Open Cities, Smart Cities: Data Drives Smart City Initiatives

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

[co-authored with Eddie Radcliffe]

Last year, Internet inventor Tim Berners-Lee called for access to raw data as the next step in the evolution of the Internet. Apparently Transport For London (TFL, UK) was listening and has recently opened its doors to the commercial use of large amounts of primary data sets and live feeds. The data newly available includes: tube and train traffic data, feeds from live traffic cameras, Oyster card top-up locations, pier and station locations, cycle hire locations, and riverboat timetables. Following this up, TFL has announced plans to release further information on bus stops, routes, timetables and schedules. Access to this data represents an opportunity for developers to create travel applications based on real-time information. In one such example a web-based mash-up plots the approximate position of every single underground train. While interesting to Londoners who may be able to navigate their morning commute a little better (there's still no escaping the inevitable squeeze on the Central Line), this is a compelling move by TFL to allow access to the same data it uses to power its own information boards. As we see it, such access:

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Why Did Google Buy ITA And Its Flight Comparison Software?

Peter Burris

[Co-authored by Zachary Reiss-Davis]

Google announced yesterday that it is buying ITA Software for $700 million. ITA does two main things: airline eCommerce and reservations management solutions and a cross-airline flight comparison tool called QPX, used by most of the major travel comparison Web sites including Kayak, Orbitz, and Microsoft Bing. 

Google purchased it for the QPX product in a classic example of buying technology instead of either building it in-house or licensing it.

Today, Bing, Microsoft’s search offering, offers a solution that is based on QPX to help customers search for flight information on the Bing Web site. Google has nothing comparable; instead, they direct customers to other travel specific sites (see the screenshots below). 

Google is focused on the goal of staying at least half a step ahead of Microsoft in all aspects of search technology; in order to stay ahead of Microsoft in this area, Google had three major options: 1) License the technology; 2) Build it themselves; 3) Buy ITA. 

Licensing the technology would mean that Google would end up with a solution equivalent to Microsoft’s and not as robust as specialized Web sites like Kayak. Building the technology would take several years, allowing Microsoft and other competitors to continue to differentiate themselves and pull ahead. 

This left the acquisition as the only viable path to regaining leadership in this area, while at the same time placing Microsoft in the awkward position of relying on Google-owned technology as the backend for one of their major search features. 

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Will Russia Really Change? Cisco Places Its Bet. But Seeing Is Believing.

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev toured Silicon Valley last week, meeting with tech vendor executives and local entrepreneurs.  At Cisco, Medvedev participated in a telepresence session and used a Flip video camera for the first time. He met with representatives of public organizations and academic and business circles at Stanford University.  And, more informally, AmBAR, the American Business Association of Russian-Speaking Professionals, hosted a session in a café in Palo Alto with local students and entrepreneurs.  In each setting, the Russian president hoped to gain an understanding of what makes the Silicon Valley tick and glean some of the best practices developed in the region to take home and apply to his new Skolkovo initiative.  He has been talking about diversifying the economy for some time.  But with this initiative he has plans to develop a Russian “Silicon Valley” just outside of Moscow.  This new “inno-grad” (from “innovation” and the Russian word for city – think Leningrad) will promote Medvedev’s new modernization directions, including advancements in IT, telecommunications, and also biomedical and nuclear technologies. He aims to attract local and foreign high-tech companies with infrastructure, tax incentives, and other government support.  

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Vacation Reflections On Personal Cloud Possibilities

Frank Gillett

I'm on vacation this week, traveling with a small group of my extended family out on the Dingle peninsula of Ireland. I'm mostly focused on vacation, but have done a little checking in on work things. Trying to stay connected - and figuring out how to adjust my Internet habits while on vacation with a Dad and brother that are decidedly less interested in computing is interesting. Here are some random thoughts from the experience.

I'm using a temporary Forrester computer, so none of my files are on this computer. I'm putting new files in the Dropbox folder, so they'll automatically be synced out for access when I get back. And I'm using a SugarSync account to retrieve needed files from my main PC, when I can find a connection. Our B&B doesn't have Wi-Fi, and it is rare in Dingle, so I'm using an ice cream shop that hands you a code if you want to use their Wi-Fi. Which means I connect about every 2 days, because it is several hundred meters away - thankfully it still works when they're closed and they don't change the code!

The biggest pain is mobile phone roaming! I turned off mobile access on the iPad. I signed up for AT&T's roaming data plan, which is the only east option for data but expensive. Even with the international roaming, mobile voice is $1 a minute. And there's no plan for roaming texting, so it's something like 25 or 50 cents a shot. So I bought an Irish SIM at the Post Office - which offers voice and text. But for some reason the old BlackBerry I put the SIM in can't send text, only receive them. And even though it is supposedly only for in-country calls, my brother was able to call my mobile with the Irish SIM when his Guinness factory stop in Dublin didn't work out.

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Software Maintenance Fees May Not Be Invulnerable To Change After All

Andrew Bartels

TECH DYNAMICS: Last Friday, June 25th, the US House and Senate reached agreement on a financial reform bill, which is likely to pass and be signed into law.* At first glance, this legislation has nothing to do with the IT industry directly. But buried in this bill is a provision regarding debit card fees, which could serve as a model for how end users of software could bring about a change in something that is very important to the economics of the software industry — software maintenance fees.

Now, software maintenance fees have been one of the givens in the software industry in perpetual license deals. Typically set at 18% to 22% of initial license fees, they are fixed in stone. An enterprise software buyer can try to negotiate a discount on a license fee; a really smart one can negotiate a deal where the maintenance fee rate is applied against the discounted license fee, not against the list license fee. But software vendors rarely discount maintenance fees. 

Why? Established software vendors depend heavily on maintenance fees for the bulk of their revenue. Almost half (49%) of SAP’s revenues and Oracle’s applications revenues in 2009 came from maintenance fees. Oracle’s middleware business earned 55% of its calendar 2009 revenues from maintenance fees.

And yet maintenance fees are one of the biggest sources of complaint from enterprise software buyers. Every so often this dissatisfaction breaks into the open. SAP faced massive client unrest when it raised maintenance fees for most customers during 2009. SAP tapped the biggest vein of resentment about maintenance fees: fees on old software. Old software is the crux of the problem with maintenance fees: It tends to be stable and therefore requires little support.

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Success In Leveraging Brazil As Part Of A Global Delivery Model

John McCarthy

Two weeks ago, Forrester went to Brazil for Brasscom’s (the local IT and country promotion group) Global IT Forum in Sao Paulo and Rio. One of the most interesting and insightful presentations was by Jairo Avritchir, Brazil IT site director of Dell. Jairo talked about Dell’s experiences and how the firm’s utilization of the country and its rich IT talent pool had evolved. Initially, it was largely in support of the company’s local sales and manufacturing operations. Today, the center has emerged as a BI and analytics hub for the global organization. Given the 40% appreciation against the dollar over the past eight years, the COE strategy around higher-end BI skills was the only way the center could compete with India. The Dell example clearly points out how both clients and vendors need to think about and fully utilize their alternative geography investments. A blog post at Computer Weekly touches on this topic as well.

India Attrition Is Once Again On The Rise, Forcing Adoption Of Non-Linear Models

John McCarthy

The recovery of IT spending late in 2009 and early in 2010 has sent the local players in India and multinationals scrambling for find talent. The fact that firms cut back hiring and reduced their bench to maintain margins has degraded suppliers’ ability to respond. As a result, vendors have turned to poaching talent from competitors. At its analyst day, Cognizant was honest that it had increased to 16% up from 12% for the trailing 12 months. One small vendor that Forrester spoke with said that it had peaked at almost 30% over the last quarter. Another said it was in the mid-20s for certain practices; yet another two multinationals said that it had seen a similar overall rise to Cognizant, but in some of the packaged application areas it was in the mid-20s.

The impact of this sudden increase attrition? Forrester believes that this spike coupled with the clients need to deploy more quickly and cost effectively will drive the much broader adoption of solution accelerators and other non-linear IP models. Today best practice is to get 5% to 7% of revenue. We expect that that percentage could easily double over the next 18 months as vendors deal with attrition and clients clamor for faster deployment of solutions.

What Is The Future Of A Global Delivery Model

John McCarthy

On my current trip to India multiple Indian and multinational companies asked where we saw the future of a global delivery model headed. This caused me to reflect, and here is my formal answer: There are a number of areas where we expect to see changes that not only reflect the maturing of the market but also changes in buyer demand. Forrester expects that developments and investments will take place along four vectors.

  • A continued focus on building out domain and technology centers of excellence.To date, these activities have been fairly isolated to one or two technologies like SAP or the mainframe and one or two top verticals. That will continue to expand especially on the domain or industry side. The COEs will be required to support the greater focus on specific business process for application work and the need to build out a portfolio of solution accelerators with a high level of domain input.
  • Building out a network of centers with a new wrinkle.With every day, it is becoming clearer that no single country is going to match the scale and breadth of India. In many cases, expansion had been driven by one or more clients looking to expand in a particular market like Latin America or China. Forrester believes that there will be a greater focus over the next two to three years around turning each alternative geography center into a particular center of excellence to clearly differentiate its capabilities and cost structure from the India mother ship.
  • An extension of process investments into the multicenter world. The current process investments have been largely at a center-by-center level to improve an individual location’s consistency and predictability. The emphasis will now shift to the knowledge management, collaboration, and social networking tools to allow firms to tap into the COEs in the alternative geographies.
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Emerging Markets Report Optimism And IT Budget Increases

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Last week, Forrester released results from our “Global IT Budgets, Priorities, And Emerging Technology Tracking Survey.” Highlights of the survey are reported in Chris Mines’ recent blog, the title of which gives you the gist of our findings: The Overall IT Budget Environment Has Turned Positive.

GlobalForrSights2010_IndustryOutlook.PNGHowever, there were some very interesting differences across some of the geographies we surveyed.  Respondents in emerging markets tend to be more optimistic than their counterparts in more mature markets. When asked about the outlook for their industry, 51% of respondents in Latin America thought that 2010 would be a very good or somewhat good year, followed by 36% in Emerging Asia (China and India) and Russia, with North America and Western Europe lagging behind with only 31% and 25%, respectively. Big difference in outlook between Western Europe and Latin America! On a more positive note all around, these numbers were much more positive than the outlook of respondents in last year’s survey.  In 2009, only 8% of respondents in NA and WE expected a good year – really not very optimistic about their industry outlooks. Emerging Asia (without Russia) was 15%, and Latin America was 21%. 

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The Overall IT Budget Environment Has Turned Positive

Chris Mines

Forrester’s newest survey of the IT spending environment has encouraging news that underpins our forecasts of a rebound in industry fortunes after the nasty recession of 2008-09. The good news for tech vendors is that IT budgets and purchasing plans are starting to reflect an improving economy. Last week, Forrester released results from our “Global IT Budgets, Priorities, And Emerging Technology Tracking Survey.” Among the top-level results: just over 40% of the 2,800 IT decision makers surveyed expect to increase their organization’s overall IT spending in 2010, up from just 12% in 2009; another 33% expect to hold their spending steady. So the overall IT budget environment has turned positive.

Respondents identified the top business priorities supported by IT investments as: 1) grow company revenue, and 2) reduce operating costs. No surprises there. But we were intrigued to see that “Drive new market offerings or business practices” ranked number 4, indicating that respondents are looking to IT to support and enable new product innovation.

We also see an uptick in spending on offshore IT services in 2010 vs. 2009, across ALL geographies.  Survey results also show that more than half of respondents have either implemented or are planning to implement SaaS, illustrating the tech industry’s continuing shift toward new purchasing models based on operating rather than capital expenditures.  

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