September 23, 2011 2:27 PM
Posted by: Linda Tucci
enterprise social networking
The man sitting next to me at lunch yesterday works at a bank too big to fail. We were at the Forrester 2011 Forum in Boston, and were both following the content and collaboration track. He told me his bank uses Microsoft SharePoint for collaboration but he is in the market for enterprise social networking software that will encourage employees across the company to be, well, more social. To share. SharePoint works fine for project groups, he said, but tends to fortify organizational silos, not break them down. He’s looked at Jive and at running NewsGator atop SharePoint, but is leaning toward Cisco’s new Quad platform. His bank is a big Cisco customer and has offered advice to Cisco on making Quad work for regulated industries.
But in any case, the problem won’t be the technology, he said, but in selling employees on the idea of an enterprise-wide social forum. Not only are the various operations of the bank siloed off from each other, but there also are silos within silos. People are uncomfortable with the notion of putting stuff out there that is visible to the whole company, he added. The economic climate hasn’t helped, nor have company layoffs. He has decided to provide a model for his employees by putting a little more information out in the bank’s current public forums — to encourage them to share more. Like what? Well, he wasn’t going to publish HR information, of course, but comments on how a project is going, or celebrating one of his employee’s successes, seemed fair game. Still, it was all a bit puzzling to him. In practice, workplace information goes viral all the time. Any email can be forwarded.
I thought about his comment on forwarding emails and had a mini epiphany about the disruptive promise of enterprise social networking. A forwarded email reinforces the countless pecking orders that (in subtle and not so subtle ways) can poison the working environment. Putting the information out on a common platform will flatten hierarchies. But what will equal access mean for companies and employees? Maybe employees know there is no such thing as equal access.
These are early days indeed for sorting out the effect on business of enterprise social networking. And a day’s worth of conference sessions on the topic did nothing except show how conflicted businesses are when it comes to social networking. One example: The gist of the opening session was that IT departments had to be involved in developing their companies’ enterprise social networking platforms — and not only for the obvious reasons of security and compliance. People are clannish. Multiple systems defeat the purpose of enterprise social networking. “It used to be ‘Let 1,000 flowers bloom,’” one of the Forrester analysts said. But that has led to business units each creating their own social networks, sometimes multiple social plots per unit. “Walled gardens are not helpful,” he told the audience. There needs to be an enterprise standard.
But therein lies the paradox. Once there is an enterprise standard and everyone belongs to “the club,” it isn’t a club anymore and people clam up.
September 22, 2011 1:01 AM
Posted by: Christina Torode
, Cloud computing
, cloud service providers
, public cloud
One in five of the companies responding to a Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) survey of cloud trends said they are moving some or all of their outsourced cloud systems back on-premises.
The top two reasons respondents gave for moving away from cloud service providers were the Amazon EC2 outage and the Dropbox security breach, according to CompTIA, which conducted the survey of 900 IT and business professionals and IT firms in June with research firm Research Now.
Difficulty integrating on-premise systems with systems in the cloud was another reason given for the shift back in-house, as was the realization by some of the companies that they could build their own private cloud.
“Adoption of the cloud model continues to grow, but there are different nuances,” said Todd Thibodeaux, CompTIA president and CEO. “I think some of these companies recognize that a hybrid [cloud] approach meets a variety of their needs, and some realize that they have the infrastructure in place to have a private or hybrid cloud.”
Overall, more people are using the cloud in more ways — whether with an IaaS, PaaS or SaaS provider, or through a public, private or hybrid model — and these far outnumber the people who are moving things out of the cloud, Thibodeaux said. The CompTIA study found that more than half of the respondents plan to increase their investment in cloud computing by 10% or more in the next 12 months.
If anything, the survey data shows that cloud adoption has moved to a point of maturity in which customers are surer of their needs and more confident that the public cloud model is the right vehicle to meet many of those needs. This is a far cry from a year ago when the leading question was still “What is the cloud?”
In fact, the cloud crosses the globe as a unifying strategic initiative, unlike any other technology Thibodeaux has seen in his decades in the industry, he said.
Our understanding of the cloud has matured, but we are far from nailing down best practices, the main reason being that the cloud has too many moving parts — not to mention players.
September 15, 2011 6:59 PM
Posted by: Linda Tucci
, Google Apps; change management
“The beautiful part of the cloud is that the technical challenges are not the critical part of the effort.” That’s Jason Lee of consulting firm MavenWave Partners talking about his firm’s rationale for focusing on cloud-based computing solutions — and deciding to partner with Microsoft’s arch enemy. I spoke with him for my story this week about going Google. A cloud believer, he also realizes that the 100% Web proposition is a big change for most enterprises — and “mistakes are made.”
If your company is considering using Google enterprise apps — whether it’s a wholesale adoption or (more likely) just for certain employee groups — here is Lee’s framework for converting. Based on his experience with clients that have made the transition to Google Apps (and on a whole lot of bad Lotus Notes implementations in a past life), the framework has three main steps. And here is the clincher, CIOs: Your organization needs to fund conversion through all three steps, for multiple years. Even though going Google is cheap, it’s not free.
1. Commit. Remember why those ERP and CRM implementations went bad? In one respect, going Google is no different: There’s some heavy politics with changing big applications. Email and messaging touch everybody. The commitment to converting to Google Apps has to be top-down. “Or it won’t be adopted,” Lee said. You need a clear business case for the transition, a funding strategy that spans multiple years, and champions.
2. Enable. How you get the base Google platform out to the enterprise will vary with the scope of the implementation, of course, but converting users to the base capabilities of the system shouldn’t take longer than two to four months, Lee said. You need clear requirements for what the system is intended to do — down to the details. Google has a big leg-up on collaboration, but don’t assume users know how to use the platform.
“There should be an active and aggressive change management program that gives users every opportunity through every channel to understand how to use the new platform,” Lee said. Good project leadership and management are critical to going Google. Consider appointing a daily Google advocate.
3. Collaborate. Once you have converted people to the base platform and they are using it for everyday communications, look for pain-points in manual business processes, and use the Google platform to automate them. Start with stuff that’s easy to fix — or, as Lee put it, the “low value-adds” (for example, a travel approval process that was manual). MavenWave client Journal Communications Inc. of Milwaukee is automating its copy-approval process, as it moves its 27,000 employees to Google Apps.
The long-term aim of going Google is quantifiable improvements in productivity. “Small, new collaboration sites, incremental in nature, will have a big impact when put together,” Lee said. In the first three to six months, IT should be integrating the Google platform with core business processes and systems.
To realize those gains, the ideal situation is to have the majority of users on the platform. “Going half-in is tough,” Lee said. If the whole population is not going Google, segment the user groups that interact the most, and build solutions that will make them more productive.
September 14, 2011 1:32 PM
Posted by: Christina Torode
, consumerization of IT
, Enterprise mobility
, IT consumerization
, social media policies
Criticism of IT’s command-and-control approach is pretty common these days, given the march to people-centric computing, as Gartner dubs it, or IT consumerization, as IT execs themselves call it.
When it comes to mobility, social networks and even the cloud, however, command-and-control is still very much in place — although it isn’t necessarily the CIO who’s setting the ground rules now.
Sure, IT has a lot of input in setting policies for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs, given that IT departments have to control their support costs. But limiting choices to a specific iOS or to just BlackBerry devices is more of a corporate cost-control mandate than a control issue for IT.
Social media policies encourage employees to reach out using social platforms but to do so within certain parameters. And those parameters often aren’t set by IT but by company executives — namely, legal.
At Medtronic Inc., a maker of biomedical device implants such as heart pacemakers, Suzanne McGann, social media program manager for global interactive strategy, was told by the company’s executive committee that there “will be no social media in the organization” until she figured out how to do it safely.
IT and CIO were terms McGann didn’t use when she gave a presentation at June’s Enterprise 2.0 show in Boston on the subject of developing social media policies. Medtronic’s director of information risk (who headed up social media policy development) was mentioned quite often, however, as were the global branding, intellectual property, human resources, legal corporate, legal regulatory, and FDA legal and regulatory departments.
It’s an interesting Catch-22 for IT teams. They are not always the rule-setters for IT consumerization, but they ultimately are the enforcers and the ones who take it on the chin. After all, if you violate the rules around that BYOD program, who is going to wipe that device?
On the other hand, many would argue that IT is very much in charge of setting the ground rules for IT consumerization. IT wants to make sure that mobile data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands; it helps business units choose the right cloud provider; and yes, it gives users a choice when it comes to device and application selection — which is why IT was so gung-ho about virtualization long before the business was.
In fact, many CIOs are leading the charge, taking it on themselves to develop a mobile device management program to accommodate proliferating iPads. IT is not so much a command-and-control center as it is a services broker leading corporations to the right choices.
September 9, 2011 2:34 PM
Posted by: Linda Tucci
, consumerization of IT
If the consumerization of IT doesn’t kill IT shops, it might make them stronger, so the theory goes. However, it’s certainly driving them crazy in the short run.
That’s the gist of a worldwide survey from IDC and Unisys that examined the two faces of the phenomenon: how much consumer technologies are already being used in the workplace, and how IT shops are responding to this change. The verdict from the 3,000 business executives and “information workers” polled by IDC is that workers are moving much faster to use consumer technologies for work than most IT shops are moving to support them. Here are two stats:
- IT underestimated the number of workers using consumer devices for work by 50%.
- IT underestimated the number of workers using social networks by almost 40%.
According to the survey, IT not only grossly underestimates the number of workers using consumer hardware, software and services, but many shops are also operating under mobile device policies that have little or no connection to reality: 87% of IT groups said company policy called for workers to source their smart mobile devices from the enterprise, but over 50% of the workers with smartphones and iPads said they bought their devices themselves. And the trend is accelerating: The percentage of employee-owned devices used to access business apps was up 10 points from last year’s study. Over a third of the workers polled use personally owned PCs for work, and nearly 10% use a personal tablet for work, a device that did not even exist a year and a half ago, as IDC’s Frank Gens points out. (Listen to Gens summarize the consumerization of IT survey.)
And, lest there be any doubt, consumer hardware, software and services keep us company (pun intended) wherever we go: About half of the workers polled said they use consumer technologies for work while on vacation; 29% use them while in bed; 20% while driving (eek); and 5% in places of worship.
What’s so hard about supporting the consumer technologies that workers use around the clock? Security is the single largest barrier that IT people cite (83%) to more successfully supporting the worker race to adopt consumer technologies, followed by “viruses from social networks” (56%) and “challenges in developing policies around support and lifecycle management (52%).” About a third of IT workers said the drain on company bandwidth from employees using corporate Wi-Fi was a barrier, and 27% cited the difficulty of building a business case for supporting these technologies.
The sad but not surprising part is that IT knows it’s falling behind in the race by employees to adopt consumer technologies. In fact, true to form (IT folks are nothing if not hard on themselves), IT people reported they are worse at supporting employee-owned (BYOD) devices this year than last year, and worse at integrating consumer technologies.
The good news is that IT gets this. The CIOs we talk to and have been reporting on all year get it, and the workers in this survey know IT cannot be the backward-looking face of the consumerization of IT. The overwhelming majority of IT people polled in this survey are also convinced that consumerization of IT is inevitable and believe it will make employees more productive (70%). They know that business execs expect them to support consumer devices (80%). They also say that consumerization of IT will increase the IT workload (80%).
And that’s kind of the silver lining in this, isn’t it? Rather than consumerization of IT putting CIOs and their IT shops out of business, it makes you busier than ever.
September 8, 2011 8:08 PM
Posted by: Christina Torode
, product lifecycle management
Siemens held its product lifecycle management (PLM) event in Boston yesterday and, as might be expected, it was replete with customer testimonials on the benefits of using PLM software.
For customer Lexmark, PLM is making it possible for the company to do things better, cheaper faster and greener. By moving from an existing PLM platform to Siemens, Lexmark is saving 1.5 million kWh. The savings are equivalent to the electricity used to power 160 homes or 220 passenger vehicles a year. Who knew PLM was so green?
But after walking around talking to customers, I learned that the benefits were much more about avoiding the cycle of mistakes that happen between product concept and design or engineering and manufacturing.
Companies want to close the communication gaps across the entire product lifecycle. The problem with that is, as one IDC analyst put it, no PLM software covers all the bases: concept, design, manufacturing, engineering, warranty, support and end of life. But vendors are getting closer.
And the benefits are being realized now. Gordon McKechnie, PLM lead for Rolls-Royce, told me that by being able to collaborate in real time with Siemens PLM software, they can use an iterative approach to product design. Instead of manufacturing getting a product that’s 90% finished and sending it back with a boatload of changes, they can now send a product to manufacturing that is 20% done and have that back and forth to avoid some major — and costly — changes in the final stages of product development.
And despite facing a perfect storm — namely, tighter deadlines, the cost crunch and a demand for product innovation for a competitive advantage — enterprises are expected to cut down on mistakes. PLM apparently can make that happen by keeping all the people, processes and technology in synch, literally, since live synchronization and 3-D drawings can be shared and changed in real time.
September 1, 2011 8:24 PM
Posted by: Linda Tucci
IT budgets; IT hiring; CIO
Come Labor Day, thoughts turn to IT budgets and technology hiring — or mine do, anyway. So, this week I sent out feelers to CIOs and people who track technology spending and labor statistics. Could they tell me what’s happening? With talk of a double-dip recession heating up just as summer winds down, are CIOs making contingency budgets? Six months ago, some CIOs I talked to were complaining about talent shortages, even a technology hiring crisis, as they moved forward with major projects that had been put on hold. Are they retrenching?
This being the last week for summer vacations, word back has been slow in coming, as you might imagine, and forecasts for the second half of the year are turning out to be ambiguous, or at least insufficient for making broad claims. Gartner analyst Mark McDonald, who probably talks to as many CIOs as anyone in IT, wrote back that industries are more fragmented than ever on technology spending. “It’s not unusual to see two companies in the same industry pursuing different strategies — one investing and the other cutting,” he said in an email.
Gartner’s survey on technology spending and hiring doesn’t get sent out until mid-September, McDonald said, but his intuition is that CIO budgets are pretty solid, mainly because they are “about as low as they can go” after the 15% cuts inflicted in 2007. When Gartner people have asked around about cutting IT budgets again, given the market jitters this summer, “we are getting funny looks back from CIOs,” he said. “CIOs are looking for a clear signal rather than giving a knee-jerk response to the noise.” Keep in mind, he added, that CIOs have something they haven’t had in a long time: new technologies like cloud, mobility and social that warrant investment.
Maybe so, but rumblings are out there. In contrast to the data showing strong technology spending and steady hiring in pockets of IT through the second quarter, there are signs of a slowdown for the third quarter. And analysts from the various think tanks and consultancies, including Gartner’s economics practice, are starting to issue warnings of IT budget cuts.
In the midst of trying to read the tea leaves, my phone rang. It was the CIO of a family-owned chain of supermarkets in the Northeast, with 18 stores and 4,000 employees. The business needs all the IT that a giant supermarket chain has, from point-of-sale specialists and database administrators to a reliable and secure IT infrastructure. He isn’t hiring, he told me, but not so much because of the economy as because of the size of his business: “The skills I need I can’t afford.” So, in recent years, he has outsourced most IT operations and downsized his internal staff to a crew of four, including himself. Connectivity is so much better than 10 years ago that he can do that — “as long as you have good partners.” His main function is vendor management. “I add no value by running servers and doing backup and restore and maintenance. We need to focus on groceries,” he said, adding, “It keeps our profile low.”
I was struck by that. Does he worry that by outsourcing most of IT and keeping a low profile, his company might decide to do away with him and his staff altogether? Well, he comes to the job with 20 years’ experience in the grocery business; but if so, “that’s fine.” he said. “I’ve written myself out of jobs before, where my position did not make sense.”
This CIO’s situation is no doubt different from that of CIOs at large enterprise companies, particularly at companies dripping in profits, as opposed to the low-margin supermarket business. But his focus on adding value to the business, by whatever means — even if that means writing yourself out of a job — seemed like a courageous statement for any CIO these days.
September 1, 2011 6:55 PM
Posted by: Christina Torode
, Cloud computing
, cloud computing services
, cloud computing vendors
, cloud market trends
Gartner analyst David Mitchell Smith made one thing clear when he gave an overview of the leading cloud computing vendors during a recent webinar. He was not endorsing any of them.
But it was obvious that Gartner is placing its bets on a few technology companies — namely Microsoft and VMware — as the contenders for the title of top cloud-computing vendor.
More specifically, the two vendors are in prime positions to become leaders in the enterprise and cloud computing space, Smith said, adding that they are not “shoo-ins”; they just have more comprehensive offerings than some of the other players.
“The two are perceived already as leaders in cloud services and enterprise software and systems,” he said. “Both are well entrenched in the enterprise — VMware with its virtualization software, and Microsoft with SQL Server, Exchange and other things. Both are by far the most aggressive in terms of moving to a cloud services model.”
Smith categorized potential leaders based on the types of cloud services they offer, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS); whether they are a cloud services “enabler” or “provider” (more on what that means below); and whether they offer public or private cloud services.
Here’s Smith’s take on where some cloud computing vendors stand, in no particular order:
- Has software that is used widely in enterprises.
- Is an enabler and provider: Its software and services are used by other providers to offer cloud services (the Windows Azure platform), and the company itself provides cloud services, such as Office 365.
- Is a public and private cloud provider: Windows Azure provides public cloud services and the Hyper-V virtualization system, and its System Center IT management product line and a coming Azure appliance are products used in the design of private clouds.
- Is an IaaS and PaaS provider: Azure spans both IaaS and PaaS, as well as SQL Server; and AppFabric is PaaS middleware.
- Is well established in the enterprise because of its virtualization software.
- Is more an enabler than a provider.
- Spans public and private clouds: Its products are used by cloud providers and enterprises to build cloud infrastructures.
- Is moving higher up the chain into PaaS through acquisitions, such as the purchase of SpringSource, to develop its vFabric Cloud Application Platform.
- Is entering the SaaS space with its Zimbra, Socialcast and SlideRocket acquisitions.
“Overall, VMware has a good strategy that is bringing the company beyond infrastructure. They are much more complicated and visionary now — if you haven’t paid attention to them in the last couple years, significantly moving beyond their virtualization roots,” Smith said.
- Is a public cloud IaaS player.
- Has some PaaS offerings, such as elasticity for memory caching, but its PaaS services “do not add up to a comprehensive PaaS offering,” he said.
- Offers cloud services in addition to its mainstay retail business.
“Amazon is perceived as the pioneer in cloud,” Smith said. “You bring your own [technology] to this [Amazon cloud] world, and are responsible for everything above the bare metal, such as for the OS and middleware. That’s what makes them different from others offering a higher-level IaaS model.”
- Is purely a public cloud provider.
- Is a SaaS applications pioneer for customer relationship management, or CRM, and is expanding this with such offering as the social media app Chatter.
- Is a PaaS pioneer with Force.com.
- Provides only a public cloud.
- The heart of the company and its revenue is search and advertising, which creates 97% of its revenue. “They have huge processing power and storage, and are free to experiment with secondary strategies,” Smith said.
- Has SaaS offerings, such as Google Docs.
- Has the PaaS layer covered with Google App Engine.
IBM and Hewlett-Packard:
- Are both cloud enablers and providers. They have product groups that build hardware and software that are used in public and private clouds.
- Are both cloud providers, given their large services organizations and history of offering outsourcing and hosting services.
- IBM is more focused on building private clouds with WebSphere CloudBurst, and has technology that can be used in IaaS and Paas offerings.
- IBM has a PaaS hosted-software partnership with Amazon.com.
- IBM is a cloud integration player through its acquisition of Cast Iron.
- IBM has the LotusLive SaaS offering.
“Hewlett-Packard mirrors IBM in many ways, but is a year or so behind them,” Smith said.
- Hewlett-Packard is a cloud enabler, targeting private cloud build-outs, with its converged infrastructure offerings and CloudSystem for private and public cloud environments.
- Hewlett-Packard has cloud automation services based on its competency in management services.
- Hewlett-Packard is working with Microsoft to deploy the Windows Azure appliance, making the partnership a PaaS player.
Let us know what you think about this blog post; email: Christina Torode, News Director.
August 26, 2011 11:45 AM
Posted by: Linda Tucci
, consumerization of IT
, Enterprise mobility
, Steve Jobs
This is going to be about Steve Jobs and the legacy among his many legacies that bears directly on CIOs: the consumerization of IT in the enterprise. Actually, I prefer to call it the democratization of IT. But first, Jobs’ stepping down this week as CEO of Apple, the elegiac tone of the response to this news and the collective angst over our battered economy suggest another point worth making: The next time some politician tries to score points — and stir up havoc — by lamenting that this country has lost faith in American exceptionalism, she or he should reflect on Apple.
And on Google and Facebook and Twitter and Amazon and eBay and, yes, Microsoft.
Not only is Apple’s Steve Jobs an exceptional American, his company also is one of many exceptional American-born businesses whose technology has done nothing short of re-ordering the world — and not by shock and awe, at least in the military sense of that expression. Of course, there are many inspiring non-American companies that have produced great technology — Sony comes to mind. But for sheer inventiveness, American tech boggles the mind. American predominance in tech is less about technology than about new ideas — an unerring sense of how the future could operate.
IT experts like to call this disruptive technology. In fact, a Gartner analyst did just that the day before Jobs stepped down. In an online rundown of the top 10 technologies for 2011, tuned in to by many CIOs, he referred to the iPad as a disruptive technology with “tremendous implications for IT strategy.”
SearchCIO.com’s reporting on the march of personalized mobile computing into the enterprise, the iPad in particular, makes it clear that CIOs have registered the disruption. And the effective ones are finding ways to say yes, not only to the iPad but also to the democratization of IT in the enterprise, from bring-your-own-device (or BYOD) policies to putting business intelligence into the hands of people on the job.
I never interviewed Steve Jobs. For all the tech conferences I’ve schlepped to, I never even saw him on stage, in his iconic black turtleneck and jeans. In the pictures that ran with the obituary-like reports that have poured out since his stepping-down announcement, he looked frail; but of course, he is just the opposite: demonstrating throughout his career the rugged individualism that makes Americans, and the non-native born who choose to be here, special.
We’d like to hear from CIOs on Jobs’ impact on enterprise IT. You can reach me at email@example.com