Local Telcos Are Well-Positioned For Cloud Services In Southeast Asia

At the 2nd Annual Telco Cloud Strategies 2013 event in Singapore, I moderated a discussion on how Southeast Asian telcos are gearing up to offer cloud services. Here’s what I observed:

  • In the cloud era, SE Asian telcos are moving faster than they are used to. A year ago, Philippine telco Globe Telecom set up a new division, IT Enabled Services, to effectively deliver cloud services, supported by more than 100 professional services people on the ground. While revenues are still low, the new division is now freed from being part of the larger parent company’s processes and can move quicker than competitors to offer managed cloud services for specific industries. Indonesia’s Indosat, on the other hand, has brought both the IT and network divisions together to offer a bundled service — cloud with connectivity — in the same period. Others, like Singapore’s SingTel, acquired IT services company, NCS, to tap into the enterprise segment.
  • Telcos need partners for cloud services. This is essential, as telcos do not typically have all the pieces for an end-to-end solution. For instance, even with a solid IaaS offering, a telco still needs partners to build the value chain in their ecosystem, e.g., SaaS, and grow together. Indosat, for instance, partnered with Dimension Data to offer enterprise cloud services in Indonesia. The partnership combines Indosat’s nationwide connectivity backbone infrastructure and its 10 data center facilities in Indonesia with Dimension Data’s cloud consultancy services.
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Amdocs: A safe pair of hands in a confined territory

I recently attended the Amdocs annual analyst relations event in Tel Aviv. Amdocs intends to live up to its paradigm “embrace challenge, experience success” by anticipating challenges and offering solutions to its client base. Some of these initiatives include:

  • Amdocs achieved progress on its mission to enable communication service providers moving up the chain. Amdocs is probably the most outspoken vendor in its loyalty to carriers. This is a strong pitch to retain the trusted advisor status in the domains of customer care and billing services — i.e., domains which operators regard as their core competence. Such trust is vital for the ambition to go deeper into joined go-to-market and transaction-based revenue share models. But the journey towards using business-outcome-based SLAs to reflect the rising influence of business leaders has just begun. 
  • Amdocs is committing to improve customer experience. The vendor invests in its operations and solution capabilities to keep the portfolio aligned with the evolving needs of the carriers. Upgrades include the regional state of the art operations center for European carriers in Galilee and progress on packaging its tools as full B2B2C solutions. Additional enhancements come with the $120 million acquisition of Actix, allowing service providers to use geo location-based services.
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What Factors Can Make A Complex SAP Project More Likely To Succeed?

At a recent SAP customer event on Business Transformation, Alexander Budzier from the Said Business School at the University of Oxford presented findings on IT project outcomes and their correlations with various project factors. When determining project success rates, the researchers considered business benefits, adherence to budget, and on-time delivery.

Interesting findings from this research include:

  • Project success does not correlate (or very minimally correlates) with size or length of project, or with public versus private sector.
  • Focusing on one goal too much can have a negative effect on other metrics. Consider the extreme example of the Olympics, which had a 100% on-time result (over 10 Games analyzed) but the highest cost overruns, at an average of 207%!
  • Agile deployments (versus big bang) had greater success in some metrics, particularly schedule adherence, but not all.
  • The single biggest factor in determining project adherence to budget and timelines was benefits management. (In this research fewer than half of the projects they studied had actually tracked benefits.)  Those who focused on measuring benefits significantly reduced BOTH project cost and schedule risk. Project cost overruns averages decreased from 36% to 6% when focusing on business benefits; schedule overruns decreased from 119% to 51%.

So, what can we take away from this? Project leaders should:

  • Focus on benefits – throughout the project lifecycle. Benchmarking can help leaders to identify what benefits / metrics to track.
  • Recognize warning signs / risks early -- and address them before they result in disaster. These risks include unknowns in design, organizational resistance, and shifting project requirements.

HP Enterprise Services in Asia: Strong Message for IT, But Not for the Business

HP recently hosted its Asia Pacific (AP) and Japan analyst event in Singapore. The company presented its “New Style of IT” value proposition and how it intends to position a combined HP hardware, software and IT services stack to deliver client value. After the Boston event back in February, I was particularly interested to see how HP Enterprise Services (ES) is positioning itself as the tip of the spear of the “one HP” messaging and offering in Asia.

When assessing service providers’ relevance to customer needs, I focus on two major areas:

  • Red ocean offerings – where service providers need to help their clients build scalable, flexible, secure and cost efficient technology foundations around cloud, mobility and analytics.
  • Blue ocean offerings – where service providers need to help the CIO engage business stakeholders to drive better business outcomes in areas like customer experience, for instance.
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Business Agility: The Contingent Workforce Paradox

There’s a lot of market discussion now about business agility. My colleague Craig Le Clair just published a key report on the topic today. He also blogs about it. Craig defines agility as: Business agility is the awareness and execution quality that allows an enterprise to embrace market and operational changes as a matter of routine.

Think about that definition for a while and it quickly becomes clear that contingent labor is key to agility. What’s contingent labor? In Forrester’s view, any worker that isn’t a long-term part of your workforce -- permanent employees or long-term outsourcing contracts -- is considered contingent. For example, independent contractors, resources engaged in a six-month application development project from Cognizant or IBM, or people hired through an MSP or staffing agency are considered contingent. Even within a large offshore master service agreement, the individual workers are brought on and off the client’s engagement with some frequency. We’d consider those workers contingent also.

And why are contingent workers so critical to agility? Because your existing permanent staff will not suddenly develop new skills overnight. Nor will your long-term outsourcer suddenly change the resources assigned to your account without a (sometimes) extensive renegotiation of your contract. For example, if you decided to build a Portuguese-language mobile app for a new Brazilian customer segment, it’s likely to take you months to move someone internally off an existing project, hire a new staff member, or call your outsourcer and change directions on your current maintenance contract.

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As European IT departments increasingly grapple with rolling out mobile workplace services beyond classic device protection, the debate is turning to technology ROI calculations to justify investments. But the purpose of developing such a business case is highly questionable if it is not put into wider strategic context. Take bring-your-own-device (BYOD) as an example. Can you really measure hardware savings through self-provisioning against extra efforts in setting up and communicating a policy, monitoring behavior, implementing additional security measures, and the lack of business continuity support for devices not administered by IT? Even if you could stack up these positions, is it meaningful for your organization going forward?

On the other hand, the prospect of soft business gains is not enough to warrant investment in mobile technology. As highlighted in our recent report, The Expectation Gap Increases Between Business And IT Leaders, business leaders buy into value generated via mobile deployments and integration with social media. But they have less comprehension of the supporting infrastructure upgrades needed in terms of technology innovation or higher bandwidth requirements.

A mobile strategy must be top on the agenda for both IT and business leaders

What is really missing is a comprehensive and conscious deployment strategy linking the technology business case to strategic business objectives. European IT leaders are painfully aware of this and have such a mobile enterprise strategy firmly on their agenda:


Figure 1: How Important Are The Following Organizational Initiatives During The Next 12 Months?

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Get a Grip on those IBM mainframe MLC Costs

We all like free stuff and we all like saving money. I’m a big fan of any free-to-use tools that help identify cost saving opportunities. I regularly dip into online cost comparison sites for stuff I buy at home, such as house and car insurance. These sites are easy and quick to use and often highlight the savings I’ll make by swapping from one provider to another. And we all like to save money, whether it’s at home or at work.

One big cost item for IBM mainframe users is software costs; they consume a significant proportion of enterprise IT budgets and the biggest single item is usually IBM’s Monthly License Charges (MLCs). These often consume a third or even more of a mainframe software budget. In a cash-strapped world, where budgets are under pressure, it’s therefore no surprise to see IT sourcing professionals regularly challenged with finding ways to cut the MLC bill.

Last year, I wrote about some options for reducing IBM mainframe software costs in a Forrester Research paper entitled ‘How to reduce IBM System z Mainframe Software Costs’. Even so I still get asked by clients ‘what else can I do?’, and ‘are there any tools that can help me identify ways to save money?’

So I am always on the hunt for new ideas and cost saving opportunities.

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