While NVIDIA and to a lesser extent AMD (via its ATI branded product line) have effectively monopolized the rapidly growing and hyperbole-generating market for GPGPUs, highly parallel application accelerators, Intel has teased the industry for several years, starting with its 80-core Polaris Research Processor demonstration in 2008. Intel’s strategy was pretty transparent – it had nothing in this space, and needed to serve notice that it was actively pursuing it without showing its hand prematurely. This situation of deliberate ambiguity came to an end last month when Intel finally disclosed more details on its line of Many Independent Core (MIC) accelerators.
Intel’s approach to attached parallel processing is radically different than its competitors and appears to make excellent use of its core IP assets – fabrication and expertise and the x86 instruction set. While competing products from NVIDIA and AMD are based on graphics processing architectures, employing 100s of parallel non-x86 cores, Intel’s products will feature a smaller (32 – 64 in the disclosed products) number of simplified x86 cores on the theory that developers will be able to harvest large portions of code that already runs on 4 – 10 core x86 CPUs and easily port them to these new parallel engines.
Calling all product strategists at big name clothing and apparel companies: If you work at the likes of Gap, Macy's, Nordstrom, or American Eagle Outfitters, we at Forrester think you are currently missing out on an opportunity to delight customers, generate new revenue, and differentiate your offerings. We’ve been writing about why now is the time to experiment with mass-customized product offerings – customer-facing digital technologies have reached the point where customization is easy to deliver, and customers increasingly expect products and services will be tailored to their desires and needs.
Now it’s time for product strategists at big name clothing and retail companies to give mass customization another shot. Levi’s once offered customized jeans (from 1993-2003), but the offering was too far ahead of the curve – it didn’t have the opportunity to leverage the type of digital configuration experiences available today, and it didn’t offer buyers choice in features they wanted (like color).
We know that product strategists who want to offer mass-customized clothing and apparel products face customers who are stuck in an off-the-shelf comfort zone. We know that this customer resistance is holding back some product strategists at big brand-name clothing companies. Yet the return on investment could be significant. Incorporating customization into your product strategy will enhance current customer relationships and attract new customers that, up to now, have not been able to find what they want or need from your products.
The promise of smart buildings is cropping up across the ICT industry lately. Our calendar of vendor briefings and events is crowded with announcements of new products, acquisitions, and partnerships as ICT suppliers seek to connect their digital and analytic systems with the physical world of HVAC, security, lighting, and other in-building systems.
There are a number of goals that smart building projects hope to achieve, including:
Improving customers' bottom lines by reducing energy consumption and expense.
Improving employees' physical surroundings and therefore productivity and satisfaction.
Improving sustainability metrics and perceptions by baselining and then reducing corporate carbon footprint.
It's been clear for some time that sustainability is moving from the periphery toward the center of many companies' strategic agendas, and that IT systems and software will play a crucial role in accelerating that movement.
But what's been missing -- until now -- is an overarching framework for understanding who the stakeholders (and buyers) of IT-for-sustainability (ITfS) systems are, what motivations and barriers they face, and which categories of products, services, and solutions can help them. With the research report that we will publish next month, Forrester takes a giant step towards providing that framework. Based on interviews with sustainability leaders at more than a dozen large global enterprises, we developed three company archetypes of sustainability adoption (see Figure 1):
• Marketer: Improving branding and transparency with advanced reporting. Companies that fall into this category are either early in their sustainability maturity or just do what they have to do when it comes to regulatory compliance.
I meet with about three or four sustainability solution providers each week, getting an update on their customer and product progress and sharing our latest research plans and client inquiries in the IT-for-sustainability (ITfS) space. In the past few weeks, I heard again from vendors about their excitement for new regulatory mandates appearing on the horizon.
Business rules platforms are a mature technology for automating decision and policy logic and for managing fast changes to that logic to keep up with business changes. Now customers are seeking more: capabilities allowing them to employ business rules to help detect and respond to business events hiding in streams of data and to automate decision life cycles. This research reveals how well vendors are responding to these new requirements.
Application development and delivery (AD&D) pros are taking business rules platforms in two new directions. The technology's future will be determined in large part by whether or not customers can successfully apply it to business event processing and decision life-cycle management.
Business event processing applications answer the question "What activities are happening in the business now that I need to know about?" by searching for patterns and values within several streams of actively flowing data. The streams almost always represent information about the real world, such as customer activity in a casino, stock prices fluctuating in real time, or the location of transportation vehicles and the goods they carry. AD&D professionals often build business-events applications using complex event processing (CEP) platforms — some of which use rules to define event patterns. Other AD&D professionals use business rules platforms to build business-events applications. These overlapping uses set the stage for the convergence of CEP and business rules platforms.
After two years of vendor consolidation, which are the best business rules platforms for application development and delivery professionals to consider? In our judgment, based on growth rates, market presence, strength of product, and client interest, three vendors have risen to the leadership positions in this market, with two others coming on strong. IBM's ILOG has the strongest market position, but a surprising new alternative has gained strong initiative, and a one-time leader has lost momentum.
Although many application development and delivery (AD&D) professionals have experience implementing business rules platforms, Forrester's AD&D team has been receiving a continual flow of inquiries on this topic that suggests that clients want to know how the vendor landscape is changing and how those changes affect product choices. In fact, before evaluating a vendor's product features, clients consider the vendor's market momentum and the size of its customer base.
Our conclusion: The choices in business rules products have in fact changed, because the vendors have consolidated, expanded, and/or retrenched. Here is a picture of those changes:
As a result, the number of leading products has declined since we last evaluated business rules platforms. Some business rules vendors have expanded into other product categories. As a result, the decision to choose these vendors for a business rules product is more complex because business rules management is no longer their primary focus or their product sets include additional capabilities not directly related to business rules management. Within this category, there are:
I’ve been following a couple of 2011 developments that together may determine the next big technology winners and losers. To get your click, I’ve been obscure in my title.
Spiders refers to the battle for control of the webs that connect us all together. Google won the first race by connecting webs of content, and now the second race is on for control of the social web. Facebook dominates the personal market, while LinkedIn has carved out a niche with professionals and now challenges its big cousin. Finally, latecomer Google (anybody see the irony?) may just sneak up on both by capitalizing on their respective weaknesses.
Consider this: The winner will control the web of social data. What people like, who they know who likes similar stuff, and where these potential customers are. This is powerful stuff that companies are just beginning to figure out. For example, a mobile app identifies five people in your condo complex who are big scuba divers, and one is on the boat trip with you right now. By helping you make connnections, the app’s developer can now sell marketing data to dive boat charters that then can offer you a group discount to come back together with your other new connections. Clearly, the company in control of this data will be in the center of a market worth a mind-blowing amount of money.
Elephants is an allusion to Hadoop and Horton, two pachyderms that represent that growing interest in big data technology. Eric Baldeschwieler, former Hadoop project leader at Yahoo and now CEO of Hortonworks, went so far as to state, “. . . We anticipate that within five years, more than half the world's data will be stored in Apache Hadoop.”
The Oil And Gas Information Technology Innovation Dilemma
The hydrocarbon logistics chain of natural gas and crude oil connects globally distributed exploration and production sites with industrial and private consumers via pipelines, tankers, rail cars, and trucks with massive intermediate buffering storage and conversion facilities (tank farms, refineries, gas plants); it is the lifeblood of our energy supply chain today and for the coming decades.
More than 75 million barrels of oil and 300 billion cubic feet of natural gas are produced, transported, and consumed all over the globe — every day. Along the complex transportation chain, these special bulk products, both liquids and gases, are transferred between the different modes of transportation, resulting in a number of challenges based on complex measurements of product volumes and masses:
Measurement accuracy. In an ideal world, we would always determine the mass of crude oil and natural gas at each measurement point; however, due to the large quantities involved, weighing is possible only at the very end of the logistics chain. Consequently, we have to live with measurement data that typically carries an uncertainty of 0.1% to 0.5 %, depending on the measurement devices’ intrinsic accuracy.
On my Q3 research agenda is a document reviewing typical BI software pricing configurations. Unfortunately, I find that just asking vendors whether they have this or that pricing policy (by number of named users, number of concurrent users, server type, etc.) usually just gets me “Yes, we have it all” or “It depends” answers. Not really useful. So this time I plan to nail down the vendors to three specific quotes given three very specific configurations. Here’s my first cut at the RFQ. I plan to send it out to:
All of the large BI vendors covered in our BI Wave