Forrester Blogs For Technology Industry Professionals
This is a roll-up of all Forrester blogs written for Technology Industry Professionals. Role-specific blogs are listed below. Visit Forrester.com to learn how we make Technology Industry Professionals successful every day.
Enterprises are deploying a wide range of horizontal and vertical mobile applications. Results from Forrester’s 2010 Network and Telecom survey of IT decision makers at North America and European firms show that horizontal mobile applications such wireless email, have been implemented or are being implemented by 86% of firms, and calendaring and personal information management applications have been deployed by 68% of firms. The next wave of mobile application deployment is focused on meeting the needs of line of business (LOB) workers such as sales force and field service professionals, or industry-specific requirements such as inventory management applications in retail, or location-based applications in the transportation arena. Survey data shows a persistent level of application implementation and planned deployment among 14% – 19% of enterprises for mobile sales force, field service and emergency response applications. We expect this mobile LOB application deployment to gain momentum in 2010.
The methods enterprises use to acquire and develop these mobile applications vary widely. Homegrown or in-house mobile application development is commonly used by 40% of North American and European enterprises. Approximately 30% of all enterprise organizations use a local, regional, or national external developer for mobile application development requirements. North American enterprises are significantly more likely to purchase mobile applications from a mobile service provider portal site or from a mobile application store. Between 24% and 29% of North American enterprises use these two types of mobile application development approaches, compared with only 11% to 15% of European firms.
As readers of this blog know, I see a lot of benefits in using serious gaming to make better product and development decisions. Consulting firms like Enthiosys and Booz Allen Hamilton use different serious gaming approaches, but they ultimately have the same aim: Avoid the traps that we mere humans frequently make, even when confronted with a wealth of facts and reasonable arguments. The bigger the decision – for example, What will make us more competitive in the next five years? How do we make sense of all these enhancement requests? Should we pursue a new market? – the greater the need to guard against groupthink, the loudest voice in the room, information overload, and other common decision-making pitfalls.
While I could (and have) provided examples from business, an equally compelling example comes from politics. One of the offshoots of Enthiosys' work with businesses is Games For Democracy, a charitable foundation that, as the name implies, applies serious gaming techniques to political decision-making. A good example is healthcare, the topic of a Games For Democracy exercise using the "Buy A Feature" game. Each participant had a limited amount of faux money to invest in different healthcare options, such as the public option, a mandate for personal health insurance, and cost containment measures. No one had enough money to buy any option outright, so horse-trading among participants was mandatory.
Tech Populismis a major force that's changing the way wework. Behind the walls of SMBs and enterprises are empowered employees who increasingly make individual choices about the technologies that they use to get their jobs done. With the growing ubiquity of technology in the workplace (smartphones, other mobile devices, and PCs) individual workers are often making decisions for themselves. The opportunity for tech strategists lies in addressing portfolio strategy as well as go-to-market strategy to address this rising tide of new buyers.
To explore Tech Populism, Forrester is currently designing its upcoming Workforce Forrsights Survey to be fielded to 5,000 employees in the US, Canada, France, the UK, and Germany who work at businesses across a range of industries and company sizes. Our target respondents use a smartphone or computer at least 1 hour per day at work.
The Workforce Forrsights Survey will answer questions about how employees:
Since I've been talking a lot about innovation, both in print and in person, I've been running through countless metaphors to make this point or that about the innovation process. My latest inspiration uses some well-known fictional characters to encapsulate the difference between invention and adoption: Who is the better innovator, Captain Nemo (Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea) or Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott (Star Trek)?
Most people would probably choose Nemo. After all, his greatest invention, the Nautilus, antedated by decades the first real submarines. (The US Navy honored Verne's vision by naming the first nuclear submarine the U.S.S. Nautilus.) Previous military experiments with submersibles, such as the Hunley, seem primitive and almost comic compared to the sleek, powerful Nautilus, which was, at least in fiction, sinking enemy warships decades before U-boats became the terrors of the high seas. As an invention, the Nautilus was so new that naval experts assumed it was a sea monster, not something as novel as an underwater ironclad. Now that's inventiveness for you.
Last week both Cisco and Microsoft made wide-ranging announcements around their unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) portfolios. On Friday, Cisco added to its barrage of collaboration announcements (Cisco Proclaims Their Collaboration Intentions) with the introduction of:
Cisco Quad (a user application to enable unified access to content in enterprise repositories).
Cisco WebEx Connect 6.5 (adding more collaboration-as-a-service by introducing browser based access).
Cisco Prosumer Video (Launching a new Flip video camera for the enterprise and the software to enable IT and information workers to manage video).
This announcement was on the heels of Microsoft’s TechEd, where cloud-based development platforms and services were a hot topic of conversation; Microsoft used the stage to continue to illuminate its intentions to make Microsoft Office Wave 14 products available in the second half of 2010. In talking with Moz Hussain, Director OCS Technical Product Management at Microsoft, just before TechEd, he stressed two things about Microsoft’s UC solution:
The full capabilities of UC&C are available based on deployment of Microsoft OCS, SharePoint, and Live Meeting.
Microsoft solutions are fully interoperable with other leading UC&C vendors.
Moz hinted broadly at the purpose and usefulness of the recently founded Unified Communications Interoperability Forum to deliver independent interoperability testing and/or certification, but the full scope and role of that organization is still being finalized.
In the immortal words of Keanu Reeves in Speed, "Pop quiz, hotshot!" Answer the following questions:
On average, how long does it take for customers to implement your technology? (Include people using the technology in the definition of "implement.")
In all phases of a project (building the justification, drafting the requirements, selecting vendors, implementing the technology, reviewing its success), is there anyone in the customer organization who champions the project from start to finish? If not, when and how does the hand-off happen?
Is there anyone responsible for successful execution in each phase? Again, if not, what does the hand-off look like?
How does the project team convince people in their organization to use your technology?
Don't worry if you couldn't answer some, or even all, of the previous questions. You're not alone. Most technology vendors don't have anything but the most superficial understanding of how customers adopt their technology. Naming a few stakeholders isn't the same as understanding the adoption process, unless you think there's no reason to read Gone With The Wind if you can identify Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler as the main characters.
Tech vendors have all kinds of reasons to understand adoption better than they do. When projects fail, and adoption doesn't happen, those customers are far less likely to stay customers. That's also a potential success story that you must cross off the list. And that's just the beginning of the problems.
Adding up the last two years of Forrester research into the product management/product marketing role in the tech industry, it's easy to see why it can be hard to hire a good PM. Many of the skills that define successful PMs aren't easy to detect in a few hours of interviews. Since these traits generally don't reveal themselves until the PM is on the job, perhaps you should simulate the job in the interview.
While many technology vendors have a muddled idea of what PM success looks like, they usually have some notion of the outcomes they don't want to see. Can't build good working relationships with Development? Black mark. Can't say no to a sales enablement request? Black mark. Can't manage competing inbound and outbound priorities? Black mark. Can't give a detailed description of the specific roles to which we're marketing and selling? Black mark.
And the list goes on. The candidate sitting on the other side of the desk might have done an outstanding job, as it says on the resume, launching products at various companies. But what does "launching products" mean, exactly? Did the candidate keep the project on track, or was he just someone in the congratulatory photo op at the end? When you're interviewing a developer or QA person, you have a pretty good idea what their contribution was. The exact contribution of PM can be a bit more obscure, though certainly no less important.
Outside the technology industry, engineers sometimes build multiple prototypes before selecting one particular design. Rather than finding the defects of one proposed design, discarding it, and moving on to the next idea, engineering teams that apply this approach, set-basedconcurrent design, save themselves a lot of time and headaches by running through as many options as possible simultaneously. As you might have guessed, this technique isn't cheap. You need to staff multiple design teams, and prototyping in many industries, such as automotive manufacturing, is always expensive. Nonetheless, by delaying the design decision for as long as possible, until the team has found the best among multiple ideas, development can take less time, with a greater probability of building a good product, than with sequential design.
So why don't we build software this way? For Microsoft, SAP, and other technology companies, prototyping is orders of magnitude cheaper than it is for Toyota and General Motors. Executives at tech companies would love to reduce the unpredictability of development schedules, often thrown off-track by unexpected design issues. So why hasn't set-based design caught fire in the technology industry?
That question has been plaguing me since hearing an excellent presentation by Jean Tabaka and Bill Wake on this topic at Agile 2009. I'm not sure of the answer ("More research required," says the analyst), but I'd be amazed if it didn't include two factors: (1) the nature of the product being developed; and (2) the unspoken assumptions of the tech industry.
The Australian product management consultancy brainmates just published the results of a survey on a very interesting topic, social media usage among PMs. The short list of questions get right to the heart of the matter: Do you expect to be using social media more?
The brainmates survey indicates that PMs are ready to embrace, or bracing themselves for, social media as an increasingly useful tool for product marketing, product feedback, and collaboration. In contrast, PMs do not expect to be increasing their use of social media for monitoring "to find references to their products or services and any references related to their market, customer segments or competitors." Interesting, especially given how much electronic ink that social medianiks have spilled about using Twitter, Facebook, et al. to see ourselves (or our brand) as others see us.