Forrester Blogs For Business Technology Professionals
This is a roll-up of all Forrester blogs written for Business Technology Professionals. Role-specific blogs are listed below. Visit Forrester.com to learn how we make Business Technology Professionals successful every day.
CEOs and other senior executives must identify ways to improve their enterprise performance by boosting profitability, raising market share, and leapfrogging competitors. But achieving these objectives is not as simple as just looking at the numbers. What about nonfinancial measures (e.g., customer loyalty and employee satisfaction) that don’t show up in financial accounting? How do you quickly and efficiently get the full 360-degree view of your business?
In order to execute their business strategy, business and IT execs need a business-focused, strategic, and pragmatic way to measure their finances and operations — popularly referred to as business intelligence (BI). Without such measurements — supported by enterprisewide BI deployments — businesses can’t link operational results to strategy. Organizations will also find it difficult to get a coherent view of their internal and external processes, customers, logistics, operations, and finances.
However, most firms struggle with BI strategies and programs because turning data into information is an open-ended concept. They frequently go in the wrong direction because of traditional (and often outdated) views and approaches and a focus on technology instead of business, which results in BI programs that are tactical and only project-based. What these firms need is an approach to BI that, while staying true to the importance of long-term vision and looking across silos, provides the flexibility to accommodate varying levels of resource commitment and the political, historical, and cultural obstacles that BI programs often face. Think of Forrester’s new business intelligence playbook as your BI bible; it should guide your BI decisions every step of the way.
The recent Executive Order Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum Open Data Policy – Managing Data as an Asset have brought much attention to efforts to promote the use of data by the US Federal Government. In fact, highlights of the US Federal Open Data Project are already impressive. Many agencies already provide their data in machine-readable formats through APIs, or at least downloadable datasets. However, I personally measure “highlights” in terms of the use of the data (not by the number of datasets accessible). And, many organizations already put this data to good uses in health, energy, education, safety and finance. My recent blog, Open Data Isn’t Just For Governments Anymore, highlighted several examples of companies built on open data. Think Symcat, Healthgrades, oPower, or even Zillow which has been using public data for a while now. How many of you have “zillowed” your house, your neighbor’s house or even a colleague’s house? Be honest. I have.
At our recent CIO Forum in D.C., I had a number of conversations with clients who either had gone through or were going through a business transformation. From our talks, one theme jumped out at me — most CIOs will either lead some part of this transformation or get run over by it. From their perspective, there was no middle ground. To paraphrase one CIO, “There’s no way you can just go along for the ride and not get hurt.”
A little data first. In a survey Forrester performed for Tata Consultancy Services, approximately 30% of those surveyed responded that the CIO was the most important senior leader in driving or supporting a business transformation; CIOs were rated highest — even above CEOs! With about a third of the sample coming from IT, the numbers were slightly skewed, but follow-up interviews with both business and IT people confirmed the results. To paraphrase the leader of IT strategy from one meeting, “Once past the vision phase, 80% of the work falls to the CIO.”
So why is the CIO asked to do so much in what is essentially a business initiative?
Let’s use KPMG’s Value Delivery Framework to illustrate. In it are five stages of a business transformation — discovery, strategy, road map, implementation, and monitoring — and a number of activities such as program management that span the stages. Of the five stages, implementation requires the greatest effort. From talking with those who have been through it, the greatest implementation challenges are in data, enterprise process redesign, project management, and organizational change management. And for at least the first three areas, IT is the group that is required to commit the most resources to these areas because IT has the greatest depth of experience.
I've noticed a bit of a disturbing pattern of late in my cloud discussions with clients. They have been talking about hybrid cloud in the future tense. If you are planning for hybrid down the road, I have a wake up call for you. Too late, you are already hybrid.
If your company has even a single SaaS application in use today I can almost gurantee you it's connected to something inside your data center giving you hybrid cloud. So hybrid isn't a future state after you have a private cloud in place and IT Ops chooses to connect that private cloud to a public cloud. Look at it through the lens of a business process or application service which is composed of different components, some cloud-based, some on-premise. From an Infrastructure & Operations perspective, hybrid cloud means a cloud service connected to any other corporate resource (a back office app, your web site, your intranet, another SaaS app you have under contract and yes, even your private cloud). Any of these types of connections presents the same integration impact - whether you established the connection or not. If you are like the typical enterprise, that answered our Forrsights Q4 2012 Software Survey, then you have more than six SaaS applications in place today (that you know about) so cloud integration is likely well in place today. And about one third of the developers who responded to our Forrsights Q1 2013 Developer Survey said they have already deployed applications to the public cloud. Twenty-five percent also admitted to putting application integrations in place.
Of the many questions I get from clients, many center on the use of social media for customer engagement purposes — because sometimes IT staff are asked to block employees from using social media. But what should you do when the owners of the business take to social media?
Today, a small restaurant in Arizona is the hottest thing on social media. Their Facebook page has gone from 2,854 likes on May 14 to 74,687 on May 16. Was this incredible growth in “likes” the result of some incredibly successful social media campaign? Well not exactly.
Earlier this month I attended IBM Impact in Las Vegas where the software vendor announced new enhancements and features for their BPM suite product. On the face of it, the announcement sounded a bit underwhelming, with heavy emphasis on updating core functionality that was needed to remain competitive in the market. However, one bullet in the announcement stood out:
“Significant enhancements to the IBM BPM built-in dashboards to help improve business process outcomes and enable the creation of custom dashboards.”
Google sets amazing new standards when it comes to web, mobile, and cloud technologies. That's why we are here at Google I/O 2013 in San Fransciso to find out what new technologies and tools developers can expect on all technology fronts. See this special edition of Forrester TechnoPolitics to experience the energy of Google I/O.
I recently had the distinct pleasure of moderating a panel discussion on innovation at Forrester’s Forum For CIOs, where I was able to share the stage with Lawrence Lee, Sr. Director of Strategy, PARC, a Xerox company, and Jim Stikeleather, Chief Innovation Officer, Dell Services. We had the opportunity to discuss the business imperatives for innovation, how to look at inventions and translate them into business value, and how to build the narrative that tells a compelling story around these innovations.
While the discussion gave me fodder for a suite of future blog posts, I just want to highlight a few things that came out of our talk to get you thinking a bit more about how to make your innovation program more effective.
Innovation is about turning invention into business value. The innovation process takes these inventions (whether internally or externally generated) and answers the questions to decide whether there is a business opportunity hiding within or to decide quickly (and cheaply) not to pursue that opportunity because of some learned facts.
Innovation requires both discrete funding and discrete staff. To think out of the box, we need to have both the funding and people whose metrics and goals are around innovation. As we generally want our best and brightest involved in our innovation programs, we also need to protect them from being called back to deal with the crisis du jour.
Software AG today announced its cloud strategy. It is based on services that are already available, one that will soon be available (H2 2013), as well as a service planned for Q1 2014.
Journalists have already been in touch with me, asking the following question: Is this an overdue “coming out” after many competitors have already announced or offered extensive cloud strategies — or is this a courageous act from a leading technology firm demonstrating its strength in innovation?
I've known Software AG quite well for many years and believe that today’s announcement marks the next stage in a 10-year corporate turnaround strategy. I well remember the time before Karl-Heinz Streibich took over a nearly bankrupt software vendor 10 years ago. Since then, the firm has been through a financial stabilization phase, which saw both a spending and innovation freeze in many areas. Then, Software AG started to renovate its existing products to stabilize its market share, innovating both carefully and cost-effectively. The third phase saw its acquisition of webMethods and IDS Scheer, which brought the firm sufficient scale in both current products and consulting services. For more details, see my earlier blog post.
It may come as a surprise to some to hear that technology teams play an important role in the implementation of an effective customer experience strategy, but that's the conclusion from our latest research.