Our Keyboard-Free Computing Future: Expect Labs' MindMeld Tablet App

JP Gownder

I recently spoke with Tim Tuttle, the CEO of Expect Labs, a company that operates at the vanguard of two computing categories: Voice recognition (a field populated by established vendors like Nuance Communications, Apple, and Google) and what we can call the Intelligent Assistant space (which is probably most popularly demonstrated by IBM’s “Jeopardy”-winning Watson). In their own words, Expect Labs leverages “language understanding, speech analysis, and statistical search” technologies to create digital assistant solutions.

Expect Labs built the application MindMeld to make the conversations people have with one another "easier and more productive” by integrating voice recognition with an intelligent assistant on an intuitive tablet application. They have coined the term “Anticipatory Computing Engine” to describe their solution, which offers users a new kind of collaboration environment. (Expect Labs aims to provide an entire platform for this type of computing).

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Forrester Wave: Public Cloud Platforms -- The Winner Is…

James Staten

…not that simple and therefore not always Amazon Web Services.

First off, we didn’t take what might be construed as the typical approach, which would be to look either at infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings. We combined the two, as the line between these categories is blurring. And historical category leaders have added either infrastructure or platform services that place them where they now straddle these lines.

Further, many people have assumed that all developers will be best served by PaaS products and ill served by IaaS products. Our research has shown for some time that that isn't so: 

  1. Many developers get value from IaaS because it is so flexible, while PaaS products are generally too constraining.
  2. The -aaS labels overlook the actual capabilities of the services available to developers. All PaaS products are not the same; all IaaS are not the same.
  3. Not all developers are the same. Devs will use the services (PLURAL) with the best fit to their skills, needs, and goals.
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Microsoft’s Best Buy Windows Store: A Critical Strategic Move With Several Drawbacks

JP Gownder

When Samsung made its move to install 1,400 store-within-a-store concepts at Best Buy back in April, we recommended that Microsoft take note. And take note, it did: Today Microsoft and Best Buy announced the launch of a new Windows Store at 500 Best Buy locations in the United States and another 100 in Canada, for a total of 600 in North America.

Instead of a store-within-a-store concept (which both Apple and Samsung now employ at Best Buy), the Windows Store represents a complete take-over of the PC department. Windows Stores will effectively replace the computer department at these 600 Best Buy locations. But they will offer a wider range of Microsoft consumer products (PCs, tablets, and accessories, of course, but also Office, Windows Phone, and even Xbox) than just PCs.

Microsoft’s Windows Store represents a vital strategic step forward in its retail strategy and ought to yield some benefits. At the same time, the move should have happened several years ago; it isn’t quite as ambitious as it might have been, and Microsoft will have to work hard to overcome legacy practices within the Best Buy ecosystem.

Why is this move essential for Microsoft? Put simply, the non-Apple Store North American retail channel for consumer electronics is broken … and it’s getting more broken:

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IBM Buys SoftLayer, But Will They Learn From Them?

James Staten

IBM didn't just pick up a hosting company with their acquisition of SoftLayer this week, they picked up a sophisticated data center operations team -- one that could teach IBM Global Technical Services (GTS) a thing or two about efficiency when it comes to next-generation cloud data centers. Here's hoping IBM will listen.

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Six Steps Enterprise IT Should Take To Proactively Prepare For Windows 8

Doug Washburn

Two days ago I had an interview with the Head of End User and Desktop Services of a global pharmaceutical company. He mentioned that he's working through Windows 8, VDI, BYO and other key initiatives facing IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals. 

As a quick thank you, I sent him Dave Johnson's recent report on Windows 8. This report is part of Forrester's Workforce Enable Playbook (click here for a free copy of the exec overview) that Dave along with J. P. GownderMichele PelinoChristian KaneChris Voce and Thayer Frechette all contribute to. Here's what he had to say: 

 

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Citrix Takes Big Leaps Forward with Digital Workspace Delivery

David Johnson
There are very few companies in technology who truly understand that "consumers" and workers are the same *people*. Citrix is one of them. Consumers are consumers because they have jobs, and they get out of bed in the morning to go to a place where they earn money in exchange for their time and work to further their employers' objectives. It really is that simple. Yet most tech companies pay lip service to "consumers" while they target most of their resources on the stated needs of enterprise IT, and the implications of this abstraction are profound.
 
Citrix lives for achieving the conflicting goals of employee freedom and IT comfort
I believe Citrix understands this and while their POs usually come from enterprise IT, their vision and purpose as a business are to meet the needs of workers in their daily lives. But how? For one thing, this is a business where nuances are important. Precisely where technology providers draw lines between employee needs and IT needs determines whether employees will embrace it or reject it, but we also believe it goes much further. When a person reaches an artificial barrier, or seemingly arbitrary "policy" gets in the way of what they see as their good, honest attempt to get hard work done, their next thought might just be: How stupid do they think I am? Don't they trust me? And so goes the path of building frustration and draining trust out of the organization as a direct result of poor workforce computing strategy and choices, followed by enormous time and energy spent getting around the barriers.
 
CEO Mark Templeton describes what exceptional IT leadership looks like
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Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD: A Stealth BYOD Tablet Competitor

JP Gownder

Amazon announced today that its Kindle Fire HD tablet offerings will rocket from availability in just seven markets (U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Japan) to 170+ countries in mid-June. The 7” and 8.9” Amazon Kindle Fire HD models have enjoyed great success in the consumer market, as Forrester predicted they would even before the first device was released in November, 2011.

The move to expand geographically makes sense, as Amazon continues to capitalize on its core strength – its content + device + services value proposition – in consumer markets. Perhaps less obviously, though, Kindle Fire HD has turned out to be something of a stealth competitor in the bring-your-own-device (BYO) space.

In a survey of information workers in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, and Germany – fielded from February to April 2013 – we found that, among those who say they use a tablet at least weekly for work:

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Segmenting Your Workforce Will Actually Drive Innovation

JP Gownder

It’s (long past) time to put the era of One Size Fits All enterprise computing behind us. Providing workers with Standard Issue™ devices and software represents an antiquated paradigm. Instead, segmenting your workforce into different classes of workers – honoring the needs of each type of worker – can help you:

  • Save money. Overinvesting in computing power by giving a worker “too much machine” and over-investing in software licenses for applications that won’t be used are common implications of One Size Fits All enterprise computing. You can save money by provisioning appropriate hardware and software to various classes of workers.
  • Preempt BYO. While IT departments are coming around to the virtues and values of BYO, managing excessively diverse BYO comes with management costs. You can preempt some types of BYO by providing the right tool to the right worker at the right time… obviating the need for them to bring their own.
  • Drive worker productivity and innovation. Innovations like tablets and Chromebooks can empower certain classes of workers to achieve new levels of productivity. Providing the right worker – for example, a traveling salesperson – with a tablet can enable new scenarios and create tangible returns.
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VMware Targets I&O Buyers With Hybrid Cloud Service

Dave Bartoletti

VMware pulled back the curtain on its vCloud Hybrid Service today. The concept of a hybrid cloud isn't new, but there are as many definitions of it as there are for cloud itself. Indeed, the beauty of cloud really is in the eye of the beholder, and it's important to align beauty with its beholders. Forrester defines hybrid cloud as a cloud service connected to any other corporate resource. That means most enterprises are hybrid today - if you have at least one SaaS app connected to anything in your data center, you're hybrid.

Today, VMware set out its definition of hybrid: An extension of the virtualized corporate data center. The beholders here are the infrastructure and operations (I&O) teams who've spent years virtualizing and optimizing a range of corporate apps. These pros haven't been the main drivers of public cloud in the enterprise so far; business-unit-aligned developers have. And the tension between the two is growing. Developers want to build faster, deploy quickly, and forget about infrastructure management, so they start with public cloud: cheap, fast, and easy. But I&O teams want to drive more value and efficiency from existing infrastructure by selectively moving apps (or the scalable parts of apps) off premises to take advantage of cloud’s elasticity and pay-per-use economics. They look at cloud as an extension of the corporate data center, and the vCloud Hybrid Service is designed for them first. Both perspectives make sense and both approaches to cloud can drive value.

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Cure Your Service Desk With Customer Experience

John Rakowski

One of the best TV comedies in the UK over the last couple of years has been The IT Crowd. It is about a fictional IT department and plays to all the possible IT stereotypes. One of my favorite scenes is from the very first episode in which a ‘user’ is left waiting for their call to be answered for an excruciating amount of time and then another ‘IT professional’ is shown speaking to a ‘user’ in complete technology gobbledygook. Yes, this clip is funny but surely these are all extreme cases and only slim comparisons can be made to Enterprise IT today? 

I have to be honest here and say that during my time as an enterprise management consultant I saw all that happened on this clip, but surely modern day IT organizations don’t suffer from these problems? Well, maybe not to the same extent but how often have you heard, or even whispered, these famous words when working with the IT service desk or help desk:

 “Have-you-logged-a-ticket?”

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