To publish this post, I must first discredit myself. I'm 42, and while I love what I do for a living, Michael Dell is 47 and his company was already doing $1 million a day in business by the time he was 31. I look at guys like that and think: "What the h*** have I been doing with my time?!?" Nevertheless, Dell is a company I've followed more closely than any other but Apple since the mid-2000s, and in the past two years I've had the opportunity to meet with several Dell executives and employees - from Montpellier, France to Austin, Texas.
Because I cover both PC hardware as well as client virtualization here at Forrester, it puts me in regular contact with Dell customers who will inevitably ask what we as a firm think about Dell's latest announcements to go private, just as they have for HP these past several quarters since the circus started over there with Mr. Apotheker. Hopefully what follows here is information and analysis that you as an I&O leader can rely on to develop your own perspective on Dell with more clarity.
Complexity is Dell's enemy
The complexity of Dell as an organization right now is enormous. They have been on a "Quest" to re-invent themselves and go from PC and server vendor, to an end-to-end solutions vendor with the hope that their chief differentiator could be unique software to drive more repeatable solutions delivery, and in turn lower solutions cost. I say the word 'hope' deliberately because to do that means focusing most of their efforts around a handful of solutions that no other vendor could provide. It's a massive undertaking because as a public company, they have to do this while keeping cash-flow going in their lines of business from each acquisition and growing those while they develop the focused solutions. So far, they haven't.
Really, it is not. I was heartened to see that it doesn’t even make the oxymoron list, which does however include “government worker,” “congressional ethics,” and the rather hackneyed “military intelligence.” In fact, governments are innovating all over the place, particularly with the help of new technologies and a growing constituency of civic-minded developers.
One of my colleagues here at Forrester asked me today if I was planning to write a Playbook on smart cities. While we don’t have a government playbook currently in the works, we have a number of reports that share market trends and industry best practices. So I thought I’d pull together a list.
Here are a few examples of Forrester reports that illustrate government innovation. My series on smart cities includes:
The changing business and IT landscapes bring increased demand for IT (or IT services) AND increasing complexity. The slide below (a tweaked version of a genuine Glenn O’Donnell original) paints a picture of increasing complexity and an impending capability gulf; if it isn’t already here.
So can IT organizations cope by increasing their manual ability, usually by employing or buying in more people resource?
Even if they could get suitable resource (availability and recruitment can be issues), could the parent business afford the jump in labor costs as these continue to be a highly-visible element of overall IT service delivery costs? Adding more people doesn’t necessarily fit in with the now oft-quoted mantra of “do (or deliver) more with less.”
A recent webinar with ServiceNow looked at drivers for and opportunities from automation, and how to approach building the business case for service management AND automation. Where Forrester defines automation as:
“Tools that perform functions otherwise done by humans.”
If you want to cut to the chase (i.e. don’t want to read the blog) …
Last week I had the pleasure of talking to a large group of I&O pros about monitoring their growing virtual environments. It was a lively webinar conversation sponsored by Splunk and you can check it out here. We talked about how traditional monitoring approaches can fail in large-scale virtual environments because of the number of metrics to monitor, uncertainty about what metrics matter the most, and lack of expertise in setting reasonable thresholds for alerts and alarms. I discussed how this can lead to a “virtualization big data” problem and gave pointers on leveraging analytics to help tackle it.
My approach was inspired by a recent report published by my colleagues Glenn O’Donnell and JP Garbani, “Turn Big Data Inward With IT Analytics.” Their insightful overview of the IT analytics market shows how you should be putting the intelligence of analytics to work for you. If you’re struggling to monitor and manage your IT infrastructure complexity today, how will you handle tomorrow’s additional complexity? This report clearly makes the case for IT analytics as the way forward.
The rise of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs in organizations is well documented and it is a growing trend that shows few signs of slowing down. The benefits in increased worker flexibility and improved modernity of the working environment can often outweigh the various and well documented technical, legal and operational concerns. The architectural implications are equally important and often less well understood. The architectural view on BYOD can take multiple perspectives, for example: a device view, a centralized infrastructure view or a usage focused view. Common components such as support, management and security apply all of these architectural views. Each view provides a discrete perspective of the architectural patterns required to successfully architect for BYOD. The selection of the right view for your organization depends largely on the organizational environment in which it will be employed. Irrespective of the view employed, key to architectural success with BYOD programs is to identify and plan for critical aspects of a BYOD scenario based on the different architectural views.
The most engaging, most entertaining, and most stimulating presentation of IBM Connect 2013 came on the third day at the end of the opening session. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't know Jane McGonigal when she came on stage. But after a minute I was fully engaged and tweeting insights and pearls of wisdom from her presentation.
I had missed the title of her presentation, but Jane was already throwing out fascinating data points on game playing. Now you have to understand, game playing to me is that thing my son does to avoid doing his homework. I haven't thought deeply about games since I built two animated game simulations on an Apple II to teach people business in my final year of university back in '84 (now I'm dating myself).
"We've invested 400,000 years playing Angry Birds" - Jane is on a roll now. I'm thinking "oh my, I too had contributed a few of those hours." Before giving it up as a colossal waste of time of course. I didn't know it, but apparently I was suffering from what Clive Thompson calls "gamers regret".
This past year was an exciting one for digital asset management (DAM). In 2012, DAM became an important part of the customer experience management (CXM) ecosystem, especially in providing content and data services and acting as a repository for rich media content. In other words, DAM helps enable marketers and information workers to create and manage digital experiences and they’re associated content. Although many vendors I speak with have trouble articulating this vision to customers — many still think of DAM in terms of its traditional roots with creative professionals and niche verticals like publishing and media and entertainment — I’ve also seen a shift in other vendors to embrace this trend. This is smart, as based on the client questions I get, CXM is where DAM will find the most traction.
But as we’re now officially one month into 2013, I’ve started to ask myself what’s ahead for DAM this year and beyond:
Is 2013 the year of vendor consolidation? Probably not, at least for the major players. The market continues to be fragmented, with independent players and only a few larger CXM vendors. Independent DAM vendor North Plains — backed by venture capital funds — has made moves to consolidate the market by acquiring Xinet and Vyre. I expect them to continue to make moves to expand their global and CXM footprint. Many large CXM vendors like IBM or Oracle don’t yet have best-of-breed DAM solutions and have remained quiet on the DAM front. I expect them to remain preoccupied with bigger priorities like cross-channel analytics and experience delivery.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending Dell’s Technology Camp in Amsterdam. It was a full on day starting at 7.30am and I finally got back home at 11pm but it was a fascinating event. Dell is currently heavily in the news and various sources are reporting that over the coming weekend they are likely to go private. Going from public back to private is not an easy decision to take and Microsoft’s reported interest in Dell certainly makes this situation all the more interesting. This will be a big change and I am sure will be subject of detailed analysis and commentary next week.
For now, I would rather concentrate on an interesting conversation that I had with Sam Greenblatt, Chief Architect for Dell’s Enterprise solutions group. Sam needs no introduction as his career and successes are very impressive. As many of you may know, before Dell, he worked for HP as their CTO for webOS but he has also worked with Steve Jobs and many of the other founders of the modern IT market. As an Analyst, I am lucky that I get to speak with many senior executives and so I thought I would record this session for you. I apologize if the sound quality is not crystal clear but I am no Bill Talbott (famous Hollywood sound engineer) and we actually had to do this recording standing up in a kitchen area as the venue was one big open space. I was also fairly refrained in my questioning so as I could share the content a bit quicker with you.
It’s 15 minutes in length and here are the questions I asked:
(1) So what’s your role at Dell?
(2) What does success look like in this role?
(3) What would you say are three key strengths for Dell?
(4) What is the main challenge that Dell faces today?
Enterprises have a choice when it comes to employee productivity and collaboration apps (email, documents, spreadsheets, presentation, video conference, etc) in the cloud: Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps. Deciding which solution is best for your business is not easy, because it is not an apples-to-apples comparision of apps and features. It’s more like a fruit basket containing some apples, some pears, and a few exotic fruits. Not to worry — Forrester’s expert on collaboration software, TJ Keitt, is here to help.
In this episode of TechnoPolitics, TJ helps you decide by offering deep insights on: