Casual spectators of business behavior can't help being jaded; every day they see news stories about corporate fraud, security breaches, delayed safety recalls, and other sorts of general malfeasance. But what they don't see is the renewed time and investment companies around the world are putting toward implementing and reporting on responsible behavior (this less sensational side of the story gets far less coverage).
This week, Nick Hayes and I published an exciting new report, Meet Customers' Demands For Corporate Responsibility, which looks at the corporate responsibility reporting habits of the world's largest companies. While it's easy to think that the business community is as dirty as ever, we actually found a substantial increase over the past 6 years in what these companies included in their CSR and sustainability reports.
We're living in a time when smart, connected devices -- tablets, smartphones, wearable devices, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and the like -- are being woven into the Business Technology (BT) Agenda of most companies. Nowhere is this trend more intimately applied to the customer experience than in healthcare, where devices near our bodies, on our bodies, or even inside our bodies are changing the way doctors, insurers, and other healthcare players think about patient care.
In a a major new report, Four Ways Connected Devices Improve Patient Care, we've researched how mobile, cloud, and connected devices come together to reshape the patient care experience. Technology innovations on the device and services side are creating new treatment options. And systemic changes to the healthcare system are creating both challenges and opportunities, which these emerging technologies can help address. For instance:
Busy doctors spend too much time on electronic health record (EHR) data entry. And when they use a traditional PC in the room with a patient, it's not always a great experience; one doctor told us he felt his "back was to the patient" too often. The solution? Moving to a Surface Pro 3 tablet, armed with better software, which allows the clinician to face the patient directly while still saving time -- and gaining accuracy -- on EHR data entry.
The rise of the DevOps role in the enterprise and the increasing requirements of agility beyond infrastructure and applications make the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) market one to watch for both CIOs and enterprise architecture professionals. On December 9, the membership of Cloud Foundry, a major PaaS open source project, announced the formation of the Cloud Foundry Foundation.
In my view, this is as important as the establishment of OpenStack foundation in 2012, which was a game-changing move for the cloud industry. Here’s why:
PaaS is becoming an important alternative to middleware stacks. Forrester defines PaaS as a complete application platform for multitenant cloud environments that includes development tools, runtime, and administration and management tools and services. (See our Forrester Wave evaluation for more detail on the space and its vendors.) In the cloud era, it’s a transformational alternative to established middleware stacks for the development, deployment, and administration of custom applications in a modern application platform, serving as a strategic layer between infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) with innovative tools.
Cloud Foundry is one major open source PaaS software. Cloud Foundry as a technology was designed and architected by Derek Collison and built in the Ruby and Go programming languages by Derek and Vadim Spivak (wiki is wrong!). VMware released it as open source in 2011 after Derek joined the company. Early adopters of Cloud Foundry include large multinationals like Verizon, SAP, NTT, and SAS, as well as Chinese Internet giants like Baidu.
We’ve all done it. We've spent hours flinging birds at pigs, only to be frustrated with that one little piggy that got away. We can all thank the phenomenon “Angry Birds” for this wonderful experience. Today marks the fifth birthday of the release of the original Angry Birds. Since its release, the highly successful mobile game creator Rovio has gone on to sell hundreds of millions of dollars of mobile apps, licenses, and merchandise amassing $216M in revenue in 2013 alone. Who knew that a simple change in game mechanics could gain such a cult foothold with the public? From a business perspective, the team at appfigures did a great write-up on the history of the franchise, along with its successes and failures in the eyes of the public. If you’re interested in the business life cycle of apps in the public app store, I highly recommend you go read their research: Angry Birds Turns Five: What We Can Learn From The Franchise’s Success.
Wow. Certain networking vendors have started to declare they are winners, while others say software defined network (SDN) is over. All I have to say (in my best George Takei voice) is, “Oh, my!” I’m lucky enough to spend most of my day interacting with many end users to know that those statements clearly show how out of touch some vendors are with customers. Let me make this clear: In today’s environment, only customers can make those statements, and this is probably why some vendors don’t get it. It is a foreign concept and vendors are in the denial stage of loss, losing power to customers.
There is always a tendency to regard the major players in large markets as being a static background against which the froth of smaller companies and the rapid dance of customer innovation plays out. But if we turn our lens toward the major server vendors (who are now also storage and networking as well as software vendors), we see that the relatively flat industry revenues hide almost continuous churn. Turn back the clock slightly more than five years ago, and the market was dominated by three vendors, HP, Dell and IBM. In slightly more than five years, IBM has divested itself of highest velocity portion of its server business, Dell is no longer a public company, Lenovo is now a major player in servers, Cisco has come out of nowhere to mount a serious challenge in the x86 server segment, and HP has announced that it intends to split itself into two companies.
And it hasn’t stopped. Two recent events, the fracturing of the VCE consortium and the formerly unthinkable hook-up of IBM and Cisco illustrate the urgency with which existing players are seeking differential advantage, and reinforce our contention that the whole segment of converged and integrated infrastructure remains one of the active and profitable segments of the industry.
EMC’s recent acquisition of Cisco’s interest in VCE effectively acknowledged what most customers have been telling us for a long time – that VCE had become essentially an EMC-driven sales vehicle to sell storage, supported by VMware (owned by EMC) and Cisco as a systems platform. EMC’s purchase of Cisco’s interest also tacitly acknowledges two underlying tensions in the converged infrastructure space:
Earlier today, we published a report that dissects global risk perceptions of business and technology management leaders. One of the most eye-popping observations from our analysis is how customer obsession dramatically alters the risk mindset of business decision-makers.
Out of seven strategic initiatives -- including “grow revenues,” “reduce costs,” and “better comply with regulations,” -- “improve the experience of our customers” is the most frequently cited priority for business and IT decision-makers over the next 12 months. When you compare those “customer-obsessed” decision-makers (i.e. those who believe customer experience is a critical priority) versus others who view customer experience as a lower priority, drastic differences appear in how they view, prioritize, and manage risk.
Customer obsession has the following effects on business decision-makers’ risk perceptions:
Risk concerns heighten dramatically across several risk types – especially reputational risk. Reputational risk concern more than doubles for customer-obsessed decision-makers, and other risks also see significant increases, including corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability risk, regulatory and compliance risk, and talent and human capital risk.
Do you remember the scene from The Empire Strikes Back where the Millennium Falcon is trying to escape an Imperial Star Destroyer? Han Solo says, “Let’s get out of here, ready for light-speed? One… two… three!” Han pulls back on the hyperspace throttle and nothing happens. He then says, “It’s not fair! It’s not my fault! It’s not my fault!”
Later in the movie when Lando and Leia are trying to escape Bespin, the hyperdrive fails yet again. Lando exclaimed, “They told me they fixed it. I trusted them to fix it. It's not my fault!” In first case transfer circuits were damaged, and in the second case, stormtroopers disabled the hyperdrive.
Ultimately they were at fault; they were the captains of the ship, and the buck stops with them. It doesn't matter what caused problems, they were responsible; excuses don't matter when a Sith Lord is in pursuit.
I am seeing a trend where breached companies might be heading down a similar “it’s not my fault” path. Consider these examples:
I’m getting inundated with briefing requests from vendors either coming out with their own white box offerings or somehow supporting the white box market. While white box network solutions provide great value for some industries, more than likely, they are not for your infrastructure but for specific industries such as web scale or high-frequency trading companies. The network world is fragmenting into industry-specific solutions, and the era of Swiss Army knife network hardware is over (see figure below). Mainstream vendors are freaking out because that was their bread and butter. Now they have to figure out who they want to serve. Some uncertain vendors are placing chips on all the squares of the network roulette table; this strategy is a losing proposition for everyone.
Don’t get me wrong. White boxes/bare-metal solutions have their place, but be cautious of the irrational exuberance over this new trend. Resources are finite. The vendors chasing tail lights will at some point have to give up and lock down on a particular path. Activist firm Elliott Management has rattled the cages of some high tech firms and has basically said, “You are killing investors’ return by not simplifying and focusing.” Personally, this might not mean much if you aren’t an investor. However, as an infrastructure and operations professional, you should be concerned about solutions existing a year or two down the road from shotgun-approach vendors; worse yet, you get the effects of a mile-wide, inch-deep investment, which means the solution lags on getting the investments needed to help your company succeed today.
Today, everyone is a content publisher. This is due to lower content creation costs (consider the cost of creating HD videos now versus five years ago) and the increasing need to deliver engaging, rich-media-driven experiences. As organizations across verticals morph to become content publishers, best-of-breed digital asset management (DAM) solutions are garnering increasing amounts of interest. Why the fuss? These solutions can help manage the content creation process, manage finalized rich media content, and prepare content for delivery across channels.
As organizations begin placing a premium on DAM technology, they need the technology to do more than serve as a static, siloed content repository. Instead, solutions now must support two key business imperatives:
Digital experience delivery. DAM solutions must provide deeper functionality to prepare rich media content to be delivered globally and across channels. To do this, solutions must support vision and functionality to support greater automation in managing global/local versions of content, various renditions of content across channels, and integration with key systems of engagement (e.g. eCommerce, web content management, campaign management).
Marketing and business agility. DAM solutions must allow marketers and other business users to work with greater agility as well as operational efficiency and effectiveness. To do this, DAM solutions must support greater business process management, automation for key content management tasks (e.g. tagging, rights management, version control), and integration with a greater enterprise marketing technology ecosystem to fuel greater efficiency and effectiveness.