Why the long look back? I hate to be trite, but if you don’t learn history you’re doomed to repeat it — yes, CIOs, that includes you. A lot of desperate measures — or at least, that’s how they were viewed at the time — were put into place in IT organizations in the past year and a half. These included reduced IT staffing levels, an increased emphasis on business process management — you don’t need me to tell you, because you’re probably the one who had to make these difficult management decisions. I think we’re all looking forward to the day — maybe it will come later this year? — when IT budgets will loosen once again, allowing for the rededication of resources to IT, which can help move the entire business forward.
But if you enterprise CIOs go back to the old way of doing things once your budget dollars start trickling back, be warned that you’ll most likely be falling behind your peers. That’s because 2009 IT lessons will play a key role in dictating the future of IT.
The IT organization will always be charged with examining and implementing emerging technologies, but we’ve got to accomplish those “keeping the lights on” tasks quickly and efficiently, too. In all likelihood, business process automation will explode over the next few years as IT organizations find a cheaper way to complete this repetitive work. Business intelligence tools and dashboards will also be huge, as enterprise CIOs must keep track of an ever-widening playing field. IT outsourcing, which I covered quite a bit over the past year, will certainly make up a piece of the pie in replacing IT staffing without the salary commitments of the past.
What 2009 IT lessons are you carrying into your IT plans for 2010 — and beyond? Sound off below!]]>
Virtualization was singled out not for its newness — the concept has been around for decades — but for the myriad ways it provides value to the enterprise. Likening virtualization to a Swiss Army knife, Gartner analyst Carl Claunch said its uses extend well beyond servers now, to storage and client computing. And it is not just the cost savings that make this technology so compelling. Virtualization’s capacity to make computing appear simple and homogenous on the face of things, while accommodating the required complexity on the back end is perhaps its ultimate achievement, said Claunch. He presented the list with colleague David Cearley at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo going on in Orlando this week.
It’s hard to overstate how much the faithful who trek to Symposium get a charge out of this annual ritual. From the size of the crowd — cheek to jowl and standing-room only — you’d think Gartner was announcing this year’s Nobel laureates or the 10 finalists on American Idol. Technology rocks too.
The session went for about 45 minutes, with interesting analysis from Claunch and Cearley. I considered typing out the details, but the Gartner announcement of the top 10 gives you the rationale, if not all the nuances, for the rankings. And I’d much rather hear what you think of the list.
So, without further ado:
Gartner’s 2009 top 10 winners
2. Cloud computing
3. Servers — beyond blades
4. Web-oriented architectures (WOA)
5. Enterprise mashups
6. Specialized systems
7. Social software and social networking
8. Unified communications
9. Business intelligence
10. Green IT
Changes from the 2008 Strategic Technologies List
• Retired* from the list: Real World Web, business process modeling, metadata management.
• Topic retained and evolving from last year: Green IT, virtualization, unified communications, mashups (now listed as enterprise mashups), social software (adding an emphasis on the social networking aspect), WOA, beyond blades (was listed as fabric computing last year).
• New this year: Business intelligence, specialized systems, cloud computing (evolving from 2008 Web platform topic).
*Gartner: Removing a technology from the list does not mean it is no longer strategic. Rather, it reflects a shift in emphasis relative to other technologies now appearing on the list.
My story on last year’s Top 10 list from Gartner.]]>
I remember playing with Google Street Maps, Google Earth and Gmail not long after their debuts and being immediately impressed. And it sounds like Chrome’s sleek appearance, tabs and privacy settings (called “Incognito”) carry that same Google charm.
But I’m also hearing some Big Brother-ish features. For instance, Google has changed its End User Licensing Agreement, which originally called for the right to retain the rights to anything you do or create while using Chrome.
For a measured view, I’m turning to this list of reasons for and reasons against trying out Chrome.
Is this brouhaha a matter of people looking to take down Google-as-Goliath? Who else has tried out the beta version of Chrome? What are your initial impressions? Could it draw you away from Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or whatever other web browser you currently use?]]>
But $30 is apparently a key number when it comes to “bloatware”: for that same price, consumers can have professionals, such as Best Buy’s “Geek Squad,” remove the pre-installed programs for them.
“You’d be surprised how often consumers tell us to get rid of it,” said Robert Stephens, the head of Geek Squad, the technical support division of Best Buy that removes the software. He declined to say how many people were paying for the service, but said that “it’s going to increase in popularity.”
Maybe I’m not the minimalist that some computer users are, but, come on, spend $30 so that somebody else will remove these pre-installed programs? Is it really that annoying to have them on their desktop? Or to follow some online instructions and remove them on their own?
My questions are these: Do corporate IT leaders consider “bloatware” in purchasing and deploying computers to their staff? Would you ever consider paying a service like Geek Squad to remove those programs to save your staff the time and effort of doing so? Have you seen any advantages to purchasing PCs with these pre-loaded programs?]]>
The Scan It personal scanner, which has been deployed in about 90 of the chain’s grocery stores, allows you to walk down the aisles, pick an item, scan the barcode, press a button and – voila! – it’s added to your total. For items that aren’t scanner-friendly, such as deli meats, you can use a touch-screen computer to place orders, and Scan It will send you a message when your turn is up.
“Scan It is also a subtle but persistent salesman,” the article reads. “Scanning the loyalty card links the device to a history of your previous purchases. Stop & Shop’s system uses this data to come up with special offers for products you might fancy. The offers are relayed to Scan It, which gently pings you about discounts. You’ll be glad to know that personal data, like names or credit card numbers, don’t travel over the wireless network – just a numerical code that identifies you as a sucker for pasta.”
It will be interesting to learn more about the technology behind what appears to be Stop & Shop’s latest success story. Has anybody else experimented with these in-store scanners? Do they live up to the hype and speed up your shopping experience?]]>
We don’t often cover product releases from the Big 4, leaving that to our knowledgeable colleagues at sites like SearchSAP.com, SearchOracle.com and SearchCRM.com. But I recently had an exchange with my editor about EPM that begged for enlightenment.
Actually the question at hand was what did I know about BPM? Well, I knew I had written about it ad nauseum a few months ago. Did she not remember the packet of stories on business process management from the Gartner conference in Vegas? No, no, not that BPM, silly prolific reporter. What did I know about BPM, as in business performance management? Ummmm, was BPM like BI? Nope, not according to the vendor/expert breathing down my editor’s neck that day. BPM, we learned, was also known as CPM, corporate performance management, or EPM or PM, for short (shortest?) and it had to do with monitoring financial data. Well, then was it akin to BAM, business activity monitoring? Or CEP, complex event processing? Or BLAH, blah blah? The alphabet soup was making me queasy. Let’s just say, we were none the wiser that day for reciting the IT alphabet.
So! when the team from SAP’s recently acquired Business Objects sent over their big news this week –”Company Welcomes New Era of Convergence Between Enterprise Performance Management, Business Intelligence, and Governance, Risk and Compliance Solutions” — I happily signed on for a briefing. You can read the press release yourself for details on all this New Age convergence stuff, but the point is… I was right. BI and EPM and (bonus!) GRC are related. No less than world’s largest business software company said so:
“Traditionally distinct disciplines, the combination of EPM, GRC and BI enables deeper visibility into unified information, greater context for collaborative decision making and better organizational alignment. For example, without a foundation of trustworthy and accurate business data, companies cannot effectively manage EPM processes such as financial consolidation. Similarly, the combination of GRC and EPM is critical to helping customers clearly understand potential risks to their business strategy.”
Moreover, Business Objects, the company bragged, was the only vendor to “offer both the vision and the products to unite EPM, GRC and BI.”
Proud as I was to have any thoughts in common with those incredibly smart computer engineers at SAP/Business Objects, I wisely took the opportunity to be schooled on EPM by Sanjay Poonen, general manager for performance optimization applications for Business Objects.
EPM, he patiently explained, is a market term used to describe a collection of technologies that help people strategize about business. EPM helps people plan and execute and understand their businesses overall. And it traditionally is used by finance departments. “It contains a set of products that allows CFOs, for instance, to start with a balanced scorecard, get a view of all their different businesses and then to do anything from budgeting and planning to consolidation and analyzing their profitability at a fairly sophisticated level,” Poonen said.
SAP’s Business Objects likes to use the term enterprise performance management, as opposed to CPM or BPM because “a big part of our vision is to move beyond a line of business, such as finance, and make this an enterprise wide offering,” Poonan said. Indeed, the new “spend analytics” component of the EPM suite provides visibility into purchasing-automatically aggregating, cleansing and analyzing procurement data from across the corporate systems, as well as from third part vendors.
The good news for the CIO, who is perpetually balancing the desire of business for the best of the best-of-breed applications with the economies of standardizing around a single vendor, is that the EPM products from Business Objects now go well beyond finance, Poonan reminded, to include supply chain, procurement and now also governance, risk and compliance-all from one vendor!
Now, just to be clear about the difference between EPM and BI, I was told by Poonen to think of BI as the infrastructure tools (dashboards, Crystal Reports, master data management) to build a good house of data for the business. A financial performance management suite of products — an EPM solution– will have these BI tools embedded in it and a complete suite of applications targeted to the financial organization. “So it is not just the tools and pieces to build the house, but the fully built house itself.” So there you have it, from acronym soup to nuts to the five-star restaurant.
Let me know how you think of BI – and what this set of technologies says about the relation between IT and the business.]]>
Confession: I am a scant one-and-a-half weeks away from purchasing my very own iPhone 3G. I’ve been waiting patiently until my contract with my current provider expires, and the day is almost here. I’m even trying to figure out if I can purchase it a week early, given the incentive my lovely state of Massachusetts (Not Tax-achusetts, at least for this weekend!) is offering.
But enough about me; let’s talk about you. I’ve been curious about IT executives’ views on the iPhone, especially now that it’s been on the market for more than a year, the new version doubles the Internet speed, and the Apple website boasts an “iPhone in Enterprise” section devoted to business applications.
My impression is that the iPhone is still viewed by those in enterprise as a novelty, not a business tool. Maybe you own one, personally, but you’re still more likely tied to your office via your BlackBerry or other such device. And full-scale iPhone deployment to mobile staff is still a long way off as Apple continues to chip away at security and integration issues.
Is this accurate? What are your thoughts on — or experiences with – iPhone in the enterprise world?]]>
CNN’s computer expert Ken Colburn is a big proponent of the web site VirusTotal. If you forward an e-mail to VirusTotal and put “Scan” in the subject line (or upload a file on the site), it will run a complete check on the attachment and return it to you, usually within three to five minutes, Colburn says.
Pretty nifty. Although I like to think of myself as pretty spam-savvy, I’ve certainly gotten attachments from time to time that I’ve deleted, only to question later whether I might really have needed it. Colburn says that an airline credit-card receipt and an impending UPS shipment are two of the latest virus-laden goodies masquerading as legit attachments.
The VirusTotal service is free. Colburn warns users not to send along attachments that you expect might contain personal information, such as a social security number, or sensitive company information.
I checked through my inbox (and spam filter) and didn’t see anything worth sending along to VirusTotal at the moment. I’m wondering if anybody else has tried this service out. If so, what’s your take?]]>
“With gas at $4 a gallon, there’s never been a better time to live in a walkable neighborhood,” the site reads. I couldn’t agree more – not to mention the obvious health benefits of walking rather than hopping in the car.
Simply type in your address to see your proximity to grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, libraries, schools and other amenities. The map displays their position relative to your address, and lists the names of highlights along the side.
My neighborhood of Boston scored a “somewhat walkable” rating of 65. Personally, I think that’s a bit low: While I do own a car, I walk quite a bit to my neighborhood’s “downtown” area, about a mile away, where there are dozens of shops and restaurants, and my home is practically across the street from a subway station.
Walk Score even works for some international addresses! The address of the flat in London, England, in which I lived in a few years back, scored a “walker’s paradise” rating of 96. Considering I didn’t have a car and the Tube was pricey even back then (don’t even get me started on how much it costs now), I took full advantage of the nearby restaurants, post offices, museums and parks.
And you’ve got to appreciate Walk Score’s honesty. On it’s “How it doesn’t work” page, the creators acknowledge that their algorithm doesn’t take into account crime, topography, weather and other factors that might influence one’s decision to walk vs. drive.
And my esteemed colleague Zach Church over at SearchCIO-Midmarket.com points out that it would be nice if you could customize the site to rank according to the individual services you desire – maybe you don’t care about the closest school, but the more restaurants, the merrier.
How walkable is your neighborhood? How about your office? Now, when I need a break from SearchCIO.com, I want to take a noontime stroll to explore parks and businesses I didn’t even know existed.]]>
Perfect for those who feel a long commute and/or traffic tie-ups are cutting into their workplace productivity! Just kidding. As the article states, “of course, this connectivity is to be used by passengers sharing your commute, family members who want to stay connected on long car trips or as an access point once you’ve reached your destination. WiFi connectivity while driving is a bad idea — keep your attention on the road.”
And I’m sure everyone will heed that advice — just as they did when told that talking on a cell phone while driving is a bad idea, or that texting while driving is dangerous. Or, er, not. Will “driving under the influence of Wi-Fi” be the latest in this lineup?]]>