Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Missing in Action: Why Apple Skips the Corporate Market

With Apple's propensity to create must-have technology and Microsoft's continual failures it would seem natural for Apple to make a run at the corporate market. Yet Infoworld has an article as to why Apple refuses to do this, which boils down to complexity. The corporate environment has so many issues to navigate it makes developing and supporting it difficult, just ask Microsoft. Instead Apple in content to focus on building the coolest new gadgets and computers for consumers and high-end professionals. Ironically it is this focus that makes Macs all the more attractive to the corporate market. But if we look at the dwindling role of corporate IT (See Previous Post), then perhaps Apple will likely make its way back into the corporate market as an outsider.

Given Apple's success there is no reason for them to stop what they are doing. Besides, they can sit back and watch Google attack Microsoft on the desktop/Office front. Read the Article.

Taking the Gold: SharePoint 2010 Powers the U.S. Olympic Committee Site

The first sighting of a production use of SharePoint 2010 is U.S. Olympic Committee web site. Given the surge in activity around the Winter Olympics this is a bold move because SharePoint 2010 is still in beta. That said the site seems to work well considering it has Twitter feeds, videos, and plenty of Silverlight widgets. For those that are anxiously awaiting the arrival of SharePoint 2010 this will definitely stir up excitement. Check out the site.

Submitted by Dave Clark

Reach out and Touch Someone

Vodafone is seeking to cover the world in cell phones. They have unveiled an ultra-cheap cell phone (less than $15) designed to compete in developing countries. Besides the obvious story about gaining mobile market share, the real story here is the power of the cell phone as a computing device. If this cell phone (or others like it) can deliver the more robust computing features such as online banking, surfing the web, and social networking then the mobile device will continue its path towards dominance in the computing market. It is cheap, it is connected, it is extremely useful, and in places lacking major infrastructure it provides a easy way to connect people to technology. Regardless of whether Vodafone is successful the business is there to be had. Hopefully the physical cell networks can handle the traffic if the business proves to be successful. Read the article.

Submitted by Kenneth Rohde

Leading Analytics

[Editor's Note: This is a vendor press release/site, but the content is pertinent enough to warrant mentioning].

The current Forrester Wave: Predictive Analytics and Data Mining Solutions magic quadrant puts SAS at the top of the offering, strategy, and market presence. Predictive analytics is a hot topic these days (see previous article) and data mining continues to hold great importance within organizations. Thus, it is important to track the software vendors that provide this service. Another interesting trend will be to see how the market shifts now that IBM owns SPSS because IBM had a strong showing on its own.

Submitted by Bharath Thota

Socially Acceptable Outlook

While Microsoft's new mobile phone OS is somewhere in the distant future, on a more practical and tangible (and perhaps useful) level, they have developed Outlook Social Connector (OSC) for Office 2010. For now OSC connects Outlook directly to Linked In, but Microsoft has agreements with Facebook, and MySpace to build connectors to both of those sites. Given that news it is only a matter of time before they extend OSC to Twitter as well. This is a huge development. People, especially in the business world, are becoming increasingly dependent on email, which essentially means Outlook. At the same time social networking site usage has been exploding (as has been reported here). So connecting Outlook with social networking sites is where the opportunity is at rather than trying to enter the overcrowded mobile phone market with another half-baked initiative.

Read the article.

(submitted by Mike Chovan)

Cloud Computing- A New Cost Model

CIO.com's Bernard Golden returns with his second installment of how cloud computing will cause an IT revolution. This time he looks at cost modeling cloud computing. Specifically instead of investing large amounts of capital expenditure (Capex) to build and maintain a computing infrastructure, the benefits of which would be realized over time (assuming that the organization makes effective use of the computing infrastructure and that the costs remain carefully managed). In contrast, cloud computing is modeled in the pay as you go model, or as the author notes operational expenses (Opex). Naturally this will have many implications, but perhaps the most notable is that it will allow companies, business units, and even individuals to be more creative and push the envelope with their use of IT resources. Since deploying cloud computing resources is fast, simple, and cheap the barriers to innovation are removed. Read the article.

Endangered Species- Is Corporate IT Going Extinct?

This article came out last year, but it is worth posting again. The author's main point is that with rapidly changing technology, corporate IT departments have no hope of catching up, much less staying relevant. In other words a person's desktop and personal cell phone are going to be significantly more powerful, useful, and up to date than a corporate IT offering that is designed for mass uniformity rather than personal utility.

The author suggests the novel idea of giving employees a stipend for various resources (computer, cell phone, etc...) and letting them manage it themselves. This may seem counterintuitive given all the effort that has gone into standardizing corporate IT systems and negotiating discount volumes over the last twenty years. However, considering that the consumer/individual market is driving much of the innovation: cloud computing (Google Docs), netbooks, smart phones (iPhone and Android in particular), anything Apple, and of course social media. In fact look around and it is hardware and software vendors are trying to emulate the consumer/individual market (think enterprise 2.0 or even Microsoft's new mobile phone strategy). While there is nothing prescriptive here, this is something that is worthy of ongoing debate and consideration. Read the Article.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

IT Outsourcing Trouble - EDS is Sued by Client for Failing to Deliver on Sales Pitch

EDS (now owned by HP) has been ordered to pay former client British Sky Broadcasting (BSY) damages in the amount of approximately 400 million dollars (over four times the original contract amount) for failing to deliver on a customer service program. The core issue revolved around what EDS promised to deliver in the sales pitch and what they actually delivered. Those that follow the IT industry are well aware that these types of issues are more common (and more public) for software vendors, such as the Nike-i2 debacle back in 2001. However, according to the article, IT outsourcing disputes like this rarely make it to court, but given BSY’s success it may be a harbinger of things to come for outsourcing providers. Read the article.

Windows Mobile 7 - Microsoft's Latest Attempt to Stay Relevant in the Mobile Game

Just when everyone thought they were down for the count in the mobile device space, Microsoft announces their latest release into the mobile phone skirmish. As everyone is undoubtedly aware Apple and Google are in pitched battle for control/domination of the smartphone market. As the iPhone and subsequently the Android have taken mobile technologies in new, clever, and groundbreaking directions, Microsoft has been quietly sitting on the sidelines. It was hard to tell if they were going to exit altogether or make another play. Turns out they are not done yet. The Windows Mobile 7 announced this week is a rebuilt, reconfigured, and rebranded mobile OS. Unlike previous versions of the Windows Mobile device, this one is geared primarily at the consumer user. This is significant (and potentially dangerous) as Microsoft is synonymous with the corporate market and user. Previous versions of the Windows mobile device tied very nicely into corporate IT systems. Any significant deviation away from that market could spell trouble. However, what should really be concerning for Microsoft is that the new OS will not launch until later this year. That is a near eternity in this fast paced and already overcrowded market. Read the article.

Cloud Mandate - The U.S. Federal Government Soon to be Mandating Cloud Computing

In what will undoubtedly become a boost for the cloud computing industry, the U.S. federal government is going to be requiring federal agencies to adopt cloud computing. Apparently this will not be just some toothless edict rendered from above, those that fail to comply will have their budgets held up. This is probably not the best change management technique as it could lead to rash and poorly planned implementations, but that said it is a good start towards reducing infrastructure and overhead costs. Read the article.

Social Sharing - Facebook Surpasses Google in Web Traffic Direction

In what could be a real threat to Google, it was reported this week that Facebook is now the leader in web traffic direction. To say it differently, more people are finding content, as recommended by their friends, through Facebook rather than through Google. This follows the trend of articles that demonstrate that users are doing less web surfing and doing more social networking. Through social networking users share articles, videos, and all other manners of digital content, bypassing the traditional search engine. So we may be at the end of the search engine as king, but by no means does that mean Google is done. Read the article.

How We Share- New Research Studies Collaborative Behavior

We all forward articles to each other (that is the premise of this newsletter), but why do we forward articles and more importantly what articles do we forward? In other words how do things become viral on the Internet? These are the questions the University of Pennsylvania tackled in a recently published study. I won't give away the answers here, but for those who study collaborative behavior in relation to technology, this is an invaluable article. Read the article.

Submitted by Carrie Ericson

Tweet This - Sun CEO Announces his Resignation on Twitter

Last week Sun Microsystems CEO, Jonathan Schwartz announced his resignation. Nothing shocking about that especially after the acquisition of Sun by Oracle, most industry analysts predicted this. The real head scratcher was he announced his resignation over Twitter. Apparently Schwartz is the first CEO of a major company to “tweet” a resignation. So this begs the question of why? Is there a benefit to announcing a resignation publically? Should we expect this behavior from other high level CEOs? Or is this simply a narcissistic publicity stunt to garner publicity? Regardless of the answers to these questions, one thing is for sure, Twitter is a place where people can still make a splash.

Submitted by Walter Alvendia

Cloud Computing - Revolutionizing IT Operations

This is the first in a series of 3 articles on how Cloud Computing will cause an IT revolution. In this missive, Bernard Golden points out how on-demand resource allocation will change existing IT practices and even organizations. As an example, he identifies how easy Amazon’s on-demand server provisioning gives users instant access to a seemingly endless set of IT computing resources. By comparison, internal IT departments have a series of hurdles (budgets, paperwork, discussions, planning, meetings, etc…) to overcome to get the same resources provisioned. The comparison is striking. While cloud computing may still be finding its way and many obstacles remain, over time it is clear this will be a radically transforming technology. Golden is right on the money in labeling cloud computing as a revolution. Read the article.

Google Broadband - The empire expands

Is there no business that is safe from Google’s reach? Once again Larry and Sergey are sticking their noses into every possible technology. As if launching a new cell phone, developing an Office suite of tools or trying to buy up the 700mhz spectrum (where analog television was broadcast), was not enough, to say nothing of the video, photo, map, chat, blog, email, and social networking forays, Google is now looking to enter the broadband space. This is not their first attempt at this, they currently offer free WiFi for the city of Mountain View and have been behind sponsoring the broader concept of municipal WiFi. Obviously bandwidth/connectivity to the Internet is a strong play for a company that generates revenue from web traffic. However, this could also be a boom for consumers of high speed Internet access, at least in the U.S. where AT&T and Comcast have a near monopoly in this space offering high prices, low quality, with zero innovation. But no matter how good or exciting this is, one has to step back and seriously question where is Google going with all this and how far is too far?

However this turns out, one thing is irrefutable, Google is no longer simply a search company. The question is are they evil or not? Read the article.

Submitted by Mike Chovan

Building Knowledge - Changing Culture and New Technology at the U.S. State Department

In what seems like a completely counter-intuitive development, the U.S. State Department is successfully engaging in knowledge sharing, crowdsourcing, and building knowledge sharing sites. Yes you read that correctly, the U.S. government is ahead of the curve in adopting technology. The solution was surprisingly simple. All it took was the implementation of a simple wiki technology and a broader shift in culture. The end result has been cost savings, efficiency, and operational excellence. Hard to remember the last time a government agency was mentioned in the same sentence with those three traits. Now if we could just get the TSA to follow the State Department’s lead. Read the article.

Predictive Analytics- How to find the right (and wrong) customers

Find out how Dealer Services, an auto loan provider for used cars, uses predictive analytics to find profitable customers while at the same time avoiding the riskiest. This article demonstrates how predictive analytics differs from traditional business intelligence, specifically noting, “BI identifies relationships between a few data points, while predictive analytics evaluates how many factors work together.” In essence the story demonstrates how predictive analytics leads to better decision making. Read the article.

IT Strategy- P&G CIO Filippo Passerini shares his thoughts

In this interview P&G CIO Filippo Passerini discusses two elements of his IT strategy; maximizing business value and deciding what is core and not core to the organization. Passerini discusses why P&G outsources their infrastructure management and the strategic investments they have made. He then discusses investment in core IT technologies, designed to drive innovation and productivity (this is worth the read alone). Passerini leaves the reader with three trends he sees for the CPG industry. Read the article.

Splinternet- The end of the World (Wide Web) as we know it?

Since the mid-1990s the Internet has been synonymous with the public World Wide Web. Most of the traffic and activity occurred between web sites and web browsers. However, with the rise of non-web based proprietary systems iPhone/iPad, Kindle, Cell phones, Skype, Internet enabled TV, and explosion in social networking the web is no longer the center of the information universe. Article author Josh Bernoff uses the term the “splinternet,” the splintering of communications protocols. He argues, and rightly so, that these changes will have dramatic impact in how online advertising, linking, and searching will forever be changed. The real question remains to be seen, is this good or bad? Read the article.

Twittering in Action- Three real world case studies (Pepsi, Hyatt, Mayo Clinic)

Twitter is abuzz in publicity (good and bad), few days go by without some report of who is using or not using the micro-blogging service. Yet for businesses, especially the Fortune 500, Twitter still remains a puzzle to be solved. Information Week has a great story on the “transformative power of Twitter.” In this article they provide a series of mini-case studies on how Pepsi, Hyatt, and the Mayo Clinic have put Twitter to good use. Read the article.

Submitted by Walter Alvendia

Apple iPad- Game Changer or flop?

The world is abuzz with Apple's announcement this week of the new iPad. The iPad is Apple's touch-screen tablet computer. It is a cross between a laptop and an iPhone. It boasts a 9.7” screen, weighs 1 ½ lbs. and works much like iPhone (using the same OS). Aside from the hype, the real question is will it succeed.
Tablet computers have been around for a while, but they have never really succeeded in capturing any measure of market share. So Apple is not only tasked with designing a new device, they essentially have to create a new market. At the same time the iPad is a direct competitor to the Amazon Kindle and other e-readers (a burgeoning new market). The iPad offers the rich and robust multimedia experience Apple is known for and makes the other e-readers seem barbaric by comparison. Thus, the iPad could allow the iPad to dominate education, hospitals, and become the elusive replacement for newspapers. But let us not get too far ahead of ourselves; everything Apple touches does not turn to gold, just ask owners of the Newton.

Here are two good articles explaining the iPad. We will provide more coverage of the iPad in the upcoming weeks.
Apple unveils its Tablet Computer, the iPad
Apple iPad can be a game-changer in many fields

Where Spend Management is going- An analyst's view

n case you missed it, Spend Matters blogger Jason Busch made a prediction about ERP vendors getting Spend Management right. Busch contends that the big players such as SAP and Oracle are now finally getting parity in the Spend Management space (as opposed to core ERP) where the features/functions as well as the delivery models are more flexible (i.e. OnDemand). Clients are not necessarily hung up on the integration piece but rather (more) easily getting the latest and greatest features/functions from software. Here at ATK we are starting to see this very trend in our dealings with clients.

Submitted by Walter Alvendia

Microsoft Pivot- Visualizing large amounts of web based data

This week Microsoft Labs published work, from their experimental labs (similar to Google’s), that demonstrates how users will be able to visualize large sets of web based data with what is called Pivot. Traditionally the problem with aggregating and visualizing large amounts of web data is the fact most of it is unstructured. Microsoft appears to be on the path to solving this problem with Pivot by grabbing web data with a common attribute. They show several examples, but perhaps the most obvious one is Wikipedia. While this is not available for regular use yet, it is a very clever idea, check out the video.

Submitted by Bharath Thota

What the Millennials are doing with their time- Finally quantifiable data

Did you know that millennials spend 7 ½ hours per day interacting with some form of media? Those that study the millennials or have kids are probably not surprised by this. However, what is of particular interest is that the first quantifiable studies on the millennials are starting to emerge. The problem with most of the data on millennials over the last couple of years in books such as Born Digital, Grown Up Digital, and Don’t Bother Me Mom-I’m Learning is that their evidence was anecdotal and considered non-scientific. That is changing. Here is a link to data collected in a study sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation. For a brief overview and analysis check out this article from the Columbus Dispatch.

The IT industry and Haiti- Plus a reminder of Katrina and disaster recovery

In the wake of the disaster in Haiti, one thing we are reminded of is the growing importance for Information Technology in disaster response. As our communication and data systems become ever increasingly digitized and interconnected, when a disaster strikes the need to bring these systems back online just to provide basic services or in some cases to facilitate rescue efforts do and will require more sophisticated IT resources. In a small but feel good example check out what IT volunteers have done in Haiti. As with all disasters, it presents businesses with an opportunity (or catalyst) to re-examine their disaster recovery and business continuity plans. Dusting off the archives a bit, check out this article from Wired magazine detailing the harrowing efforts of one man as he kept IT connectivity going in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.