Why High Performance People Need High Performance Technology

David Johnson

My colleagues and I have spent the last four years studying the links between technology, human performance at work, customer experience, and the financial performance of companies. One fascinating insight we’ve learned is that what separates the highest performing people in their work from others is their ability to reliably focus their attention, bringing more of their cognitive resources to bear on their work each day than their colleagues do. It’s not easy in our distraction-rich, techno-charged world.

There’s plenty of research that proves that happy employees are more productive, but Drs. Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer made an important discovery in 2010 that turns conventional wisdom about where happiness at work comes from, upside down. The most powerful source of happiness at work isn’t money, free food or recognition, but rather getting things done; making progress every day toward work that we know is important. The more conducive our work environment is to staying focused, and the better we are at suppressing the sources of distraction within ourselves to get our most important work done, the happier we will be at work. And, the effect is even stronger for work that requires creativity and problem solving skills.

Unfortunately in our workforce technology research, technology distraction isn't on the list of things leaders are concerned about. It should be, because the most pernicious sources of distraction employees face are the ones that lie beyond their control - the distractions that originate from the technologies their employers require them to use, when there are no alternatives.

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Reality Check: Virtual Reality Isn’t A Real Market. Yet.

JP Gownder

You’re probably hearing a lot of endless, excessive and short-term virtual reality (VR) hype. For example, at SXSW 2016, a great deal of time and energy is being devoted to VR experiments, new media announcements, and demonstrations. 

The reality? The vast majority of consumers aren’t there yet, don’t know or care about VR, and won’t know or care in 2016 unless they are hardcore gamers. And only a few forward-looking enterprises – digital predators – are experimenting with VR in effective ways today.

At Forrester, we believe that VR will find its place in the pantheon of important computing platforms, eventually reshaping the way workers work, enterprises interact with customers, and consumers perform a variety of tasks. In other words, it's going to be a real market... at some point.

Too many clients think that VR is a platform that they simply must address in 2016. We think that’s premature. Even in the era of hyperadoption, VR must overcome key obstacles to gain mass market status:

  • Need for market education. Most consumers don’t have a deep understanding of VR, nor is there an easy venue for them to learn about it. Retailing represents a challenge: Buyers must experiment with a headset for many minutes to even get sense of what the technology does. In past technology revolutions (smartphones, tablets), the Apple Store played this role… but Apple isn’t in the VR game (yet).
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Software-Defined Data Center, coming ready or not!

Robert Stroud

As we embark in the era of “cloud first” being business as usual for operations, one of the acronyms flying aground the industry is SDDC or the Software Defined Data Center.  The term, very familiar to me since starting with Forrester less than six months ago, has become an increasing topic of conversation with Forrester clients and vendors alike. It is germane to my first Forrester report “Infrastructure as Code, The Missing Element In The I&O Agenda”, where I discuss the changing role of I&O pros from building and managing physical hardware to abstracting configurations as code. The natural extension of this is the SDDC.

 

We believe that the SDDC is an evolving architectural and operational philosophy rather that simply a product that you purchase. It is rooted in a series of fundamental architectural constructs built on modular standards-based infrastructure, virtualization of and at all layers, with complete orchestration and automation.

 

The Forrester definition of the SDDC is:

 

A SDDC is an integrated abstraction model that defines a complete data center by means of a layer of software that presents the resources of the data center as pools of virtual and physical resources, and allows them to be composed into arbitrary user-defined services.

 

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Infrastructure As Code, The Missing Element In The I&O Agenda

Robert Stroud

For many years, infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals have been dedicated to delivering services at lower costs and ever greater efficiency, but the business technology (BT) agenda requires innovation that delivers top-line growth.

 

The evolution and success of digital business models is leading I&O organizations to disrupt their traditional infrastructure models to pursue cloud strategies and new infrastructure architectures and mindsets that closely resemble cloud models.

 

Such a cloud-first strategy supports the business agenda for agility, rapid innovation, and delivery of solutions. This drives customer acquisition and retention and extends the focus beyond ad hoc projects to their complete technology stack. The transition to cloud-first mandates a transition for infrastructure delivery, management, and maintenance to support its delivery and consumption as a reusable software component. Such infrastructure can be virtual or physical and consumed as required, without lengthy build and deployment cycles.

 

Growing cloud maturity, the move of systems of record to the cloud (see my blog “Driving Systems of Records to the Cloud, your focus for 2016!)container growth, extensive automation, and availability of "infrastructure as code" change the roles within I&O, as far less traditional administration is needed. I&O must transition from investing in traditional administration to the design, selection, and management of the tooling it needs for composable infrastructure.

 

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Azure Stack Preview – Microsoft-s End-Game for On-Premise IT?

Richard Fichera

What’s Happening?

In 2014 I wrote about Microsoft and Dell’s joint Cloud Platform System offering, Microsoft’s initial foray into an “Azure-Like” experience in the enterprise data center. While not a complete or totally transparent Azure experience, it was a definite stake in the ground around Microsoft’s intentions to provide enterprise Azure with hybrid on-premise and public cloud (Azure) interoperability.

I got it wrong about other partners – as far as I know, Dell is the only hardware partner to offer Microsoft CPS – but it looks like my idiot-proof guess that CPS was a stepping stone toward a true on premise Azure was correct, with Microsoft today announcing its technology preview of Azure Stack, the first iteration of a true enterprise Azure offering with hybrid on-prem and public cloud interoperability.

Azure Stack is in some ways a parallel offering to the existing Windows Server/Systems Center and Azure Pack offering, and I believe it represents Microsoft’s long-term vision for enterprise IT, although Microsoft will do nothing to compromise the millions of legacy environments who want to incremental enhance their Windows environment. But for those looking to embrace a more complete cloud experience, Azure Stack is just what the doctor ordered – an Azure environment that can run in the enterprise that has seamless access to the immense Azure public cloud environment.

On the partner front, this time Microsoft will be introducing this as a pure software that can run on one or more standard x86 servers, no special integration required, although I’m sure there will be many bundled offerings of Azure Stack and integration services from partners.

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Announcing the Forrester Wave: Private Cloud Software Suites, Q1 2016

Lauren Nelson

Anyone familiar to Forrester knows the Wave drill: 1) we take the top vendors in a space, 2) do a massive data collection process, 3) evaluate each, and 4) share our findings. We've been evaluating this market since Q2 2011. For our 2016 evaluation, we used 40-criteria to evaluate the following vendors -- BMC, Cisco, Citrix, HPE, Huawei, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat, and VMware.

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Refinance And Refocus: Verizon, CenturyLink and Windstream Enter 2016 With Leaner Strategies

Sophia Vargas

While mergers and acquisitions have proliferated in the colocation industry - each positioned to increase geographic coverage or higher order capabilities – in the last 6 months, a new trend has emerged: strategic divestitures, most prominently observed in the telecommunications space. Following the complete cycle, in 2010 and 2011, Centurylink, Verizon and Windstream made strategic acquisitions to increase their data center services portfolios, acquiring Savvis, Terremark and Hosting Solutions respectively. 5 years later, each firm has announced its intent to sell of some or all of these assets. 

So, what went wrong?

While telcos had arguably given birth to colocation, the fact remains that network and carrier providers have had troubling competing against pure play colocation and data center service providers like Equinix and Digital Realty. In the past, telecom providers described colocation and data center services as a way to enrich existing customer contracts. In an interesting twist, these new intended divestitures have been presented as a way to refinance core assets, focus on what drives their business, and move away from standardized services with high overhead and lower margins.  While vendors may keep their skeletons in the closet, I had some speculation as to what might be fueling these decisions:

-          Buyers want carrier density and diversity.  Even though all of these facilities support multiple connections into other carriers, customers tend to evaluate facilities by connectivity options instead of looking for carriers to provide data center capacity on top of network services. Additionally, many geographically dispersed companies are considering blended IP solutions to improve latency and performance across the globe.

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Is Security FUD delaying your Public Cloud Adoption?

Robert Stroud

Public Cloud continues to emerge 

Whether it’s the growth of service providers transitioning to offer services, the emergence of Containers within Hyperconverged solutions, or the potential emergence of Google succeeding, the public cloud is set for a year of “hyper-growth”!  That said we have to sort through the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt), especially in security, to determine the appropriateness of public cloud for your organization.

 

Is the low hanging cloud fruit eaten?

The rush to cloud to date has clearly been within “systems of innovation,” applications geared mostly to customer engagement (so-called “systems of engagement”).  Enterprises leveraging public cloud are looking to get new innovative applications and services rapidly to market. These applications have been primarily driving customer acquisition and then fostering customer loyalty. These initiatives represent just the tip of the iceberg, the real opportunity is in moving “systems of record”, or everyday work to the public cloud.

One example is GE which is in the process of moving 9,000 apps to the public cloud.  As stated in the GE plan, the criteria is to select target applications based on the understanding of the risk associated.  This posture allows GE to develop their cloud skills based on their learning with “low risk” applications.

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Why 2016 Will Be The Year Of Digital Signage And Displays

JP Gownder

I've just published a major new report, The Digital Signage And Display Opportunity in 2016. I'll also be holding a webinar on this topic on Tuesday, January 26th, 1-2pm ET USA; it's entitled Screening the World: How Digital Signage, Displays, and Magic Mirrors Drive Business Value. Please register for my webinar here.

Since Forrester was founded in 1983, we've never had a coverage area on digital signage  ̶  until now. Why? In the age of the customer, digital signage and related display technologies are growing rapidly, because:

  • It's now a dynamic, disruptive, interesting technology. Once just a simple, unidirectional, broadcasting mechanism, digital signage now offers an array of new technology features like interactivity, facial recognition, and magic mirrors, and others that can drive valuable business scenarios across any vertical. Digital signage also interacts increasingly with mobility, as more installations allow customers to take what they see on the sign with them on their own smartphones.

  • Regulatory and business requirements drive adoption. The FDA ruled that all QSRs must provide nutritional information on all food and beverages by December 1, 2016. Digital signage solution providers report QSRs as one of the fastest-growing segments of the digital signage market as a result of this ruling to help package nutritional information with dynamic menus. 

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Driving Systems of Records to the Cloud, your focus for 2016!

Robert Stroud

Success in the Cloud is now a fact

You have all heard the success stories of Uber and Airbnb as they leverage technology to disrupt existing business norms in the taxi and hotel businesses. Digital business successes such as these are pressuring traditional enterprises to focus on differentiation in business models, customer intimacy and velocity as they look to not only preserve market share, but – more importantly – to grow it!  This is what Forrester calls the business technology (BT) agenda – technology investments that help your business win, serve, and retain customers.

Additionally, as an I&O professional you cannot ignore the investments, and success, with public cloud. For instance, public cloud providers like Amazon Web Services drive and deliver systems of innovation to create velocity both in new business ventures and traditional enterprises, especially in fueling mobility and web services.  The investments to date are supporting the ability of the Public Cloud to support and drive innovation. Additionally, these solutions now raise the possibility of the cloud’s suitability for the next phase, transition of systems of record.  This is one of the predictions in our Forrester “Predictions 2016: The Cloud Accelerates” which articulates 11 key developments for Cloud and what I&O professionals should do about them.

 

The “low hanging fruit” is gone – now it’s time to reach higher

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