Skype + Lync and Microsoft Skype President Tony Bates' Coming Out Party

Ted Schadler

Sadly, I'm not in San Diego this week to hear Tony Bates' keynote coming out speech in person. (Well, happily, actually, as I'm skiing with family in Vermont -- great snow today!)

But I do have context on this announcement as I've been analyzing both the consumerization brand, Skype, and the enterprise brand, Lync, for years now. When Microsoft did the Skype deal going on two years ago, I posted on Microsoft's opportunity to bring Skype values to Lync customers and deployments as it has acquired a consumerization brand, a cloud service to sell, and a chance to do B2B communications properly.

At a glance from afar, it looks as if almost two years later, Microsoft under Microsoft Skype president, Bates, has kept its eye on this prize. What I see from Vermont is that Microsoft is in fact:

  • Re-humanizing business communications, a good and much-needed thing. (Okay, I like the phrase re-humanizing. It must stem from having played rock n' roll fulltime in the Police-laden "rehumanize yourself"'80s.) If people can't easily use the tools, then they won't bother. This is the essense of consumerization: people using readily available and affordable technology on their own to get work done. Microsoft appears to be understanding and focusing on the consumerization values of Skype. We'll wait to see the Lync-meets-Skype experience, but it sounds good on paper, anyway.
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From An Enterprise Perspective, Mobile World Congress 2013 Will Focus More On Solutions

Dan Bieler

As an analyst who focuses on the future of communications and the implications for business, I will travel to Mobile World Congress (MWC) with several expectations:

  • There will be a greater focus on business solutions, not just hardware and software exhibits. OK, in many respects, this is probably more of a hope of mine than an expectation. MWC visitors will still encounter hall after hall of software and hardware. Still, I expect many exhibitors, including device players like Samsung, to show a growing awareness by focusing more on actual end user business needs, including a vertical perspective.
  • Consumerization as a focus area is just heating up. The information workforce is fragmenting. Information workers will increasingly expect to work in a flexible framework. Forrester’s research highlights significant differences in communication and collaboration behavior between age groups. Social media — the communication channel of choice for those now entering the workforce — brings big challenges for businesses in the areas of procurement, compliance, human resources, and IT. However, I expect these themes to be addressed mostly superficially at MWC.
  • The merger of big data, mobility, and cloud computing is recognised as a large business opportunity. Mobility by itself only scratches the surface of the opportunities in areas like customer interaction, go-to-market dynamics, charging, and product development, which are emerging in combination with big data and cloud computing. I expect providers like SAP to touch on several aspects of this trend. The momentum is supported by the trend toward software-defined networking.
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Misaligned Perspectives Are Driving CIOs And The Business Apart In India

Manish Bahl

Data from the Forrsights Budgets and Priorities Tracker Survey, Q4 2012 highlights the increasing gap between CIOs and business decision-makers (BDMs) in India — a gap that originates in misaligned perspectives. The rapid rise of social media, cloud computing, and mobility in India has started to significantly affect how organizations do business in the country. Business leaders’ use of consumer technology has changed their expectations of how enterprise IT should be harnessed. They increasingly seek to use technology in innovative ways in order to gain a competitive edge and drive business growth. However, most CIOs are still caught in the old world of focusing exclusively on IT budgets and project delivery performance issues:

I recently spoke with a few CIOs in India to explore their views on the reasons behind this misalignment. When I shared data from the chart above and asked their opinions on the insights, some interesting findings that came out:

  • There are many “heads of IT” and few “business technology (BT) CIOs” in India. One CIO from a large auto manufacturing firm mentioned that a majority of CIOs in India are actually “IT heads” who think and act mainly from an IT perspective. Even worse, their thinking is generally very hardware-centric. This CIO’s opinion is in sync with my recent  report highlighting the fact that Indian CIOs are at risk of losing business credibility (and eventually their jobs) if they do not improve their understanding of BT.
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Why CIOs Must Care About New API Management Platforms. Hint, It's About Mobile Apps.

Ted Schadler

Thanks to the good work of my colleagues Eve Maler and Jeffrey Hammond, we have a new Forrester Wave on API Management Platforms, including evaluations of Layer 7, Mashery, WSO2, Intel, IBM, Vordel, and 3Scale. I won't spill the beans on the leaders, but I will share some of their analysis with my own interpretation to explain why you must care. First, let's define API management platforms as:

Middleware that developers use to publish and configure interfaces and that applications use at runtime to connect to the data services they need.

Here's why API management platforms matter:

  1. As you build mobile apps for customers, partners, and employees, you need apps that perform well over the last wireless mile. And that means you need a great, RESTful API that provides design-time and runtime access to data services hosted by your on-premises applications. Think of it as "cloud-connect" technology that lets the data inside your datacenter get out and back (securely) to the mobile app that needs it. As mobile apps get more and more transactional, the need for API management platforms will become even more critical.
     
  2. You are just getting going on the number, breadth, and complexity of the data service APIs you will need to build and operate. As mobile apps get interesting, with transactions, integrated applications, and more and better content and collaboration, you will need solutions that handle all those integration points. Think of it this way: RESTful interfaces give you the means, but now you need a system to handle the sheer number of APIs you are and will be building.
     
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Google Pays Orange To Carry Video Traffic

Dan Bieler

Orange’s CEO mentioned during a business show on French TV that Orange is receiving money from Google for transmitting Google’s traffic (most of which stems from YouTube). No details about the financial arrangement of the year-old deal were disclosed.

Given the well-known explosion in data traffic, carriers must invest a significant amount in their network infrastructure to support this traffic. See the Forrester report, “The Future Of Telecom: Strategies To Move Off The Endangered Species List,” for more information. For years, carriers have argued that online service providers (OSPs) like Google should pay for using the carrier network infrastructure.

So, does the Orange-Google deal mean that Orange has won a true victory and that the balance of power between carriers and OSPs is restored? Does the deal really address the challenges of the carrier world? Hardly.

  • Carriers rely on video content that drives demand for high broadband connectivity. Moreover, consumers already pay the carriers for their broadband connectivity. In my opinion, there is a valid argument that those end users who want high-quality video should be able to have it at extra cost. But this extra fee could be paid directly to the carrier in the form of a high-end broadband connection fee. Alternatively, the carrier could offer wholesale connectivity to OSPs, allowing the OSPs to offer content that comes with embedded high-quality connectivity.
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SharePoint, Meet Yammer; Is It Time For Microsoft To Burn The Boats?

Rob Koplowitz

In collaboration, there are cloud vendors, on-premises vendors and hybrid vendors. Here's the thing; hybrid vendors are not really cloud vendors. What do I mean by that? Let's look at two different applications that both run as part of Office 365; SharePoint and Yammer. SharePoint is hybrid (Microsoft will happily allow you to choose between an on-prem or cloud) and Yammer is pure cloud. In many respects they are similar; both run in Microsoft run data centers, can be purchased on a subscription basis, are fast and easy to provision, provide automated upgrades, put reliability and security in the hands of the vendor, etc. Lots to like about running an application in the cloud. 

Here's where they are not alike. A pure cloud vendor is fundamentally better positioned to gather requirements and deliver new functionality faster. Let's take a look at a new release process might work with a product based on a traditional product software develop approach, like SharePoint:

  • A business planning cycle determines new requirements that are critical to market success
  • A product planning cycle determines which features and functions are technically and economically feasible to build within the development cycle
  • Engineering builds a new release of the product
  • The product code goes through multiple release stages to get market feedback and test the stability of the new features and functions 
  • The product becomes GA (generally available) 
  • Rinse and repeat
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Choosing Between Microsoft Office 365 And Google Apps Hinges On Your Belief In The Vendor's Vision

TJ Keitt

Over the last couple of years, I've fielded a number of inquiries from Forrester clients who are trying to decide whether their company should move their email and other collaboration workloads into the cloud via Google Apps for Business or Microsoft Office 365. This conversation has gained so much momentum that I recently did a podcast with my colleague Mike Gualtieri on the subject, will host a teleconference covering the topic on February 26, and will soon publish a report detailing answers to five of the common questions that we get about online collaboration and productivity suites (which include Office 365, Google Apps, and IBM SmartCloud for Social Business). Fueling this extended conversation are business and IT leaders' deliberations over one question: Is there a right or wrong in selecting one vendor's offering over the other? I'll use a typical analyst hedge to answer: It depends.

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Government Innovation Is Not An Oxymoron

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

 

Really, it is not. I was heartened to see that it doesn’t even make the oxymoron list, which does however include “government worker,” “congressional ethics,” and the rather hackneyed “military intelligence.” In fact, governments are innovating all over the place, particularly with the help of new technologies and a growing constituency of civic-minded developers.

One of my colleagues here at Forrester asked me today if I was planning to write a Playbook on smart cities. While we don’t have a government playbook currently in the works, we have a number of reports that share market trends and industry best practices. So I thought I’d pull together a list. 

Here are a few examples of Forrester reports that illustrate government innovation. My series on smart cities includes:

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The Gamification Of Business

Nigel Fenwick
GamificationThe most engaging, most entertaining, and most stimulating presentation of IBM Connect 2013 came on the third day at the end of the opening session. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't know Jane McGonigal when she came on stage. But after a minute I was fully engaged and tweeting insights and pearls of wisdom from her presentation. 
 
I had missed the title of her presentation, but Jane was already throwing out fascinating data points on game playing. Now you have to understand, game playing to me is that thing my son does to avoid doing his homework. I haven't thought deeply about games since I built two animated game simulations on an Apple II to teach people business in my final year of university back in '84 (now I'm dating myself).
 
"We've invested 400,000 years playing Angry Birds" - Jane is on a roll now. I'm thinking "oh my, I too had contributed a few of those hours." Before giving it up as a colossal waste of time of course. I didn't know it, but apparently I was suffering from what Clive Thompson calls "gamers regret".
 
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Cisco's message is getting clearer

Dan Bieler

 

At the Cisco Live EMEAR 2013 event in London, Cisco brought a new down-to-earth dynamism to the table. The vision for how Cisco is intending to empower its clients in an evermore connected world is becoming clearer. In this blog, Forrester analysts Dan Bieler and Peter O’Neill discuss their take-home messages from the event:

Hosted Collaboration Solution is empowering its high-end channel partners.

Dan. HCS, Cisco’s hosted collaboration suite, allows carriers to offer cloud-based as-a-service solutions, comprising unified communications, telepresence, contact centre, as well as a range of communication features under the Jabber brand. In EMEAR, BT, Telefonica, and Vodafone are already selling HCS, primarily aiming it at MNC customers. It remains to be seen whether the HCS pitch is the right one for smaller carriers and SMBs, especially as Cisco remains committed to catering to SMBs.

Peter. They also need to think about being more attractive to the needs of midmarket system integrators and MSPs. That means they must provide different price configurations that are attractive to SMBs. Positioning themselves only to the national telcos is quite restrictive and doesn’t match the increasing demand we are seeing for these solutions across the market. But, of course, if they want to compete in the SMB segment, they’ll compete with Google and Microsoft and their pricing strategies. The best way to run two pricing strategies is to use two brands.

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