Last week I gave a Forrester webinar on open data in government. The premise was that while big data is changing business, open data is changing the business of government. Open data provides not only greater transparency through access to information, it also improves government decision-making and operations, enables new forms of constituent engagement, facilitates new services delivery, opens new avenues for economic development, and gives rise to new government processes. The presentation explored the evolution of the open data movement, providing examples of the government transformation it has enabled and best practices for launching an open data initiative gleaned from the early adopters.
There were a couple of great questions that came in via chat as we were ending the webinar. And, I wanted to make sure I addressed them.
Who should or could be the business owner of Open Data Initiatives?
What are good practices with regard to this organizational question?
My upcoming report on open data provides a few relevant recommendations:
Build the right team to manage and promote the initiative. The CIO of Honolulu picked a millennial as a deputy with clear marching orders: Keep me informed and don’t break the law. The new deputy was the father of the Code for America program in the city, ran the hackathon, and an unconference to gather input from the developer community. Ghent also needed new blood and knew that it needed to have civil servants willing to engage with the community, open to young people and developers. Engagement is a two-way street. They also forged strong ties with local university students to extend their team.
HCL is the fifth-largest India-centric IT service provider in terms of revenue (after TCS, Infosys, Cognizant, and Wipro). While it only derived about 15% of its global fiscal 2012 revenues from markets outside of Europe and the US — slightly lower than the four larger Indian firms — HCL has built a strong base in Asia and now boasts more than 300 customers served by more than 8,000 employees. I recently attended HCL’s Asian analyst event in Sydney; below are some key reasons why I believe that you should consider HCL on your shortlist of systems integrators (SIs) and outsourcing providers:
Flexibility. When I asked some of HCL’s Australian, ASEAN, and Indian clients what characterizes HCL’s approach to managing client relationships and delivering projects, most mentioned “flexibility” and “HCL is easy to work with,” particularly during the transition phase in outsourcing contracts.
Co-innovation focus. HCL’s Asia growth strategy is both focused (on a limited number of vertical and horizontals) and pragmatic. Starting small with staff augmentation deals, the company invests in relationships to develop its presence and its expertise with its clients’ challenges — 2% of the revenue generated from clients is reinvested in the engagement as an innovation budget.
Local commitments. HCL has increased its regional presence via local management and delivery capabilities and local partners, including universities like Singapore Management University; IT companies like Lippo Group in Indonesia; and government, such as its work on the Mobility Lab initiative for EDB in Singapore.
Data management is becoming critical as organizations seek to better understand and target their customers, drive out inefficiency, and satisfy government regulations. Despite this, the maturity of data management practices at companies in China is generally poor.
I had an enlightening conversation with my colleague, senior analyst Michele Goetz, who covers all aspects of data management. She told me that in North America and Europe, data management maturity varies widely from company to company; only about 5% have mature practices and a robust data management infrastructure. Most organizations are still struggling to be agile and lack measurement, even if they already have data management platforms in place. Very few of them align adequately with their specific business or information strategy and organizational structure.
If we look at data management maturity in China, I suspect the results are even worse: that fewer than 1% of the companies are mature in terms of integrated strategy, agile execution and continuous performance measurement. Specifically:
The practice of data management is still in the early stages. Data management is not only about simply deploying technology like data warehousing or related middleware, but also means putting in place the strategy and architectural practice, including contextual services and metadata pattern modeling, to align with business focus. The current focus of Chinese enterprises for data management is mostly around data warehousing, master data management, and basic support for both end-to-end business processes and composite applications for top management decision-making. It’s still far from leveraging the valuable data in business processes and business analytics.
With a couple of months' perspective, I’m pretty convinced that Intel has made a potentially disruptive entry in the market for programmable computational accelerators, often referred to as GPGPUs (General Purpose Graphics Processing Units) in deference to the fact that the market leaders, NVIDIA and AMD, have dominated the segment with parallel computational units derived from high-end GPUs. In late 2012, Intel, referring to the architecture as MIC (Many Independent Cores) introduced the Xeon Phi product, the long-awaited productization of the development project that was known internally (and to the rest of the world as well) as Knight’s Ferry, a MIC coprocessor with up to 62 modified Xeon cores implemented in its latest 22 nm process.
When I returned to Forrester in mid-2010, one of the first blog posts I wrote was about Oracle’s new roadmap for SPARC and Solaris, catalyzed by numerous client inquiries and other interactions in which Oracle’s real level of commitment to future SPARC hardware was the topic of discussion. In most cases I could describe the customer mood as skeptical at best, and panicked and committed to migration off of SPARC and Solaris at worst. Nonetheless, after some time spent with Oracle management, I expressed my improved confidence in the new hardware team that Oracle had assembled and their new roadmap for SPARC processors after the successive debacles of the UltraSPARC-5 and Rock processors under Sun’s stewardship.
Two and a half years later, it is obvious that Oracle has delivered on its commitments regarding SPARC and is continuing its investments in SPARC CPU and system design as well as its Solaris OS technology. The latest evolution of SPARC technology, the SPARC T5 and the soon-to-be-announced M5, continue the evolution and design practices set forth by Oracle’s Rick Hetherington in 2010 — incremental evolution of a common set of SPARC cores, differentiation by variation of core count, threads and cache as opposed to fundamental architecture, and a reliable multi-year performance progression of cores and system scalability.
The number one question I get from clients regarding their data strategy and data governance is, “How do I create a business case?”
This question is the kiss of death and here is why.
You created an IT strategy that has placed emphasis on helping to optimize IT data management efforts, lower total cost of ownership and reduce cost, and focused on technical requirements to develop the platform. There may be a nod toward helping the business by highlighting the improvement in data quality, consistency, and management of access and security in broad vague terms. The data strategy ended up looking more like an IT plan to execute data management.
This leaves the business asking, “So what? What is in it for me?”
Rethink your approach and think like the business:
· Change your data strategy to a business strategy. Recognize the strategy, objectives, and capabilities the business is looking for related to key initiatives. Your strategy should create a vision for how data will make these business needs a reality.
· Stop searching for the business case. The business case should already exist based on project requests at a line of business and executive level. Use the input to identify a strategy and solution that supports these requests.
· Avoid “shiny object syndrome”. As you keep up with emerging technology and trends, keep these new solutions and tools in context. There are more data integration, database, data governance, and storage options than ever before and one size does not fit all. Leverage your research to identify the right technology for business capabilities.
My colleague Melissa Parrish recently posted how perpetual connectivity will change how we experience the world. I read this and couldn’t help but get excited about the endless mobile possibilities — but I can see how enterprise leaders are filled with an equal amount of trepidation. Consumer mobile devices create countless new opportunities to engage your customers, employees, and business partners at a level never before seen. As Melissa points out, this will change nearly every facet of how your business operates. Here are the areas that I’m excited about:
Enterprise architectures will change from a three-tier model to a four-tier model that incorporates an aggregation/data transformation tier. This will allow existing enterprise infrastructures to react to the new mobile demands on performance and scalability while allowing the enterprise to migrate existing services (public and private) to a cloud-based service-oriented offering.
Successful mobile strategies include four key areas: mobile delivery, cloud, social, and big data. The service tier in the new four-tier model will not only federate internal services for mobile consumption but will naturally extend to include third-party services. This statement will cause security leads to block my blog from being accessed within your company, but don't fret: new security architectures (zero-trust, among others) are being developed with exactly this service-level interaction in mind.
The word on the street is that Nuance is buying the online virtual agent company VirtuOz for an undisclosed sum (see the TechCrunch article here). So what does this acquisition mean?
Let's start with Nuance. Nuance’s solutions help engage customers with what it terms “smart, automated conversations.” Its customer service solutions revolve primarily around the voice channel and support both inbound and outbound interactions. Nuance’s main building blocks focus on speech and touch-tone automation solutions, speech-enabled call-routing solutions, voice authentication, and outbound notifications. Recently, it launched Nina, a virtual assistant product targeted at the enterprise for mobile customer service. Again, Nina leverages much of Nuance’s core expertise in voice biometrics, speech recognition, text-to-speech rendering, and natural language understanding to empower customers to ask questions and receive relevant answers to questions like “Did my last check clear?” without tortuous back-and-forth conversations between the customer and the service organization.
What Nuance does not have is a complete customer service solution, being so focused on voice interactions. Specifically, Nuance lacks web self-service solutions to support the increasing popularity and usage of these digital channels. This is where VirtuOz comes in.
Forrester’s Asia Pacific (AP) team has just published its 2013 predictions report, focused on regional IT spending, technology adoption, and vendor dynamics. The predictions that will most affect the Chinese market:
Transformation imperatives will drive IT spending growth. China’s top government priorities for 2013 are ensuring economic stability during the ongoing political transition and counteracting the negative external market factors that have led to an economic slowdown. For 2013, Forrester expects the government to continue economic reform and invest in specific areas: infrastructure, education, and new technologies. We expect these initiatives to positively affect IT-related spending, which will grow approximately 11% in 2013 in local currency versus 9% in 2012.
Many device manufacturers will struggle despite surging demand. We expect that sub-$100 and even sub-$50 Android devices will hit the market. With rapid standardization and commoditization of smartphones in AP, tier two device manufacturers will further struggle to differentiate their products and maintain their margins. White-label or original design manufacturers (ODM) from mainland China are leveraging the opportunity to build their own brand and sales channels to gain share from tier two device makers from Japan and Taiwan. Forrester believes that 2013 will be a tough year for vendors like Acer and Asus in the smart mobile device and tablet space.
We expect more AP organizations to embrace outsourcing services in 2013 to help them leapfrog the traditional IT skills, process, and technology learning curves necessary to support their business objectives. Our recent Forrsights Budget & Priorities survey in AP shows a high interest for outsourcing services in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Japan (see figure below). As AP companies try to manage rapidly rising complexity in both their business strategies and their application and infrastructure environments, they are facing a growing disconnect between business expectations and internal IT capabilities. Senior decision-makers have begun taking a fresh look at outsourcing as a way to bridge this gap.