Blockchain And IoT: Not Ready For Primetime, But Now’s The Time To Start

Few would disagree that for IoT to live up to its promises, devices will sooner or later need to communicate directly, autonomously and securely with each other. Well-architected blockchain-based systems can help deliver those requirements, but they’re not available or even feasible today. In many ways, that’s a good thing, because it opens up great opportunities to get things right.

So let's start by looking at the challenges that IoT and blockchain ecosystems participants must address. They fall into three broad categories:

  • Technology.  IoT solutions need technology that scales, is secure, and behaves predictably (at least to the degree required by the individual use case). All of these characteristics comprise many different elements. On the security front, for example, there’s the security of the device itself, the security of the actual blockchain, and the security of any interfaces between the devices and the chain, the chain and any other systems, etc. One only needs to look at the incidents such as The DAO debacle of early summer 2016, the Bitfinex hack in August, and the DDoS attacks mounted by IoT devices in October to realize that this remains work in progress. And that’s just security; there are plenty of other issues, including, but not limited to, exception handling, ensuring confidentiality, or dealing with devices that may not be connected all the time, and likely have little on-board compute power or storage.  
Read more

Update Your Balanced Scorecard With Business Outcome And Agility Metrics

We’ve entered the age of the customer, where powerful customers are disrupting every industry.  In response, companies will have to change how they develop, market, sell, and deliver products and services directly to their customers and through their partners. CIOs and their teams are crucial to these strategic responses and will have to track transformation and performance with new metrics to go beyond their traditional IT approach to include the business technology (BT) strategy — technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers.

Existing approaches to Balanced Scorecards deliver limited value in this new environment. This is why Forrester has created an updated Tech Management Balanced Scorecard (based on the original framework proposed by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton) in which we recommend an approach that addresses four components: business outcomes, agility, health, and service (see Figure).

Read more

Blockchain Or Distributed Ledger? What’s In A Name – And Does It Matter?

“Blockchain” and “distributed ledger” continue to generate plenty of headlines in both the specialist and mainstream press. If these — and vendor publicity materials — were anything to go by, we’re on the cusp of mainstream adoption. But that’s far from the case. And judging by the questions Forrester receives about the topic, there’s still quite a bit of confusion around what the technology can actually do, how mature it really is, and how to assess the many initiatives and software offerings that are out there. Here's what to bear in mind:

  • There’s no such thing as “the blockchain”. Blockchain technology is best described as a concept that involves a number of key components, including (but not limited to) validation, consensus, replication, and storage. Which components are implemented, and which ‘flavor’ of each, differs between deployments and is determined by the exact use case and requirements; there'll also be differences between public (trustless) and private (trusted) blockchain deployments. Like “cloud” and “big data”, the term “blockchain” should be regarded as useful shorthand, but no more – any discussion should start with the participants clarifying what they mean by the term. 
Read more

Forrester Quick Take: SAP Acquires Roambi, Opens New Chapter In Mobile BI

Major conferences are often the occasion for key vendor announcements, and SAP didn’t disappoint. At the 2016 SAP Insider event on BI/Hana in Las Vegas, SAP announced the acquisition of independent mobile BI specialist Roambi’s solution portfolio and key assets. With this acquisition, SAP underlines its commitment not only to mobile and cloud but also to getting the right data into the hands of the right people at the right time. With this acquisition, SAP underlines its commitment not only to mobile and cloud but also to getting the right data into the hands of the right people at the right time. The Roambi acquisition adds the following to SAP’s mobile BI portfolio:

  • An attractive set of prebuilt visualizations for fast creation of mobile dashboards.
  • A cloud-based back end that can connect to a variety of data and BI sources.
  • The capability to create data-rich, interactive, eBook-like publications.

There are both tactical and strategic aspects to SAP’s acquisition of Roambi, which:

  • Adds attractive capabilities to SAP’s mobile BI portfolio, even for customers who may already be using BusinessObjects Mobile.
  • Provides an instant cloud option for mobile BI to customers running on-premises BI environments, but who can’t, or don’t want to, support a mobile BI solution.
  • Can be leveraged as an important building block for the mobile capabilities of SAP Cloud for Analytics.
  • Brings more than software to the SAP stable. In one fell swoop, SAP gains a team of professionals who’ve been living and breathing mobile BI for a long time.
Read more

Mobile BI Success: Having The Right Technology Helps, But Isn't Enough

Between 2012 and 2014, mobile BI adoption shot up: Forrester survey data shows that the percentage of technology decision-makers who make some BI applications available on mobile devices has nearly quadrupled, and the percentage who state that BI is delivered exclusively via mobile devices has risen from 1% in 2012 to 7% in 2014. While this clearly demonstrates that mobile BI is gaining traction, the actual mobile BI adoption picture is rather more nuanced. Our ongoing research and client interactions show that mobile BI adopters fall into three overall groups; some organizations

  • Really ‘get’ the transformational potential of mobile BI. They are the ones who understand that mobile BI is about much more than liberating reports and dashboards from the desktop. They focus on how data can be leveraged to best effect when in the hands of the right person at the right time. If necessary, they’re prepared to change their business processes accordingly. For those companies, mobile BI is an enabler of strategic goals, and deployment is a journey, not an end in itself.
  • Make mobile BI available because it’s the right thing to do, or they’ve been asked to.  Many of these organizations are reaping considerable benefits from their mobile BI implementations, and the more far-sighted of them are working on how to move from the tactical to the strategic. Equally, many are trying to figure out where to go from here, in particular if the initial deployment doesn't show a clear benefit, let alone return on investment. 
Read more

Leverage The Convergence Of BI And Big Data In 2015 - Or Miss Out

Big data – the Holy Grail of business intelligence (BI)? Big data technologies certainly hold the promise of closing the gap between the data that’s available in your organization, and the ability to make that data available to those who need it, when they need it. But it’s about more than just technology: you also need the skills and processes in place to ensure that those technologies are exploited to best effect. Most importantly, application development and delivery (AD&D) professionals must make sure that their BI and big data initiatives don’t move forward on parallel tracks, resulting in yet more data silos. The real value lies in combining existing BI and analytics capabilities with new big data technologies and techniques, and this is why AD&D pros involved with BI and analytics should focus on how these new capabilities can augment and extend the existing environment. Two key areas of focus for 2015 should be:

Read more

Planning Your Big Data Strategy: Five Keys To Success

To compete in the age of the customer, it’s essential to make the most of the data you have access to, whether it’s from internal or external sources. For most organizations, this implies a need to review and challenge existing approaches to how they capture, process, and use data to support decision-making. But it’s important first of all to move beyond a technology-centric view of big data. This is why at Forrester, we define big data as:

The practices and technologies that close the gap between the data available and the ability to turn that data into business insight.

Moving beyond a technology-centric view doesn’t mean, however, that a bottom-up, technology-led approach to big data strategy won’t work. After all, it’s often the case that business executives can’t see the potential of a technology until they’ve seen it in action. A bottom-up approach also provides the opportunity to acquire technical skills, and gain an understanding of what needs to be done to integrate new technologies with existing systems (even if it’s just at the level of getting the data out – often easier said than done). But a pilot project or proof-of-concept demonstrating the “art of the possible” in a business context is different from implementing a Hadoop cluster and expecting the business side to start asking for projects.

Read more

Cloud Is Becoming A Key Feature Of The BI And Analytics Landscape

“Business Intelligence in the cloud? You’ve got to be joking!” That’s the response I got when I recently asked a client whether they’d considered availing themselves of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution to meet a particular BI need. Well, I wasn’t joking. There are many scenarios when it makes sense to turn to the cloud for a BI solution, and increasing numbers of organizations are indeed doing so. Indications are also that companies are taking a pragmatic approach to cloud BI, headlines to the contrary notwithstanding. Forrester has found that:

·         Less than one third of organizations have no plans for cloud BI. When we asked respondents in our Forrsights Software Survey Q4 2013 whether they were using SaaS BI in the cloud, or were intending to do so, not even one third declared that they had no plans. Of the rest, 34% were already using cloud BI, and 31% had cloud in their BI plans for the next two years.  But it’s not a case of either/or: the majority of those who’ve either already adopted cloud BI or are intending to do so are using the SaaS system to complement their existing BI and analytics capabilities. Still, it’s worth noting that 12% of survey respondents had already replaced most or all or their existing BI systems with SaaS, and a further 16% were intending to do so.

Read more

Tibco Buys Jaspersoft: A Deal With Transformative Potential

Since Tibco acquired Jaspersoft on April 28th, 2014, I keep being asked the question: “Will this deal change the BI and analytics landscape?” (If you missed the announcement, here’s the press release.)

The short answer is: it could. The longer answer goes something like this: Jaspersoft and Tibco Spotfire complement each other nicely; Jaspersoft brings ETL and embedded BI to the table, whereas Spotfire has superior data analysis, discovery, and visualization capabilities. Jaspersoft’s open source business model provides Tibco with a different path to market, and Jaspersoft can benefit from Tibco’s corporate relationships and sales infrastructure. And with its utility-based cloud service, Jaspersoft also adds another option to Spotfire’s SaaS BI offering.    

But that’s only the narrow view: once you take into consideration Tibco’s history (the hint’s in the name - “The Information Bus Company”) and the more recent string of acquisitions, a much larger potential story emerges. Starting with Spotfire in 2007, Tibco has assembled a powerful set of capabilities, including (but not limited to) analytics, data management, event processing, and related technologies such as customer loyalty management and mapping. If Tibco manages to leverage all of its assets in a way that provides enterprises with a flexible and agile integrated platform that helps them turn their data into actionable information, it will be a powerful new force that has the potential of changing enterprise BI platforms market.

To get there, Tibco has a number of challenges to address. On a tactical basis, it’s all about making the Jaspersoft acquisition work:

  • Retaining the talent
  • Making it easy for clients and prospects to engage with both companies
Read more

Mobile App Developers: Stop Capturing Unnecessary Data Before Regulators Stop You

The findings presented in an article by German magazine Computerwoche published on Feb 11, 2014, are a forceful reminder that messages about excessive data capture via mobile apps seem to have gone unheeded so far.  As reported, tests by TÜV Trust IT established that “almost one in two mobile apps suck up data unnecessarily”.

What’s “unnecessary” of course depends on your viewpoint: it may seem unnecessary to me if my mobile email app captures my location; the provider of the app, on the other hand, could be capturing the information to provide me with a better service and/or to make money from selling such data to a third party. The trouble is that I don’t know, and I don’t have a choice if I want to use the app. From a consumer perspective, this is not a satisfactory situation; I’d even go as far as calling it unacceptable. Not that it matters what I feel; but privacy advocates and regulators are increasingly taking notice. Unless app providers take voluntary measures, they may see their data capture habits curtailed by regulation to a greater degree than would otherwise be the case.

Let’s step back a moment and consider why so many mobile apps capture more data than is strictly speaking necessary for the functioning of the app:

Read more