Trying to guess what will be HOT at RSA is always a fun game.2009 promises to be different than most years as pure technology may not be the focus of this year’s show.Attendance may be lighter and conspicuous consumption of new gadgets may no longer be in vogue.We’ll know more come Tuesday, but in the meantime, here’s our guess as to what the big topics may be:
The value of Sun’s Solaris installed base proved its worth once again this week as Oracle found it too tempting to pass up and pulled the trigger trumping IBM. A large percent of Oracle’s most profitable customers run their Oracle wares on Solaris and for them to fall further into the hands of the mortal enemy alone justifies the purchase. Sure, Oracle gains complimentary IP in Java, MySQL, and a very competent services organization but most of the rest is likely to end up off Oracle’s books.
It’s not every day that we read about a software maker buying a hardware company and that in itself is perhaps the biggest sign of things to come from this acquisition. Oracle, like Microsoft, enjoys healthy profit margins from a software-only business model. While Oracle is far more consulting-heavy than its Redmond rival, it profits rise above IBM, HP, Cisco and others because of its low cost of goods. Sun’s server and storage businesses don’t fit with this model and certainly don’t justify the further investment in the SPARC microprocessor that will be needed to keep this business healthy. So despite Oracle’s statement that, “Oracle plans to engineer and deliver an integrated system -- applications to disk -- where all the pieces fit and work together, so customers do not have to do it themselves,” expect Oracle to shop these units tout suite. Dell and HP are likely to bid for these businesses and do a strategic alignment on product collaboration like HP’s last year on the Oracle Data Warehouse.
In my recent BI Belt Tightening For Tough Economic Times document I explored a few low-cost alternatives to traditional, mainstream, and typically relatively expensive Business Intelligence (BI) tools. While some of these alternatives indeed were a fraction of a cost of a characteristic large enterprise BI software license, there were even fewer truly zero cost options. But there were some. For example, you can:
Leverage and use no-cost bundled BI software already in-house.Small departments and workgroups may be able to leverage BI software that comes bundled at no additional cost with BI appliances, database management systems (DBMSes), and application licenses. You can consider using these few free licenses from Actuate, IBM Cognos, Information Builders, Jaspersoft, Microsoft, MicroStrategy, Panorama, Pentaho, and SAP Business Objects for additional functions such as testing, QA, and prototyping. While these few free licenses are just a drop in the bucket in a typical large enterprise BI license requirements, do look around and don’t waste money on BI products you may already have.
From my inquiries with customer service professionals, I wanted to get a generalized view of where companies are with respect to implementing the very best of customer service initiatives. It's become pretty clear that most are stuggling with outdated technology, systems that are not integrated together, outdated or no knowledge management technology systems, they haven't deployed proactive chat or ventured down the social media path and are unsure of how to document how much these factors are increasing operational costs, reducing customer lifetime value and lowering sales, revenue and profit margins-- or how to make the business case to show that if these types of things were changed-- that the return would be positive and in many cases, very large.
On the flip side, their organizations are expecting them to provide great customer experience despite these huge handicaps.
Microsoft today announced the public beta of Exchange 2010. This product is a natural extension and improvement over Exchange 2007 (and anybody on Exchange 2003 should really be looking at it), but it also introduces at least one important new capability: email archiving.
But I'll let my colleagues explain that in more detail. I want to focus today on one aspect of Exchange 2010 that should matter to information and knowledge management professionals at large firms: saving money by moving occasional users to the cloud.
Microsoft's Software + Service strategy has rapidly matured and is native to Exchange 2010. This architecture of a single environment that spans on-premise and cloud-based gives large firms an opportunity to leave some mailboxes on-premise and host others in the cloud to save money without incurring admin hassles.
Exchange 2010 is the first product that Microsoft has engineered to run as well in the cloud as on-premise. That means it will be easier to split your domain and run a single managed environment (meaning one admin console, one archiving management tool set, one legal hold implementation, one message filtering solution) across an on-premise and cloud-based implementation.
Sigh. I guess it was to be expected, but the Apple opinionsphere has been overstating the case for iPhone. Based on the careful research that we did, we do think that iPhone is ready for the enterprise to consider. But that doesn't mean other mobile devices aren't more enterprise-worthy.
And if you you think iPhone case studies are falling out of the trees like acorns in autumn, trust me -- they'renot. It was hard to find three companies willing to talk opening about their iPhone experiences. In fact, it took me almost six months to find those brave souls.
So, let's be clear:
BlackBerry is the dominant mobile device for the enterprise in the US and will be for the foreseeable future. In fact, I wrote about BlackBerry's mobile collaboration platformlast fall. BlackBerry is a great platform for mobile collaboration because of its security, network, manageability, form factor choice, global carrier support, ISV experience, and superior messaging capabilities.
We hear from many Forrester clients that they would have to pry BlackBerrys out of the "cold dead fingers" of their employees. That says something about how important that device is to productivity.
In covering Customer Service, I have divided the topic into three aspects:
“Get the Basics Right”
“Understand the Business of Customer Service"
“Plan for the Future of Customer Service.”
I just published a document, “How To Win Funding For Your Customer Service Project." Forrester suggests to standardize the process and template for a business case. We use the discipline Total Economic Impact™ to calculate the ROI for an initiative. I’m hearing from a lot of my clients that in order to get their project approved, they need to justify it.
Today I had an inquiry call from a vendor that wanted to know how best to standardize the business justification process. They are finding that they can’t even get a meeting, or if they do, then one of the first sales objections of their clients is, “What is the ROI of this solution?"
If you had asked me three years ago whether the mobile industry would become a free-for-all of innovation and opportunity, I would have been forced to sigh and say, "can't see how -- the carriers don't seem interested in unlocking that potential."
I would certainly have been wrong as Apple has so impressively shown with its iPhone strategy (with first AT&T's and now 100s of carrier's support).
After 21 months in market, it's quite clear that Apple is redefining its third industry: first the computer industry, next the music industry, and now the mobile industry. With 25,000 applications (yes, mostly consumer applications today) available on Apple's private store and a reported 800,000,000 downloads, the iPhone has become a new platform for innovation.
At least one major enterprise vendor -- Cisco -- now treats the iPhone ahead of BlackBerry devices as a tier one device, at least as demonstrated by its WebEx and Cisco Call Manager applications.
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