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SAPphire and Supernova: two reasons for a visit to Constellation 18 Jun 2014

Posted by Tony Law in Impact of IT, Insight services, IT marketplace, ITasITis, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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R “Ray” Wang’s Constellation group is worth watching anyway. But just now there are a couple of good reasons.

First, if you’re a SAP user, they have coverage of the recent SAPphire conference. Remember that Ray’s primary expertise, from his days at Forrester, is in ERP. Just go to Constellation and search for “Sapphire 2014″ for pre- and post-event analysis. There are of course also replays and other notes on the SAP website, if you want to go back to the originals.

Secondly, they are launching the call for this year’s Supernova innovation awards. Again, worth watching if your focus includes the what, how and who of innovation in business. As I’ve commented before, I’m not clear on the relationship between this Supernova event and the one formerly hosted by Kevin Wehrbach of the Wharton Business School (University of Pennsylvania) but Wehrbach’s Supernova hasn’t happened since 2010 and was described by him in 2012 as “on hold”.

Note, by the way, that their URL has changed from constellationrg.com to just constellationr.com.

• Constellation: search for Sapphire 2014
• Call for Applications: SuperNova Awards for leaders in disruptive technology, Courtney Sato, Constellation, 17 Jun 2014
• SAPPHIRE NOW 2014 (SAP Events)

Constellation Office Hours 25 Mar 2014

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, ITasITis, Technorati.
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Long ago as a client of META Group, I occasionally had the chance to sit in on their analysts’ monthly phone conferences. R “Ray” Wang’s Constellation group are starting an open version of this and I’m about to join the half-hour webinar call. I have no idea what to expect. It will be a first flavour for me of how Constellation operates – especially after the recent management changes. It may be a chance to catch up with some analysts I know from their previous lives, and some I don’t. I’ll take notes as I go, and update this posting. And I’ll add a replay link when it’s available.

So this is actually the first such monthly meeting. Courtney Sato is leading off. I see two other faces (yes, video on) but only Attendee 4 and Attendee 5. There’s a Twitter stream going too. Watch out for it every fourth Tuesday.

A standard format is developing. First, news: leading off with the arrival of Peter Kim (see my blog post); and new reports (a quick run-through). I might look for material relating to digital business disruption (though I remember talking about business disruption from the earliest days of the Internet); and something about the FIDO Alliance (Fast IDentity Online). Here too is a note of events that Constellation analysts will be attending.

So: over to the analysts. First, Alan Lepofski. Box is going for an IPO, announced yesterday and beating Dropbox. He’s looking at opportunities beyond commodity services. Cisco are linking up with Chrome for collaborative services e.g. Webex. There is commoditisation of file sync and share.

Second, Holger Müller. The Google Cloud event is just starting in San Francisco, and some announcements are expected; some more about the Cisco cloud announcements and their use of OpenStack; other major players are being mentioned too.

Bruce Daley: Oracle are releasing version 8 of their Sales Cloud. Some comments about its impact and links to mobile.

Now a few “big ideas”, future research topics. Alan Lepofski: “Digital Proficiency” is a combination of skill and comfort and is more important than which “generation” you belong to. It’s promoted as a better way to plan for user/customer skills. It’s not about age. Bruce thinks this isn’t so easy to say when you’re older :-)

Holger Müller: identifying a move to a “sharing economy” which seems to be a paradigm for a moving-around and moving-on employment model. As companies transform, the key people are not the ones moving vertically up a silo, but those with broad experience of different areas of business. The broader experience is more beneficial in responding to – or creating – disruption.

Bruce Daley: working on Oracle Sales Cloud as part of mobility. Holger is at a conference and just gave us a quick video tour of the forum. Bruce is pointing out how the various call participants are in different places: this is taken for granted in today’s mobile world but actually it’s still quite new. Back to Oracle: he’s watching debates about HTML5 versus platform-native development, and harking back to previous IT generations (e.g. minicomputers) where vendors promoted their own “standards” (think Android, iOS, Windows Phone). He expects convergence on a single standard, but it won’t be HTML5.

Holger, though, has some wider comments about consumerised versus business-oriented developers. Native is harder for developers but easier for users. The argument doesn’t change; but the native technologies do (such as, gesture-based applications using the built-in accelerometers). Think beyond mobile hand-held; think in-car, wearable and more. An interesting conversation – but we’re coming down to the end of the half hour.

Constellation events
• Following months of speculation, Box files for IPO. ZDNet, 24 Mar 2014
Oracle Sales Cloud
Google Cloud Platform Live event
• OpenStack

For Twitter feed, search #crchat including Alan Lepofsky’s five categories of digital workers, and the file sync and share vendors he mentioned.

Peter Kim joins Constellation 21 Mar 2014

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, ITasITis, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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R “Ray” Wang’s Constellation Research has announced that Peter Kim has joined the group as Chief Strategy Officer. This is another step in the evolution of Constellation following the appointment of a CEO, Bridgette Chambers, from outside the team, and presumably (although this is not explicit in the announcement) another element of Ray Wang’s founding role which the group has now decided should be devolved. It would be interesting to know how far this shows Chambers making her mark on the direction of the group.

Peter Kim is an acknowledged specialist and his eponymous blog Being Peter Kim is well known (it goes way back to Peter’s days at Forrester Research alongside Ray). Peter will also be a Principal Analyst with the group, bringing his focus on Digital Marketing Transformation.

InformationSpan’s Index of Analyst Blogs has always included Constellation Research because of the high profile names the group includes, and Peter Kim has been added. I’ve also added a note (long intended and finally achieved) on IDC’s online community; the detail may be expanded in due course. For both these groups, follow the tab (above), and look for Others.

• Constellation Names Peter Kim Chief Strategy Officer, Constellation research press release, 3 Mar 2014
• Ray Wang’s Constellation reaches the next stage, ITasITis, 4 Sep 2013
Being Peter Kim
IDC Community

Gartner buys … what, exactly? 19 Mar 2014

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, ITasITis, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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A recent monitor report (11th March) from Outsell noted that Gartner have bought a small(ish) analyst firm Software Advice: around 100 employees. I’ve spent the intervening week checking to see what Gartner might be buying. The press release is short on detail and I haven’t spotted any other commentary; KCG, SageCircle and others please correct me if I’ve missed something!

Software Advice does what its name implies. It provides advice (“Find software for your business”) across just short of thirty categories: generic enterprise areas (e.g. Business Intelligence); market sectors (Manufacturing); and niche areas (Church Management). More below. Key to Software Advice reporting are Buyer Views, Industry Views and User Views documents (collectively referred to as Views below, when we report redirections within blog sequences). It’s not the purpose of this blog to explore their style. Its story is told by CEO and co-founder Don Fornes in a (separate) blog post.

Software Advice don’t (appear to) have an online list of their analysts, but I’ve been able to recover a list of 110 contributors to their accessible online content (mainly the blogs). Several cover a range of areas (more than ten, in a few cases). I have no way to check how many of them are currently with the firm, but that wasn’t the point of the exercise. My list may not be complete or up to date; but it should help identify if, when and where these analysts re-surface in Gartner, and what happens to the coverage. Will it be merged into mainstream research? Will it disappear into the consultancy business? Will some topics simply be abandoned? Will analysts stay or leave? What will the fallout be? There is far from a good fit between Software Advice coverage and Gartner’s, but Software Advice is probably not enough for Gartner to springboard into these additional areas. Interesting, though, that Don Fornes is now listed as a Gartner Group Vice President. That looks as if Gartner see this as a strategic purchase. Watch this space.

Not all of Software Advice’s categories map either to Gartner’s current list of industry sectors or to their IT topics or roles, although many do. So it will be interesting to see what happens. The big question, going on previous experiences with Burton and AMR Research, is how far and how soon Gartner will integrate these topics and analysts – especially the categories not currently strong on Gartner’s agenda.

As always we can look at the blogs to get the picture. In this case, it’s a confused one. There are two groups of blogs from Software Advice. They are topic related, not personal blogs as Gartner’s are; similar to the former Burton and AMR blogs.

One blog group maps to most of the categories used by Software Advice: many of these seem dormant but some have recent postings. The other is a group of eight current, named blogs. There is overlap and redirection within both. So for example a post indexed in B2B Marketing Mentor redirects to an Industry View document outside the blog structure. Similarly, posts in the Customer Relationship Management blog redirect to CSI, to B2B Marketing Mentor, and to Views.

Here is Software Advice’s list of blogs and topics, with an indication of their status in the blog lists. There are some inconsistencies in naming, which we have resolved. Not all topic blogs carry the topic as a page title; a few carry the generic title The Software Advice Blog.

The following are the titled blogs:
The Able Altruist: Non-profit. Most recent post (of 16): 27 Feb 2014. Gartner coverage in this area: minimal.
The B2B Marketing Mentor: Most recent post (of 33): 12 Dec 2013. Gartner coverage: strong.
CSI: Customer Service Investigator: CRM, Most recent post (of 36): 3 Feb 2014. Gartner coverage: moderate.
Hello Operator: business telephony including call centres. Most recent post (of 11): 16 Jan 2014. Gartner coverage: moderate.
The New Talent Times: Human resources. Most recent post (of 57): 19 Feb 2014. Gartner coverage: moderate.
Overnight Success: hotel and hospitality management. Most recent post (of 7):30 Jan 2014. Gartner coverage: none specific.
The Profitable Practice: medical practice management. Most recent post (of 55): 18 Feb 2014. Gartner coverage: none specific.
Plotting Success: business intelligence. Most recent post (of 23): 29 Jan 2014. Gartner coverage: strong.

There is overlap between these and the older-style (non-titled) blogs. All or some posts in some of these older-style blogs redirect to postings in the titled blogs. Inconsistency is rife! The following list covers all Software Advice categories. The website lists these on the home page; there is also a drop-down menu which breaks them into Industry and Application groups. Asterisks * here indicate categories not included in the drop-down menus which I have added to what seems the most appropriate group.

Assisted Living*: no blog.
Church Management*: no blog
Construction: The Construction Blog (66 postings, most recent 4 Feb 2014); one post redirects to a View. No titled blog
Dental*: no blog
Distribution: The Distribution Blog (17; 8 Jul 2013); no titled blog
Home Health*: no blog
Hotel Management*: The Hotel Management Blog; all (7) articles redirect to Overnight Success
Long-term Care*: no blog
Manufacturing: The Manufacturing Blog (37; 23 Sep 2013); no titled blog. Manufacturing is a headline Gartner industry sector.
Medical: The Medical Blog (59; 6 Jul 2011); 18 further articles redirect to The Profitable Practice (though some older articles can no longer be reached by that route) or to software evaluation reports. Healthcare providers is a headline Gartner sector.
Non-Profit: The Non-Profit Blog (1; 6 Jul 2011); further articles redirect to The Able Altruist (one of these appears there under a different title).
Professional Services: no blog
Property Management: Topic blog headed as The Software Advice Blog (34; 9 Jan 2014); no titled blog
Recruiting Agency*: no blog
Retail: The Retail Blog (40; 13 Feb 2014); one further articles redirects to a software evaluation report and another redirects to the generic page for retail software. No titled blog. Retail is a headline Gartner industry sector.

Gartner sectors Banking & Investment Services; Education; Energy & Utilities; Government; Insurance; and Media do not appear to map onto these Software Advice categories

Accounting: The Accounting Blog (20 postings; most recent 19 Oct 2011); no titled blog
Business Intelligence*: The Business Intelligence Blog, all (9) articles redirect to Plotting Success (29 Jan 2014). Business Intelligence & Information Management is a listed Gartner IT role.
Business Telephony*: topic also referred to as Business VOIP. Topic blog headed as The Software Advice Blog, all articles redirect to Hello Operator (16 Jan 2014)
Career Advice*: not included on the blog index page. Topic blog (8 Aug 2012) headed as The Software Advice Blog; no titled blog. One post redirects to The New Talent Times.
CRM: also indexed as Customer Relationship Management in full, or as Customer Management. The Customer Relationship Management Blog (109; 12 Feb 2013); 17 posts redirect to Views, to The B2B Marketing Mentor or to CSI: Customer Service Investigator.
Enterprise Resource Planning: listed in the blog index as Enterprise. The Enterprise Blog (50; 26 Jun 2013); no titled blog
Facilities Management: in the blog index as Facility Management. The Facilities Management Blog (10; 25 Mar 2013); no titled blog
Human Resources: The Human Resources Blog (56; 76 Dec 2012). 13 further articles redirect to The New Talent Times.
Inventory Management*: no blog
Maintenance Management: Topic blog (3; 26 Jun 2013) headed as The Software Advice Blog; 1 further post redirects to a View document. No titled blog
Project Management: The Project Management Blog (3; 10 Feb 2014); no titled blog. Gartner’s list of IT roles includes Project and Portfolio Management.
Security*: The Security Blog (3; 6 Mar 2014); no titled blog. Security and Risk Management is a listed Gartner IT role.
Supply Chain Management: The Supply Chain Management Blog (20; 5 Mar 2014); no titled blog.

Gartner list Applications and Sourcing and Vendor Management among their IT Roles. Digital Marketing also relates to several areas of Software Advice coverage. Gartner IT roles which don’t appear to map easily to Software Advice coverage include Business Process Improvement; CIO and IT Executives; Enterprise Architecture; Infrastructure and Operations.

• Gartner acquires Software Advice, Gartner press release, 11 Mar 2014
• Software Advice; link here to Software Advice titled blogs and to Software Advice untitled blogs
How Software Advice Got Started, Don Fornes, A Million Little Wins, Part I, 25 Mar 2013 (the link to part II is at the end of this post)

Changes and updates: the Analyst Blogs index 28 Feb 2014

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, ITasITis, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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Within the last few days I’ve undertaken a full refresh of the InformationSpan index to key analyst blogs. I’ve refreshed the Gartner list; as usual there are a handful of changes since last time. I’ve refreshed the list of URLs covered by my custom Google search.

More importantly, there’s been a full review of the index to Forrester’s blogs; a lot has happened since the last one. Forrester’s approach to their blogs is different from Gartner’s: analysts post in different areas, and Forrester roll these blogs up into topics and then into high-level blogs. At the top level there use to be three: Business Technology (that is, enterprise IT); Marketing & Strategy; and Technology Vendors. The last two have been brought together. At the next level down there have been a number of changes; Forrester haven’t removed any category links at this level so you can still, for example, click to the Vendor Strategy blog within the Business Technology stream but this will now redirect you to the CIO stream. There are more changes within the Marketing & Strategy stream.

Forrester do publish content as individual analyst blogs too but they don’t index this. So we provide an index by analyst name and this is now more consistent with the way we list Gartner’s blogging analysts. One main difference though: the topic areas indicated for each analyst identify the roll-up blogs for these areas and not the topic descriptions on Forrester’s website. There isn’t an exact match between the two.

Thirdly I’ve reviewed the content on the Other Blogs page, checked all the analysts referenced, and made a few changes. I intend to make more, to make this page more useful. Candidate blogs from known or less-known analysts would be welcome; please comment.

Click the tab above this posting to see more. Don’t forget to refresh your browser if you use this service regularly.

Horses for Sources: what’s with outsourcing 6 Feb 2014

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, IT marketplace, ITasITis, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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I’m on a webinar by HfS Research: my first direct encounter with Phil Fersht’s organisation. It’s a where-are-we-going session called “Outlook for the Extended Enterprise”. This post will update live, as we go.

Primarily we’re discussing “extended’ in the sense of multiple outsourced operations, not of industry alliances and cooperative business. HfS’s own research, done in conjunction with KPMG, seems to be painting quite a poor picture of outsourcing value beyond running standard operations. “Talent, technology and analytics value”, Phil asserts, are frequently absent. Once the initial savings are off the books, value doesn’t develop in, for example, exploiting “big data”.

Business-enablement of IT is a gap. I’m beginning to feel like this conversation might have happened equally any time in the last ten, perhaps 20 years. What’s interesting is a breakdown of “BPO maturity” into four quartiles. There seems to be a gap which companies are about to cross to get into the top quartile.

What are the problems? Fear of change; lack of vision; silo operations. The espoused change is to a centre-led organisation; the pros and cons of this haven’t been discussed though. The point’s already been made that perhaps not all enterprises can achieve effective globally-managed business services (which means IT, HR and so on). Maybe that should be “… nor should they”?

Microphone being passed to Ed Caso of Wells Fargo Securities. He’s a senior analyst and has just switched the screen to presenter split-screen. Finally got into proper presentation mode. He’s offering a survey, I think, of the key providers in the outsource market. It’s the sort of analysis which Gartner and the others started out in … Some comments about the financial situation in India and its impact; changes in some providers. And a note that a lot of early 10-year contracts are coming up for review and re-tender. There are visa and immigration issues in several major economies, which might drive more work offshore as it becomes harder to identify skilled staff entitled to work in the home country.

Enterprise-wide sourcing is linked to wider awareness of options, a portfolio approach (provider, location and skills) rather than single-source, hybrid cloud usage, and worries about data security post-Snowden (see my previous post on this). And the providers are further challenged by SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud): opportunities for the providers, but long term contracts don’t fit the speed of technology development. There’s still a tendency to be more comfortable with deliverables-based contracting rather than value-based.

Another change of speaker: Mike Friend of HfS. Where Caso was US-focussed, Friend is looking at Europe in the context of some fiscal optimism. There’s a prediction for IT oursourcing to grow at around 3.5% through the next four years, and BPO 6.1%, led by the UK market and particularly public sector spending. He’s mentioning a lot of individual companies.

So where do we go? Charles Sutherland of HfS takes over on process automation – that is, avoiding direct people costs – invoking more capable and “friendly” tools. This is still in the context of sourcing: looking for providers who can offer this as a way forward. It’s a potential differentiator in the market. Sutherland is encouraging buyers to look beyond simple cost. He’s suggesting what the signs might be that this is moving in the market, through 2014.

And the final speaker: Ned May of HfS on “the impact of digital”: the SMAC stack again, emphasising the need to embrace all four elements. The speaker does accept that “digital is not new” but I thought it had been around at least since the inauguration of the Web in the mid 1990s. The examples seem to be describing how what goes round comes around, perhaps with a new view of its capabilities. Experimentation will change to planned projects, but skunkworks projects will be of value. This isn’t just a technology change, it’s a mindset change. Some people have been saying this for a long time!

And finally: workforce issues, Christa Degna Manning. Who doesn’t seem to be accessible … emphasising the importance of a back channel for management issues on web calls! The issue is HR outsourcing as, like other areas, this moves to second/third generation outsourcing. Perhaps no longer primarily to support the HR practitioner, but to support and develop the employee.

The key question is whether this is still same-old outsourcing, or whether the trends discussed earlier apply here too. That is,  to look for what the webinar regards as higher-maturity outsourcing: the role of talent, for example, and long term benefits; managing contractors and non-employees; connection through collaboration technologies and perhaps to the world of crowd-sourcing and micro-work contracting (think Amazon Mechanical Turk). I’m reminded of John Adair’s long-established Venn diagram depicting management as the intersection of Task, Team and Individual.

Webcast preview link: http://www.horsesforsources.com/the-hfs-2014-outlook_012814. A replay link when I have it.

Over time, but a couple of quick questions to wrap up. The question of handling IP (I presume this means the IP that the outsource process generates). Providers like to be able to re-use (perhaps by back-licensing) processes, for example, developed within a contract.  A bit more elaboration about “digital”. I clearly need to figure out what HfS mean when they say “digital” but I think it means digitally-captured business information from, perhaps, unconventional, distributed, and big-data sources. And a question about how this works in a shared services model (which is not the same as global business services, even within the one enterprise).

Time to drop off the call. I’ll add some reflections, and tidy this up, tomorrow.

Security operations: sources 22 Jan 2014

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, ITasITis, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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First of all, a belated happy New Year …

I’m shortly to facilitate an online meeting on the topic of Security Operations Centres (SOC). Not something I know a great deal about (an advantage for a facilitator, but there are limits …) so I undertook a little research from the usual sources and this note summarises what I found.

First: there is not, it appears, a great deal of content from the Insight services specifically about centralised security operations. There’s a great deal, of course, about the various elements of security: malware detection, incident response, perimeter protection (firewall) and so on. Gartner have a mid-last year online (free) webinar replay Top Security Trends and Take-Aways for 2013. There’s a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Technology Magic Quadrant. Perhaps the one to watch from Gartner is an analyst, Adam Hils: he’s recently returned to Gartner after a few years elsewhere, and SOC is one of the areas he expects to cover. And there’s a definition of the role of a Managed Security Service Providers (MSSP).

Forrester have a Security Architecture And Operations Playbook (collection of documents and tools) which, for clients, would repay exploration. They do have a report (not free) entitled SOC 2.0: Virtualizing Security Operations: but this dates from 2010. There’s a recent (August 2013) Forrester Wave on Emerging MSSPs, and a report (same date) on SOC staffing: so although the Playbook contents list isn’t very revealing it looks as if Forrester are up to speed on this topic. Forrester’s buzz phrase is the Zero Trust Model. Clients, have a conversation with your Sales Manager.

One or two of the smaller providers have some content. ESG (The Enterprise Strategy Group) have a very recent blog post: Enterprise CISO Challenges In 2014; this identifies some challenges and some players, and the need for efficacy linked to a strong security architecture, but doesn’t discuss organisational centralisation. Smart Directions publishes a Security Reference Diagram (architecture) which is worth a close look: based only on the online summary (you’ll need a subscription), there is a top layer here which can be interpreted as the function of an SOC.

But the two most helpful documents I’ve uncovered are not from Insight providers.

DEF CON is a hacker conference. Don’t let that put you off; “hacker” was a respectable attribute until it got hijacked by miscreants. DEF CON 18 included a useful presentation by Josh Pyorre and Chris McKenney entitled Build Your Own Security Operations Center for Little or No Money (the title on the slide deck is slightly different). Although this is also some years old (DEF CON 18 was in July-Aug 2010) this is a useful summary of the What and Why of an SOC. There are some useful hints such as the need for an internal (private) network to carry SOC secure communications. There’s some useful information too, though three and a half years old, on tools.

And probably the best paper, unusually, is from a vendor. Again it’s a year or two old: HP’s Building a successful Security Operations Center is dated 2011. It discusses the why and wherefore of not outsourcing this operation (basically, you get generalised, aggregated operations which while they may be 24×365 are not necessarily optimised to your business context); and its how-tos extend to the kind of staff you need, potential shift patterns, and how to respond to the likelihood that really good analysts will get mentally tired after two or three years, lose their effectiveness, and need to move on.

I’d be most pleased if any source or provider who feel they’ve been misrepresented or left out would add a comment.

Oh, and if searching: don’t forget that most material is American and they spell it Center.

• Forrester Research: The Security Architecture And Operations Playbook (this is a collection of documents, continuously updated); SOC 2.0: Virtualizing Security Operations (20 Apr 2010)
• Forrester Wave: Emerging Managed Security Service Providers, Q1 2013 (14 Feb 2013)
• Gartner: Top Security Trends and Take-Aways for 2013, free webinar (or download PDF); Glossary entry: Managed Security Service Provider
• ESG: Enterprise CISO Challenges In 2014, blog post, Jon Oltsik (10 Jan 2014)
• Smart Directions: Security Reference Diagram (report flyer), undated (probably 2013)
• DEF CON 18 (30 Jul-1 Aug 2010) Archive: page down to Build Your Own Security Operations Center for Little or No Money, Josh Pyorre, Chris McKenney (PDF download)
You can view or hear the recorded presentation as video or audio from the DEF CON page (see link above)
• HP: Building a Successful Security Operations Center, Enterprise Security white paper, 2011 (direct link, PDF download)
• Gartner Blog: Adam Hils

Insight providers and market evaluation 6 Nov 2013

Posted by Tony Law in Impact of IT, Insight services, IT marketplace, ITasITis, Managing IT, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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This is a slightly extended version of a response in LinkedIn to Michael Rasmussen, who has published some thought (“a rant”) about Gartner’s Magic Quadrant.

MQ is a highly influential and long established analyst tool. As an insight services user in enterprise IT, I made use of MQs regularly and would also review similar tools such as Forrester’s Wave when a purchasing decision was being made. Like anything else, it’s essential to know just what a tool like this is, how it’s created and what it does and does not convey. The same is true of Gartner’s Hype Cycle, as I’ve commented elsewhere.

Michael highlights several concerns about Gartner’s recently updated MQ in his own area of considerable expertise, that is, global risk and compliance (GRC). Do read his original, which I won’t attempt to summarise; see the link below. Here’s my response.

Michael, having read the whole post in your blog, a couple of comments from a user’s perspective. First: I wholly agree that Forrester’s Wave value is in the open availability both of the evaluation criteria and of the base data; it would be fantastic to see the same from Gartner. This isn’t just an issue of general open-ness. Since a user can adjust the weightings on the Forrester evaluations, it becomes a much more practical tool.

Second, I remember the moment of revelation when I realised there is a whole industry out there called Analyst Relations, that is, people employed by (big) vendors to influence the analysts. Users often don’t realise that’s how the insight market works.

Third, new approaches do emerge. I’d be interested in your take on Phil Fersht’s Blueprint methodology at Horses for Sources (HfS).

My own analysis of the insight market itself classifies providers in various dimensions. One of these looks at reach, both geographic and content: from global generalists (Gartner for example) through to niche (often start-ups – you yourself have progressed from niche to global specialist since you left Forrester). Perhaps tools like the Wave or MQ should have similar dimensions so that the innovative new providers can be properly assessed.

To add a couple more points. As a technology innovation researcher, I was always well aware that small start-ups often offered innovative options which larger vendors didn’t have or hadn’t got round to. But you took the risk of the enterprise falling apart, failing to deliver, or just failing. Experimental technologies always carry risk and the options are tactical (innovation for shorter-term business benefit) not strategic. Gartner I’m sure would assert that innovation is handled by their Vision dimension in the MQ but, as Mike points out, there are thresholds and other elements which mean that these tools don’t make it into MQs. HfS makes innovation explicit.

Second, in business-critical areas which are highly specific to your business area it’s unlikely that an insight provider will know as much as you do. Don’t automatically assume that a MQ or any other tool will deliver the right answer. Use the tools most certainly, but be prepared to reason your way to, argue for and adopt a solution which is at odds with what the tools say. You must of course be able to justify this, but the general answer may not be right for you.

• Gartner GRC Magic Quadrant Rant, Part 3, Mike Rasmussen, GRC Pundit, 23 Oct 2013
• The HfS Blueprint Methodology Explained, Jamie Snowden and others, HfS Research, Oct 2013
GRC 20/20 research (Mike Rasmussen)

Even lightweight articles can mislead … 19 Oct 2013

Posted by Tony Law in Impact of IT, Insight services, ITasITis, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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Today’s inbox flags a short report in TechRepublic by Eric Eckel looking (yet again) at the Total Cost of Ownership differential between a current iMac and a midrange Windows PC (Windows 7, not Windows 8 by the way). This is something you can argue about for ever and I’m not joining that debate.

I read it, though, since I’m a Mac user myself and like to see where these arguments are going. And my approach is always to dig behind the presentation and go back to original sources.

Well, there’s an authoritative reference here. The writer quotes Gartner to the effect that “in June, Gartner predicted that iOS/OS X will soon surpass Windows as the most popular computer platform”.

There were several issues with this reference. First and most obviously: the text carried an active link which, I assumed, would be to a Gartner press release or an authoritative report of the Gartner report. No such thing. It was to a prior report in another trade publication: MacWorld. Not only that: it wasn’t a link to the article; only to the top-level MacWorld front page. No use at all for finding an artlcle written back in June, when Gartner’s report came out. More on this below.

Second: the link says “iOS/OS X”. The Gartner figures combine iPhones and iPads with Macs. And it balances this by including Windows smartphones, which by most accounts are not the most successful technology. But the TechRepublic article does not discuss smartphones and tablets. It’s about the TCO of business desktop computers . Data should be restricted to what’s relevant.

Third: yes the MacWorld article does report Gartner as predicting iOs/OS X overtaking Windows – by 2015. But the conversation then splits.

MacWorld itself goes on to discuss the success of Android: “sales of devices based on Google’s Android operating system [will] beat the combined sales of Apple and Windows products”. When? – this year. This is from the Gartner research.

But there’s the other follow on. A quick search for other reports of the Gartner work reports their expectation that Windows will bounce back and “pull away again” by 2017 – see PC World, for example. It’s worth noting that the two articles (MacWorld and PC World) are by the same IDG News Service reporter, Martyn Williams, but spun differently for the Mac and Windows audiences. As are other reports in, for example, Computerworld. Everyone’s syndicated the same piece, near enough.

Next, who are the Gartner analysts? Carolina Milanesi, the Gartner analyst quoted by Williams, works in Gartner’s Mobile and Wireless area (not mainstream PCs) and contributes to Gartner’s regular client webinars for device market forecasting, in tandem with Ranjit Atwal who covers PCs, laptops and handheld devices.

I haven’t been able to see the original Gartner research; it’s in a client report. The original reporting is from June this year: a Gartner press release from that date quotes figures up to 2014 only, and on that timescale they predict Windows remains ahead of the combination of OS X and iOS. Credit to one report by Blair Hanley Frank in GeekWire which links to the press release directly, instead of relying on someone else’s reporting. The problem with using Gartner research is that most of it is priced to limit it, in effect, to paying clients: so you have to rely on press releases, on free research which they release (and yes, it does exist), and on reports by others who’ve been at events such as Symposium. Oh yes, and on blogs: don’t forget that if you find Gartner’s Blog Network impenetrable then InformationSpan offers a full index by either analyst name or coverage area, and a search too. The link’s in the side bar here.

So using Gartner research requires a little digging, but it isn’t that hard. It’s too easy to un-critically use someone else’s reporting to support a case you’re trying to make. I’ve got nothing against persuasive writing, but this case study shows the importance of (a) going back to original sources; (b) being critical about the sources you cite; and (c) looking more widely than the reference you first thought of!

• iMac vs. a comparable Windows box: The TCO lowdown, Erik Eckel, TechWorld, 15 Oct 2013
• The MacWorld article referenced by Eckel is: Apple devices ‘to overtake Windows by 2015′, Martyn Williams, MacWorld, 15 Jun 2013
• Alternative report: Apple OSes to narrow gap with Windows, says Gartner, Martyn Williams, PC World, 24 Jun 2013
• Android vs. Apple vs. Windows: Forecast shows shift for PCs, tablets, devices, Blair Hanley Frank, GeekWire, 24 Jun 2013
• Gartner Says Worldwide PC, Tablet and Mobile Phone Shipments to Grow 5.9 Percent in 2013 …, Gartner press release, 24 June 2013
• Gartner analysts: Carolina Milanesi and Ranjit Atwal

Ray Wang’s Constellation reaches the next stage 4 Sep 2013

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, ITasITis, Technorati.
1 comment so far

In 2010 we reported the inauguration of R “Ray” Wang’s new venture, Constellation Research. Constellation launched with a dozen analysts, Ray himself having left Forrester and stayed a short while with Charlene Li’s Altimeter Group. The founder analysts were all senior, recognised industry figures: many had built their reputations within Forrester, Gartner or (in one case) AMR Research which Gartner, at the time, had just acquired. Others came from high profile consulting companies.

Of the original group, Ray is the only one remaining although Liz Herrell, who joined from Forrester very shortly after the group was founded (and before its official launch) is still there.

Today’s email includes the announcement from Constellation that Ray Wang is stepping down from one of the elements of his role. Constellation has appointed an externally recruited, separate CEO. Bridgette Chambers comes from the user side: she is credited with a strong performance in the American SAP Users’ Group. Her credits include the award of Maverick of the Year in 2012. Now there’s an idea I like!

In three years, Constellation has become seriously established and it isn’t just about research reports. There’s a focus on introducing disruptive technology to an enterprise. This year’s major development is the Constellation Academy with workshops and best practice case studies. Remember that disruptive doesn’t necessarily mean novel; established technologies can be used in a disruptive way. The primary event, Connected Enterprise, also has a focus on innovative use of technology; and Constellation now hosts the Supernova awards (see note below). It’s interesting to look not only at the finalists listed for this year, but at the winners and citations from 2012. The group claims over 200 clients world-wide.

A note on Supernova: Kevin Werbach’s Supernova Group retains its web presence but there is no information there about its Supernova Awards since the 2010 event. The Constellation timeline claims the event since 2011. Kevin Werbach, who is Associate Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at the Wharton Business School in Philadelphia, is himself still active through his blog. In April 2011 he posted that he was not contemplating another Supernova event and in July 2012 repeated exactly the same comment. So I’m not clear what the link is between his Supernova events, now apparently ceased, and Constellation’s. To find these entries, go to Werblog (link below) and search it for “Supernova 2011″ and so on.

Best wishes to Ray and his partners.

• Constellation Names Bridgette Chambers as New CEO, Constellation announcement, 4 Sep 2013
• Constellation Research: what can users expect?, ITasITis, 15 Nov 2010
• Constellation: the next step, ITasITis, 17 Feb 2011
• Constellation Research: timeline
• Maverick of the Year is one of the American Business Awards (Stevies)
• Constellation’s Supernova Awards
• Supernova Group (Werbach)
• Supernova Hub (Werbach)
• Werblog (Kevin Werbach’s blog)


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