MWC 2015: A Race for the Best Approach to Killer Apps

Charlotte Dunlap

Charlotte Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • MADP vendors roll out mobile applications to validate platforms.
  • Newer entrants challenge traditional forms of app development.

Showing off innovative mobile applications has become a way for vendors to validate the sophistication of their mobile app platforms. We saw SAP do this two years ago with its analytics-driven football league apps based on the SMP platform, and IBM and Apple have been showcasing their newest application collaborations founded on the IBM MobileFirst platform during this week’s Mobile World Congress. The partners expect to have 100 such advanced mobile applications by year-end. Read more of this post

Google’s New “Android for Work” Program Actually Puts BYOD to Work

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Google has at last launched its Android for Work program, prioritizing Android devices within the workplace through the separation of personal and professional data profiles.
  • But don’t look for Google to secure this data on its own; instead customers can look to partners AirWatch, MobileIron, SAP, Soti, MaaS360, Citrix, and others for full bore data security in the workplace.

Forget the Apple iOS and Google Android user wars. It doesn’t matter which one wins a user’s heart. In the enterprise, any enterprise willing to embrace the BYOD mindset, such questions just don’t matter. What’s important is the ability to make manageable and secure whatever crazy device users decide to bring into the workplace. But that’s never been an easy proposition. Read more of this post

An Object Lesson in Response: Lenovo Breaks SSL Trust, Bungles Messaging

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets

  • Don’t break security protocols for the sake of a few shekels. The loss of trust from customers far outweighs the benefits.
  • Don’t try to downplay the severity of your mistake. Doing so will only hinder efforts to regain customer trust.

There seems to be a neverending series of object lessons from overzealous IT vendors looking to increase their bottom line by exploiting the trust of their customers. This week, news broke causing shock and outrage that Lenovo had installed a broadly permissive CA certificate and secret key into the trusted certificate store of consumer laptops it sold, allowing it to vouch for anything. Lenovo also installed software on new consumer laptops that intercepted web connections and analyzed web images and then inserted targeted advertising into web pages to help. The intended purpose of Superfish, according to Mark Hopkins, program manager of Lenovo’s Social Media (Services) is to “[help] users find and discover products visually … [and] presents identical and similar product offers that may have lower prices,” said in one of its forums. Read more of this post

Cyber Insurance: Good Idea, So Why Isn’t It Taking Off in Europe?

John Marcus

John Marcus

Summary Bullets:

  • Cybersecurity insurance has been around for a few years, but take-up in Europe has been very limited so far.
  • Rather than just try to sell customers insurance policies, network and cloud providers should share the cost of mitigating risk from use of their services.

Businesses routinely take out insurance in order to protect against a myriad of risks. In many industries and professions, of course, it is even a regulatory requirement. The risks from fraud and other cybercrime have not gone uncounted by insurance underwriters and brokers, leading to a spate of new product development over the last couple of years. In the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) took a proactive role in bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders ranging from insurance carriers, risk managers, and IT/cyber experts to critical infrastructure owners and even social scientists, to encourage cybersecurity insurance adoption and improve cyber risk management. In Europe, the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) studied incentives and barriers for the cyber insurance market and made a number of recommendations. Both of these efforts began back in 2012, so what is the state of play now? Read more of this post

Customer Surveys Are Everywhere, but Are They Helping?

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • With recent advances in survey technology, customer post-interaction surveys are pervasive. However, my experience is that their effectiveness is well below an acceptable level.
  • From an enterprise perspective, the real measurement of success in the customer service world is customer satisfaction and reducing the number of contacts needed to solve a customer issue. So, shouldn’t surveys focus on those issues?

As someone who has spent the last 15 years examining contact center technologies and processes in great detail, I realize I am often overly critical of customer interactions in which I am personally involved. My long-term intent is not simply to criticize the operations of companies with which I interact, but more focused on making the customer service world a better place. Therefore, I never miss a chance to complete a post-interaction survey whether it be via e-mail, callback, text or the U.S. Postal Service. In addition, since many of my contact center vendor clients develop and offer survey solutions, I am always on the lookout for ways they may improve their products and services to enterprise clients. Read more of this post

Attack and Defense Together Drive Enterprise Analytics Strategies

Jerry Caron

Jerry Caron

Summary Bullets:

• The motivation for high levels of data and analytics initiatives may be as much about worry over the implications as it is about innovative differentiation.

• The demand for better business-grade data to drive insightful analytics will merge with the capabilities being developed by suppliers to create a very important and exciting era of strategic IT.

Organizations of all sizes and types are preparing themselves for a new wave of strategic IT initiatives driven by big data and analytics—quite often linked to Internet of Things (IoT) programs—according to a recent Current Analysis global study. But to be fair, the motivation for this high level of engagement may be as much about worry over the implications of such programs as it is about innovative differentiation.

The capability for organizations to utilize big data to improve or transform business processes more easily is one of the most significant IT-related developments in at least the past decade. Analyzing and acting on customer or process information is not at all new, of course. What is new, however, is the emerging capability to analyze unthinkably large stores of data, very quickly, and in easily-understood visualizations that can either inform decision-making in near real-time, or indeed fuel automated process enhancements and tactical actions.

The potential power of enterprise data and analytics is as daunting as it is impressive. It can enable everything from rather mundane process enhancements that improve profitability, to vastly higher rates of customer satisfaction, to entirely new business models that disrupt conventional business practices to their core. All of these outcomes and more have business executives at the highest levels paying close attention. The recent Current Analysis Enterprise Investment Plans study shows that while over 20% of enterprises are actively pursuing analytics projects, the vast majority—59%—are considering an analytics project in the next 12 months. That means lots of companies are currently in the stage of thinking about what to do.

Much of IT is about enabling or improving processes. Strategic IT, however, builds and drives organizations to entirely new business models or new levels of competitive differentiation. Like web commerce previously, data and analytics is one such strategic IT opportunity. What is interesting to note about the high numbers of organizations still thinking about what to do is that it implies indecision. That itself can be interpreted in two ways: the thinking about analytics is either an offensive strategy with careful assessment about how to attack the market with a clearly differentiated proposition, or it is defensive maneuvering to avoid being blindsided by competitors.

I suspect it is mostly the latter, if only because the tools to democratize analytics, as my colleague Brad Shimmin puts it, are taking shape just now. Whether driven by offense or defense, the demand for better business-grade data and analytics will merge with the capabilities being developed by suppliers to create a very important and exciting era of strategic IT.

Read more of this post

U.S. Service Providers Spin off Assets as the Core Business Shifts

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets:

• AT&T, Verizon, Windstream and MegaPath all share asset divestments in their recent history, shedding non-core assets through outright sales or moving them to OpEx.

• Over the long term, market forces can conceivably push asset buyers and asset sellers to evolve in different directions.

Earlier in February, Verizon reached agreements for two major sales: a roughly $10.5 billion divestment of incumbent local GTE telephone properties, and a $5 billion long-term lease/manage/purchase arrangement for its 11,300 wireless towers (see “Frontier Lands the Rest of Former GTE Telephone as Verizon Cuts Deals to Raise $15 Billion,” Feb. 9, 2015). The wireless tower long-term lease details resemble a similar arrangement AT&T reached with Crown Castle in October 2013. Read more of this post

Mobile World Congress Will Emphasize Acceleration, Integration of Mobile App Development

Charlotte Dunlap

Charlotte Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Accelerated mobile app development with lifecycle management tools will be a key theme at MWC.
  • Will we see a marriage of MBaaS and RAD functionality within a unified platform?

Mobile World Congress is less than a month away, and I’m very excited to see how the mobile application platforms and mobile services market continues to evolve as reflected by this global trade event. Of primary interest to me is how mobile services are progressing in regards to accelerated app development, integration and API services, and hybrid cloud deployment options to address the needs of enterprise development, DevOps, and business user teams. Read more of this post

Gunning for Google, IBM Brandishes a Smarter Inbox

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Last week, IBM subtly declared war on Google’s dominant consumer e-mail service, Gmail. The idea isn’t to out-Google Google, but rather to build a smarter, more cognitive inbox for the enterprise.
  • IBM is entering the freemium, consumer-grade e-mail arena with a new cloud-borne service that revolves not around traditional e-mail notions like inbox triage, but instead around the lofty idea that e-mail is itself a workflow.

Last week at IBM’s annual user conference dedicated to all things collaborative (lately called Lotusphere and newly christened ConnnectED), a curious thing happened: IBM declared war on Google. No, it wasn’t a typical trade show exercise in rabble rousing or an all-out “I must break you” sort of moment such as that delivered by Microsoft’s former CEO Steve Ballmer back in 2012, when he called down the thunder on Apple just prior to launching Windows 8 and the Surface tablet. But it did happen. During the opening keynote, IBM’s General Manager of Social Software, Jeff Schick, stood on stage and officially announced the imminent release of IBM Verse. He also announced that IBM would use Verse to take on Google’s e-mail juggernaut, Gmail. Read more of this post

Warning, Smart Data Discovery Tools Could Make You (Look) Dumb

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

• The current crop of data discovery and visualization tools is getting smarter, requiring less analytical expertise to shepherd the business user quickly from question to insight.

• However, without some tutelage and guidance, advancements such as guided discovery and recommended visualizations could ultimately lead to less informed business decisions.

Earlier this month, TIBCO updated cloud-borne business intelligence (BI) software, adding Recommendations to TIBCO Spotfire Cloud. The goal is to make it easier and faster for a broader swath of users to dive for valuable business insights within the dark waters of big data. With the addition of a built-in analytics intelligence wizard (TIBCO’s words), Spotfire Cloud with Recommendations will now automatically suggest visualizations based upon the data selected for analysis. That’s a good thing, right? Read more of this post

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