Business Agility And The NSA

 

Here’s a different take on the recent revelations of the NSA.

How does Edward Snowden, a low-level contractor to the government, recently fired from Booz Allen with a fabricated salary history, get access to a trove of documents about top-secret telephone and Internet surveillance programs? This to me is troubling. Too many years ago, I had top-secret clearances in places like BBN and MITRE Corporation that do lots of contract work for DoD and the three-letter agencies. But I never had anywhere near the broad or deep access to information that this contractor had.

Yet, we need to keep this lapse in governance in perspective. The only way we can beat terrorists is with superior information management. Big data with predictive analytics can make connections that no human can. These tools will form the ultimate weapon of this century and should remain a key investment area where we maintain leadership. How important is analytics? Forrester just completed its second report on business agility, and we looked at what factors can make the government more agile – better able to deal with unexpected outside events. We also studied which of our 10 dimensions drives the most economic performance. Of our 10 dimensions, the two that apply most in this case are analytics and knowledge dissemination.

Competence in analytics was shown conclusively to drive effectiveness in government and profit in the private sector based on our survey. See Agility Performance. A sophisticated government organization, particular where intelligence is the goal, needs great tools to control, manage quality, and govern the use of data throughout the organization.

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Business Agility And The Odds Of A Successful American Airlines and USAir Merger

Another blockbuster airline merger is upon us. It is hard to imagine this will benefit the flying public - fewer direct flights,  higher prices, more crowded planes –if that is possible- are a likely outcome. But the stock market likes the move: more pricing power + economies of scale – how can you not like this?  The Airline industry in aggregate has lost over 50 billion dollars in the last decade. Life time it is in the red. Southwest is the only airline to consistently make money. Warren Buffet, before eliminating airlines from his portfolio, has been quoted as saying “If a farsighted capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk, he would have done his successors a huge favor by shooting Orville down.”

Cynicism and ugly facts aside, the success of this merger will depend on how prepared the combined airlines are in dealing with change in their markets and ecosystem.  Dominant companies with few competitors tend to think they are immune to change.  So they don’t try to increase their awareness of changes, and other than cost, don’t try to improve their execution of change strategies.  They become less agile as companies – when new competition starts to pick them off, they will be left with the least differentiating and least profitable parts of their business. 

Forrester is putting significant effort into Business Agility – what it is, how it relates to the success of companies within industries, and what foundations business agility is built on.  We’ve identified 10 dimensions that underlay business agility – and even developed a quick assessment methodology.

Looking at what agility foundations the combined AMR+USAir  should have, several of these dimensions jump out:

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The "Three Kingdoms" Of The Public Cloud Market In China

The classic work of Chinese historical fiction “Romance Of Three Kingdoms” describes the history of China after the Han dynasty. This work focuses on three power blocks that fought against each other in an attempt to be the dominant kingdom. After my discussions with many users and vendors at the OpenStack Summit 2013, I see an analogy between these three kingdoms and the evolution of the IaaS market in China as I described it in my report “PaaS Market Dynamics In China, 2012 To 2017” early this year.

Three categories of players are emerging in public cloud market in China, and similar to the Three Kingdoms, these players will fight against each other and collaborate at the same time, accelerating both the adoption and the maturing of cloud solutions in Chinese market.

  • State of Shu: Amazon Web Services. The king of Shu was the descendant of Han dynasty before the era of the Three Kingdoms; because of his “royal blood,” he had many supporters and followers to fight against the other two kingdoms.

Amazon.com is in a similar situation: It has very good reputation among architects and developers in China. However, Amazon’s promotion activities are lagging. Amazon is trying to expand its cloud territory into Chinese market by building a data center in Beijing and recruiting local personnel. However, its relationship with the government is not as good as Microsoft’s, and Amazon’s ambition to launch AWS in China has been slowed down due to local regulations.

  • State of Wu: Microsoft Windows Azure and its alliances. The state of Wu is competitive because it has the natural advantage of the Yangtze River, helping it defend against invasion and expand its territory.
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Engagement, Smart Systems, and Nimbleness Anchor The Top Tech Trends To Watch

Mobile, social, and cloud computing have created seismic shifts in the business technology landscape over the last seven years. Instead of simply evolving our 2011 top trends research, this year we’re taking a fresh look at how technology is fueling business change anchored by three broad themes:

  • Engagement: Engaged customers drive the pace of business change.
  • Smart: Firms rely on smart systems for competitive advantage.
  • Nimble: IT embraces change to help them be both nimble and secure.
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