages the past and is not the engine for the future. But having your head in the sand about your company's use of public cloud services such as SaaS and cloud platforms could put you more at risk.

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Technology Opens Doors To New Workplaces

“Telecommuting” and flexible work spaces are nothing new. I’ve worked from home, from public libraries, airport lounges, and even Sun Microsystem’s iWork Cafes and drop-in centers for the past 10 years. Companies have been (and are increasingly) giving employees the flexibility to choose where they work. If someone wants to work from a cafe in the morning before a client meeting, reserve a table in the campus cafeteria for a chat with a colleague at noon, and work from a co-work or drop-in space near their child’s daycare at the end of the day, they can do that. What is new is the ability to reserve all of those different workspaces with a single tool – and in real time.   

I had a great discussion with the team from LiquidSpace yesterday to learn more about how they work. They provide a marketplace for those with work spaces to offer and individuals looking for alternative work sites. “Just as Open Table is a platform used by restaurants, we are a similar real-time platform for workplaces,” explained Mark Gilbreath, the LiquidSpace CEO and co-founder. “We are not an owner of space. We are the tool to connect users and space.” And, those workplaces can include both public spaces – such as hotel meeting rooms, executive suites like Regus or co-work spaces – as well as private spaces on a company’s campus or meeting rooms within a residential building or development. 

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Life For European Telecom Carriers Will Not Get Any Easier In 2013

with Thomas Husson

At the beginning of this year, I took the time to sit down with my colleague Thomas Husson, vice president and principal analyst on Forrester's consumer product strategy team and a specialist in the telecom space, to discuss the top trends that will affect the European telco landscape this year.

Although we believe that the business/consumer split is increasingly vanishing, we decided to split the top 10 carrier themes that will matter in the European telco market in 2013 by enterprise and consumer perspectives.

In the enterprise segment, we see five main themes:

  • Over-the-top (OTT) and app-based communication services will become part of the IT landscape. OTT voice, social media, and messaging will spread in the enterprise space at the expense of traditional services. Our research shows that professional workers who travel are the most likely to embrace application-based communication services, often irrespective of what their company’s official IT policy is. Still, 2013 will not be the year (yet) that sees rich communication suites (RCSes) becoming a B2B2C communications platform.
  • Cloud-based enterprise services by carriers will see increasing interest from businesses. Communication-as-a-service will receive increased attention by CIOs as they plan unified communications and collaboration (UCC) projects. However, as our research shows, carriers will not be perceived as the top choice of providers for cloud-based services. Mobile device management firms like AirWatch and MobileIron will offer reselling opportunities for carriers but limit the carriers’ ability to add value around device and app store management. Business models for cloud-based data analytics of end user demand will grow in importance in 2013 but will only begin to materialize on a larger scale in 2014.
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Asia Pacific Tech Market To Grow By 4% In 2013

The Asia Pacific (AP) growth engine did not fire on all cylinders in 2012, leading Forrester to revise its IT purchases growth forecasts for the year. While Australia, South Korea, and several ASEAN tech markets are showing continued solid growth, in other markets like China, India, Japan, Malaysia, and Vietnam, political leaders are struggling in the face of growing economic problems. My colleague Andy Bartels and I, with the help of Forrester’s AP analyst team, have recently published our revised IT purchase growth forecasts for 2013. Here are our key expectations by country:

  • 2012’s slowdown in China will be short-lived. Despite a slowdown in 2012, China continues to attract intense vendor interest because of its size and potential for further growth. The expected government stimulus efforts in the country will offset factors such as weak demand from businesses and governments. The slowdown in 2012 (+9%) is therefore likely to be short-lived, with stronger growth resuming in 2013 (+10%).
  • India’s IT growth will remain slower than expected through 2014. 2012 (+7%) was a relatively lackluster year for the tech market in India. Worse than expected economic growth, combined with political gridlock on economic reforms, kept the tech market from reaching its full potential in 2012. While we expect the public sector to drive India’s IT spending growth, the impact will be limited through 2014 due to the parliamentary elections scheduled for that year.
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Ethical Use: Do You Have A Data Policy for That?

Security and privacy have always been at the core of data governance.  Typically, company policies, processes, and procedures have been designed to comply with these regulations to avoid fines and in some cases jail time.  Very internally focused.  However, companies now operate in a more external and connected fashion then ever before.

Let's consider this.  Two stories in the news have recently exposed an aspect of data governance that muddies the water on our definition of data ownership and responsibility.  After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Journal News combined gun owner data with a map and released it to the public causing speculation and outcry that it provided criminals information to get the guns and put owners at risk.  A more recent posting of a similar nature, an MIT graduate student creates an interactive map that lets you find individuals across the US and Canada to help people feel a part of something bigger.  My first reaction was to think this was a better stalker tool than social media.

Why is this game changing for data governance and why should you care?  It begs us to ask, even if a regulation is not hanging over our head, what is the ethical use of data and what is the responsibility of businesses to use this data?

Technology is moving faster than policy and laws can be created to keep up with this change.  The owners of data more often than not will sit outside your corporate walls.  Data governance has to take into account not only the interests of the company, but also the interests of the data owners.  Data stewards have to be the trusted custodians of the data.  Companies have to consider policies that not only benefit the corporate welfare but also the interests of customer and partners or face reputational risk and potential loss of business.

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