Microsoft began opening its own retail stores in 2009 and recently began a push into more US cities. A recent post by George Anderson on Forbes.com about Microsoft's new store format prompted me into some late-night analysis. It appears Microsoft's store format strategy is to ride in the draft of Apple by building larger-format stores very near, if not adjacent to, Apple's own stores. As a retail analyst and both an Apple and Microsoft customer for over 25 years, I feel compelled to weigh Microsoft's retail strategy against Apple's (and since I cover retail strategy from a CIO perspective, it feels appropriate to publish here).
Comparing eight success factors
Location: I'll start here, as it was the subject of the original post. Across from Apple may be the only sensible choice for MS, but the challenge MS has is that Apple is a destination store, i.e. people plan to go there for the experience. This makes it less likely they will decide to browse the MS store because it is close. On the other hand, assuming MS does some promotions to attract traffic to its stores, they are likely to also drive additional traffic to Apple. Predicted winner = Apple.
Store architecture: Size isn't everything! Sure Microsoft can copy Apple and go for outstanding store designs and even build them bigger, but Apple architecture is designed to reinforce a consistent brand image: minimalist, clean lines, designer. Microsoft's designs can reinforce many things about its brand, but it's hard to see the consistency in a way that's possible with Apple. Predicted winner = Apple.
Mike Gilpin poses this question in the most recent post to his blog. This question was sparked at Forrester’s Business Process & Application Delivery Forum during a conversation during the session “Using The Next Generation PMO To Promote Innovation.” What’s interesting is that the question came from an attendee -- presumably aligned with their firm’s PMO -- who said that in their firm, strategic investment planning is led by their enterprise architecture team, which is responsible for the strategic planning and business architecture processes.
There are multiple ways to come up with the “best answer” to this question. Nigel Fenwick discusses the answer in terms of the CIO’s responsibility to own strategy development -- and the coordination of functions necessary to carry out strategy. I’d like to answer this from the perspective of “what does it take to have an effective strategic investment planning process?”, examining the value the EA function and the PMO can provide.
My colleague Craig Symons, who is Forrester’s expert on IT governance, defines effective governance as ensuring the best answers to these questions:
Many clients have suggested their PMO mission is already elevated to this level. They now focus their efforts on everything from guiding business leaders through building a business case for the investments they want to make, to guiding decision-makers through selection from the portfolio of investment proposals, to tracking benefits realization and ROI after the fact. PMOs with this kind of business-focused, strategic mission have greater business impact and are often close partners with executives leading their firm.
With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to get creative about how you can scare the pants off of the people in your IT organization. I’ve been attending a fair amount of CIO events recently, and in the spirit of Halloween I put together a few costumes that I can guarantee will keep your CIO up at night.
A Storm Cloud. While “The Fog” might have scared your CIO in 1980, thirty years later it's the cloud that is scaring him. Despite all of the hype around "as-a-service technologies" over the past two years, Forrester has found 48% of IT decision makers still say they are “not interested” or “have no plans to adopt” software-as-a-service -- a number that rises for other cloud-based offerings. Why the lack of interest? Security, integration, and lack of customization top the list of key SaaS concerns. Yet, as the cost savings and purchasing flexibility benefits becomes increasingly obvious, IT professionals know they have to get comfortable with their fears to reap the benefits that cloud-based offerings provide.
There has been a lot of negative press and commentary regarding the recent Queensland Health Implementation of Continuity Project (SAP HR and Payroll), which recently experienced a very public failure as many employees were not paid due to multiple points of failure in the project. The recent Auditor-General's Report on the process is damning, spreading the blame across multiple agencies and the systems integration partner, IBM. I make no claims to be familiar with the intricate details of the process, but I have read the report and feel I have a clear understanding of the (many!) points of failure.
While this project did seem to be a monumental failure, I would suggest that we consider two important facts:
Applications development people can't stand the Luddites in the operations group, and ops people hate those prima donas in apps dev - at least that's what we are led to believe. To explore the issue, two of my colleagues who write to the infrastructure and operations (I&O) role - Glenn O'Donnell and Evelyn (Hubbert) Oehrlich - invited me to participate in an experiment of sorts. They arranged a joint session for the I&O Forrester Leadership Board (FLB) meeting, and I was the sole applications guy in the room - a conduit for I&O FLB members to vent their frustration at their apps dev peers. For those who aren't aware, FLBs are communities of like-minded folks in the same role who meet several times a year to network, share their experiences, guide research, and address the issues that affect their role.
We infused the session with equal parts education, calls for joint strategic planning across all IT work, and a bit of stand-up comedy - Glenn noted that as representatives of our respective roles, he and I were actually twin sons of different mothers. I noted that in that context that our parents must have been really ugly. Once we opened the session for discussion, the good folks in the room wasted no time in launching verbal stones my way. Now, I'm no IT neophyte: I've been in the industry since 1982, and I'm no stranger to conflict - I grew up with 3 older brothers, and we all exchanged our fair share of abuse as siblings will. Still, I wasn't quite prepared for the venting that followed. To summarize a few of the main points, I&O sees apps folks as:
The thing is, I wonder how many CIOs see themselves as social evangelists. You’re a CIO...
Are you on Twitter?
Do you have a full profile on LinkedIn?
How about Facebook?
Do you understand how your marketing organization is leveraging social media?
Do you have a role as social advocate in the organization?
I believe one important role of the CIO is to help peers in the business to better understand just how transformational social media can be to helping increase growth and/or drive productivity to improve the bottom line.
What is the CIO's role in driving social media into organizations? Listening to many of our clients it seems that it is often that of "social police" - IT gets asked by legal to block any and all social media applications. While in some cases security concerns drive the decision, in others it's deemed a compliance issue. There are also those who believe blocking social media improves productivity.
The trouble with this approach is that it assumes social media can and should be stopped with technology. The fact is many people are already using web-enabled social applications in the workplace on their own personal smartphones (