Envision 2016: Microsoft Pushes Beyond IT

Nigel Fenwick
Where was HololensThis week in New Orleans, Microsoft launched it's first conference aimed squarely at business leaders as the company looks to move beyond the department of the CIO. Envision 2016 replaces Microsoft's previous Convergence conference and comes on the heels of "Build2016" the previous week.
 
As a guest of Microsoft, I had two reasons to attend Envision: First, to hear from CEO Satya Nadella and other Microsoft executives; I wanted to better understand their business strategy going forward, specifically as it relates to enterprise customers. Secondly, I had the opportunity to provide feedback to Microsoft leaders on its enterprise marketing strategy.
 
It was no doubt clear to attendees that Microsoft wants a relationship with enterprise customers beyond the office of the CIO. Based on Satya's opening keynote, there is a recognition that Microsoft must become a more strategic business partner, helping today's CIO clients work alongside their line-of-business peers to deliver on the promise of digital business. 
 
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Deep Learning Will Blow Up Your Data Strategy

Michele Goetz

Day one of the GPU Technology Conference in San Jose and I'm still glowing from watching Steve Wozniak "travel to Mars" through NVIDIA's photo real virtual reality.  Or, holding my stomach as Jen Hsun Huang, CEO of NVIDIA took us soaring over Everest.  Or cringing, as I watch the early attempts at a car teaching itself to drive and being reminded of how my 16 year old daughter is learning to drive (there were a few similarities...). Each emotion illustrates what everyone will experience shortly on NVIDIA's next gen compute platform with announcement for AI, VR, self-driving, SDK and new deep learning appliance.  

This is not your traditional or even big data analytic platform.  It's a complete overhaul of the computing architecture.  It's a complete rethink of data management. It will also change how you think about analytics.  

Stepping back from what may seem like hype and examples steeped in robotics, VR and infrastructure, the truth is, the announcements today show that deep learning in action is at most a year away, and as soon as now.  In addition, the innovation coming out of robotics, VR and infrastructure will allow introduction of new form factors and channels to engage with customers and shape our workforce. In the end, it is a data challenge for the very reason that for every channel we use and add, it always ends up being a data challenge.

The implications for how you manage data are radical. Here is what you need to think about:

  • Deep learning systems are voracious eaters of data. If you think you have volume issues now, it will only get worse. Traditional integration won't cut it.  You need bigger compute on GPUs not CPUs for speed, performance, and efficiency. Don't you want to train your data in 2 hours vs. 2 weeks?
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Businesses Need To Prepare For New Digital Realities

Dan Bieler

Photo: Bergmann

At Mobile World Congress 2016, GE outlined some fundamental insights about the digital transformation efforts of industrial businesses. William Ruh, CEO for GE Digital, a US$6 billion business of General Electric, shared valuable insights about the digital transformation process that industrial businesses need to tackle.

Businesses must focus on those activities that they can transform into digital business models. Not every industrial activity can become a digital business, but it will be impossible to succeed in digital transformation by developing a digital business and an industrial business and then operating them side by side indefinitely. GE sold 40% of its business activities because it felt that it could not transform them into digital businesses. For those industrial activities that can become digital businesses, executives need to be aware that:

  • Every industrial worker has to develop digital DNA. Industrial workers and mechanical engineers have to be comfortable interacting with digital systems. At GE, mechanical engineers have to design a locomotive in such a way that they can place a local data center inside it. Every industrial worker will have to have analytics skills, whether that’s the ability to create sensible and reliable data sets or to analyze and interpret these data sets.
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Digitizing The Car: Why Auto-Makers Are On The Wrong Track

Nigel Fenwick

Autocross

I’m a bit of a car nut. I love driving cars. So does my wife. We both autocross one of our cars most weekends in the New England summers (FYI AutoX is a great way to hone your driving skills and be a safer driver). We love our cars and I’m pretty passionate about the whole driving experience.

As a car junkie, I love the fact that automakers are bringing digital experiences to their cars, but I can’t help thinking they are going about it all backwards – or as we say at Forrester, from the inside out.

In my post from CES this year, I noted that every single automaker seems hell-bent on making the car the center of their customer’s digital world. No doubt manufacturers hear the siren call of customer data; imagining all that they could do with such rich information. But it’s inside-out because, even for car-lovers like me, the car is not the center of my digital universe and I doubt it ever will be. Why? Because my car doesn’t go with me wherever I go. But you know what does? My phone.

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Why High Performance People Need High Performance Technology

David Johnson

My colleagues and I have spent the last four years studying the links between technology, human performance at work, customer experience, and the financial performance of companies. One fascinating insight we’ve learned is that what separates the highest performing people in their work from others is their ability to reliably focus their attention, bringing more of their cognitive resources to bear on their work each day than their colleagues do. It’s not easy in our distraction-rich, techno-charged world.

There’s plenty of research that proves that happy employees are more productive, but Drs. Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer made an important discovery in 2010 that turns conventional wisdom about where happiness at work comes from, upside down. The most powerful source of happiness at work isn’t money, free food or recognition, but rather getting things done; making progress every day toward work that we know is important. The more conducive our work environment is to staying focused, and the better we are at suppressing the sources of distraction within ourselves to get our most important work done, the happier we will be at work. And, the effect is even stronger for work that requires creativity and problem solving skills.

Unfortunately in our workforce technology research, technology distraction isn't on the list of things leaders are concerned about. It should be, because the most pernicious sources of distraction employees face are the ones that lie beyond their control - the distractions that originate from the technologies their employers require them to use, when there are no alternatives.

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Link Pricing To Business Drivers To Take Services Partnerships To The Next Level

Liz Herbert

Clients and services partners have talked for years about linking services partner pricing to business goals. However, traditional pricing models such as time and materials and fixed fee still dominate in services partnerships; examples of truly innovative pricing models are rare. Despite the rarity of these outcome-oriented pricing models, interest remains high. Clients frequently ask Forrester for examples of next-generation, innovative services pricing models. So, I’m writing this post to highlight two recent examples (showcased at March customer and analyst events) that truly push the envelope for services pricing models linked to business goals.

Example 1: Venture-based

At BearingPoint’s recent analyst summit, the EMEA-centric business consulting provider showcased multiple examples of venture-based engagement. The examples showcased go beyond the typical “VC fund” that we see at other services providers (in which an arm of the services vendor operates like a venture capitalist by doling out funds to a set of early-stage companies). Instead, BearingPoint gives consulting time and tools to select clients or alliance partners in return for equity. For example, Bearingpoint has a services-for-equity partnership with tracekey, an early-stage company focused on track and trace functionality for pharmaceutical companies. This means that Bearingpoint’s financial rewards are directly tied to tracekey’s results, without getting tangled up in managing to the contract terms or project dashboards.

Example 2: Consumption-based

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Build 2016 - Day 2: Walking out of the wilderness

Jeffrey Hammond
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." - Lao Tzu
 
Today’s Build keynote felt a bit like the final steps of a thousand mile journey for Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise group Scott Guthrie, if not the larger Microsoft. It’s been a multi-year journey, forging a cross-platform, cross-language and open source culture at Microsoft, and it was by no means a sure bet. Let’s review some of the history:
 
  • If you can’t beat cancer, join it. Steve Ballmer’s 2001 statement that “Linux is a cancer” is an almost mythic meme 15 years later. But it clearly articulates the corporate attitude of Microsoft toward open source at that time. Old attitudes (and cultures) die hard. That’s why yesterday’s announcement of Bash support in Windows was not just good for cross-platform developers, but symbolic of the now firmly rooted cultural transformation at work in Nadella’s Microsoft. We noted it years ago, but it’s pretty clear that the change is sticking.
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Accelerating Digital Business And Innovation In Financial Services

Fred Giron

From discussions with our clients in the financial services industry (FSI) in Asia Pacific, we’ve noticed that their digital agenda has changed dramatically over the past 18 months, shifting from a consideration of acquisitions and distribution channels to a broader business transformation imperative.

In fact, leaders at banks and insurance firms are increasingly realizing that:

  • Customer experience is fast becoming the only competitive differentiator.
  • Banks and insurance have to accelerate their ability to innovate and deliver new sources of value to customers faster. 
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Build 2016 - Day 1: Windows without windows

Jeffrey Hammond
The big number at this year’s Build: 270 Million. That’s the number of copies of Windows 10 that consumers and enterprises have purchased or upgraded to since Microsoft’s latest flagship launched last year. And the message that Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices group Terry Meyerson sent to developers at the Build conference was that Windows is very much alive and well, and that it’s a great platform for them to build on (pun intended).
 
But there’s another not so obvious theme in Microsoft’s messages to developers at Build. Satya Nadella painted a picture of the longer term future of operating systems in general and Windows in particular: The decomposition of monolithic OSes that served consumers well when our digital interactions were confined to one or two devices. As devices multiply and input/output mechanisms broaden, it can’t help but affect the underlying services that operating systems have traditionally provided, especially as entirely new categories of connected devices emerge. Here’s how:
 
  • Cortona is ready for deep developer integration. In my opinion, the biggest change at Build is the emergence of natural language processing as a first class input/output mechanism for. Conversations as a platform (CaaP) takes the power of human language and applies it to digital interactions. Microsoft’s CaaP framework layers in context about people, places and things to enrich the conversations. With CaaP, human language joins window chrome and widgets as a core UI element. And developers can now layer in their own extensions to Cortana via “bots”. 
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What Comes After The Unicorn Carnage?

Ted Schadler
According to CB Insights (thanks, guys!), by the end of 2015, investors had given 152 tech startups “unicorn” valuations of more than $1 billion.  But now, valuations are deflating for many private and public tech companies. Is this 2000 all over again? No. The bubble popping over the next two years will mean job loss in Silicon Valley and a pullback in disruptor investment but not a collapse of tech spending or of the wider economy. CIOs and CMOs should seize this small window of opportunity to hire or acquire talent for digital transformation to serve customers in the digital channels of their choice.
 
That’s our conclusion (24 analysts contributed to this analysis, with special thanks to Chris Mines and James McQuivey) in new Forrester reports for CIOs and for CMOs. We present the full analysis there, but here's a (long) summary.
 
 
1. The Unfolding Carnage Of Unicorns -- There’s Blood In The Water
 
Private investors dramatically drove up the number of unicorns -- private tech companies they valued at more than $1 billion -- from 31 in 2012 to 152 in 2016. But down rounds and post-IPO stock collapses have begun. Accel Partners’ Jim Breyer, believes 90% of unicorns will be repriced by investors or die. He called it “blood in the water.”
 
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