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.
On the one hand, I saw highly prescriptive, standardized, catalog-type collections that fit well together but which are rather boring and maybe don’t make the best of my ramshackle old house. On the other hand, I visited a lot of junk shops with interesting but incompatible pieces, ranging from a Victorian birdcage (really!) to an Art Deco lampshade. It made me think about the challenges that application development and delivery professionals face in formulating application portfolio strategies.
When should they single-source and when should they choose a best-of-breed strategy? For which applications should they consider SaaS solutions? What is the best way to use systems integrators to help reach a target portfolio at the lowest opportunity cost?
Join us at Forrester’s Forum for Application Development and Delivery Professionals on October 17 and 18 in Indianapolis, where my colleagues Paul Hamerman, Liz Herbert,and Jost Hoppermann will be discussing their research into application portfolio strategy. and answering questions about applications portfolio transformation such as:
What’s the difference between application upgrade and transformation?
Where do you find the help you need for applications portfolio transformation?
If technologies like mobile, social, and in-memory analytics are so important, why don’t we deploy them ourselves? Why are we waiting for vendors to bundle it with their releases?
I’ve lived in my house for a long time and it’s time for a refresh. Over the last several months, I planned what needed significant investment and what only needed a cosmetic update. A couple of things were evident: new windows, for one. I was confident that the rest could be handled with some spackle and a new coat of paint, especially a pesky crack in the ceiling in my kitchen. Easy repair. It looked good, but shortly the crack appeared again. Maybe it was the spackle, or maybe I painted too soon. So, I bought different spackle and a nifty new spatula to try it again. A couple of weeks later, the same crack reappeared. In the meantime, I called my contractor and asked him to give me an estimate for new windows. He did and told me I could fix them for far less than I’d budgeted. I was thrilled. On his way out, I asked him about the crack in the ceiling. After poking it, he immediately went up to the bathroom that sat over the kitchen. When he returned, he held an old elbow pipe that had corroded. Climbing back up, he pushed a little harder on the crack and a small but steady stream of water flowed out. What I thought was a quick and easy fix turned into a significant repair. I lacked visibility into the real problem and it cost me more in the long run. We see this in organizations every day. They plan strategically, but execute in a “get it done” manner that may cost them a lot more than the value it brings.
If not I would be very surprised! Personally I have been shocked by the number of media articles referring to how ‘computer glitches’ have crippled enterprises during 2013. It seems that every week there is a press article on how IT problems have brought an organization to its knees. The latest being reported this morning in the UK by the BBC, where hundreds of outpatient appointments and a number of operations had to be postponed after computer systems failed at Scotland’s largest health board, the NHS in Glasgow. Unfortunately you don’t have to look far to see other countless examples – just type ‘computer glitch’ into a search engine – how many media articles did you find? I found around 25 separate examples during September 2013 alone! Examples ranging from financial trading markets with Nasdaq to the airline industry with JetBlue Airways.
This wide coverage of these IT problems highlights three areas:
Emergency management professionals say, “The plan is useless, but the planning is priceless.” There is a lesson in there for risk managers and it’s about the value of scenario modeling.
The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) conducted a study to determine the likelihood and impact of a hurricane hitting New Orleans. FEMA assembled the paramedics, fire department, emergency room doctors, parish officials, and other responders in a hotel in New Orleans for "Hurricane Pam". Their goal was to plan for the worst-case scenario. The group was given the following scenario:
A slow moving, category-3 hurricane would directly hit New Orleans.
The storm surge would cause the levees to top, but not break.
The National Weather Service showed how the storm would form, what track it would take and what parishes would be effected.
In our recently completed Q3 2013 Global State Of Enterprise Architecture Online Survey, big data for real-time analytics moved from the No. 3 most revolutionary technology to the No. 2 position, according to the 116 enterprise architects who participated. This reflects the importance firms now place on turning vast amounts of data into immediate insight. And this trend is extremely important to telecommunication industry communication service providers (CSPs), who are sitting on a gold mine of data about what subscribers are doing on their mobile devices.
Let’s break this down a bit more -- according to the United Nations, there are about 2 billion mobile broadband subscriptions globally (that’s about 28% of the world’s 7.1 billion people). That’s a huge number of perpetually connected people, using bunches of apps for both work and personal. This is part of what we call the mobile mind shift, and it’s not about smartphones and tablets; rather, it’s about the changing expectations that pervasive mobile computing and broadband wireless have. According to a recent report, "The Mobile Mind Shift Index," we estimate 21% of the adult online US population now expects that any information is available on any appropriate device, in context, at their moment of need (see Josh Bernoff’s May 2013 blog Introducing The Mobile Mindshift Index). And this number is going to grow significantly over the next few years.
This is my fourth time attending Oracle OpenWorld in as many years. The show drew a large crowd this year, topping 60,000 attendees. I focused on customer service sessions highlighting the Oracle RightNow, Oracle Siebel, and Oracle Knowledge (InQuira) products. I went to high-level vision sessions, road map sessions, and customer testimonials. I also spent a lot of time talking to systems integrators that have recently deployed these solutions. This year was by far the most enjoyable conference experience. Here is why — and keep in mind that all of my comments are about its customer service portfolio:
Like a song stuck on repeat, enterprise IT hardware decision makers tell Forrester once again that consolidation and optimization top their list of priorities into 2014. According to Forrester's Q3 2013 Hardware survey, 77% deem server, storage and network virtualization and consolidation a high or citical priority—followed by 68% who prioritize the automating the management of virtualized servers to gain flexibility and resiliency. Conslidation + Optimization.
But what's new this time around is that the next wave of IT infrastructure and data center consolidation and optimization requires a new approach centered around workload-centric, software-defined, and hybrid cloud. If you're an IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) professional tasked with IT infrastructure and data center strategy, it's time to incorporate these themes into your approach:
Application-centric infrastructure optimizes infrastructure around what matters most. For too long, IT infrastructure has aligned to silos of technology, resulting in complexity, low satisfaction, poor communication, and wasted money. To deliver better business results over the next decade, Forrester advocates that you take an application-centric (or workload-centric) approach: Design your IT infrastructure to fit the apps and workloads that are critical to customers.
Recently, I’ve been digging into two related issues: how CIOs facilitate business change; and how organizations define what systems, organizations and other elements should be local or global. Both of these areas involve large scale organizational change. During interviews, a few clients commented specifically on the pace of change. Netting out what they said: “You only have a short period of time for people to change, before they get locked into a new way of behaving”.
An example of this was from a colleague who helped lead an ERP dominated business transformation. One particularly interesting comment was that “Once a change was made, people adapted quickly, then dug in and wouldn’t budge”. For example, they consolidated several country-specific order entry processes into a single one for the entire company. The change was made, training was given, a certain amount of begging and threatening by senior management followed and a lot of people changed their habits dramatically over the first couple months. But then they slowed down and dug in, resulting in many functions that were never used.
So, I did some digging and found a number of academic articles on how people learn. One old one seemed very relevant. The topic was how people’s behavior changed as a result of the deployment of a new collaboration platform.
“An average of 54% of all adaptive activity was completed in the first 2.8 months. This given on average that new technologies took almost 14 months to be considered production. As time goes on, momentum for change is lost, the "best" people move on to production work, evangelists lose interest and initial enthusiasm that existed for change is wasted.”
[Source: Marcie J. Tyre and Wanda J. Orlikowski, "Windows of Opportunity", MIT Sloan School of Management, September 1992]
There’s no doubt that, to consumer marketing professionals, data about the users of mobile network are highly valuable. But AT&T is finding that enterprise application designers, corporate security & risk professionals, corporate trainers and CFOs are very interested in this data as well - so much so that the US-based network operator is turning access to and collaboration on its data into a new business service.
Under the guidance of Laura Merling, VP of Ecosystem Development & Platform Services (and formerly of Mashery), AT&T Business Solutions is embarking on an ambitious plan for sharing its data in a secure programmatic fashion leveraging RESTful APIs. It had previously shared it data in a more informal fashion with selected partners and customers but found this approach difficult to standardize and repeat on a larger scale. It also has participated in data collaboration efforts such as the well-known hackathon with American Airlines at South by Southwest earlier this year.
I spent the past three months talking to Google and Microsoft professional services partners, as well as Google Apps and Office 365 clients, to better understand how cloud collaboration and productivity suites are implemented and the value clients get once they move into these environments. One word that came up quite a bit during these conversations was "simple." As in "We think moving to [Google Apps or Office 365] will simplify our [costs, IT management, user experience, etc.]." This got me thinking: Should CIOs think moving collaboration workloads to the cloud actually simplifies their job? Well...yes, but there's a but. Simplicity in these environments comes with costs. Business and IT leaders must be sure they're willing to pay them as a condition of getting the benefits of the cloud. So what does this mean?
These platforms simplify contracting if you can live with the standard service agreement. One Google client told us one of the reasons they rejected the incumbent players was because they felt the licensing agreements were "convoluted." Yes, cloud collaboration and productivity suite providers have straightforward per user pricing for clearly defined feature/function tiers. But the devil's in the details. These players are able to deliver highly efficient, low-cost services because they do not permit a lot of deviation from the standard service agreement. So, healthcare clients looking for business associates' agreements will not find a willing partner in Google.* And smaller enterprises that require a dedicated collaboration environment will find that Microsoft enforces a minimum seat count on Office 365's dedicated SKU.