Are You Empowering Employees, Or Watching Them Empower Themselves?

Christopher Andrews

Today, Forrester and Harvard Business Review Press released the print version of Empowered, a book by Forrester veterans Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler. This book is a quick and worthwhile read for just about anyone who wants to consider the changing role of technology in the workplace. After several reads of this book, I have found that in addition to a lot of great statistics, quotes, and case studies, there is a valuable message for how companies MUST change their philosophy and approach toward new technologies in order to stay innovative.

As a quick example of how quickly the technology landscape is changing, stop for a moment to consider just how many times in the past few days you have:

  • Received an invitation to LinkedIn.
  • Seen a personal acquaintance using Facebook.
  • “Tweeted” or heard someone comment on “tweeting.”
  • Checked your mobile phone — or seen a commercial for a cool new mobile app.
  • Heard reference to social media in a news story.
  • Watched a video clip on YouTube.
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Lots Of Talk About Chatter At Salesforce’s UK Customer Event

Duncan Jones

Marc Benioff, CEO of salesforce.com, gave a typically energetic performance at London’s Royal Festival Hall yesterday, both in the main-stage keynote and the private lunch for press and analysts. In addition to some humorous digs at Oracle, SAP, and pretty much any company that wants to run its own data center, Benioff described his vision for enterprise applications in the world of social computing, which he calls Cloud 2. Key to this vision is salesforce.com’s own Chatter application, which is . . .  er, well actually it's not really clear what it is. Various spokespeople described it as an internal Facebook, a collaboration engine, Twitter but secure, but to me it still seems to be a user interface in search of an application.

The demonstration reminded me forcibly of the scene in Bruce Almighty in which Morgan Freeman lets Jim Carrey hear all the prayers being made at that instant by the citizens of Chicago. The user gets a stream of tweets, discussion threads, notifications, and alerts from feeder applications, messages from colleagues to each other, general questions, etc. My question, which no-one could answer adequately was “how is this different from email?” The features they cite — filtering, highlighting, threading, categorizing, etc. — are all in Outlook if you care to use them.

The main difference, apart from the fashionable user interface with the sender’s photo next to each message, is the switch from emailers deciding who they want to read their message, to readers deciding whose chats they want to see. Benioff’s description of his own Chatter feed puts him as the omniscient Bruce, watching every sales process, customer service problem resolution, product design collaboration, and invoice approval throughout his organization.

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Sales Reps' Top Five Annoying Habits (Whether They're Selling Cars Or Software)

Duncan Jones

I’m in the process of buying a new car, and I’m trying to apply everything I’ve learned from my research into software negotiation towards getting a good deal. I’m noticing many of the irritating behaviors from the dealers’ sales staff that Forrester’s sourcing and vendor management clients encounter regularly from their software reps. Here is my list of the worst ones, but I’d love to hear other people’s suggestions:

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Forrester Inquiries On SaaS Becoming More Sophisticated, More Around Organizational Design And Skill Sets

Liz Herbert

Forrester received more than 1,000 inquiries on SaaS and cloud services to date in 2010. With SaaS gaining maturity and even becoming the more common way to deploy software in some categories, firms are increasingly opting for SaaS solutions in place of packaged apps.

With the growing uptake of SaaS, Forrester has seen a change in the nature of questions about SaaS. Firms are not only asking basics around the whens and whys of SaaS but they are also asking more strategic questions around SaaS sourcing and SaaS vendor management, as well as how to set up organizational structure and hire the right skills to succeed with SaaS deployments.

Stay tuned for the full analysis of Forrester's SaaS inquiry data for the first half of 2010, to be published shortly.

Also, for anyone interested in a more in-depth analysis of SaaS and cloud services trends and best practices, we are hosting our first full-day workshop on the topic in Forrester’s Cambridge, Mass., headquarters on September 16. For more details about this event, please click here.

Please share your thoughts and connect with me on Twitter @lizherbert.

Liz

The United States’ Lawsuit Against Oracle Could Impact Your Future Software Negotiations

Duncan Jones

We’ve all heard software reps blame “revenue recognition” and “Sarbanes-Oxley” as an excuse for not giving an extra discount or contractual concession. IT sourcing professionals may now hear “GSA Rules” and the “False Claims Act” cited as similar justification: “We didn’t give that concession to the government, so we can’t give it to you.” Could that be the worrying unintended consequence of the Justice Department’s action against Oracle: http:/searchoracle.techtarget.com/news/2240019712/US-government-sues-Oracle-for-tens-of-millions-of-dollars?

I can’t comment on the details of the Oracle case, but I’m sure it is complex and two-sided. For instance, I’ve helped clients negotiate reasonable compromises with Oracle to handle special circumstances that won’t apply to many other organizations. These may have involved an extra discretionary discount, if Oracle didn’t have a programmatic way to handle the exception. I wouldn’t expect to get the same concession or discount for another client to whom those special circumstances didn’t apply. For example, this report describes one issue that is particularly important to public sector agencies, but whose impact varies widely: Do Your Software Contracts Permit External Use?

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Is SVM A Barrier To Innovation?

Christopher Andrews

As many readers know, I have a strong interest in understanding the practical realities of innovation and want to help companies define what that "buzzword" means -- what it is, who manages it, and why it's important (see my just-published report on the ecosystem of innovation services providers). 

I believe Sourcing and Vendor Management (SVM) can and should play a critical role in the innovation process. However, my biggest disappointment when I speak to many technology vendors, IT professionals, and business users is when they tell me that they avoid working with SVM when purchasing (or in the cases of vendors, selling) a new technology. Fairly or unfairly, they see SVM's involvement as a bureaucratic stumbling block that will stifle their ability to move quickly or pick the technology vendor they want. For these people, SVM acts as a barrier, not an enabler, of innovation.

I’ve written before that this view is short-sighted: we know that SVM can play a pivotal role in protecting the long-term interests of the organization, SVM is a critical part of the technology purchasing process, and there are plenty of reasons to believe that the power of SVM organizations will only grow in the future.  To some of the more progressive SVM organizations, contributing to businenss innovation is an even more important priority than cutting costs.

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SAP’s European Leaders Describe Its More Customer-Centric Approach

Duncan Jones

I joined an impressively large crowd at SAP’s World Tour event in Birmingham,UK, last week and was able to spend an hour with Tim Noble, head of SAP’s UK and Ireland business unit, and Chris McLain, who leads SAP’s team focusing on its 150 largest accounts in EMEA. I'm writing an update of my 2007 report "Effective SAP Pricing And Licensing Negotiation" and wanted to know what they thought about the clash between traditional deal-based sales incentives and Forrester’s clients’ need for commercial flexibility and more recognition, by their key software providers, of the wider relationship. It’s a topic I’ve raised before (http://blogs.forrester.com/duncan_jones/10-03-19-open_letter_season_sap), and I was very pleased to hear some things that SAP is doing to reduce this conflict.

I explained why, from my research, software vendors’ insatiable craving for recognizable license revenue at the expense of creating shared incentives for success is damaging to customers and to the vendor. Both Tim and Chris clearly understand the problem. Tim keeps reps on the same accounts for several years and rewards them for metrics such as customer satisfaction to avoid the revolving door sell-and-run approach that characterized software selling before the advent of SaaS. Chris has a team of Global Account Directors that works with local sales, pre-sales, and delivery teams to provide the holistic view that Forrester clients want and struggle to get from SAP’s competitors.

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Ensure Your Software Reseller Can Overcome Its Potential Conflict Of Interest

Duncan Jones

Yesterday I attended Computacenter’s Analyst Event. It’s a major independent provider of IT infrastructure services in Europe, ranging from reselling hardware and software to managing data centers and providing outsourced desktop management. My main interest was how it manages the potential conflict between properly advising the client and maximizing revenue from selling software. For instance, clients often ask me if it's dangerous to employ their value-added reseller (VAR) to advise them on license management in case the reseller tips off its vendors about a potential source of licence revenue.

An excellent customer case study at the event provided another example. A UK water company engaged Computacenter to implement a new desktop strategy involving 90% fully virtualized thin clients. Such a project creates major licensing challenges on both the desktop and server sides, because the software companies haven’t enhanced their models to properly cope with this scenario. The VAR’s dilemma is whether to design a solution that will be cheapest for the customer or one that will be most lucrative for itself.

As we said in our recent report “Refresher Course: Hiring VARs,” sourcing managers should decide whether they want their VARs to provide design and integration services like these or merely process orders at a minimum margin.

Computacenter will do either, but they clearly want to do more of the VA part and less (proportionately) of the R. So, according to their executives, they have no hesitation doing what is best for the customer even if it reduces their commission in the short term. But they didn’t think many of their competitors would take the same view.

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Understanding The Evolving Ecosystem Of Innovation Service Providers

Christopher Andrews

I recently finished the draft of my report on the ecosystem of innovation services providers.  This report, to be published in July, explores the landscape of companies that are unified by a single purpose:  they are dedicated to helping their clients unleash their own innovation potential.  These are not companies who simply use "innovation" as a marketing buzzword.  Rather, they are dedicated to the discipline of innovation – and bring unique innovation expertise to clients in wide variety of corporate roles. This report builds on much of Forrester’s previous work related to Innovation Networks and Innovation Management, but expands the "ecosystem" to consider all of the companies I interact with that have a distinct innnovation focus.  In the report, I explore the offerings of:

  • Strategy consulting organizations
  • Technology service providers
  • Product management firms
  • Outsourced product development firms
  • Idea management/solution generation companies
  • Other niche service providers (including training program, design firms, and others)

 

I argue that this ecosystem of providers will be an increasingly important part of a comprehensive innovation strategy. However, it will be up to very knowledgeable and “connected” individuals within companies to help manage the diverse players, and connect suppliers to the right role, at the right point in the innovation process.  I also argue that this is an opportunity for SVM professionals who want to play a more strategic role  in their organizations.

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Procure-To-Pay Best Practices: Cut The Approval Levels, Improve The Monitoring

Duncan Jones

Earlier this week I was in Milan, speaking at the CPO Forum event about the importance of good procure-to-pay (P2P) systems to deliver sourcing's theoretical savings into real bottom-line improvements.  As England's ex-goalkeeper Robert Green showed us last week, savings opportunities aren't the same as real savings. :( 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/world_cup_2010/matches/match_05

I had some subsequent discussions with attendees about P2P best practices and how you maximize adoption by business users. One tip relates to the optimum number of approval levels — my conclusion is: the fewer the better. As one procurement director put it, "We empower our people, and show that we trust them, but not unconditionally. We monitor individual expenditure closely, so each person knows that we may subsequently ask him to justify anything exceptional that shows up in the report." His firm had actually cut consumption of health & safety equipment by 20% by eliminating pre-approval and replacing it with exception reporting. He'd also streamlined the MRO procurement process. "We approve the maintenance work order, but then we used to have to separately approve the parts used to do the job.  I convinced my colleagues that the second approval was a waste of time."

In contrast, what can happen if you have too many approval levels?

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