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?
The Asia Pacific mobile payment landscape is currently in an exciting phase of development, but remains fragmented. Asian telcos will likely need to wait at least another two to three years to see traction with mobile payments. Here’s why:
User readiness. Let’s face it: Cash and credit/debit cards still dominate the payment landscape, and are a lot more convenient to use. While penetration of feature and smartphones has grown substantially in Asia, not many people actually use their phones for mobile payments. Even in markets like Australia and South Korea, cash and credit cards remain highly popular among consumers. And if demand remains low, merchants will not deign to accept mobile payments — creating a vicious cycle.
Infrastructure development. Telecom infrastructure in many Asian countries remains uneven with spotty coverage, (e.g. India and Indonesia). Without proper network access, mobile payments will not propagate outside of urban areas, if at all. While Globe’s Gcash has seen some level of success, the truth is that mobile payments remain nascent in the Philippines specifically and in Asia more broadly. In addition, there is still limited handset support for mobile payments (e.g. some Android models are not able to work with a service). Australia’s Commonwealth Bank went ahead with its m-payment launch after deciding not to wait for incompatible handsets to catch up.
At a recent Enterprise Mobility event, I spoke with a few Asia-based IT directors about their journey in the age of consumerization of IT, and how they were dealing with Bring-Your-Own Technology (BYOT) at work. Their responses ranged from ‘fear of the unknown’ – as in ‘how do we deal with this trend?’ to ‘paralysis by analysis’ – as in ‘let’s arm ourselves with as much information as possible, and analyze it to death.’
The issue is – their employees are already accessing corporate email on their own mobile devices – which means that these IT managers are scrambling to catch up to managing BYOT in their organizations. In fact, an IT head at a large FMCG organization admitted that he did not know where to start managing BYOT.
Security and compliance were key concerns for these IT folks, and their concerns are valid. Trend Micro predicts, for example, that 91% of targeted attacks begin with spear-phishing, a highly targeted type of phishing aimed at specific individuals or groups within an organization. This was heightened in a recent spear-phishing attack on a South Korea bank. The security provider also predicts that there will be 1 million malicious Android apps in the wild by the end of 2013 – another red flag for organizations coping with the rise of Android devices at their work place.
Information workers in organizations across Asia Pacific (AP) are increasingly using personal mobile devices, applications, and public cloud services for work. Forrester defines this as the bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) trend. This behavior is more prevalent among employees above the director-level (C-level executives, presidents, and vice presidents) than those below that level (individual worker, contractor or consultant and manager/supervisor). Data from Forrester’s Forrsight Workforce survey, Q4 2012 corroborates this trend in AP.
We believe that the BYOT trend will strengthen over the next two years in AP, primarily fueled by employees below the director level. Increasing options, quality and affordability of devices, apps, and wireless connectivity, coverage, and capacity will contribute to this expansion. In order to secure corporate data, organizations will need to:
Develop Corporate Mobile Policies: Organizations must build cross-functional teams to plan their mobile strategies. This should include representatives from different LOBs like finance, HR, legal and sourcing. Moreover, the policy must clearly define guardrails to provide flexibility to employees but within boundaries and in compliance with local regulations.
Identify Technologies To Secure Corporate Data: 29% of business-decision makers in AP report that the rising expectations of younger workers require businesses to push enterprise IT to keep technology current. This is why it is critical to identify both back-end and front-end technologies and suppliers that can optimize mobile device and application management in a secure manner. Focus should be on networking layer security and mobile device management solutions.
Historically, consumers in Asia Pacific have done far more activities on their mobile phones than in other regions. With the increasing availability of affordable smartphones in the region, mobile phones are now the No. 1 device for consuming media for many consumers in Asia Pacific. Similarly, activities like playing games (such as word games and puzzle games), listening to music (both streaming and non-streaming), and using social media are increasingly done via mobile phones, and activity levels are now approaching those of PCs.
In recent months, Forrester’s Data Insights team has been analyzing our Technographics® data for the Asia Pacific version of our annual global series, “Understanding The Changing Needs Of Online Consumers.” For the past seven years, Forrester has been tracking consumers’ online and offline behavior in Asia Pacific. In 2012, we surveyed 16,616 Asia Pacific consumers across two surveys to find out about their use of the Internet for media, entertainment, shopping, communication, and social computing.
Forrester’s recent research shows that, while Asia Pacific lags developed regions like North America and Europe in terms of smartphone penetration, the growth of smartphones will be highest in APAC between 2012 and 2017. As indicated in our recently published report, Forrester Research World Smartphone Adoption Forecast, 2012 To 2017 (Global), by end of 2013, Forrester estimates that smartphone penetration in North America will be 57%, followed by Europe with 42% and APAC with 21%. But in terms of the compound annual growth rate during the same period, smartphone penetration in APAC will grow by 20%, followed by Europe with 11% and North America with 10%.
The sharp increase in the number of smartphone users will greatly affect both the consumer and enterprise landscapes. Building on Forrester’s deep research on the Asia Pacific mobility opportunity, we will be holding a series of complimentary quarterly webinars to help our clients make sense of this rapidly changing landscape and position for success. Starting in March and covering the consumer and enterprise mobility markets, the webinars will bring together Forrester analysts from around the world to present a global and Asia Pacific perspective.
On March 5, 2013, I will present a mobile trends and summary webinar with my colleagues Thomas Husson and George Lawrie. This session will cover our key findings from this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, share our view of key 2013 mobile trends, and share best practices for building a successful business case for mobile initiatives. You can register for the webinar here.
The Asia Pacific (AP) growth engine did not fire on all cylinders in 2012, leading Forrester to revise its IT purchases growth forecasts for the year. While Australia, South Korea, and several ASEAN tech markets are showing continued solid growth, in other markets like China, India, Japan, Malaysia, and Vietnam, political leaders are struggling in the face of growing economic problems. My colleague Andy Bartels and I, with the help of Forrester’s AP analyst team, have recently published our revised IT purchase growth forecasts for 2013. Here are our key expectations by country:
2012’s slowdown in China will be short-lived. Despite a slowdown in 2012, China continues to attract intense vendor interest because of its size and potential for further growth. The expected government stimulus efforts in the country will offset factors such as weak demand from businesses and governments. The slowdown in 2012 (+9%) is therefore likely to be short-lived, with stronger growth resuming in 2013 (+10%).
India’s IT growth will remain slower than expected through 2014. 2012 (+7%) was a relatively lackluster year for the tech market in India. Worse than expected economic growth, combined with political gridlock on economic reforms, kept the tech market from reaching its full potential in 2012. While we expect the public sector to drive India’s IT spending growth, the impact will be limited through 2014 due to the parliamentary elections scheduled for that year.
A number of Forrester analysts from the Asia Pacific region attended the recent SAP analyst event in Singapore. Meetings with SAP global and regional executives and a large number of detailed breakout sessions over the 1½-day event all clearly indicate that SAP is continuing to try and reposition itself as a true generalized application platform player.
At the core of (almost all) initiatives is the HANA in-memory database technology. Whatever the problem, HANA will solve it (said with tongue planted very firmly in cheek). While the technology clearly has immediate performance benefits, particularly for existing SAP clients, net-new customers will likely need to compare the value of SAP’s offerings with others much more seriously.