Network Sharing And Outsourcing Is In Many Telcos' Future

Dan Bieler

Network infrastructure is the basis for all funding of telco activities; as such, telcos must not only keep the cash cow alive, but also strengthen it. Management of network infrastructure is easily belittled as a subject for engineering nerds — but it must be treated as a key strategic matter.

Outsourcing the management of or sharing network infrastructure delivers many benefits, and we expect telcos to do this more and more in the years ahead. Telcos need to balance the simultaneous requirements of cost control, enhanced business flexibility, and innovation to incorporate the right approach to external network infrastructure management into their future strategies. Equipment vendors, meanwhile, must adjust their business to keep up and partner with traditional IT services providers.

Many more telcos are moving toward sharing or outsourcing some or all of their network assets and operations to partners or suppliers, becoming “telcos without networks.” This provides an opportunity for some telcos to shift their focus and resources to:

  • Cost control and transparency. The decision to share or outsource network assets and their operation is primarily driven by financial needs, in particular to bring the total cost of ownership down, spread expenditures over time, and allocate costs in a more transparent manner.
  • A better customer experience. Increases in data traffic require telcos to enhance their network and service delivery infrastructures and improve network coverage in order to maintain the quality of the customer experience. Moreover, telcos face regulatory requirements for improved rural network coverage, which can be more readily satisfied by network outsourcing.
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How Telcos Will Play A Larger Role In Cloud Computing

Dan Bieler

Corporate CIOs should not ignore the network-centric nature of cloud-based solutions when developing their cloud strategies and choosing their cloud providers. And end users should understand what role(s) telcos are likely to play in the evolution of the wider cloud marketplace.

Like many IT suppliers, telcos view cloud computing as a big opportunity to grow their business. Cloud computing will dramatically affect telcos — but not by generating significant additional revenues. Instead, cloud computing will alter the role of telcos in the value chain irreversibly, putting their control over usage metering and billing at risk. Alarm bells should ring for telcos as Google, Amazon, et al. put their own billing and payment relationships with customers in place.

Telcos must defend their revenue collection role at all costs; failure to do so will accelerate their decline to invisible utility status. At the same time, cloud computing offers telcos a chance to become more than bitpipe providers. Cloud solutions will increasingly be delivered by ecosystems of providers that include telcos, software, hardware, network equipment vendors, and OTT providers.

Telcos have a chance to leverage their network and financial assets to grow into the role of ecosystem manager. To start on this path, telcos will provide cloud-based solutions that are adjacent to communication services they already provide (like home area networking and machine-to-machine solutions), such as connected healthcare and smart grid solutions. Expanding from this beachhead into a broader role in cloud solutions markets is a tricky path that only some telcos will successfully navigate.

We are analyzing the potential role of telcos in cloud computing markets in the research report Telcos as Cloud Rainmakers.

Amazon Makes Debut In India Through Junglee.Com: What It Means For Buyers, Sellers, And Competitors

Manish Bahl

In early February 2011, Amazon launched Junglee.Com as a marketplace in India. In 1998, Amazon had acquired Junglee (which means "wild" in English), an online virtual database-making company, and after 13 years now it has shown its affection to the "Junglee" domain name. The reason is that Amazon can’t sell directly in India due to FDI laws that restrict foreign companies on multibrand retail in the country. Nevertheless, the Indian law does allow foreign players to operate as an online marketplace to connect sellers and buyers with each other. Amazon is following this approach by partnering with both online (Snapdeal, Univercell, etc.) and offline (HomeShop18, Bombay Store, etc.) players in the country before it makes a full-fledged entry through an "Amazon.in"-type domain. Also, Amazon just received the Indian Government’s FDI approval to set up a logistics operation. The company plans to invest INR 15 crore (around US$ 3.06 million) to set up a wholly owned subsidiary to undertake the business of online marketplace operator and retailer inter-alia courier services.

Let’s look at what Amazon’s entry through Junglee.com means for online buyers, suppliers, and competitors:

Sellers: More Business And Some Risk

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Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2012: Understanding The Engagement Context

John McCarthy

Starting Monday, there will be a cavalcade of announcements at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. While many suppliers will continue the phone and tablet hardware arms race, it is more important to understand what is really going on here: mobile engagement. Ted Schadler and I have just finished a report for Forrester clients, “Mobile Is The New Face Of Engagement,” that provides the background to put these announcements into context. The report makes clear that mobile is not simply another device for IT to support with a shrunken website or a screen-scraped SAP application. Rather, mobile is the manifestation of a much broader shift to new systems of engagement. These systems of engagement help firms empower their customers, partners, and employees with context-aware apps and smart products (see the figure below).

So as you walk the show floor or read about the announcements, think differently about what you are seeing:

  • Are the tools just first-gen screen-scraping/tiny Web or do they really leverage context — the person’s location, preferences, and history — to engage? There will be a bevy of software products that help firms slim down their websites for viewing on mobile devices, but the real innovation will come from tools and engagement platforms that use predictive analytics and social feedback to create a full context that better serves customers and employees.
  • Are the hardware announcements kicking off another round of the device wars or a new generation of smart products powered by apps? In addition to the latest Android, RIM, and Windows Mobile press releases, there will be a whole new set of smart cars, appliances, and other products where mobile apps provide key features by taking advantage of smart product APIs.
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Beware Of Mobile's Unintended Consequences (Part 1)

Ted Schadler

[This is the second in a series of posts on our report for Forrester clients, "Mobile Is The New Face Of Engagement."]

A successful smartphone app is great, right? Especially when it fronts a system of engagement that lets people click and serve themselves in their moment of need rather than waiting until they can fire up a computer and go online. Or (gasp), dial the phone and tie up some customer service rep's time in India or Africa or Fargo. The mobile engagement is 10 times more convenient than traditional Web and one tenth the cost of a call center contact. So what could possibly go wrong?

In short, just about everything that could go wrong does go wrong when consumer brands, retailers, and B2B companies open up their mobile engagement channel. In this first of several posts on mobile's unintended consequences, we'll describe the unbelievable success that mobile can bring. In future posts, we'll expose the sheer technological ugliness that lies behind those consequences and lay the groundwork for enterprise mobile engagement.

First, the unbelievable success that a mobile app can have (see the figure below):

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Employees Use Multiple Gadgets For Work — And Choose Much Of The Tech Themselves

Frank Gillett

Employees that use smart devices — PCs or mobile devices — for work have expanded their use of technology more than most people realize. How many devices do you think a typical information worker uses for work? If you only ask the IT staff, the answer will be that most use just a PC, some use a smartphone, and a few use a tablet. But our latest Forrsights workforce employee survey asked more than 9,900 information workers in 17 countries about all of the devices they use for work, including personal devices they use for work purposes. It turns out that they use an average of about 2.3 devices.

About 74% of the information workers in our survey used two or more devices for work — and 52% used three or more! This means that the typical information worker has to figure out how to manage their information from more than one device. So they’ll be increasingly interested in work systems and personal cloud services that enable easy multidevice access, such as Dropbox, Box, SugarSync, Google Docs/Apps, Windows Live, and Apple iCloud.

When you dig into the data, the mix of devices info workers use for work is different than what IT provides. About 25% are mobile devices, not PCs, and 33% use operating systems other than Microsoft.

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A Billion Smartphones Require New Systems Of Engagement

Ted Schadler

It's a technology big idea: that organizations can best serve their customers, partners, and employees with new "systems of engagement." (Thanks to Geoff Moore for permission to define and use his term.) Let us explain why.

First, the logistics. John McCarthy and I spent the last eight months sifting through the patterns that have emerged from firms that have harnessed mobile, social, big data, and cloud technology: 100 conversations; 61 interviews with experts; and Forrester surveys of 10,000 business and IT decision-makers, 10,000 global information workers, and 50,000 consumers. Out of that research we've just published a 28-page report for Forrester clients that we will deconstruct and re-assemble via blog posts over the next few months.

We began by looking for the unintended consequences of a successful mobile app, expecting to find some best practices in experience design, middleware APIs, server deployments, app development, and organizational alignment. We found those things and captured them in the report. But we also found something more important: a new  ability to empower customers, employees, and partners with context-rich apps and smart products to help them decide and act immediately in their moments of need.

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Oracle Throws In The Towel And Acquires A Cloud Talent Management Vendor

Claire Schooley

The rumor circulating for the past few weeks has now been confirmed: Oracle is buying Taleo, a global talent management vendor, for $1.9 billion. This is just another — albeit important — acquisition in the strategic talent management space. All companies must have core HR systems in place, but now it’s equally important to look at the strategic part of HR: the performance, succession, career development, and learning components as a layer resting on top of the core. Companies want to retain, develop, and reward their employees and need these applications in place for efficiency and effectiveness.

With this acquisition, Oracle gets a vendor with these talent management components in a pure SaaS deployment model, which provides ultimate flexibility. However, the offerings in the suite are not equally robust. Taleo is known for its recruiting app; to become a suite vendor, it added performance, which has gotten mixed reviews, and learning, which is not best in its class. Learn.com, the vendor Taleo acquired for learning, works OK for the midmarket, but its functionality does not hold up well for large global and enterprise customers.

Oracle can’t buck the SaaS tide any more. SaaS is the preferred deployment model for talent management, and the large ERP vendors like SAP (finalizing its acquisition of SuccessFactors) and Oracle are now joining the movement. Oracle offers Fusion, but a lot of work still needs to be done to develop this into a full SaaS talent suite. Once this deal closes, watch and see how Oracle positions the Taleo offerings with Fusion Talent Management.

What’s A Facebook “Like” Worth?

Nigel Fenwick

Facebook LikeIt seems everyone’s obsessed with Facebook’s IPO right now. And while CMOs are beginning to understand the possibilities of Facebook, and other social technologies, to connect and engage with customers, many CIOs remain unclear on the value of Facebook.

A question many business executives ask is this: “What’s the value of having someone like your page?”

On its own, maybe not much. But the true potential lies in the ability to collect insights about the people who like brands, products or services – be it your own or someone else’s.

For example, the chart below shows the percentage of consumers by age group who have “liked” Pepsi or Coca-Cola. These data suggest Coca-Cola is significantly more popular with 17-28 year olds than Pepsi, while Pepsi appears more popular with the 36-70 crowd. I pulled these data points directly from the Facebook likes of each of the brand pages using a free consumer tool from MicroStrategy called Wisdom. Using this tool I can even tell that Coca-Cola fans are likely to also enjoy the odd Oreo cookie and bag of Pringles.

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MacBook Air: The Ultra Ultrabook And Business Windows, Too

Ted Schadler

I've been testing the MacBook Air for five months now. I use it for work and for home. At work, I run our corporate image Windows XP with the attendant applications and security software in a Parallels virtual machine. At home, I run the Mac side. After a few hiccups with the security software going haywire in our corporate image (thanks to the Parallels support team and to our own IT client and network security team for help), it's been a great experience.

I don't need to wax poetic about just how good the MacBook Air itself is. Plenty of testers have already explained just what makes the MacBook Air the ultra ultabook. See Engadget, CNET, Fortune. (And of course ultrabooks were all the rage at CES this year, see HP's showcased by Serena in Gossip Girl and Dell's XPS 13.)

But I do need to describe my experience with this travel-friendly, totally modern, and practical combination of hardware and software. I'll then also point out some things that are still challenging in using the MacBook Air in a Windows-centric business world. First, the experience in four bullets:

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