Getting Enterprises to Adopt White Box Switching Will Take a Sea Change

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprises have better things to do than do than perform the heavy lifting white box switching requires, even if there is a CapEx savings.
  • A well-heeled VAR or integrator could step out with their own branded white box product line and offer real competition to vendors.

Enterprises are slow to change to new technologies because, without a compelling benefit—and often the comfort of knowing what their peers are doing—they see no need. When companies do make technological changes, they often do so with the help of a VAR, integrator, or consultant to help them along. Even the big multi-nationals will get lots of on-site assistance directly from a vendor during the trial period and when moving to production. Few enterprises are going to go it alone on a project migration that involves new technologies. When the market does move, the technology has often matured and implementers have enough experience that deployments are often manageable. Read more of this post

Enterprise Connect: It’s Not Completeness but Openness That Counts

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprise communications and collaboration players Cisco, Unify, Interactive Intelligence and others launched and/or re-introduced highly unified (single pane of glass) collaborative experiences at Enterprise Connect.
  • While these solutions have made great strides combining all known collaborative modalities (voice, video, messaging, email, etc.), but the real magic awaits interoperability with both cloud services and the platforms upon which they run.

Honestly, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made the flight down to Orlando, Florida to visit with and learn from unified communications (UC) players Cisco, Unify, Microsoft, Avaya, and many, many more. Each year at Enterprise Connect, these industry movers look to both take the pulse of their enterprise customers (current and potential) and of course check up on what the competition is up to. Over the years, many things have changed technologically, particularly of late thanks to the cloud, disruptive ideas like WebRTC and asynchronous collaboration. Read more of this post

The Days of Exclusive Partnerships Should Come to an End

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • HP’s planned acquisition of Aruba highlights the perils of relying on a single partner to fill a gap in a product line.
  • IT vendors should leverage the software-defined movement to foster diversity and robustness in their partnering plans.

Last week, HP pulled the rug out from under Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, Brocade, Dell, Juniper, and apparently Arista (considering Jayshree Ullal was keynoting Aruba’s Atmosphere Event) by announcing its intent to acquire Aruba Networks. I won’t say I anticipated the acquisition, but I’m not surprised by it either. Aruba is a very strong WLAN competitor with both APs and location analytics, mobility, and security software. Read more of this post

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

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