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I attend numerous security and IT conferences each year, most of which simply blur together into a vendor cacophony about the perils of social, cloud, and mobile device adoption or the ever present danger from devious cybercriminals and nefarious state-sponsored agents. The uniform repetition of this narrative from every vendor in the industry reminds me of the drowning din of thousands of cicadas awakening from hibernation. McAfee Focus had a different feel. And overall, compared to other conferences, it was a worthwhile trip, and not just because Chris McClean and I won at craps, but because while McAfee did pay homage to the technical security pros in the audience with the requisite discussion of the changing threat landscape and accompanying hacking demo, there was a palpable difference in their narrative, particularly in CEO Mike DeCesare’s keynote. Here are a few notable highlights from the conference:
Serendipitously, IBM this week released its global study of 4,183 CxOs from around the world. The title? The Customer-activated Enterprise. The study carries irrefutable evidence that we already live in the age of the customer, which we define as "a 20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers." Here's my analysis of IBM's data:
First, CxOs see customers are a critical influence on their company's strategic vision and business strategy. Over half of global CxOs place customers ahead of all other influencers except the C-Suite itself as a strategic influence on the firm. And they don't mean the company's perception of what customers need. They mean customers themselves: eighty-two percent of CEOs believe they include customers in defining new products and services today. That's a ubiquitous desire, folks: CEOs want customers themselves to define the firm's new products and services.
Rumors have been swirling for a couple of months that Beijing-based Lenovo might purchase New Tapei, Taiwan-based HTC Corporation. Following Google’s acquisition of Motorola and Microsoft’s purchase of (most of) Nokia, the move could make sense, given Lenovo’s stated strategy of becoming a “PC-Plus” company with a new focus on mobility.
As I predictedrecently, there will be a forthcoming wave of industry consolidation. But what we mean by “the industry” is itself changing. My colleague Frank Gillett has been tracking this evolution for some time, having asserted in 2012 that the analytically sound way to look at operating systems combined mobile and PC OSes. There’s no separation, effectively, between PC and mobile hardware vendors. It’s one industry now.
Good customer service is the result of the right attention to strategy, business processes, technology, and people management. This seven-post series focuses on customer service technology and explains the what, why, how, and when technology questions.
Part 1 reviewed the customer service technology ecosystem.
Part 2 reviewed the challenges caused by the complexity of this technology ecosystem.
Part 3 reviewed the tactical outcomes of poor customer service.
Part 4 focused on the ways that the customer service technology ecosystem is changing.
Part 5 categorized technologies based on their ecosystem maturity.
Part 6 focused on what this analysis means to customer service managers.
In this final post, I will focus on where do you go from here, now that we know what the core customer service technologies are, how mature they are, and what their business value is. I recommend a three-step process:
Technology is essential in any managed security operations center. Technology has come a long way to create an active defense of the enterprise. There are vendors that offer solutions for log management, web application defense, firewall, incident event correlation, and many others. In order to understand the size of the security technology market, Forrester and the MSP Alliance are partnering in a survey to look at the managed security functions and the technology MSSPs use to deliver their services. If you are an MSSP or an end user of these technologies, you can complete this survey at:
We get a lot of calls from EA leaders that find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place: They need a tool to help them through a specific initiative such as application rationalization or transformation management, but don’t have the time, maturity, approach, and financial justification for the EA management suite (EAMS) that would get the job done. As I mention in my recent report, "Select A Right-Fit Toolset For EA," this uncertainty and urgency has fueled the proliferation of new vendors addressing specific challenges. What I did not mention is that these new choices don’t just signal more competition in the usual market - they actually signal a new market entirely. One that is probably bigger than many might first think.
I’m referring to the mid-market. Not just in the obvious sense of smaller, less mature EA practices, but also including the myriad situations where the initiative is being carried out by a role that has no idea that they’re acting as an “EA,” or by consultants hired to get the job done and get out. There’s a big market out there of temporary EA “initiatives” (as opposed to permanent EA groups or practices) and consultants that would leverage a tool if it were cheap enough, easy enough, and straight-forward enough for these short-term use cases.
With all the talk of data out there, who is actually using it and what are they using? Turns out, most data used in the enterprise today comes from internal applications. That is starting to change, and the trend will accelerate. But for now, when asked which data types were important to their firm’s overall business strategy, the majority of business intelligence users and planners cited internal sources such as transactional data from corporate apps or other customer data. Only about 1/3 of respondents reported the importance of external sources such as scientific data, partner data or other 3rd party data. Fewer still used unstructured external data such as Twitter feeds or other social media sources. Current data sources are limited. Yet both business and IT decision-makers recognize the need to improve their use of data: 56% of business and IT decision-makers surveyed by Forrester see improving the use of data and analytics to improve business decisions and outcomes as a top priority. And, that potentially includes expanding the use of external data... if they can find it.
Where do they go for external data? What types of data might complement their transactional and other internal data? How can corporate strategists and market research teams identify new sources of information? Where can they find them, and how can they acquire and consume them? Can they be combined with internal data? Are the sources safe? reliable? sustainable?
Peter Kujawa CEO of Locknet, Steve Tallent from Fortinet, and I were speaking at the recent MSPWorld Conference in San Jose, California about the cloud revolution. Steve was interested in the conversation because Fortinet is now offering virtualized versions of their Fortigate UTM solution. Peter was interested because his business is built on taking the pain away that platform management entails. Obviously security intersects both of these worlds.
We discussed the changes cloud computing was making to the MSP/MSSP markets and the differences between the SMB and enterprise businesses and what motivates them to consider the cloud IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS model.
Peter talked about one of his clients – a smaller client – that managed their business from a small server stashed in the closet of their offices. Peter’s company offered to replace the box with a cloud-based system that took over patching, updates, and maintenance for the system for a simple monthly fee. The client would access their applications via the Internet. The risk to this business was huge for so many reasons. The customer leapt at the chance to get rid of the box.
In another case, I was speaking with a large client and we talked about the motivation for the cloud. Inasmuch as maintenance and support are an issue, the larger issues for large companies are the IT assets on the balance sheet. This company liked cloud because of their need to “clean up” the balance sheet. There were too many IT assets loading down the balance sheet – distorting the company's return on assets.
Outside of Tempe is a place called Sahuarita, Arizona. Sahuarita is the home of Air Force Silo #571-7 where a Titan missile, that was part of the US missile defense system and had a nine-megaton warhead that was at the ready for 25 years, should the United States need to retaliate against a Soviet nuclear attack. This missile could create a fireball two miles wide, contaminate everything within 900 square miles, hit its target in 35 minutes, and nothing in the current US nuclear arsenal comes close to its power. What kept it secure for 25 years? You guessed it...four phones, two doors, a scrap of paper, and a lighter.
Photo Credit: Renee Murphy
Technology has grown by leaps and bounds since the cold war. When these siloes went into service, a crew supplied by the Air Force manned them. These men and women were responsible for ensuring the security and availability of the missile. Because there was no voice recognition, retinal scanning, biometric readers, and hard or soft tokens, the controls that were in place were almost entirely physical controls. All of the technology that we think of as keeping our data and data centers secure hadn’t been developed yet. It is important to note that there was never a breach. Ever.
It might be an occupational hazard, but I can relate almost anything to security and risk management, and my visit to the Titan Missile Museum at AF Silo #571-7 was no exception. The lesson I took from my visit: there's room for manual controls in security and risk management.