In my post at this time last year I wrote of the changes we could expect in 2013 around the shift toward digital business. And indeed we did see a significant move toward digital business in 2013 - a transition that’s still very much just beginning.
But 2014 will be different. 2014 is when digital reality begins to sink in for CEOs around the world. And if your CEO doesn't figure out digital business this year, I predict 2015 will be a very challenging year for your organization, no matter what business you are in.
The Retail Conundrum
A recent Wall Street Journal article highlights the challenge of retailers very well. Store footfall is declining as consumers' lives become more digital. We are seeing a steady shift toward shopping online and shopping less often. So how can today’s retailers survive? The simple answer is that many will not. Retail will undergo a seismic shift in the next 10 years. And since retail is a major employer, it's a shift that will impact us all.
Time drives behavior. Digital tools extend the workplace into our private lives, allowing greater productivity while also creating fewer opportunities for large chunks of time to “go shopping.” We are increasingly using digital technologies to optimize how we fill our days for work and pleasure:
• Digital scheduling tools like Google Calendar help us plan our work and play time.
On January 16, 2014, Google announced its smart contact lens project. But it’s not what you might have immediately thought (or hoped) – i.e., some sort of Google Glass display transferred to contact lens format. (Though that technology might someday exist). Instead, Google’s smart contact lens project is working toward productizing a healthcare wearable device that monitors blood glucose levels.
I’ve written a more extensive report that you can read and download here. But let me offer you a sneak peak at the analysis:
Smart contact lenses aim at diabetics, but will have other uses. Although Google didn’t mention these uses, blood glucose data is also valuable to other groups of patients – from overweight people aiming to lose weight to migraine sufferers.
In a world where failure and downtime are no longer an option, resiliency is an increasingly critical priority. In fact, it was the no. 3 overall infrastructure priority moving into 2014. But how do we become more resilient organizations? Many companies feel that they do not have the required in-house expertise to run their entire DR programs--in fact, according to our latest Forrester/DRJ study, 42% of companies use some sort of outsourced DR service.
But how do you select a DR service provider partner? Forrester undertook this task with an update of our Traditional Disaster Recovery Service Provider Wave, and our first ever Disaster Recovery-As-A-Service Provider Wave evaluations. Vendors evaluated in this report represent today's top DR service providers vendors -- Axcient; Barracuda Networks; CenturyLink Technology Solutions; CSC; EVault; HP; IBM; iland; nScaled; Persistent Systems; Phoenix; Quorum; Recovery Point Systems; SunGard; and Verizon Terremark. What we found was a tight race, and a DRaaS market in which:
iland and SunGard lead the pack. Two vendors stand apart in this evaluation: iland and SunGard both excel in their current offering and their strategies. Both offer very flexible solutions that cover the entire resiliency spectrum and allow users to pick from an array of standardized offerings to ensure that their needs are met.
A colleague of mine here at Forrester lives out in San Francisco now. And given his new proximity to the "wellhead of innovation" that is silicon valley, he took advantage and attended a talk by Luke Wroblewski. Luke wrote "Mobile First" back in 2011, and he's continued on to be a prominent figure in the mobile design speaking circuit. And Luke is not the only leading RWD and mobile UX author to keep their momentum going and become a talking head. Ethan Marcotte, author of the orginal "Responsive Web Design" article back in 2010, and Brad Frost have become prominent figures prosletyzing mobile and the next new, bleeding edge aspect of mobile UX design. While I appreciate their thought leadership, I find it increasingly frustrating to hear about how the mobile technology capabilities and market are moving so fast, and yet the bulk of organizations aren't investing to keep up. So I want to write an open letter:
"Dear Mobile Hype Leaders,
We get it. Mobile is here to stay. Please slow the hype train down.
Investment in clean energy in South Africa increased more in 2012 than in any other country, rising 206-fold to $5.5 billion, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. South Africa generates 85% of its electricity from coal, but chronic power shortages may have been the catalyst to look to solar (a low point in 2008 closed mines for five days). It’s making up for that gap with solar energy — and now it’s the only African nation among the top 20 solar markets, with installations comparable to South Korea, Thailand, and Israel.
The 360 days a year of sunshine certainly help, and it’s great to see the clean energy push work so well. But what is interesting to me is the amount of change in the overall economy the solar boom has caused. Wages are up, new jobs are available; hotels are adding more rooms, restaurants are changing menus to be more suitable for Europeans, and sales volumes are increasing. So I’m adding “changes to the energy infrastructure” to my list of events that require business agility. Changes in customer expectation, digital disruption, and shortening product life cycles get the most attention as change events that drive the need for companies to be agile, but as shown here change can rapidly come from infrastructure shifts. And South Africa is just starting its transformation. There are plans to invest in other forms of renewable energy: wind, concentrated and photovoltaic solar, landfill gas, and biomass power. And it looks like South African businesses are up to the challenge and are responding to the market. For more info, click here.
Living in an increasingly software-mediated world, consumers are more conscious of the value of their data and concerned over its protection and stewardship. At the same time, companies realize that integration of their internal data with external partners is what will elevate personalization, contextualization, predictive apps, and customer service to the level demanded in the age of the customer.
Forrester Senior Analyst Fatemeh Khatibloo urges firms to share some of their data with other firms to drive contextually appropriate knowledge about customers. The result: A more complete view of customers that each sharing firm would not have on their own. In this episode of TechnoPolitics hosted by Rowan Curran, Fatemeh describes the rewards of adaptive intelligence and how firms can use it to gain competitive advantage.
This week, IBM announced its new line of x86 servers, and included among the usual incremental product improvements is a performance game-changer called eXFlash. eXFlash is the first commercially available implantation of the MCS architecture announced last year by Diablo Technologies. The MCS architecture, and IBM’s eXFlash offering in particular, allows flash memory to be embedded on the system as close to the CPU as main memory, with latencies substantially lower than any other available flash options, offering better performance at a lower solution cost than other embedded flash solutions. Key aspects of the announcement include:
■ Flash DIMMs offer scalable high performance. Write latency (a critical metric) for IBM eXFlash will be in the 5 to 10 microsecond range, whereas best-of-breed competing mezzanine card and PCIe flash can only offer 15 to 20 microseconds (and external flash storage is slower still). Additionally, since the DIMMs are directly attached to the memory controller, flash I/O does not compete with other I/O on the system I/O hub and PCIe subsystem, improving overall system performance for heavily-loaded systems. Additional benefits include linear performance scalability as the number of DIMMs increase and optional built-in hardware mirroring of DIMM pairs.
■ eXFlash DIMMs are compatible with current software. Part of the magic of MCS flash is that it appears to the OS as a standard block-mode device, so all existing block-mode software will work, including applications, caching and tiering or general storage management software. For IBM users, compatibility with IBM’s storage management and FlashCache Storage Accelerator solutions is guaranteed. Other vendors will face zero to low effort in qualifying their solutions.
When it comes to data investment, data management is still asking the wrong questions and positioning the wrong value. The mantra of - It's About the Business - is still a hard lesson to learn. It translates into what I see as the 7 Deadly Sins of Data Management. Here are the are - not in any particular order - and an example:
Hubris: "Business value? Yeah, I know. Tell me something I don't know."
Blindness: "We do align to business needs. See, we are building a customer master for a 360 degree view of the customer."
Vanity: "How can I optimize cost and efficiency to manage and develop data solutions?"
Gluttony: "If I build this cool solutions the business is gonna love it!"
Alien: "We need to develop an in-memory system to virtualize data and insight that materializes through business services with our application systems...[blah, blah, blah]"
Begger: "If only we were able to implement a business glossary, all our consistency issues are solved!"
Educator: "If only the business understood! I need to better educate them!."
Google’s acquisition of Nest has stirred a lot of interest and reaction, some of it misguided. After talking to lots of reporters, here are ten quick thoughts on why Google bought Nest and what it means:
1. Google bought Nest for talent and strategic perspective, not products or data. Nest is too small and not scaling fast enough to justify the acquisition. This is about getting a great team that can teach Google about a new market realm, how the Internet of Things comes into the Connected Home.
2. The price is ridiculously high – unless Google gets a huge head start on Connected Home. Google’s acquisition of Waze for $1 billion and Nest for $3.2 billion look pricey – but they are strategic bets for the long run, and can’t easily be compared.
3. Building the next generation of Google Now is the goal, not snooping on our temps, room locations and smoke alarms. The Nest Labs team will help fuel development of the next generation of Google Now as it shifts more toward proactive assistance and advice.
4. Google’s aim is to get an early start on identifying and adding software interfaces (APIs) to Gmail/Google Drive that connect it to smart products. This is not about Android in the home or about a battle for the device OS – it’s a battle for whose cloud service platform will coordinate an individual’s smart products – and their digital self.
5. Identity, privacy, and security will also crucial in building out the Connected Home. Blanket privacy policies won’t be enough. Fatemeh Khatibloo’s research on contextual privacy shows the new way that privacy and identity will have to be managed.
With budgets tight and new agendas for social, mobile and cloud, for many, green initiatives are middle to low priority, often considered but secondary to price and convenience. So why should you care about green?
Customers today are increasingly interested in green alternatives. In the recent report Why Every Online Retailer Needs To Think Green, Sucharita Mulpuru uses Forrester’s consumer Technographics® data to reveal that more than 50% of today's US online adults can be categorized as green consumers, interested in buying green products or buying from brands that engage in green initiatives, such as supply chain transparency or carbon reporting. For online retailers, this represents a significant growth opportunity, as the majority of this consumer segment is not only classified as “high spending,” but also willing to spend more on green alternatives, and more likely to advocate for these products.