IBM Pulse 2013: IBM Talked Of Its Customers' Customers And I Liked It

I didn't get the chance to jot down my thoughts after a couple of days at IBM Pulse last week but I didn't want to not share my observations and thoughts. So here we go as I fly off to itSMF Norway's annual conference ... It's somewhat random but what did you expect from me? A Katy Perry inspired title?

My view of the IBM Pulse keynotes …

The IBM keynotes covered many of the things you would expect (see my pics below) such as: big data, cloud, mobile, smart-things, and big data. And did I mention big data? It's a key challenge/opportunity for IBM and its customers.

What really resonated with me during the keynotes, however, was not big data but the use of a certain lexicon – with words like "value," "customer-centricity," business outcomes," and even "Outside-In." It was my first proper IBM Pulse so I was unsure whether this was the norm or whether IBM has started "thinking outside the data center" – a criticism I have previously used with other vendors.

Given IBM's traditional focus on enterprise-spanning deals and business, rather than IT challenges/opportunities, it's probably the former but IMO a key part of helping enterprise IT organizations support their customers is IT service management (ITSM). And IBM despite having a fit for purpose ITSM offering and probably thousands of ITSM "experts" throughout its organization has just not been in people's minds and ITSM conversations the last two years.

IBM markets at the enterprise level and this means many potential customers don't think “IBM” and then think “ITSM” (or the reverse) as they would with other ITSM tool vendors. It might seem a harsh thing to say but I believe it to be the reality. I think this might be about to change though – I'll come back to this after a quick detour.

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Despite An Affair With My iPad, I Just Can’t Give Up My Laptop. . . Yet

A year and a half ago I broke up with Blackberry and started dating iPhone. It was a clean but cruel breakup: AT&T cancelled my T-Mobile contract on my behalf, the equivalent of getting dumped by your girlfriend’s new boyfriend.

This year I’ve been cheating on my laptop with my iPad. But it’s an on-again, off-again relationship. While I tell my iPad it’s the only one, I keep going back to my laptop. When I travel, my iPad is with me meeting clients. Meanwhile my laptop is in the hotel room surfing the online menu for a turkey club.

The iPad beats my laptop on size, weight, connectivity, and battery life. It also improves the human element when I’m having a face-to-face conversation but need to take notes. These are all critically important to me when I'm out of the office visiting clients or at an event.

But my laptop wins when I need to perform other important activities. For example, the larger screen really helps to write and edit research reports (John Rakowski, you’ll have your edits soon!). Or when I need to approve expenses behind the VPN or access files on my hard drive that I haven’t stored in Google Drive (yes, Forrester sanctioned).

Now that I've had a few months of compare both devices, I come back to outcomes . . .

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Windows 8 & Lenovo – The Good, the Bad and the Bugly

I recently bought myself a Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 running Windows 8 because I want a tablet device that can really run Windows and PowerPoint when I need them, and I have found all the iPad Office solutions to be lacking in some fashion. When I saw the new Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2, it was love at first byte.

Like in all relationships, some of the new has worn off, and since it’s “Internet time”, it has only taken a couple of weeks as opposed to years to see my partner in a more realistic light.

So, here is my list of the good and the bad (architecturally, structurally) and bugly (things that can probably be fixed).

The Good – Excellent Hardware, Fluid and Attractive Interface

There are many good things to say about this combination:

  • It’s the lightest Windows device I have ever owned, and its general performance and usability is light years ahead of a horrible Netbook I bought for one of my sons about two years ago.
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12 Tips For Moving From An On-Premises To SaaS ITSM Tool (From A Customer)

Forrester recently published “IT Service Management (ITSM) Case Study: Making The Transition From On Premises To SaaS With BMC” which is available to clients here. For non-clients (or hopefully “future clients”) I thought I’d create a blog on the good practices distilled from the discussion with the BMC client.

The situation … does it sound familiar?

The customer had found itself hamstrung by a highly customized on-premises ITSM tool that was: 1) too costly to run; 2) a poor fit to operational and customer requirements; 3) complicated and cumbersome to use; 4) unable to keep pace with the latest service management thinking; and 5) stranded on an out-of-date version because it would cost too much to upgrade.

The solution …

The customer used a honed set of requirements to select BMC Remedyforce from a shortlist of six SaaS ITSM offerings. In their words, they chose BMC Remedyforce because: 1) it was best suited to the agency's existing and future needs; 2) it was built on the salesforce.com platform; 3) its user experience was similar to (but better than that of) the incumbent Service Desk Express; and 4) it was the most cost effective.

Here's what they did:

  • The initial deployment managed requests and tasks from both customers and internal IT.
  • The customer took advantage of subscription-based licensing's ability to flex with demand.
  • They also used BMC Remedyforce in different scenarios: in internally and externally facing call centers and, in addition to traditional IT support, addressing customer support, app development issues, and human resources (HR).
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Microsoft’s European Fine Comes In An Era Of Browser Diversity

Today the European Commission fined Microsoft €561 million ($732 million) for failing to live up to a previous legal agreement. As the New York Times reported it, “the penalty Wednesday stemmed from an antitrust settlement in 2009 that called on Microsoft to give Windows users in Europe a choice of Web browsers, instead of pushing them to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.” The original agreement stipulated that Microsoft would provide PC users a Browser Choice Screen (BCS) that would easily allow them to choose from a multitude of browsers.

Without commenting on the legalities involved (I’m not a lawyer), I think there are at least two interesting dimensions to this case. First, the transgression itself could have been avoided. Microsoft admitted this itself in a statement issued on July 17, 2012: “Due to a technical error, we missed delivering the BCS software to PCs that came with the service pack 1 update to Windows 7.” The company’s statement went on to say that “while we believed when we filed our most recent compliance report in December 2011 that we were distributing the BCS software to all relevant PCs as required, we learned recently that we’ve missed serving the BCS software to the roughly 28 million PCs running Windows 7 SP1.” Subsequently, today Microsoft took responsibility for the error. Clearly some execution issues around SP1 created a needless violation.

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Better, Faster, Cheaper - Storage needs to be all three

For the vast majority of Forrester customers who I have not had the pleasure of meeting, my name is Henry Baltazar and I'm the new analyst covering Storage for the I&O team. I've covered the Storage industry for over 15 years and spent the first 9 years of my career as a Technical Analyst at eWEEK/PCWeek Labs, where I was responsible for benchmarking storage systems, servers and Network Operating Systems.  

During my lab days, I tested hundreds of different products and was fortunate to witness the development and maturation of a number of key innovations such as data deduplication, WAN optimization and scale-out storage.  In the technology space "Better, Faster, Cheaper - Pick Two" used to be the design goal for many innovators, and I've seen many technologies struggle to attain two, let alone three of these goals, especially in the first few product iterations.  For example, while iSCSI was able to challenge Fibre Channel on the basis of being cheaper - despite being around for over a decade many storage professionals are still not convinced that iSCSI is faster or better.

Looking at storage technologies today, relative to processors and networking, storage has not held up its end of the bargain.  Storage needs to improve in all three vectors to either push innovation forward, or avoid being viewed as a bottleneck in the infrastructure.  At Forrester I will be looking at a number of areas of innovation which should drive enterprise storage capabilities to new heights including:

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