AT&T Delivers Its Network On Demand

Dan Bieler

I believe that network-as-a-service-type offerings — where customers can control the provisioning and characteristics of their network transport services — will have a long-term impact on those enterprises undertaking digital transformation. Businesses that fail to recognize the significance of quality network infrastructure will undermine their digital business strategy. Secure, stable network connectivity is a prerequisite for using cloud, mobile, big data, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) solutions. As the business technology (BT) agenda gains momentum, CIOs are looking to technologies like virtualization and cloud that create agility by dynamically responding to business conditions. Network infrastructure has been a laggard on this score — until now.

AT&T has unveiled its solution, Network on Demand. It’s the basis for a new category of services aligned with customer requirements, including self-service access, control, and configuration of network bandwidth and features like security, routing, and load balancing. Network on Demand:

  • Gives customers control of network services. Network on Demand offers a completely different customer experience regarding network provisioning. Near-real-time provisioning via a self-service portal makes the customer’s network responsive to business needs.
  • Is a real game changer in the realm of connectivity solutions. As on-demand networks take off, products have the potential to become features on an access pipe that customers can turn on and off rather than remaining standalone "silo production".
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Mobile Solutions For The Internet Of Things Raise The Prospects For Edge Computing

Dan Bieler

Source: Forrester

I recently attended IBM BusinessConnect 2015 in Germany. I had great discussions regarding industrial Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrie 4.0 solutions as well as digital transformation in the B2B segment. One issue that particularly caught my attention: edge computing in the context of the mobile IoT.

Mobility in the IoT context raises the question when to use a central computing approach versus when to use edge computing. The CIO must decide whether solution intelligence should primarily reside in a central location or at the edge of the network and therefore closer to (or even inside) mobile IoT devices like cars, smart watches, or smart meters. At least three factors should guide this decision:

  • Data transmission costs. The costs of data transmission can quickly undermine any mobile IoT business case. For instance, aircraft engine sensors collect massive amounts of data during a flight but send only a small fraction of that data in real time via satellite connectivity to a central data monitoring center while the plane is in the air. All other data is sent via Wi-Fi or traditional mobile broadband connectivity like UMTS or LTE once the plane is on the ground.
  • Mobile bandwidth, latency, and speed. The available bandwidth limits the amount of data that can be transmitted at any given time, limiting the use cases for mobile IoT. For instance, sharing large volumes of data about the turbines of a large container ship and detailed inventory measurements of each container on board is completely impractical unless the ship is close to a coastal area with high mobile broadband connectivity.
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Amazon Web Services Pushes Enterprise And Hybrid Messages At re:Invent

Paul Miller

The hordes gathered in Las Vegas this week, for Amazon's latest re:Invent show. Over 18,000 individuals queued to get into sessions, jostled to reach the Oreo Cookie Popcorn (yes, really), and dodged casino-goers to hear from AWS, its partners and its customers. Las Vegas may figure nowhere on my list of favourite places, but the programme of Analyst sessions AWS laid on for earlier in the week definitely justified this trip.

The headline items (the Internet of Things, Business Intelligence, and a Snowball chucked straight at the 'hell' that is the enterprise data centre (think about it)) are much-discussed, but in many ways the more interesting stuff was AWS' continued - quiet, methodical, inexorable - improvement of its current offerings. One by one, enterprise 'reasons' to avoid AWS or its public cloud competitors are being systematically demolished.

Not headline-worthy, but important. And, as I and a number of my colleagues note in our Quick Take view on this week's show, AWS is most definitely turning up the heat. Frogs, we're told, don't know they're being boiled alive if you just turn up the heat slowly. CIOs, hopefully, are paying more attention to the warmth of AWS, all around them.

Microsoft Begins To Bridge The Smartphone/Laptop Divide With Windows 10

Tim Sheedy
On 6th October, 2015 Microsoft launched a number of new devices into the market, including the Microsoft Surface 4, Surface Book, and a number of new Lumia smartphones. While the hardware is certainly attractive, that is not enough to peak my interest, nor that of my clients. What is interesting, however, is the introduction of the Microsoft Display Dock and Continuum for phones. This new technology allows users to connect their smartphone to a screen, keyboard, and mouse and use the smartphone on a large screen – running universal Windows apps designed for the PC and phone. Suddenly the power of Windows 10 as a universal operating system can be realized.
While not a complete PC experience, it will be enough for a lot of users within your business. Most firms have employees that only require casual PC access (think site staff in construction firms, store management in retail, traveling sales staff, factory floor management teams etc). At present we spend more than we need to in order to serve these employees – often providing a dedicated PC or laptop for them – along with their smartphone. In a world where universal Windows apps are readily available, many or all of these users could be given a smartphone and a Display Dock to use with a screen on-site or at home – helping you save money and direct this spending perhaps to rewriting your internal applications as universal Windows apps. Even a communal screen and dock would be enough in some workplaces.
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CIOs: 5 Steps To Take Digital Disruption From Theory To Reality

Steven Peltzman

As CIOs, we all know digital disruption is happening at a rampant rate. The challenge we face is moving it from theory to reality. An executive at a client company recently posed the following questions to me: “How do you actually innovate and defend against this digital disruption without blowing up the budget? How do you really do that?”

For me, there are definitely a few steps that take this often discussed CIO requirement from the abstract to the concrete:

Are you close to your customers?
Everyone has customers of some kind, including B2B. Do you know where the pain points are in your customer experience? Where the opportunities are to innovate? You’ve got to understand this dynamic and the best way to start that is with customer journey mapping.  Follow it up by  keeping this “conversation” going by leading or staying involved in a regular customer testing and feedback effort or program. Above all, get out and talk to customers!

Can you innovate on your own mainstream platforms, quick and dirty?
If you can’t innovate easily on your major internal platforms — weeks or days, not months for moderately/small-sized innovations — digital disruptors and likely your direct competitors both have a significant leg up on you. This year alone, we’ve launched 35 small-to-medium, innovative improvements to our business by taking advantage of our SaaS platform. Business moves too fast to wait for months.

Do you use the same tools that startups use to go fast?

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From Insights To Innovation: Data-Driven Disruption

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Tomorrow Forrester will host our Geneva-based clients for a breakfast meeting and discussion on “Powering Innovation Strategies with Insights.” My colleague, Luca Paderni, will kick off the morning with a presentation on digital disruption in the age of the customer, specifically looking at how to take a pragmatic approach to innovation with the “adjacent possible.” Then I will lead a discussion on how to build an action-oriented approach to data and analytics, exploring examples of companies that have successfully turned their data into new business opportunities – into data-derived innovation. 

Thanks to Forrester’s Business Technographics, we know that business and technology leaders prioritize initiatives that secure their position in the age of the customer – to improve customer experience, address rising customer expectations, and improve their products and services (kind of all the same thing, or very closely related). It’s all about the customer.  But when we ask about these priorities, the one that comes next – right after the customer-focused initiatives – is innovation: “improving our ability to innovate.” They know that the disruptions they face in the age of the customer won’t be addressed with business as usual (BAU as one of my clients referred to it yesterday; I learned a new TLA).  Innovation has been elevated to an initiative, which means that executives are focused on it and likely someone is in-charge of it – we’ll come back to that one. 

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Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad AI?

Peter Burris

I’ve read a lot recently about the emerging danger of increasingly powerful artificial intelligence. Are there dangers? Of course, but I don’t think we have to worry about machines suddenly deciding it’s in their best interest to end humanity. Here’s why:

The debate first assumes that machines develop a “self-interest” that’s distinct from their programming. Again, leaving aside all the research that demonstrates that the relationship in humans between self-interest, rationality, and intelligence is weak, at best, let’s assume that machines do “learn”:

  • the need to protect “themselves”;
  • acts that can protect them from humans;
  • the ability to discern the impacts of taking those acts; and
  • acquire enough control to execute those acts.
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The Top Tech Trends To Watch: 2016 To 2018 — Should Help Accelerate CIOs’ BT Agenda

Bobby Cameron

CIOs already face significant pressure to understand and respond to digitally empowered customers. And as their firms’ customer experience (CX) focus intensifies, CIOs must bring digital into the heart of customer engagements — leveraging technology to assure high value end to end across the customer life cycle.

The next wave of tech trends to watch — 2016 to 2018 — support tech management’s move to the heart of digital CX implementation. Today’s mainstream CX investment path has individual organizations making point investments in the latest technology inventions — like social, mobile, big data, cloud, and analytics. But today’s leading firms are delivering solutions that reach end to end across customers’ journeys and across systems that connect the employees who service the customer life cycle. And these trends will accelerate over the next three years.

We see the top tech trends making this shift in three phases from 2016 through 2018:

■        Visionaries will dominate dawning phase trends as they drive point inventions to address specific business organizations’ opportunities.

■        Fast followers will discover the limits of point solutions in the awareness phase and begin to work through the challenges of end-to-end innovation.

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OpenStack Is Now Ready For Business

Paul Miller

The open source cloud computing project, OpenStack, has a reputation as a bit of a science project; technologically interesting, fine for those who don’t mind getting their hands dirty, but not something that normal companies are going to depend upon for anything serious or important.

That reputation, although possibly justifiable a year or two back, really doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny anymore. And that’s what my very first (short) Forrester report argues.

OpenStack is now ready for business, but implementation is not without its challenges.

As part of the selection process here at Forrester, prospective analysts prepare a short report in the Forrester style. They also deliver a presentation based upon that report, and defend their hypothesis in the face of some pointed questioning.

An earlier version of this report was my interview piece, which I wrote back in June. The tone and broad argument remain pretty true to the original, but a number of my new colleagues proved invaluable in deepening arguments, augmenting assertions with more data, and enriching the whole with extra endnotes and links to additional resources. Lauren Nelson, in particular, contributed a wealth of material gathered during her own work for May’s longer OpenStack Is Ready - Are You? Today’s document may have begun life as ‘mine’ (cue Gollum impression), but the piece that Forrester clients can now download is very much a team effort. This, I hear, will be a recurring theme here!

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Huawei’s ICT Summit Shows Digital Transformation Redefining Oil & Gas

Bobby Cameron

It’s easy to see digital transformation playing a major role in consumer-facing firms. Digital customer experience sits at the core of retail — through Web sites, mobile devices, and increased focus on customer experience across the complete engagement cycle. However, it might be surprising for many how digital technology transforms core process industries like oil & gas.

At Huawei’s Global Energy Industry Summit 2015 — held this past August 19 in Almaty, Kazakhstan — the impact of digital to this traditional industry was the key topic. At this conference I gave a keynote, prepared with my colleague Holger Kisker, on the major industry trends and the challenges and opportunities of the digital business transformation in oil & gas. The current deep price drop for oil has focused firms on rapid and targeted response to increasingly dynamic markets of hydrocarbon supply and demand.

Some roles in the sector have a natural ability to thrive in price drops — like refiners, distributors, and retailers. But the closer you get to production, the tougher it is to stay whole. And this is where digital comes in. Firms that can dynamically react to volatile market needs — with growing operational efficiency — can meet market and customers’ changing expectations and still make money. And digital is at the core of this capability.

These challenges in oil production operations clearly highlight problems, like the aging workforce, leaving gaps across the industry. But filling the biggest operational gap will, at the same time, open the biggest door. Take, for example, the absence of modern remote sensor equipment at the majority of wells. When production falls off, many pumps must be checked by people traveling into the field to determine the cause. It’s costly, slow, and misses critical information like reduced cred pressure and production volumes.

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