To Name Your Price Is To Know Your Price: SmartProcure Brings Data Sharing To Public Procurement

So you need some work done that you’ve never had done before or you need to buy something you’ve never bought before.  What should you pay?  That can be a tough question.  What seems reasonable? Sometimes we set arbitrary rules. It’s OK if it’s under $50 or under $100. But that’s just a reassurance that you’re not getting ripped off too badly. Certainly the best way to avoid that outcome is to know how much that service or thing is worth, or at least know what others have paid for the same thing.

Fortunately now, in the age of the customer, that’s easier to find out. Price information for most consumer goods is easier to come by, making the buying process more efficient. But what about governments? We’ve all heard about the $600 toilet seat or the $400 hammer. Stories of government spending excess and mismanagement abound. Some are urban legends or misrepresentations. Others have legs — such as the recent reports of Boeing overcharging the US Army. While these incidents are likely not things of the past, open data initiatives have made significant progress in exposing spending data and improving transparency. Citizens can visit sites such as USAspending.gov for US federal government spending or "Where Does My Money Go?" for details on UK national government spending, and most large cities publish spending as well.

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The Changing Of The Guard: Mobile World Congress Isn't Just For Telcos Anymore

The central theme of Mobile World Congress 2014 for me was clearly Connected Living. I’ve been attending Mobile World Congress for quite some time — 2006 was my first, the year that it moved to Barcelona from Cannes. And, this year felt different. No longer did the event feel dominated by handset manufacturers and equipment providers. Mobile World Congress is no longer a telecom event; it is clearly a mobile event. Mobility has penetrated every industry and every aspect of life, and that diversity is now clearly felt at the show. The large presence of car manufacturers and the buzz around Facebook indicate a definitive changing of the guard. That shift is ongoing. The proliferation of connected devices, the explosion of over-the-top services and the rise of the data economy will continue to shape the industry. But for me, this year I felt excitement around our new connected lives. 
 
FordThe New Programmable Mobile Device: The Car
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Sharing Is More Than Caring: Shared Services Enable Public Sector Tech Upgrades

As we all learned as kids, it's nice to share.  That holds true for public sector organizations as well, particularly in tough times. Public sector organizations don't have the privilege of dialing back on scope in challenging economic times. In fact, when the going gets tough, government organizations often have to kick into high gear. And that was the case with state unemployment insurance (UI) programs in the US, which saw spikes in applications when the economy slumped.  But in most states the technology infrastructure wasn’t up to the task.  

  • Legacy systems were on life-support... Colorado’s 25-year-old COBOL-based mainframe systems continued to process unemployment insurance claims, but it was increasingly difficult and costly to find the "doctors" to keep it alive. They had to bring developers out of retirement to maintain it.  State officials knew it was only a matter of time before they had to pull the plug on their system.
  • …and just weren’t up to the task. Not only did the “look and feel” leave a lot to be desired, the legacy system failed to deliver. The system ran processes in batch mode, meaning that data was typically collected over a period of time (daily, weekly, or monthly) and processed into the system at the end of the period. Daily downtime for processing excluded the possibility of 24-hour availability or even extended hours. The delays and lack of availability frustrated end users who wanted or needed real-time or near-real-time information to make decisions.
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External data (Open And Other) Transforms Business – And Is Good Business

Last month, GovLabs, a research organization at New York University released a beta version of its Open Data 500 project.  The study set out to profile US companies that use open data to generate new business and develop new products and services.  Not all of the companies identified have been profiled but the list of 500 provides a wide range of both existing companies and start-ups that benefit from the use of open data. 

While the start-ups are interesting illustrations of innovation and economic value-creation, the presence of big, existing companies illustrates how data transforms business. 

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Telefónica—Play To Consolidate Global Networks—Particularly Horizontally Across The Southern Hemisphere

Co-authored by Henning Dransfeld and Jennifer Belissent

Telefónica recently invited us to its European Analyst Day at the headquarters of Telefonica UK (O2) in Slough. Jose Luis Gamo Global Solutions CEO Multinationals started off the day with an ambitious outlook on strategy and revenue growth. He highlighted Telefónica plans to deepen customer engagements by addressing their needs for global contract consolidation, as well as demands for M2M solutions, big data and analytics and cloud services. Telefónica certainly has a lot to offer. But is Telefónica doing enough to position itself well in the evolution to markets driven by customer experience? We believe that there is potential because:

  • Telefónica is increasingly competitive in winning global enterprise network contracts.After the global landmark deal with DPDHL, Telefónica has added companies including Ferrovial and NSN to its customer base. Telefónica, the largest European operator by capitalization, is increasing contract values with existing customers through cross selling activities. Their ability to do so is enabled by a demonstrable focus on the following initiatives: Strengthening professional account management, increased commitment by Telefónica group to the enterprise market, as well as initiatives to improve service management, the technical architecture, customer services and the terms and conditions.
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Smart City Santander: Proven Technology, Uncertain Business Models

The city of Santander boasts 20,000 fixed and mobile sensors throughout the city – on buses, in parks, waste bins and in buildings.  These sensors capture bus locations, humidity in the air and soil, pollution etc. They tell bus riders when their bus will arrive; they tell city park workers when to water the gardens. They also dim lights when there is no one on the street at night, and turn them on when cars or pedestrians pass. They create a complex internet of things and a rich source of data. Together with the platform enabling the aggregation, analysis and visualization of these data, they (will) provide a valuable tool at the disposal of city leaders, enterprises, developers and citizens. Today Smart Santander is a living lab (with an application pending to be part of the European Network of Living Labs). 

Having launched in September 2010 with €6 million budget (primarily from the EU) and 15 partners, the project is now in its 3rd and final phase.  With its sensor network, the city demonstrates the benefits of the Internet of Things across several initiatives:

  • Urban mobility: Sensors on buses and in taxis make it easier for citizens and tourists to find transportation; parking sensors help drivers find available places more quickly.
  • Water management: Sensors embedded in urban gardens detect soil humidity and enable more efficient watering; the broader water initiative envisions smart water meters in homes and buildings, and use of the sensors by Aqualia, the city’s water company.
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Mind The Tech Expectations Gap:Many Employees Are Not Satisfied With Work Technologies, Especially In Europe

“Happy employees make happy customers” or so the saying goes. Employee satisfaction and engagement are correlated to business outcomes.  Finding the right employees, providing them the tools they need to do their jobs, keeping the good ones happy, and keeping them around is the job of the whole organization – even the CIO.  Yet employees report significant dissatisfaction with the technology provided to them at work:  the technology expectations gap.  And that gap is more pronounced in Europe than elsewhere. 

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New Data Brokers Will Drive The Data Economy

With all the talk of data out there, who is actually using it and what are they using?  Turns out, most data used in the enterprise today comes from internal applications. That is starting to change, and the trend will accelerate.  But for now, when asked which data types were important to their firm’s overall business strategy, the majority of business intelligence users and planners cited internal sources such as transactional data from corporate apps or other customer data. Only about 1/3 of respondents reported the importance of external sources such as scientific data, partner data or other 3rd party data. Fewer still used unstructured external data such as Twitter feeds or other social media sources. Current data sources are limited.  Yet both business and IT decision-makers recognize the need to improve their use of data:  56% of business and IT decision-makers surveyed by Forrester see improving the use of data and analytics to improve business decisions and outcomes as a top priority. And, that potentially includes expanding the use of external data... if they can find it.   

Where do they go for external data?  What types of data might complement their transactional and other internal data? How can corporate strategists and market research teams identify new sources of information? Where can they find them, and how can they acquire and consume them? Can they be combined with internal data? Are the sources safe? reliable? sustainable?

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Getting The Most Out Of Open Data: Adaptive Intelligence For Better Social Outcomes

Earlier this summer, I participated in Convergence 2013 in Paris with Christian Frisch, cofounder and CTO of Data Publica. In our session, we discussed the evolution of open data programs looking at the changing goals of cities and other public sector organizations as well as the persistent challenges they face. 

The momentum for open government and open data has certainly grown over the past few years. The initial push for open data was to know exactly where the government was spending money. With the economic downturn of 2008, that was imperative — and still is. In the US, USAspending.gov and Recovery.gov published government budgets and allocation of spending from the US Recovery Act. In the UK, Where Does My Money Go? similarly publishes government spending by department and region. Yet open data does more than increase transparency and accountability. We’ve seen some great strides in civic innovation — new apps for finding out when the bus is coming or where the nearest toilets are. Open data generates business innovation as well — new lines of business for existing companies and new startup businesses in a wide range of industries from healthcare to real estate to financial services. 

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Cities, Don't Go It Alone. Service Providers Accelerate Smart City Projects.

Local governments – cities, counties, states – are investing in technology.  Why?  Well, a number of factors drive local governments to take a smarter approach to their administration and development: limited budgets, increasing citizen demands, competition for investment and jobs etc. Balancing competing demands on a shoestring budget isn't easy.  City leaders are looking for ways to sustainably transformation city functions such as transportation, healthcare, public safety, utilities, or governance, and in aggregate the city as a whole. And, they increasingly value technology as a means to such a transformation. 

Fortunately, cities do not have to undertake this journey on their own, and they don’t expect to.  In fact, according to Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets and Priorities Tracker Survey, local governments are more likely to expect increases in IT technical consulting than other industries (and more than governments as a whole): 38% of local government IT budget decision-makers expected a 5-10% increase in consulting spend and 2% expected an increase of more than 10%.  Local governments are turning to the experts to help them figure out what this “smart city” thing means for them.

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