It’s always the short questions that make my job interesting. Like this one.
Gil, do you think companies will cut back on Enterprise Web 2.0 in light of the economy?
First reaction--it depends. I’m an analyst, that’s always our first answer. But what does it depend on? What are all the factors at play and how will this impact your decisions? So, here’s my read of the Enterprise Web 2.0 trends based on many conversations with my clients and vendors. I will focus specifically on wiki and social networking tools used to improve internal collaboration and knowledge sharing. These are gaining momentum and acceptance within the enterprise. (See my TechRadar report for the details on what Forrester sees in scope for Enterprise Web 2.0.)
There will be a slowdown of IT-driven collaboration projects in 2009. But there will be increased interest in business-driven collaboration projects. Why? There is a technology populist movement, and has been for a while. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) typically operate with little IT support and rely upon vendors for collaboration services – nothing new here. But we find that business units in enterprises, especially those in companies with politically weak IT departments, are increasingly behaving like SMBs, and they are going out and provisioning technology on their own. This is a form of institutional Tech Populism.
If you haven’t yet heard the latest news on the American political scene, let me fill you in: Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and soliciting bribery. Among the alleged offenses is that the Governor planned to sell the Senate seat of President-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder, or, if no offers met his expectations, to take the seat for himself for personal gain. One is reminded of the remark, often attributed (perhaps incorrectly) to Mark Twain, that the United States has “the best politicians money can buy.”
I was on a conference call with my Research Director, Mike Gilpin and colleague Charles Brett the other day discussing complex event processing and business rules when suddenly Mike and Charles starting talking about "horses for courses". Say what? We went from talking about events and rules to horses and courses? I never heard this expression before so I asked. And, for those of you who think that I am provincial, I asked several other people in our Cambridge, Massachusetts office and they were dumbfounded as well.
Keep an eye out in the next week for Forrester’s GRC Trends 2009 report, which will take a look at how a decidedly rocky end of 2008 will impact those responsible for various aspects of corporate governance, risk management, compliance, audit, and finance... as well as the product and service firms that serve them.
One trend that we call out in the report is the impending consolidation of the GRC technology landscape, which is a top-of mind issue for many leading vendors in the space.
In our conversations with many information and knowledge management professionals, it's clear that their distributed and multicompany teams need better extranet collaboration tools.
And they feel the problem is only getting worse as companies go virtual, global, distributed, outsourced, green, travel-less, and partnered, thus driving the need for ever-better collaboration tools that work outside the firewall.
Trouble is, the messaging and collaboration services that companies have implemented are designed primarily for internal teams.
For example, it's bloody difficult to set up a secure instant messaging connection with every partner you might want to work with. Such interoperability between IM platforms is technically possible, but operationally nightmarish.
So clever employees do what they must: Use public IM and calendaring services, cobble together conferences from piece parts, and fall back on endless scheduling and sharing emails and voice conferencing. Ugh. Ugly. And scary.
Well, the solution's just around the corner say vendors new and old. After all, many are on the cusp of major product releases that promise much better extranet connections and capabilities:
IBM Bluehouse promises a new extranet collaboration platform.
Google already offers an extranet collaboration toolkit in its Google Apps Premier Edition.
Cisco is adding extranet collaboration capabilities to WebEx.
Microsoft is moving its services into the cloud for easier extranet access.
IBM CEO Sam Palmisano gave a speech to the Council on Foreign Affairs in New York City on November 6, 2008. In the speech, he added his voice that that of Al Gore, Jeff Immelt, and Barack Obama to declare that the US can lead the world to prosperity (and out of this financial quagmire). He called his vision building a "smarter planet."
Here's how I see the smarter planet:
Intelligence and network connections are embedded in physical systems. Chips and bandwidth have helped optimize business processes and make information workers more productive. But information technology hasn't yet really helped optimize our physical systems. A company on a smarter planet will put computers and connections into every physical system so that machines can phone home, operating problems can telegraph themselves, and power grids and distribution systems can be monitored, controlled, and optimized. (Forrester first identified this trend of an extended "Internet of things" in 2001 with a report entitled "The X Internet.")
By Gil Yehuda Those who drink the Web 2.0 Kool-aid live in a idealistic world where we can mentally connect a great idea to a great implementation of that idea. We live on faith that the great implementation will come, since there are plenty of smart people out there who will eventually figure out how to make value out of technology building blocks. Sometimes our faith is tested when the killer-app does not show up for a long time. But evidence can restore our faith.
In a number of recent client interactions with both enterprise IT end users and vendors, the question of “Is the ‘green’ in Green IT dead?” has come up. Primarily driven by the current economic climate, IT end users want to understand how relevant the environmental benefits of Green IT should be to their strategic planning; likewise, vendors want to know how palatable green messaging of their products and services is to their customers.
The benefits of virtualization are quite obvious but when you start to really increase the density of virtual machines in order to maximize utilization suddenly it ain't such a simple proposition. The latest CPUs from AMD and Intel are more than up to the task of running 10-20 or more applications at a time. Most servers run out of memory and I/O bandwidth well before processing power. Recent announcements from the leading server vendors have been made to address the memory side by packing more DIMMs onto a single motherboard (including blade server boards), but you can only add so many Ethernet cards and Fibre Channel HBAs. Oh yeah, and then there's the switch ports to go with them (blade systems help a lot here).
With retail confidence and global cargo volumes at their lowest for 5 years, retailers face increased pressure to identify quick ways to minimize costs, reduce unplanned mark downs and avoid incidence of “out-of-stock”, while trying to stretch margins, improve the merchandizing mix and increase customer satisfaction.
One retail executive told Forrester “I have any number of proposals to engage in multi year, multi million IT projects. But we don’t have the luxury to indulge in those. My boss needs results now. I need to prove that we are making progress against our financial and strategic objectives in the next quarter or two.“
To help our readers, Forrester is currently exploring simple retail IT investments that can yield immediate results. Got ideas or input? Take our confidential survey on Retail IT Investment Priorities to help develop a framework that will help identify quick wins and self funding IT initiatives that are capable of generating returns for shareholders in six month or less.