Insight providers and market evaluation 6 Nov 2013Posted 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 2013Posted 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
Business Process Improvement 17 Sep 2013Posted by Tony Law in Impact of IT, IT is business, ITasITis, Managing IT, Technorati, Uncategorized.
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Working for GlaxoSmithKline IT, after the 2000 merger, developed my familiarity with business process improvement (small letters) and with Six Sigma methods and metrics. I would never call myself an expert. Routine training was to Green Belt level, without taking the qualifying exam, and I don’t have the instincts which make a leading practitioner able to pick the right tools to adopt for any specific need.
But it taught me a lot, which can be applied well beyond IT. First: as a previous CEO used to say, “If you don’t keep score, you’re only practising”. So, to drive and verify and improvement, you need metrics. But pick the right ones, which will show you where you are. Establish your baseline before you start doing anything. Use the metrics to demonstrate the change (you hope!). And when the improved process has reached the status of business-as-usual, you can probably drop the measure. It’s no longer needed.
Second: a saying that was drummed into us. “Don’t tinker!”. Don’t make changes on the basis of “I think …” without the analysis. Don’t over-react to one-off incidents: processes have variability, and some outliers will happen naturally.
And third: develop and demonstrate your own (internal IT) understanding and improvements before you try to work with the rest of the business. IT has, perhaps, an unique overview of what goes on across the company, and is almost always a participant in any business improvement project. So there’s good leverage there: but you have to gain credibility first. It takes a lot to get to the point where, when a business leader asks for an IT development, you can say “Why? What improvement are you driving? Who will own it? How will you measure it?”
Well: tomorrow I’m facilitating a Corporate IT Forum event on Business Process Improvement (BPI). I’m expecting the twin threads of, first, identifying and improving IT’s own processes; and, second, putting that experience and expertise at the service of the business as a whole. Where are the sources of information and analysis?
Gartner have a Leaders Key Initiative on BPI. The overview, as recent as July this year, has a natty graphic showing the BPI practitioner as a juggler (operations, transformation, skills, technology and innovation) under pressure from both business and technology forces. They offer a number of tools for maturity assessment “across IT disciplines” (what about the rest-of-business?); key metrics (that’s IT spending and staffing, not how to measure a process); and best practices across several competencies. It seems, though, towards the end to lapse back into business process management (BPM) not BPI.
There isn’t a lot in the Gartner blogs, but a useful post from Samantha Searle earlier this year challenges us to avoid the word “Process” (unless your business-side colleagues are process engineers or in manufacturing). That kind of gells with the observation that Gartner probably, under the covers, maintain an IT-oriented focus because Process is very present in the key initiative!
Similarly I don’t find a great deal in Forrester specifically around BPI. But there’s a stronger focus on the interplay of IT expertise and whole-business improvement. A recent report, for example, discusses the shift from “a tactical process improvement charter” to a more strategic role across the enterprise. This requires a plan “for optimizing the BPM practice to deliver on new strategic drivers and business objectives”. That sounds more like it.
Interestingly, a search collected a link to Cambridge University which I expected to be to the business school or computer science. But it’s to their internal management services division with a one-page (one-slide, really) graphic and definition of BPI. Take a look. But the Judge Institute of Management Studies does indeed have a Centre for Process Excellence and Innovation, also worth reviewing.
There’s a lot of material you can find by searching. Too much to survey. Assess with care!
• Business Process Improvement Leaders Key Initiative Overview, Gartner, 25 Jul 2013 (search Gartner for ID:G00251230)
• 10 New Year Resolutions for BPM Practitioners #2: Don’t Mention the “P-word …, Samantha Searle, Gartner blogs, 8 Feb 2013
• Optimize Your Business Process Excellence Program To Meet Shifting Priorities, Clay Richardson, Forrester report, 6 Jun 2013
• Business Process Improvement, University of Cambridge, Management and Information Services Division (undated)
• Centre for Process Excellence and Innovation, Judge Institute, University of Cambridge
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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)
Overdue update: Gartner blog index 9 Aug 2013Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, ITasITis, Managing IT, Technorati.
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I’ve finally done a full update on the Gartner Blogs index published on informationspan.com. There are three significant changes (as well as the normal turnover of analysts).
- Gartner have introduced three new areas within their Markets coverage (that is, the area for IT sales professionals): Digital Marketing; Servers & Storage – Comparative Hardware; and Servers & Storage – Competitive Positioning. The technical Servers and Storage area is unchanged.
- Digital Marketing has become the first area within Gartner’s Marketing area to offer blogs.
- the former Burton Group group of services, which has been marketed as Gartner IT1, now comes under the heading Gartner for Technical Professionals. There’s only one IT1 blog at the moment. But I’ve discovered that the legacy Burton blog content, which I had thought was deleted, is mostly still accessible. Their last content was posted in early 2010 but they may still have value.
As a result of this, I’ve made changes to the structure of the blog index.
- I’ve split the index of blogs by coverage area into two: one containing the technology-related blogs and the second the remainder which now are: Gartner Services and Management; those with the Vertical Industry focus; and a new section for Marketing.
- I’ve re-introduced a page linking to the legacy Burton Group blogs; one of them (Identity and Privacy) has completely disappeared but the others are still reachable.
Gartner Services and Management currently includes a handful of blogs from Executive Program advisors; one blog from the Supply Chain service (developed after the integration of AMR, of which nothing identifiable now remains); and a long-moribund but still accessible blog by my old META Group acquaintance Val Sribar, now a Gartner GVP.
I’ve also refreshed the list of blogs indexed by the custom Google Search of Gartner blogs, which appears on the lead page. Visit http://www.informationspan.com/analystblogs.htm.
Just to remind you: you can use this index for all sorts of functions Gartner don’t provide:
- go straight to your favourite analyst’s blog
- see whether a blog has (reasonably) recent content without having to visit it
- look for blogs on specific Gartner coverage areas
- find blogs which aren’t included in Gartner’s Blog Home page
- search specifically across the entire Gartner Blog space
Please tell me how you use this index, and how it might improve.
Enterprise grade public cloud: IDC’s take 19 Jun 2013Posted by Tony Law in Cloud, Consumerization, IT marketplace, ITasITis, Managing IT, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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I’m on an AT&T webcast relating to public cloud infrastructure and its growth. Allow that this is primarly a US-focussed perspective. It’s AT&T sponsored, but delivered by IDC. It’s being recorded, and I’ll add the URL when it’s available.
Much of the underlying data comes from IDC’s winter 2012 CloudTrack Survey, with around 500 respondents. Five elements: the pace of change; deployment; networking; workloads; and next-generation solutions.
IDC refer to the “third platform”, not just second platform; and with spend growing nearly 12% per year compared to less than 1% for second platform. Third platform will account for almost 25% of this combined spend by 2020, and in the next three years spend on external services will grow to around an eighth of “traditional” IT spend. Over three quarters of North American companies are already using public cloud services.
There’s a useful categorisation of cloud deployment models, with names that speak for themselves. Self-run private or managed private; dedicated (externally) hosted or virtual private cloud; or public. Running across these are the decisions about on- or off-site, and dedicated or shared infrastructure. That eighth of spend shift over the next three years depends on these decisions.
Virtual-private cloud (VPC) has clout, through additional security and control, better connectivity into corporate networks, and more controlled SLAs but are built on public cloud infrastructure. AT&T believe shared services will command the lion’s share of the developing spend, although the split between dedicated and shared is more equal right now. This is what AT&T imply by “enterprise grade public cloud”.
Connectivity is crucial (remember, AT&T is a network company …) and there is an opportunity to connect VPC through an MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) high-availability cloud network rather than the public internet. Integration to the corporate network is close to seamless. IDC believe this option overcomes many enterprise objections to VPC cloud usage. And the CloudTrack survey suggests that any major workload coming up for reinvestment is at least going to be considered for cloud migration.
Noticeably, the workloads most likely to be moved are about the key elements of the “third platform”: social, big data (and analytics) and mobile. Where relevant, emerging markets also make a strong contribution to the importance of the third platform. Enterprises will need competencies across cloud and all these; they may not be tagged as cloud initiatives, but in these spaces cloud is crucial for developments to be effective, and those developments will be combinations of the four technology spaces. There’s a graphic for this; look in the webcast when it’s online (I’ll add the URL when it’s available).
On the half hour. Transition from the IDC analyst (Frank Gens, Senior Vice President and Chief Analyst) to Amy Machi, AT&T representative. This is a sales pitch for the combination of IBM’s Smart Cloud solution and AT&T’s VPN (NetBond), and you’ll get less notes. But with so much discussion about the limitations of service agreements with providers, it’s interesting that IBM trail over 70 auditable automated tasks available to clients, and cloud-based ITIL processes. Also, an important point is that AT&T will scale network capability in line with the demands on the scaleable cloud resource being claimed at IBM’s end of the wire. For anyone looking seriously at this version of the Cloud option, several case studies show the variation in possibilities.
Note, too, that at the present this is a US service and users need to be an AT&T customer. It will extend to Europe and Asia/Pacific relatively soon.
So: in response to questions, Frank Gens believes that investment in new capabilities will swamp legacy migration onto the third platform. And IT managers (VP/SVP) are coming to accept a reputable cloud service provider as having security at least as good as their own and possibly better, but the network has remained a vulnerability. With a managed MPLS network, rather than public infrastructure, these concerns are mitigating.