Does Your IT Infrastructure Best Support Your eCommerce Business?

Frank Liu

The growth in today’s online retail market in China remains staggering, driven by rapid increases in the total number of online buyers and online spending per buyer. Web-only retailers dominate this market, but the dynamic is starting to shift as an increasing number of traditional retailers embrace eCommerce, including local companies and multinational corporations. eCommerce companies are at the forefront of technology adoption to better support business. However, I&O professionals face several challenges:

  • Storage capacity, data sharing, and server efficiency cannot keep up with business growth. 
  • Online traffic peaks overload infrastructure, leading to poor client experiences.
  • Social media information overloads traditional analytics. 
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Dell, Tesla, Space X, and Taking Chances: From the Floor At DellWorld 2013

JP Gownder

DellWorld 2013 showcases the newly-private Dell’s rediscovered sense of mission: Founder and CEO Michael Dell described the new company as the “world’s biggest startup.” Freed from the short-term orientation required of publicly traded companies, Dell can accelerate its innovation and risk-taking while following through on its emerging vision.

That vision is to help enterprise customers Transform (e.g. migrate from mainframes to the cloud), Connect (e.g. provide mobile devices and device management services), Inform (e.g. leverage big data analytics through software and services), and Protect (e.g. employ comprehensive security solutions).

Michael Dell spent a good deal of time emphasizing that Dell now has the opportunity to make bigger bets. To underscore that message, he invited Tesla and Space X CEO Elon Musk to appear onstage. Musk knows how to make an entrance, riding into the convention center in one of his company’s cars:

Elon Musk told several stories while onstage, including the revelation that, during Tesla's darkest hours, he pretty much figured the company would fail. But he listed his favorite aspect of the Tesla business as creating a sense of "delight" among the car's buyers -- including Michael Dell, who purchased one online.

Musk's presence emphasized a number of admirable qualities to which the new Dell aspires. Risk-taking, entrepreneurialism, disruption, and strategic vision. “We need more people like Elon out there taking big risks,” Michael Dell said at one point, reemphasizing the theme of taking chances. 

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Meeting with Tech Mahindra – Insights and Reality Check on IT Automation

Richard Fichera

I recently had a meeting with executives from Tech Mahindra, an Indian-based IT services company, which was refreshing for the both the candor with which they discussed the overall mechanics of a support and integration model with significant components located half a world away, as well as their insights on the realities and limitations of automation, one of the hottest topics in IT operations today.

On the subject of the mechanics and process behind their global integration process, the eye opener for me was the depth of internal process behind the engagements. The common (possibly only common in my mind since I have had less exposure to these companies than some of my peers) mindset of “develop the specs, send them off and receive code back” is no longer even remotely possible. To perform a successful complex integration project takes a reliable set of processes that can link the efforts of the approximately 20 – 40% of the staff on-site with the client with the supporting teams back in India. Plus a massive investment in project management, development frameworks, and collaboration tools, a hallmark of all of the successful Indian service providers.

From a the client I&O group perspective, the relationship between the outsourcer and internal groups becomes much more than an arms-length process, but rather a tightly integrated team in which the main visible differentiator is who pays their salary rather than any strict team, task or function boundary. For the integrator, this is a strong positive, since it makes it difficult for the client to disengage, and gives the teams early knowledge of changes and new project opportunities. From the client side there are drawbacks and benefits – disengagement is difficult, but knowledge transfer is tightly integrated and efficient.

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China Tech Market In 2014: Five Key Predictions

Bryan Wang

Since 2012, China has become the second-largest economy and third-largest IT market in the world, but IT spending per capita in China is still less than 5% of US. The potential for IT spending growth is obvious in the coming years. For CIOs in China to succeed, they need to go beyond retaining “control” of technologies to focusing on retaining and winning customers.

Forrester recently published its technology predictions for Asia Pacific in 2014, highlighting to technology professionals that the ability to embrace the age of the customer will determine success or failure of an organization. We believe that we have entered “a 20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers.”

In particular, CIOs in China should take note of the following five key 2014 predictions:

  • Technology spending is slowing down in China and local vendors will gain share. According to my latest China Tech Market Outlook: 2014 report, Forrester estimates that China’s enterprise IT purchases will grow by 6% in 2013, to RMB 698 billion, and a further 8% in 2014, to RMB 752 billion. This is slower than then 11% growth in 2011 and 9% growth in 2012. The new government is focusing on economic reforms to overcome both internal and external challenges. In the meantime, local vendors like Huawei, Inspur, and Lenovo will likely benefit from the NSA/Snowden issue; they will gain share mostly in the hardware space, including server, storage, and networking, in 2014.
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India And China Will Lead Asia Pacific Enterprise Mobile Software Spending In 2014

Katyayan Gupta

Consumer mobility in India and China is flowing into enterprises. Recent Forrester survey data shows that nearly three in five IT execs and technology decision-makers in these countries — 58% in India and 57% in China — plan to increase their spending on mobile software (including applications and middleware) in 2014.

India has leapfrogged Australia/New Zealand and now leads the Asia Pacific region in terms of expected mobile software spending growth. China has made the biggest move over the past year, jumping from eighth place to second.

We believe that the high growth in mobile software spending in India and China is primarily due to:

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Are You Ready For Cyber Monday?

John Rakowski

Firstly, I hope all my American colleagues and friends are enjoying Thanksgiving. Happy holidays everyone!

I especially hope that all the IT professionals who work in the consumer retail markets get some rest because this coming Monday is Cyber Monday, one of the biggest days for online shopping transactions in the business year. Cyber Monday is part of the holiday season, which Forrester defines as November through December, and as our recent retail forecast report for 2013 points out, we expect online sales to top $78 billion in the US alone. Cyber Monday is not just a US event though; even in the UK, spending is forecast by Sage Pay to be more than £500m for this one day alone.

These figures highlight how digital our world has become. There is no need to go out in the cold or the rain as purchases can be made via mobile devices at any time or anywhere. This move to the digital world means that for many consumer retail companies, their websites and increasingly their mobile apps are now key to their success as they are becoming a major revenue and brand image contributor.

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Mobile Mapping: Nokia Prepares For The Afterlife

Katyayan Gupta

At the recently concluded Tizen developer conference in South Korea, Nokia announced that it has licensed its maps and related functionality to the Tizen ecosystem. While no phone or tablet running the Tizen OS has yet launched, device manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei, and Fujitsu are backing it.

Mobile handset manufacturer Jolla, whose first phone ships on November 27, also announced that it has licensed HERE’s positioning services and map technology for its Sailfish OS. We expect more handset manufacturers to build devices for Tizen and Sailfish over the next 12 to 18 months, as both are open source and can run Android apps.

In my opinion, two key factors make Nokia HERE maps a tough competitor for Google and Apple:

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Three Vendors Rise To The Top Of The Private Cloud Market

Lauren Nelson

In Q2 2011, Forrester wrote one of the market's first private cloud vendor evaluations which scored vendors on ten criteria. Over the past two years private cloud has shifted from concept to reality with 55% of enterprise hardware decision makers planning to build an internal private cloud in 2014 (up from 29% in 2011) according to our Forrsights Hardware Survey, Q3 2013. Due to popular demand, Forrester decided to update this report with a full Forrester Wave evaluation composed of 61 criteria. Vendors evaluated in this report represent today's top software-only private cloud vendors -- ASG Software Solutions, BMC Software, CA Technologies, Cisco Systems, Citrix Systems, Eucalyptus Systems, HP, IBM, Microsoft, and VMware. After many long hours on weekends and holidays, this report is finally complete, with three vendors rising to the top -- HP, Cisco, and Microsoft. For the full details of the strengths and weaknesses of each vendor, see The Forrester Wave™: Private Cloud Solutions, Q4 2013

How did Forrester select and evaluate vendors? Each vendor met the following qualifiers: 

  • Self-service portal and role-based access.
  • Infrastructure provisioning capabilities.
  • Management capabilities.
  • Monitoring and tracking of resources.
  • API-based.
  • Generally available by April 1, 2013.
  • More than 100 unique customers. 
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Apple Purchases PrimeSense, Opening Up New Computing Experiences – And Enterprise Solutions

JP Gownder

Apple has completed an acquisition of the Israeli firm PrimeSense, a sensing company whose technology has powered Microsoft’s popular Xbox Kinect for Xbox 360. (Microsoft moved to an in-house technology for the Xbox Kinect for Xbox One).

For the consumer market, Apple’s purchase opens up a number of tantalizing product possibilities:

  • Apple TV. The long-rumored Apple television set – as well as the long-extant AppleTV set top device – could both benefit from motion-sensing and depth/color sensing, particularly for next-generation interactive television applications.
  • Mobile and wearable products. PrimeSense has made a strong effort to miniaturize its components, and the next logical step would be to embed its technologies into mobile or wearable computing products. While often seen as a motion-sensing technology, PrimeSense is at base a depth- and color- perception technology that could potentially someday be used to recognize people – or to help the blind navigate the streets.
  • Customized e-commerce. In 2011, I wrote a report suggesting that Kinect and other sensing technologies could be used by companies to offer mass customized clothing and furniture. Imagine scanning your house – or your body – to receive custom-build cabinets or bespoke clothing shipped to you in short order. PrimeSense technology can already empower these mass customized scenarios.
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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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