In Sustainability, Britannia Rules

Chris Mines

Three Reasons Why the UK is Leading the Charge of IT for Green

I was in London last week, delivering the opening keynote at the Green IT Expo conference. I had previously spoken at this event back in 2008, and it was nice to see a bigger crowd of perhaps 400-500 delegates, a lively hall full of vendor exhibitors, and a larger and plusher venue (the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in the shadow of Big Ben). In my estimation, the U.K. continues to be the country at the leading edge of innovation and implementation of IT for Sustainability. Why there? At least three factors:

1. Public awareness of climate change. Unlike here at home, there is little debate in the U.K. about the reality of climate change and the need for urgent action to monitor and reduce carbon emissions to slow its effects.

2. Government mandates for carbon reporting and reduction (the Carbon Reduction Commitment or CRC). The public awareness is reflected in governmental policy. Despite the reporting and reduction requirements of the CRC being pushed out in time, the U.K. still has the most teeth of any country or region in its mandate for companies to monitor, report, and reduce (or pay taxes on) their carbon emissions.

3. Leading companies' efforts to improve their sustainability posture. Whether it's Astra-Zeneca in pharma, Tesco and Marks & Spencer in retailing, BA in transportation, or the U.K. Ministry of Defence in the public sector, leading U.K. institutions are making the commitments and investments to transform their business processes in a more sustainable direction.

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"Smart" Is Here To Stay: Smart City Tweet Jam Summary

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Forrester’s Smart City Tweet Jam was a great success.  On Tuesday morning/afternoon/evening, smart city followers around the globe participated in an hour of intense tweeting on smart cities.  We touched on a range of issues from the definitions of a “city” and a “smart city” and the evolution toward the goal of becoming smart to the challenges city leaders face and the business models that enable adoption of technology-based solutions.  We ended with a contrarian view that “smart cities” might just be a fade. But that was quickly refuted with reminders of the growing challenges faced by cities and the imperative of facing these challenges in a sustainable manner. 

One hour, 62 Twitterers, and 389 tweets later we were exhausted – at least I was.  But we were pleased to have aired and shared our opinions about the challenges, the potential solutions to those challenges, and the paths and business models that will make those solutions possible in the short-run, and hopefully sustainable in the longer term.  Below are some excerpts from the conversation.  But there were many interesting points of view and contributions to the discussion. I've included here a visual representation of the key words and topics discussed during the Tweet Jam, created using ManyEyes.  For the more stats and the full transcript, check out #smartcityjam.  

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Launch A Team Challenge: Get Smart Together

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Ready, set, go.  Earlier this week IBM announced their Smart City Challenge – a competition for cities to help investigate and launch smart city initiatives.  IBM will award $50 million worth of technology and services to help 100 municipalities across the globe.  The city has to articulate a plan with several strategic issues it would like to address and demonstrate a track record of successful problem solving, a commitment to the use of technology and willingness to provide access to city leaders.  Hmmm...this sounds exactly like IBM’s existing target market.

The challenge for IBM is to demonstrate that this program is incremental to IBM’s existing activities with cities and local governments.  This program really is an opportunity to extend smart city activities – both from a philanthropy perspective and from a business development perspective.  (I’m acknowledging that there can be business development in philanthropy.) Will cities that have not yet embarked on a smart city initiative or program now consider applying for funding and assistance in starting down that path? 

One way to ensure a broader, and incremental, audience is to get the word out – and, actually evangelize to cities that have not already understood the benefits of technology as a means of addressing their critical pain points.  Many of these are perhaps smaller cities, which leads me to another recommendation.

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Who Will Win The Retail Battle: Apple Or Microsoft?

Nigel Fenwick

Microsoft began opening its own retail stores in 2009 and recently began a push into more US cities. A recent post by George Anderson on Forbes.com about Microsoft's new store format prompted me into some late-night analysis. It appears Microsoft's store format strategy is to ride in the draft of Apple by building larger-format stores very near, if not adjacent to, Apple's own stores. As a retail analyst and both an Apple and Microsoft customer for over 25 years, I feel compelled to weigh Microsoft's retail strategy against Apple's (and since I cover retail strategy from a CIO perspective, it feels appropriate to publish here).

Comparing eight success factors

Location: I'll start here, as it was the subject of the original post. Across from Apple may be the only sensible choice for MS, but the challenge MS has is that Apple is a destination store, i.e. people plan to go there for the experience. This makes it less likely they will decide to browse the MS store because it is close. On the other hand, assuming MS does some promotions to attract traffic to its stores, they are likely to also drive additional traffic to Apple. Predicted winner = Apple.

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Welcome To The Empowered Era

Ted Schadler

We inhabit an age in which empowering technology is readily available first to individuals, not institutions. Consumers and employees will always get the new good stuff first. And it will always be so. The economics of technology investment seal that deal. The consumer market is bigger and easier to get started in.

In this empowered era, smart mobile devices, social technology, pervasive video, and cloud computing are the anchor tenants of the new technology platform. These technologies are available to every consumer and employee, even yours. The question is what to do about it? Two things:

  1. Because customers can hijack your brand (consumers in the US make 500 billion impressions on each other online every year), you have to use empower your customers with better information than they can get from their networks. You have to honor your customers as a marketing channel.
  2. Because employees have ready access to technology to improve their working lives, you have to give employees permission -- and protection -- to adopt these technologies. You have to honor employees' use of consumer technology as a source of incremental and sometimes breakthrough innovation.
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What Does The US Election Mean For The Tech Market? Not Much Either Way

Andrew Bartels

While the last results for US Senate and House of Representative seats are still trickling in, the overall picture is clear — the Republicans have taken control of the House, but the Democrats will retain their majority in the Senate and of course still hold the presidency. In my view, this outcome is a small positive for the tech market, but doesn’t fundamentally change our outlook for around 8% growth in the US IT market and 7% growth in global IT markets in 2010 and 2011.

On the eve of the election, my big concern from an IT market perspective was that the Republicans would take control of both the House and the Senate. That concern was not driven by my political affiliation (which happens to favor the Democrats), but by the potential for a political stalemate between a confrontational Republican Congress (with hard-line conservative Republicans and Tea Party supporters setting a shut-down-the-government tone) and a combative Democratic president. In that political environment, badly needed measures to help stimulate a lagging economy would get stalled, the political battles could shake already weak business and consumer confidence, and the US economy could then slip into a renewed recession. And an economic downturn of course would be bad for the tech sector.

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Changes In The Media Explain Why The Smart Computing Revolution Is Not Yet Running On Internet Time

Andrew Bartels

This past weekend, my wife wanted desperately to attend Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear,” to support the message of civility and moderation. An injured foot and problems with travel logistics kept her from attending, but we watched it on the Comedy Central network. It was, of course, a counterpoint to the “Restoring Honor” rally that Fox News’ Glen Beck held in August. However, there were two striking commonalities about the two rallies:

  • First, the ability of cable program show hosts to gather hundreds of thousands of people (estimates seem to be around 100,000 for the Beck rally and 200,000 for the Stewart rally) to travel to Washington for a rally. We’re not talking about rallies organized by a major political leader like President Obama or a media giant like Walter Cronkite with a TV audience of tens of millions of people. Instead, the TV personalities who hosted these events have cable audiences that on a good night may reach 3 to 5 million people.
  • Second, the absence of attention to substantive economic issues facing this country, such as persistent high unemployment, economic recovery strategies, education and competitiveness, global warming, or budget deficits and priorities. Instead, the rallies focused on culture, tone, and attitudes, with the Beck rally resembling a college homecoming event where the returning alumni complain about how the place has gone downhill since they left, while current seniors crack jokes and make fun of the old geezers wandering around the campus.
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When Metrics Become Your Boss

Craig Le Clair

Forrester is conducting a deep dive into dynamic case management usage by interviewing 50 companies implementing these solutions and evaluating 10 dynamic case management (DCM) platforms for an upcoming Forrester Wave. Enterprises are using DCM solutions to tackle untamed processes that service a myriad of customer and citizen requests, automate and track "incidents" related to investigations, and meet new compliance demands from a growing number of ever-more-scrupulous regulators. And with an eye to the future, business process professionals report that DCM offers great potential to align process outcomes with organizational goals, leverage unique expertise of I-workers, and improve agility for case workers, business managers, and IT. 

But one aspect of this is interesting in the way DCM may change existing management approaches. The new generation of case management platforms allow for more rapid change by the case worker, business process pros, and IT. But this ability only matters if aligned with organizational agility, i.e., allows rules, such as dollar approval limits, to be approved by management in the same time frame. Approving a new rule or wording change in a communication can take weeks at some enterprises today. So management will have to decentralize decision-making to the case worker.

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Getting Smarter? Yes. Public Sector Does Expect To Spend More On Technology.

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Last week I was in Dubai and got a chance to visit GITEX, the largest IT event in the Middle East.  I was very interested and impressed to see the “Government” pod.  I’ve participated in many IT events including biggies like Mobile World Congress, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pod dedicated to governments’ use of IT.  But, the event in Dubai clearly was showcasing how governments were using IT to address public sector concerns.  I spent time in the UAE Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) booth hearing about their “e-Project” portal, which streamlines processes such as bidding and awarding of MoPW contracts, as well as the prioritizing, managing, and launching of specific projects.  The portal also facilitates the registration, licensing and evaluation of vendors.  The Ministry of the Environment and Water also recently launched a new version of its Web portal, which welcomes suggestions or complaints from citizens and employees, allows for public inquiries about all conservation and environmental projection issues, enables licensing for agricultural business activity or use of pesticides, and even includes a “contact the minister” feature.  I also spoke to teachers affiliated with the Dubai Ministry of Education who were thrilled to have just received new iPads from which they could take attendance, record grades and manage classroom schedules.  Many ministries and government agencies from across the UAE were represented.  Clearly Emirates cities understand the imperative of addressing public issues with technology solutions.  As populations grow – UAE population will increase 75% between 2010 and 2050 – and development continues, Emirati governments are getting “smart.”

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Should CIOs Have A Role In Strategic Investment Planning?

Nigel Fenwick

Strategic Investment PlanningAt Forrester’s recent Business Process And Application Delivery Forum, there was a very interactive session on “Using The Next-Generation PMO To Promote Innovation,” led by Margo Visitacion. The premise of the session was that leading-edge PMOs (project management offices) are evolving to a more strategic role, focused on portfolio management of business investment rather than just IT projects or programs.

Many clients have suggested their PMO mission is already elevated to this level. They now focus their efforts on everything from guiding business leaders through building a business case for the investments they want to make, to guiding decision-makers through selection from the portfolio of investment proposals, to tracking benefits realization and ROI after the fact. PMOs with this kind of business-focused, strategic mission have greater business impact and are often close partners with executives leading their firm.

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