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“Culture 2.0″, the killer 18 Nov 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Consumerization, ITasITis, Managing IT, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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I came across this post at third hand but the quote is great:

the enduring elephant in the room is what I like to call Culture 2.0. That is, those at all levels of government who find solace in risk aversion, are tenaciously resistant to change or are simply unable to acknowledge the benefits of Gov 2.0 over the risks. In fact, let me suggest that Culture 2.0 could be the single biggest threat to the penetration of Gov 2.0 in Australia if not addressed.

The route to this was a tweet from R “Ray” Wang @rwang0, to a blog post by John F. Moore in Government in the Lab, to the original by Rob Crispe.

• Riding the Government 2.0 wave – tiers and fears, Crispe 2.0, 16 Oct 2010, re-blogged in Government in the Lab, 16 Oct 2010

Cloud economics: IDC webinar 18 Nov 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Cloud, Impact of IT, Insight services, ITasITis, Managing IT, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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I’m waiting for the start of an IDC open webinar on the economics of Cloud. Ten tips to maximise organisational ROI. What am I expecting? First, the chance to assess a couple of IDC’s analysts in this area. Second, I’m expecting the definition of Cloud to be the one that treats cloud services as a version of either off-premise outsourcing or in-house shared provisioning. Notes as we go along.

IT Cloud Decision Economics is a new research area for IDC. They believe that 2011 will be the year when cloud deployments really take off (public, private or hybrid). IDC are looking for input to their research, rather than providing answers.

They see the shift for IT as being away from cost focus, and towards the end user service (and its provisioning) in a very packaged way.

They see the primary corporate focus at the moment as being on private cloud, which of course (my comment) plays to corporate security/control paranoia. Business calculations will vary according to the mix of public/private and whether it’s software, platform (to develop/deploy) or infrastructure that’s being deployed in the cloud.

IT investments, in parallel with other investments, are being made to add capability in mature economies, but capacity in the developing ones. Today’s external economic conditions accelerate “capital efficient” IT strategies: reducing cost, in developed economies, or adding capacity, in developing ones. Cloud matches both these scenarios.

What I’m seeing is a different perspective on IT investment: not from the inside of the enterprise IT department out, but from the outside – macroeconomics – inward. This is providing a context for ROI examination. And there’s a different perspective on what ROI is about. The ROI perspective, prior to deployment, forewhadows what the experience will be in the medium short term: I rationalise this by saying that the perspective reflected in an ROI case is indicative of the approach the organisation will take to the deployment, so a disconnect would be surprising.

There are some surprising results from preliminary research. Only about 1% of cost savings came from infrastructure. About a third is from operations staff – trouble-shooting and enhancement falls.

But over half is from application development improvements (and staffing). Largely this is because the conventional costs here are very largely from handling exceptions: with externally determined stuff, exceptions don’t happen. And about an eighth is from faster delivery (and business time to market). So the most expected cloud benefit – better use of infrastructure – is not by a very long way where the best benefits are realised. Standardisation drives savings.

And, as a consequence of this, it perhaps isn’t the infrastructure teams that should have the lead in moves to cloud services … The ROI model is very different, and perhaps ten times more complex, than that for conventional in-house services. It challenges established governance models for IT services: not just how we do governance, but what we govern! Hybrid Cloud, in particular, challenges conventional systems management wisdom.

And the user community will expect the cost, accessibility and speed of response they see from public cloud services. The existing excuses (security, quality of service, assurability etc) which are used to justify staying private will not work any more! Cloud-scale services will need to be operated with automation, standardisation, scaleability (which means standardisation!) and visibility to radically shift the support-staff-to-service ratios towards the credit-card costs of the public cloud. You need the technologies to achieve the economics.

FInally, make sure your plans are flexible enough to respond to new initiatives and technologies from the vendors/providers. With the capital initiatives being taken in that space, this is essential.

And my response to the presenters and presentation? Good discussion, easy to follow, and with a distinctive approach well worth listening to.

• IDC webcast replay (available shortly after the broadcast): IT Cloud Decision Economics: Ten Tips To Maximize Your Organization’s Cloud ROI, 18 Nov 2010 (you may need to register to gain access)
• Webcast slides download (PDF)
• Results of this research have not yet been published, but IDC clients should watch for them within the Cloud Decision Economics research programme.
• IDC analyst community (blogs, open access. This has also been added to the Analyst Blogs index under Others)

MAD thinking 18 Nov 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Impact of IT, Insight services, IT is business, ITasITis, Managing IT, Technorati, Uncategorized.
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I’m researching for an event I’m facilitating next week on IT’s contribution to mergers & acquisitions. There seems to be a remarkable dearth of analyst insight on this topic, apart from a short-ish paper from A T Kearney specifically on post-merger integration. Divestments aren’t on this particular agenda: but can’t be ignored, because most big mergers involve divestments too. A pair of pharma companies have to divest some important drugs, perhaps, or grocery chains to sell some branch stores in order to gain competition authorities’ approval.

So here are some thoughts, which I might develop more fully later.

1 – segmenting the discussion

There are three aspects of IT’s participation in M&A, which can pretty much be separated out. In each of the three, there are key issues.

First, of course, there are issues internal to IT. Technically, these resolve primarily onto infrastructure, which no-one else touches; architectures (ditto); and IT’s own organisation.

Second, there’s IT as a part of the business. This is about understanding (at least), and being part of (if at all possible), the business strategic discussions about M&A in general (is this something we do?) and about particular ventures (what about this one?). In many organisations, IT still has to argue its place to this table. An important part of this can be IT’s skills leadership: project leadership, benefits realisation and process knowledge can be significant.

And third, there is IT as facilitator of the business. If infrastructure is IT’s internal concern, this area is about business applications and (see above!) business process understanding.

2 – timeline

A merger or acquisition has four stages.

Normal times – nothing specific on the horizon, but are you set up to accommodate mergers, acquisitions and divestments? Let’s call this MAD thinking. In IT, this might encompass the way you do infrastructure and applications architectures: especially if you’re a conglomerate that trades businesses (think Hanson?) or a company that buys smart start-ups for their intellectual property (pharma again, or IT itself).

Preparation – planning for a particular acquisition or merger, either before or after a deal has been proposed and/or done. Due diligence comes to the fore here: is IT involved? But also, business as usual has to be maintained and possibly with depleted resources: key people will be diverted into the preparation process. IT needs to be on the ball with likely costs of the merger, realistic possible synergy savings, and its own resourcing issues.

During the active phase, things happen fast. The first requirement is for some form of instant integration: shared collaborative spaces, unified email on a new domain (even if it’s a fix-up), shared data between different business platforms and perhaps resolving different data models. Of course, business as usual has to go on: IT may be in the forefront here of keeping normal interactions going.

And of course: IT is undertaking its own merger, probably between two disparate pre-existing organisations. To state the obvious: this has to be resourced and managed too. Both parties’ IT inventories have to be brought together, to realise short term synergies and to begin the  longer term planning. The problem is not to let this consume all the resources so that the other aspects (IT as part of the business, and IT facilitating business) get shunted to the side.

Post-merger, activity doesn’t stop. The organisation and business processes may appear settled, but the longer term decisions are only just beginning: particularly around infrastructure and applications. In an unequal acquisition, the decision may just be to move everything onto the acquirer’s infrastructure and the migration of data and users is pretty much done during the active phase. Otherwise, decisions are slower and more considered: determine an architecture, and then either pick the best of what you’ve got in the combined organisation, or take the opportunity to make a significant change for the better.

Then, in most big mergers, there’s a second round of reorganisation around a year downstream. Some people decide they don’t fit, and leave. Some parts of the organisation weren’t right, or were only right in the short term. Business itself may prove to be more, less, or different than what was expected, since the creation of a new and larger player changes the market place. IT, along with the rest of the enterprise, must expect this and be ready to respond.

And: there are lessons to be learned. Will these be captured? Will the new normal include new ways of being prepared for next time, with better MAD thinking?

I haven’t drawn the picture, but you’ll realise this is a 3×5 matrix: three aspects of IT’s involvement, with key issues and a four stage timeline in each. I’d be interested  in what anyone thinks; and particularly interested if you know of substantial analyst coverage of this area, touching all aspects and stages, from any of the major insight service providers.

Only one Link:
• Make or Break: The critical role of IT in post-merger integration, A T Kearney, April 2010

Ray Ozzie’s Dawn of a New Day … and Google’s 17 Nov 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Cloud, Impact of IT, Managing IT, Social issues, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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Ray Ozzie, as he left Microsoft after five years, blogged in the form of an internal memo to the executive team.

You can read it on his blog, and it’s worth paging down through the congratulations about what’s been achieved in that time. He acknowledges that in some things, competitors have led Microsoft and still do. He highlights “mobile experiences, … the seamless fusion of hardware & software & services, and … social networking & myriad new forms of internet-centric social interaction”.

And he starts to imagine a “Post-PC” world. 20th November, he points out, is the 25th anniversary of the launch of Windows 1.0. And although, as he acknowledges, it wasn’t the first WIMP interface (Xerox Parc, with Smalltalk, and Apple were there first: Apple’s Lisa was an early 1980s project, and the first Mac made its debut in 1984) it was Windows which took the mass market beyond the command line interface.

Ray Ozzie discusses the immense infrastructure and organisational complexity that’s grown up around the PC as we have come to know it. And he expects radical change to resolve this: not just cloud services, simplifying access, but a range of connected devices. It’s interesting that he continues to envisage individuals interacting with “a fairly good number of these connected devices on a daily basis”; indeed, we already do, and complexity is emerging in the need to keep various versions of reality in step with each other. Again, it’s the cloud that can offer a solution: if the one version of your calendar, or address book, or collaborative space is in one place in the cloud, access from any device reaches the same data. Simplicity and broad approachability are his keywords. And the transformation must start at ground level: it can’t be imposed by corporate decision makers.

It will make an interesting comparison to set this vision against Eric Schmidt’s interview at the Web 2.0 summit, reported by TechRepublic. I haven’t listened to it, but Jason Hiner’s summary includes stuff about Android and Google’s approach to devices: but also the phone as a digital wallet and, intriguingly, “Net Neutrality in the wireless world”. It looks perhaps as if Google sees one device (an Android phone) rather than Ozzie’s plethora of devices all looking at one cloud service.

Oh, and an interesting sideline. On leaving Microsoft, Ray has migrated his blog from Windows Live to WordPress …

• Dawn of  a New Day, Ray Ozzie’s blog, 16 Oct 2010
• Google CEO talks about the coming mobile revolution, Tech Republic, 16 Nov 2010 (with embedded video)


Insight goes mobile with Ovum 17 Nov 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Consumerization, Insight services, Social media, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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An email from Ovum today alerted me to their new iPhone “PocketAnalyst” app. So far as I can tell, it’s a first for this sector – unless anyone knows different?

In hindsight, I’m surprised someone hasn’t done it sooner. Analysts, after all, have been talking up the potential of the app market for years now. An example, perhaps, of how relatively poor the sector is at taking its own advice! But Ovum have now got there – though since I’m not an iPhone user it will have to wait for someone else to review it in practice.

What Ovum are advertising (and it will work on the iPod touch too) is access to their news flow, analyst bios and events publicity, on the go, without the need to browse to it through the phone browser. And a technology glossary, which ought to be useful (though the screen shots on the web suggest it’s a bit chunky) and which Ovum’s press release suggests can be invoked direct from other content.

What Ovum have demonstrated is the capacity to innovate in the market. And it’s only a couple of days ago since I quoted Barbara French of Tekrati to the effect that analysts have as much difficulty coping with innovative models as anyone. This is a very different context from Charlene Li’s Altimeter Group, but maybe the same principle applies. And even if Ovum’s app changes shape significantly over the next few months, as they and their users gather experience, it’s got to be a good way to go. Credit to them!

• Ovum Pocket Analyst for iPhone, iTunes store
• Ovum launches first app of its kind with PocketAnalyst, Ovum press release, 11 Nov 2010
• Ovum Knowledge Centre (the app features in a banner ad on the Ovum KC home page, but the link is to the iTunes store)

Constellation Research: what can users expect? 15 Nov 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, ITasITis, Technorati.

Followers may have noted that R “Ray” Wang, who left Forrester a year ago to join Charlene Li’s Altimeter Group, has moved on again. He follows Michael Gartenberg, who also left Altimeter after a short stay.

Ray’s new venture is to create a constellation of stellar analysts, with high profiles matching his own, and become a one-stop-shop intermediary. Stephen England in his KCG blog report seems surprised that “they are focused on building an end-user business, NOT just a vendor business”. For myself, coming from the user side of the insight marketplace, I can’t see that a business like this would focus anywhere but on the users of insight.

What can a venture like this offer? Well, great analysts aren’t necessarily great business managers – Dale Kutnick, in his META Group days, was wise enough to recognise this and let his senior figures do what they were good at. Those who have joined have, I’d guess, jumped at the chance to let someone else do at least some of the marketing.

The team, so far, includes Ray Wang himself: doyen of supply chain analysts, formerly of Forrester and now also formerly of Altimeter Group; Phil Fersht: one of the senior AMR analysts who didn’t stay with Gartner; Maribel Lopez (formerly Vice President in the tech industry strategies group at Forrester); and Jill Dyché, an information management expert whose current roles include work with the TDWI/MDM team and conference. Vinnie Mirchandani has been a Gartner analyst too. The remaining half dozen individuals have pedigrees including the major league consultancy firms and technology consulting.

*** UPDATE *** News the next day, 15 Nov, is that Liz Herrell of Forrester has joined the group. See the press release on the Constellation website.

KCG suggests that the new venture may suffer from a clash of egos among the team. For myself, I don’t think that’s the main problem. In the insight market, this group is clearly going to be intent on developing the individuals’ profiles and marketing them on that basis. For those who have recent senior analyst backgrounds with the major firms, or in the conference circuit, that’s not a problem. But for those from consulting backgrounds, it may be: their former employers will be better known to the potential client base than themselves as individuals.

Duncan Chapple, at Lighthouse AR, has a different take from KCG. He doesn’t see the model as necessarily disruptive (and neither do I). He looks at the implications for Altimeter too: are they achieving the business success they hoped? And in Constellation: there’s strong overlap between these individuals’ coverage areas. Constellation’s online presence is designed to look more like an insight firm than a broker but, as Duncan comments, one thing Constellation won’t (presumably) do is to intervene and manage these areas of coverage. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how the marketing of “stellar” individuals stacks up against the intention to offer trend reports and subscription relationships, from which users (enterprise or vendor) want coherent ongoing analysis and common, familiar, style.

As referenced by Duncan, Barbara French in Tekrati focusses on Altimeter rather than the new group. And it’s worth reading her take on how Altimeter (which doesn’t offer syndicated research, and does aim to bring together different perspectives for a client’s benefit) genuinely differs from the established model. Analysts, Barbara says, “have as much trouble coping with innovation as anyone else”. Watch this space!

• Wang leaves Altimeter to launch Constellation, KCG AR blog, 10 Nov 2010
• Ray Wang departs Altimeter Group, Altimeter Group, 9 Nov 2010
Constellation Research is a wise move, but not a disruptive one, Analyst Equity (Lighthouse AR), 11 Nov 2010
Altimeter Group Reveals Challenges of Disrupting the Analyst Business, Tekrati, 9 Nov 2010
Constellation Research

Gartner Symposium is online 10 Nov 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, ITasITis, Tech Watch.
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Gartner’s Cannes Symposium is in session, and a new entry in the Blog network is being used to disseminate content. It’s more of a straightforward web page than a real blog, though there’s a live update from tweets around the event. You’ve got to watch it to see the nuggets!

There’s a short video from Andrew Spender reviewing yesterday’s events – highlight moments from one of the keynotes, from Dave Cearley (Top Trends presentation) and from Mark Raskino. There are links direct to analyst blogs updated from Symposium. There isn’t the selection of accessible videos of keynotes and so on which have featured in previous years. And unfortunately although you can see the links to the sessions (and the PDFs of their content), which is informative in a limited way, you can’t get through to the content.

But it doesn’t look as if the format, overall, has changed much since I used to attend!

#8226;nbsp;Symposium Live (Gartner Blog page)

Can Cloud manage your distributed people? 10 Nov 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Cloud, Impact of IT, Insight services, Managing IT, Technorati.
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I’m on a complimentary webcast from Symantec hosted by IDC: A cloud based approach to managing today’s distributed workforce. Partly I want to take the chance to hear one of the IDC analysts I don’t know; and partly of course I’m interested in the Cloud theme. Though I expect product push as well as architecture and strategy from the Symantec speaker.

Starting with Stephen Drake of IDC: identifying key trends. No surprises: increasingly mobile workforce; acceptability of SaaS; consumeristation of IT; and – I like this – the IT-istion of consumers.

Mobility – includes taking account of staff moving around within the office or campus (IT support analysts are typical). Not just those away from base. A good mind-map taxonomy, overall. In the following discussion, I’d be interested to see Far East (China specifically) broken out of the mobile penetration figures; I’m hoping there will be focus on other than Western Europe which is being discussed right now. I’m also surprised the speaker seems to think SMBs trail large enterprises in the move to mobile, non-office working; my perception is that SMBs have been using this far longer, and corporates are still suspicious of it (“How can I manage my staff if they’re not under my nose?”).

Moving to SaaS: a survey of >300 organisations showed around 70% moving towards SaaS at least at exploration stage. And certainly the online accessibility of SaaS applications plays well to an increasingly distributed and mobile workforce. I wonder, myself, how this stacks against the increasing corporate tendency to see Cloud as just another form of outsourcing, and adopt “private clouds” (i.e. large scale shared internal infrastructure).

Key challenges include remote endpoint management as well as corporate preference to keep some critical apps on premise.

Now moving on to the Symantec speaker … offering experience from their own mobile and distributed workforce. Just a few prepared questions and answers. And now we are moving to the sales pitch for Symantec hosted services, just on the half hour. So I’m dropping off, not being a corporate with an outsourcing budget.

Conclusions at the end: it’s led me into noting a stream of Cloud webcasts from IDC and I appear to be able to register for them. I like the “IT-isation of consumers”; a bit of lateral thinking there. The Symantec speaker suffered from poor sound and no slides, so I don’t really know what she was saying but I don’t think there was great strategic insight for the enterprise; and I did expect more than 25 minutes of useful content before the sales person took over. But then, I didn’t pay for it.

Speakers’ bios: Stephen Drake (IDC) and Colleen Smith (Symantec)

People don’t understand numbers 2 Nov 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Impact of IT, IT is business, Social issues, Tech Watch.
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Mike Rasmussen’s recent Corporate Integrity posting, on the ever-increasing burden of compliance, set me thinking. I’ve long understood that most people don’t understand the concept of risk.

I recently came across a reference to some research which bears on this. It’s always good to see proper formalised evidence for something which otherwise is just supposition. It was cited in The Guardian recently, but (in true ITasITis fashion) I went behind the news to the original source.

Namika Sagara, for a 2009 thesis, set up a very carefully phrased statement. He told a group of people that “In a double-blind taste test, consumers tasted two cola drinks with a bite of cracker or sip of water before each tasting. Among these consumers, 35% believed that Diet Pepsi tasted most like real cola” (this was one of over 40 statements tested).

Then he tested the group’s understanding. Most people translate the statement above into “Diet Pepsi won the vote”. This “Illusion-of-Truth” effect is one way in which positive presentation of numerical data sways understanding, and shows how undiscriminating people can be. And they would have even less chance of understanding if the 35% was in competition with five other drinks instead of just one.

This work built on earlier research, cited by Sagara, which “suggests that many people are ‘innumerate’ and about half of Americans lack the minimal mathematical skills needed to use numbers embedded in printed materials” – or, presumably, other publicity information.

This bears on Mike’s point about the over-bearing burden of compliance: not just the amount of regulation that has to be understood and followed, but the rate at which new compliance requirements are being added and the burden of just keeping up. My hypothesis, which I’d love to see tested in the same style of rigorous research, is this. If it’s been shown that people don’t understand numeric information, then they certainly don’t understand the concept of risk. And they expect services they receive to be risk-free whether it’s healthcare, transport, energy, social care, or Internet. Read or watch your news media with this hypothesis in mind.

The realities of risk come home in adverse events: a beneficial drug which has side effects, a train crash caused by human or mechanical failure, fears about nuclear power, child protection scandals, online scams and worse. And when something does go wrong we look around for someone to blame and someone to claim against. The blame-and-claim culture affects the political arena, hence the attempt to legislate to create a risk-free environment.

So the push to remove the dead hand of over-regulation is dealing with symptoms, not causes. Somehow, there needs to be a concerted campaign to spread an understanding of risk management (rather than risk aversion) first through the enterprise and legislatures, but then most certainly beyond into general understanding.

Incidentally, at the same time I found Mike’s email, there was a flyer for a KPMG webcast related to a global survey conducted earlier this year into the integration of governance, risk and compliance. See the report online. I haven’t read it … but there’s a linked upcoming webcast on 4 Nov.

• Regulatory Intelligence: Bombardment of Regulations upon Organizations, Mike Rasmussen, Corporate Integrity, 27 Oct 2010
• Consumer understanding and use of numeric information in product claims, Namika Sagara, University of Oregon PhD thesis 2009
quoted in:
• George Osborne’s talk of percentages and billions will wash over most of us, Aditya Chakraborty, Guardian G2, 19 Oct 2010
The convergence challenge: Global survey into the integration of governance, risk and compliance, KPMG, 15 Feb 2009
Balancing the benefits and challenges of governance, risk and compliance, webcast 4 Nov 2010 at 14.00 EDT, Compliance Week/Thomson Reuters (note for European readers: the US is still on summer time. Watch the time differences!)


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