Taking Lessons From Smart Cities

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

On Sunday I will be participating in IBM’s Middle East and North Africa CIO Conference 2010, where I will present my research on Smart Cities. I’m looking forward to speaking with practitioners from the region to hear about their experiences in making their cities, organizations, and businesses more efficient through innovative technology-based initiatives. My presentation is entitled “Taking Lessons from Smart Cities,” because the real smarts lie in how these “cities” – whatever form they take – have overcome obstacles from budget battles to stakeholder standoffs. 

One aspect of those smarts lies in the business models that have enabled smart cities. With talk of municipal bankruptcy and public sector debt, it is not surprising that public sector IT decision-makers are not all that optimistic about their industry outlook. In Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets And Priorities Tracker Survey, Q2 2010, only 26% of public sector IT decision-makers considered their industry outlook to be good, while 70% – the vast majority – expected a bad year. The public sector came in next to last among other industry verticals.

That same survey, however, also revealed expectations of IT spending increases in the public sector: 37% of public sector IT decision-makers expected IT budgets to grow by at least 5%; 11% expected increases of more than 10%. Some of that spending is creatively financed. 

Several new business models have emerged to enable technology investment.

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While The Economy Outlook Is Murkier, Forrester Is Still Relatively Bullish On The Tech Market

Andrew Bartels

Like many business executives and consumers, I have been paying a lot of attention to the economic indicators, looking for signs either of a stronger economic recovery or a potential renewed recession.  As a technology market analyst, I track economic indicators because I’ve found that the growth in the economy is one of the best predictors of what the technology market growth will be -- far better than surveying CIOs to find out their spending plans, which tend to be backward looking. 

Based on my reading of the economic indicators and the forecasts of professional economists, it looks to me that both the US economy and the global economy will fall between extremes of strong growth or recession, growing weakly but not slipping back into recession.   As a result,  in Forrester's latest forecast (US And Global IT Market Outlook: Q3 2010), we have trimmed our forecasts for the US tech market to a still-robust 8.1% growth for 2010 (down from our 9.9% forecast in July), with 7.4% growth in 2011.  Globally, the tech market measured in US dollars will grow by 7%, compared with our July forecast of 7.8%, with the somewhat weaker outlook for the US tech market offsetting slightly better performance in Europe and strong growth in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia/Pacific. 

These forecasts include business and government purchases of computer equipment, communications equipment, software, IT consulting and systems integration services, and IT outsourcing.  If we add telecommunications services (as we do for the first time in this report), US information and communications technology (ICT) market growth in 2010 will be 5.6% and 6.6% in 2011.

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IBM's CityOne Makes A Global Debut

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

CityOne, IBM's new Smarter City Simulation game, is interesting. But who will really play?

IBM introduced a new Smarter City Simulation game yesterday.  I took a few minutes to play around with it.  I love the idea.  It is SimCity meets Smarter City, and together they make CityOne.  Players are presented with challenges faced by decision-makers in Retail, Banking, Energy and Water industries within a city.  They start with a budget for each industry.  And, for each challenge, they are provided with a list of recommended actions and must choose among them.  Each action has a cost and associated benefits.  Some are more “right” than others, earning bonus credits and increasing customer satisfaction and other key performance indicators, as well as earning special awards.  A player likely knows not to pick the "Ignore the problem" option.  Yet, when in doubt you can also query a consultant for additional advice.   

My sense was that the “right” answers seemed pretty obvious.  However, that said, I certainly didn’t get a high score.  And, when I got to the end of my ten turns, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by the issues across these industries. 

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Navigating The World Of Sustainability Solution Players

Chris Mines

My research team at Forrester helps tech vendor strategists anticipate and navigate in rapidly changing market environments. We can't take a siloed view on specific product and service categories, but rather broaden our perspective in order to trace cross-market dynamics around key issues such as sustainability, globalization, collaboration, mobility, and cloud. This puts tech vendors in better positions to act on emerging demand signals, competitive scenarios, and opportunities to select best-fit partner, channel, or acquisition targets.

The market for dedicated solutions and services that help companies manage their energy, emissions, and overall sustainability strategy is still nascent. The evolution of sustainability at larger software and IT service vendors started with their internal efforts, which is an important factor framing their portfolio and go-to-market strategies.

As a result, there are still a significant number of vendors that are converting their internal capabilities to analyze, define, and implement sustainability into customer-facing software and/or service portfolios. These portfolios of services go well beyond green IT, increasingly focused to serve clients wrestling with hot topics such as enterprise carbon and energy management (ECEM), green supply chain, and sustainability performance management.

My colleague, Daniel Krauss, and I have recently completed a comprehensive round of interviews and analysis with many different players offering sustainability consulting services, including software, IT and business services, hardware, and even industrial companies (see Figure 1).

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A New Online Resource For Vendor Strategists

Chris Mines

The Forrester Vendor Strategy Professionals team is excited to introduce a new way for strategists and marketers at tech suppliers to discuss and offer advice on their peers' most pressing challenges and opportunities. We have launched an online community for vendor strategy professionals as the premier destination for leaders to exchange ideas, opinions, and real-world solutions with each other. Our team of analysts will also be part of the community, helping facilitate the discussions and sharing their views.

The community is open to all strategists at ICT industry suppliers (Forrester client or not). 

Here’s what you’ll find:

  • A simple platform on which you can pose your questions and get advice from peers who face the same business or technology challenges.
  • Insight from our analysts, who weigh in frequently on the issues and point to relevant research. 
  • Fresh perspective from peers, who share their real-world success stories, best practices, and templates.
  • Content on the latest technologies and trends affecting your business — from Forrester and other thought leaders.

I encourage you to become part of the community:

  • Ask a question about a business or technology problem.
  • Start a discussion on an emerging trend that’s having an impact on your work.
  • Contribute to an existing discussion thread from a community member.
  • Share templates with your peers for common artifacts like market opportunity assessment or partnership portfolios.
  • Suggest topics for upcoming Forrester research reports.
  • Create a community profile.
  • Share your perspective with others.
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The Intercompany Collaboration Imperative: Why It's Important And Why Vendors Need To Support It

TJ Keitt

For those of you who have followed my research of the collaboration software space, you'll find that I have argued that the real whitespace for vendors is in facilitating interactions between different companies (see examples here and here). This advice, though, has always been given in the spirit of helping vendors enter the market and tell a differentiated story; my goal is always to get product marketers away from spinning tales of travel savings (which everyone does). Recently, I finished a report that explored why intercompany collaboration is important to the actual running of a tech industry business. Like any good story, it's a three-part narrative:

  1. The definition of a B2B tech customer is changing. There was a time when a tech vendor selling to businesses only had to deal with the IT department. As such, the product design and messaging revolved around fulfilling the requirements of a techie audience: speeds and feeds, interoperability and security. Now? Business leaders are involved in technology decisions, shifting the design points of technology and its marketing to ease of use and ability to solve business problems. Further muddling this view, individual information workers are increasingly able to provision their own hardware and software, thanks to Web-based technologies and consumer technologies -- like Apple laptops and iPhones -- that IT departments are grudgingly accepting. The pull of these many groups on tech vendors has complicated the job of tech product managers and marketers: They now have to develop their product for and market it to a wider range of people with different interests.
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Confusion On Fusion Apps At Oracle OpenWorld

Andrew Bartels

Like thousands of Oracle clients and a dozen or so Forrester analysts, I was at Oracle OpenWorld last week.  One of the big news items was the announcement of the availability of Fusion Applications.  The creation of these new applications has been a massive effort, involving many of Oracle’s top software designers and developers working for over five years.  My preliminary opinion, along with my colleagues, is that Fusion apps do have some useful new features and a better user interface than prior Oracle products, as well as providing a more credible SaaS option than Oracle's prior On Demand offerings. 

However, there seems to me to be a lack of clarity as to how Fusion apps fit in the evolution of the Oracle family of apps.   To its credit, Oracle has stated that it is going to be responsive to clients, not forcing them to convert to Fusion nor make staying on existing apps unattractive by not supporting and enhancing those apps.  Instead, it wants to make Fusion apps so attractive that clients will want to adopt them, either (rarely) as a whole suite or (more likely) as step-by-step replacement or additions to existing app products.  Still, that leaves unclear what Oracle sees as the endgame for Fusion vs. its other app products. 

As I see it, there are four scenarios for how Fusion apps will relate over time to the existing portfolio of apps that Oracle has acquired and continues to support through its Applications Unlimited position:

  1. Fusion apps take over and replace the other applications over time.
  2. Fusion apps become yet another app product line, which co-exists with the other apps.
  3. Fusion app features and functions percolate into and are absorbed into the other apps, which persist indefinitely.
  4. Fusion apps provide new categories of applications, which get brought into the other app families as add-ons.
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Will BlackBerry's PlayBook Start A Tablet War In The Board Room?

Nigel Fenwick

With today’s announcement of the PlayBook tablet PC, BlackBerry is launching a huge bid to try to retain any customers who have not yet fled to the iPhone and iPad.

Due to be released in early 2011, there is a lot for CIOs to like about the new PlayBook. BlackBerry is hoping that by making the PlayBook easy to integrate into the enterprise, and leveraging its much touted encryption security so much in the news lately, CIOs will back the PlayBook over the iPad.

Blackberry Playbook tablet PC

The PlayBook will be compatible with BlackBerry Enterprise Server and, when paired through Bluetooth to an existing BlackBerry Smartphone, will use the phone as a data transport, only temporarily caching content on the PlayBook.

Some features of the new PlayBook make it very desirable when compared to today’s iPad, such as support for Adobe Flash, Mobile AIR and HTML5; symmetric multiprocessing; built-in HD cameras front and back (think HD video-conferencing); microUSB connection and HDMI output. To control all of this the PlayBook will use a new operating system based on the QNX Neutrino microkernel architecture. What we don’t know: how long the battery will last (a big selling feature for iPads is its long battery life); and what price the PlayBook will sell for. Without seeing a PlayBook up close, it’s hard to say how these features compare to an iPad. After all, one of the most elegant things about an iPad is how it feels - you feel an almost instant connection to the device.

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Product Managers Take Note: Microsoft Is Using Serious Games To Product Test (And You Can Too)

TJ Keitt

Last Friday (September 17), I published a case study of Microsoft's Windows and Office Communicator (now Microsoft Lync) teams' use of "productivity games." What are productivity games? Put simply, they are a series of games produced by a small group of defect testers to encourage rank-and-file Microsoft employees to put software through its paces before it is released to the public. As many technology product managers can attest, getting employees of your company to take time away from their tasks to run a program in development and report any problems can be a Sisyphean effort: Bug checking doesn't have the allure of being an exciting, sexy job -- but it happens to be necessary. It will come as a surprise, but since 2006, Microsoft has used five games to look for errors in Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Office Communicator; a sixth game -- Communicate Hope -- is currently in the field to test Microsoft Lync. Why so many games, you ask? Well, they work.

The most successful game Microsoft has launched to date is called the Language Quality Game. It was designed to get employees who could read languages other than English to check that the thousands of user interface translations Microsoft had made in Windows 7 were accurate. The game produced positive results on two dimensions: 4,500 Microsoft employees played the game, and this group had a total of 500,000 viewings of translated Windows 7 UI translations. Because the game went over so well, iterations of it have been used in Office Communicator and Exchange. And others at Microsoft are looking to use games to do other tasks: e.g., a group at Microsoft Office Labs has created a game called Ribbon Hero to encourage people to explore the functionality of the Office 2007 productivity suite.

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START And Growth: Sustainability For Growth

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Everyone’s using the term “sustainability.” And, I’ll admit I’m a little jaded. But, given that it’s around to stay for a while, let’s take a look at the term. What are the primary objectives of “sustainability” initiatives? Are they “green” – with an eye toward protecting the environment by reducing the effects of climate change? Are they economic – cost cutting, increasing efficiency? “Sustain” seems static, maintain the current state. But some are thinking about “sustainability” as a means of generating growth. A few weeks ago, I started an interesting discussion about “operational sustainability” with Rich Lechner, IBM Vice President for Energy and Environment. (I say started because it actually continued this week, and will likely continue further.)

“Sustain to grow” may seem like an oxymoron, but it’s not. First let’s think about efficiency. What does it mean to be more efficient? Efficiency to me is the goal to “do more with less” – improving the ratio of output to input. So you cut and improve productivity ratios that way. But what if you’ve cut as much as you can, and you still want to do more, to improve those ratios? How can you grow within the limits of the resources you have? Sustain resources, increase productivity or capacity – in whatever terms or measures of capacity you use. This translates into the objective behind “operational sustainability.” How do you improve operations or processes in order to improve outcomes, within the limits of available resources? 

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