Google Tests An Offline Email Client

Ted Schadler

Tedschadler by Ted Schadler

This has been long rumored by Google Apps watchers, but we get confirmation today: Google is testing an offline email client. This is a Google Gmail Labs feature, which means that it's really test code for the brave. In fact, the Gmail Labs site helpfully warns that "there's an escape hatch" if a feature breaks.

That said, this is a big deal for Google. (Caveat: I haven't tested it yet, so I'll have to report back once I do). Here's what it means:

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How Does IT Develop 'Business Intimacy'?

Alex Cullen

IT organizations focus on the business needs they understand, not on the ones that matter to business.

                          Alexcullen        When we ask business execs and IT execs the same questions around the importance of technology to business goals, and how well IT does supporting those business goals, we get interesting results. First, business and IT see technology’s value differently: to business, the greatest value is in products and services, and in competitive differentiation, whereas to IT, the greatest value is in improving operational efficiency. But the second result is more interesting:  both business and IT believe IT doesn’t do well supporting the business goals around products and services, or differentiation – but IT believes they do much worse than business believes they do.

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It's Time To Put Aside Childish Things As Microsoft Announces Layoffs

Rob Koplowitz

Robkoplowitz By Rob Koplowitz

In his inaugural address, Barack Obama told us it's "..time to put aside childish things." A country that once showed greatness through youthful exuberance is being asked to show greatness through measured maturity. It's a moment of realization. And a time of challenge.

Microsoft has announced that it intends to lay off up to 5000 employees over the next 18 months. For those of us who have chosen this industry as our career home, layoffs are nothing new. We live in a cyclical world and nowhere is the cycle more evident than in the computer industry, where companies are constantly appearing out of nowhere, growing, shrinking, acquiring and being acquired.

But this is different. This is the latest sign of a sea change in our industry. The best and brightest minds in the industry saw this coming. Steve Jobs saw it when he turned Apple Computer into Apple and turned tech into "tech fashion." Larry Ellison saw it when he began to acquire players that would make Oracle an indispensable piece of corporate infrastructure and at the same time established a more predictable maintenance revenue stream to Oracle.

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Business Isn't Mature About Technology - What Are We Going To Do About It?

Alex Cullen

Alexcullen Business says it wants to be more involved with technology decision-making – taking a more leadership role especially when it comes to solutions with direct business benefit.  And if business acts on this desire by working with IT the way we’ve wanted, this is all to the good.  But we have to recognize that the more they care – for example if they are in product development or sales – the less likely they are going to want to work with us in the way we wanted – via steering committees, architecture review boards, and formalized project proposal processes.  To them, it might appear easier to use SAAS offerings, or contract for or develop their own solutions – and they may have a point.  Many of the efficiencies centralized IT can provide count less when using cloud-based services and newer, more end-user friendly tools.  And if IT won’t support them because they are off the ‘approved technology’ ranch – well, they have alternatives. 

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BP&A Trends To Watch For In 2009

Sharyn Leaver

Sharyn Leaver By Sharyn Leaver

As we enter a new year, business process & applications professionals who want to stay ahead of the pack need to know what to expect in 2009. Uncertain economic times lie ahead, and those professionals who know what is on the horizon will best weather the storm. Here are some key trends in key process and app areas that our analysts predict for 2009:

Financial Performance Management: Financial management professionals stand in the spotlight as the economic downturn continues and companies cope with weaker demand, price pressures, rising costs, and credit constraints. Technology and process strategies in 2009 will focus on improving planning, budgeting and forecasting, and cash and risk management while under the cloud of a very uncertain and unfavorable tax environment.

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Google Apps Shows Some Commercial Clout With A Reseller Program

Ted Schadler

Tedschadler by Ted Schadler

I spoke recently with Stephen Cho, the product manager for the new Google Apps Reseller Program. It's quite clear that Google has learned from its Postini reseller program, from partners like Appirio and Cap Gemini, and from Microsoft's Exchange Online reseller program.

First, the details:

  • Resellers own the customer. That means billing, first line support, the works.This is in distinct contrast to Microsoft's program for Exchange Online, where partners can sell and benefit from the business, but the Exchange customer would write checks to Redmond.
  • Resellers get 20% margin. That's in the US, anyway. That means $10/user/year. Period. Have you ever seen such price transparency (and low points) in any reseller program? I haven't. The entire term sheet would fit on a 1/3rd of a page.
  • Enterprises can't be their own reseller. They have to sell to at least someone other than themselves. Otherwise, this would be a simple way for a enterprise to whack 20% off the already low $50/user/year cost.
  • Google will provide technical admin support if requested. They won't provide end user support. though. That's one of the value-added services that a VAR can provide.
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WebEx Goes Mobile On iPhone; Notes 8.5 Ships On Macs

Ted Schadler

Tedschadler by Ted Schadler

MacWorld held two important announcements for collaboration professionals, especially those interested in multidevice future:

1. Lotus announced that Notes 8.5 is shipping on Macintoshes, specifically on the new Leopard version of OS X. And its open source office productivity suite, Symphony will be available in a few months. Why does this matter? It matters because Lotus has a clear, vigorous multidevice strategy for the tools that make information workers productive. See Ed Brill's post for the IBM point of view.

2. Cisco announced that WebEx Meeting Center is available on iPhones. In fact, you can download it today to your iPhone. While I haven't yet had the chance to put it through its paces, this announcement signals Cisco's commitment to supporting multiple devices. I expect them to continue to roll unified communications apps on mobile phones of every flavor.

Here are some details:

  • The native iPhone application is freely available at the Apple AppStore or at iTunes.
  • It doesn't cost any more to attend a meeting over an iPhone. (But the hoster does have to be running the most current version of the WebEx software.)
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Be a Services Provider To Your Business To Boost Understanding

Alex Cullen

How do your business peers view IT? 

a) a black box of spending
b) a large bureaucracy which my function tries to work with
c) a collection of applications and projects
d) the help desk, and the relationship manager I work with
e) a set of business services supporting my department or function

Now, which of these is the most beneficial perspective — the one that leads to your firm getting the most bang for your technology spending?

The correct answer is e) a set of business services supporting my department or function. 

Why? – because the others eliminate any useful dialogue between you (the IT organization) and business execs (your customers).  By viewing IT as a set of business services, such as a ‘product engineering service’ or a ‘field sales support service’, IT spending is mapped to functions which business cares about. When the IT organization is aligned around these services, redundant applications, overlapping projects, and organizational silos are more easily exposed, and the business-IT discussion is re-focused on service levels, costs and capabilities. 

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Should Your Email Live In The Cloud?

Ted Schadler

Tedschadler by Ted Schadler

Should your email live in the cloud?

Colleague Chris Voce and I have written a pair of reports to answer that question from the perspectives of an information and knowledge management professional and an infrastructure and operations professional. For many firms, the answer is "yes," certainly for some users or some email support services.

The first report tackles the issues of cost. It turns out that most companies have no idea what their fully loaded email costs are (and most low-ball the estimates). But once you add in staffing costs; server and desktop software licenses; upgrades and support fees; archiving and filtering costs; mobile support; hardware, storage, and power costs; and financing costs, email's a big ticket item, as much as $36 per user per month for a 15,000 person company offering BlackBerry support.

Some findings from this cost analysis:

  • A mobile-less information worker can cost $25 per user per month or a whopping $300 per user per year. In a 10,000-person company doing message archiving, that's an annual budget line item of $3 million.
  • When you compare the fully loaded costs of on-premise email to the cloud-based alternatives, the cloud service wins for many worker segments in companies (or divisions) of 15,000 users or less.
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Extranet Collaboration Platforms. Coming Soon, But Then There's That Pesky Many-To-Many Problem

Ted Schadler

Tedschadler by Ted Schadler

In our conversations with many information and knowledge management professionals, it's clear that their distributed and multicompany teams need better extranet collaboration tools.

And they feel the problem is only getting worse as companies go virtual, global, distributed, outsourced, green, travel-less, and partnered, thus driving the need for ever-better collaboration tools that work outside the firewall.

Trouble is, the messaging and collaboration services that  companies have implemented are designed primarily for internal teams.

For example, it's bloody difficult to set up a secure instant messaging connection with every partner you might want to work with. Such interoperability between IM platforms is technically possible, but operationally nightmarish.

So clever employees do what they must: Use public IM and calendaring services, cobble together conferences from piece parts, and fall back on endless scheduling and sharing emails and voice conferencing. Ugh. Ugly. And scary.

Well, the solution's just around the corner say vendors new and old. After all, many are on the cusp of major product releases that promise much better extranet connections and capabilities:

  • IBM Bluehouse promises a new extranet collaboration platform.
  • Google already offers an extranet collaboration toolkit in its Google Apps Premier Edition.
  • Cisco is adding extranet collaboration capabilities to WebEx.
  • Microsoft is moving its services into the cloud for easier extranet access.
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