Recently I published a business service management (BSM) case study on AMERICAN SYSTEMS. If you're interested in BSM, I highly recommend reading through this report. Although there are many known business alignment success stories, AMERICAN SYSTEMS takes business alignment a step further by aligning IT elements in a way that truly supports its business goals. AMERICAN SYSTEMS sought to improve the delivery and quality of its services to the business, something they were able to accomplish by introducing ITIL and COBIT standards and deploying integrated data center management software. In all, they were able to gain situational awareness, preempt and respond to issues more efficiently, and better protect information assets.
I've outlined a few key highlights from this report below:
First off, AMERICAN SYSTEMS is a government IT innovator that provides engineering, technical, and managed services to government customers. In order to meet the needs of their clients' constant demand for new and better services, they decided to shift from a reactive to a proactive way of managing and operating.
When they set out to make changes they outlined several goals:
Last week, as part of the debate on the 600B border security bill, Senator Charles E. Schumer from New York reportedly called the Indian offshore IT firms in general and Infosys in particular “chop shops” — a reference to the locations where criminals dismantle stolen cars for spare parts. As always, the Indian press has immediately reacted. But let’s not take the comment out of context; US Senator Charles Schumer calls Infosys 'chop shop' - India Business - Business - The Times of India. Senator Schumer is showing that in an election year, he is “standing up” for American jobs.
But that said, as we head into the midterm elections with 9.5% unemployment and very little job growth, there will be more comments like this unfortunately, and the Indian firms and NASSCOM need to be prepared with their own PR counterattack and story. Offshore customers would also be advised to take the same advice and have a clear PR plan ready to go at a moment’s notice in case they get raked over the coals as part of the rhetoric.
Anyone familiar with social technologies will remember the launch of Google Wave in the fall of 2009. It was a new kind of communication platform released into a beta test with 100,000 invitations sent out. Google’s strategy in limiting the rollout was designed not to overload the architecture (and perhaps to create a sense of scarcity, which it did very well). Google also wanted to develop the platform experientially based on user feedback. However, on Wednesday Google announced it was pulling the plug on Wave. Eric Schmidt tried to put a positive spin on it, describing Wave as a failed experiment that was also a learning experience. And there are certainly some lessons that can be applied to the rollout of enterprise social platforms.
Numbers Matter – Develop A Strategy For Rapid Adoption
I spoke today at SHARE’s biannual conference, giving a talk on emerging data center architectures, x86 servers, and internal clouds. SHARE is an organization which describes itself as “representing over 2,000 of IBM's top enterprise computing customers.” In other words, definitely a mainframe geekfest, as described by one attendee. I saw hundreds of people around my age (think waaay over 30), and was able to swap stories of my long-ago IBM mainframe programming experience (that’s what we called “Software Engineering” back when it was FORTRAN, COBOL, PL/1 and BAL. I was astounded to see that IMS was still a going thing, with sessions on the agenda, and in a show of hands, at least a third of the audience reported still running IMS.
Oh well, dinosaurs may survive in some odd corners of the world, and IMS workloads, while not exciting, are a necessary and familiar facet of legacy applications that have decades of stability and embedded culture behind them…
But wait! Look again at the IMS session right next door to my keynote. It was about connecting zLinux and IMS. Other sessions included more zLinux, WebSphere and other seemingly new-age topics. Again, my audience confirmed the sea-change in the mainframe world. Far more compelling than any claims by IBM reps was the audience reaction to a question about zLinux – more than half of them indicated that they currently run zLinux, a response which was much higher than I anticipated. Further discussions after the session with several zLinux users left me with some strong impressions:
Yesterday (August 5), Google announced that it was ceasing attempts to make Google Wave a viable standalone product. Considering the fanfare that the product received in the run-up to its general release (announced at Google I/O in May), it was no surprise the story burned across the blogosphere and the press. In following some of the Twitter traffic, what I found interesting was some of the low-level chuckling I saw from some competing vendors in the collaboration software space. Why? Well, before I get into that, let me make a couple of stipulations:
Google has a history of less-than-stellar product launches. In tossing Google Wave on the scrap heap (and parceling out some of its components as open-source software), the brainchild of Lars and Jens Rasmussen joins a growing number of failed products. Some of this can be attributed to mistakes that Google has made time and again in marketing and product design (my colleague Tom Grant pointed out some of this with Google Buzz). But you also have to factor in that because Google has such a high profile, every time a product under performs it draws a lot of attention, making each failure seem large. But this does not seem to slow the search engine giant's innovation engine, which brings me to my second point.
Yesterday we launched our Empowered microsite. On this site you can find lots of resources about our new book, including the blog, where to buy the book in bulk, how Forrester can help your empowered strategies, and a new HERO Project Effort-Value Evaluation tool.
First, some background. When Josh & I first began investigating HEROes (highly empowered and resourceful operatives, basically folks like you who make a difference using new technology), we knew that we needed a way to assess the effort that your projects required. And then we realized that you were tackling new technology solutions because you saw the value they could provide. So we needed to help you assess the value and the effort.
Thus was born the HERO Project Effort-Value Evaluation tool that we introduce in chapter 2. This tool includes five value questions and five effort questions that categorize your project into one of four classes and provides you some high-level guidance on what to watch out for. The online version of the tool also creates a nice email format with the results of your evaluation, which you can easily share with colleagues to get them involved in the project.
I think your best use of the tool is to sanity check your thinking on the project, get insight into the questions you need to answer before getting started, and get others on board with your project goals. If you're in business, it's a way to get IT involved. If you're in IT, it's a way to help your business colleagues scope a project and get your help with it.
We can also help you assess the project and provide additional insight into where you should dig deeper.
While taking in the latest US GDP report and its implications for the tech markets, I have been struck by a pattern of US business putting its money into technology instead of people. Part of the increased tech investment is replacement of old servers and PCs, but most investment has been in technologies to cut costs and improve efficiency. These purchases have been good news for the US tech market, which (as I predicted) is growing strongly. However, it is not so good for the overall economy. The lift to US economic growth from business IT investment is a positive, but the corporate reluctance to hire new employees is making consumers reluctant to spend. Moreover, much of the business investment in computer equipment is flowing overseas in the form of imports of these products, which is also hurting US GDP growth. So, the strong outlook for the tech market is paradoxically contributing to a less robust outlook for the US economy.
The US Department of Commerce released its preliminary report on US Gross Domestic Product in Q2 2010 last Friday, July 31, 2010, and today posted more detailed numbers on business investment in computer equipment and communications equipment. In addition to providing Q2 2010 data, there also were revisions in data for business investment in computer equipment, communications equipment, and software for 2007 to Q1 2010. So, let’s look at what the latest data is saying about the state of the US tech market.
As many readers know, I have a strong interest in understanding the practical realities of innovation and want to help companies define what that "buzzword" means -- what it is, who manages it, and why it's important (see my just-published report on the ecosystem of innovation services providers).
I believe Sourcing and Vendor Management (SVM) can and should play a critical role in the innovation process. However, my biggest disappointment when I speak to many technology vendors, IT professionals, and business users is when they tell me that they avoid working with SVM when purchasing (or in the cases of vendors, selling) a new technology. Fairly or unfairly, they see SVM's involvement as a bureaucratic stumbling block that will stifle their ability to move quickly or pick the technology vendor they want. For these people, SVM acts as a barrier, not an enabler, of innovation.
Rollin Ford has one of the toughest CIO jobs on the planet. He leads a global IT team in one of the world’s largest companies by revenue and employees, a company that has earned a reputation for leadership in supply chain that has allowed it to dominate its markets. Yet Wal-Mart is constantly under pressure to maintain its leadership position. In the US, Target has become a fierce competitor, while in the UK, Tesco may have overtaken Wal-Mart in supply-chain leadership, with Tesco's move into the US watched closely by Wal-Mart.
Earlier this year, Ford sat on a CIO panel discussing IT’s role in innovation. His thoughts on innovation also touched on strategy and alignment. He suggested that innovation starts with the customer, then leads into a business strategy, and then it gets enabled by technology. However, he acknowledges, “there are very few secrets out there.” Ford suggests that the only competitive advantage over time is the speed at which your organization can implement and leverage innovative ideas: “Your organization has to embrace change and new technologies, and that becomes your model. It’s about getting from A to B and doing it quicker than everybody else.”
A startup, who wishes to remain anonymous, is delivering an innovative new business service from an IaaS cloud and most of the time pays next to nothing to do this. This isn't a story about pennies per virtual server per hour - sure they take advantage of that- but more a nuance of cloud optimization any enterprise can follow: reverse capacity planning.