In his inaugural address, Barack Obama told us it's "..time to put aside childish things." A country that once showed greatness through youthful exuberance is being asked to show greatness through measured maturity. It's a moment of realization. And a time of challenge.
Microsoft has announced that it intends to lay off up to 5000 employees over the next 18 months. For those of us who have chosen this industry as our career home, layoffs are nothing new. We live in a cyclical world and nowhere is the cycle more evident than in the computer industry, where companies are constantly appearing out of nowhere, growing, shrinking, acquiring and being acquired.
But this is different. This is the latest sign of a sea change in our industry. The best and brightest minds in the industry saw this coming. Steve Jobs saw it when he turned Apple Computer into Apple and turned tech into "tech fashion." Larry Ellison saw it when he began to acquire players that would make Oracle an indispensable piece of corporate infrastructure and at the same time established a more predictable maintenance revenue stream to Oracle.
Many years ago as I started researching and analyzing the differences between major BI vendors, one criterion that I always used was whether these vendors ate their own dog food. In other words, did a vendor executive team use the same solutions for data collection, building metrics and dashboards to run their own companies that they also tried to sell to their clients? Those who did tended to score higher in my evaluations.
The same guiding principle is applicable to Forrester: you have to eat your own dog food in order to convince the clients to buy your products and services. Hence, our methodologies, such as Forrester Waves are completely open and transparent (thank you, Doug Henschen, for recognizing this in your recent blog), and we encourage our clients to challenge us on every point made in our Waves.
Business says it wants to be more involved with technology decision-making – taking a more leadership role especially when it comes to solutions with direct business benefit. And if business acts on this desire by working with IT the way we’ve wanted, this is all to the good. But we have to recognize that the more they care – for example if they are in product development or sales – the less likely they are going to want to work with us in the way we wanted – via steering committees, architecture review boards, and formalized project proposal processes. To them, it might appear easier to use SAAS offerings, or contract for or develop their own solutions – and they may have a point. Many of the efficiencies centralized IT can provide count less when using cloud-based services and newer, more end-user friendly tools. And if IT won’t support them because they are off the ‘approved technology’ ranch – well, they have alternatives.
At the beginning of this decade HP put forth a vision for the future data center that they have now fulfilled with both products and services offerings. Viewed by some at the time as a reaction to IBM Applications on Demand, HP coined Adaptive Infrastructure as its vision for a "composable" data center that let resources be quickly and easily assigned to business services based on their needs and for IT Ops to achieve and maintain high utilization of their data center resources.
As we enter a new year, business process & applications professionals who want to stay ahead of the pack need to know what to expect in 2009. Uncertain economic times lie ahead, and those professionals who know what is on the horizon will best weather the storm. Here are some key trends in key process and app areas that our analysts predict for 2009:
Financial Performance Management: Financial management professionals stand in the spotlight as the economic downturn continues and companies cope with weaker demand, price pressures, rising costs, and credit constraints. Technology and process strategies in 2009 will focus on improving planning, budgeting and forecasting, and cash and risk management while under the cloud of a very uncertain and unfavorable tax environment.
I spoke recently with Stephen Cho, the product manager for the new Google Apps Reseller Program. It's quite clear that Google has learned from its Postini reseller program, from partners like Appirio and Cap Gemini, and from Microsoft's Exchange Online reseller program.
First, the details:
Resellers own the customer. That means billing, first line support, the works.This is in distinct contrast to Microsoft's program for Exchange Online, where partners can sell and benefit from the business, but the Exchange customer would write checks to Redmond.
Resellers get 20% margin. That's in the US, anyway. That means $10/user/year. Period. Have you ever seen such price transparency (and low points) in any reseller program? I haven't. The entire term sheet would fit on a 1/3rd of a page.
Enterprises can't be their own reseller. They have to sell to at least someone other than themselves. Otherwise, this would be a simple way for a enterprise to whack 20% off the already low $50/user/year cost.
Google will provide technical admin support if requested. They won't provide end user support. though. That's one of the value-added services that a VAR can provide.
MacWorld held two important announcements for collaboration professionals, especially those interested in multidevice future:
1. Lotus announced that Notes 8.5 is shipping on Macintoshes, specifically on the new Leopard version of OS X. And its open source office productivity suite, Symphony will be available in a few months. Why does this matter? It matters because Lotus has a clear, vigorous multidevice strategy for the tools that make information workers productive. See Ed Brill's post for the IBM point of view.
2. Cisco announced that WebEx Meeting Center is available on iPhones. In fact, you can download it today to your iPhone. While I haven't yet had the chance to put it through its paces, this announcement signals Cisco's commitment to supporting multiple devices. I expect them to continue to roll unified communications apps on mobile phones of every flavor.
Here are some details:
The native iPhone application is freely available at the Apple AppStore or at iTunes.
It doesn't cost any more to attend a meeting over an iPhone. (But the hoster does have to be running the most current version of the WebEx software.)
a) a black box of spending b) a large bureaucracy which my function tries to work with c) a collection of applications and projects d) the help desk, and the relationship manager I work with e) a set of business services supporting my department or function
Now, which of these is the most beneficial perspective — the one that leads to your firm getting the most bang for your technology spending?
The correct answer is e) a set of business services supporting my department or function.
Why? – because the others eliminate any useful dialogue between you (the IT organization) and business execs (your customers). By viewing IT as a set of business services, such as a ‘product engineering service’ or a ‘field sales support service’, IT spending is mapped to functions which business cares about. When the IT organization is aligned around these services, redundant applications, overlapping projects, and organizational silos are more easily exposed, and the business-IT discussion is re-focused on service levels, costs and capabilities.
The first report tackles the issues of cost. It turns out that most companies have no idea what their fully loaded email costs are (and most low-ball the estimates). But once you add in staffing costs; server and desktop software licenses; upgrades and support fees; archiving and filtering costs; mobile support; hardware, storage, and power costs; and financing costs, email's a big ticket item, as much as $36 per user per month for a 15,000 person company offering BlackBerry support.
Some findings from this cost analysis:
A mobile-less information worker can cost $25 per user per month or a whopping $300 per user per year. In a 10,000-person company doing message archiving, that's an annual budget line item of $3 million.
When you compare the fully loaded costs of on-premise email to the cloud-based alternatives, the cloud service wins for many worker segments in companies (or divisions) of 15,000 users or less.
Today, Check Point Software Technologies, one of the old guard in the world of information security, announced they are purchasing Nokia's security appliance business. This is welcome, if late, news to Check Point's customers who use Nokia hardware. For many years, Nokia was the de facto hardware platform for deploying Check Point firewall software. Check Point/Nokia shops have been struggling for months to decide how to respond to Nokia's announcement that they would rid themselves of this troublesome (think non cell phone) business. For customers with sometimes hundreds of Nokia appliances, the fear of potentially unsupported hardware, or of a big firewall replacement project, were equally disturbing.
This new agreement spawns a couple of interesting questions: