Online Collaboration Tools Address A New Set Of Business Challenges, But Are They Ready For Your Business?

TJ Keitt

Today, we published our first Forrester Wave™ on the cloud strategies of online collaboration software vendors, evaluating how eight vendors -- Box, Cisco Systems, Citrix Online, Google, IBM, Microsoft,, and Yammer -- are constructing collaboration services. Unlike a traditional Forrester Wave, this assessment was designed to look at how these vendors are addressing the lingering questions many IT leaders have about online collaboration technology:

  • Is it ready for the prime-time enterprise spotlight?
  • Will it keep me secure and compliant?
  • Does it fit into my business environment?
  • Is the vendor in the online business for the long haul?
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Big Data Meets Cloud

Holger Kisker

Cloud Services Offer New Opportunities For Big Data Solutions

What’s better than writing about one hot topic? Well, writing about two hot topics in one blog post — and here you go:

The State Of BI In The Cloud

Over the past few years, BI business intelligence (BI) was the overlooked stepchild of cloud solutions and market adoption. Sure, some BI software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendors have been pretty successful in this space, but it was success in a niche compared with the four main SaaS applications: customer relationship management (CRM), collaboration, human capital management (HCM), and eProcurement. While those four applications each reached cloud adoption of 25% and more in North America and Western Europe, BI was leading the field of second-tier SaaS solutions used by 17% of all companies in our Forrester Software Survey, Q4 2011. Considering that the main challenges of cloud computing are data security and integration efforts (yes, the story of simply swiping your credit card to get a full operational cloud solution in place is a fairy tale), 17% cloud adoption is actually not bad at all; BI is all about data integration, data analysis, and security. With BI there is of course the flexibility to choose which data a company considers to run in a cloud deployment and what data sources to integrate — a choice that is very limited when implementing, e.g., a CRM or eProcurement cloud solution.

“38% of all companies are planning a BI SaaS project before the end of 2013.”

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If A Picture Paints A Thousand Words, Maps Are Just Off The Charts!

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

I’ve always been a map person with maps showing up in my house as floor rugs, shower curtains, clothing, dishes, jigsaw puzzles etc.  So the ESRI User Conference was right up my alley. 

With the explosion of data (and interest in data), organizations are desperate for ways to organize, visualize and better leverage it.  Maps are a perfect way to make data real, and the stats on ESRI’s conference show it.  The role of “geographical information system” (GIS) professional is thriving.  The event organizers registered 14,922 attendees by mid-week, with over 15,000 expected by the end of the week-long event.  Attendees represented 126 countries, US representation being largest, but the rest of the top ten including Canada, Japan, Germany, the UK, Australia, South Korea, Mexico, Norway and South Africa.   Of the 36 industries represented, most were public sector including state and local government, defense and intelligence and federal government.  But interesting examples were provided across retail – e.g. the use of traffic and demographic data to evaluate and compare alternative retail locations – and other commercial sectors.   The list of use cases was impressive – with lofty uses such as planning for the future, preserving resources, and exploration to more down-to-earth examples such as building management, urban planning and law enforcement.  In most cases, where there is data, there could be a map to show it, and help understand it better. 

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What Will The Future Of IT (And Technology) Look Like?

Tim Sheedy

At a CIO roundtable that Forrester held recently in Sydney, I presented one of my favourite slides (originally seen in a deck from my colleague Ted Schadler) about what has happened r.e. technology since January 2007 (a little over five years ago). The slide goes like this: 

Source: Forrester Research, 2012

This makes me wonder: what the next five years will hold for us? Forecasts tend to be made assuming most things remain the same – and I bet in 2007 few people saw all of these changes coming… What unforeseen changes might we see?

  • Will the whole concept of the enterprise disappear as barriers to entry disappear across many market segments?
  • Will the next generation reject the “public persona” that is typical in the Facebook generation and perhaps return to “traditional values”?
  • How will markets respond to the aging consumer in nearly every economy?
  • How will environmental concerns play out in consumer and business technology purchases and deployments?
  • How will the changing face of cities change consumer behaviors and demands?
  • Will artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and capabilities completely redefine business?
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BT Strategic Planning: Upcoming Events

Nigel Fenwick

For many traditional IT organizations, BT Strategic Planning is a new approach to developing technology strategy. As such, it often raises more questions than answers. If you’d like to know how to get more answers then this blog post is for you (if not you can skip the rest).

To help you get stuck in and apply the strat planning framework in your environment, we’re scheduling a couple of webinars and a two-day workshop for this September. In the first webinar on Sept. 11, we’ll go into the best practices CIOs put in place in order to set up their teams for success in developing business technology strategy. In the second webinar on Sept. 14, we’ll explore the levers of BT value and how to successfully communicate BT value. While both webinars are connected, you don’t need to attend the first to get value from attending the second.  

And if you are interested in rolling up your sleeves some more, I’m facilitating a two-day workshop on BT Strategic Planning on Sept 25th and 26th in San Francisco. This open workshop builds upon the successful custom workshops we deliver for clients looking to apply Forrester’s planning framework. Over the course of two full, mind-bending days, you will go through the entire strategy planning framework and learn how to apply it in your organization.

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Innovative Tech Literacy Programs Fill The Skills Gap And Push The Move From IT To BT

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

[Written with Enza Iannopollo, a Research Associate in Forrester’s London office] 

During last month’s Forrester Forum in Paris, Enza spoke with a client who shared some thoughts about his business. Aware that technology is everyday more critical for business to be successful, his main concern as an enterprise architect was the shortage of skilled IT labor.

Many people can juggle multiple devices or can use various software and applications, but very few know how to write an application or how to publish digital content. For the client, recruiting valuable employees was a major concern. “The origin of the problem lies in the education system, where technology literacy is not present at all or, if it exists, ICT and science teachers are often poorly equipped,” he pointed out.

If it’s true that “company in distress makes sorrow less,” our client will be at least comforted by the idea that a growing number of business people experiences the same difficulty — lack of skilled labor is the No. 1 obstacle to implementing tech solutions. And maybe, he will be relieved to know that tech vendors, new companies, and creative partnerships are looking to fill this gap.

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Another "Google Gets Mobile Engagement" Story, Featuring The Sparrow Email Client

Ted Schadler

I saw this morning through Michael Hickins' succinct and savory CIO Journal Morning Download that Google acquired Paris-based email experience aggregator Sparrow. Sparrow's software runs on iPhone and Mac to aggregate your different email accounts into a single experience. I haven't used the app, so I can't vouch for it. But I do think this acquisition signals Google's growing understanding of the importance of mobile engagement and the role of the app Internet technology architecture in delivering an engaging experience.

Quick level set. We all get mobile. But we haven't all yet grokked the fact that mobile engagement changes the way we design business services to serve customers in their every moment. Instead, we tend to treat mobile as small Web or as an adjunct channel. It's not. Mobile is or will be the most important channel for direct service engagement. We call that mobile engagement -- empowering people to take the next most likely action in their moments of need. Mobile engagement will have vast repercussions on service design, app design, experience design, even business design. (Taxi service Uber couldn't exist without the app Internet and mobile engagement.)

Three quick comments on Google's mobile engagement trajectory for mobile collaboration:

  1. Google's acquisition of QuickOffice and now Sparrow indicates that it will invest in apps and mobile engagement. That's a good thing. But Gmail Web on the iPhone is still awful.
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OBS Could Have A Comprehensive Smart City Strategy; But They Don't, Yet

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Orange Business Services has all the pieces to have a comprehensive smart cities services offering. But they aren’t telling that story, or maybe just not yet. Given the interest in smart cities in the market and the need for services, it is certainly time they did.

I just spent a few days in Paris at an analyst event in which OBS presented the state of its business and strategy going forward.  The three main pillars of their 2011 achievements were growth of services revenue at 6.4%, sustaining their core networking business with 1.9% growth, and launch of a smart cities program. Given that top billing, I expected to hear more about the strategy. While there was mention of smart city activities throughout the event, details of an overall strategy were surprisingly missing. That absence was all the more marked as Orange named a new lead for the company’s Smart Cities strategic program back in October. And, frankly, I’ve been anxious to hear the story. 

But more importantly, the story could be much more than what was presented. What did we hear? The major accomplishments highlighted were last year’s launch of m2o city — a joint venture between Orange and Veolia to provide remote environmental data and water meter reading services — and a relationship with a major car manufacturer to enable collection of data directly from cars. Few details of either were provided. 

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Failure Is Not An Option

Nigel Fenwick

Failure or success, which do you choose?As regular readers of my blog will know, I’ve been talking about moving beyond alignment for a number of years now. The fact is, too many CIOs have been able to get by on the basis of managing the technology black box — and CEOs and CFOs have been complicit in allowing these same CIOs the freedom to do what they want within tightly controlled budgets, not wanting to sully their hands with “all that technology stuff.” But those days are rapidly coming to an end. The technology genie is out of the bottle; today’s business-unit leaders are more dependent on technology than ever before, and they are also much more tech-savvy. CIOs can no longer hide behind the technology black box — it’s time to change the IT game forever. It’s time for IT to drive business results and connect all technology investments to business outcomes.

Today’s new CEOs are looking to CIOs and IT to make a direct impact on business goals from investments in technology. While every business must make technology investments to sustain operations, IT must move beyond simply keeping the lights on and connect the dots between effective growth strategies and new technology investments. This requires a different set of technology and business skills: different people, process, and technology in the IT organization. In fact, the organization is so different we now call it the business technology organization, or BT. The distinction between IT and BT is subtle but important. BT represents the fusion of the IT organization into the rest of the business. In a BT organization, the lines between IT and business units are blurred. What is important is a focus on the roles needed for effective business technology strategy execution. What’s not important are reporting lines.

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Telefonica Digital: Only A First Step Towards Transforming The Telco Business Model

Dan Bieler

I recently attended an event in London where Telefonica shed more light on its Digital division. Digital is the central division driving innovation at Telefonica group and was formed in September 2011. However, Telefonica, despite the creation of Digital, still is somewhat in the old telco mold of inside-out innovation.

Digitization is undoubtedly a major theme affecting both society and the economy, bringing huge implications for communication, collaboration, consumption, and production. The big focus areas for Digital are e-health, digital content distribution, security, cloud, M2M, OTT comms, financial services, and advertising. In this respect, Digital is the right answer. My main observations from the event are:

  • Digital’s product development process is not end-user-focused enough. Digital does not seem to involve the actual end users as much as other solution providers, like for instance Colt ( What was missing during most presentations was a better demand-analysis of its customer base. Digitization has big implications for company cultures, modes of operation, and ways of life. Businesses require significant assistance in preparing for these challenges such as change management. Digital did not explain how it plans to address these either through internal capabilities or through partnerships with business consulting firms like Deloitte. This means that Telefonica risks developing solutions that do not meet demand. Moreover, detailed customer case studies were not discussed, although Digital did present its portfolio development approach.
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