What Do Business Strategy And Formula One Racing Have In Common?

Nigel Fenwick

Many companies are at the height of the IT strategic-planning season. For some, this is an annual ritual tied to the budgeting process. For others, this is part of a long-range planning process, with an annual review to check on progress. Still other CIOs are approaching the development of an IT strategy as an integral part of an ever-evolving business strategy, with regular adjustments as the business units flex and respond to market changes. Whatever your perspective, it’s apparent that in the past executives outside of IT have given scant attention to the machinations of the IT strategy — but this is surely changing.

The operational performance of any business unit is now so heavily dependent upon the effective and efficient deployment of appropriate technology that planning a business strategy without also planning technology strategy is like planning to win Formula One without any telemetry. You can’t even get to the starting grid.

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Despite Fears About Economies In Europe And US, Forrester Still Forecasts A Strong 2010 IT Market, With 7.8% Growth Globally

Andrew Bartels

Expectations about economic growth prospects and the resulting implications for tech markets have been gyrating wildly in 2010. First, there were fears that the Greek debt crisis would spread to Portugal, Spain, Italy, maybe even the UK, leading to a breakup of the euro zone and a renewed recession in Europe. Then, as worries about Europe started to ebb after Greece and other countries successfully held debt tenders, the slow pace of job growth and weak retail sales in the US sparked concerns that the US was facing a double-dip recession.

What should a tech market watcher make of this uncertainty? As I read the economic and tech market indicators, I see more news that is in line with our expectations than not; where there have been surprises, they have been more often positive than negative. Economic recoveries seldom move in a straight line, so I did not expect to see an unbroken string of good news. Moreover, because of the imbalances that caused this downturn (too much consumer spending in the US, housing bubbles in the US and several other countries, too much debt), I expected the US economic recovery in particular to be relatively weak, with real growth rates of 2% to 3%. True, European economic growth — in large part due to the effects of the Greek debt crisis — has been weaker than expected, and the euro dropped much more against the US dollar then I had assumed. On the other hand, economic growth in Asia Pacific and Latin America has been stronger than I expected, and many of the currencies in these regions have risen in value against the dollar. Lastly, the indicators of the tech market itself — both US and other government data on business investment in technology (where available), as well as the vendor data from earnings releases for calendar Q1 2010 — has generally been stronger than our forecasts.

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How Are You Using iPad For Business?

Ted Schadler

We are getting many requests for help on iPad strategies for the enterprise. It's clear why. iPads are a tremendously empowering technology that any employee can buy. My colleague Andy Jaquith has a report coming real soon now on the security aspects of iPhones and iPads, and I'm launching research on case studies of iPad in the enterprise.

I am currently hearing about three business scenarios for iPad and tablets, but I'd love hear of your experiences, plans, concerns, or frustrations. Ping me at tschadler(at)forrester(dot)com. Here are the three scenarios:

  1. Sales people out in the field. This is the "Hollywood pitch deck" scenario. The iPad, particularly with a cover that can prop it up a bit, is a great way to scroll through slides to show a customer or demonstrate a Web site. In one situation, I heard that there's a competition brewing for who can manipulate the Web site upside down (so the client across the table sees it right side up) without making any mistakes. Now there's a new skill for sales: upside down Web browsing.
  2. Executives on an overnight trip. No, iPad doesn't replace a laptop (at least not yet; more on this below). But it's great for email, calendar, reviewing documents, and presenting PDF or Keynote decks.
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Social technologies: Standalone Applications Or Features?

TJ Keitt

During CScape at Cisco Live, one of the more interesting conversations I had started with a simple question: Is social software (and collaboration software in general) a set of standalone applications or features of other business applications? This sprang from a discussion on the future of the collaboration technology business and really speaks to a couple of important developments in the market:

 

1) Collaboration platform vendors incorporating social features into their offerings. Anyone who's followed my research and my blog posts knows this story: Cisco, IBM, Microsoft and Novell (amongst others) have released collaboration tools that include robust Web 2.0 technologies such as social networks, tag clouds and blogs. This has led to a maturing of the messaging of pure-play vendors - going from "we have the best social software" to "this is how we solve a specific business problem."

2) Business applications that power business processes are becoming social. Another recurring theme in my research is corporate interest in (and fear of not having) enterprise 2.0 technology has led business application vendors to jump into the market. As these vendors do so, they are seeking out tools to help them make their applications social. The inclusion of business application vendors, though, has put more pressure on the pure-play vendors to find a niche that will allow them to compete with vendors that have sure footholds in businesses.

 

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Yes -- Some IT Projects Fail. But Don't Throw The Baby Out With The Bathwater

Tim Sheedy

There has been a lot of negative press and commentary regarding the recent Queensland Health Implementation of Continuity Project (SAP HR and Payroll), which recently experienced a very public failure as many employees were not paid due to multiple points of failure in the project. The recent Auditor-General's Report on the process is damning, spreading the blame across multiple agencies and the systems integration partner, IBM. I make no claims to be familiar with the intricate details of the process, but I have read the report and feel I have a clear understanding of the (many!)  points of failure. 

While this project did seem to be a monumental failure, I would suggest that we consider two important facts:

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How Do You Demonstrate The Real Value Of Collaboration (Software)?

TJ Keitt

As I cruised the pavilion at Cisco Live in Las Vegas last week, the display that held my attention the longest was the Collaboration ROI booth. There, the network infrastructure provider making waves in the collaboration software market was demonstrating calculations it had done on how its various solutions were improving efficiency and productivity for specific jobs in verticals like retail banking. In the example I reviewed, banks using virtual loan officers were able to obtain more small business customers because the bank was able to have someone "there" to answer the prospective customer's questions. Now, with all the activity going on around me, why was this so fascinating? Put simply, it relates to a fundamental issue for all vendors hoping to compete in the collaboration software space: How do you differentiate in this crowded market?

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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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