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.

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Vendor Upheaval Overrated

Jerry Caron

Jerry Caron

Summary Bullets:

  • It is questionable whether vendor difficulties or management upheaval should be a major concern when making an IT buying decision.
  • Due diligence is important, but history suggests that fear-mongering is overrated.

It is debatable how much the financial or managerial state of a potential supplier should weigh on the minds of IT buyers as they consider various solutions.  Sure, on the one hand, no buyer wants to get caught out with an investment in products from a company that may not be able to support it for long.  On the other hand, how often does that actually happen? Read more of this post

Look for Operators to Lead Cloud Ecosystems

Jerry Caron

Jerry Caron

Summary Bullets:

  • Network operators are trusted sources in the consumer world; can this translate into the business world?
  • There is an opportunity for operators to be leaders in the cloud services ecosystem given their technological position.

A recent, exhaustive, global study by Ericsson’s ConsumerLab research group indicates that – perhaps somewhat surprisingly – network operators are tops when it comes to trust.  The context is information privacy and data security, and the issue is what online companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, and all the others should be allowed to do with the information shared by the consumer in their application environments. Read more of this post

Networks Do Matter – Really!

Jerry Caron

Jerry Caron

Summary Bullets:              

  • Networks and networking suffer from a lack of respect that defies logic.
  • Innovation continues apace, however, the industry often fails to give these advances the attention they deserve.

Networks and the stuff that make them work are suffering from a dearth of respect to which even Rodney Dangerfield would have to defer. Sure, we all know that it is lunacy to dismiss the value of both private and public networks because the quality of experience is utterly dependent on the quality of the network connections. This is a stone-cold fact, whether we are talking about a teenager looking at YouTube videos on a smartphone, or a business running mission-critical applications.

Yet while networks and networking have never been truly glamorous, there is a perceptible downward trend in love for the stuff of connectivity. It has long been the case, for example, that the hottest, most admired Internet businesses take public and private networks for granted and ride roughshod over them with something approaching complete disdain. If Facebook is sluggish, you don’t blame Facebook, do you?. Read more of this post

Business Video Has Yet to Go Viral

Jerry Caron

Jerry Caron

Summary Bullets:

  • The best, most urgent technologies demand to be controlled, not driven.
  • Business video can deliver enormous benefits both to change business models and to enrich collaboration, but the demand needs to be more obvious.

The use of video in business applications continues to gather momentum, and not only amongst the technology suppliers with a vested interested in promoting them. Indications are that use of room-based and desktop video solutions are increasing slowly but surely. And it’s easy to see why, as the quality, capability and—crucially—application integration are advancing in impressive fashion. Read more of this post

Beware the Cloud Service Provider Shell Game

Jerry Caron

Jerry Caron

Summary Bullets:

  • Cloud services imply a new type of sales and support ecosystem that is still very complex and relatively unstable at the moment
  • This should not put buyers off, and should be welcomed—but all customary, cautionary warnings apply

The dynamics of cloud services have caused a fair bit of healthy upheaval in the way technology and software suppliers deliver and support their goods. In fact, that would be an understatement. Beyond the obvious difference between a network-based infrastructure or a software service versus goods sold or licensed for installation on-premise, there is a fundamental shift in the go-to-market plan for suppliers that takes the notion of so-called co-opetition to an entirely different level. Read more of this post

Contact Center Investments Make Good Cents

Jerry Caron

Jerry Caron

Summary Bullets:                

  • Customer service in general and contact centers in particular play a crucial role in the health and image of virtually any business
  • The contact center market is stepping up with innovations to meet growing demands, and IT departments and business leaders should carefully examine their level of investment given the importance

The annual global spend on advertising, or customer acquisition, is roughly $500 billion. The customer relationship management (CRM), or cross-selling, market stands at approximately $50 billion. The contact center slice of the pie is $9 billion. These figures were trotted out at last week’s Genesys G-Force conference in Barcelona by the company’s top sales executive in an effort to make the case that perhaps enterprises need to adjust their priorities a bit. That Genesys—one of the contact center market leaders—would make that argument is hardly surprising, but given the irrefutable influence that customer service in general and contact center activities in particular have on brands, the fundamental point sits on a solid foundation despite the self-serving platform upon which is was delivered. Read more of this post

What Does VMware Mean to You?

Jerry Caron – Senior Vice President, Analysis

Summary Bullets:                

  • VMware’s VMworld was a hit again, pulling in partners and customers alike
  • The buzz around VMware is about much more than simple virtualization software

I did not attend last week’s VMworld in Las Vegas, hosted of course by VMware, the virtualization software market leader. I wish I had, though. While timing and location prevented my own pilgrimage, Current Analysis was very well represented as were a who’s who of technology-market partners and a robust contingent of IT executives and managers. The reason why this event has become so important for so many is simple, but also profound: Certainly VMware caught lightning in a bottle with its virtualization software, but the company is also leveraging this rather arcane solution as a platform to help solve myriad other IT problems, both with and without partner support. Read more of this post

Hyper-Competition Returns to Enterprise Networking

J. Caron

J. Caron

Summary Bullets:

  • Huawei’s entrance is making the news, but networking market competition has been increasing across the board from a number of suppliers.
  • Increased enterprise networking competition sharpens the minds of suppliers and certainly benefits buyers.

The past two years have seen a remarkable resurgence in competition within the market for enterprise networking technology.  While there has always been a fairly strong collection of suppliers in this area, the emergence of Cisco as the dominant market-share leader has relegated true competition to those vying for small percentage points gained in geographical, segment or vertical niches.  Now, however, with transitions taking place in terms of multi-gigabit bandwidth demands, wireless integration and data center architecture, all players in the market sense a new opportunity to challenge the incumbent. Read more of this post

Cloud Buyers Beware as Suppliers Struggle

J. Caron

J. Caron

Summary Bullets:

  • Service providers and technology companies are often criticized for being slow to market with cloud services.
  • The cloud is as transformative for suppliers as it could be for IT, so gain assurances of stability before buying.

It is sometimes too easy to be critical of large service providers and technology companies as they grapple with the latest whims and fancies of enterprise IT taste.  The current phenomenon of cloud-based service models is a striking case in point.  As demand – or perceived demand, at least – grows for cloud infrastructure and applications, it has become quite clear that traditional suppliers are being forced to engage in all sorts of organizational gymnastics to cobble together, sell and support the services.  You have to pity them, really.  The transition from selling boxes and software to selling a pay-per-drink service is pretty complicated.  How will the service be built?  On what network will it run – theirs or somebody else’s?  How do they bill?  How do they provide support?  What about the resellers and distributors?  How much will existing revenue be cannibalized? With whom do they partner? Read more of this post