Chinese Tech Management Pros: Start Looking Closely At Domestic IT Vendors

Several events over the past few months in China will affect both the IT procurement strategy of Chinese organizations and the market position and development of local and foreign IT vendors, including:

  • A government-led push away from foreign IT vendors. Amid security concerns, the Chinese government has issued policies to discourage the use of technology from foreign IT vendors. As a result, many IT and business decision-makers at state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and government agencies have put their IT infrastructure plans — most of which involved products and solutions from foreign IT vendors — on hold. They’ve also begun to consider replacing some of their existing technology, such as servers and storage, with equivalents from domestic vendors. This is significant given that government agencies and SOEs are the key IT spenders in China.
  • A trend to get rid of IBM, Oracle, and EMC. Alibaba was an early mover, replacing its IBM Unix servers, Oracle databases, and EMC storage with x86 servers, open source databases like MySQL and MongoDB, and PCIe flash storage. This has evolved into replacing these foreign products and solutions with ones from local Chinese vendors. For example, Inspur launched the I2I project to stimulate customers to drop IBM Unix servers in favor of Inspur Linux servers to support business development. The Postal Savings Bank of China, China Construction Bank, and many city commercial banks have started deploying Inspur servers in their data centers. However, this only affects the x86 server and storage product market: While domestic vendors can provide x86 servers and storage, they still have no databases to replace Oracle’s.
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Don't Bet On Social Media, Mobile, Analytics, And The Cloud Alone To Win, Serve, And Retain Customers

No matter which vendor’s event you attend these days, the host will inevitably try to impress upon you how important it is to use social media, mobile, analytics, and the cloud (SMAC) to engage with your customers. In many cases, if you removed the vendor logo, you wouldn't be able to tell whose event you were attending.

The scene

On three separate occasions over the past two weeks, I’ve had to engage with companies — well-known global brands — because I had concerns about their services: an automobile manufacturer, a major consumer electronics firm, and one of the world’s largest telcos.

All three use SMAC to engage their customers. However, two providers were unable to respond to my concerns because they couldn’t access my records in their CRM solution or other system of engagement due to a back-end system failure. The third had no technology infrastructure problems and was aware that I wasn’t happy with its services. It responded by offering to send someone out to redo the job, but was smart enough to ensure that its CRM team didn’t call me to get feedback on its service (which it had always done in the past).

It’s more important than ever to serve customers 24x7x365 in the same consistent manner each and every time. When there are outages and situations where they have to redo a job, it’s important that companies first acknowledge that there is a problem, whether it’s in the way the tech infrastructure has been implemented (e.g., a CRM tool outage) or a lack of adherence to best practices when engaging with customers (e.g., skipping customer feedback when you know you messed up).

SMAC isn’t a panacea

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Move Beyond Availability And Performance Monitoring With Software Analytics

I put this blog together to support my new research report on ‘Introducing Software Analytics, A Key Business Technology Solution’. If you want to know why it’s key then please read on…

We all know how mobile apps and websites are changing the way we interact with services and products. Yesterday evening after watching England fulfill their expectations of being dumped out of the World Cup in the first round (technically we can still get through but need a miracle), I decided to do my grocery shopping. So I got out my smartphone, opened up the browser and within 30 minutes had created an online order which will be delivered this Saturday. I now take this service for granted.  In fact, I can’t envisage a world in which I have to go to a supermarket and actually walk around with a trolley anymore and I wonder whether my 19 month old daughter will ever experience the ‘delight’ of walking around a busy supermarket.

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Run, Don’t Walk, If The First Thing You Hear From Your Network Vendor Is BYOD, TCO, Or SDN

If a network vendor representative starts off with any of these three phrases — software-defined networking (SDN),bring-your-own-device (BYOD), or lower total cost of ownership (TCO) — I would ask them to leave and come back when they have done their homework on your business. Why? Because clearly they don’t know what your business does and aren’t prepared to help you improve revenue, add new clients, or delight current customers in The Age Of The Customer. The company is treating your team and infrastructure as just a number.

These phrases are all vendor-led marketing initiatives, not customer pain points. Fundamentally, networks should be more than packets delivering PowerPoint slides, connecting users to SAP, or enabling a voice call. Networks touch every part of the business and have significant impact on changing the way business can be done. And the business is expecting to get some business value of out the platform. Therefore you shouldn’t be ok getting a generic networking pitch. You are the customer —make them work for your dollars by making them demonstrate how they can help your business. If you work for a:

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Where Does Windows 8.1 Stand With Enterprises And Users?

Since the original release of Windows 8 on October 26, 2012, the operating system has benefitted from two major updates — Windows 8.1 (in October, 2013) and the Update to Windows 8.1 (in April, 2014). With these updates, Microsoft sought to address a variety of user concerns and feedback, including some major revisions to the user interface. In the latest update, Microsoft has introduced some useful new features like the ability to right-click from the Start Screen:

We've just released a new report assessing the status of the Update to Windows 8.1 and what it means for enterprises. Whoa — hold on, you might say: Isn't Windows 7 the enterprise standard now? Does Windows 8.1 matter to the enterprise at all?

Indeed, Windows 7 remains the enterprise standard; most enterprises have only recently weaned themselves fully off of XP. But Windows 8.1 does matter in the enterprise, for several reasons:

  • Infrastructure buyers are interested in Windows 8.1 devices. In more than 50 recent inquiries with Forrester, clients asked about laptop replacement scenarios for Windows 8 devices. I&O pros tell Forrester that they like the idea of deploying replacement devices that are two-in-one laptop replacements — that is, devices used both for mobile tablet scenarios and then back at the desk with a mouse and a keyboard. 2-in-1 can conceivably save them money; rather than buying a laptop and a tablet, they like the idea of providing one device that can fill both purposes. They also cite manageability, the ability to domain-join the devices, legacy application compatibility, and other reasons for their interest.
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What’s Your Cloud Future?

We know that cloud services and cloud platforms are here to stay and should be considered part of your overall IT portfolio but how much of that portfolio will these services occupy in your future? For most companies – and probably all enterprises - your future won’t be 100% cloud. And your business units and line employees have already ensured that it won’t be 0% cloud. So what’s the right number?

Answering this question isn’t as important as understanding how to prepare your organization for the percentage to be higher than you think it will be – that’s where you should be prioritizing.

On July 9th and 14th, I will be conducting a two-part webinar series for Forrester clients on The Future of Cloud Computing that will help you better understand how this market is moving, how your application portfolio is evolving and what you should be doing about it.

The research behind this webinar series comes primarily from three recent Forrester reports that are recommended reading for those planning their Cloud Playbook. They are:

·      The Public Cloud Market is in Hypergrowth – this report details the rate of cloud services adoption today and our forecast for cloud services between now and 2020. In this report, we discuss the factors affecting cloud service adoption and the patterns of use, which are key to understanding how your company is shifting to the cloud.

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Are Hong Kong And Taiwan Losing Out In The Age Of The Customer?

In the past three weeks, I’ve been in Hong Kong and Taiwan; several things that happened while I was there led me to think about their competitiveness in the age of the customer.

I was in Hong Kong to moderate three panels at a CIO summit. During a break, I chatted with a Singaporean CIO who’s been working in Hong Kong for 15 years but is thinking about moving back. We discussed the recent criticisms of mainland Chinese who allow their small children to pee by the curb of main thoroughfares. Hong Kong media and residents have been quick to criticize mainland parents without listening to their explanations that the city doesn’t have enough public toilets and that there are long queues at every shopping mall — hardly a surprise given that Hong Kong attracts more than 100 million visitors from mainland China each year.

Yesterday, I read that Hong Kong’s chief executive is considering limiting the number of mainland visitors to address local residents’ complaints. I wonder what impact passing such a bill would have on the city’s retail revenue growth, employment rate, commercial property prices, attractiveness towards global investment — even its economic freedom index ranking. As my CIO friend asked me: “Imagine what would happen if, for just one day, no mainland tourists came to Hong Kong. What impact would that have on Hong Kong’s retail, property, and financial markets?” I had no answer for that.

On to Taiwan: I was just in Taipei for a couple of days on business. I go to Taipei at least once a year, but this is the first time I’ve gotten the impression that Taiwan is really losing its attractiveness, despite the fact that I really love the city’s culture and food.

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Salesforce Wear Aims To Turbo-Charge Both Enterprise And B2B2C Wearables Markets

On June 10, Salesforce.com announced Salesforce Wear, a bundle of free tools and reference applications aimed at evangelizing the power of enterprise wearables. The offering supports six different wearable devices, each with its own open-source reference application to help developers design and build wearable apps that connect to the Salesforce1 platform.

Salesforce Wear has the potential to turbo-charge the growing market for enterprise wearables. Enterprises using Salesforce Wear will gain tools and reference applications that immediately apply to six wearable devices: three smart watches (Pebble, Samsung Gear, and Android Wear), plus Google Glass, the Myo armband, and Bionym’s Nymi authentication device.

Some of the reference applications are pure enterprise/B2B workforce enablement applications, like the Google Glass application for oil rigs, which can be generalized to other field service scenarios (and which, conceptually, I have written about before). Salesforce Wear’s app facilitates real-time field actions by providing schematics of the equipment being serviced, offering a view into the full service history of the equipment, and connecting field workers to colleagues for real-time collaboration. All in all, the reference app helps field workers fix problems more quickly and effectively.

Salesforce Wear's Casino Reference Application with the Bionym Nymi Band. Source: Salesforce

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Red Hat Releases RHEL 7 – Linux Continues Its March To The Top

When the first Linux distributions based on the 3.0 kernel were released almost a year ago, I was struck by how far Linux had advanced. The latest turn of the crank for Linux, in the form of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 (RHEL 7), reinforces this opinion. Built primarily on recent versions of the Linux 3.0 et seq kernel available to the entire Linux community, including SUSE, Red Hat, Cannonical and others, RHEL 7 continues the progress of the Linux community toward an OS that is fully capable of replacing proprietary RISC/UNIX for the vast majority of enterprise workloads. It is apparent, both from the details on RHEL 7 and from perusing the documentation on other distribution providers, that Linux has continued to mature nicely as both a foundation for large scale-out clouds as well as a strong contender for the kind of enterprise workloads that previously were only comfortable on either RISC/UNIX systems or large Microsoft Server systems. In effect, Linux has continued its maturation to the point where its feature set and scalability begin to look like and feel like a top-tier UNIX.

In addition to the required low-level plumbing – schedulers, memory management and file systems capable of keeping up with both high-volume transactions and operating effectively in large distributed clusters – Red Hat has also focused on features to improve the installation and management experience, thus directly reducing cost of ownership, following in the footsteps of other modern OS development trajectories.

Among the enterprise technology that caught my eye:

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New Research For The Customer-Obsessed I&O Leader

It’s no surprise that digital disruption is everywhere. Empowered customers are disrupting every industry, and infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders must adapt to this new reality. We believe that technology management is in the middle of a new evolutionary cycle that will transform I&O from its traditional role as infrastructure provider to a new role as a broker and manager of technology services.

It’s should also be no surprise, then, that cloud and mobile disruption is putting a strain on traditional infrastructure team organizational structures. Consolidated and hybrid cloud infrastructure needs a new organization, and you need to prepare your team for the new business technology era. To do so, you need to encourage your team to develop service management, automation, collaboration, and marketing skills, to name a few. We’re seeing a spike in inquiries about new organization models to speed the path to cloud.

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