CRM solutions have been on the market for a long time. The first products were introduced over two decades ago, and many features are commoditized. New vendors are continually pushing the envelope on CRM capabilities and exploring the “white space” of capabilities that are not necessarily core to CRM. Old stalwarts are working on capabilities that differentiate them from others - like verticalized offerings, offerings tuned to to mobile user, offerings tuned to a certain size or complexity of organization.
CRM buyers need to remember that more capabilities these days is not better; more is simply more. In fact, when you don't need — or perhaps can't use — extra functionality, more is sometimes worse. Small businesses — and small customer-facing teams in larger enterprises — need to carefully evaluate vendors that they are evaluating in order to pick a solution that is right-sized for their needs. Categories and criteria that should be closely evaluated include:
Ease of use. Our research finds that 58% of employees interface directly or indirectly with customers. Small customer-facing teams don't have the luxury of deeply configuring or customizing CRM user experiences. Make sure the user experiences that come "out-of'the-box" from your CRM vendor are highly intuitive; that they work on the devices and platforms that your team use; and that they don't impede your productivity in any way.
As we predicted in May 2012, user directories are moving into the cloud. Cloud workloads require that users who are authorized to access them are stored near the cloud workload and not just on-premises. While this offering announced now by AWS is not necessary technically groundbreaking (Cloud IAM vendors and Microsoft Azure have been offering AD integration for a relatively long time), obviously this announcement is relevant because of AWS's broad presence in IaaS. We urge Forrester's clients that plan to use AWS AD service to ask AWS the following questions:
1. What safeguards are there to protect information (user, computer, etc.) in AWS AD?
2. How does AWS integrate in real time with on-premises AD and shared folder infrastructures?
3. What types of true identity management (access governance and provisioning) services does AWS offer to complement this new AD service?
Check AWS's blog entry at http://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/new-aws-directory-service/ for more details.
I've been on the road all month talking about business technology speed. The age of the customer is all about speed. Faster time to market, more frequent software releases, automated server deployments, instant cloud scaling…anything that removes friction from the app dev process is hot as we move into 2015.
Docker, the container management juggernaut, has generated some of the most breathless buzz in cloud-land this year. And for once, all the buzz is justified, for a few reasons. Docker's new, but containers are not. Docker makes containers easier to use, so more companies can get the benefits some of the big cloud providers already enjoy. Those include near-instantaneous app launch, rapid scale-out, and server efficiencies much better than traditional virtualization.
Were you surprised by HP's decision to acquire Eucalyptus last month? You weren't alone. HP's move to snap up one of the first open source cloud platform projects left many scratching their heads, especially since Eucalyptus had lost much of its momentum in the last 5 years.
Now that OpenStack has effectively won the battle to be the open source alternative to Amazon Web Services, why would HP, already a major contributor to and vendor of a public cloud platform built on OpenStack, want Eucalyptus? It's not the technology. We think the value lies in the company's AWS API experience, Marten Mickos' open source credibility, and the depth of engineering skill.
Are you ahead of the cloud curve or falling behind your peers?
We are definitely in the hypergrowth phase of cloud computing, and 2015 will be a critical year: spending will jump, platforms will mature and consolidate, and cloud will enter the formal IT portfolio, whether IT likes it or not. Where are you on your journey to cloud?
Over the last decade, the colocation market has expanded and flourished – with more customers looking to outsource new facilities and more vendors emerging and expanding to meet this demand.
Colocation providers now offer a myriad of services beyond the expected physical space. Infrastructure is now table stakes, including enhanced power efficiency and physical security. The more impressive solutions offer a full portfolio of managed services to cloud, or host and steward a marketplace of third party services, offering close proximity to business partners and primary communications services. By “close” we mean VERY close, as in the same building, sometimes only meters away. Depending on the use case, proximity like this can make the difference between success or failure of a business function – financial trading is an obvious example but there are many more.
To get better acquainted with this ever expanding landscape of vendors and solutions, about this time last year I began a lengthy exercise to investigate and analyze the US colocation market. After three months, I identified 430 organizations through search engines and public profile sites. I then weeded out 112 firms that had inactive websites, were acquired, or did not clearly provide retail or wholesale colocation. Over the subsequent 3 months, I attempted to quantify the footprint of all qualifying facilities. Some key findings from this research include:
There are over 1430 data center facilities in more than 330 cities across the US, but 53% of vendors surveyed operated only 1 facility.
There is over 68 million square feet of reported data center space, and an estimated 90-120 million square feet in total. This projection includes a fair amount of assumptions as many vendors did not provide facility sizes.
In a new report, we lay out how I&O leaders can leverage wearables as a source of customer-centric innovation as they build their BT Agenda. As we have written, today the I&O role is changing, as business imperatives now shape technology choices and I&O pros are judged on business outcomes. You can only add value and achieve relevancy if you reframe your organization's goals and objectives.
Want an example from a real-life I&O leader? Tim Graham is the IT Innovation Manager for Virgin Atlantic and the driving force behind the Google Glass pilot in Virgin's Upper Class Lounges at Heathrow. His job, as he described it at a recent wearables conference where we were both speakers: "To use technology to reshape both customer experiences and operational efficiency." Here’s a video to show how he led Virgin Atlantic’s efforts to deploy Google Glass and Sony smartwatches in the Upper Class Lounge at Heathrow Airport:
To do your job the way Tim does his, you need to take a holistic view of how technology can help your organization. For wearables, there are four essential choices:
Company-owned devices that make workers more effective. They’ll serve customers more efficiently and effectively with wearables. In the age of the customer, this can mean reengineering customer service interactions, as Virgin Atlantic has done.
Employee-owned devices that make workers individually productive. As more people buy wearables, they’ll become BYO devices that I&O must accommodate.
Each year, Forrester Research and the Disaster Recovery Journal team up to launch a study examining the state of business resiliency. Each year, we focus on a particular resiliency domain: business continuity, IT disaster recovery, crisis communications, or overall enterprise risk management. The studies provide BC and other risk managers an understanding of how they compare to the overall industry and to their peers. While each organization is unique due to its size, industry, long-term business objectives, and tolerance for risk, it's helpful to see where the industry is trending, and I’ve found that peer comparisons are always helpful when you need to understand if you’re in line with industry best practices and/or you need to convince skeptical executives that change is necessary.
This year’s study will focus on business continuity. We’ll examine the overall state of BC maturity, particularly in process maturity (business impact analysis, risks assessment, plan development, testing, maintenance, etc.), but we’ll also examine how social, mobile, analytics, and cloud trends are positively and negatively affecting BC preparedness. In the last BC survey, one of the statistics that disturbed me the most was that very few firms assessed the BC preparedness of their strategic partners beyond asking for a copy of their BC plan. And we all know plans are always up to date, tested and specific enough to address the risk scenarios that the partner is most likely to experience (please note the tone of sarcasm in this sentence). I hope this year’s survey shows an improvement; otherwise, most of the industry is in mucho trouble.
Somewhat lost in the discussion of HP splitting into two is whether breaking into smaller companies is an unstoppable trend in the tech sector. HP plans to break itself apart, creating two approximately $60 billion, publicly owned, global companies. No one would consider these small. Companies at a certain size just can't execute at the speed of digital customers today. Heres our take on why.
Marc Adreessen made the point well at Dreamforce last week. He basically said that tech companies are different from others in that their product is really innovation. The products driving revenue today will be different in three years or less. By contrast, the Campbell Soup Company made soup 50 years ago, and while they may acquire other retail food companies, they will still be selling soup 50 years from now.