Why Do IT Roles Fail?

Marc Cecere

I’ve been researching why IT roles fail (or at least struggle mightily and often futily). The roles that come up most often are the ones that are not directly building or maintaining systems. These include architecture, planning, vendor management, relationship management, PMO, and security. As I’ve collected this information, there are themes emerging to explain why they fail. These include:

  • Wrong skills. An architect was told to define the standards for data tools but lacked the skills to convince others they should care.
  • Inadequate capacity. Relationship managers at a midsized firm were sold as strategic partners to business leaders but were also required to run large apps groups that had recently suffered layoffs. They just didn’t have time for the strategic bit.
  • Lack of support. The leader of vendor management was supposed to provide advice and oversight on which vendors were selected, but the CIO did little to rein in other managers who previously had bought what they wanted from who they wanted.
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"Day One" For IBM's Social Business Strategy: It's Business In The Empowered Era

Ted Schadler

I just got back from Lotusphere after waiting out the sixth blizzard of this "snowmaggedon" Boston winter. The venerable Notes developer and administrator conference received an injection of business relevance on Monday when Lotus GM Alistair Rennie announced IBM's Social Business strategy. The conference motto was "Get Social. Do Business." In a private conversation, Rennie called Monday "day one" for social business.

The importance of Rennie's announcement was reinforced by the IBM brand presence and by presentations from IBM senior vice president Mike Rhodin and IBM senior vice president of marketing and communications, Jon Iwata. I believe that for IBM, social business is a strategy on par with its e-business strategy in importance and transformational potential. This will be clearer to everybody once IBM's advertising and product engines get cranking.

As for us, well, we're an easy sell on the strategy's transformational potential because what IBM calls social business, we call Empowered, and we wrote a book about it. Here are some charts to help make the connections clear.

The first picture is a diagram that captures the technology dynamic of the empowered era and indicates the organizational response that will be required. In a nutshell, companies will need to respond to the demands and expectations of empowered customers by:

  • Empowering employees to respond to the needs of empowered customers. (This is what our book Empowered is about.)
  • Listening to the market conversation using social listening platforms. (That's the subject of our book, Groundswell.)
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Explained: Java Is A Dead-End For Enterprise Application Development

Mike Gualtieri

Whoa. My post Java Is A Dead-End For Enterprise App Development received record-breaking readership and passionate comments. Thank you for reading, and thank you for your comments. Clearly it hit a nerve. Many of the comments legitimately called for an expansion of my arguments. Fair enough. I have done that in a 50 slide presentation that I delivered as a teleconference on January 24, 2011. Forrester is making this presentation available to download, free to anyone who registers at the site. Registration is free, so please feel free to register and download the presentation. I welcome your comments on the presentation here, at the original post, or on Twitter.

Click here for free registration and to download the Is Java A Dead-End For Enterprise App Development slides.

Sputnik Moments Drive Education Investment: Good News for Tech Vendors

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

“Winning the Future” was the theme of the recent US State of the Union address.  With the global economy and new education performance rankings as our “sputnik moment,” the president urged Congress to invest in the future – and in education.  As put it in the speech,

Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America’s success.  But if we want to win the future -– if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas -– then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.

So what exactly was the sputnik moment, or one of them?  In the recently released OECD Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings, the US didn’t do so well.  US students were average performers in reading (rank 14 in OECD) and science (rank 17) but well the below the OECD average in mathematics (rank 25).  The new top fliers in the PISA study are: Shanghai, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Finland, Canada, Japan and New Zealand.

According to the OECD report,

Education is the single most critical investment to raise the long-run growth potential of countries. In the global economy, the performance of education systems is the yardstick for success, particularly in light of the fundamental technological and demographic challenges that are re-shaping our economies.

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SAP 2010 - Predictions Review Of A Turnaround Year

Holger Kisker

SAP Has Managed A Turnaround After Léo Apotheker’s Departure

In February 2010, after Léo Apotheker resigned as CEO of SAP, I wrote a blog post with 10 predictions for the company for the remaining year. Although the new leadership mentioned again and again that this step would not have any influence on the company’s strategy, it was clear that further changes would follow, as it doesn’t make any sense to simply replace the CEO and leave everything else as is when problems were obviously growing bigger for the company.

I predicted that the SAP leadership change was just the starting point, the visible tip of an iceberg, with further changes to come. Today, one year later, I want to review these predictions and shed some light on 2010, which has become the “Turnaround Year For SAP.”

The 10 SAP Predictions For 2010 And Their Results (7 proved true / 3 proved wrong)

1. More SAP Board Changes Will Come — TRUE

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Best Practices For Influencing Business? Tips For Revitalizing IT Standards? Join Our Community Discussions!

Alex Cullen

Architects frequently tell us how much they value insights from practitioners like themselves. We at Forrester equally value these insights, as they are the foundation of our research. To serve you and us, we've launched The Forrester Community For Enterprise Architecture Professionals.

The community is open to all, whether you're a Forrester client or not. Check out the community, and you'll see conversations focused on the key challenges that you face – from influencing the thinking of your business execs to revitalizing an IT standards program to asking if application portfolio management (APM) is a responsibility of EA or the IT function supporting apps. Participating architects and Forrester analysts are sharing their perspectives – on these questions, plus other questions like the use of Wikis for architecture standards.

You can use these discussions to get better at your role – plus you'll be able to shape our research agenda by posting your questions or highlighting a topic you think demands further investigation. Our leading analysts – like Jeff Scott, Randy Heffner, Henry Peyret, Galen Schreck, and Gene Leganza – will also post the topics they are working on to get your input on them. 

Here's what you’ll find in The Forrester Community For Enterprise Architecture Professionals:

  • A simple platform on which you can pose your questions and get advice from peers who face the same business challenges.
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Customer service myths, half-truths and nonsense

Kate Leggett

It is often said that managing a call center is more of an art than a science. Some customer service managers use standard operational metrics to manage their business to – like average hold times (AHT), first contact closure rate (FCR) agent, agent productivity numbers, escalation rates, etc. Others apply established customer service best practices to their organizations without understanding the intent behind these best practices. Yet other companies adopt the current trends without an analysis of their strategic importance.

Here is my list of “half truths and total nonsense” about management philosophies and technologies in customer service. Which ones resonate with you? Which ones do you believe are not myths and work for you?

Kate’s List of Common Services and Support Myths

  • Social customer service myths
    • Social CRM is giving customers control
    • Twitter works for customer service
    • I don’t need to interface my social processes with my traditional customer service processes
    • If I have a forum, I don’t need a knowledgebase
  •  Multichannel customer service myths
    • Established best practice apply to my call center
    • I am special - Established best practices do not apply to my call center
    • Front-line support agents don’t know anything
    • When you measure operational activities, you measure business outcomes
    • Support can act independently of brand –Support can have a different brand identity than the rest of the company
    • Email doesn’t work as a support medium
    • Chat won’t work for tech support
    • I dont need proactive chat
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Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Inclusion... and Education helps get there from Davos 2011

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

If you haven’t read George’s notes from Davos 2011 yet, definitely take a look.  I too have been thinking about the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos  – but not attending… maybe someday…

Education has been top of mind for me lately with my upcoming report scheduled to launch this week (stay tuned).  So, as I looked through the notes and quotes from the meeting I was heartened to see that education was top of mind there as well.  Education and education reform certainly peppered the program, part of sessions on everything from new realities and inclusive growth, to women and society, national innovation, the net generation, cancer, regional development, cloud economics , entrepreneurship, competitiveness, and the ageing workforce.

Some of the questions addressed – and to which education and investment in education in particular was often a solution – included:

  • If structural change is a new reality, then what major adjustments should leaders prepare for, and how?
  • How can educating and empowering girls and women impact the acute challenges facing the world?
  • How are national innovation systems created and maintained?
  • In the digital era, how is the "net generation" workforce reshaping the future of business?
  • What innovations, if scaled or replicated, would enable the Middle East to achieve its geopolitical, economic and social aspirations for the future?
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New Insights On Sourcing And Managing SAP Service Providers

Liz Herbert

Thinking about setting up a relationship or renegotiating a contract with an SAP implementation services provider? We have some exciting new insights on these third-party firms pulled straight from their customers' mouths.  We collected some great data when we surveyed 186 SAP customers using 19 of the leading SI firms for their implementation projects and saw some interesting trends surface. 

The report, Insights Into Real-World SAP Projects, highlights key areas that sourcing professionals should focus on when selecting a provider: pricing model offerings, SI industry expertise, and ability to measure business benefits.

Pricing Model Choices Correlate With Project Cost

We will be presenting more of these findings in the Insights Into Real-World SAP Projects Teleconference we are holding on March 11 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time.  You can use the data from these customer interviews and the accompanying  Forrester Wave™ report on SAP SIs, which is due out at the end of February, as leverage for your strategic negotiations with these providers in 2011. 

Click here to register for the teleconference now.

Which Next Subject Would Be Great In The EA And IT Governance Series Of Docs?

Henry Peyret

Last week I finally published the third document in the collection "EA Involvement In IT Governance": "Integrate EA With ITIL Service Portfolio Management." It follows the two previous documents "Integrate EA With Project Portfolio Management Governance" and "Integrate Enterprise Architecture With Application Portfolio Governance."

I say "finally" because most of the ideas for these documents were collected during the research Diego Lo Giudice and I did for Forrester's EA Forum 2010, nearly one year ago. If the ideas are quick to come, they sometimes take a long time to be realized in a document! I apologize to the customers who were waiting for the final document.

The goal of this collection of documents is to demonstrate typical EA involvement in IT governances — an area that is usually more or less "beyond" EA's scope. We also said in the EA Forum presentation that these potential involvements are not mandatory and highly depend on your particular EA objectives. EA involvement in IT governance should remain in line with the recommendation we made in Forrester report "Avoid The EA Governance Versus Agility Trap" and in which we still continue to believe: Governance is a lever to obtain nonshared (or even diverging) objectives. When objectives are shared, then governance is not required, and the approach should remain agile.

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