The enterprise network is the ugly duckling of enterprise technology landscape, looked at disparagingly by CIOs and often ignored by the business. The enterprise network is much less exciting than all the fancy projects like cloud, mobility, and big data.
Yet the enterprise network represents the vital underpinning for all these projects and increasingly evolves into a business-critical asset for companies looking to succeed in the age of the customer. It becomes the nervous system of the digital business. It facilitates deeper customer engagement by connecting manufacturers, sellers, and buyers of products in new ways, and it helps drive more operational efficiencies as it supports closer collaboration and connects previously disjointed assets. For most business leaders, the network infrastructure isn't much more than a utility, such as electricity or plumbing, while most CIOs don't know how to monetize it. This is a business challenge for the connected business as:
The enterprise network enables business success in the age of the customer. Customer engagement, internal collaboration, and the emergence of digital products and services all rely on a quality network infrastructure. Moreover, network data and business intelligence turn the network into an asset for monetization. As a result, the enterprise network no longer functions as a commodity but becomes a key function for success in the age of the customer.
It’s hard to believe almost a year has passed since our last Summits for CIOs in Asia Pacific. Our team is ramping up preparations to this year’s CIO Summit series and I’m looking forward to meet you at the events which will kick off in Sydney on August 14, Singapore on August 19 and Mumbai on August 21. Themed “Beyond IT: Empower Digital Business in the Age of the Customer”, Forrester’s 2014 Summits will focus on the significant shift we’ve seen in CIO’s traditional focus from the design and deployment of internal systems focused on process control to digital products and services for their customers.
Of particular importance on the digital journey are three domains: customer experience, the mobile mind shift and the transformation of big data into actionable business insights. Each of these topics will feature prominently at the Summits with select analysts flown in to delve deeper into how CIOs can overcome some of these challenges through Forrester guidance.
No longer just a science fiction fantasy, holography technology is set to fuel major innovation in both business and consumer applications. Offering superior visual experience and support for interactive and intuitive applications, holography is already being leveraged in various scenarios, while the capabilities are also driving development of innovative applications across multiple industries. For instance, holography is being tested for simulation-aided training applications, as humans tend to notice patterns better when they’re presented in three dimensions. The US Army Research Laboratory collaborated with Zebra Imaging to test the success of digital holography for medical training purposes and found that students retained about 30% more information from holography-enabled training compared with textbook-based training. Holography is being successfully deployed in a variety of contexts. We found that:
Holography is gaining traction across industries. Organizations are deploying holography for a variety of consumer and business applications, ranging from entertainment to design and exploration. Moreover, the technology’s usefulness is being tested for critical applications such as surgery — where it presents images of human organs in an interactive three-dimensional environment that allows the surgeon to manipulate these images in real time, making the procedure less invasive.
Banks and other types of firms in financial services typically like to know the answer to the question: “What are the others doing?” They leverage the answer when, for example, assessing their overall strategic position, planning for the transformation of their application landscape to a more powerful customer-centric approach, or determining the “best” sourcing approach for this transformation.
It is time to update the survey results: Forrester has just started surveying banks in North America, Europe, and further geographies about their major business drivers, the current state of their application landscape, their key issues and concerns, and their plans for the future. At a high level, the survey is designed to answer the question: “What are others doing?” Phrased in a different way, it targets the question: “What are the key trends regarding the transformation of the application landscape in financial services in the Age of the Customer?”
To make this survey successful, Forrester needs your help. If you are working in financial services in any role that is related to financial services business applications, architecture and strategy, please participate in Forrester’s Global Financial Services Architecture Survey 2014. If you have not yet received an email invitation, please contact me – JHoppermann (at) Forrester.com and I ensure that you will receive a link to the online survey.
With the press overhyping 3D printing, virtual reality, and Bitcoin, it’s hard for CIOs to track the startup trends impacting business today. Below are two trends we see startups and their investors focused on, and a future trend we expect to gain interest in the next 12 to 24 months that CIOs should care about.
Self-service business models disrupting industries. Startups are coming up with creative ways to reengineer cumbersome analog business processes with technology. Uber uses cloud, mobile, and analytics to recreate and bypass parts of the taxi/private car value chain. It connects customers directly to drivers, and uses data and analytics to make more efficient use of vehicle capacity. Other examples of startups developing new approaches to old industry processes include Oscar in health insurance and Simple in retail banking. What’s next? As 3D printers and connected products become more mainstream, and digital is further embedded in the physical world, we’ll see entrepreneurs apply self-service to new markets. Sols hopes to shake up orthotics by allowing customers to customize and print custom-insoles on 3D printers.
A few months ago I posted a blog entry entitled: "Containerization vs. Application Wrapping: The Tale Of The Tape." Well... the bout is finally over and a winner has been decided. Using a virtual tape measure, I analyzed the mobile application technology spectrum to determine which technologies are better suited to deployment in the enterprise and why. The results were about what I expected. The fight went right down to the wire and nobody scored a knockout with the winner being decided with a slim margin over the 8 rounds. Here is the judge's score card:
The battle over customer versus internal business processes requirements and priorities has been fought — and the internal processes lost. Game over. Customers are now empowered with mobile devices and ubiquitous cloud-based all-but-unlimited access to information about products, services, and prices. Customer stickiness is extremely difficult to achieve as customers demand instant gratification of their ever changing needs, tastes, and requirements, while switching vendors is just a matter of clicking a few keys on a mobile phone. Forrester calls this phenomenon the age of the customer. The age of the customer elevates business and technology priorities to achieve:
Business agility. Forrester consistently finds one common thread running through the profile of successful organizations — the ability to manage change. In the age of the customer, business agility often equals the ability to adopt, react, and succeed in the midst of an unending fountain of customer driven requirements. Forrester sees agile organizations making decisions differently by embracing a new, more grass-roots-based management approach. Employees down in the trenches, in individual business units, are the ones who are in close touch with customer problems, market shifts, and process inefficiencies. These workers are often in the best position to understand challenges and opportunities and to make decisions to improve the business. It is only when responses to change come from within, from these highly aware and empowered employees, that enterprises become agile, competitive, and successful.
There are a couple of announcements today at salesforce.com’s local marketing event in Munich. Definitely the most important one — and the one that customers have been eagerly awaiting — is the joint announcement from Salesforce and T-Systems, the systems integration branch of Deutsche Telekom (DT). Earlier, Salesforce announced that it’s planning to build a data center in Germany, which is definitely the best way to comply with German data privacy laws and the emotional concerns of German customers around privacy. But as a US-headquartered company, just operating a data center is not enough; companies need to create trust and have experience in fulfilling legal and regulatory compliance mandates. This makes T-Systems exactly the right partner for Salesforce: It’s big enough to compete with data center heavyweights like Fujitsu, HP, and IBM but local enough to understand German customers and law.
The picture shows DT CEO Timotheus Höttges and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff just a few minutes ago.
Let’s look into more details of T-Systems’ offering how it relates to salesforce.com. First of all, it will simply feel like any other Salesforce data center. Customers will see absolutely no difference, regardless of whether their “tenant” is running on the East Coast, West Coast, or the US-based data center dedicated to European customers. In the future, they can choose the Salesforce UK data center and, starting in 2015, a Salesforce Germany data center. All are fully managed by Salesforce, operate on the same code base, and will get new releases and upgrades at the “same” time.
Last week I presented an overview of cloud adoption trends in the banking sector in Asia to a panel of financial services regulators in Hong Kong. The presentation showcased a few cloud case studies including CBA, ING Direct, and NAB in Australia. I focused on the business value that these banks have realized through the adoption of cloud concepts, while remaining compliant with the local regulatory environments. These banks have also developed a strong competitive advantage: They know how to do cloud. Ultimately, I believe that cloud is a capability that banks will have to master in order to build an agility advantage. For instance, cloud is a key enabler of Yuebao, Alibaba’s new Internet finance business. 80 million users in less than 10 months? Only cloud architecture can enable that type of agility and scale (an idea that Hong Kong regulators clearly overlooked).
Businesses invest considerable sums of money with vendors like Box, Cisco, Google and Microsoft for a collection a technology we call collaboration tools. As an analyst, though, the question that has dogged me in watching this space is "why?" As in "what is the actual value a business gets from investing in collaboration technology?" The vendors' rationale for acquiring collaboration tools has shifted in emphasis over time, going from a conversation on cost savings to one on productivity gains. However, cost savings is an undifferentiated and limited message while "increasing productivity" can feel ephemeral because it is difficult to measure. Yet my inquiry queue remains full of companies trying to figure out how best to deploy these technologies and my briefings calendar is filled with startups and incumbents pitching new offerings in this space. This brings me back to my original question: Why?