Your Business Is Already A Multicloud Business

Paul Miller

For all sorts of reasons, CIOs increasingly find themselves trying to introduce (or impose, resurrect, or enforce) governance, compliance, audit and oversight across a dizzying array of cloud solutions. Some may have been introduced by themselves or their predecessors, but most have entered the business by other means.

image of clouds in the desert

Multiple clouds, in the Nevada desert (Source: Paul Miller)

Perhaps they've been procured, properly, by departments from Sales and Marketing to Logistics and Customer Support. Or perhaps it's a lone developer or a small team, with a company credit card and a problem to solve.

However it happened, your business is already a multicloud business, and the CIO is — increasingly — expected to answer for inefficiencies, regulatory lapses, poor financial controls, and more, wherever they crop up in a sprawling and confused IT estate.

The easy solution might be, at first glance, to assert control. To select a single provider, and to enforce that selection. To prowl the corridors of the business, plucking public cloud credentials and SaaS admin accounts from the unwilling fingers of employees. 

But the braver CIO is the CIO who embraces their multicloud reality, who works to understand how and why committed and engaged employees felt it necessary to seek out their own solutions, and who learns lessons from the failures of the recent past.

And it's this CIO who is the champion of my latest report, published today: A Clear Multicloud Strategy Delivers Business Value.

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Mobile Becomes A Key Success Imperative For CIOs

Dan Bieler

Forrester survey data highlights the urgency for the CIO to complete the mobile mind shift. In the age of the customer, great mobile solutions are the basis for catering to clients, empowering employees, and optimizing supplier and partner relationships. Yet, the mobile mind shift has its roots in the consumer environment. Most of us have gone “mobile native” over the last few years, having grown accustomed to using apps on our smartphones and tablets at home. This has changed the way we think, look for information, communicate with others, and conduct transactions.

Mobile is now a vital part of the CIO’s business technology agenda to help enhance customer experience, employee productivity, and new revenue channels. Every CIO will need to provide his organization with mobile solutions that support these business requirements. The lack of a comprehensive mobile approach with dedicated interdisciplinary teams for mobile and digital initiatives will translate into lower revenues and many business failures in the years ahead. The most visionary and forward-looking CIOs, meanwhile, are using mobile to build the steppingstones for their digital transformation:

  • Businesses that are most mature in mobile also have the fastest revenue growth rates. Forrester survey data highlights that the most “mobile-mature” organizations also have higher revenue growth rates than the mobile laggards. Mobility is thus an important revenue driver.
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Telstra Shows Promise For European CIOs As A Network Solutions Provider In Asia

Dan Bieler

At a recent event in Sydney, Telstra, Australia’s incumbent network solutions provider, provided new insights into its strategic activities under its new CEO Andrew Penn. Overall, Telstra’s strategy remains in line with that communicated last year; we suggested then that for European CIOs and technology managers, Telstra represents an attractive network solutions provider for their organizations’ activities in Asia. But Telstra has evolved since then. Discussions with Telstra executives have provided us with new information and have led us to several new observations:

  • Telstra’s digital strategy is beginning to take shape but remains fragmented. Like many other telcos, Telstra has created a digital division to develop digital retail offerings for SMBs and consumers. In its current shape, this approach carries some risks, as Telstra’s Global Enterprise Services and Software divisions are also pursuing separate digital activities. As a result, duplicate and potentially contradictory digital offerings could emerge. Although Telstra claims that it is coordinating these activities, the current set-up underlines the fact that Telstra doesn’t yet have a digitized strategy; it is instead pursuing several digital strategies. This could cause confusion for customers, inefficiencies for Telstra, and flawed end-to-end customer journey mapping, thus undermining the value that Telstra can deliver to CIOs as a business enabler.
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The Role Of Telcos In Digital Ecosystems: Gaps Between Ambition And Reality

Dan Bieler

Poor network infrastructure undermines all digital transformation initiatives. The major technology building blocks affecting digital business are mobility, cloud, big data insights, and social collaboration. Thus, the key contribution to digital ecosystems by telcos is undoubtedly the provisioning of quality connectivity. However, many telcos we speak to have much larger ambitions. Can telcos increase their role in the digital value chain — and if so, how? Several macro-trends have an impact on the potential for telcos in digital ecosystems:

  • Rising customer sophistication is driving businesses to become more customer-obsessed. Businesses must work with ecosystem partners and vendors to improve customer experiences and drive operational excellence to enhance smart manufacturing, distribution, and supply chains. These operational ecosystems are essential to support the customer in his various life-cycle stages. Ultimately, the future of telcos in the digital context will be decided by their big data, cloud, and service orchestration capabilities.
  • Poor network infrastructure constitutes a major CIO challenge. CIOs at leading companies must support their organizations to take on the role of major ecosystem hubs with the assistance of mobility, cloud, big data insights, and social collaboration. The value and quality of digital ecosystem membership correlates with the quality of network-based interaction and collaboration solutions.
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Microsoft and T-Systems Find Innovative Solution To Address Customer Data Privacy Concerns

Paul Miller

The big public cloud providers, most of which are still from the United States, sometimes have a hard time finding ways to balance their legal obligations at home with the quite different sensitivities they encounter amongst their new international customers. For a long time, the toolkit has been pretty consistent: site data centres as close to the customer as possible, vehemently support political efforts to harmonize laws, and ocassionally be seen to stand up to the worst execesses of Government over-reach.

Photo of German and European flags in Berlin, from Flickr user Luigi Rosa
(Source: Flickr user Luigi Rosa. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution License)

Microsoft's announcements in Germany today appear, on the surface, to follow that model pretty closely. But there's a twist that's potentially very important as we move forward.

First, the standard bit. Microsoft, yesterday, announced new data centres will be operational in the UK next year, joining existing European facilities in Dublin and Amsterdam. Big competitor Amazon did much the same last week, announcing that a new UK data centre will be online in the UK by "2016 or 2017." Given the vague timescales, it might be easy to assume that Amazon was trying to steal a little of Microsoft's thunder with a half-baked pre-announcement. And then, today, Microsoft announced two new data centres in Germany. Amazon already has a facility there, of course.

So, why's this interesting? 

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The Emergence Of The German Digital Autobahn Ecosystem

Dan Bieler

A few days ago, at an event hosted by Continental, Deutsche Telekom AG, Fraunhofer ESK, and Nokia Networks, I came across an interesting example of an emerging mobile Internet-of-Things (IoT) solution: the initiative to “connect the Autobahn” in Germany. The goal of the Digitales Testfeld Autobahn initiative is to develop a platform that allows a wide range of players to access a common platform for digital services in the context of Germany’s road infrastructure. The event also included a test drive to highlight how driving “assistants” in connected cars could communicate with a latency of about 15 milliseconds. Discussions at the event underlined several insights that CIOs should consider when devising mobile IoT solutions:

  • Ecosystem partnerships create more value for IoT solutions than standalone approaches. At the event, Deutsche Telekom’s CEO, Continental’s Head of Interior Electronic Solutions, Nokia’s VP of Strategy, Fraunhofer-Institute’s Head of Embedded Systems, and Germany’s Minister for Transport all pointed to the necessity for close cooperation to make the “digital Autobahn” platform work. Proprietary OEM technologies will not boost the connected road infrastructure. Continental told us that open IoT systems create more value than closed systems for the company and its customers. To uncover its true potential, the “digital Autobahn” platform will also need to be open to third parties like weather forecasters, retailers, and entertainment companies. This means that CIOs need to support open APIs.
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Predictions 2016: Welcome To The Digital Savvy, Customer Obsessed CIO

Nigel Fenwick

It’s that time of year! The time when every prognosticator comes up with their predictions for the next year. And this year my colleague Pascal and I took the lead in developing our 2016 predictions for the CIO role.

Rather than call out banal and obvious trends I wanted to make a stronger call on the CIO role in particular. In part this is because so many people gleefully post blogs predicting the demise of the CIO. And in part simply because it sometimes feels like I see the role of the CIO differently to many; as first and foremost a business leader.

So will 2016 be the end of the CIO role as we know it?

“No" is my simple answer. In 2016 the Age Of The Customer will further accelerate the role of technology in creating new sources of customer value to drive revenue. As a result we’ll see more and more CEOs expecting their CIOs to help lead their firm toward a clear digital future.

CEOs realize that, increasingly, future growth is tied to their ability to continuously deliver new digital services that create value for customers – across both B2C and B2B business environments. But failure to meet evolving customer expectations will result in losing customers and ultimately lower revenue growth. Without a technology team focused on building the digital platforms of tomorrow, companies cannot hope to keep up with their evolving customer expectations. 2016 will be a pivotal year for CIOs and CEOs – one that will see a significant change in leadership thinking when it comes to a company’s technology capabilities and digital assets.

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Forrester’s 2016 Data Predictions: Out With Data Pack Rats. Turn Data Into Action

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Instinctively we know that it is not just about collecting the data. Big and bigger doesn’t necessarily make you smart and smarter.  It just makes you one of those pack rats that has piles of stuff in all corners of your house.  Yes, it might be very well organized and could have a potential use that makes it work keeping. But will you ever take it out and use it? Will you ever really benefit from what you’ve so painstakingly collected? Likely not.

Image GalleryDon’t be a data pack rat.  This is the year to turn your data into actions and positive business outcomes.

In 2016, the energy around data-driven investments will continue to elevate the importance of data and create incremental improvement in business performance for many but some serious digital disruption for others.  Here are a few of our data predictions for 2016.

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Atos’ Acquisition Of Unify Offers The Potential For A New Enterprise Collaboration Platform

Dan Bieler

French IT service provider Atos has reached an agreement to acquire Unify, a provider of integrated communication solutions, from The Gores Group and Siemens for an enterprise value of €590 million, of which €340 million is cash. Unify’s 5,600 employees generated an estimated €1.2 billion in revenue in 2014. Atos, 12% of which is owned by Siemens, hopes to finalize the deal in the first quarter of 2016.

Over the past few years, Unify has managed to transform its portfolio from traditional PBX products to robust, scalable, and carrier-grade solutions for IP voice, web collaboration, video conferencing, mobility, and advanced messaging; clients can add these to existing communication infrastructure to enhance business processes and productivity. However, this transformation wasn’t always easy for Unify’s customers, as it brought disruption and often meant integration and transition assistance. What can Unify’s customers expect should the Atos deal materialize? We believe that the deal will:

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OpenStack Pushes Local Stories In Tokyo

Paul Miller

I was in Tokyo last week, for the latest OpenStack Summit. Over 5,000 people joined me from around the world, to discuss this open source cloud project's latest - Liberty - release, to lay the groundwork for next year's Mitaka release, and to highlight stories of successful adoption.

Tokyo's Hamarikyu Gardens combine old with new (Source: Paul Miller)

And, unlike many events, this wasn't a hermetically sealed bubble of blandly anodyne mid-Atlantic content, served up to the same globe-trotting audience in characterless rooms that could so easily have been in London, Frankfurt, or Chicago. Instead, we heard from local implementers of OpenStack like Fujitsu, Yahoo! Japan, and - from just across the water - SK Telecom and Huawei. 

In keynotes, case studies, and deep-dive technical sessions, attendees learned what worked, debated where to go next, and considered the project's complicated relationship to containers, software-defined networks, the giants of the public cloud, and more.

My colleague, Lauren Nelson, and I have just published a Quick Take to capture some of our immediate impressions from the event. As our report discusses, the Foundation is making some good progress but there are a number of clear challenges that must still be addressed. How well do you think the Foundation is addressing the challenges we discuss?