Today, IBM announced the acquisition of privately-held Clarity Systems for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition bolsters IBM’s solution set for the CFO, and complements its recent acquisition of OpenPages, a governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) vendor. Clarity, based in Toronto, had approximately 390 employees and 600 customers at the time of this deal.
Clarity Systems is a Strong Performer in "The Forrester Wave™: Business Performance Solutions, Q4 2009", offering a very good planning, budgeting, and forecasting solution as part of its flagship product, Clarity 7, along with an improved financial consolidations component. During the past few years, Clarity developed a market-leading regulatory reporting solution, Clarity FSR, which supports the process of creating full SEC filings and also embeds technology for XBRL reporting. IBM Cognos is ranked as a Leader in the same comparative evalution.
The success of FSR alone during the past two years made the large BPS vendors, IBM, SAP, and Oracle, envious of Clarity’s success. Oracle made a competitive response early this year with the release of Oracle Hyperion Disclosure Management. It seemed to this observer that SAP would make the next move by doing a deal to acquire Clarity, but IBM beat them to the punch.
As I was doing research for our Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Business Intelligence Platforms, Q4 2010, I couldn’t help but remember a dear old friend of mine, who was/is one of the nicest and smartest people, but often a bit naïve and too idealistic. At one point when we were watching the Olympic Games on TV, she shed a tear and asked, “Why can’t they all win?” Unlike the Olympic Games, though, it’s good news all around for all of the vendors covered in our latest evaluation. Here’s it is in a nutshell.
In Forrester's 145-criteria evaluation of enterprise business intelligence (BI) platform vendors, we found that IBM Cognos, SAP BusinessObjects, Oracle, Information Builders, SAS, Microsoft, and MicroStrategy led the pack because of completeness of not just BI, but overall information management functionality. Actuate came out as a Strong Performer on the heels of the Leaders offering equal — or in some cases superior — BI functionality, but it mostly relies on partners for the rest of its information management capabilities. TIBCO Spotfire also came out as a Strong Performer offering top choices for analytics, even surpassing other Strong Performers in the overall information management arena based on its traditional strength in middleware and application integration. Last but not least, QlikTech and Panorama Software moved up from Contenders and into the Strong Performers category based on the continuous improvements in their analytical capabilities.
Our evaluation uncovered a market in which:
IBM Cognos, SAP BusinessObjects, Oracle, and SAS continue to lead the pack.
Information Builders, Microsoft, and MicroStrategy move into the Leaders category.
What’s your approach to the smart city? What's your role? Join Forrester Analysts, IT decision-makers, vendor strategists, and other Tweeters in our upcoming Smart Cities Tweet Jam – a Twitter-based dialogue about smart cities – on Tuesday, November 9th from 11:00am to 12:00pm EDT (8:00am to 9:00am PDT and 5:00 to 6:00pm CET), using the Twitter hashtag #smartcityjam. From Forrester, Doug Washburn (@dougwashburn), Usman Sindhu (@usmansindhu) and I (@jenbelissent) will be joining – and likely others. Doug and Usman have written about what “Smart Cities” mean for CIOs of all kinds – the CIO of the city, the CIO of a component city service or infrastructure, and the CIO who consumes or interfaces with smart city infrastructure. Take a look at their report, Helping CIOs Understand "Smart City" Initiatives. My upcoming report, "Capitalizing on Smart Cities," will look at opportunities for tech vendors, including a look at alternatives types of “cities” and innovative business models to increase the long-term viability of smart city initiatives. The report is not yet out, but some of the ideas have been shared in recent blog posts on the definition of a “city,”new business models, and
Or maybe I should title this “When Public Sector Isn’t ‘Public’ At All.” In recent blog posts, I’ve written about how “cities” are not just those formed around a city hall, headed by a mayor or city council, and run by civil servants. Universities, company towns, and even amusement parks are launching innovative technology-based initiatives to address issues around transportation, public safety, administration, and even healthcare and education. However, it seems that many of the new cities being created as “smart cities” are even themselves not really cities as we know them (that’s a lot of “cities” in one sentence). Are they perhaps redefining the public sector altogether?
Humor me as I ruminate on the definition of public sector. I usually think of the public sector as that which is government-owned, run by civil servants, and ultimately headed by an elected, appointed (or possibly a self-appointed) leader acting in the interests of the public or his/her constituency. Traditionally, at the core of a city is a public sector with many of these characteristics, with a mandate to provide basic infrastructure and services for the “public,” known in economic parlance as “public goods.” But, what if the city government itself is a private entity?
On Sunday I will be participating in IBM’s Middle East and North Africa CIO Conference 2010, where I will present my research on Smart Cities. I’m looking forward to speaking with practitioners from the region to hear about their experiences in making their cities, organizations, and businesses more efficient through innovative technology-based initiatives. My presentation is entitled “Taking Lessons from Smart Cities,” because the real smarts lie in how these “cities” – whatever form they take – have overcome obstacles from budget battles to stakeholder standoffs.
One aspect of those smarts lies in the business models that have enabled smart cities. With talk of municipal bankruptcy and public sector debt, it is not surprising that public sector IT decision-makers are not all that optimistic about their industry outlook. In Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets And Priorities Tracker Survey, Q2 2010, only 26% of public sector IT decision-makers considered their industry outlook to be good, while 70% – the vast majority – expected a bad year. The public sector came in next to last among other industry verticals.
That same survey, however, also revealed expectations of IT spending increases in the public sector: 37% of public sector IT decision-makers expected IT budgets to grow by at least 5%; 11% expected increases of more than 10%. Some of that spending is creatively financed.
Several new business models have emerged to enable technology investment.
There has been a lot of press about IBM’s acquisition of BNT (Blade Network Technologies) focusing on the economics and market share of BNT as a competitor to Cisco and HP’s ProCurve/3Com franchise. But at its heart the acquisition is more about defending and expanding a position in the emerging converged server, networking, and storage infrastructure segment than it is about raw switch port market share. It is also a powerful vindication of the proposition that infrastructure convergence is driving major realignment in the vendor industry.
Starting with HP’s success with its c-Class blade servers and Virtual Connect technology, and escalating with Cisco’s entrance into the server market, IBM continued its investment in its Virtual Fabric and Open Fabric Manager technology, heavily leveraging BNT’s switch platforms. At some point it became clear that BNT was a critical element of IBM’s convergence strategy, with IBM’s plans now heavily dependent on a vendor with whom they had an excellent, but non-exclusive relationship, and one whose acquisition by another player could severely compromise their product plans. Hence the acquisition. Now that it owns BNT, IBM can capitalize on its excellent edge network technology for further development of its converged infrastructure strategy without hesitation about further leveraging BNT’s technology.
Like many business executives and consumers, I have been paying a lot of attention to the economic indicators, looking for signs either of a stronger economic recovery or a potential renewed recession. As a technology market analyst, I track economic indicators because I’ve found that the growth in the economy is one of the best predictors of what the technology market growth will be -- far better than surveying CIOs to find out their spending plans, which tend to be backward looking.
Based on my reading of the economic indicators and the forecasts of professional economists, it looks to me that both the US economy and the global economy will fall between extremes of strong growth or recession, growing weakly but not slipping back into recession. As a result, in Forrester's latest forecast (US And Global IT Market Outlook: Q3 2010), we have trimmed our forecasts for the US tech market to a still-robust 8.1% growth for 2010 (down from our 9.9% forecast in July), with 7.4% growth in 2011. Globally, the tech market measured in US dollars will grow by 7%, compared with our July forecast of 7.8%, with the somewhat weaker outlook for the US tech market offsetting slightly better performance in Europe and strong growth in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia/Pacific.
These forecasts include business and government purchases of computer equipment, communications equipment, software, IT consulting and systems integration services, and IT outsourcing. If we add telecommunications services (as we do for the first time in this report), US information and communications technology (ICT) market growth in 2010 will be 5.6% and 6.6% in 2011.
I recently spent a day with IBM’s x86 team, primarily to get back up to speed on their entire x86 product line, and partially to realign my views of them after spending almost five years as a direct competitor. All in all, time well spent, with some key takeaways:
IBM has fixed some major structural problems with the entire x86 program and it perception in the company – As recently as two years ago, it appeared to the outside world that IBM was not really serious about x86 servers. Between licensing its low-end server designs to Lenovo (although IBM continued to sell its own versions) and an apparent retreat to the upper-end of the segment, it appeared that IBM was not serious about x86 severs. New management, new alignment with sales, and a higher internal profile for x86 seems to have moved the division back into IBM’s mainstream.
Increased investment – It looks like IBM significantly ramped up investments in x86 products about three years ago. The result has been a relatively steady flow of new products into the marketplace, some of which, such as the HS22 blade, significantly reversed deficits versus equivalent HP products. Others followed in high-end servers, virtualization and systems management, and increased velocity of innovation in low-end systems.
Established leadership in new niches such as dense modular server deployments – IBM’s iDataplex, while representing a small footprint in terms of their total volume, gave them immediate visibility as an innovator in the rapidly growing niche for hyper scale dense deployments. Along the way, IBM has also apparently become the leader in GPU deployments as well, another low-volume but high-visibility niche.
Some of you may recognize the guy at the front as Fireman Sam, the eponymous "hero next door" of the BBC children’s program set in the fictional Welsh town of Pontypandy. What does he have to do with software licensing?
Yesterday I spoke about software licensing trends to a group of customers, prospects, and partners of licensing optimization vendor Flexera. One of my key messages was that software asset managers (SAMs) must move on from reactive firefighting via fire prevention (both of which I call "Fireman SAM") to a more proactive management of license needs (which I call "license optimization"). Fireman Sam uses traditional asset inventory and hard disk discovery tools to try to measure software usage, compare it with license entitlement, and rectify any shortfalls. Fireman Sam’s arch enemy is License Audit Bill.
In contrast, a more mature process adds analysis of what licenses you really need to the data on usage and ownership. This information enables software sourcing managers to cut expenditure on excess licenses and over-specified versions. For example, Flexera’s product for SAP enables customers to put users in the right categories, thereby minimizing the purchase of more expensive "full user" licenses.
Best Software License Management Considers Three Questions
Part of managing your brand is making sure that your customer service experience is consistent across all touchpoints that you use to interact with a company – traditional ones such as voice, email, chat, web self-service and now the social interaction channels.
What does a "consistency of experience" mean? It means that:
The knowledge a customer or agent has access to must convey the same message across all touchpoints. The voice will understandably be different for, for example, a chat session and an email session.
The agent must have a full view of the customer’s interactions across all touchpoints — traditional and social ones. Another way of saying this is that customer data should not live in independent technology silos.
The processes that an agent follows must be the same for interactions coming in across all touchpoints — traditional and social.