Over the past few years, IBM has certainly copped its fair share of criticism in the Asian media, particularly in Australia. Whether this criticism is deserved or not is beside the point. Perception is reality — and it’s led some companies and governments to exclude IBM from project bids and longer-term sourcing deals. On top of this, the firm’s recent earnings in Asia Pacific have disappointed.
But I’ve had the chance to spend some quality time with IBM at analyst events across Asia Pacific over the past 12 months, and it’s clear that the company does some things well — in fact, IBM is sometimes years ahead of the pack. For this reason, I advise clients that it would be detrimental to exclude IBM from a deal that may play to one of these strengths.
IBM’s value lies in the innovation and global best practices it can bring to deals; the capabilities coming out of IBM Labs and the resulting products, services, and capabilities continue to lead the industry. IBM is one of the few IT vendors whose R&D has struck the right balance between shorter-term business returns and longer-term big bets.
Telstra hosted its annual analyst event in Sydney on October 23 and 24. In his keynote address, CEO David Thodey compared Telstra’s customer advocacy journey to a triathlon that the firm has just begun, which we believe it a fitting analogy for Telstra’s progress on the path it has set for itself. The company is clearly in the race and making progress, but still has many miles to go.
While the company shared a broad spectrum of initiatives, our main observations are that Telstra:
Has made clear progress since our check-in last year, but its transformation remains a work in progress. Telstra is no different than other incumbent telcos working to transform beyond traditional — and declining — sources of revenue. Its dominant position in Australia is secure, but its prospects in new market categories inside and outside of Australia are less certain. We do not believe that Telstra is particularly innovative compared with service providers in the US or Europe, but we do believe that it has a viable transformation strategy and is making progress. Its progress in the Australian media and entertainment industry, including its Foxtel investments, is impressive — it has built a large IP-based digital media file exchange platform to serve global broadcasters and content providers.
Carrier Ethernet aims to provide users with a wide-area service to connect sites, in the same way that asynchronous transfer mode (ATM), Frame Relay, and X.25 services from carriers have done in the past. While end user demand for carrier Ethernet services in Asia is relatively small, it’s growing year over year and is having an impact on service providers’ bottom lines: Carrier Ethernet services currently account for 8% to 10% of service providers’ total connectivity revenues in the region.
From June to August 2013, Forrester invited large and medium-size organizations in India to share details about their live enterprise mobility applications. Our objective was to understand how Indian organizations are leveraging mobile applications to better connect with customers, partners, and employees. In total, we received details of 59 mobile application projects from 41 organizations with more than 500 employees in India. These organizations are spread across verticals like manufacturing, financial services, automotive, media, healthcare, professional services, telecommunications, and utilities. Our research provided some interesting findings:
Mobile application development is skewed toward internal, employee-facing projects. Among the projects reviewed, 59% of the enterprise mobility applications have been developed for internal employees, 23% target customers, and the remaining 18% are for business partners. Most organizations in India are first developing applications for employees, because calculating the ROI is easier and more tangible for employee-centric applications as compared with customer- or business partner -centric applications. For instance, sales force/field force automation is currently the most commonly developed mobile application by Indian organizations.
The majority of projects are co-owned by IT and business. 71% of the enterprise mobility application projects we covered are jointly owned by the IT team and the relevant business stakeholders. Business inputs, especially on user interface and experience, are key to ensuring adoption of mobile application post-launch.
Information workers in India are increasingly using their personal devices, applications, and web services to accomplish both personal and work-related activities. Results from Forrester’s Forrsights Workforce Employee Survey, Q4 2012 indicate that at least 85% of employees use phone/tablet applications and web-based services for both purposes which is putting corporate information security under serious threat.
My interactions with numerous infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals from large enterprises in India over the past six months have revealed that there is a high degree of awareness of the need to develop a bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) policy. However, actual implementations aren’t yet common, as I&O professionals are unable to address management’s three key concerns. These are, in order of priority:
How can we ensure that information on employee-owned hardware and software is secure?
Telstra’s recent FY13 earnings announcement recorded a strong showing of its Network Application and Services (NAS) division, which saw a 17.7 per cent increase in revenue to A$1.5 billion from the previous year. Its international business delivered a combined Global Connectivity and NAS revenue of A$566 million, or a growth of 11.4 per cent from the previous year. Telstra also plans to continue to build out its NAS division, particularly in Asia.
What It Means
A beneficiary of the NAS investment is Telstra Global, nestled under its International division, offering network connectivity and services to enterprises in Asia. In my recent report, I argued that Telstra Global is a well-placed partner for medium-size to large companies in sectors like transportation and logistics, shipping, manufacturing, and professional services looking to expand their operations out from Hong Kong, Australia, and Singapore into Southeast Asia and China. While this looks rosy, there are areas that require closer attention:
Tata Communications has emerged from its role as an incumbent Indian service provider to become a globally recognized provider of network connectivity services such as MPLS, Ethernet and IP transit as well as managed hosting in data centers, voice, data, and video.
Tata Communications is starting to measure up to global carriers. I’ve received a number of inquiries on Tata Communications’ regional and global carrier wholesale strategy, as well as its market focus. This increased interest among Forrester clients is a sign that Tata Communications is getting some things right in its carrier business, as the aforementioned global MPLS report makes clear. Its continual network and cable investments are paying off for the service provider.
Google is officially serious about the enterprise space. I met with Google Enterprise execs hosting their very first analyst day in Singapore recently, and was introduced to their enterprise suite of services, which was, unsurprisingly, similar to their consumer suite of services.
However, while they took their starting point from the consumer end, providing enterprise-ready solutions requires a different level of product calibration. To that end, Google cites spending of approximately US$3 billion annually on building/improving its data center infrastructure, investing in undersea cable systems, and laying fiber networks in the US specifically. In Asia Pacific (AP) last year, they spent approximately US$700 million building three data centers in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
In addition to infrastructure investments, Google has also acquired companies like Quickoffice to enhance their appeal to enterprises weaned on Microsoft Office, while also expanding existing offerings in areas like communications and collaboration (Gmail, Google Plus), contextualized services (Maps, Compute Engine, Big Query), access devices (Nexus range, Chromebook), application development (App Engine) and discovery and archiving (Search, Vault).
At the half mark through 2013, both the global and the European tech markets have pockets of strength and other pockets of weakness, both by product and by geography. Forrester's mid-2013 global tech market update (July 12, 2013, “A Mixed Outlook For The Global Tech Market In 2013 And 2014 –The US Market And Software Buying Will Be The Drivers Of 2.3% Growth This Year And 5.4% Growth Next Year”) shows the US market for business and government purchases of information technology goods and services doing relatively well, along with tech markets in Latin America and Eastern Europe/Middle East/Africa and parts of Asia Pacific. However, the tech market in Western and Central Europe will post negative growth and those in Japan, Canada, Australia, and India will grow at a moderate pace. Measured in US dollars, growth will be subdued at 2.3% in 2013, thanks to the strong dollar, and revenues of US tech vendors will suffer as a result. However, in local currency terms, growth will more respectable, at 4.6%. Software -- especially for analytical and collaborative applications and for software-as-a-service products -- continue to be a bright spot, with 3.3% dollar growth and 5.7% in local currency-terms. Apart from enterprise purchases of tablets, hardware -- both computer equipment and communications equipment -- will be weak. IT services will be mixed, with slightly stronger demand for IT consulting and systems integration services than for IT outsourcing and hardware maintenance.
If you think that translating your website into Chinese will fully serve your Chinese customers’ needs, you’re wrong. In fact, there’s no guarantee that translated content will even meet your Chinese customers’ most basic needs. But even if the content is useful, firms need to ensure that localized sites meet the other two components of the customer experience pyramid — they must be easy to use and enjoyable.
Thousands of years of rich cultural heritage and Chinese consumers’ unique offline behaviors have shaped a set of needs, expectations, and perceptions that differ from those of their Western counterparts. Add the technical constraints that have defined Chinese site development, and customer experience professionals face an uphill battle in trying to solve the riddle of the Chinese online market. My new report, "What Chinese Consumers Expect From Website Experiences," answers three critical website design questions:
What makes a website useful to Chinese users?
What makes a website easy to use for Chinese users?