Thunderstorms: The Conversation Continues . . .

My speech at Le Web (Three Social Thunderstorms) continues to stimulate debate. While many do not agree with my analysis, the discussion has challenged conventional wisdom and helped people see alternative futures -- a longtime Forrester value . . . 

Here are six sites that carry interesting rebuttals and threads: Both Sides Of The TableGigaOMFred Wilson’s Sunday Debate, Logic Emotion, Technorati, and Techcrunch. The latter is a video discussion.

A few clarifications that may heighten the dialogue:

1) The Web is dying, not the Internet. The Web is software that we've used since circa 1994 to communicate information over the network called the Internet. Web replaced other software that used to dominate the Internet -- Usenet, Gopher, user groups, etc.. The Internet is alive and well -- it's the software on top that will change.

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Le Web 2011

This conference in Paris is pretty cool. About 50% French attendees and the rest are Americans and Europeans. Venture capital, startups, big vendorites, not much enterprise. Loic and Geraldine put on a great show -- I would estimate that there are 2,000 attendees. 

My talk was titled Three Social Thunderstorms. It covered: 1) Death of the Web, the approach of App Internet, 2) Social is saturated, 3) Enterprise Social is the next big opportunity. 

My presentation in PDF form can found here. You can also find it on YouTube.

Four BT Lessons

IT at Forrester is now called Business Technology (BT). The head of BT is the Chief Business Technology Officer (CBTO). Farewell to IT and the CIO.

Big deal -- a few words changed. But did it make a difference?

Yes -- in four simple ways.

1) The job search. In the CBTO job search, we got better candidates than expected. Why? They loved the new title and the focus on business, not just tech. We got high level applicants because CBTO was aspirational.

2) Business focus. We viewed CBTO candidates through a new lens, pushing us to hire high. We were looking for people who had worked to increase revenue, profit, and market share of companies. We wanted someone who understood that a CBTO doesn't serve the business -- they are the business.

3) Regime change. Once the CBTO was hired, he was able to launch a new regime -- IT is dead, now it's time for BT. This enabled him to set new goals for the technology team, redefine the relationship between technology and business, and re-invigorate the people who work in technology at Forrester.

4) A new yardstick. It introduced new standards for technology. Old IT was about uptime. BT is about: agility, speed, being bullet-proof, customer-centricity, and business-centricity. 

Our research has shown that CEOs do not trust their CIOs to innovate or build business process. My direct experience is that changing one letter from "I" to "B" is a good start toward building that trust. Words do matter. Try it.

Five Predictions On Digital In Asia

I was in Dalian, China last month at the World Economic Forum's summer event where I moderated a panel on Digital Asia. The punch line: Asia will be a center of digital innovation . . . counter-balancing the US.

My panel included Wang Jianzhou, Chairman of the biggest cell phone operator in the world (China Mobile), Takeshi Natsuno, the founder of iMode at DoCoMo, Michelle Guthrie, Director of Goggle Asia Pacific, and other distinguished panel members. You can watch our conversation on YouTube. Here are the panel’s five predictions about Asia and digital:

1. Asia will lead the world into the use of e-money.

Consumers in Hong Kong -- with their Octopus card -- and Singapore and Japan -- with the FeliCa system -- already use this technology and are thriving on its efficiency and convenience. This is an opportunity for Asia to demonstrate digital leadership.

2. The digital divide in Asia will shrink.

Data from Forrester suggests that this transformation is already taking place. Internet adoption is up across Asia this year – increasing 9% in India and 13% in China. Mobile internet adoption is growing too – up 12% in China and 10% in India.

3. Internet in Asia will become more local.

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Apps Beat Web

In January of 2011, Forrester's research showed that tablet owners used the Web far more than apps on their device. Over the last few weeks, visitors to my blog indicated that apps had passed the Web (check out the results at left).

Now this survey was not scientifically significant, but it's another signal that users are shifting away from browsers to apps. Why? Better experience, speed, ease of use. The App Internet approaches. 

Steve

At a conference of CIOs that I attended this morning in Lisbon, all of our group were reflective and emotionally affected by the news of Jobs’ death – many heartfelt words were spoken from the stage, as they have been on stages, social networks, phone calls, and conversations all over the world today. And as we all mourned, many of us were literally holding Steve in our hands as we communicated via iPads, iPhones, Keynote, and Macs.
 
Steve leaves a vast and extraordinary legacy and I will let the more eloquent pay tribute. But I will make a prediction and I will express a hope.
 
I believe that we will look back at the 2002-2011 period as a golden age of technology – driven by Jobs at his most visionary. All of the promise of digital was finally being delivered in a way that was truly powerful, simple, and matched to human beings. I predict that we won’t see such an outpouring again for decades. 
 
But I hope that I am wrong. My hope is that Steve inspires all of us in the technology business to stop creating confusing, poorly-designed, slow, complex, ugly, maddening products that weigh down rather than lift up the work and souls of people. My hope is that Apple’s next ten years are more insanely great than its last and that its competitors are inspired to keep or exceed the pace. My hope is that Steve’s lessons will bring about a better world.
 
To the Apple and Jobs families, Forrester sends its best thoughts.  

Are You Using Apps Or The Web? Vote Here

Forrester believes that the world will move away from the Web toward App Internet -- powerful local devices (like an iPad)  running programs that transparently link to resources in the cloud. My impressionistic view would support our thesis. As an example, I was recently with Susan Lyne, the CEO of online retailer Gilt. She told me that her customers were increasingly accessing her site via apps, and not the Web -- because it was faster and offered a superior experience. 

The last time Forrester surveyed tablet users (in January, 2011) we found that 16% were spending more time on apps, 39% were spending more time browsing, and 45% spend about the same amount of time browsing and using apps.

How about you? Apps or Web on your tablet? Click here, then vote in the right hand column below "About this blog." After you vote, you'll see the results of the vote to date. Thanks.

World Economic Forum In China

I am at the WEF event in Dalian, China and will be running a panel on Friday morning focused on digital in Asia. here's my post about the session on the WEF blog: http://www.forumblog.org/blog/2011/09/the-rise-in-connectivity-across-as...

If you have any ideas or good questions about how digital will change government, business, and society in Asia, I'd love to get your thoughts. Thanks.

The Truth About Cloud

As CEO you have undoubtedly heard about cloud computing. Under cloud your company's data and applications can be contained and run on the computers and networks of a third party like Google or Amazon, theoretically lowering your cost and reducing your data centers (along with staff). 

If I sat you down for coffee, here are five things I'd tell you about cloud:

1) Pure cloud constitutes an interim step -- App Internet will offer better solutions. Local devices like your iPhone or Android tablet or server are becoming ever more powerful -- under App Internet those devices will join up with the cloud to solve problems. Compare an iPad (with apps) to a Google Chromebook and you'll get the idea. 

2) Storing your most sensitive data in the cloud is a bad idea. Because cloud vendors typically do not reveal their security protocols, there is no way to verify how safe your data will be. And if it is lost, you are liable, not the cloud vendor.

3) The cloud can be cheaper. Some vendors are claiming 50% cost reductions -- that's hogwash. But in some cases it could reduce operational costs by 10%-30%.

4) You can't just flip a switch and go to the cloud. Before you go, Forrester recommends a full audit and rationalization of: 1) your data portfolio, 2) your applications portfolio, and 3) your security architecture. In other words, your roadmap must be plotted before you go cloud -- or you'll be repaving cow paths.

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AT&T, T-Mobile, And American Cars

As a CEO, you want low prices and innovative products from your suppliers. You will get neither in the network business if AT&T buys T-Mobile. That deal will trigger the inevitable merger of Verizon and Sprint -- limiting your choices and slowing the development of new offerings.

We've seen this movie before. The US car industry devolved into a few players, and decades of decline were the result. A few years ago in a post, I asked the question: "Why can't America build a great car?" Bob Lutz, a 40-year car executive, answers the question in his vinegar-soaked book (which I recommend).

I'll take license and distill his answer: The American car industry faded because of poor leadership and management. Lutz blames the failure on a culture of over-planning and bureaucracy.  Spreadsheets were valued over common sense, customers were ignored, and too many over-educated over-analyzers focused on arcane process and rules rather than the job at hand: building great cars that people want to drive. It's not the unions' fault, it's not bad workers, it's not government regulation, it's not healthcare costs. It's leadership.

Which brings me back to the network business. When markets are reduced to a few players (as was the US car business), you run the risk of under-diversifying management thinking. In nature, a lack of diversity increases the risk that a species will be wiped out by a single infectious disease -- as almost happened when the group think pathogen ravaged Detroit. 

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