Blockchain And IoT: Not Ready For Primetime, But Now’s The Time To Start

Martha Bennett

Few would disagree that for IoT to live up to its promises, devices will sooner or later need to communicate directly, autonomously and securely with each other. Well-architected blockchain-based systems can help deliver those requirements, but they’re not available or even feasible today. In many ways, that’s a good thing, because it opens up great opportunities to get things right.

So let's start by looking at the challenges that IoT and blockchain ecosystems participants must address. They fall into three broad categories:

  • Technology.  IoT solutions need technology that scales, is secure, and behaves predictably (at least to the degree required by the individual use case). All of these characteristics comprise many different elements. On the security front, for example, there’s the security of the device itself, the security of the actual blockchain, and the security of any interfaces between the devices and the chain, the chain and any other systems, etc. One only needs to look at the incidents such as The DAO debacle of early summer 2016, the Bitfinex hack in August, and the DDoS attacks mounted by IoT devices in October to realize that this remains work in progress. And that’s just security; there are plenty of other issues, including, but not limited to, exception handling, ensuring confidentiality, or dealing with devices that may not be connected all the time, and likely have little on-board compute power or storage.  
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Blockchain’s Potential For IoT Solutions

Dan Bieler

“IoT is not a feasible concept without a solution that allows for the direct interaction between machines and devices. Blockchain is a technology that can help to unlock this piece of the puzzle.”

Matthew Spoke, CEO, Nuco

Blockchain technology and the IoT both are currently catching the imagination of many interested stakeholders — for good reasons. For IoT to come into its own in the long run, devices sooner or later will have to communicate directly between each other. More than that, they must also be able to initiate further action without waiting for external instructions.

Blockchain can potentially add many benefits to IoT scenarios. Both — IoT and blockchain — are based on decentralized, distributed approaches; in combination, they potentially offer huge benefits from operational efficiencies to revenue generation. While these benefits will not emerge overnight, business and technology leaders need to acquaint themselves now with the possibilities as well as the challenges of blockchain technology in the IoT context, because:

  • Conceptually, blockchain technology is a good match for IoT scenarios. IoT applications are by definition distributed and call for devices to interact directly with each other rather than via existing centralized models.
  • Blockchain has the potential for improved IoT features, cost-efficiency, and compliance. Blockchain is not an end in itself, but forms the basis for applications, including potentially smart contracts, which support specific IoT processes.
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Predictions 2017: CEOs Invest Billions To Transform Operations With Digital Tech

Nigel Fenwick
You've been creating digital customer experiences for years now. You've built a successful app. You’ve assembled a martech/adtech stack. You may even have started swinging at omnichannel delivery or harnessed AI or piloted a connected product. So it’s time to declare victory on digital transformation, right? 
 
Think again.
 
Digital customer experiences are only the shining faces of a digital business. Those pretty faces quickly lose their luster unless you’ve also transformed your business operations to make them better every single day -- and introduce new digital faces all the time. We call this capability "digital operational excellence." It’s the 80 in the 80/20 rule of digital transformation. In our latest report, Predictions 2017: In Digital Transformation, The Hard Work Of Operational Excellence Begins,  my co-authors Ted SchadlerMartin Gill and I give Forrester's predictions for the next year in digital business, including these three:
 
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2017 CIO Predictions: CIOs Push For Speed Amid Volatility

Matthew Guarini

Get used to it. Gone are the days of stability and predictability. The business environment you operate in will change faster than ever in 2017. Many of these changes will be outside of your control, but your ability to anticipate and respond will make or break your success. At the heart of this change is the ever-more empowered customer that will accelerate a domino effect of changes in the business environment in which you operate. So here is a quick summary of some of the actions we expect CIOs to take in 2017.

■        Empowered customers drive strategy. Customer obsession is paramount for business success in this rapidly changing world. Ever growing numbers of devices and information lead to a desire for new products and services at a rapid pace. CIOs need to extend their focus beyond building great customer experiences. Striving for speed and flexibility in re-designing core operational function and leveraging emerging technology are both necessary to meet these accelerating customer needs.

■        CIOs will correct bi-modal missteps. Over the past few years, many CIOs fell for the false promise of a bi-modal strategy. But those CIOs are already experiencing the shortcomings of operating a two speeds. Business peer frustration, polarizing and deteriorating cultures, and unsustainable operational complexities will continue, ultimately spurring most of these CIOs to course correct in 2017.

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The AT&T Merger With Time Warner Opens A New Chapter For The Telco Industry

Dan Bieler

With Laura Koetzle

On October 22, 2016, AT&T announced its intention to acquire Time Warner for an equity value of $85.4 billion. The deal is essentially about the combination of quality content and content distribution, as it transforms AT&T into a content producer and owner — rather than just a distributor of content. Many telecom regulators restrict revenue growth opportunities for telcos in highly regulated telco markets. As a result, telcos are increasingly looking outside their markets for growth opportunities. This deal is evidence of this trend.

Telco CIOs Must Become More Strategic To Prepare For The Content Opportunity

The AT&T-Time Warner deal deserves special attention by telco CIOs. The deal needs to be seen against a challenging backdrop for the telco industry, where revenue growth from traditional revenue sources is hard to come by. Yes, AT&T already operates the largest US pay-TV business through its ownership of DirecTV. The Time Warner deal — should it materialize — would enable AT&T to offer its own premium entertainment programming to its pay-TV, mobile phone, and internet customers. AT&T’s intention to acquire Time Warner opens a new chapter for telcos, because the combination of quality content and content distribution potentially helps telcos to:

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What Product Development Orgs Can Learn From The Samsung Crisis

Nate Fleming

As details regarding the termination of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone continue to unfold, there are several important lessons, both technological and organizational, that manufacturers and product organizations should take away from their peer’s costly product crisis:

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Brexit Makes Customer-Focused Innovation Imperative

Dan Bieler

Photo: Cover of Panorama magazine Italia

While uncertainty continues, focusing on innovation is your best chance of success. British Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly said, "Brexit means Brexit." This statement ensures that every business operating in the UK will experience an uncertain and volatile market environment for some time. In our conversations with CIOs and chief technology officers (CTOs) since the Brexit vote, Forrester has retained its view that only if companies retain a focus on customers will they ensure growth and innovation, especially in times of uncertainty. All CIOs and CTOs at businesses operating in the UK should:

  • Make the business case that innovation can help their firms deal with uncertainty. Top management will be distracted by many short- term tactical considerations relating to Brexit. Make the case that innovation will move you closer to your customers and help to deal with underlying uncertainty.
  • Partner with their risk managers. Developing innovations that rely on customer and machine data will expose businesses to regulatory and compliance risks. Plan your business technology and innovation strategies with the risk manager on your side.

The report Brexit Makes Customer-Focused Innovation Imperative summarizes Forrester’s recent discussions and outlines how companies can best drive their innovation in the wake of Brexit.

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Private Cloud Adoption Is Alive And Well

Jennifer Adams

While public cloud’s hypergrowth garners a lot of press, we expect opportunities to continue for private cloud solutions. In our recently published Private Cloud Solutions Forecast, 2016 To 2021 (Global) we expect the market to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.0% over the 2016-to-2021 period.

Private cloud can provide the speed-to-market and scalability of public cloud, yet with enhanced security. Improved IT infrastructure manageability and flexibility are the key drivers of private cloud adoption. Many regulated industries, such as financial services, will continue to use private cloud due to security and regulatory concerns.

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Local vendors challenge global players in our analysis of Europe's public cloud market

Paul Miller

Europe from space

Public Domain image of Europe, derived from NASA World Wind data, uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.

The hyperscale global clouds seem to crop up pretty much everywhere, these days. But we all know that customer requirements differ, from industry to industry, and from country to country. So... how do they cope, and how do we account for the peculiarities of different markets?

Today, we publish our latest take on the public cloud platforms market in Europe: The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Public Cloud Platforms In Europe, Q4 2016Read the report itself, or sign up for my 3 November webinar to learn more.

The report (my first Wave, so allow me to feel pleased with myself) is, of course, interesting and useful in and of itself. But what's more interesting, perhaps, is that it's part of a collaboration that allows Forrester to account for those regional quirks.

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US Tech Market Poised For Another Year Of Moderate 4% to 5% Growth If Election Results Don't Interfere

Andrew Bartels

Forrester has just published our fall forecast update for the US tech market ("2017 US Tech Budgets: The Outlook For Tech Spending Overall And By Industry"), and we are now projecting 5.1% growth for business and government spending on tech goods, services, and staff in 2017. That's a modest improvement from the 4.4% growth we are forecasting for 2016.  That 2017 forecast assumes a continuation of the economic policies now in place under the Obama administration and the Republican Congress, and thus a Hilary Clinton election along with Republican control of at least the House of Representatives.  Should Donald Trump win the election or alternatively the Democrats take control of both the House and the Senate, our forecast for the US tech market in 2017 would be quite different.

The three main forces driving this forecast are the moderate pace of real economic growth at around 2%, the strong demand for the Business Technologies (BT) that help firms win, serve, and retain customers, and the transition to cloud.  

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