Investment in clean energy in South Africa increased more in 2012 than in any other country, rising 206-fold to $5.5 billion, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. South Africa generates 85% of its electricity from coal, but chronic power shortages may have been the catalyst to look to solar (a low point in 2008 closed mines for five days). It’s making up for that gap with solar energy — and now it’s the only African nation among the top 20 solar markets, with installations comparable to South Korea, Thailand, and Israel.
The 360 days a year of sunshine certainly help, and it’s great to see the clean energy push work so well. But what is interesting to me is the amount of change in the overall economy the solar boom has caused. Wages are up, new jobs are available; hotels are adding more rooms, restaurants are changing menus to be more suitable for Europeans, and sales volumes are increasing. So I’m adding “changes to the energy infrastructure” to my list of events that require business agility. Changes in customer expectation, digital disruption, and shortening product life cycles get the most attention as change events that drive the need for companies to be agile, but as shown here change can rapidly come from infrastructure shifts. And South Africa is just starting its transformation. There are plans to invest in other forms of renewable energy: wind, concentrated and photovoltaic solar, landfill gas, and biomass power. And it looks like South African businesses are up to the challenge and are responding to the market. For more info, click here.
Living in an increasingly software-mediated world, consumers are more conscious of the value of their data and concerned over its protection and stewardship. At the same time, companies realize that integration of their internal data with external partners is what will elevate personalization, contextualization, predictive apps, and customer service to the level demanded in the age of the customer.
Forrester Senior Analyst Fatemeh Khatibloo urges firms to share some of their data with other firms to drive contextually appropriate knowledge about customers. The result: A more complete view of customers that each sharing firm would not have on their own. In this episode of TechnoPolitics hosted by Rowan Curran, Fatemeh describes the rewards of adaptive intelligence and how firms can use it to gain competitive advantage.
This week, IBM announced its new line of x86 servers, and included among the usual incremental product improvements is a performance game-changer called eXFlash. eXFlash is the first commercially available implantation of the MCS architecture announced last year by Diablo Technologies. The MCS architecture, and IBM’s eXFlash offering in particular, allows flash memory to be embedded on the system as close to the CPU as main memory, with latencies substantially lower than any other available flash options, offering better performance at a lower solution cost than other embedded flash solutions. Key aspects of the announcement include:
■ Flash DIMMs offer scalable high performance. Write latency (a critical metric) for IBM eXFlash will be in the 5 to 10 microsecond range, whereas best-of-breed competing mezzanine card and PCIe flash can only offer 15 to 20 microseconds (and external flash storage is slower still). Additionally, since the DIMMs are directly attached to the memory controller, flash I/O does not compete with other I/O on the system I/O hub and PCIe subsystem, improving overall system performance for heavily-loaded systems. Additional benefits include linear performance scalability as the number of DIMMs increase and optional built-in hardware mirroring of DIMM pairs.
■ eXFlash DIMMs are compatible with current software. Part of the magic of MCS flash is that it appears to the OS as a standard block-mode device, so all existing block-mode software will work, including applications, caching and tiering or general storage management software. For IBM users, compatibility with IBM’s storage management and FlashCache Storage Accelerator solutions is guaranteed. Other vendors will face zero to low effort in qualifying their solutions.
When it comes to data investment, data management is still asking the wrong questions and positioning the wrong value. The mantra of - It's About the Business - is still a hard lesson to learn. It translates into what I see as the 7 Deadly Sins of Data Management. Here are the are - not in any particular order - and an example:
Hubris: "Business value? Yeah, I know. Tell me something I don't know."
Blindness: "We do align to business needs. See, we are building a customer master for a 360 degree view of the customer."
Vanity: "How can I optimize cost and efficiency to manage and develop data solutions?"
Gluttony: "If I build this cool solutions the business is gonna love it!"
Alien: "We need to develop an in-memory system to virtualize data and insight that materializes through business services with our application systems...[blah, blah, blah]"
Begger: "If only we were able to implement a business glossary, all our consistency issues are solved!"
Educator: "If only the business understood! I need to better educate them!."
Google’s acquisition of Nest has stirred a lot of interest and reaction, some of it misguided. After talking to lots of reporters, here are ten quick thoughts on why Google bought Nest and what it means:
1. Google bought Nest for talent and strategic perspective, not products or data. Nest is too small and not scaling fast enough to justify the acquisition. This is about getting a great team that can teach Google about a new market realm, how the Internet of Things comes into the Connected Home.
2. The price is ridiculously high – unless Google gets a huge head start on Connected Home. Google’s acquisition of Waze for $1 billion and Nest for $3.2 billion look pricey – but they are strategic bets for the long run, and can’t easily be compared.
3. Building the next generation of Google Now is the goal, not snooping on our temps, room locations and smoke alarms. The Nest Labs team will help fuel development of the next generation of Google Now as it shifts more toward proactive assistance and advice.
4. Google’s aim is to get an early start on identifying and adding software interfaces (APIs) to Gmail/Google Drive that connect it to smart products. This is not about Android in the home or about a battle for the device OS – it’s a battle for whose cloud service platform will coordinate an individual’s smart products – and their digital self.
5. Identity, privacy, and security will also crucial in building out the Connected Home. Blanket privacy policies won’t be enough. Fatemeh Khatibloo’s research on contextual privacy shows the new way that privacy and identity will have to be managed.
With budgets tight and new agendas for social, mobile and cloud, for many, green initiatives are middle to low priority, often considered but secondary to price and convenience. So why should you care about green?
Customers today are increasingly interested in green alternatives. In the recent report Why Every Online Retailer Needs To Think Green, Sucharita Mulpuru uses Forrester’s consumer Technographics® data to reveal that more than 50% of today's US online adults can be categorized as green consumers, interested in buying green products or buying from brands that engage in green initiatives, such as supply chain transparency or carbon reporting. For online retailers, this represents a significant growth opportunity, as the majority of this consumer segment is not only classified as “high spending,” but also willing to spend more on green alternatives, and more likely to advocate for these products.
Many of us have spent the past 10 years focusing on business intelligence solutions in order to help our businesses make better fact-based decisions. In fact, BI has been among CIOs’ top 10 priorities for more than a decade. These solutions have, for the most part, been successful — and we continue to improve our BI capabilities as the demand for fact-based decision-making goes deeper, wider, and further into the business.
This whole time, we’ve also been aware of the significant amount of unstructured data that resides within our business, and the fact that we struggle to use it to make better decisions. To begin to get value from this data, we have made our organizations more collaborative and implemented tools and platforms to support that collaboration — with varying degrees of success.
The fact remains that there’s a huge amount of unstructured information and data that we do not get value from. However, a growing number of solutions are beginning to mine elements of this data: product information, software code, legal case files, medical literature, messaging data, and other unstructured business data.
I’ve recently been working with TrustSphere, which is a messaging intelligence provider. TrustSphere has an interesting solution that mines your messaging data to get real insights and information from the mountains of emails and messages that bounce into, out of, and around your organization every day. This is an interesting concept, and TrustSphere has developed a number of use cases for its solution. I’ll be presenting at a webinar hosted by TrustSphere on February 25— feel free to register here.
In the Age Of The Customer, executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are – customers. In an attempt to move the needle on customer service operations, in order to keep customers satisfied and loyal to your brand, these are the top trends that you should be paying attention to. You can get my full report here.
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Trend 1: Customers Demand Omnichannel Service
Customers want to use a breadth of communication channels for customer service. Across all demographics, voice is still the primary communication channel used, but is quickly followed by self-service channels, chat and email. In addition, channel usage rates are quickly changing. Customers want consistent service experiences across these channels. They also expect to be able to start an interaction in one channel and complete it in another. In 2014 and beyond, customer service professionals will work on better understanding the channel preference of their customer base, and guiding customers to the right channel based on their on the complexity and time-sensitivity of their inquiry.
Trend 2: Customer Service Will Adopt a Mobile-First Mindset
Application development and delivery (AD&D) professionals in retail must contend with established categories of packaged apps for store operations, eCommerce, supply chain, and loyalty.
But most packages hail from the pre-digital disruption era of mono-channel retail — store or eCommerce.
AD&D pros must chart an application upgrade and integration course that delivers omni-channel consumer experiences despite the incompatibility of the package data models with new use cases such as click-and-collect or buy online, return in store.
I've had a preview of the new FUJITSU Retail Solution Market Place and I'm excited because it helps retailers to orchestrate the applications and data they already have to meet consumers' cross-channel expectations.
While the consumerization of IT marches on, in its footsteps lurks the specter of unknown risk. We live in a world of zero-sum games of litigation where suffocating regulations are the norm, and failure to comply can draw millions in fines and lawsuits. Technology diversity multiplies the challenge of maintaining compliance — it’s no wonder so many IT shops take a one-size-fits-all approach to workforce computing and forbid bring-your-own-device (BYOD). But it doesn't have to be this way. It’s possible to craft an approach that brilliantly achieves the conflicting goals of embracing BYOD and consumerization while slashing the risks and costs at the same time. Our recent research on the topic comes from working with lawyers and auditors who specialize in technology law and compliance reveals that it can indeed be done.
You Still Have to Act But the Cure is Often Worse Than the Disease
The technology attorneys we interviewed for this research agree — once you learn that BYOD is happening in your organization, you have a legal obligation to do something about it, whether you have established industry guidance to draw on or not. The answer is seemingly simple: Take action to stamp out the risk. However, the answer isn't that straightforward because:
The more restrictions you put in place, the more incentive people will have to work around them and the more sophisticated and clandestine their efforts will be.
There is no data leak prevention tool for the human brain, so arguably the most valuable and sensitive information walks around on two legs and leaves the building every night. Accepting this is important for keeping a healthy perspective about information risk on employee-owned devices.