Google Glass Helps Enterprise Workers Help Themselves

JP Gownder

Google recently announced an expansion of its Explorer Edition program to anyone in the U.S. — still at $1,500. This doesn't constitute the mass market release of the product; it's an incremental move to extend its beta program. I believe the move mostly benefits enterprise customers of the device — continuing Forrester's research call that Glass will be more successful among enterprise customers than among consumers, at least in the short term.

Recently, I've received a number of questions about wearables as they pertain to field service work. In the age of the customer, field service work has a direct impact on customer service. Think of the cable repair person. The top reason cable repair people fail to fix a problem with your cable service on the first visit is that they have never seen the specific problem before; it's a long tail of possible problems. Traditionally, the cable person would need to go back to headquarters and log a return visit -- inconveniencing the customer, who might have stayed home from work to meet the repair person, and harming the workforce productivity of the cable company's agents. It's lose-lose.

With wearables, cable companies and other companies employing field workers can increase the percentage of first-time fixes. Recently, ClickSoftware and FieldBit posted a video demonstrating one such solution:

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Is Red Hat Storage The Future Of Software Storage?

Henry Baltazar

With last week's $175M acquisition of storage startup Inktank, the initial developer of the Open Source Ceph storage platform, Red Hat has added another piece to its growing storage portfolio. With large storage players fleshing out their software storage offerings including EMC (ScaleIO, Project Nile), NetApp, HP, and IBM, it's clear that the transition from hardware-centric storage appliances to software storage is underway — and it won't be long before we are at a point where your next array should be an app running on commodity hardware.

Though large storage players have successfully fended off software challengers such as Symantec before, it is telling that nearly all of the major players are developing and marketing their own software storage products, including EMC’s ScaleIO. The drive toward software storage is clearly gaining momentum, and this time around the storage leaders are active participants in addition to startups such as Nexenta Systems and the Open Source projects.

While Red Hat is not a major storage player today, there are a few reasons why this company could become disruptive as the market transitions to software storage:

  • No legacy business to lose. This is probably the most powerful attribute that makes Red Hat dangerous relative to existing storage players. While Red Hat’s market share (in terms of storage revenue and paying customers) is nowhere near the likes of leaders such as NetApp and EMC, its lack of legacy business will allow Red Hat to attack the NAS, object, and block storage market without the sacrifice of losing high-margin storage appliance sales.  
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HP Hooks Up With Foxcon for Volume Servers

Richard Fichera

Yesterday HP announced that it will be entering into a “non-equity joint venture” (think big strategic contract of some kind with a lot of details still in flight) to address the large-scale web services providers. Under the agreement, Foxcon will design and manufacture and HP will be the primary sales channel for new servers targeted at hyper scale web service providers. The new servers will be branded HP but will not be part of the current ProLiant line of enterprise servers, and HP will deliver additional services along with hardware sales.

Why?

The motivation is simple underneath all the rhetoric. HP has been hard-pressed to make decent margins selling high-volume low-cost and no-frills servers to web service providers, and has been increasingly pressured by low-cost providers. Add to that the issue of customization, which these high-volume customers can easily get from smaller and more agile Asian ODMs and you have a strategic problem. Having worked at HP for four years I can testify to the fact that HP, a company maniacal about quality but encumbered with an effective but rigid set of processes around bringing new products to market, has difficulty rapidly turning around a custom design, and has a cost structure that makes it difficult to profitably compete for deals with margins that are probably in the mid-teens.

Enter the Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, more commonly known as Foxcon. A longtime HP partner and widely acknowledged as one of the most efficient and agile manufacturing companies in the world, Foxcon brings to the table the complementary strengths to match HP – agile design, tightly integrated with its manufacturing capabilities.

Who does what?

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IBM Announces Next Generation POWER Systems – Big Win for AIX Users, New Option for Linux

Richard Fichera

On April 23, IBM rolled out the long-awaited POWER8 CPU, the successor to POWER7+, and given the extensive pre-announcement speculation, the hardware itself was no big surprise (the details are fascinating, but not suitable for this venue), offering an estimated  30 - 50% improvement in application performance over the latest POWER7+, with potential for order of magnitude improvements with selected big data and analytics workloads. While the technology is interesting, we are pretty numb to the “bigger, better, faster” messaging that inevitably accompanies new hardware announcements, and the real impact of this announcement lies in its utility for current AIX users and IBM’s increased focus on Linux and its support of the OpenPOWER initiative.

Technology

OK, so we’re numb, but it’s still interesting. POWER8 is an entirely new processor generation implemented in 22 nm CMOS (the same geometry as Intel’s high-end CPUs). The processor features up to 12 cores, each with up to 8 threads, and a focus on not only throughput but high performance per thread and per core for low-thread-count applications. Added to the mix is up to 1 TB of memory per socket, massive PCIe 3 I/O connectivity and Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (CAPI), IBM’s technology to deliver memory-controller-based access for accelerators and flash memory in POWER systems. CAPI figures prominently in IBM’s positioning of POWER as the ultimate analytics engine, with the announcement profiling the performance of a configuration using 40 TB of CAPI-attached flash for huge in-memory analytics at a fraction of the cost of a non-CAPI configuration.[i]

A Slam-dunk for AIX users and a new play for Linux

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Using Google Glass In Patient-Facing Healthcare Scenarios

JP Gownder

Google Glass is finally being explicitly positioned for enterprise usage -- a concession to the great interest found in many vertical industries (and also among developers who sell to those industries) for using Glass to attract, retain, and serve customers. We'd predicted this trend and have been helping clients in a variety of contexts to design their own enterprise wearables strategies.

For the healthcare vertical, SAP posted a video that has been little seen -- but which deserves more attention -- that helps illustrate some of the detailed usage cases for Google Glass in a hospital context. SAP's HANA platform (about which you can read more via my colleagues Andrew Bartels and Paul Hammerman here or Noel Yuhanna here) empowers a nurse to complete all the tasks in her rounds:

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Top 10 Cloud Challenges Facing Media & Entertainment

James Staten

 

With video rapidly becoming the dominant content type on enterprise networks the issues being faced in the media market foreshadow the coming challenges for the rest of the market. And use of the cloud was very much in focus at the 2014 National Association of Broadcasters conference held in Las Vegas in the second week of April.

Most industries need a push to move aggressively into the cloud  -- and the media & entertainment market was no different. The initial push came from the threat of disruption by over the top (OTT) distributors, like NetFlix, who were primarily leveraging the cloud. “[We] aren’t going to be cold-cocked like music was,” said Roy Sekoff, president and co-creator of, HuffPost Live. As a result, video production houses, news organizations and television and motion picture studios are being the most aggressive. Now an upcoming shift to Ultra HD presents a new series of challenges including file sizes, bandwidth limitations, and new complexities for workflows, visual effects and interactivity.  

Here we present ten issues the media industry faces as it more broadly embraces the cloud, as observed first-hand at NABShow 2014. These ten issues show how going cloud changes how you think (planning), act (workflow), and engage (distribute). For Forrester clients there is a new companion report to this blog detailing what the industry is doing to address these challenges and how you can follow suit:

Change how you think: Strategy and planning

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Use Technology To Drive In-Store Customer Engagement

JP Gownder

Hot on the heels of our recent report Infrastructure Will Drive The Retail Store Experiences Of The Future, I've just released some follow-up research: Brief: Using Technology To Drive In-Store Customer Engagement

The I&O role continues to notably evolve from a mere IT role to becoming a BT -- Business Technology -- role. This means taking an increasingly role in empowering customer-facing technologies. And as I&O pros shift toward becoming customer enablers, you should begin to closely track -- and to pilot -- a number of emerging technologies that can help your company attract, retain, and serve customers. Currently, myriad solutions exist; as one start-up vendor told me, "there are so many new technologies out there, it's hard for buyers to decide where to place their bets, so we just try to get our products into trial to prove the value." While the number of these technologies (and their vendors) is great, they tend to share one or more of the following characteristics. As you read the list, ask yourself the question associated with each factor:

  • Hyper-local. Are you experimenting with technologies that engage customers on a highly geographic (e.g. within 1 foot) basis? (Example: iBeacon)
  • Targeted. Are you piloting any technologies that can customize customer engagement based on who they are or what they feel? (Example: Facial Recognition)
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iPhone Up, iPad Down: What Apple's Device Mix Says About Mobile Devices

JP Gownder

Apple's reported earnings revealed a strong product mix contrast: iPhone sales increased 17% in units and 14% in revenues, while iPad sales decreased 16% in units and 13% in revenues. What accounts for this contrast? Is the iPad's growth trajectory broken?

Simply put, the iPhone's addressable market has only continued to increase with Apple's continued international expansion. Only recently, for example, has Apple broken out in Japan (still the world's third-largest economy); only a few months after releasing the 5S and 5C across all three of Japan's largest carriers, iPhone models made up 9 of the top 10 phones sold. And for iPhone, unlike iPad, the route to sales comes through carrier relationships -- of which Apple has landed more recently.

By contrast, the iPad's year-over-year results lagged because:

  • Price competition in tablets has been fierce. With Android tablets under $200 now commonplace -- including Samsung's Galaxy Tab 3 and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX -- Apple's premium pricing is catching up to it. 
  • Replacement rates are lower than expected. Why are prices catching up to iPad now? Because replacement rates haven't been as quick as with iPhone. The pace at which people purchase smartphones is quicker than that of iPads, even among the Apple faithful. This means that Apple is seeking an ever expanding market -- people without tablets. For later adopters, who didn't see the big deal early on, price matters more than for earlier adopters.
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Why Infrastructure Will Drive The Retail Store Experiences Of The Future

JP Gownder

The Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) role is changing significantly: I&O pros are increasingly helping to drive business strategies with the technologies they choose and implement. Business leaders tell Forrester that technology is too important to leave to technology managers alone; they are pushing their I&O colleagues to explore the business value associated with the technologies they choose, implement, and manage. I&O pros, in turn, tell us that their jobs are changing. As one I&O pro put it, “I’ve been an infrastructure manager for 15 years, but only in the past 3 have I been asked to construct a business plan and be part of the business planning team.”

Figure: Burberry's Technology-Powered Flagship Store In London

For I&O pros in retail and related verticals like hospitality (or for anyone involved in creating in-person experiences), we’ve just released a report to help aid this transition. Along with my co-author Michele Pelino, we’ve just released the report “Infrastructure Will Drive The Retail Store Experiences Of The Future.” The report asserts that I&O pros have an important role to play in helping their companies engage shoppers in experiences that will drive loyalty and spending.

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Google Makes Glass Visible To The Enterprise

JP Gownder

Up until this week, Google had remained reticent about speaking of Google Glass as an enterprise tool. Google is a mass-market consumer company whose main revenue streams derive from huge scale; its aspirations for Glass are, presumably, both ambitious and far-reaching. In consequence, Google's leaders want Google Glass on the faces of as many consumers as possible. Enterprise represents, at best, a bit of a diversion from that mass-market ambition.

Nevertheless, as I pointed out in January, Google has begun to tell stories about how Glass can create value in an enterprise setting. Their videos of public safety officials using Glass for firefighting tugged at the heart-strings, even as the NYPD pilots the device as well. But April has seen a flurry of enterprise-related Glass news, including an explicit posting on Google+ about enterprise.

In addition to all those consumer Glass Explorers, "Something we've also noticed and are very excited about is how Explorers are using Glass to drive their businesses forward," Google wrote. "A number of companies have already teamed up with enterprise software developers to create new ways to serve their customers and reach their business goals."

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