Whether you love it or hate it, Microsoft PowerPoint — aka slides, deck, .ppt or PPT (which I prefer) — is arguably the de facto medium for communicating complex information using charts, graphics and bullet points. And we’ve all been the victims and perpetrators of PPT eye charts and spaghetti diagrams … this of course excludes Forrester analysts (wink).
But this over reliance on PPT is a rising cause for concern — not just from the good people of BOTOX® warning us about the wrinkle damage caused by squinting to read small text — but from our armed forces. In a recent article in The New York Times, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, explained that PPT is “dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control.” He banned the presentations when securing the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005, and even likened them to an internal threat. The most infamous of these “spaghetti” diagrams depicts the complexity of American strategy in Afghanistan, which General McChrystal remarked, “When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war.”
Tech is back! Just as our in-house economist Andy Bartels predicted, the first quarter numbers from the big tech vendors confirm that IT investment is on a growth trajectory again. Check out the recent Q1 numbers from Intel and IBM, for example.
And these results represent more than just a rebound from the nasty 2008-09 recession. We forecast that the IT industry is entering a multi-year period of innovation and growth, when spending growth on technology goods and services will be a substantial multiple of overall GDP growth in the US and around the world. Check out Andy’s latest forecasts here.
For more on the opportunities and challenges that the next wave of tech industry growth will present to vendor strategists, join us in Las Vegas later this month at Forrester’s flagship event, the IT Forum. We will be presenting our latest research on Smart Computing, the Personal Cloud, and the approaches that vendor strategists must take to stay in front of “the next big thing.” Hope to see you there!
International orders grew 34% for HP . . . not this year but actually back in 1964 when non-US orders accounted for 23 percent of HP’s revenues. While the growth of non-US tech revenues is in the news today, HP’s international orders first exceeded domestic orders not recently but as far back as 1975.
In my research on market entry and market opportunity assessment (MOA), I recently spoke to strategists at HP about how they evaluate markets. As I was leaving the building, I stopped in to the HP museum and spent some time with the HP archivist. The highlights of the visit include seeing the first HP device built in the now famous Palo Alto garage and a calculator that brought back memories of my father in his overstuffed chair “figuring out how to pay for college.” I was not only impressed by the history embodied in that room but also with the value that HP places on recording and memorializing its “life” as an organization. Not to sound too sappy but it really brings the company and the industry to life.
I’ve spent the last few weeks reading through some documents on the history of HP’s entry into international markets. There are valuable lessons to be gleaned from their experiences. I’ve written about many of those lessons in reports and blog posts but thought I'd draw out a few of them here.
Forrester’s IT Forum 2010 in Las Vegas (May 26-28) and in Lisbon (June 9-11) is around the corner, and our team is looking forward to the opportunity to share our latest experiences, research insights, and strategies for maximizing the value of your technology and vendor investments.
The theme this year is "The Business Technology Transformation: Making It Real." As firms embark on the transformation from IT to BT, sourcing and vendor management professionals must assume new roles. They must help the business understand key technology trends and the trade-offs of new and legacy sourcing models. They play a crucial role in optimizing technology spend -- and in making sure their firms are taking advantage of newer models like SaaS and cloud services where it makes sense.
We’ve got a series of great sessions focused on sourcing and vendor management strategies for making BT work across major areas of technology investment in applications, infrastructure, services, and telco. The sessions include:
Forrester’s IT Forum 2010 is right around the corner, and much of Forrester’s research community is gearing up for a great event. Having spent a considerable amount of time working on the content, I’m really pleased with how the industry keynotes are taking shape. If the growing attendance figures are any indication, our theme of “making the business technology (BT) transformation a reality” seems to be resonating with CIOs. I think Forum attendees are going to enjoy the real-world examples provided by keynoters such as Stephen Gillett, SVP, CIO, and GM of Digital Ventures at Starbucks.
Stephen is one of the rising young stars in the IT industry, helping transform Starbucks’ digital business. At IT Forum, he will be talking about how to elevate the role of the traditional CIO to that of a digital business leader. We thought we’d give you all a chance to pose a question of Stephen about the changing role of the CIO. Please leave your questions for Stephen in the comments section, email them to us, or tweet them to us @Forrester. We’ll choose the best of those questions, ask Stephen, and post his answers here during the week of May 17.
I just had the chance to attend the "Front End of Innovation" (FEI) conference at the World Trade Center in Boston May 3-5. This event is sponsored by variety of innovation management suppliers, and included some great speakers like James Surowiecki (author of "The Wisdom of Crowds") and Sophie Vanderbroek (President of Xerox Innovation Group). Though I was only able to attend two of the three days at this event, I was able to leave with a solid impression on the innovation management marketplace.
A few of my notes from this event:
There is a unique innovation marketplace. With the sheer diversity of innovation discussions taking place at this event, I found it interesting to question whether the there is such thing as a common innovation management marketplace. I think there is. Everyone I spoke to at this event was either trying to unlock innovation potential within their own organization, or was trying to help their clients unlock their own innovation potential. In this regard, the marketplace for innovation is quite different with the boarder market of social collaboration tools and technologies -which I do not think has the same mission.
The market is broader than many realize. Despite the common objectives, the companies in this "market" bring a wide variety of different capabilities to the table. For example, at this event, I interacted with:
Companies like Spigit, Imaginatik, Idea8, and Kindling who have software tools focusing on idea management (but each with unique strengths)
NineSigma and Innocentive who are leveraging their "open innovation" heritage to bring new business models and a distinct offerings to clients
Innosight, which brings more management consulting offerings and thought leadership to lead its strategy consulting engagements
Seek, Futurethink, and Maddock Douglas which do not focus nearly as much on technology, but instead on methodologies, thought leadership, and workshops that can help clients clarify innovation objectives.
Returning home after IBM’s Impact user conference (Impact 2010). I’ve been to a lot of BPM conferences in my time, but never one this big. 6,000 miles (to Las Vegas) there and 6,000 miles home again to see 6,000 people going through a few of days of indoctrination and engage in a few meetings with important execs. From the point of view of a busy analyst, one has to wonder whether it was all worth it. But putting aside the sore back/neck and the lack of sleep, I think that, on reflection, it was worth the trip. I am sure other pundits will have already posted their own interpretations of the conference, so this is just one report to add to your perspective of Impact 2010.
6,000 people all gathered to hear the carefully scripted message. Well that is what it seemed like; a scripted story that was supposed to sound spontaneous. Even the Q&A was scripted on the teleprompter, which, quite apart from the wooden presentation style of one or two of the speakers, sort of took away from the central message.
There was a pretty important message there. A message that was being communicated to the faithful. And whether you like it or not, IBM has a lot, and I mean a lot, of faithful followers. I didn’t do a scientific assessment of the number of IBM badges versus non IBM badges, but even if half of the attendees were internal, there were plenty of customers there too. And those internal folks were also being recruited as emissaries and evangelists for the new mantra.
I've had many discussions with clients and others about CMDB (configuration management database), not surprising as I am coauthor of a book called The CMDB Imperative. These discussions almost always come back to questions about how this thing called a CMDB looks. How is it built? What tool(s) do I use? Which "database" is best? There are many more.
My first response is usually, "I hate the term CMDB, so let's try to kill it off in favor of the ITIL v3 notion of a CMS." If you pursue a CMS (configuration management system) as opposed to a CMDB, a few things become evident:
The CMS implies a distributed (federated) model consisting of many management data repositories (MDRs). Each of these MDRs hold data relevant to the scope of coverage for the tool that encompasses that MDR (e.g., a network discovery tool is a network domain MDR and an application dependency mapping tool is the key MDR for the application domain).
While a CMDB can certainly be formed in a similar federated fashion, the term "CMDB" has become tainted by the implication that it is a database. The natural assumption here is that this database is one big monolith that holds every detail being tracked. This is unwieldy at best and almost always destructive.
The CMS has a more complex structure, but because it enables a divide-and-conquer approach to the overall system, it is a more pragmatic approach. You can bite off each piece and gradually build out your CMS. A "big bang" is not needed and certainly not recommended.
Recently two large software companies separately complained that I was biased against them in the other one’s favour, which was sufficiently ironic to amuse my British sense of humour. “Biased” is one of the worst accusations you can throw at an analyst, because we strive to be scrupulously fair, and ensure that what we write and say is balanced, and evidence-based. So it started me thinking about fairness, and prejudice versus analysis.
I hear a lot of horror stories from clients about outrageous treatment by software sales reps, so one might think that software marketing execs would be shame-faced and contrite. But, actually, they love their companies and believe that analysts are merely stoking up resentment that wouldn’t exist without us, or that it’s the other guys giving their industry a bad name. “You only hear from the minority of unhappy customers,” they say. “Clients don’t ring you up when they are delighted with us.” This is true, but I speak with hundreds of clients every year, so I think I’d have found more evidence of a silent majority of delighted buyers, if it existed. The problem is that the good corporate intentions don't always translate into sales' behavior, when it's a question of spiff or rif.