What is the definition of an "application"? We are "applications development and delivery professionals" - surely we have this question nailed, don't we? The question keeps coming up in different contexts, and since there are many potential opinions, a blog is the perfect place to spur debate. Here are some (simplistic) questions to generate debate:
Is a Web page an application?
If not, how many Web pages does it take until I consider it an application - 10, 100, 1,000?
Does size matter? (Please behave yourselves with this one.)
Is the size of the code base a pertinent factor?
What about SharePoint sites, Access databases, and spreadsheets? Are they applications?
Where do COTS and packaged apps fit?
Does the technology I use affect the definition?
If I use a scripting language for a quick-and-dirty task, is that an application?
Does SOA erode the definition of an application?
Do we cease thinking about applications as entities and think about them more as containers that hold collections of SOA services?
How does open source affect the definition?
How does my role affect my perception of an application?
Do developers and users use similar definitions?
I have my opinions - in fact I just finished a draft piece of research on it that will be published in January, but what are your opinions?
In his report on the top technology trends to watch in 2011 to 2013, my colleague Gene Leganza called out application portfolio management (APM) as one of a number of "planning and analysis tools to manage the future." Forrester clients seem to agree with Gene; in fact they aren't even waiting until 2011 - their interest has been building steadily throughout the second half of 2010.
MyCustomer.com recently asked me what my thoughts were about CRM — why initial CRM projects failed, what has changed to make deployments successful, and what the future holds for CRM. Here is the second part of my answers, as well as a link to the published article.
Question: What has improved/changed to make CRM implementations more successful now?
Answer: My flip answer is that we’ve all grown up. Our technology has matured, we now have best practice processes to scope, implement, and deploy CRM systems, and we understand the organizational commitment and achieve the ROI that CRM has been promising us for the last decade.
A more factual answer is that CRM systems are now feature-rich, with best practice and industry-specific workflows built into them. This means that customers can choose to adopt these best practices without needing many man-months of customization work. The CRM architecture has evolved to make them immensely scalable, more easily integratable with other IT systems, as well as easily changeable to keep in step with changing business needs (think about all the mergers and acquisitions that have happened in the past several years, and the IT changes that have had to quickly happen to preserve the customer experience). There are also SaaS solutions available to achieve a rapid time-to-value, and we see a significant uptick in SaaS CRM adoption. Vendors and system integrators have a proven track record of deploying, tuning, and optimizing CRM projects to achieve quantifiable ROI, and this knowledge can be easily leveraged.
Question: What typically characterized a CRM project 10 years ago? And what do you believe typically characterizes a CRM project today?
What will business and technology be like in 2020 – and what’s IT’s place in this new world? This is the subject of a teleconference that James Staten and I held for our clients yesterday and also the subject of an upcoming Forrester report.
In this teleconference, we painted a picture of the impact of business-ready, self-service technology, a tech-savvy and self-sufficient workforce, and a business world in which today’s emerging economies dwarf the established ones, bringing a billion new consumers with a radically different view of products and services, as well as in which surging resource costs – especially energy costs – crush today’s global business models.
In the past, when new waves of technology swept into our businesses – everything from the 1980s’ PCs to today’s empowered technologies – the reaction was the swinging pendulum of “decentralized/embedded IT” followed by “centralized/industrialized IT.” These tired old reactions won’t work in the world 2020. Instead, businesses must move to a model we call Empowered BT.
Empowered BT empowers business to pursue opportunities at the edge and the grassroots – but to balance this empowerment with enterprise concerns. Key to this balance is the interplay between four new “meta roles” – visionaries, consultants, integrators, and sustainability experts – combined with a new operating model based on guidelines, mentoring, and inspection. Also key is IT changing from a mindset in which it needs to control technology to one in which it embraces business ownership of technology decisions.
The teleconference chat window was busy as James and I presented our research. Here are the questions we weren’t able to answer due to time.
For some time there have been rumors about Deutsche Banking having selected TCS BaNCS for some or all of its international subsidiaries. Today, both Deutsche Bankand Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)published a press release announcing that Deutsche Bank will implement TCS BaNCS Core Banking as its new core banking platform for Global Transaction Banking (GTB). The first international subsidiary, which is located in Abu Dhabi, went live three days ago. I discussed the deal with N. Ganapathy Subramaniam (NGS), the president of TCS Financial Solutions.
EA teams like to know how mature their EA practice is. There are a lot of EA maturity models out there. You will find some of these assessments and maturity models discussed in a 2009 Forrester report. Many EA teams share the idea that there is a single “ultimate EA model” and that EA leaders should strive to move up the ladder to this ultimate model. It’s like a video game – you try to get to the next level.
For the past three months, the EA team’s Researcher Tim DeGennaro has been looking at these models and Forrester’s research on EA best practices to create a framework for assessing EA programs. This looked deceptively simple: Develop criteria based on the best practices we see in leading EA organizations, create an objective scale to rate an organization’s progress, offer reporting to illuminate next steps, and wrap it in an easy-to-use assessment package. What we’ve found so far is not only that avoiding the effects of subjectivity and lack of context is impossible but also that many assessment styles disagree on the most crucial aspect: What exactly is EA supposed to be aiming for?
Are you interested in business intelligence, wonder about the future of the analytics market or have a question on advanced analytics technologies?
Then join the Forrester analysts Rob Karel, Boris Evelson, Clay Richardson, Gene Leganza, Noel Yuhanna, Leslie Owens, Suresh Vittal, William Frascarelli, David Frankland, Joe Stanhope, Zach Hofer-Shall, Henry Peyret and myself for an interactive TweetJam on Twitter about the state of advanced analytics on Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. EDT (18:00 – 19:00 CET) using the Twitter hashtag #dmjam. We’ll share the results of our recent research on the analytics market space and discuss how it will change with new technologies entering the scene and maturing over time.
Business intelligence is the fastest growing software market today as companies are driving business results based on deeper insights and better planning, and advanced analytics is the spearhead of BI technologies that can untap new dimensions of business performance. But what exactly is ‘advanced’ analytics, what technologies are available and how to efficiently use them?
Much more detailed information can be found in the blog of Forrester analyst James Kobielus who will lead us through the discussion during the TweetJam. Above you see an overview graphic listing the different elements of advanced analytics today, taken from his blog.
Here are some of the questions we want to debate during our TweetJam discussion:
What exactly is and isn’t advanced analytics?
What are the chief business applications of advanced analytics?
Our Q3 2010 Global Financial Services Architecture Online Survey shows that 79% of the surveyed financial services firms are either already working on transforming their application landscape or plan to start this effort by 2012 at the latest. The need for greater business agility and flexibility, new business capabilities, and improved ability to cope with changing markets, offer more differentiation, and increase market share are key drivers for a large share of these financial services firms.
Coping with these drivers requires a large amount of architectural flexibility; therefore, architectural flexibility needs to be an integral element of any decision in favor of or against a given architecture or off-the-shelf banking platform within a transformation initiative. Consequently, it does not come as a surprise that 43% of the surveyed firms expect that more than one-third of their business applications will leverage service-oriented architecture and use business services in the next 18 to 24 months and an additional 19% think that more than half of their applications will utilize business services within that time frame.
Step back and think: How would you answer the question, “What does your IT group deliver to your business?” Your answer will indicate how you think about the relationship between business and technology, and, in turn, it will affect your business agility and your business-IT alignment.
If you answer anything close to “IT delivers and integrates solutions to meet business requirements,” your mental model boils down to thinking that your solutions support the business: Business is one thing; solutions are a separate thing. If the business has a problem, let it come ask IT for some application to address the problem — maybe IT will even help the business figure out what it needs. Each application supports (typically overlapping) parts of the business, and IT performs whatever behind-the-scenes integration is necessary to gain some degree of coherency across the whole. The result is the sort of siloed spaghetti application mess that most organizations are dealing with — even if SOA and BPM and the rest make it easier to deal with.
Early next year I'm going to ask Sourcing & Vendor Management professionals to vote on which software companies' licensing policies they most resent as Unfair. Fairness is a subjective quality, but it seems to me that some policies penalize customers for circumstances beyond their control that are unrelated to the value they are getting from the software. Others have serious consequences that may not have been apparent to the buyer when he agreed to the contract. Fair software pricing charges some companies more than others, but in a logical, transparent way that is related to value. Jim Hagemann Snabe (SAP's co-CEO) explained software pricing best practice extremely well in this recent interview with Computerweekly.com's Warwick Ashford:
"Q: What is SAP doing to meet user demand for greater clarity on licensing and pricing?"