What, Exactly, Is A Strategy?

Tim Sheedy

 

I work with a lot of CIOs and heads of strategy in Australia and the Asia Pacific area – particularly concerning the development and updating of their IT strategies. As a part of our strategy document review service, I have seen plenty of approaches to IT strategies – from “on a single page” position statements through to hugely detailed documents that outline every project that will take place over the next 5-10 years.

While it can be argued that an IT strategy can’t really be strategic at all if it is just responding to business needs and requests (isn’t that just an IT plan?), the broader question of “what, exactly is a strategy?” is rarely touched upon.

I was fortunate to be invited to TCS’s recent Australian customer summit in Sydney. I was particularly attracted by the high caliber of the speakers and audience. One of the speakers whose presentation I found fascinating was Richard Rumelt, from UCLA Anderson – author of the book Good Strategy, Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters. His presentation focused on “what makes a good strategy, and how do you identify a bad one.” I really like his definition of what a strategy is:

A strategy is a coherent mix of policy and action designed to surmount a high-stakes challenge.

The basis of a good strategy is to diagnose the challenge, develop a guiding policy and create coherent policies and actions.

You know it’s a bad strategy when it:

-          Is all performance goals (i.e., we plan to increase our profit margin by 30% by 2015)

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Pushing The Envelope - SeaMicro Introduces Low-Power Xeon Servers

Richard Fichera

In late 2010 I noted that startup SeaMicro had introduced an ultra-dense server using Intel Atom chips in an innovative fabric-based architecture that allowed them to factor out much of the power overhead from a large multi-CPU server ( http://blogs.forrester.com/richard_fichera/10-09-21-little_servers_big_applications_intel_developer_forum). Along with many observers, I noted that the original SeaMicro server was well-suited to many light-weight edge processing tasks, but that the system would not support more traditional compute-intensive tasks due to the performance of the Atom core. I was, however, quite taken with the basic architecture, which uses a proprietary high-speed (1.28 Tb/s) 3D mesh interconnect to allow the CPU cores to share network, BIOS and disk resources that are normally replicated on a per-server in conventional designs, with commensurate reductions in power and an increase in density.

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Poor Data Quality: An Often Overlooked Cause Of Poor Customer Satisfaction Scores

Kate Leggett

Customer service managers don’t often realize that data quality projects move the needle on customer satisfaction. In a recent Forrester survey of members of the Association of Business Process Management Professionals (ABPMP), of the 45% who reported that they are working on improving CRM processes, only 38% have evaluated the impact that poor-quality data has on the effectiveness of these processes. And of the 37% of respondents working on customer experience for external-facing processes, only 30% proactively monitor data quality impacts. That’s no good; lack of attention to data quality leads to a set of problems:

  • Garbage in/garbage out erodes customer satisfaction. Agents need the right data about their customers, purchases, and prior service history at the right point in the service cycle to deliver the right answers. But when their tool sets pull data from low-quality data sources, agents don’t have the right information to answer their customers. An international bank, for example, could not meet its customer satisfaction goals because agents in its 23 contact centers all followed different operational processes, using up to 18 different apps — many of which contained duplicate data — to serve a single customer.
  • Lack of trust in data negatively affects agent productivity. Agents start to question the validity of the underlying data when data inconsistencies are left unchecked. This means that agents often ask a customer to validate product, service, and customer data during an interaction — increasing handle times and eroding trust.
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How I Turned My iPad2 Into A MacBook … Well Almost!

Nigel Fenwick

As my regular readers know, I try to provide something thought-provoking for most of my blog posts. But every so often something comes along that makes me go “wow, I really need to share this.” This is one of those times.

Like many analysts here at Forrester, I have an iPad (my own, not the company’s) which I often use for work — especially when travelling (which we do a lot). And like many people, I’ve grown used to the tactile feel of a real keyboard — so every now and then I’d yearn for a real keyboard to use with my iPad.

Apple Wireless KeyboardBeing an Apple fan, I first bought the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. While this is a good keyboard, it has a couple of major flaws for my use. Firstly, it doesn’t actually hold the iPad, so you have to position your iPad somewhere you can see it while typing. For this reason you can’t easily use it anywhere there isn’t a good flat surface near you on which to stand your iPad. And secondly, it’s not very convenient to travel with as it’s so long — who wants to walk around with a sleek iPad and a huge keyboard? I needed something more compact.

Then while building my Amazon wish list for the holidays I came across a nifty little keyboard that seemed too good to be true. On Amazon it’s called an "Apple iPad 2 Aluminum Bluetooth Keyboard Case Cover Stand" supplied by MiniSuit. I couldn’t resist adding it to my wish list.

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Are Your Employees Doing This?

Brian  Hopkins

I just saw something that makes a point I covered in a technology trends briefing for a client yesterday. After getting my Sun-dried Ethiopia Harrar (a $3.45 “clover-brewed,” ridiculously priced guilty pleasure – nice marketing job, Starbucks!), I noticed a young woman sitting behind me with her 5x7 notebook out, busily scribbling while bent over a large smartphone. Hmmm, I thought, let’s see what she’s doing. So I made pest of myself by asking a few questions. Here is some of the Q&A (her replies are abbreviated; she was actually quite helpful and not as curt):

  • Q: Are you a student or is what you are doing for work? A: No, I’m actually working.
  • Q: So do you have a PC? A: I do, but it’s a bulky 17” laptop that I got when I was a student, and I can do what I need on this.
  • Q: Is that company-issued phone, or is it yours? A: It’s mine.
  • Q: Does your company help by paying for any of the service? A: No, I pay it all myself.
  • Q: Are you doing an official assignment? A: No, nobody told me to do this. I am ...
  • Q: Do you even have your PC with you? A: No, I didn’t bring it.
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Deutsche Telekom Demonstrates Willingness For Cultural Change As Part Of Innovation Drive

Dan Bieler

I attended Trend Forum 2012 last week in Bonn, effectively an analyst day where Deutsche Telekom presented its innovation strategy. There was no focus on overall group strategy. Still, innovation matters greatly as part of the repositioning efforts of telcos. As the role of telcos in the value chain is weakening, largely due to increasing competition by over-the-top providers (OTTPs), telcos need to differentiate themselves increasingly via service provision and their ability to innovate quickly and prolifically. Failure to do so will cement their status as transport utilities for OTTPs.

Deutsche Telekom’s Core Beliefs focus on: a) building its platform business by partnering with software firms; b) leveraging the cloud by providing high QoS and secure connectivity; and c) leverage differentiating terminals through device management and customer experience provision. These Core Beliefs form the basis for pursuing its focus growth segments in digital media distribution, cloud storage, cross-device digital advertising, classified marketplaces, and mobile payment in addition to the core telco business. These targets match up well against our evaluation of best cloud markets for telcos.

A defining characteristic of next-generation network (NGN) infrastructure and the move towards cloud-based business models is openness. As a consequence, OTTPs increasingly deal directly with end customers across the network. Relationships between telcos and other members of value chain become more complex. Emerging cloud services by telcos need to become network agnostic to deliver cross-network solutions and ensure cloud interoperability. Deutsche Telekom has made significant progress in the recent past to adapt its strategy to these new telco realities.

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3 Ways Carbon Management Software Firms Can Capture The Market

Chris Mines

It's a challenge for every company with a software "solution" for sale: it's a solution, but for what? Are customers looking for an all-encompassing solution to a big problem, or a targeted solution for a small problem? Do they want an interconnected suite of software modules, with a common data model, common look-and-feel, and discounted price tag, or a small-bore program that will automate a currently manual process?

For the suppliers of enterprise carbon and energy management (ECEM) software, this age-old problem is especially challenging since the range of potential functionality is so broad, and the array of potential stakeholders, influencers, and buyers is so wide.

Consider the "word cloud" depicted in Figure 1 below, which shows a subset of the labels for such software.

And in parallel, the motivations of potential buyers of ECEM shown in Figure 2 below:

Click image for larger version

Since most companies do not face cut-and-dry regulatory requirements for emissions reporting, matching up the motivations of the buyers with the functional scope of the product sellers is a time-consuming exercise of workshops, pre-sales consulting, assessments, and, inevitably, drilling a lot of dry holes.

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Is Dell Finally Ready To Strengthen Its IT Services Activities?

Fred Giron

In an interview with the Economic Times in India, Dell announced yesterday that it was readying a war chest of about US$1 billion for IT services related acquisitions in India. Here is why I think this announcement is important for Dell:

First, Dell needs to continue strengthen its global delivery network and industrialization capabilities. Dell bolstered its IT services market position with the Perot Systems acquisition in 2009. Since then, the company has made clear its development ambitions in India from an offshore perspective — including during the first analyst event they hosted in India in September 2011. The company lags far behind the services behemoths, including IBM, which has more than 100,000 staff in India working for international clients.

The India domestic market is also becoming a top priority for all major tech vendors. Forrester expects this market to grow by 20% in 2012 in local currency (see my recent report on the future of IT services in India). Japanese companies like NTT Data have launched aggressive inorganic growth strategies to tap this booming market (Dimension Data in 2010 — which was at the time part of the top 10 IT services firms in India via its Datacraft subsidiary — and more recently Netmagic Solutions). And Forrester expects more Japanese investments in the coming few months.

While IBM, HP, and Wipro Infotech are leading the IT services market in India, Dell is still marginal in terms of system integration and managed services activities. So it’s high time that Dell strengthens its presence in India.

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IBM Lotusphere 2012 – What's In A Name?

Michael Barnes

So I made the trek from Singapore to Orlando for Lotusphere the week of January 15th and it proved well worth the time and effort. It was actually one of the best events of its kind I’ve attended in years — and I’ve attended loads. IBM expanded the focus well beyond the “legacy” Lotus brand. In fact, this was a social business event from start to finish, with IBM linking its much broader social computing portfolio to business process improvement and value creation.

The focus and scope has clearly grown beyond the current event branding. But putting event naming issues aside for the moment, below are some key takeaways:

  • Evolving into a social business applies to all organizations — any process that relies on people will fundamentally change. IBM made a solid case that business transformation is not only possible but mandatory. A social business excels at discovering and sharing new ideas — fundamentally changing how people work and therefore how companies operate. Companies not embracing this change will get left behind.
  • IBM’s vision for social business — business process disruption is inevitable. Focusing heavily on a process-centric view, IBM downplayed tools and technology. Per IBM, social business is the intersection of social technologies and front-office business processes — as significant to top-line revenue growth over the next decade as SOA has been to back-office business processes and bottom-line cost savings over the last decade.
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Will Humans Make A Comeback In Customer Processes?

Craig Le Clair

We all feel the  loss of human connection due to relentless automation, the emerging behavior of Digital Natives (who prefer online interaction to direct human interaction), and the inability of current systems to support “personalization at scale.” So I’ve been wondering whether we will start to see real pushback against the straight-through and self-service procesees we endure daily — what I am calling “faceless” processes. In short, we are starting to see inklings that the pendulum is swinging away from faceless processes and a back toward more personalized human-driven interactions.

There are a few things that seem to  point in this direction, such as community banks taking customers from the big guys, or the well-documented hatred of foreign call centers and voicemail hell. An “I’ve had enough” shift is also advanced by more vocal consumer attitudes — witness, for example, the recent consumer pushback on debit card fees. The question is, will we start to see companies start to differentiate based on injecting humans back into the process? Does social have a role to play here? And is there a way to measure whether this is actually happening?