The Ultimate Grocery Shopping App?

Nigel Fenwick

Apple iPadGeorge Colony nailed it when he wrote “the iPad signals the future of software”. So where do smart-device app’s go from here? Basically, any application that focuses on saving people time is likely to be a winner but the biggest game changer will come when consumers start to benefit from customized services that save time and money while increasing brand loyalty. For example, here’s a glimpse into how we might see applications for our phones and tablets evolve to make food shopping and preparing meals at home easier…

Let’s imagine the future of a typical suburban home. In our future world we’ll follow Mr. and Mrs. Smith, working parents with little time to spare.

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Cisco Networkers 2010 Bahrain

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

I just returned from Cisco Networkers 2010 in Bahrain, and wanted to put a few thoughts to paper (or the electronic equivalent).  First of all, thank you Cisco.  What a fantastic event for all involved!

The event was held at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), and boasted attendance of over 3,000 delegates from Bahrain and more than 60 other countries.   Not only was the event an opportunity for technical training for the attendees but it was also an opportunity for local Cisco partners to present their products and solutions.  Both are consistent with Cisco’s emerging markets strategy of country transformation – to create an environment conducive to expanding opportunity in emerging markets rather than merely exploiting existing opportunity.  Cisco works with governments and other non-governmental organizations in certain emerging markets to help develop the ICT infrastructure and local technical skills in order to build the market, and further enable economic development of the country.  Holding Networkers 2010 in Bahrain demonstrated Cisco’s commitment to their country transformation strategy.

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Examples of cloud migration delays due to global data privacy concerns

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

[Co-authored by Zachary Reiss-Davis]

On March 30, 2010, Yale University placed a migration to Google Apps for its email services on hold over privacy and security concerns, especially regarding a lack of transparency about in what country its data would be stored in.

Michael Fisher, a computer science professor involved in the decision, said that “People were mainly interested in technical questions like the mechanics of moving, wondering ‘Could we do it?’ ,but nobody asked the question of ‘Should we do it?’” and went on to say that the migration would “also makes the data subject to the vagaries of foreign laws and governments, and “that Google was not willing to provide ITS with a list of countries to which the University’s data could be sent, but only a list of about 15 countries to which the data would not be sent.”

This closely aligns with our January report, “As IaaS Cloud Adoption Goes Global, Tech Vendors Must Address Local Concerns” which examined security and privacy issues involved in moving data to the cloud, especially when it’s no longer clear what country your data will reside in. In this report, we offered that IaaS  providers should give “guidance on where data is located and location guarantees if necessary. Rather than merely claiming that data is in the cloud, tech vendors must be prepared to identify the location of data and provide location guarantees (at a premium) if required.” 

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Market Opportunity, or Not: Bharti wants in but Zain wants out

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

My colleague, Mike Cansfield, just posted a blog on the new “scramble for Africa” among telecommunications companies. Bharti Airtel, an Indian company, just finalized a deal to take over most of the African assets of Zain, a Kuwaiti company.  As Mike mentions, Bharti has been dogged in its efforts to enter the African market with two previous attempts to forge a deal with South Africa’s MTN Group. 

Bharti sees significant opportunity on the continent where just 36% of the population owns a mobile phone – yet many more use mobile phone services through resellers who offer use of a phone by the minute in the local markets.  Originally part of the informal sector, MTN has actually launched a program to legitimize the sale of on-demand phone services through its Y’ello Zone Payphone initiative.   MTN originally pledged to install 7,500 community pay phones across the countries in underserved areas.  To date, over 11,000 have been installed.  As part of the program, MTN offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to operate these Payphone kiosks, and provides the skills training to run a successful phone shop.  The program contributes to job creation, especially among women and youth, with more than 3,800 retailers already benefitting.   But, I digress . . .   

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Ten Steps To Increased Productivity Through Effective Training

Nigel Fenwick

What if there was an easy way to increase employee productivity by 10% using the technology that’s already in place? What would that do to the bottom line? Even a 1% gain would be significant for most large organizations. In this day and age when CIOs are competing for budget and every dollar of technology investment must be justified, CIOs should not overlook training as a means to boost employee productivity and the ROI of existing technology investments.

Unfortunately it seems that too few people really know how to use the applications they have available in an effective way. Take for example the proliferation of spreadsheets in the workplace. Tools like Microsoft Excel have amazing features that support some powerful analysis and reporting. Yet many people fail to utilize basic productivity features built into such applications. We probably all observe people misusing tools and completing work the hard way simply because they don’t know any better. And Excel is just one tool that many of us use day-in-day-out. Outlook has some amazing features to boost productivity but few people know how to take advantage of them.

Even where some level of training in core ERP applications is provided to new employees, we know that very little is actually absorbed in early training. And much of IT training is focused on what buttons to press in what sequence to get a job done; very little seems to focus on how to use all the technology together as part of a productive business process.

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Brain Fitness Joins Physical Fitness As Part Of A Workout Strategy

Claire Schooley

I had an interesting discussion today with a new company called Cogniciti that is developing a platform for helping adults “extend their memory and cognitive abilities longer in the lifespan.” Based on research from Baycrest, a health services center focusing on aging and affiliated with the University of Toronto, the company’s work is grounded in solid research.

I think extending one’s memory to stay as sharp as possible in both professional and personal life is a hot topic that is growing fast as an essential component of general fitness. We spend hours at the gym maintaining our physical fitness. But in order to enjoy our healthy bodies, we also need to be mentally fit.  In the last few months, I’ve seen a lot of emphasis on informing people about what they can do to maintain their memory. PBS had a special over the Holidays and a brain fitness package was one of the “thank you” gifts for pledging money to the TV station. I picked up an AARP magazine in a doctor’s office last week and the lead article was on exercising the brain through challenging games. I felt quite satisfied when I completed the puzzles effortlessly (whew!)

I’m convinced we will see brain fitness as a soft skill for employees in the corporate world. Everyone can use memory strategies to improve their work performance. I like the blend of research and technology. Using self-paced online information and exercises that use simulations and other multimedia production techniques combined with self-study and online discussions give employees a complete brain enhancing program. Employees can also access brain games and exercises from their mobile device and get some brain stimulation on the way to work in the morning!

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The Information Workplace Gets Social

Rob Koplowitz

"Super, then you'll have plenty to talk about!"

                                           Greg Marmalard, Animal House

Collaboration and social technologies continue to be hot in 2010. In Forrester's 2009 Enterprise Software Survey, we asked respondents to rate the following on a scale of 1-5:

How important are the following software initiatives in supporting your firm's current business goals?

          -Increase deployment and use of collaboration technologies

58% answered 4 or 5. In conversations with clients, it's clear that as we exit the current recession and enter a new economy, firms are betting on knowledge workers to drive competitive differentiation in the same manner that they bet on technology to drive efficiency in the early to mid-90's. The trend is particularly strong in North America and Western Europe where big bets are being made on innovation, design and other differentiation that will derive from more efficient, better connected knowledge workers.

This trend indicates high level, organizational goals and is likely to be more dependent on sociology than technology. The truth of the matter is that firms that have made large investments in collaboration, particularly social technologies, and have not made an accompanying investment in driving organizational and cultural change, have struggled. Why then, the trend toward investments in collaboration technologies?

The answer is that technology will support the efforts in a very significant way. And, in the case of social technologies, 2010 will be a break out year. Why? The market is clearly hungry for solutions and the vendors are poised to deliver.

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Frequent Computing Customers Need Local Providers: Where are the "Cloud Team" and "Cloud Alliance" Partner Programs?

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

flightmap.PNGHello from Dubai!  I arrived a few days ago for customer visits across the region including UAE, Qatar and Bahrain.  Although I’ve traveled extensively, this is my first trip to the Middle East. 

As a frequent flyer (both in terms of travel and airline loyalty), I looked first to my preferred airlines when I booked my flights to the region.  Neither of them (yes, I fly two airlines regularly which suggests that I’m not all that loyal) provided service to my destinations.  So, I looked for a partner airline – one that is part of my preferred airlines’ networks.  I went with Emirates which not only serves the Gulf States I was planning to visit, but enabled me to stay within network and collect my frequent flier miles. Why do I mention this?  Well, I have been thinking about that model of a “Star Alliance” or a “Skyteam,” and how it could apply to service providers of other kinds. 

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Is There a Role For Pre-moderation In Internal Social Networks?

Rob Koplowitz

"Well, as of this moment, they're on double-secret probation!"

Dean Wormer, Faber College

Recently I have had a number of conversations regarding the role of pre-moderation of internal social networks. Just by way of explanation, pre-moderation would be the approval of all content (posts and comments) prior to posting. Over the past several years and hundreds of conversations with enterprise clients, this has rarely come up.

Just to be clear, there is risk associated with enterprise social networking. There is nothing about social technologies that precludes requirements for privacy, security, maintenance of intellectual capital, regulatory compliance, etc. However, given the right degree of attention, these all are manageable. In fact, over time, social technologies will reduce the risk associated with all of these (more on that later).

OK, so if anyone can say anything at anytime, that's risky right? Well, in thoery, but in reality, not really. Remember, we're talking about internal social networks. Presumably, these are IT sanctioned, authenticated solutions. In other words, everyone knows who you are. And, we can assume that with some degree of planning and education, your users will be aware of the policies that govern the environment. And if you post something not within policy, well you get put on probation (or maybe double-secret probation). Animal House references aside, many a fine internal social networking policy begins with "don't do anything that will get you fired".

There are three key points here:

  • One, provide a sanctioned solution for your organization because if you don't they may well find something on their own and that could be a whole different kind of trouble.
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CIO Job Tenure Rises – Long-term Trend or Fleeting Phase?

Sharyn Leaver

CIO job tenure is now averaging 4.6 years, according to the Society for Information Management.  That’s up – way up -- from the 2-3 year average that we saw just a few years ago. How do you explain the lengthening time in job? Is it just because CIOs are better at their jobs than CEOs or CFOs who have higher churn rates? Probably not.

 

My guess is that the post dot-com bust and post 9/11 recession triggered CIOs to hunker down and be a bit more risk-adverse. They stayed put for a few years, then facing the more recent economic slump, stayed put even longer. They stayed busy doing what they unfortunately are known for -- helping with enterprise cost cutting. More reactive, more cost conscious, and less innovative CIOs are less likely to take risks and less likely to be fired for risk-taking.

 

But I suspect the trend towards longer tenure is rapidly coming to an end. The CIOs I speak with are eagerly waking up to tackle innovation and new investments in 2010. And we’re seeing more and more ex-consultant hot shots and business execs from elsewhere in the company recently hired on to “fix IT” join the CIO ranks. More proactive, innovative, and impactful CIOs are more likely to follow ambitious career paths – or (if your a glass-half-empty kind of guy or girl) get fired for risk-taking.