In a month or so I’ll be launching a survey to research issues around information strategy, information architecture and information management in general. I thought it might be useful to do a bit of crowdsourcing to get the best ideas for what questions to ask and make sure I’m covering your top-of-mind issues. We ask you all fairly often to provide answers to survey questions – maybe you’d like to provide input into the questions this time out?
Surveys are interesting – one is tempted to ask about everything imaginable to get good research data. But long onerous surveys produce very low percentages of completes vs. starts -- it’s classic case of less is more. Twenty completes for a very comprehensive survey is nowhere near as valuable as a couple hundred completes of a more limited survey. For example, I really wanted to provide an exhaustive list of tasks related to information management or information architecture practices and then provide an equally exhaustive list of organizational roles to get data on who does what in the typical organization and what are the patterns regarding roles and grouping of responsibilities. But the resulting question would have been torture for a respondent to go through, so I edited it down to the 15-ish responsibilities and roles you’ll see below, and I’ll probably have to reduce the number of roles further to make the question viable.
So, below are the questions I’m thinking of asking. Please use the comment area to suggest questions. I can’t promise to use them all but I can promise to consider them all and publish some of the more interesting results in this blog when they come in.
Yesterday the Kenyan president broke ground on a new smart city development outside of Nairobi. The site of the new Konza Techno City is located in Eastern Kenya, 60 km from Nairobi on the Nairobi-Mombasa Road. It is 50 km from Jomo Kenyatta International airport and 500km from Mombasa and its ports. The greenfield site, purchased by the Ministry of Information and Communication and to be managed by the Konza Technopolis Development Authority, extends over 5,000 acres.
The primary goal of the new city is to develop the Kenyan Business Process Outsourcing and Information Technology Enabled Services (BPO/ITES) industry – with estimated creation of 200,000 new jobs across the broad technology and related sectors over a 20-year period. But the primary objective is to create at least 82,000 jobs in the BPO sector as this is a key area for Kenya's Vision 2030. The new city will also house a university, recreation and entertainment venues, a film and media center, a financial district, as well as residential neighborhoods and the supporting infrastructure.
A common question Forrester gets from organizations planning an application rationalization strategy is “How many applications should I aim for?” It is a good question, but can be symptomatic of an approach where less equals success. This is very common with executives and senior stakeholders, who often can take this type of singular view of application portfolios. While it is a straightforward way of examining your application portfolio, inherently it is a binary dimension. It does not account for the multiple prisms through which organizations should view and make decisions about their application portfolios.
Enterprise architects can help organizations determine where their objectives are placed on a wider range of applications continuums than just the number of applications, for example:
§ Customized Vs Standardized– What degree of customization do my organization's applications require? What differentiation does standardization provide? What is the opportunity cost of customization? What is the right balance for my industry sector ?
§ Control Vs Freedom – What level of freedom on application choice best serves my organization? How much control of the application portfolio is appropriate or mandated for my market and what is the cost of this? What is the cost/benefit of decentralization of choice compared with control of choice?
§ Centralized Vs Localized – What differentiation is provided by localized applications? What is the opportunity cost of centralized applications? What is the right balance of localized differentiation and centralized standardization for my organization?
In a recent blog post, I mentioned that hiring and developing the right people for EA’s strategic aspirations will be a bottleneck, and as a result, development and certification programs will become a popular topic of conversation. Well it didn’t take long for some client inquiries to come in and show me that while I may be on the right track with that prediction, there's more to the topic than one might think. From the looks of it, the challenge runs deep: Development is about more than skill sets and certifications - it’s also about real career path - and elevating the job to the level of "profession" akin to those that architect our buildings. To get some more information, I called Dr. Brian Cameron, Founding President of The Federation for Enterprise Architecture Professional Organizations (FEAPO) and Program Director of Penn State’s Master of Professional Studies in Enterprise Architecture. Here’s what he had to say:
Q:Our clients are interested in developing their teams as opposed to hiring, due to challenges with funding and attracting talent. What are members of the EA community doing about this? Is it more common than not?
Next week, I will present first results of Forrester’s 2012 global banking platform deals survey. A total of 28 banking platform vendors submitted their 2012 deals for evaluation. One year ago, the same set of deals would have included at least one more vendor: Sopra Banking Software’s solution portfolio now includes those of past survey participants Callataÿ & Wouters and Delta-Informatique. These theoretically 29 participating vendors submitted a total of close to 1,900 banking platform deals, a steep increase compared with the about 1,000 submitted deals for 2011.
We had to classify a large share of these 1,900 banking platform deals as extended business or even as a simple renewed license — if the vendors did not already submit them with the corresponding tag. Forrester’s rules of the game did not allow us to recognize further deals; for example, if a non-financial services firm signed a deal, that deal was “only” about pure services or application infrastructure. Overall, Forrester counted close to 350 of the submitted deals as 2012 new named customers. 2012 is the first year with double-digit growth in banking platform deals since 2006.
For the first time, Forrester did not only count new named clients, but also scrutinized (and counted) extended business deals at a very detailed level. This provides two perspectives on the global banking platform market: How well do vendors play the game of expanding the client portfolio, and thus their market footprint? What is a vendor’s level of success in a given year? The outcome: Market dynamics have changed, and many vendors have moved up or down in the global success pyramid – and some barely defended their traditional positions.
I was part of a Forrester Team that recently completed a multi-country rollout tour with Emerson Network Power as they formally released their Trellis DCIM product, a comprehensive DCIM environment many years in the building. One of the key takeaways was both an affirmation of our fundamental assertions about DCIM, plus hints about its popularity and attraction for potential customers that in some ways expand on the original value proposition we envisioned. Our audiences were in total approximately 500 selected data center users, most current Emerson customers of some sort, plus various partners.
The audiences uniformly supported the fundamental thesis around DCIM – there exists a strong underlying demand for integrated DCIM products, with a strong proximal emphasis on optimizing power and cooling to save opex and avoid the major disruption and capex of new data center capacity. Additionally, the composition of the audiences supported our contention that these tools would have multiple stakeholders in the enterprise. As expected, the groups were heavy with core Infrastructure & Operations types – the people who have to plan, provision and operate the data center infrastructure to deliver the services needed for their company’s operations. What was heartening was the strong minority presence of facilities people, ranging from 10% to 30% of the attendees, along with a sprinkling of corporate finance and real-estate executives. Informal conversations with a number of these people gave us consistent input that they understood the need, and in some cases were formerly tasked by their executives, to work more closely with the I&O group. All expressed the desire for an integrated tool to help with this.
BI is used to build, report, and analyze business performance metrics and indicators. What about measuring the performance of BI itself? How do you know if you have a high-performing, widely used BI environment? Is your opinion based on qualitative “pulse checks” or is it based on quantitative metrics? BI practitioners who preach to their business counterparts to run their business by the numbers need to eat their own dog food: run their BI environment, platforms, and apps by the numbers. For example, do you know:
How many reports and queries do end users create by themselves versus how many IT creates? That's a great efficiency metric.
How many clicks within a dashboard does it take to find an answer to a question? That’/s another great efficiency metric.
How long does each user stay within each report? Do they just run and print the reports, or export the data to Excel, or do they really slice, dice, and analyze the information? That’s a good example of how effective your BI environment is.
Do you see any patterns in BI usage? User by user, department by department, or line of business by line of business?
How many reports, queries, and other objects are being used, how many are shelfware (not being used)? How often are people using the ones that are being used?
Is there a fundamental problem in today’s IT? I believe there is, and it’s this: IT decision-makers are too often focused on the wrong things.
In a recent study, Forrester examined the top priorities, topics, and terms from a variety of data sources for both business decision-makers and technology decision-makers. What we found was a very clear — and to my mind, troubling — distinction between these two groups.
Business decision-makers focus on topics like growing revenue, improving customer satisfaction, and hiring, developing, and retaining the best talent. By contrast, IT decision-makers focus on topics like improving project delivery performance, improving budget performance, and cutting IT costs.
The fact that IT decision-makers have so little focus on business outcomes is one of the main reasons IT is seen as disconnected from the rest of the business.
The only way for CEOs and CIOs to fix this is to begin to measure IT professionals more in terms of business-outcomes and less on project delivery and system uptime. In other words, we need to measure IT professionals using the same KPIs we use to measure leaders across the rest of the business. This means we must begin measuring IT’s impact on things like the change in customer satisfaction (that’s the company’s customer satisfaction and not IT’s internal “customers” as some groups like to refer to other employees in the company), or the increase in sales, or the ability to attract and retain top talent.
Undoubtedly, most of you will have seen the amazing story about the developer who secretly outsourced his own role to China, investing 20% of his annual salary to free up almost all his work time. The ruse came to light when the firm, who were pushing forward with a more flexible working package, noticed anomalous VPN activity and called in their telecom provider to investigate. The logs indicated that their lead programmer, "Bob," was apparently regularly telecommuting from Shenyang despite being peacefully sat at his desk surfing the Internet for amusing cat videos.
It transpires that "Bob" had FedExed his SecurID token to China and was allowing the remote development company VPN access to his employer's network so that they could do his day job for him.
Irrespective of the terrible security implications here, and they are pretty horrid, "Bob" was delivering high-quality code to schedule. In fact, his performance review regularly identified him as the best developer they had! And what "Bob" did here was not difficult – many sites offer the services of dedicated professionals such as developers, designers, proofreaders, even lawyers, for a small price.
In a business environment where we encourage flexible working, allow personal devices, and seek to incentivize workers for innovation, excellence, and performance, "Bob" could be held up as a role model, but at what cost to the enterprise?
Avoid the 2013 holiday rush – start your year-end software negotiations now! Have you just about recovered from several adversarial, transactional software procurement negotiations last month? Have you resolved to avoid a similar situation next year? Then Forrester’s Strategic Software Sourcing Playbook can help you.
Apparently 38% of Americans made weight-related resolutions in 2012, and 67% of people with gym memberships never use them. So my advice is to shun anything you’ve seen in a TV infomercial (“we called it Lunacy because you’d have to be mad to buy it”) and instead make your New Year's resolution to be more strategic and proactive in your software buying in 2013. Our Playbook, launched today, explains how to do that.
Reactive, adversarial software buying is ineffective in the new business technology (BT) world of self-provisioning, cloud deployment, and mobile access. IT sourcing professionals' colleagues bypass them in the sourcing process, while powerful technology vendors expect more revenue from them than they can afford to provide. Software sourcing professionals rarely have alternative suppliers that they can use as negotiation leverage, so you need something more than your natural charm and belligerence if you are to be effective. Forrester's solution is a strategic approach that aligns the commercial model for each supplier with its place in the enterprise's software sourcing strategy.