The Mobile App Internet Wags The IT Dog: A Post For Content & Collaboration Professionals

Your workforce is mobile and loving it. They love it because they can get things done anywhere, anytime, on any device. You can almost see happy tails wagging as they check their email. But they haver no idea how disruptive mobile devices are to the IT status quo. Sure, mobile email is a small dog to train. But what about mobile business apps? That dog is bigger than a rhinoceros.

To keep your workforce loving your business applications as they go mobile, you will have to redesign the fundamental architecture for delivering apps. The architecture of Client-Server (and Browser-Server) is inadequate. You will need to build from an architecture of devices and services.  The mobile app Internet is that architecture: local apps (including HTML5 browsers) on smart mobile devices and cloud-hosted interactions and data.

My friend and colleague John McCarthy has written a seminal report for Forrester clients sizing the market for the mobile app Internet. In this report, he lays out the growth model for mobile apps (six drivers of growth), segments the market for mobile apps+services (mobile apps, application development, mobile management, and process reinvention), and sizes the total mobile apps+services market ($54.6B by 2015).

This is an important report. Everybody should read it. Here's my take on what it means for content and collaboration professionals:

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And Then There Were Three Cloud Email Giants

With Cisco's shuttering of Cisco Mail, multitenant cloud email is now (as my colleague Chris Voce called it) a battle royale between Microsoft, Google, and IBM, where the winner will have products, scale, sales channels, and big ecosystems of support.

I am not surprised that Cisco bailed on cloud email. All the signs were there:

  • The company overpaid for PostPath in the midst of a buying spree. PostPath (which made some folks a lot of money when it sold for $215M) was just one of 17 acquisitions Cisco made in 2007 and 2008. Clearly Cisco was feeling confident that it could buy its way into new markets. (And it did with WebEx.)
  • Cisco Mail was always to be released "any day now." It's fine to preannounce a product so that buyers know it's coming. But Cisco Mail never quite got shipped. The one reference customer never returned my phone calls.
  • Cisco's collaboration platform doesn't require email. Messaging is one of the four big boxes of collaboration stuff. (The others are conferencing, workspaces, and social technology.) Messaging in particular can be carved out and offered separately. Cisco doesn't need email. It has WebEx and video conferencing. (The jury's still out on presence, chat, video hosting, and social technology.)
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Windows Phone 7 Is Invited To The Mobile Dance By Nokia

Make no mistake about Nokia's global power. They are still the dominant handset maker globally. But Nokia somehow missed the shift to the handheld computers we call smartphones and tablets.

Make no mistake about Microsoft's tenacity. They will drop a cool billion to enter a market. But they have tried and tried and tried again to build an operating system that can work on the handheld computes we call smartphones and tablets.

Well, Windows Phone 7 (now where did the "7" come from?) is a good mobile OS, at least on smartphones. No idea whether it will work on tablets. (We know Windows 7 itself won't.)

And Nokia's smartphone platforms like the E7 are a decent piece of hardware.

Now that these two megaliths are partnering up, Microsoft's mobile OS has a chance for relevance. I and my colleagues have predicted and urged you, our enterprise customers, to focus on three mobile platforms: Apple's iOS, Google's Android, and RIM's QNX. Well, it's time to take a flier on Microsoft as well.

It's way too early to tell if this partnership will be successful or if anybody, particularly your US and European employees, will care about Nokia smartphones or tablets running Windows Phone 7. But if they nail the product experience. If they sign up the carriers. If they quickly roll out a good, competitively-priced tablet running the same Windows Phone OS. If they port Word and PowerPoint and OneNote and Excel and SharePoint Workspace to that tablet and phones. If they attract ISVs. If they attract independent developers. If they build a decent app store. If they sign up the mobile device management vendors. If they execute brilliantly. Then they could be relevant.

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"Day One" For IBM's Social Business Strategy: It's Business In The Empowered Era

I just got back from Lotusphere after waiting out the sixth blizzard of this "snowmaggedon" Boston winter. The venerable Notes developer and administrator conference received an injection of business relevance on Monday when Lotus GM Alistair Rennie announced IBM's Social Business strategy. The conference motto was "Get Social. Do Business." In a private conversation, Rennie called Monday "day one" for social business.

The importance of Rennie's announcement was reinforced by the IBM brand presence and by presentations from IBM senior vice president Mike Rhodin and IBM senior vice president of marketing and communications, Jon Iwata. I believe that for IBM, social business is a strategy on par with its e-business strategy in importance and transformational potential. This will be clearer to everybody once IBM's advertising and product engines get cranking.

As for us, well, we're an easy sell on the strategy's transformational potential because what IBM calls social business, we call Empowered, and we wrote a book about it. Here are some charts to help make the connections clear.

The first picture is a diagram that captures the technology dynamic of the empowered era and indicates the organizational response that will be required. In a nutshell, companies will need to respond to the demands and expectations of empowered customers by:

  • Empowering employees to respond to the needs of empowered customers. (This is what our book Empowered is about.)
  • Listening to the market conversation using social listening platforms. (That's the subject of our book, Groundswell.)
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Counterintuitive Collaboration Trends 2011: Consumerization Leads The Disrupter List

It's important sometimes to step back from the obvious trends and look at things that lie just beyond the light. So in addition to the clear trends in play: mobilizing the entire collaboration toolkit, moving collaboration services to the cloud (often in support of mobile work); and consolidating collaboration workloads onto a full-featured collaboration platform, here are six counterintuitive trends for 2011 (for more detail and an analysis of what content & collaboration professionals should do, please read the full report available to Forrester clients or by credit card):

  1. Consumerization gets board-level approval. Consumerization is inevitable; your response is not. In 2011, tackle this head on. (And read our book, Empowered, while you're at it -- it has a recipe for business success in the empowered era, a world in which customers and employees have power.)
  2. The email inbox gets even more important. I know the established wisdom is for email to get less relevant as Gen Y tweets their way to business collaboration. But come on, look at all the drivers of email: feeds from social media, universal, pervasive on any device. Email's here to stay. But it's time to reinvent the inbox. IBM and Google are leading this charge.
  3. The cloud cements its role as the place for collaboration innovation. The cloud is better for mobile, telework, and distributed organizations. And cloud collaboration services will get better faster than on-premise alternatives. Full stop. The math isn't hard to do. A quarterly product release cycle beats four-year upgrade cycles and every time.
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Verizon Wireless Support For iPhone 4 Opens More Enterprise Doors

Okay, so Verizon Wireless (VZW) now will offer iPhone 4s to its customers on its 3G network. (The official launch date is February 10, 2011). What does this mean for content & collaboration professionals? A lot, as it turns out, as yet another brick is laid in the post-PC future.

Forrester customers can read the new report by my colleague Charles Golvin analyzing the impact on the industry and the consumer market. Here are some thoughts on what this deal means for the enterprise and for content and collaboration professionals. iPhone-on-VZW means:

  • You have yet one more reason to support iPhones. Mobile service provider choice is important on smartphones and tablets, both to provide good network coverage to employees and also to keep competition high hence prices low. AT&T Mobility’s lock on iPhone in the US was one reason some firms have been reluctant to support iPhone. With iPhone-on-VZW (not to mention the aggressive $30/month introductory pricing for an unlimited data plan), that barrier is gone.
  • Yet more employees will bring their personal iPhones to work and ask for your help. Verizon Wireless has been driving the consumerization of Android devices; it will now also spend some money promoting and selling iPhone-on-VZW. This will only increase the “osmotic pressure” of employees aka consumers bringing their personal devices to work. And they will want more than just email on their personal smartphones; they will also ask for SharePoint and the employee portal and and and . . .
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ABi (Anything But iPad) Business Tablets Face An Uphill Slog In 2011

No need to revisit the success of iPad. The millions of units sold since April speaks for itself. While most of these have been purchased at retail, many buyers use their tablets for work, often sponsored or supported by an enlightened IT organization. 2011 will be a big year for iPad in the enterprise.

But what about the countless number of tablets from other manufacturers? These anything-but-iPad (ABi) tablets promise enticing characteristics that Content & Collaboration professionals cherish, things like Flash media support, enterprise app stores, and sometimes greatly enhanced security (as RIM’s Playbook will have) or deep links to the unified communications infrastructure (as Cisco’s Cius will have) or full Microsoft Office support (as HP’s Slate will have).

How will these ABi tablets fare in the enterprise in 2011? Fair to partly cloudy, I fear. Three gating factors will slow enterprise adoption:

  1. Many ABI tablets and particularly those from RIM and Cisco and HP will be sold primarily to companies. So in a world of smartphone and tablet consumerization where employees bring personal devices to work, the leading ABi business tablets are being sold through the enterprise door. This will slow down adoption as IT buyers find the budget and evaluate the alternatives. In contrast, iPad is available to consumers as well as directly to businesses. So IT can at least temporarily sidestep the issues of funding and data plan provisioning while developing a tablet strategy. It’s an easier business case to make in 2011. Of course, other Android tablets are available to consumers and will come in through the employee door.
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IT Confronts The Splinternet

Just posted an OpEd piece on IT's role in supporting the Splinternet. The Splinternet is a lot like the Internet except that it's fragmented by devices and passwords (and media formats and screen sizes and location). Customers don't get a single experience across mobile, social, and Web channels today. But they need to. Marketing is scrambling to give customers the mobile apps and social engagement they desire, scambling to overcome the Splinternet. But marketing can't do it alone.

The most digitally advanced firms and organizations on the planet realize that they need a whole-company response (and that includes all of IT as well as customer service, sales, and product development; supported by finance and legal and ops) already and are investing to deal with the Splinternet. (ESPN, NPR, Amazon, Google, and Bank of America come to mind.)

I won't repeat the article here, but I will point out that IT has a choice to make. It starts with a logic argument:

  • Customers expect a single experience across the Web, mobile, and social channels.
  • IT is the only part of the organization that can stitch together all of the systems across all of the channels to deliver that single experience.
  • Therefore, IT needs to step up and confront the challenges and opportunities presented by the Splinternet.
  • Therefore, IT must work even more closely with marketing, sales, customer service, and product development.
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GSA Picks Google Apps: What It Means

The General Services Administration made a bold decision to move its email and collaboration systems to the cloud. In the RFP issued last June, it was easy to see their goals in the statement of objectives:

This Statement of Objectives (SOO) describes the goals that GSA expects to achieve with regard to the

1. modernization of its e-mail system;

2. provision of an effective collaborative working environment;

3. reduction of the government’s in-house system maintenance burden by providing related business, technical, and management functions; and

4. application of appropriate security and privacy safeguards.

GSA announced yesterday that they choose Google Apps for email and collaboration and Unisys as the implementation partner.

So what does this mean?

What it means (WIM) #1: GSA employees will be using a next-generation information workplace. And that means mobile, device-agnostic, and location-agile. Gmail on an iPad? No problem. Email from a home computer? Yep. For GSA and for every other agency and most companies, it's important to give employees the tools to be productive and engage from every location on every device. "Work becomes a thing you do and not a place you go." [Thanks to Earl Newsome of Estee Lauder for that quote.]

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Welcome To The Empowered Era

We inhabit an age in which empowering technology is readily available first to individuals, not institutions. Consumers and employees will always get the new good stuff first. And it will always be so. The economics of technology investment seal that deal. The consumer market is bigger and easier to get started in.

In this empowered era, smart mobile devices, social technology, pervasive video, and cloud computing are the anchor tenants of the new technology platform. These technologies are available to every consumer and employee, even yours. The question is what to do about it? Two things:

  1. Because customers can hijack your brand (consumers in the US make 500 billion impressions on each other online every year), you have to use empower your customers with better information than they can get from their networks. You have to honor your customers as a marketing channel.
  2. Because employees have ready access to technology to improve their working lives, you have to give employees permission -- and protection -- to adopt these technologies. You have to honor employees' use of consumer technology as a source of incremental and sometimes breakthrough innovation.
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