Pitney Bowes Reinvents To Become A Company For Today And Tomorrow

Tim Sheedy

I recently spent a few days in Connecticut, USA, with Pitney Bowes. So why, you ask, is a CIO advisor who spends most of his time talking about the future of business technology in Asia Pacific spending time with a company that makes machines that stamp mail? That is a good question, and one I hope to answer while at the same time showing where I believe Pitney Bowes can help in your organisation.

So Pitney Bowes stamps mail. Yes — but they see it differently. They see that they enable communications with customers. Interesting. But mail is declining — right? Yes, it is, and Pitney Bowes has made many acquisitions to position itself as the leader in the digital mail space. And they have gone from just providing the communications capability to working across the entire customer lifecycle. Acquisitions of Portrait Software, MapInfo, Group 1 Software and many of the other firms they have acquired in the last 10 years have given them the ability to do:

-       Customer profiling and segmentation
-       Data preparation and composition
-       Multi-channel customer output
-       Customer response management
-       Response analysis

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Can Dell Be Your Strategic Vendor In Asia Pacific?

Tim Sheedy

I recently had the chance to spend some quality time with Dell in Singapore at their event for Forrester analysts in the Asia Pacific region. As Dell is a company traditionally known for its hardware products, I had low expectations – to date, few of my CIO clients would consider Dell a “strategic” supplier.

However, I was pleasantly surprised – Dell is reinventing itself from a PC and server supplier into an IT solutions provider. The benefits of the acquisition of Perot Systems and various software assets in North America and around the globe are starting to pay dividends in Asia Pacific.

As a late entrant into many of the newer markets they play in, they have the rare advantage of being able to do things differently – both from a solution and a pricing standpoint. From data centre transformation through legacy migration and application modernisation, to networking solutions, Dell is attempting to be disruptive player in the market – simplifying processes that were typically human-centric, and automating capabilities to reduce the overall burden of owning and running infrastructure.

Their strategy is to stay close to what they know – much of their capability is linked directly to infrastructure – but their open, modular, and somewhat vendor agnostic approach is in direct opposition to the “vendor lock-in” solutions that many of the other major vendors push.

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Governments Need Basic Technology Tools (And, Are Receptive To Them)

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

I had an interesting follow-up conversation last week with Dmitry Chikhachev of Runa Capital. I asked what he was seeing in smart cities and civic innovation among Russian startups in these areas. Dmitry’s response supported my own observations that governments need to focus on the basics. 

What kinds of innovation are you seeing in the public sector in Russia? 

Many processes in the public sector are still supported by paperwork. One example is visa applications. To obtain a visa you need an application, on paper. You need copies of supporting documents. In Singapore, paperwork has been eliminated. You upload everything. And, you get a barcode via email to be shown with your passport when entering the country. To do this requires process change within government, which in turn, requires data handling, integration, electronic signature, and personal data protection — a combination of relatively high-tech solutions. 

Within Russia, this kind of change — the shift to paperless government — is happening at the regional government level in Russia. Tatarstan is the most advanced from this point of view. (But on a promising side note, the Minister of Informatics from Tatarstan just got promoted to the federal level.)  Government interaction with Tatarstan is already paperless.  

Who is providing the solutions to support a paperless government? 

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Why BT (Business Technology) Is Like Sex: If It Doesn't Feel Good, You're Doing It Wrong

Technologists love definitions. In fact, technologists particularly like arguing about definitions.

The term "BT" for example, is constantly under debate. Is it IT or BT? What is BT anyway? How is it different? This line of questioning really doesn't help deliver business results. I often equate it to trying to define "happy."

A poor business perception of IT's performance could actually be a strong indicator that IT is being driven more by arguing about definitions than getting stuff done. I've seen these "definitional disagreements" bring many technology supported business projects to their knees, the classic being data warehousing projects or CRM implementations.   

Whether you understand (or like) the term BT or not, the key to achieving better technology integration with business strategy is to avoid discussions about definitions. In fact, the magic answer is in the dictionary definition of happy itself.

hap·py [hap-ee]*

  1. delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person.
  2. characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: a happy mood; a happy frame of mind. 
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Impressions From Google Enterprise’s Road Show

Dan Bieler
Recently I attended one of the day-long events in Munich that Google offers as part of its atmosphere on tour road show that visits 24 cities globally in 2012. The event series is aimed at enterprise customers and aims to get them interested in Google’s enterprise solutions, including Google Apps, search, analytics and mapping services, as well as the Chrome Book and Chrome Box devices.

Google Enterprise as a division has been around for some time, but it is only fairly recently that Google started to push the enterprise solutions more actively into the market through marketing initiatives. The cloud-delivery model clearly plays a central role for Google’s enterprise pitch (my colleague Stefan Ried also held a presentation on the potential of cloud computing at the event).

Still, the event itself was a touch light on details and remained pretty high level throughout. Whilst nobody expects Google to communicate a detailed five-year plan, it would have been useful to get more insights into Google’s vision for the enterprise and how it intends to cater to these needs. Thankfully, prior to the official event, Google shared some valuable details of this vision with us. The four main themes that stuck out for us are:

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What Business Are You In?

Nigel Fenwick

After wrapping up our CIO Forum in Paris last week, I can definitely say CIOs and IT leaders care about strategy. The theme of this year's conference was "Collaboration To Co-Creation," and we included a number of sessions directed at helping IT leaders step up and influence business strategy.

A highlight of the forum was Peter Hinssen's talk on The New Normal — you can see a sample of Peter delivering an earlier version of his presentation on YouTube (http://youtu.be/s_w04xb4MqM?hd=1). And Peter's talk perfectly framed the strategic themes of the conference.

Through a number of keynote and track sessions, CIOs discussed transforming IT to have an even greater impact on business outcomes. Central to this theme was the exploration of Forrester's new BT Strategic Planning Playbook, including a workshop-style session where CIOs got to exchange experiences on moving their organizations away from being order-takers and toward strategic partners with lines of business.

It's clear from the discussions I had with many of the CIOs attending that IT leaders sense new opportunities to partner in developing effective business strategy and moving toward co-creation. But there are challenges ahead; here are a few I shared in Paris in a short session on co-creation:

Language is important. What we say and how we say it are critical. Even speaking plain English is challenging. For example, in England one might say "put the money in the boot" (probably only likely if you are a bank robber but I like the imagery so bear with me). What we might imagine is something like this

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Public Sector Opportunity Is Recognized By VCs. Watch For Civic Innovation.

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Today I attended a conference for Russian entrepreneurs organized by Digital October.  I’m going to digress a moment and describe the location which for a Moscow veteran is one of the coolest places I’ve seen in new Russia.  Digital October has taken over part of the old Red October Confectionary Factory, a red brick factory on the banks of the river on the outside with a state-of-the-art, loft-like business space on the inside.  The building has a view of the Kremlin and of the new church built on the other side of the river (where the world largest outdoor swimming pool used to be for those of us who knew Moscow before the church reconstruction).

Today's Digital October event, “The Art of Going Global,” brought together startup founders, VCs and entrepreneurs to discuss how to expand globally, including global marketing and PR, and getting funding from global VCs. 

During the VC panel, Alisa Chumachenko, Founder and CEO of Game Insight, and one of the entrepreneurs in the audience, really grilled the panelists asking them to name their top geographical markets, top horizontal markets and top vertical markets.  Some responses were not surprising. Others were. 

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Start With Business Smarts, Not Necessarily Specific Smart Technology

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

If there is one theme that jumps out of my most recent client discussions, it is the need for business smarts in our approach to smart cities.  Cities are faced with a barrage of vendor solutions pitched as the holy grail of X, where X is public safety or transportation or some other city department.  I feel like the smart city discussion has reached of fevered pitch with conferences, congresses, expos and summits cropping up around the world.   But what is real and now as opposed to truly aspirational and future?   

Three observations:

  1. Smart computing is really about putting together the right pieces of technology, not about any particular smart technology.  Yes, the ability to capture and aggregate data is important.   But so is the ability to share information and collaborate.  A new Forrester report on smart computing addresses the realization that “smart” is really about finding the right solution and leveraging the new technologies available to better connect both machines (and information) and the people who can use them. It’s less about smart technology and more about using technology to get smart, or really using technology intelligently. (I really wanted to say “smartly” but couldn’t do it).
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The European Tech Market Will Grow By 1.2% In 2012 And 3.1% In 2013 – If The Euro Does Not Fall Apart

Andrew Bartels

Making a tech market forecast always runs the risk of being overtaken by subsequent events.  This risk is particularly acute in Europe in June 2012, when the whole euro project hangs on the brink of potential failure.  Yet with Forrester's European CIO Forum conference occurring this week in Paris, we had to make a call on the outlook for the European tech market, rather than wait until the outcome becomes a clear. 

So, here is my assumption: the European Union and the European Central Bank will patch together a set of policies that will keep Greece in the euro, provide financing to keep Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain functioning as economic reforms take hold, and offer enough stimulus to prevent something worse than the current, mild recession.  As such, in our European tech market report published today (European Information And Communications Technology Market 2012 To 2013 -- Spending Growth Comes To A Halt As Europe Slides Into Recession), Forrester is predicting that purchases of information and communications technologies (ICT) by European business and governments will grow by a feeble but still positive 1.2% in 2012 in euros, and a weak but slightly better growth of 3.1%.  Let us hope that the alternative of a euro break up, a subsequent deep recession, and a collapse of tech buying similar to that in 2009 does not make this one of the shortest lived predictions we have made.

The details of our European tech market outlook are as follows:

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Microsoft Pokes Its Partners With A Stick Named Surface -- And That's A Good Thing

Ted Schadler

See these excellent analyses by colleagues Sarah Rotman Epps and Dave Johnson on the Surface.

I can totally understand why the Windows team wants its own tablet. After all, Apple has been running away with the most important device category since, well, the touchscreen smartphone, for years while Microsoft and its OEM partners have been watching glumly from the sidelines. Actually, Microsoft has been developing Windows 8 and Windows RT to compete, so not just watching glumly, building product, actually. But OEM partners like Samsung and ASUS have been developing tablets on Android, not Windows.

Along comes Microsoft Surface, a tablet aimed at "work and play." So why does Microsoft feel the need to compete with its most important partners? Three reasons that CIOs should tune into:

  1. Surface (presumably) sets the bar for other tablet OEMs. PC makers have been racing to the bottom to meet your stringent price requirements while still trying to compete. That of course created the market gap that Apple swooped into with the MacBook Air that your employees love. Microsoft can't let that happen with tablets. So job one for Surface -- and it better be frickin' great -- is to prod partners to make great tablets. So even if partners like Dell and HP are angry about the move, it could pay off in better Windows tablets. And that could pay off for CIOs as you look for a tablet you can manage and more importantly, run Office on.
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