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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One Analysts's View Of What IBM's Smarter Planet Means

Ted Schadler

Tedschadler by Ted Schadler

[dateline] Stamford, CT

IBM CEO Sam Palmisano gave a speech to the Council on Foreign Affairs in New York City on November 6, 2008. In the speech, he added his voice that that of Al Gore, Jeff Immelt, and Barack Obama to declare that the US can lead the world to prosperity (and out of this financial quagmire). He called his vision building a "smarter planet."

Here's how I see the smarter planet:

  • Intelligence and network connections are embedded in physical systems. Chips and bandwidth have helped optimize business processes and make information workers more productive. But information technology hasn't yet really helped optimize our physical systems. A company on a smarter planet will put computers and connections into every physical system so that machines can phone home, operating problems can telegraph themselves, and power grids and distribution systems can be monitored, controlled, and optimized. (Forrester first identified this trend of an extended "Internet of things" in 2001 with a report entitled "The X Internet.")
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Cloud-Based Collaboration Could Rock A CFO's World In A Recession

Ted Schadler

Tedschadler By Ted Schadler

Did you know that three vendors with something in common grew rapidly during the last recession? WebEx, Placeware (now Microsoft LiveMeeting cum Office Communications Server), and Salesforce.com all grew during the last recession.

One of the reasons is that they offered valuable services -- Web conferencing and sales force automation – that companies needed help with. But the other thing they had in common is that they packaged their offering as a cloud-based service with a pay-as-you-go pricing model.

This model offered three immediate benefits to cash-strapped companies:

  1. It was cheap and easy to get started with these cloud-based services.
  2. The business could buy the services without IT’s help, at least initially.
  3. It was easy to provision these services for business users.
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IBM Lotus Gets Into The Hosted Email Game. Phew.

Ted Schadler

Tedschadler by Ted Schadler

It is inevitable and welcome that a revitalized Lotus has launched a hosted email and calendar service.

Inevitable because cloud-based email services are on the rise and IBM isn't going to miss out on that. It might be your entire messaging system -- email, calendar, contacts as in hosted Exchange, Gmail, and now Notes Hosted Messaging. Or it might be an ancillary service as in email filtering from Microsoft, Google Postini, or Symantec MessageLabs or Exchange management from Azaleos. But pushing email out of the data center and into the cloud has some real benefits (outlined below).

Welcome to Forrester's enterprise customers because having Microsoft as the only hosted email service in town limits customer choice. And that's never good.

Oh yeah, then there's the attractive price. While nobody can undercut Google's $50/user/year price, IBM has aggressively priced this offering for between $8 and $18 per user per month.

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