Cloud, technology populism, video, and integrated solutions were in evidence throughout the show. Here is what I learned or conformed at Enterprise Connect 2012:
Cloud is happening. Buyer interest is and has been up, service providers are investing, and OEMs are enabling. At the show, SPs from 8x8 and M5 (now part of ShoreTel) to AT&T and Verizon were demoing capabilities. SIs, including well-known names from BlacBox to Presidio to HP, were talking about cloud too. Many OEM vendors did not discuss the channel implications made obvious by SI and SP discussion of cloud services — although NEC made ease of doing business for the channel one of the tenets of its cloud discussion. If I were a solution vendor, I would spend more time discussing where my solutions could be purchased and the role for my sales force, since buyers who attend Enterprise Connect in droves want to know where and how they can buy cloud solutions.
The real story here is consumerization or technology populism. Personal cloud services have enabled information workers to be a decision AND buying center for all types of communications and collaboration. Although we talk about smartphones and tablets in discussing technology populism, unified communications and fixed mobile convergence were the examples on display at this show. Buyers (including information workers and traditional technology managers) today need to know how to integrate Box, Google Docs, SalesForce, and other services into their business processes that depend on communications.
There's a lot of attention being paid to tablets cannibalizing PCs. As we've said in the past, we think PC cannibalization from tablets is overstated. But the cannibalization phenomenon is real: We wrote in a June report (The Products That Lose When Tablets Win) that we expect tablet cannibalization to accelerate in the next six to 12 months as slightly less affluent consumers buy tablets and have to make tough tradeoffs. Several predictions we made in the report are already coming true. We made the call that:
"Portable game player sales will go off a cliff. Portable game players (PGPs) like the Nintendo DS already have huge penetration, so there's a natural saturation point that PGPs are reaching anyway. That saturation combined with cannibalization from tablets and smartphones, which fulfill the same casual, on-the-go gaming scenarios but also multitask with email and other applications, spells trouble for PGPs. The Nintendo 3DS is already reporting weaker-than-expected sales, and we expect this trend to continue."
Much to Nintendo's chagrin, this prediction is proving accurate, as Nintendo reported that its 3DS sales plummeted to 710,000 units this past quarter from 3.6 million units the quarter before.
In the June report, we also wrote that game console sales would not be negatively affected by tablets and could actually see a boost from increased interest in gaming as mainstream consumers find joy in games like Words With Friends and Angry Birds.
We've been saying for a while now -- based on the evidence we've seen in certain European markets -- that online video viewers are happy to watch a significant number of in-stream ads in exchange for access to high-quality content. Today, we found yet more evidence of the same from a study conducted by Turner Broadcasting. Today, many of Turner's TV shows only run two or three in-stream ads each (generally less than 2 minutes of advertising per episode); but the broadcaster found that if it increased the ad load to the same volumes the shows feature on TV (as much as 20 minutes per episode) the number of users who dropped off was shockingly low. The CW network found the same in its own tests.
The bottom line: Get ready for more online video ads. Inventory will grow, prices will fall (at least somewhat), and overall online video ad spending will grow dramatically.
(As a side note, The New York Times' article in which this research is published takes aim at Hulu for hoping to "lighten up" the amount of advertising users see and repeats Hulu's accurate claim that it has less than half as much advertising as the same shows on TV -- which is ironic, given that in my anecdotal experience Hulu has been more aggressive than any other US online video site in pushing more ads into its content; most of the ad breaks I see on Hulu these days contain two ads.)
When Cisco first announced its intent to acquire TANDBERG in October of last year, I talked about how that acquisition was about much more than just video. I still believe that this single event represents the beginning of the converged (audio, video, and Web) conferencing era; but the combined company has indeed been on a streak of video activities. In 2010, Cisco has made more than a dozen video-related announcements about new products and capabilities, including TelePresence Exchange hosting by partners, the Cius HD video-capable collaboration device, new interoperability capabilities delivered via its proposed Telepresence Interoperability Protocol and Intercompany Media Engine, new home DVR capabilities delivered by Cox using Cisco set-top boxes , the Flip SlideHD video camera, video networking for NBC at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, as well as the use of telepresence by ESPN at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
On top of all this video activity, I was recently briefed by Cisco about its new business solution for video (Cisco Prosumer Video) based on the Cisco Flip MinoPRO video camera, and I was struck by two things
Groundswell technology comes to consumers first. At home, we get social, mobile, video, and cloud services pitched to us 24x7. Facebook, Android, iPad, Foursquare, Google, YouTube, Office Web Apps, Twitter. The list is endless and growing every single day. Empowering technologies like these will always come to consumers first. Why? Because it's a wide-open market. A single developer can build an application that changes the world from their broadband-connected bedroom.
All this technology puts tremendous power directly into the hands of your customers. Your customers often have more information than your sales team — or medical staff — does. They can also whack your brand from their smartphone, with video even, while waiting impatiently in line. They can get a recommendation from someone in their business network while listening to your pitch. Customers are empowered by information and connections. You'd better make sure you give customers better information than they can get elsewhere.
The only way to do that is to empower your employees to directly engage the needs and expectations of empowered customers. Only empowered employees can solve the problems of empowered customers.
Fortunately, your employees are not standing still. People are problem solvers. Left alone, your innovative employees (we call them HEROes — highly empowered and resourceful operatives) are building new solutions using these same groundswell technologies — and many others besides — to solve customer problems.
In fact, 37% of US information workers — employees that use computers for work — use do-it-yourself technology to get work done. Personal mobile devices. Unsanctioned Web sites like Skype or Google Docs or LinkedIn or Smartsheet.com. Unsanctioned software downloaded to a work computer.
[Scroll down to view Forrester’s "The Evolution Of Green IT" video… don’t worry, it’s only ~6 minutes.]
As a quick recap, part one of this video series walked through how corporations and governments are using green strategies to achieve their financial and political ends. From there, I gave a handful of examples around how green IT is helping leading organizations — like Sprint, AT&T, and Tesco — save $20m, $12m, and achieve a 17% reduction in fuel consumption, respectively.
So what can you expect in part two? In ~6:00 minutes, part two of this video series will discuss green IT's quickly expanding scope and approach. What do I mean by this? In short, green IT's scope is evolving beyond the data center into distributed IT and broader business operations. Forrester calls this the green IT 1.0 ("green for IT") and 2.0 ("IT for green") transition. Likewise, the approach to green IT is expanding beyond procuring more energy efficient equipment to also include software, services, people, and process. And the savings from these new approaches are impressive:
[Scroll down to view Forrester’s “The Evolution Of Green IT” video… don’t worry, it’s only 3:30 minutes.]
At Forrester, we’re always exploring new ways to connect with our clients and fit into their busy schedules. And as an analyst on Forrester’s IT Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) research team, I’m well aware of how time-pressed our clients can be. The I&O professional is oftentimes characterized as the “fire fighter” of the IT organization, dropping everything at any hour of the day to ensure their business’s critical IT infrastructure – from servers to PCs to mobile devices – is running without a hitch… and on-time and on-budget.
With that said, I’m particularly interested in “testing” out video to supplement my published research and my blogs on the Forrester.com website. To that end, below is part one of a two part video series on “The Evolution Of Green IT” – a topic I am increasingly receiving client inquiries on as organizations try to determine their green IT maturity and future trajectory.
Earlier this month, Corey Kronengold at Online Video Watch was complaining about the in-stream ad load at MLB.tv. But unfortunately for Corey – and for the other two-thirds of US Internet users who now watch online video – the ad load seems likely to get heavier rather than lighter.
In the fourth quarter of 2009, my team and I spent at least 30 minutes watching video on each of 84 leading sites in the US and Europe to better understand how marketers and sites are deploying online video ads – an exercise I’ve conducted each of the past three years. What did we find? Advertising, and a lot of it. In fact, 85% of US web sites and 64% of European sites now accept in-stream ads. And we saw more advertising per online video hour than ever before.
I was included on a very interesting panel discussion a couple of weeks ago entitled, "Stories From The Frontline, Building A Social Media Business." The event was co-sponsored by TiE and the Social Media Club SFSV and included a terrific set of people who were experienced, smart and funny:
Rich Reader captured a quick clip of me sharing thoughts on the appropriateness of measuring ROI in Social Media. While the panel format doesn't furnish time for an appropriate deep dive into when and how ROI might be an appropriate metric, I believe in most cases ROI is the wrong question to ask (and if you start with the wrong question, you'll get the wrong answer.)
I will be working on a report about Social Media and Marketing ROI. Your thoughts and input are welcome and encouraged. Please check out the 76-second clip and then let me know what you think.
Throughout, as various members of the press have mused about the death of Amazon's Kindle, I feel compelled to point out that, contrary to popular belief, Amazon is in a better position now than it was before the iPad. That's right, if Amazon comes out swinging, Round 2 will go to Amazon. Here’s why: