Microsoft brings Windows Azure to China – is this the start of a new era?

Back in October 2011, Microsoft named the initiative to introduce Windows Azure cloud platform into the Chinese market “Moon Cake,” which represents harmony and happiness in Chinese culture. On May 23, 2013, Microsoft made the announcement in Shanghai that Windows Azure will be available in Chinese market starting on June 6 —  almost half a year after its agreement with Shanghai government and 21ViaNet to operate Windows Azure together last November. Chinese customers will finally be able to “taste” this foreign moon cake.

I believe that a new chapter of cloud is going to be written by a new ecosystem in China market, and Microsoft will be the leader of this disruption. My reasons:

  • The cloud market in China will be more disrupted. Due to the regulatory limitations on data center and related telecom value-added services operations for foreign players, the cloud market for both infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) has been an easy battlefield for local players, such as Alibaba/HiChina. Microsoft’s innovative way working with both government and local service partners to break through this “great wall” shows all of the major global giants, such as Amazon.com, the great opportunity from this approach to the Chinese market. We can anticipate that they will also enter the Chinese market in the coming six to 18 months.
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In A World Where Mobile Devices Can Smell, Architecture Matters More

In an effort get ahead of the curve, I’ve been looking at the strategic advice that Forrester’s Marketing and Strategy (M&S) analysts are giving to their clients in marketing roles. This is in the hopes that we can help EA practices better communicate, plan, and align to what their marketing leaders are thinking – but aren’t necessarily communicating.

What I’m finding is that your marketing team is strategizing for an odd future: An era of precognition, driven by an undeniable and powerful consumer trend: The emerging base of consumers value relevancy over privacy. They’re willing to trade privacy for new services – and their inventory of sellable secrets grows while their avenues for selling them become wider. If you’ve guessed this has something to do with mobility, you’re right. What I’m finding our M&S analysts recommending is not only interesting (and in some ways terrifying), but could have an overwhelmingly positive impact on an EA practice’s value to the organization, bringing it closer to tangible revenue contribution. But only EA practices ready to accept this new mission will see this benefit.

Translating the guidance from Forrester’s M&S analysts, there are five things that EA leaders must think about if they are to enable this future:

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Hybrid Cloud Future? Too Late!

I've noticed a bit of a disturbing pattern of late in my cloud discussions with clients. They have been talking about hybrid cloud in the future tense. If you are planning for hybrid down the road, I have a wake up call for you. Too late, you are already hybrid. 

If your company has even a single SaaS application in use today I can almost gurantee you it's connected to something inside your data center giving you hybrid cloud. So hybrid isn't a future state after you have a private cloud in place and IT Ops chooses to connect that private cloud to a public cloud. Look at it through the lens of a business process or application service which is composed of different components, some cloud-based, some on-premise. From an Infrastructure & Operations perspective, hybrid cloud means a cloud service connected to any other corporate resource (a back office app, your web site, your intranet, another SaaS app you have under contract and yes, even your private cloud). Any of these types of connections presents the same integration impact - whether you established the connection or not.  If you are like the typical enterprise, that answered our Forrsights Q4 2012 Software Survey, then you have more than six SaaS applications in place today (that you know about) so cloud integration is likely well in place today. And about one third of the developers who responded to our Forrsights Q1 2013 Developer Survey said they have already deployed applications to the public cloud. Twenty-five percent also admitted to putting application integrations in place. 

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BPM Vendors Hint At New Ways To Navigate Complex Work

Earlier this month I attended IBM Impact in Las Vegas where the software vendor announced new enhancements and features for their BPM suite product. On the face of it, the announcement sounded a bit underwhelming, with heavy emphasis on updating core functionality that was needed to remain competitive in the market.  However, one bullet in the announcement stood out:

  • “Significant enhancements to the IBM BPM built-in dashboards to help improve business process outcomes and enable the creation of custom dashboards.”
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Healthcare – an industry transformed by technology. Could you be the Forrester analyst to cover it?

The healthcare industry is undergoing transformation.  What’s driving this?  A wide range of factors, from new regulations and government programs, to new treatments and approaches,  to perpetually rising costs.  To thrive in this environment, , Forrester believes healthcare providers and payers must embrace four critical imperatives that will provide the most transformational impact:

  • The Age of the Customer.  Health insurance has historically focused on plans and subscribers, and healthcare providers on patients in treatment.  But both of these industries – like many others, are now seeing the need to be Customer-centric, and to engage their customers in a holistic and personalized way.
  • Mobile engagement.  These customers use mobile as an extension of their daily life.  Smart healthcare providers and payers are using this to provide services to keep their customers healthy, not just treat them when they come to a clinic.
  • Insights through Big Data and analytics.  To engage these customers, healthcare firms needs more insights into who they are, how they live, and how best to serve them.  Enter the opportunities provided by the confluence of Big Data, Social, Open Data, predictive analytics and smart business processes.
  • Digital disruption.  Healthcare is big business, dominated by big firms.  But at the other end of the spectrum are nimble innovators with mobile apps, health monitoring devices and social tools.  Are they competitors or potential partners?  How should these big firms bring digital disruption techniques into their business?
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Have Your Cake And Eat It Too!

 

How can your firm deliver great, loyalty-inspiring customer experience – and achieve its efficiency objectives?

Firms that want to boost Return on Equity (ROE) or Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) must improve productivity.  And in a very real sense Productivity = value / resources.  But too often, the role of IT is to reduce the denominator – resources, and usually leave the numerator – value, to someone else to worry about. So many EA professionals are expected to deliver cost or risk reduction - reducing the resources required for delivery of that value, or the risk associated with that delivery. They usually take an inside-out view with a primary focus on efficiency; and struggle to engage with the value delivery side of the equation.

But if productivity = value / resources, then the challenge is to both reduce resources and deliver enhanced value.   The opportunity for Business Architecture and BPM professionals is to connect great customer outcomes and experiences (the value side of the equation) to scalable and efficient back office operations within the organization. That’s “both/and” – not “either/or.”

But how do you do that?

Generally speaking, business people don’t really care too much for efficiency. They come to work for the value they deliver to their customers; not the reductionist philosophy of cutting costs. If you want to engage them on a journey toward performance improvement, leading with the efficiency side of the equation can be a mistake.

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Why Maturity Models for Data Governance are irrelevant in the Data Economy?

 

There are multiple maturity models and associated assessments for Data Governance on the market. Some are from software vendors, or from consulting companies, which use these as the basis for selling services.  Others are from professional groups like the one from the Data Governance Council.

They are all good – but frankly not adequate for the data economy many companies are entering into.  I think it is useful to reshuffle some too well established ideas...

Maturity models in general are attractive because:

-                       Using a maturity model is nearly a ‘no-brainer’ exercise. You run an assessment and determine your current maturity level. Then you can make a list of the actions which will drive you to the next level. You do not need to ask your business for advice, nor involve too many people for interviews.

-                       Most data governance maturity models are modeled on the very well known CMMI. That means that they are similar at least in terms of structure/levels. So the debate between the advantages of one vs another is limited to its level of detail.

But as firms move into the data economy – with what this means for their sourcing, analyzing and leveraging data, I think that today’s maturity models for data governance are becoming less relevant – and even an impediment:

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