Web Summit Stakes Its Claim As One Of The Most Important Global Tech Events

Photo: Paddy Cosgrave, CEO and co-founder of Web Summit

Recently, Web Summit took place in Lisbon. “Web-what”? Web Summit is indeed a relative newcomer on the event scene, but you should take notice. At its core, Web Summit is all about connecting larger enterprises and investors to smaller tech companies. On a human level, Web Summit’s goal is to bring together youngish and enthusiastic technology entrepreneurs with experienced investors and leading managers of technology vendors. The result is a fresh and dynamic exchange of ideas and opinions as well as the mutual mentoring of the involved participants.

Web Summit started only in 2009 with a few dozen bloggers, journalists, and technologists in a hotel on the outskirts of Dublin. Web Summit’s rise to become one of the most important global technology conferences is remarkable. In 2016, the event already attracted 53,000 visitors from 166 countries and 15,000 companies, with 65% of visitors being senior managers, including 7,000 CEOs.

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VMware Is Evolving As A Powerful Provider Of Cloud-Based Offerings

With Lauren Nelson

We recently attended VMworld 2016 Europe in Barcelona. The event, which attracted about 10,000 visitors, has established itself as an important destination for anyone with an interest in virtualization-related topics. In many respects, the event was over-shadowed by the VMware-AWS partnership. However, the event also provided us with several additional impressions. We felt that there were several encouraging signs pointing to how VMware is progressing as a business within Dell Technologies, in particular, VMware is:

  • Developing its ecosystem of partners. The event was a good example how large VMware’s ecosystem has grown over the years. Most major systems integrators, IT firms, software houses, and telcos were present. In discussions with management, it was obvious that VMware fully understands the need to partner with a wide range of providers to address the business requirements that enterprise customers have. We expect VMware to further strengthen its ecosystem activities.
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Blockchain’s Potential For IoT Solutions

“IoT is not a feasible concept without a solution that allows for the direct interaction between machines and devices. Blockchain is a technology that can help to unlock this piece of the puzzle.”

Matthew Spoke, CEO, Nuco

Blockchain technology and the IoT both are currently catching the imagination of many interested stakeholders — for good reasons. For IoT to come into its own in the long run, devices sooner or later will have to communicate directly between each other. More than that, they must also be able to initiate further action without waiting for external instructions.

Blockchain can potentially add many benefits to IoT scenarios. Both — IoT and blockchain — are based on decentralized, distributed approaches; in combination, they potentially offer huge benefits from operational efficiencies to revenue generation. While these benefits will not emerge overnight, business and technology leaders need to acquaint themselves now with the possibilities as well as the challenges of blockchain technology in the IoT context, because:

  • Conceptually, blockchain technology is a good match for IoT scenarios. IoT applications are by definition distributed and call for devices to interact directly with each other rather than via existing centralized models.
  • Blockchain has the potential for improved IoT features, cost-efficiency, and compliance. Blockchain is not an end in itself, but forms the basis for applications, including potentially smart contracts, which support specific IoT processes.
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The AT&T Merger With Time Warner Opens A New Chapter For The Telco Industry

With Laura Koetzle

On October 22, 2016, AT&T announced its intention to acquire Time Warner for an equity value of $85.4 billion. The deal is essentially about the combination of quality content and content distribution, as it transforms AT&T into a content producer and owner — rather than just a distributor of content. Many telecom regulators restrict revenue growth opportunities for telcos in highly regulated telco markets. As a result, telcos are increasingly looking outside their markets for growth opportunities. This deal is evidence of this trend.

Telco CIOs Must Become More Strategic To Prepare For The Content Opportunity

The AT&T-Time Warner deal deserves special attention by telco CIOs. The deal needs to be seen against a challenging backdrop for the telco industry, where revenue growth from traditional revenue sources is hard to come by. Yes, AT&T already operates the largest US pay-TV business through its ownership of DirecTV. The Time Warner deal — should it materialize — would enable AT&T to offer its own premium entertainment programming to its pay-TV, mobile phone, and internet customers. AT&T’s intention to acquire Time Warner opens a new chapter for telcos, because the combination of quality content and content distribution potentially helps telcos to:

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Brexit Makes Customer-Focused Innovation Imperative

Photo: Cover of Panorama magazine Italia

While uncertainty continues, focusing on innovation is your best chance of success. British Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly said, "Brexit means Brexit." This statement ensures that every business operating in the UK will experience an uncertain and volatile market environment for some time. In our conversations with CIOs and chief technology officers (CTOs) since the Brexit vote, Forrester has retained its view that only if companies retain a focus on customers will they ensure growth and innovation, especially in times of uncertainty. All CIOs and CTOs at businesses operating in the UK should:

  • Make the business case that innovation can help their firms deal with uncertainty. Top management will be distracted by many short- term tactical considerations relating to Brexit. Make the case that innovation will move you closer to your customers and help to deal with underlying uncertainty.
  • Partner with their risk managers. Developing innovations that rely on customer and machine data will expose businesses to regulatory and compliance risks. Plan your business technology and innovation strategies with the risk manager on your side.

The report Brexit Makes Customer-Focused Innovation Imperative summarizes Forrester’s recent discussions and outlines how companies can best drive their innovation in the wake of Brexit.

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Nokia “Connects” Network Services To Customer Experience

Nokia’s services division recently hosted an analyst event where it elaborated on the interlinkage between network services and network infrastructure. Of course, network services matter to businesses and telcos because they help technology managers to better manage infrastructure complexity and to modernize network infrastructure with the goal of making networks faster and more reliable. However, there are more fundamental implications:

  • Network services add value to products and open new business areas. Customers want features and services that are relevant to them in the immediate context of their needs and desires. As more products become connected, network services will play a critical role in developing and enhancing such features. Moreover, network services play a central role in driving augmented and virtual-reality solutions in outdoor conditions, such as those already used in manufacturing by Caterpillar or in construction by BAM Group.
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Bosch And SAP Agree A Strategic Internet Of Things (IoT) Partnership To Facilitate Data Orchestration

I recently attended an event at which Bosch and SAP announced a major partnership to more closely align their respective cloud and software expertise around the industrial internet of things. This partnership underlines the fact that SAP and Bosch are prepared to significantly transform their respective business models to generate new value for their customers. The SAP and Bosch partnership focuses on two main items:

  • SAP will add SAP Hana database to Bosch IoT Cloud. Bosch customers will be able to access SAP Hana in the Bosch IoT Cloud with the goal of processing large quantities of data in near-real time. This makes it easier for Bosch’s customers to run analytics of IoT sensor data in the SAP Hana environment.
  • Bosch will make its IoT microservices available to SAP on SAP Hana Cloud Platform. This move will facilitate the safe connection of different devices and components, including vehicles, manufacturing machinery, and smart tools, with open platforms. Customers will benefit from a broad range of emerging services to support their business processes.
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Frugal Innovation Supports Customer-Obsessed Innovation

Photo: Indian By Design

The age of the customer demands that businesses drive innovation at ever faster speeds and with limited budgets. More than ever, innovation is of the essence, and innovation must be cost-effective. Frugal innovation offers an alternative approach to driving innovation as it is based on the tenet to do “more with less” in contrast to the widespread practice to increase the R&D budget. Frugal innovation:

  • Opens opportunities to cater to people “at the bottom of the pyramid.” Traditional R&D often ignores those customers with lower purchasing power. Frugal innovation specifically targets this customer segment, opening up opportunities for new revenue streams.
  • Is complimentary to traditional R&D, not a substitute. Frugal innovation will not replace traditional innovation, but it will add a new approach to drive innovation.
  • Requires a change of mindset and a different approach to innovation. The frugal innovator’s mindset sees constraints not as a disadvantage, but an opportunity. Frugal innovation supports and furthers a mindset for global innovative collaboration.
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Cisco Takes Next Step To Becoming A Partner For The CIO's BT Agenda

Cisco's declared intention to further invest in key priority areas in its portfolio, such as security, IoT, collaboration, next generation data center and cloud, did not come as a great surprise to Forrester.

Last year, we evaluated Cisco’s efforts to transform itself  from a network business to a global provider of business technology (BT) -- the technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers -- and a strategic partner to CIOs and CTOs. Cisco launched several programs to change its operational set-up, its business culture, its compensation incentives, and also its skillsets.  

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Bosch Software Innovation Offers Lessons For Digital Transformation

Traditional manufacturing businesses must rework the structure and culture of their organization to address rapidly changing client expectations. Bosch is a fascinating example of how a traditional manufacturing firm can successfully transition into a leading digital business. Our discussions with Bosch highlight that:

  • The shift from selling products to outcomes-as-a-service requires business model change. In order to sell business outcomes, Bosch combines business process expertise with technical know-how and an outside-in approach.
  • Digital transformation depends on successful cultural transformation. Bosch’s digital transformation is based on a fundamental cultural transformation that takes every Bosch employee and customer along.
  • Bosch’s software engineering division acts as a catalyst for digital transformation. Bosch believes in a central coordinating role for its software engineering division as part of the digital transformation process.
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