Public Cloud Providers Embark On A European Building Spree

Paul Miller

A Google data centre in Finland. Image source: Google.
(A data centre in Hamina, Finland. Source: Google)

Not long ago, European customers of the global public cloud vendors relied upon a single data centre ‘region’ for all their cloud computing needs. From Lisbon to Lviv, Kiruna to Kalamata, customers of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure sent everything to Ireland, and customers of the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) sent everything to Belgium. And, mostly, public cloud’s early adopters in Europe just got on with it.

For the majority of public cloud workloads, storing and processing data somewhere in the European Economic Area (EEA) really was — and is — good enough. Network latency was mostly low enough not to be a problem, and European regulations covered the main use cases well enough to appease all but the most cautious lawyers.

But connections can always be faster, and there are still use cases in regulated industries and government where keeping personal data inside specific geographic borders is either essential or encouraged. And, more and more often these days, customers just seem to feel happier when their data doesn’t leave the country. Mostly, no law requires it, and no regulation recommends it. But it’s still happening. We should all be pushing back against this odd trend towards data balkanisation, much harder than we are.

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Expectations And Suggestions For Mobile World Congress 2017 Visitors — From An Enterprise Angle

Dan Bieler

Photo: Bergman Group

Between February 27 and March 2, 2017, Mobile World Congress (MWC) will once again take place in Barcelona. Last year, over 100,000 attendees visited the event in search of new insights about “everything mobile.” This year’s MWC theme is "The Next Element" and aims to underline how elemental mobile has become in our everyday lives. I would go further, as I believe that mobility is increasingly treated as a key enabler of the wider digital transformation process. From an enterprise perspective, I expect that during MWC 2017:

  • Process-mobilization debates will gradually replace technology discussions. I expect a little less hype around the features and functions of shiny mobile devices and network components this year. I hope that there will be more of a debate about how mobility can enhance business processes and change business models. Events like Web Summit host more advanced debates about the impact of smart devices on accelerating the business platform economy. MWC 2017 visitors should look for relevant case studies from the likes of GE Digital that underline how these business platforms can support positive business outcomes.
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Skynet is nearing awareness?

Matthew Guarini

In the Terminator franchise, the rise of uncontrollable artificial intelligence (AI) result in threats to the existence of mankind. While the movies provide a stark image of where AI may take us, the risks have a basis in reality. I will leave it to my colleague, Martha Bennett, to talk about the challenges that AI presents to today's tech leaders. Check out her blog here: http://blogs.forrester.com/martha_bennett/17-01-09-reap_the_benefits_while_avoiding_the_pitfalls_the_three_key_challenges_that_could_derail_your_ai_pr.

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In The Digital World, CIOs Need To Help The Business Move Faster

Tim Sheedy
Too many businesses believe that their digital business strategy is actually a roadmap, or a series of IT projects. Being digital is a capability – in your business it impacts the culture, metrics, organization, skills, and finally – the technology.
 
As a CIO, one of the most important roles you’ll play is helping to make the business FAST – removing friction points from processes and enabling new capabilities to be developed as required by the customer, partners, and business stakeholders. Too often technology is one of the (many!) bottlenecks in our ability to quickly meet customer needs or respond to changing or new competitive threats.
 
I recently had the chance to spend some time with some senior technology leaders in Sydney discussing the need for quality when delivering digital business outcomes. With the growing need for speed, many businesses sacrifice quality for speed. This is ok – to an extent – but there are also many companies with their own horror stories of delivering a mobile app that is unstable, a website that is slow, or a connected/smart product that doesn’t work as planned. It can take years to recover from negative feedback and bad mobile app ratings, and poor products can cost millions in ongoing customer support.
 
Unfortunately, QA and Testing have too often been afterthoughts in the rush to Agile development. Your Quality Assurance and Testing practices must adapt to digital business too – testing needs to be able to accelerate development – not slow it down. QA needs to focus on customer needs. The QA team need to speak the language of the customer, get involved with new technology projects at the ideation stage, line up and manage test data before it is required, and empower developers to do much of the testing themselves. 
 
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Reap The Benefits While Avoiding The Pitfalls: The Three Key Challenges That Could Derail Your AI Project

Martha Bennett

It’s been abundantly clear for a while that in 2017, artificial intelligence (AI) is going to be front and center of vendor marketing as well as enterprise interest. Not that AI is new – it’s been around for decades as a computer science discipline. What’s different now is that advances in technology have made it possible for companies ranging from search engine providers to camera and smartphone manufacturers to deliver AI-enabled products and services, many of which have become an integral part of many people’s daily lives. More than that, those same AI techniques and building blocks are increasingly available for enterprises to leverage in their own products and services without needing to bring on board AI experts, a breed that’s rare and expensive.

Sentient systems capable of true cognition remain a dream for the future.  But AI today can help organizations transform everything from operations to the customer experience. The winners will be those who not only understand the true potential of AI but are also keenly aware of what’s needed to deploy a performant AI-based system that minimizes rather than creates risk and doesn’t result in unflattering headlines.

These are the three key challenges all AI projects must tackle:

  • Underestimating the time and effort it takes to get an AI-powered system up and running. Even if the components are available out of the box, systems still need to be trained and fine-tuned. Depending on the exact use case and requirements for accuracy, it can be anything between a few hours and a couple of years to have a new system up and running. That’s assuming you have a well-curated data set available; if you don’t, that’s another challenge.
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Slow 3% To 4% Growth In Global Tech Market In 2017 And 2018 Due To Cloud Transition And Political Uncertainties

Andrew Bartels

In our just-published forecast for the global market for business and government purchases of technology goods and services (The Global Tech Market Outlook For 2017-2018: 3% to 4% Growth As Forces Of Disruption Battle With Forces Of Continuity), Forrester is projecting modest growth of 3.2% in 2017 and 3.9% in 2018 measured in constant currencies.  With the US dollar strengthening against most currencies in 2017 but likely to lose ground in 2018, global tech market growth in US dollars will be 2.8% in 2017 and 4.7% in 2018.

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Tell Your Board How Business Technology Will Help Win Customers

Matthew Guarini

Customers are more powerful than ever, and nothing is slowing that trend. Your Board is the primary body for setting, monitoring, and adapting strategy. Ensuring that the Board, and the C-suite,  is equipped with the proper insight and knowledge is a requirement. Research shows that CEOs rank technological change as the second-most-pressing factor for companies after economic factors. While the recognition of technology as a differentiator is a positive trend, CEOs cite concerns with the ability of their teams to handle this emerging future. Additionally, other research shows that Board members lack the knowledge and skills necessary to understand, develop, and implement tech-based strategies.  

Our latest report dives into these issues and provides recommendations that hit on strategy, cloud, budgeting and funding, cybersecurity, and innovation. We talk about the importance of getting on the Board’s standing agenda and using your tech and business credentials to drive credibility and support across the enterprise. CIOs who seize the day will help their firms, team, and selves succeed.

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Forrester’s 2017 Asia Pacific Predictions

Dane Anderson

Forrester recently presented our Asia Pacific 2017 Predictions at events across Singapore, Sydney, and Beijing, followed by a webinar earlier this week for customers across the region. We shared our view that businesses today are under attack, but not by their competitors. They are under attack from their customers. Three years ago, Forrester identified a major shift in the market, ushering in the age of the customer. Power has shifted away from companies and towards digitally savvy, technology-empowered customers who now decide winners and losers.

 

Our Empowered Customer Segmentation shows that consumers in Asia Pacific are evolving — and becoming more empowered — along five key dimensions. These five key shifts explain changing consumption trends and lead to a sense of customer empowerment: Consumers are increasingly willing to experiment, reliant on technology, inclined to integrate digital and physical experiences, able to handle large volumes of information, and determined to create the best experiences for themselves.

 
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The Future Of B2B Mobile Enterprise Services

Dan Bieler

Business-to-business (B2B) ecosystems facilitate the continuous exchange of information and collaboration. B2B ecosystems will play a central role for all businesses because they form the basis for redefining approaches toward innovation, knowledge management, supply-chain optimization, product development, sales, and marketing.

While the ultimate focus of these ecosystems is to create customer value, their more immediate effect is to drive operational agility in service of customers. Mobility will be a central enabler for these B2B digital ecosystems. Why?

  • Mobility is evolving beyond enterprise mobility management. Mobility shifts the way B2B ecosystems service their customers, support their partners, and affect competition. As a first step, technology teams need to move beyond enterprise mobility management (EMM). This comprises device, app, and content management, as well as telecom expenses, policy management, and security management. EMM relies on using several mobile apps in parallel without any functional integration between them.
  • Enterprise mobility experiences will significantly improve. Today, despite all the excitement concerning automation and machine learning, smart mobile devices still rely on direct user instructions. Business customers and employees have to move in and out of dedicated mobile apps to obtain support for specific business processes like procurement, product information, or sales analytics. These enterprise mobile apps rarely take into account the conditions that particular enterprise users find themselves in.
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Amazon Go Ushers In A New Era In Retail Technology

Nigel Fenwick

Amazon's new Amazon Go store ushers in a new era in brick and mortar grocery and convenience shopping. In the early 80's, electronic point of sale (POS) dramatically changed the checkout experience in grocery stores, speeding up checkout lines. Today, a checkout without POS is unthinkable unless it's a farm stand on the side of the road … and even here we're likely to see Square hooked up to a smartphone. But even with POS, the checkout has always been the big time waster in any grocery shopping experience. Until this week.

Six years ago, "The Ultimate Grocery Shopping App" described a future in which the grocery shopping experience was radically different from what existed in 2010. This week, Amazon has brought part of that vision to life by opening its first Amazon Go brick and mortar convenience store for Amazon employees in Seattle. A convenience store with no checkout lines … with no checkout.

Gone are the POS systems. Welcome to the era of automatic checkout. Amazon has used new technologies like image recognition and machine learning to go beyond at least some of the experience predicted back in 2010. Instead of shoppers having to scan items into their shopping cart, Amazon uses this advanced technology to track what shoppers pick up and add to their cart and what they put back on the shelf. No scanning, no checkout … just walk out and pay.

Why will this take off? Becuase it gives shoppers back significant time savings and it gives retailers potentially enormous costs savings.

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