Technology Libertarianism: The Hands-Off Approach To IT That Fuels Technology Populism

TJ Keitt

One of the themes of my research has been how information worker adoption of technology in general, and collaboration technology specifically, affects IT decision-making. Inevitably, this has led me down the path of studying the phenomenon of rank-and-file employees provisioning their own technology outside the auspices of IT – a phenomenon Forrester labels Technology Populism (though I won’t kick if you want to call it “consumerization of IT”). Very shortly, I’ll be publishing a report that shows not only is Technology Populism a reality, but that it is affecting how technology is officially adopted by businesses. What our data shows is that sizable portions of the information workforce played a role in the selection of their desktop computer (13%), laptop computer (33%) and smartphones (66%). This got me thinking about what this means for technology decision-making in business.

We at Forrester often talk about the transition of IT to BT (Business Technology) – which is our shorthand for talking about lines of business taking a central role in the selection and management of technology. It reflects a need for technology decisions to be oriented toward business outcomes and for business leaders to have greater say in picking the tools their employees use. But this is still a high-level story: it is a tale of executives picking technology for the end user. Technology Populism is specifically about end users taking on this role; and that businesses are seeing benefits (re: cost savings) in allowing this suggests that there may be another concept here beyond IT to BT.

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Stephen Gillett On The Changing Role Of The CIO: Your Questions Answered

Sharyn Leaver

A couple of weeks ago, we asked you to submit your questions for Stephen Gillett, EVP, CIO, and GM, Digital Ventures, Starbucks. Stephen will be giving a keynote address on how to elevate the role of the traditional CIO to that of a digital business leader next week at Forrester’s IT Forum. Thank you for your questions – they didn’t disappoint. Without further ado, here are the top questions we received, along with Stephen’s answers:

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Will IT Vendors Start Selling Cars?

Tim Sheedy

The rise and rise of cloud has been dominating the headlines for the past few years, and for CIOs, it has become a more serious priority only recently. People like cloud computing. Well - at least they like the concept of cloud computing. It is fast to implement, affordable, and scales to business requirements easily. On closer inspection, cloud poses many challenges for organizations. For CIOs there are the considerable challenges around how you restructure your IT department and IT services to cope with the new demands that cloud computing will place on your business - and often these demands come from the business, as they start to get the idea that they can get so many more business cases over the line for new capabilities, products and/or services, as they realize that cloud computing lowers the costs and hastens the time to value.

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Jump Start Your Enterprise Social Efforts With A Jam

Rob Koplowitz

So, your organization needs to get social. We all get the benefits. More interactions among more knowledge workers with more frictionless access to more content equals a perfect environment for something new and great to happen. "Peanut butter, have you met chocolate? Oh, you work in separate parts of the organization and haven't had the pleasure yet? Well, you two are a match made in heaven. And, the vast majority of the organization agrees."

Flip comments aside, companies are considering making big bets on enterprise social technologies. For many organizations, particularly in North America and Western Europe, knowledge workers are the last real opportunity for competitive differentiation. Social technologies offer the promise of magnifying that differentiation and potentially in dramatic fashion. The question is how do you drive the cultural and organizational change that come with Enterprise 2.0 as quickly and efficiently as possible. At the end of the day, how do you go about setting up the best environment to drive those incredibly valuable serendipitous interactions?

Andrew McAfee, the father of Enterprise 2.0, recently blogged that the way to get to critical mass most quickly is to drop the pilot and go straight to enterprise deployment. While the conversation that followed was somewhat contentious (including some interesting discussion on a panel I was on at the Gilbane Conference yesterday) Andy's main contention is not up for debate. Social networks thrive on scale and critical mass. The more quickly and broadly that the social network evolves, the greater the  chance it has to thrive and ultimately produce those accidental and potentially magical interactions.

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30 Hours In Saudi Arabia: How "Smart" Is That?

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Very smart, I say.

Here I sit finally getting a chance to reflect on my 30 hours in Saudi Arabia. Yes, just a little more than one day. But one day was enough to change any preconception that I might have had, and spark my interest to learn more. My “day” started with the VIP treatment through passport control – which I must say was much appreciated.  The airport in Riyadh is certainly not Dubai International – far from it. But if there were any disappointment at the inauspicious first impression, it stopped there. Although to set the stage, I was invited to Saudi Arabia by IBM to participate in an analyst event showcasing “Smarter Cities” initiatives in the Kingdom. So admittedly, I was only presented the “smart” side of Riyadh. I am eager to see more.

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Google And VMware Advance PaaS For Enterprise - Who Will VMware Partner With Next?

Frank Gillett

Today, Google announced Google App Engine for Business, and integration with VMware’s SpringSource offerings. On Monday, we got a preview of the news from David Glazer, Engineering Director at Google, and Jerry Chen, Senior Director Cloud Services at VMware.

For tech industry strategists, this is another step in the development of cloud platform-as-a-service (PaaS). Java Spring developers now have a full platform-as-a-service host offering in Google App Engine for Business, the previously announced VMforce offering from salesforce.com, plus the options of running their own platform and OS stacks on premise or in virtual machines at service providers supporting vCloud Express, such as Terremark.

What’s next? IBM and Oracle have yet to put up full Java PaaS offerings, so I expect that to show up sometime soon – feels late already for them to put up some kind of early developer version. And SAP is also likely to create their own PaaS offering. But it’s not clear if any of them will put the same emphasis on portability and flexible, rich Web-facing apps that Google and VMware are.

So Google aims to expand into enterprise support – but will need more than the planned SQL support, SSL, and SLAs they are adding this year. They'll also need to figure out how to fully integrate into corporate networks, the way that CloudSwitch aims to do.

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SuccessFactors Offers Good Human Resources Management, But It’s Not A Complete Solution

Claire Schooley

Yesterday I attended the first day of SuccessFactors’ California customer conference at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Efficiency, speed, and good orchestration were evident throughout the day. The CEO, Lars Dalgaard, is a high-energy person who exudes confidence in the growth of his company. He is a real showman, and rather than giving a high-level company overview, his 90-minute presentation focused on product demos with touchscreen projections that worked fairly well. He clearly knows the products, has market momentum, and is driving the company forward. Lars would say, “We are about ‘Execution!’” The SuccessFactors slogan is “Success = Strategy + Execution.” The touted “new” offerings include recruiting (it’s been out for two years); a core HR data management app called Employee Central; calibration; goal execution; and the brand-new offerings through acquisitions -- Inform for workforce planning and analytics, and CubeTree for social collaboration. Acquisitions are new for SuccessFactors, so it hasn’t had experience in bringing together different company cultures and technologies, but my bet is that they’ll be successful.

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How Can Telecom Equipment Makers Take Advantage Of Cloud Services?

Frank Gillett

I've had a couple of interesting discussions about telecom and network equipment makers in the last few days. How can they take advantage of the cloud mania? Here are some quick thoughts:

1. Offer their equipment on a pay-per-use basis. Requires them to assume capital risk and bulk up the balance sheet. Might cannibalize gear sales. The usage pricing should be attractive for occasional use, but unattractive for constant use.

2. Create a cloud service that complements and advantages their telecom gear. Since the equipment sits in telecom operators and service providers around the world, work with customers to create a service that builds on data collected, with permission, from the experience of those customers.

3. Explore whether there's a service-only offering that is attractive to operators and hosters. Can a telecom equipment vendor offer capability as a cloud service, rather than as an on-premise product? There's probably something, but I don't know the market well enough to know. But I can't imagine cloud services fully replacing on-premises equipment.

What are your thoughts on how telecom equipment makers can take advantage of cloud services opportunities?

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Your IT Organizational Model Is SO 2009!

Sharyn Leaver

Is it me or do you feel like everyone is restructuring their IT organization – or at least talking about it? Chatter among CIOs often turns into a debate over the merits of plan-build-run models versus demand/supply models – or any other IT model du jour. So, I was eager to get my hands on the first draft of Marc Cecere’s  presentation on “Future BT Organizational Models” that he’ll be delivering at Forrester’s IT Forum in Las Vegas (it’s next week, so I’m up to my elbows in draft presentations – reviewing our CIO analysts’ content, pushing their thinking further, and frankly reveling in all the new research). Here’s a sneak peek:

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IBM Productizes The Information Workplace With Case Management Offering

Rob Koplowitz

A few weeks ago IBM invited me to a day-long conference in San Francisco to preview a new product direction around case management. At first I was a bit hesitant because case management is a bit outside of my normal research agenda, but an old pal in IBM analyst relations convinced me to come over. It was well worth the time. What I saw was much more than I expected as IBM plans to productize a true Information Workplace offering around the pervasive business issue of case management. The concept of an Information Workplace, first presented by Forrester in 2005, is defined as:

  • A software platform now emerging to support all types of information workers by providing seamless, multimodal, contextual, mobile, right-time access to content, data, voice, processes, expertise, business intelligence, eLearning content, and other information through the use of portals, collaboration tools, business process management, content repositories, content analytics, taxonomies, search, information rights management, and other emerging technologies.
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