Driving Technologies That Will Delight Customers

JP Gownder

Businesses that thrive and grow in the age of the customer are obsessed with customer delight: the most successful companies are reinventing themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers. This business reality creates new imperatives for everyone inside an organization, and infrastructure & operations (I&O) professionals are not immune. So the question becomes, how does I&O participate in the transformation of the enterprise toward customer obsession?

The answer to this question is important, because technology's role in business is rapidly changing -- from a world in which Information Technology (IT) enabled a company to function more efficiently, to a world of Business Technology (BT), which we define as technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers. Yet customer-facing technologies aren't always (or even often) the traditional role of I&O. So how can I&O participate?

How about starting with a simple dictum? Spend more time on technologies that will inspire and delight customers, either directly or indirectly. To start this journey, I'd like you to watch this short video of how a digital billboard has gone viral:

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Vodafone Demonstrates Its Determination To Boost Its Enterprise Activities At Its Global Analyst Event

Katyayan Gupta

With Dan Bieler, Henry Dewing, Henning Dransfeld, Brownlee Thomas, and Michele Pelino

Vodafone hosted its annual global analyst event in London recently, and it was a good event. Vodafone’s CEO Vittorio Colao kicked it off with a passionate endorsement of Vodafone’s enterprise ambitions. But will Vodafone’s market position as a leading mobile telco give it a tangible advantage in the broader enterprise global telecoms marketplace? We believe there is a good chance it will because:

  • Vodafone’s integrated pitch is credible. Vodafone comes up in nearly every conversation with Forrester enterprise clients that want to consolidate vendors for multicountry or “global” mobility services. Increasingly, our clients also are asking about Vodafone’s wired services. And those based in the UK and Germany are the most interested in learning about what’s available and what’s coming with respect to fixed-mobile bundling. Vodafone made a big play on fixed-mobile integration, most notably with the acquisitions of Cable & Wireless and Kabel Deutschland. Its network now covers 140 countries, 28 of which support MPLS networks for mobile backhaul. Vodafone also has big plans for refreshing and expanding its international IP backbone network to more than 60 countries.
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How Tablets Can Revolutionize The Sales Process

JP Gownder

Over the past few years, tablets have reshaped computing for many enterprise workforces. But tablets aren't general-issue devices for all employees; instead, companies equip specific groups of employees with tablets -- with particular business goals in mind. High on the list of tablet-equipped roles are salespeople: According to IT decision-makers, sales professionals are the second most likely group of employees to receive company-owned tablets as standard-issue devices.

In a new report, "Empower Salespeople With Tablets To Drive Value For Your Business," we offer infrastructure & operations professionals some guidelines about how to deploy tablets to the salesforce at their companies. It's a different exercise than with traditional PC deployments: I&O professionals must work with business leaders, sales management, sales enablement professionals, and with sales reps themselves throughout the process. To reap the full rewards of tablets, the sales process itself must be reengineered, sales reps must be trained, and customer-facing software and materials must be developed. I&O can't do all of this alone, and must instead build new, deeper relationships with business partners.

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Your Input Required - Service Engineering Role!!

Eveline Oehrlich

Engaging All Service Engineering Folks: Help Forrester Define “Service Engineering” As A New Role Within Infrastructure & Operations (Or Beyond)! A variety of technology trends such as mobility and clouds are empowering consumers and connects employees who all are interacting and collaborating through apps and devices which are changing the way business is conducted. In response, organizations are forced to accelerate business changes which require the need for agility innovating new technology choices, implementation options, and delivery approaches. In this new pace of change the business demands more of IT to help deliver services which enable and support the age of the customer. Some Infrastructure & Operations teams have made the transformation to manage and support BT services which consist of technology, systems, and processes to win, serve and retain customers. Other organizations still manage and support components which range from operating systems, middleware, general purpose components, applications and custom components built all for specific purposes. I&O teams have become good at building components, but it often lacks the engineering discipline to assemble these components into services that meet specific business needs and are relevant in the age of the customer. To stay relevant and transform Infrastructure & Operations in the age of the customer, I&O needs a new role – service engineering. Service engineers mainly “do” three things:

1. Think and act from the outside-in – this means establishing, managing and continually improving services which are critical and essential for business enablement and business success.

2. Participate and support the DevOps journey – business agility in large parts depends on technology today. The DevOps team plays a large role in the quality and speed of technology delivery.

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Wearables Will Change The Way Enterprises Work

JP Gownder

Infrastruture & operations professionals should start following trends in the wearable computing market in earnest. While it's easy to deride wearables as riding a wave of hype -- and most categories of wearables enjoy more publicity than sales at this point -- wearables aren't just a consumer or bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. Numerous vendors have taken a serious approach to developing and launching products for the enterprise wearable market, and some of these devices offer comapanies a real opportunity to generate business value.

I've just posted my new ComputerWorld column with an analysis of these trends. Please read the entire article here.

J. P. Gownder is a Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. Follow him on Twitter at @jgownder.

How Voice Controlled Intelligent Agents Can Reshape Computing

JP Gownder

Apple's Siri for iPhone and iPad, Google Now for Android, Samsung S-Voice for its Android phones and tablets, and Microsoft's Xbox/Bing voice command have all played a role in popularizing the use of voice control. Forrester’s workforce survey reveals that 37% of information workers who have smartphones say they use voice command at least occasionally. So voice control is already a mass-market behavior.

But users haven’t truly embraced voice control just yet: Only 3% of information workers say they "use it all the time," while only 1% claim it's their "preferred way to use a phone." When they do use voice control, it’s for short-task computing activities like sending a text, conducting a quick search, or activating maps and navigation. As of today, voice control remains a nice-to-have, an adjunct to “real” computing interfaces.

But in a new Forrester report published today, we argue that voice control itself isn’t the main story. Rather, it’s about the new breed of data-rich intelligence – which we call intelligent agents – that will bring voice control to the masses.

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Nokia World 2013: Impressive Product Launches But Three Key Challenges Ahead

Katyayan Gupta

I attended this year’s Nokia World in Abu Dhabi on October 22 and 23 — perhaps the last one that Nokia will host to showcase its devices (Microsoft wants to acquire Nokia’s device and services business). And it seems that Nokia saved its best for last. The company announced its entry into the loosely-defined phablet category (smart devices with diagonal screen size of more than 5 inches but less than 7 inches) with two devices: a top-of-the-line flagship device, the Lumia 1520, and a more affordable version, the Lumia 1320. It also announced its first tablet, the Lumia 2520. It also launched three new Asha devices: Asha 500, Asha 502, and Asha 503. However, Nokia has neither announced the release date for its new devices nor identified which operators will carry them.

The event tag line was “Innovation Reinvented,” and Nokia did demonstrate many innovations, especially around imaging software. It launched new apps like the Nokia Camera, which combines Smart Camera and Pro Camera apps; Refocus, which adds Lytro-like variable depth of field; Storyteller, which integrates photos and videos onto HERE maps; and Beamer, which shares Lumia’s screen in real time over Wi-Fi or cellular networks.

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A Ray of Hope for HP NonStop Users – HP Announces x86 NonStop Plans

Richard Fichera

Lost in the excess of press and collective angst over the fate of HP’s HP-UX servers and the widely-accepted premise that Itanium is nearing the end of its less than stellar run has been the fate of HP’s NonStop users. These customers, some dating back to the original Tandem customer roster, almost universally use HP NonStop systems as mission-critical hubs for their business in industries as diverse as securities trading, public safety and retail sales. NonStop is far more difficult to engineer out of an organization than is HP-UX since there are few viable alternatives at any reasonable cost to replace the combination of scalable processing power and fault-tolerance that the NonStop environment provides.

NonStop users can now breathe collective sigh of relief - on November 4 HP announced that it was undertaking to migrate NonStop to an x86 system platform. Despite the lack of any specifics on system details, timing or pretty much anything else, I think that NonStop users can take this to the bank, figuratively and literally, for a couple of reasons:

  • HP has a pretty good track record of actually delivering major initiatives that it commits to. Their major stumbles in dealing with their Itanium-based HP-UX program has been in not communicating rather than missing commitments. Technically, given another cycle of server CPUs and their collective expertise in systems design, including the already undeway high-end x86 systems programs, there is little doubt that HP can deliver a platform suitable for supporting NonStop.
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OpenStack Matures With Havana: Good-Enough Monitoring & Orchestration

Dave Bartoletti

What’s our advice to those building out an internal cloud management practice? Don’t get overwhelmed by trying to revamp all of your IT management processes Day 1. Cloud’s not supposed to make things harder, remember. Keep three things in mind from the outset and you have the foundation for a cloud management practice: monitor, standardize, and automate.

What you monitor in your cloud dictates what you can manage, of course, so focus first on monitoring what you can control. In a private cloud, that means monitoring the compute, storage, and network resources you’re delivering as a service. In a public cloud, instrument your apps first. Then you need to standardize on a reasonable set of app and infrastructure templates you’ll offer to your cloud consumers. And finally you’ll need to automate the way you build instances of those templates on demand. These are the basics: monitor what you control, offer standardized services from a catalog, and automate how you deliver them.

This week’s OpenStack Summit in Hong Kong comes on the heels of the latest OpenStack release, called Havana. Havana includes two fully integrated projects that have been baking for a while, Ceilometer (monitoring and metering) and Heat (orchestration). These two enterprise-focused features aim to make it easier to build a real production-quality cloud on top of the OpenStack open source cloud building platform.

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Internet of Things World Forum In Barcelona Highlights Emerging Connected World Momentum

Michele Pelino

Last week, I attended the Internet of Things (IoT) World Forum event which was hosted by Cisco Systems in Barcelona, Spain. This inaugural event included more than 15 vendor sponsors such as AGT International, Oracle, IBM, SAP, and Zebra Technologies, and was attended by nearly 800 attendees including press and industry analysts. Breakout sessions addressed Internet of Things initiatives in industry, government, technology, education, and culture. A highlight of the event was a walking tour of the city of Barcelona, which is being transformed into a smart city.Examples of demonstrated IoT applications included: connected bus stops which provide citizens with real time travel information; smart parking sensors in on-street parking spaces to help citizens find open spaces via a smartphone application; and smart waste management solutions which incorporate sensors in street waste containers to monitor when the containers are full.  

A few key themes emerged from the conference. First, there is not a standard definition of the Internet of Things, however, there is a sense that the “time is now” for vendors, service providers, and organizations to participate in the Internet of Things market. In addition, there is a complex vendor and service provider ecosystem offering network infrastructure, devices, applications, and services built on multiple standards to address emerging demand for IoT solutions. Vendors and service providers must partner to develop user friendly IoT solutions, as well as clearly define and differentiate their IoT solution implementation capabilities.   

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