A recent Forrester snap-survey shows that 41% of IT decision-makers are seeing their relationships with business peers strengthen in response to economic conditions. And only 13% feel that the relationships have been harmed — being pushed back into more of a support role. These figures suggest that IT has the opportunity to play a lead role in bottom-line drivers — well beyond cost reduction. Smart IT leaders know that now is their chance to redefine IT’s value to the enterprise.
The bigger question is: What should IT leaders do to capitalize on this opportunity? We at Forrester have our ideas (hey, we’re a firm full of analysts so there’s no shortage of opinions here). Some that come to mind are:
A wander through history today with apologies to those looking for punchy bullets.
The Web turns 20 today. Frickin' amazing if you ask me. My 10-year old wonders out loud what we all did before the Internet (by which he means the browser-based world of Club Penguin, Google, Yahoo!, and YouTube). And for the life of me, I can't remember, either.
How did we collaborate? Well, I remember that I wrote lots of letters to friends to stay in touch and was thrilled when someone wrote back (it was too expensive to make long-distance phone calls). My 7th grade buddies and I also wrote away to Pennzoil and STP to ask for stickers to put on our notebooks. I also spent a lot of time in the library (any library anywhere) and in book stores looking for books, magazines, research papers, whatever.
And for sharing information? Copies, copies, copies. I was an early and big fan of the mimeograph machine, stinky beast though it was. We used to sneak into the Physics office in college to get extra blanks in case we messed up when making copies for a seminar. And you had to get there early on seminar day to command a slot in the mimeograph line. (It was a blessed breakthrough when the Xerox machine was installed -- and only a dime a copy!)
And for creating, editing, co-authoring? It was typewriters, paper, and purple pens, folks. And pen and ink for graphics. Ugly stuff, but amazingly it worked. It took days or weeks do a turnaround, though.
It was shocking to me anyway that we already have 34 million Americans working at least occasionally from home today. And that's with broadband to only 56% of US homes. But that's what the data say. And with our Consumer Technographics survey of 61,033 US and Canadian consumers, you can be confident that the numbers are accurate.
But it's even more surprising to run the numbers forward to 2016 and see how many Americans will work from home then: 63 million! We just published our US Telecommuting forecast that shows how an additional 29 million telecommuters will enter the remote workforce. What's going on?
First, broadband pipes to the home, work laptops, and secure VPNs bring the tools that most information workers need right to the kitchen table or bedroom office. And collaboration tools like instant messaging, Web conferencing, team sites, and desktop video conferencing make it ever-easier to stay in touch and contribute to the project.
Second, employees rightfully point out that they will save time in commuting and can get more done for their employers with that time. The benefits of work flexibility and leaving gas in the tank are also real.
I had an amazing client experience the other day. I searched long and hard for a client with flawless, perfect, 100% efficient and effective BI environment and applications. My criteria were tough and that's why it took me so long (I've been searching for as long as I've been in the BI business, almost 30 years). These applications had to be plug & play, involve little or no manual setup, be 100% automated, incorporate all relevant data and content, and allow all end users to self service every single BI requirement. Imagine my utter and absolute amazement when I finally stumbled on one.
The most remarkable part was that this was a very typical large enterprise. It grew over many years by multiple acquisitions, and as a result had many separate and disconnected front and back office applications, running on various different platforms and architectures. Its senior management suffered from a typical myopic attitude, mostly based on immediate gratification, caused by compensation structure that rewarded only immediate tangible results, and did not put significant weight and emphasis on long term goals and plans. Sounds familiar? If you haven't worked for one of these enterprises, the color of the sky in your world is probably purple.
Whether or not to sign or renew an Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft is a sticky question that many organizations face. For many companies out there, their spend on Microsoft licensing can be a significant portion of a company's IT budget, whether it be Enterprise Agreements or Select License agreements. Some of you may be directly responsible for the negotiation of the agreement, but many more of you work with your sourcing professionals who negotiate the agreements with Microsoft or resellers. The increasing complexity around Microsoft licensing decisions require more heads at the table. For Infrastructure and Operations pros, your voice is critical in the decision process. Certainly, your current state of Microsoft products and your future rollouts over the life of the agreement (and beyond) play a role, but there are other factors to consider. Some of the other key questions you’ll face include:
You've heard it once and you'll hear it again: You can't manage what you can't measure. This adage is relevant to any IT project — especially if you're getting serious about green IT. Forrester advises that before investing a single dollar, measure your green IT baseline — an annual estimate of the energy consumption, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and financial costs of operating your IT within and outside of the data center.
With that in mind, I would like to introduce Forrester's online green IT baseline calculator — an intuitive, online tool to help IT professionals calculate their green IT baseline.
The tool walks you through the key green IT baseline assumptions, including the number of IT assets, energy draw, and hours of up-time. For additional accuracy, you can customize your price and CO2 emissions per kilowatt. The tool will then automatically calculate your green IT baseline for your review. From there, you can email the results to yourself for future reference (and you can also help guide our research agenda).
Daily, we hear about more layoffs and downsizing. Along with this comes scrutiny of all internal budgets including learning and development. Companies are not lopping off learning as drastically as in previous recessions. Companies know that skilled employees make their business successful. But, at the same time, some budget cuts are inevitable. This is where eLearning comes in. Most organizations already have some eLearning but they are not using the full capabilities like the rapid eLearning tools or the virtual classroom from their Web conferencing provider, or the informal learning using collaboration tools like blogs, podcasts, and wikis.
Yes, classroom training will be cut since travel costs are a quick savings. But this doesn’t mean you can’t have effective learning . . . via a different approach! This is good time to take stock of what tools and features you have but haven’t used from your LMS or your online meeting providers and exploit these online synchronous and asynchronous forms of learning.
Recently, I’ve had a number of conversations with CIOs and senior IT staff on the pressures caused by business belt-tightening.
This, of course, has cascaded to IT in the form of the need to cut. Favorite targets: new investments, whether for business-sponsored projects or infrastructure, followed by ‘IT overhead’ – travel, training, IT improvement programs, followed by opportunistic cuts in the operations budget. For most I’ve talked with, they have their budget for 2009, but are still watching for the request for further cuts.
Now, the hard part has started for them. As one said “having less to spend means I need to work harder to make sure it’s spent wisely’. The problem isn’t just one of picking areas to spend on, but also in making sure that the business execs who are getting more involved in these decisions agree it’s being spent wisely.
I constructed this formula to help the conversation. It basically lays out what I call the IT’s ‘cost/capacity/demand’ challenge. Perceived business value is business management’s belief that they are getting good value from overall IT spend. It’s a function of aggregate business demand; not just projects but also tactical requests for application enhancements, or expectations for service quality - spread over available capacity; both staff, external services and infrastructure capacity - at a particular cost. The cost is IT spend, and when spend goes down, capacity goes down.
To date, IT pros have given very little attention to the “greening” of the network. Why? Three words: follow the money. According to recent Forrester research, the top motivation for pursing Green IT is to “reduce the energy-related costs of operating IT.” And when compared to other IT energy-drawing assets – like servers, data center cooling or PCs – the energy consumption of the network falls at the bottom of the list, meaning that the ROI to reduce energy use is less compelling.
But the launch of Cisco’s EnergyWise technology is likely to raise the “greening” status of the network. EnergyWise is a free software upgrade to Cisco’s entire line of Catalyst switching gear. The technology allows customers to monitor, manage and ultimately reduce energy consumption of anything “connected” to the network. As Cisco describes, EnergyWise will evolve over three phases, adding new functionality with each iteration:
In the first phase (February 2009), Network Control, Cisco EnergyWise will be supported on Catalyst switches and manage the energy consumption of IP devices such as phones, video surveillance cameras and wireless access points.
In the next phase (Summer 2009), IT Control, there will be expanded industry support of EnergyWise on devices such as personal computers (PCs), laptops and printers.