Blogging From the IBM Big Data Symposium - Big Is More Than Just Big

Brian  Hopkins

Just attended a Big Data symposium courtesy of IBM and thought I’d share a few insights, as probably many of you have heard the term but are not sure what it means to you.

No. 1: Big Data is about looking out of the front window when you drive, not the rearview mirror. What do I mean? The typical decision-making process goes something like this: capture some data, integrate it together, analyze the clean and integrated data, make some decisions, execute. By the time you decide and execute, the data may be too old and have cost you too much. It’s a bit like driving by looking out of your rearview mirror.

Big Data changes this paradigm by allowing you to iteratively sift through data at extreme scale in the wild and draw insights closer to real time. This is a very good thing, and companies that do it well will beat those that don’t.

No. 2: Big is not just big volume. The term “Big Data” is a misnomer and it is causing some confusion. Several of us here at Forrester have been saying for a while that it is about the four “V’s" of data at extreme scale - volume, velocity, variety and variability. I was relieved when IBM came up with three of them; variability being the one they left out.

Some of the most interesting examples we discussed centered on the last 3 V’s – we heard from a researcher who is collecting data on vital signs from prenatal babies and correlating changes in heart rates with early signs of infection. According to her, they collect 90 million data points per patient per day! What do you do with that stream of information? How do you use it to save lives? It is a Big Data Problem.

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Not Your Grandfather’s Data Warehouse

Brian  Hopkins

As I dig into my initial research, it dawned on me – some technology trends are having an impact on information management/data warehouse (DW) architectures, and EAs should consider these when planning out their firm’s road map. The next thought I had – this wasn’t completely obvious when I began. The final thought? As the EA role analyst covering emerging technology and trends, this is the kind of material I need to be writing about.

Let me explain:

No. 1: Big Data expands the scope of DWs. A challenge with typical data management approaches is that they are not suited to dealing with data that is poorly structured, sparsely attributed, and high-volume. For example, today’s DW appliances boast abilities to handle up to a 100 TB of volume, but the data must be transformed into a highly structured format to be useful. Big Data technology applies the power of massively parallel distributed computing to capture and sift through data gone wild – that is, data at an extreme scale of volume, velocity, and variability. Big Data technology does not deliver insight, however – insights depend on analytics that result from combing the results of things like Hadoop MapReduce jobs with manageable “small data” already in your DW.

Even the notion of a DW is changing when we start to think “Big” – Apache just graduated Hivefrom being part of Hadoop to its own project (Hive is a DW framework for Big Data). If you have any doubt, read James Kobielus’ “The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Data Warehousing Platforms, Q1 2011.”

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Closing The Innovation Gap

Brian  Hopkins

Greetings — thanks for taking the time to read my inaugural blog! Let me introduce myself by way of continuing a discussion that I started at Practicing EA and CIO.com on innovation and technology that I think strikes at the heart of our challenges as enterprise architects. It also provides a good context for my future research, which I discuss at the end.

Closing The Innovation Gap

In part 1 of this post, I claim that a gap opened while we were fighting the overly complex, expensive current state and trying to help our business partners innovate with new technology.

The gap – We cannot deliver new technology and innovation quickly or cheaply enough.

Shadow IT Is The Symptom, Not The Cause

  • The Symptom – We often blame Shadow IT and manual workarounds for increases in complexity, reduction in quality of service, and obscuring true technology costs. These are symptoms of the problem, not the problem itself.
  • The Cause – Business users know more about what they need and when they need it and are the most motivated to solve their problems now, not once the budget cycle gets around to funding a project. Central IT, where most EAs practice, is a knowledge store for designing enterprise-scale systems but is constrained in its ability to deliver.
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IBM Adds Fresh Coat Of Paint And New Tires To BPM Offering, But Still Needs To Rev Engine

Clay Richardson

Today, IBM announced the next release of its BPM suite environment, dubbed IBM Business Process Manager V7.5. This version represents IBM’s first attempt at unifying the core Lombardi Teamworks platform with IBM’s legacy WebSphere Process Server environment.

So far, IBM is following the product integration roadmap John Rymer and I laid out in our report published immediately following IBM’s acquisition of Lombardi.  With today’s announcement, IBM checks off the first point of integration on our list: establishing a single repository across Lombardi Teamworks and Websphere Process Server. With Business Process Manager V7.5, IBM will deliver a single repository for process assets that leverages Lombardi’s impressive “snapshot” version management and governance capabilities, providing a unified approach to administering and reusing process and integration assets.

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Is Your EA Program Making A Difference?

Alex Cullen

Several recent reports on Forrester.com start with the sentence: "EA organizations often toil out of the limelight . . . " There are fewer and fewer reasons why this should be the case. 

InfoWorld Enterprise Architecture AwardWe hear fewer stories of EA teams as purely "the standards police" or with "their heads in the clouds, not producing anything useful." We hear more and more stories of EA teams changing how business and IT plan, taking the lead in application simplification and rationalization, or being the broker for innovation. Infoworld and Forrester want to recognize these success stories with the 2011 Enterprise Architecture Award.

Our 2010 Award winners show the range of ways EA teams are making a difference:

  • Discover Financial created an EA repository that aggregates information from its Service Catalog, Fixed Asset, PPM, and Business Goals to provide decision-making insights that saved more than $1M of avoided costs.
  • Aetna used its Business Capability Map to combine more than 30 business unit strategies and road maps, highlighting common opportunities and gaps that it then used for its annual planning.
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Getting Down To (Social) Business At SXSW 2011

Clay Richardson

I've always heard great buzz about Austin's South By Southwest Conference (often simply referred to as SXSW). The conference brings together indie film, music, and tech to discuss and collaborate on building the future. The tech side of the conference — SXSW Interactive — is often where up-and-coming tech ventures break major news. In short, SXSW Interactive often serves as a petri dish for testing out new ideas and innovations.

Last week I attended SXSW to zoom in on emerging trends in social and consumer tech that would likely spill over into the business process — and social BPM — world over the next several years. Of the 15-20 keynotes and sessions I attended, three or four really resonated with the overall direction we see for social BPM and social business:

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Architect Angst On Their Readiness For Empowered Business

Alex Cullen

Forrester sees business empowerment — where business areas seek greater autonomy to address their own technology needs — as an inevitable trend. We’ve seen this before: New technology brings business areas new opportunities to improve their performance — from finance (PCs and spreadsheets) to marketing (web and eCommerce) to sales (PDAs). When this occurred, IT was unconnected to the frontlines of the business; IT’s technology was viewed as hard to use, and the result was business-initiated “shadow IT.”

At the recent Forrester Enterprise Architecture Forum in San Francisco, we offered attendees a copy of the new book Empowered, by Forrester analysts Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler. To get a copy, attendees had to complete a two-question survey. The questions directly related to their readiness to support this round of business empowerment:

“On a scale of 1-5, where 1 = ‘This doesn’t sound like my company at all’ and 5 = ‘This sounds exactly like my company,’ please rate the following questions about your organization:

  1. The EA function has close ties with business management.
  2. Our technology strategy and standards allow for rapidly changing technologies.”
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Reboot Your ECM Program, And Reap The Benefits

Alan Weintraub

I recently joined the Content and Collaboration team at Forrester, and I was happy to see Forrester data showing that 53% of organizations are looking to expand, upgrade, or implement their Content Management solution. Over the last six weeks, I’ve taken many inquiries that dealt with organizations looking at re-evaluating ECM programs, driven by the desire to both add new functionality and extend the reach of ECM to a broader audience. ECM is clearly alive and well.

But time and again I’ve seen this problem: Companies will jump directly into the RFI/ RFP process without fully developing their strategy and road map. But skipping this important step can result in poor ECM technology selection, lack of governance, and, ultimately, failure.

A good road map will address the three classical aspects of an enterprise application implementation: People, Process, and Technology. Outlining the tasks for each area is a good start down the path of success. Here are some sample points for starting your ECM project:

  • Define your ECM Strategy – Every organization defines ECM differently. When creating a strategy, focus on gaining an understanding of your goals and objectives for implementing an ECM solution. A good example of an ECM goal is to minimize the number of versions of the same document that exist in the organization. These goals and objectives will form the basis for the project’s critical success factors.
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Which Applications Should I Move To The Cloud?

James Staten

Forrester took more than a thousand inquiries from clients on cloud computing in 2010, and one of the themes that kept coming up was about which applications they should plan to migrate to infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud platforms. The answer: Wrong question.

What enterprises should really be thinking about is how they can take advantage of the economic model presented by cloud platforms with new applications. In fact, the majority of applications we find running on the leading cloud platforms aren't ones that migrated from the data center but ones that were built for the cloud.

A lot of the interest in migrating applications to cloud platforms stems from the belief that clouds are cheaper and therefore moving services to them is a good cost-saving tactic. And sure, public clouds bring economies of scale shared across multiple customers that are thus unachievable by nearly any enterprise. But those cost savings aren't simply passed down. Each public cloud is in the profit-making business and thus shares in the cost savings through margin capture.

For enterprises to make the most of a public cloud platform, they need to ensure that their applications match the economic model presented by public clouds. Otherwise, the cloud may actually cost you more. In our series of reports, "Justify Your Cloud Investment" we detail the sweet spot uses of public cloud platforms that fit these new economics and can help guide you towards these cost advantages.

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The Scope of BPM Initiatives

Derek Miers

 

Over the last few weeks, I have had a variety of conversations with clients that have centered around the scope for the term BPM. I think we all agree that BPM is not purely a technology – but how far does it go.

BPM – The Discipline

Forrester sees BPM as a broad framework of methods, approaches, techniques and technologies that support organizational change, value optimization and ongoing performance improvement. While some see BPM as a narrow technical approach, Forrester regards BPM as including a wide range of improvement methods such as Lean and Six Sigma, along with customer-centric (outside-in) engagement approaches and organizational change management – each one of these levers ties back to a flexible and adaptable enterprise architecture that implements an evolving business strategy. Such an all-encompassing approach can help focus on strategic priorities, as well as opportunities to both differentiate the value proposition, and sharpen the competitive edge.

While some would argue that Lean and Six Sigma are separate – that they are “in the business” – our research data suggests that the most successful BPM initiatives are run by the business, for the business and are of the business (to paraphrase Lincoln). Something like just 20% of BPM process improvement initiatives are run out of IT. Indeed, I would go a little further than that – BPM initiatives run out of IT are just not sustainable in the long term. If you are charged with maintaining a BPM program from within IT (perhaps running a BPM CoE), then one of your primary tasks is to a) identify and b) work with any Lean/Six Sigma programs that are out there.

BPM CoE Service Portfolio

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