I recently wrote about the need for IT organizations to embrace SaaS to maintain relevance and help drive business value. This quarter, I’ve set my sights on IaaS. In my forthcoming report, “IaaS Adoption Trends In Asia Pacific”, I explain in detail why my advice remains the same.
Internal IT resistance to expanding IaaS usage based on security, data management, and availability/performance concerns are certainly valid. But project-driven, opportunistic IaaS usage will continue to grow across the region as business decision-makers rationally seek out public cloud-based services that meet needs not met by internal IT.
IT decision-makers failing to consider all service-provisioning options will see their credibility wane and their control usurped by the inevitable emergence of shadow IT, driven by clear business demand. On the positive side, as usage expands internally, I’ve already seen Asia Pacific organizations begin viewing IaaS as a mechanism to fuel innovation based on easy access to cloud-based compute resources. Put another way, IaaS supply is beginning to fuel increased demand.
Some key recommendations for encouraging IaaS-related innovation while minimizing risks:
At some level, I see dysfunction in almost every client I work with. This isn't something new. There probably isn't an organization on the planet without some level of dysfunction. Perhaps a degree of dysfunction is acceptable or even desirable. But eventually organizational dysfunction reaches a point where it begins to impede the ability of the enterprise to function. One area where this appears to occur with great frequency is between IT and the rest of the business. In far too many organizations IT is seen as out of alignment with the business, or worse, as an impediment to business units. So why is this?
It's been my opinion for some time now that there is a root cause for almost all the dysfunction in organizations. The cause is metrics. Specifically, the metrics we use to measure employee performance. Sometimes we suffer from the unintended consequences of what appear to be sound metrics.
Take for example a conversation I recently had with a client in marketing with responsibility for e-commerce. He wanted to gain a better understanding of IT because it appeared to him they were making bad decisions. On investigation it turned out "IT" had taken the website offline in the middle of the fading day, much to the consternation of the e-commerce team. To understand why IT might do this you need to understand metrics. It turns out the help desk had received a call about a problem with SAP. In order to fix the problem with SAP, the database technician decided the fastest repair would require restarting SAP. Unfortunately the website was tied to SAP so when it went down, so too did the website. Had the help desk and the database engineer not been measured on how long it takes to repair a problem, they may have made a different decision.
I had the privilege of watching the recent NSA surveillance story unfold from my hotel room in London this June. Seeing the story from a decidedly non-American viewpoint got me thinking a bit differently about the implications for our society. From my point of view — no matter how you define the squishy and now beat-to-death “big data” concept — the NSA story has moved it from something “they use” to something that is uncomfortably close to where we live our lives. In other words, big data just moved in next door and is peeking over our fences into our living rooms. Eeek.
There are lots of socio-political issues with this, and I’m not even going to go there. However, the way that I see it, this incident will ultimately create a lot of opportunity for businesses savvy enough to get ahead of it the can of worms now squirming in our laps.
I think one of two things is going to happen. Either: 1) the US general public will shrug and go back to business as usual and this story will die, or 2) the public outrage will demand governmental oversight and accountability resulting in a tightening of our legal system. The latter case would be an example of how digital disruption, a topic we have written and blogged about for a while, is not just a business thing. It’s a cultural phenomenon that will rock our society for a long time.
Have you heard the big news? Data is growing at an insane pace. Ok ok, this isn't really news, I hear this almost every day. But what many people don't realize is that one of the guiltiest culprits behind data growth is actually backup data. Between 2010 and 2012, the average enterprise server backup data store grew by 42%, while file storage (which is often the scapegoat of data growth) grew by 28%. And with more and more mobile workers, it's no surprise that PC backup storage is also growing at an explosive rate, almost 100% over the past two years.
Backup data growth being what it is, it's no surprise that a lot of people are re-evaluating their enterprise backup software. That's why I recently embarked on Forrester's first Wave on Enterprise Backup and Recovery Software. As part of that report, I developed a list of key criteria that are necessary to evaluate your backup and recovery software. At a high level, here is what I came up with:
Data reduction capabilities and scalability. What data reduction techniques does the product support, and how well do these techniques scale?
Backup targets. What targets and backup methods does the solution support?
Advanced backup options. What advanced backup options does the solution support?
Encryption. What are the native backup encryption and encryption key management capabilities? What encryption solutions does the product integrate with?
I just finished my new report on the Agile testing tools landscape. I’ll point Forrester readers to it as soon as it publishes. But there are few things that have struck me since I took over the software quality and testing research coverage at Forrester and which I would like to share with you in this preview of my findings of the testing tools landscape doc.
My research focus area was initially on software development life cycles (SDLCs) with a main focus on Agile and Lean. In fact, my main contribution in the past 12 months has been to the Forrester Agile and Lean playbook, where all my testing research has also focused. Among other reasons, I took the testing research area because testing was becoming more and more a discipline for software developers. So it all made sense for me to extend my software development research focus with testing. But I was not sure how deep testing was really going to integrate with development. My concern was that I’d have to spend too much time on the traditional testing standards, processes, and practices and little on new and more advanced development and testing practices. After 12 months, I am happy to say that it was the right bet! My published recent research shows the shift testing is making, and so does the testing tool landscape document, and here is why:
I attended Google’s annual atmosphere road show recently, an event aimed at presenting solutions for business customers. The main points I took away were:
Google’s “mosaic” approach to portfolio development offers tremendous potential. Google has comprehensive offerings covering communications and collaboration solutions (Gmail, Google Plus), contextualized services (Maps, Compute Engine), application development (App Engine), discovery and archiving (Search, Vault), and access tools to information and entertainment (Nexus range, Chromebook/Chromebox).
Google’s approach to innovation sets an industry benchmark. Google is going for 10x innovation, rather than the typical industry approach of pursuing 10% incremental improvements. Compared with its peers, this “moonshot” approach is unorthodox. However, moonshot innovation constitutes a cornerstone of Google’s competitive advantage. It requires Google’s team to think outside established norms. One part of its innovation drive encourages staff to spend 20% of their work time outside their day-to-day tasks. Google is a rare species of company in that it does not see failure if experiments don’t work out. Google cuts the losses, looks at the lessons learned — and employees move on to new projects.
“Search is often your last chance to keep a customer on your website before they go elsewhere to find the same product or content.” I love this quote (courtesy of the president of a digital agency). It shows us exactly why we should think of site search beyond its status as an IT-funded afterthought. Your customers need search in order to find a named item or piece of content. Or they rely on search because they can’t find what they need through the site’s menu structure. When looking to source site search solutions, organizations are faced with many options from mostly niche players and a few large vendors. How do you make sense of this? I recommend you begin narrowing the site search field by asking yourself these four key questions:
Do your existing tools have sufficient bundled search capabilities? Many web content management and eCommerce vendors have embedded open source search capabilities into their core product (e.g., IBM, Intershop, hybris, Ektron, Sitecore) and some have innovated search experiences based on the open source framework. This makes it potentially unnecessary to buy a standalone search solutions. But be careful. For some solutions, embedded search only indexes and processes customer queries. It doesn’t allow for more advanced search features like merchandiser consoles or business user support for different ranking models.
But investing in customer experience is tricky because it’s often seen as an abstract thing with little tangible ROI. Companies like USAA, a US insurance company with a strategic focus on customer experience, have spent years re-shaping their entire organizations to think from the outside-in, focusing on the end customer. USAA did this because they believed it was the right thing to do, not because of some compelling business case.
A few weeks ago I read a blog post by Seth Godin and it hit me like a ton of bricks: Records management is a skeuomorph. I confess, I had never heard of the term “skeuomorphism” until just a few months ago. I learned the word via blogs and tech articles discussing design trends in mobile.
What is a skeuomorph? A simple definition (courtesy of academic George Basalla, via Wikipedia) is “an element of design or structure that serves little or no purpose in the artifact fashioned from the new material but was essential to the object made from the original material.”
In other words, every time we pick up an iPad and download our digital “book” on an electronic “shelf” painted with virtual wood stain – we are engaging with a skeuomorph – like this one:
Since joining Forrester this year, I’ve had the opportunity to get briefed on the RM offerings of many ECM and information governance vendors, and with just a few exceptions, there are some unmistakable common threads I see across products. Top of that list? A user experience that has lifted the paradigm of paper and plopped it on top of an electronic records repository.
Good customer service is the result of the right attention to strategy, business processes, technology, and people management. This seven-part series focuses on customer service technology and explains the what, why, how, and when of the technology. Let’s start at the beginning: What is customer service technology?
The contact center technology ecosystem for customer service is a nightmare of complexity. At a high level, to serve your customers, you need to:
Capture the inquiry, which can come in over the phone, electronically via email, chat, or SMS, and over social channels, like Twitter, Facebook, or an interaction escalated from a discussion forum or a Web or speech self-service session.
Route the inquiry to the right customer service agent pool.
Create a case for the inquiry that contains its details and associate it with the customer record.
Find the answer to the inquiry. This can involve digging through different information sources like knowledge bases, billing systems, and ordering databases.
Communicate the answer to the inquiry to the customer.
Append case notes to the case summarizing its resolution and close the case.