Boost Customer Obsession With Business Technology

Eveline Oehrlich

Welcome to the age of the customer!

To quickly recap: this is the age where digitally empowered customers are driving firms to become customer-obsessed, digital businesses that apply customer-led, insights-driven, fast, and connected technology. You may be asking “What does this have to do with me and my responsibility in Infrastructure and Operations?” To answer in brief, your CIO and technology management organization play central roles in making your firm customer obsessed because:

  • Technology enables dramatic business transformation.Customer-obsessed digital businesses exploit digital technologies to create new customer value and increase operational agility in service of customers. Companies that understand how to master these challenges are driving digital transformation to become digital predators. Forrester predicts that by 2020, every business will be either a digital predator or digital prey.
  • Customer-led business value drives technology investments. Tech management organizations must understand, manage, and communicate technology’s role in delivering customer-obsessed outcomes like digital customer experience. Technology executives responsible for service design and delivery must minimize the cost of MOOSE (spending to maintain and operate the tech organization, systems, and equipment) for ongoing operations, deliver the agreed quality of service, and shift investments to customer-obsessed innovation. Only 14% of budgets for new IT initiatives and projects support sell-side business operations.
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Forrester Predictions: Ten Key Developments In Cloud Computing Shape The Industry In 2017

Dave Bartoletti

I'm pleased to announce that Forrester’s cloud computing predictions for 2017 published this morning!

Check out Predictions 2017: Customer-Obsessed Enterprises Launch Cloud’s Second Decade. Our cloud team has gathered ten key developments in cloud computing that will shape this industry in 2017 — and what you should do about them today.

Cloud computing has been the most exciting and disruptive force in the tech market in the last decade, and it will continue to disrupt traditional computing models at least through 2020. Starting in 2017, large enterprises will move to cloud in a big way, and that will super-charge the market. We predict the influx of enterprise dollars will push the global public cloud market to $236B in 2020, up from $146B in 2017.

Cloud platforms from the global megacloud providers like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, IBM, Google, Salesforce, Oracle, Centurylink and SAP will set the pace, accelerating adoption of private cloud and hosted private cloud as well. In 2017, you need to:

  • Get your private cloud and SaaS strategy in shape in 2017 — start now!
  • Educate yourself about exciting developments in hyperconverged infrastructure, security, networking, and containers.
  • Take a fresh look at your regional and industry-specific cloud providers — specialization is afoot.
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DevOps And The Mainframe, A Perfect Match?

Robert Stroud

Did someone forget to tell the mainframe it was irrelevant?

For many years, the much lauded death of the mainframe has been espoused by many pundits. Many believed the end of the mainframe would be further accelerated with the rapid growth of cloud adoption.  I am sorry to report to those naysayers, the mainframe didn’t get the message, and lives on, alive and well as the beating heart of many large businesses. For instance, the mainframe is leveraged by 92 of the top 100 banks worldwide, 23 of the top 25 US retailers, all 10 of the world’s 10 largest insurers, and 23 of the world’s 25 largest airlines.[i]

Mainframe is part of the digital business ecosystem

The drive for speed to counter competitors and deliver new and agile solutions has never been more evident.  Successful digital businesses have found the secret to unleashing the data and business processes within their mainframe-based applications. Starting with “ad-hoc” integrations between systems of engagement and systems of record, they soon find the ability to define innovative products and services is limited by an inability to evolve and improve their mainframe applications.  For instance, a simple mobile insurance application is actually just the gateway to a complex set of applications that must work seamlessly with the mobile application and with each other to provide customers and prospects with great experiences.

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The Old Axiom "No One Gets Fired For Buying [X]" Should Be Laid To Rest

Andre Kindness

I just hung up the phone and can’t stop shaking my head. This was the second call this week from an organization looking for a workaround to deal with the shortcomings of a networking component. Taking inquiries and trying to help clients solve challenges is a common element of my job. This can be tough when it isn’t an engineering issue but a religious one — like this one. In particular, this organization’s relationship with its vendor has become toxic to the business.

The company is trying to digitalize the edge so it can respond to a mobile mindset. These I&O professionals need to deploy a ruggedized networking device that can be set up, tested, and replaced without a networking professional. Why? The company can’t afford to have someone on staff dispersed throughout all locations, at night, to check the networking equipment, a function that’s less than 1% of the service that the company needs to accomplish daily. That would be like a manufacturer having a person to test pumps, another to check compressors, and another to pressurize hydraulic lines.

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Tech Vendors Must Evolve Or Crumble: The Report You Must Read

Glenn O'Donnell

Which companies do you feel are the dominant players in the technology industry? Are they the names that have dominated for years, like Cisco, the newly merged Dell (plus EMC), the recently split HP, Inc. and HPE, IBM, Microsoft, or Oracle? Is it one of the newer cloud titans like AWS, Google, IBM, or Microsoft? Will cloud demolish the tech industry as we know it? Don't get lured into the hyperbole in the market, but do inform yourself about the realities. As with all things in business, follow the money to find the truth. That's what we do every day to seek answers to the big questions in Business Technology.

"Evolve or Crumble" is one of the most important things you will read this year!

The technology vendor landscape is in the midst of great change ... again! The powerhouses of technology are under assault by new and transforming players. My colleagues Sophia Vargas and Richard Fichera recently published a report that should be mandatory reading by everyone in the technology world! You may not agree with their points, but they painstakingly vetted the data and premise with fellow thought leaders within and outside of Forrester. The evidence is compelling. The Evolve Or Crumble: Prepare For The Fate Of The Hardware Incumbents report will make you think and prepare you to make what may be difficult, but necessary decisions about your own future!

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Customer-Obsessed Businesses Driving Infrastructure Transformation

Robert Stroud

Customers today are hyper-connected and their connectivity is rewriting the rules of business. Access to mobility, social networks, wearable devices, connected cars and hotels managed by robots are rapidly changing the behaviors of how customers engage and purchase. Think how you watch a film, shop or order a taxi.

The disruptive power in the hands of newly tech-savvy customers is forcing every business to evolve into a digital business or perish.

Infrastructure is at the center of the Digital Transformation

The digital transformation requires that organizations evolve their underlying technology infrastructure investments to fuel a business technology (BT) agenda, with technology designed to win, serve, and retain customers. Infrastructure – whether it is managed internally or hidden behind some cloud service – is a big part of the digital in digital business. I&O leaders can no longer simply focus on the same old approach to infrastructure. Internal business operations, or systems of record will remain important, but the emphasis must shift more to systems powering the newer digital customer experience

We are all aware that software is at the center of transitioning every successful business today. This software focus fueled a rapid expansion of cloud services and many argue that there is no longer a necessity to own hardware. This has turned the infrastructure world upside down. Hardware speeds and feeds no longer dominate infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals' criteria. In some use cases, qualities like the fastest packet-processing chip or largest disk capacity are critical, but they matter less to many of the systems of engagement in the BT agenda. As you design your BT services, be aware of which solution is right for optimizing the customer experience.

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Linux vs Unix Hot Patching – Have We Reached The Tipping Point?

Richard Fichera

The Background – Linux as a Fast Follower and the Need for Hot Patching

No doubt about it, Linux has made impressive strides in the last 15 years, gaining many features previously associated with high-end proprietary Unix as it made the transition from small system plaything to core enterprise processing resource and the engine of the extended web as we know it. Along the way it gained reliable and highly scalable schedulers, a multiplicity of efficient and scalable file systems, advanced RAS features, its own embedded virtualization and efficient thread support.

As Linux grew, so did supporting hardware, particularly the capabilities of the ubiquitous x86 CPU upon which the vast majority of Linux runs today. But the debate has always been about how close Linux could get to "the real OS", the core proprietary Unix variants that for two decades defined the limits of non-mainframe scalability and reliability. But "the times they are a changing", and the new narrative may be "when will Unix catch up to Linux on critical RAS features like hot patching".

Hot patching, the ability to apply updates to the OS kernel while it is running, is a long sought-after but elusive feature of a production OS. Long sought after because both developers and operations teams recognize that bringing down an OS instance that is doing critical high-volume work is at best disruptive and worst a logistical nightmare, and elusive because it is incredibly difficult. There have been several failed attempts, and several implementations that "almost worked" but were so fraught with exceptions that they were not really useful in production.[i]

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Google Invites Us To "Daydream" In Virtual Reality

JP Gownder

At Google I/O today, the company announced a new mobile-centric VR offering called Daydream. The nicely-named Daydream VR builds off of a mobile device platform, much as the Samsung Gear VR add-on device does for Samsung S7 smartphones. Daydream combines three elements:

  • Android N smartphones optimized for VR. As Samsung has shown with its successful Gear VR efforts, it takes a high-end smartphone with deep pixel density and great graphics performance to effectively drive VR experiences. Google announced that a variety of handset vendors -- including Samsung, LG, HTC, Huawei, and others -- will release smartphones that meet the new Daydream standard. Additionally, Android N will include a number of VR-specific performance optimization features.
  • Reference design for headset and controller. Google also announced a reference design for both a headset and a controller (see photo). Importantly, the controller is aware of where it is in 3D space, allowing users to interact more richly with their controller than, say, an unseen controller.
  • Applications and Google Play distribution. Google will move some of its own offerings to Daydream. They've rebuilt Youtube to be more VR-aware, allowing a variety of new video content to be streamed throught Daydream. Google StreetView will come to VR, offering people a more powerful way to explore real-world environments. 
     
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Velocity Mandates DevOps And Continuous Deployment

Robert Stroud

Today’s customers, products, business operations, and competitors are fundamentally digital. Succeeding in this new era mandates everyone constantly reinvent their businesses as fundamentally digital. You have two choices,

·      become a digital predator; or

·      become digital prey.

To compete in this new digital market norm, software applications and products must contain new sources of customer value while at the same time adopting new operational agility. I&O pros need to change from the previous methods of releasing large software products and services at sporadic intervals to continuous deployment. All must adopt key automation technologies to make continuous deployment a reality.

At Forrester, my colleagues and I (including the great Amy DeMartine) developed our recent TechRadar™: Continuous Deployment, Q2 2016 which look at the the top use cases, business value, and outlook of the 12 top technologies engaged in in continuous deployment.

Our key findings include:

Continuous deployment is critical to unlock velocity

In this new era of digital business, I&O pros must automate across the entire software delivery life cycle, creating the ability to continuously deploy while assuring service quality.

No Silver Bullet

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Don't Wait; Rethink Your ITIL Journey Now!

Robert Stroud

Over the past 25 years, many organizations have modelled their support – and in some cases their delivery organization – after the ITIL frameworks and processes. For many, ITIL has been helpful in establishing the rigor and governance that they needed to bring their infrastructure under control in an era where quality and consistency of service was critical and technology was sometimes fragile.

Today, we are 5 years into “The age of the customer” – an era where customer obsession is driving technology and which demands a culture of speed and collaboration to differentiate and deliver extraordinary customer experience to drive business growth. In this era, the rise of mobility and the race to deliver differentiated business processes is critical to success. Your development teams are driving velocity and elasticity with increased quality and availability, leveraging DevOps practices and often driving change directly to production.

This transition has led some organizations to experience friction between the competing priorities, velocity and control, especially for those who continue to execute on the traditional model of ITIL.

ITIL is starting to show signs of age. That does not mean it is on the verge of demise. ITIL must adapt. To understand the relevance of ITIL and IT Service Management practices in this era of Modern Service Delivery, Eveline Oehrlich and Elinor Klavens and I have embarked on a review of ITIL and the use of IT Service Management practices supporting todays BT agenda.

Our key findings include:

ITIL must pivot to support digital transformation

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