Among Large Tech Vendors, Microsoft Does The Worst Job Of Reporting Its Revenues

Andrew Bartels

To keep track of what’s happening to the tech market, I collect quarterly data on the revenues from more than 70 large IT vendors. Accordingly, I spend an unhealthy amount of time looking at their quarterly earnings releases, analyst presentations, and 10-Q and 10-K reports — making me something of a connoisseur of vendor earnings releases, at least from the perspective of revenues and their breakdown by products and geographies.

From that perspective, Microsoft wins the prize for the most opaque earnings release. First, 2003 was the last time it provided its revenues by geography and its revenues from sales to original equipment manufacturers. Since then, there’s been no data or even guidance on its geographic revenues. Second, it does not break out sales to consumers from sales to business and government, although it does report the growth rates in its sales of Office and its other information worker products to consumers or to enterprises. Third, about every year or so, it re-juggles its product line revenues, shifting product revenues into or out of different product lines. While it generally restates the revenues for the prior eight quarters to bring them into line with its new business unit categories, it doesn’t provide guidance or data on prior years, making comparisons with past years very challenging.

I considered ranking other vendors on the transparency of their earnings releases. But I decided it would be more useful to describe the kind of data that I as a technology analyst — and other vendor strategists analyzing the tech market — would like to get from vendor earnings releases.

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Checking In On Linux – Latest Linux Releases Show Continued Progress

Richard Fichera

I’ve recently had the opportunity to talk with a small sample of SLES 11 and RH 6 Linux users, all developing their own applications. All were long-time Linux users, and two of them, one in travel services and one in financial services, had applications that can be described as both large and mission-critical.

The overall message is encouraging for Linux advocates, both the calm rational type as well as those who approach it with near-religious fervor. The latest releases from SUSE and Red Hat, both based on the 2.6.32 Linux kernel, show significant improvements in scalability and modest improvements in iso-configuration performance. One user reported that an application that previously had maxed out at 24 cores with SLES 10 was now nearing production certification with 48 cores under SLES 11. Performance scalability was reported as “not linear, but worth doing the upgrade.”

Overall memory scalability under Linux is still a question mark, since the widely available x86 platforms do not exceed 3 TB of memory, but initial reports from a user familiar with HP’s DL 980 verify that the new Linux Kernel can reliably manage at least 2TB of RAM under heavy load.

File system options continue to expand as well. The older Linux FS standard, ETX4, which can scale to “only” 16 TB, has been joined by additional options such as XFS (contributed by SGI), which has been implemented in several installations with file systems in excess of 100 TB, relieving a limitation that may have been more psychological than practical for most users.

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Where Do You Go From Here, CRM Technology?

Kate Leggett

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 third and last part of my answers, as well as a link to the published article.

Question: It has long been suggested that ‘CRM’ is becoming increasingly opaque, with some ‘CRM vendors’ sharing few common features. Lithium, for instance, is categorized by Gartner as a ‘Social CRM’ player yet has no sales or marketing functionality at all. Has CRM become too much of a ‘catch-all’ category in your opinion, and what are the dangers of this?

Answer: I think back to the situation that happened a decade ago when the new “e” (electronic) channels became available as customer service channels. There was now customer service, and eService. Fast-forward 10 years. Electronic channels are now just another way of servicing our customers. What matters more is for a company to provide a consistency of experience across the communication channels in order to reinforce and preserve the brand.

I see this happening with social CRM. Social is just another way of selling, marketing, and servicing your customers. The vendors in the CRM landscape will change, with a tremendous amount of consolidation in the vendors landscape. The communication channels will change, but the fundamental value proposition of a CRM system will remain intact.

Question: How do you envisage CRM will continue to evolve as a technology and category?

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Key Findings From Forrester's Latest Enterprise BI Maturity Survey (2010 Update)

Boris Evelson

Here's what the latest numbers from Forrester's 2010 enterprise BI maturity survey show.

  • Organizations that use BI show increased (+5.7% from 2009) levels of maturity. However, most of the respondents still rate themselves below average on Forrester's BI maturity scale: 2.75 (on a scale of 1-5) for overall maturity, with the following details:
    • 3.25 for governance and ownership.
    • 2.81 for organizational structures.
    • 2.65 for BI processes.
    • 2.82 for data and technology.
    • 2.34 for measurement and adjustment.
    • 2.07 for innovation.
  • A few aspects of BI, mainly platforms and tools, mature, while . . .
  • . . . most aspects of BI such as processes, architectures, and measurements of BI efficiency and effectiveness lag behind.
  • And (drum roll, please) the most interesting, and, I am sure, controversial finding is that Forrester’s predicted trend that Agile BI and BI self-service will trump centralization and consolidation has been confirmed. Here's the proof:
    • In 2010, 59% of the respondents said that they do not have a centralized BI competency solutions center, versus . . .
    •  . . . only 36% in 2009
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Finding the right vendor partner for your IT organization: HCL

Tim Sheedy

Over the past few months I have had the opportunity to spend some quality time with a number of IT vendors such as HCL, Fujitsu, Oracle, and Dell. This has been some time coming, but over the next few weeks I am taking the opportunity to summarize the overall perceptions I have received from these vendors when evaluating them from a CIO perspective - i.e. as a potential partner for your IT organization and your business. Today I'll tackle HCL, and will move onto the other vendors throughout January. The goal of these blog posts is to give an overall perception of the vendors - something that we don't particularly capture so well in a Wave or vendor analysis where we are focusing on one particular capability of a large vendor. I am trying to capture the "culture" or "style" of the vendor, as this is something that is hard to include in a Forrester Wave, but it IS something that makes a significant difference to the partnership in the longer term.

HCL. A company that is comfortable in its own skin.

That is the way I would summarize HCL. They are a company that know where they have come from and know where they are now, and have a pretty good idea that in five years time they will be nothing like they were or are. They don't know what that future is, but they know they have to put the capabilities in place to ensure the organization can effectively morph into that future form in order to achieve longer term success. Employees First, Customers Second is the first step on this pathway, but it is only that. It will not shape the company that HCL is tomorrow, but it will probably provide the groundwork and internal culture to allow the smoother change.

Confident. Capable.

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5 Tech Vendors' Different Views On The IT-for-Sustainability Opportunity

Chris Mines
5 Tech Vendors' Different Views on the 'IT-for-Green' Opportunity

My analyst duties took me to a number of industry and tech-vendor events this fall; in fact, looking back at my calendar, I have been out of my home area in Boston for nine of the last 12 weeks. The upside of all that time in airplane seats is that I get to meet and interact with leaders across the technology industry, including supplier companies, large and small, and their customers and partners.

In the first 10 days of December I spent time with five important technology suppliers, each of which has very different views on the opportunity in the broad arena of IT-for-sustainability (i.e., how information technology products and services help corporations achieve their sustainability goals).

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Text Analytics: A Key Trend To Watch Over The Next Three Years

Leslie Owens

My colleague Gene Leganza, who serves Enterprise Architecture Professionals, compiled the top 15 technology trends EA should watch over the next three years. He highlights technologies that are new or changing, have the potential for significant impact, and require an IT-led strategy to exploit.

He highlights text analytics technology in the report because understanding unstructured data plays a critical part in daily operations. Enterprises have too much content to review and annotate manually. Text analytics products from vendors like Temis and SAS mine, interpret, and add structure to information to reveal hidden patterns and relationships.  In my 2009 overview of text analytics, I cite the primary use cases for these tools: voice of the customer, competitive intelligence, operations improvements, and compliance and law enforcement.

But there are a few other sweet spots for text analytics tools in the enterprise:

Analytics and search: Analytics tools surface and visualize patterns; search tools return discrete results to match an expressed need. But these disciplines are blending. People want to drill in to high-level analysis to find the specific thing customers buzz about.  And many searchers don’t know how to articulate their need as a query and are looking for the big picture on a topic or trend. Forrester expects these solutions to come together, as search tools mainstream semantic features like entity extraction out of the box, and analytics vendors introduce new ways to investigate relationships and data output.  

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Benchmark Your Job Responsibilities Against Peers

JP Gownder

Consumer product strategists hold a wide variety of job titles: product manager, product development manager, services manager, or a variation of general manager, vice president, or even, sometimes, CEO or other C-level title. Despite these varying titles, many of you share a great number of job responsibilities with one another.

We recently fielded our Q4 Global Consumer Product Strategy Research Panel Online Survey to 256 consumer product strategy professionals from a wide variety of industries. Why do this? One reason was to better understand the job responsibilities that you, in your role, take on every day. But the other reason was to help you succeed: By benchmarking yourself against peers, you can identify new job responsibilities for growth, improve your effectiveness, and ultimately advance your career.

What did we find out? The bottom line is that consumer product strategy jobs are pretty tough. We found a wide range of skills are required to do the job well, since consumer product strategists are expected to:

  • Drive innovation. Consumer product strategists are front-and-center in driving innovation, which ideally suffuses the entire product life cycle. Being innovative is a tall task, but all of you are expected to be leaders here.
     
  • Think strategically... You've got to have a strategic view of your markets, identifying new concepts and business models and taking a long-term view of tomorrow's products.
     
  • ...but execute as a business person. While thinking strategically, you generally have to execute tactically as well. You're business unit owners. At the senior-most levels, you hold the P&L for the product or portfolio of products.
     
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Apply A “Startup” Mentality To Your IT Infrastructure And Operations

Doug Washburn

Cash-starved. Fast-paced. Understaffed. Late nights. T-shirts. Jeans.

These descriptors are just as relevant to emerging tech startups as they are to the typical enterprise IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) department. And to improve customer focus and develop new skills, I&O professionals should apply a “startup” mentality.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend time with Locately, a four-person Boston-based startup putting a unique spin on customer insights and analytics: Location. By having consumers opt-in to Locately’s mobile application, media companies and brands can understand how their customers spend their time and where they go. Layered with other contextual information – such as purchases, time, and property identifiers (e.g. store names, train stops) – marketers and strategists can drive revenues and awareness, for example, by optimizing their marketing and advertising tactics or retail store placement.

The purpose of my visit to Locately was not to write this blog post, at least not initially. It was to give the team of five Research Associates that I manage exposure to a different type of technology organization than they usually have access to – the emerging tech startup. Throughout our discussion with Locately, it struck me that I&O organizations share a number of similarities with startups. In particular, here are two entrepreneurial characteristics that I&O professionals should embody in their own organizations:

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The Global Software Market In Transformation: Findings From The Forrsights Software Survey, Q4 2010

Holger Kisker

Two months ago, we announced our upcoming Forrester Forrsights Software Survey, Q4 2010. Now the data is back from more than 2,400 respondents in North America and Europe and provides us with deep and sometimes surprising insights into the software market dynamics of today and the next 24 months.

We’d like to give you a sneak preview of interesting results around some of the most important trends in the software market: cloud computing integrated information technology, business intelligence, mobile strategy, and overall software budgets and buying preferences.

Companies Start To Invest More Into Innovation In 2011

After the recent recession, companies are starting to invest more in 2011, with 12% and 22% of companies planning to increase their software budgets by more than 10% or between 5% and 10%, respectively. At the same time, companies will invest a significant part of the additional budget into new solutions. While 50% of the total software budgets are still going into software operations and maintenance (Figure 1), this number has significantly dropped from 55% in 2010; spending on new software licenses will accordingly increase from 23% to 26% and custom-development budgets from 23% to 24% in 2011.

Cloud Computing Is Getting Serious

In this year’s survey, we have taken a much deeper look into companies’ strategies and plans around cloud computing besides simple adoption numbers. We have tested to what extent cloud computing makes its way from complementary services into business critical processes, replacing core applications and moving sensitive data into public clouds.

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