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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UCaaS Market Dynamics in Asia-Pacific

ITCB-HarishTaoriSummary Bullets:

  • Cloud-based products and services are the most important priority for APAC enterprises, where they are currently investing or plan to invest in the next 12-24 months.
  • Service providers (SPs) with integration capabilities and the ability to federate across unified communications (UC) platforms may have a competitive edge with their UCaaS offerings.

Current Analysis’ 2014 Enterprise Investment Plans Survey highlighted that workloads such as e-mail/calendar, UC and productivity applications are the first to move to cloud. Furthermore, many enterprises appear open to using UC running on public cloud services – good news for major providers such as Microsoft, Google and AWS. A high proportion of enterprises already use some collaboration services such as audio and web conferencing; cloud-hosted contact center and video collaboration are among the most anticipated investments in the next 12 months. Read more of this post

Stop the Budgeting Madness

Steven Hill

Steven Hill

Summary Bullets:

  • It’s almost a universal tradition that at the end of every year, there’s a scramble to spend departmental budgets to ensure that the funds will be available for the following year.
  • Returning thoughtfully planned, but eventually unspent funds shouldn’t be punished by reducing budget requests for the following year.

One of the most wasteful practices that I recall from my corporate years was the rush spending that always occurred at the end of the year to ‘ensure’ our budget requests for the next year weren’t cut. It was the biggest and silliest non-secret that I had ever run into at the time, but the truth was always there: if you don’t use it, you lose it AND next year’s budget will be reduced. Everybody knew that this practice went on, year after year, because (for whatever reason) there was this basic presumption that if you could return money at the end of the year, then you just wouldn’t need it the following year. This was true of capital budgets, supply budgets, and perhaps most difficult of all, maintenance budgets. As a manager, I always worked towards a truthful representation of the financial needs of my department at budget time, but I was amazed to learn that it was just a given that you HAD to pad it out to cover unforeseen problems as well as ensure that there was room for some discretionary spending throughout the year. Read more of this post

The Old Guard: Out of the Frying Pan and into the Frying Pan

Steven Hill

Steven Hill

Summary Bullets:

  • The decision for HP to split into separate consumer and enterprise companies is long overdue, and done correctly it will allow both siblings to be more responsive to their respective markets.
  • By shedding low-margin business units IBM is doing the right things to allow them to continue as innovators without bogging themselves down with manufacturing considerations.

No other industry moves as fast as IT, and every vendor faces the challenge of evolving to remain current with the changing nature of this business. But the challenges for old-school industry stalwarts like IBM and HP are a little different, in part because they’re still simply perceived as “old-school” (irony intended), plus they have a legacy of products that they must continue to sell and support. Does this mean I give them a pass on everything they do? Not on your life – but I certainly admire the commitment it takes to recognize their own weaknesses and make the tough choices. Read more of this post

Verizon – Striving to Enhance Its Edge in ICT Solutions

ITCB-HarishTaoriSummary Bullets:

  • Verizon has brought a management team from SIs and IT hardware/software vendors on board to help expedite its transformation to an ICT solutions provider.
  • Verizon has refined and enhanced its focus on enterprise cloud, IoT/M2M solutions, enterprise mobility and UcaaS, with security being the core of the network.

Verizon held its annual global analyst event this year in Boston, MA. This blog post summarizes some of the key takeaways and assesses the implications on the industry as well as enterprise buyers. Read more of this post

The OpenPOWER Initiative May Actually Chart a Smarter Path for 64-Bit Computing

Steven Hill

Steven Hill

Summary Bullets:

  • The truly open development environment offered by the OpenPOWER Foundation makes the high-performance POWER platform much more accessible and will benefit from the input of participants from all facets of the system design community.
  • The high cost of midrange systems have always restricted them to high-performance, high availability tasks; but IBM’s program opening up the POWER processor platform to the world could usher in the next generation of affordable 64-bit computing options.

Open is an extremely overused word these days. In the world of cloud in which we live, the primary buzzword is always “open” with everyone falling over one and another to prove just how open they are. But there’s open and then there’s OPEN, as evidenced by IBM’s creation and ongoing support of the OpenPOWER Foundation. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve become wary of vendor claims to “openness”, it usually means “we’ll expose our API’s so YOU can work with US”, but in the case of the POWER processor platform IBM has pulled out all the stops. As a member of OpenPOWER, you can get access to everything—blueprints, code—anything you want going back as far as you want, plus participation in a completely collaborative environment designed to inspire and embrace outside participation. Too good to be true? Not at all, and over 60 companies have signed on as partners so far, with hopefully more to follow. Read more of this post

VMware Doesn’t Make Many Mistakes, but It Is with Respect to Physical Networking

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • VMware dismisses physical networking as a mere forwarding plane, ignoring the benefits of integration.
  • If that observation is inaccurate, then VMware needs to address its messaging on the importance of physical networking.

Fresh off VMworld 2014, I came away with the very distinct impression that the company – not any specific individuals – is quite dismissive of physical networking, to the point where it is detrimental to its own success. While I continue to be impressed at how well the company develops new products, maintains a practical engineering focus, and seems to handle partner co-opetition with aplomb, it is also making a rather big mistake with ignoring the importance of integration with the physical network. Read more of this post

Demystifying IoT – What It Means to You

Harish Taori

Harish Taori

Summary Bullets:

  • IoT expands the meaning and value of the Internet as more physical objects (i.e., sensors, actuators, devices, modules and new age systems) will be connected to the internet and accessible through Internet protocols or web services. It will enable humans/software programs to analyze data, evaluate patterns and take predictive or preventive actions based on the derived intelligence.
  • In addition to consumers, utilities, energy, automotive, manufacturing, healthcare, transportation and retail were early adopters of M2M and may start piloting IoT applications as supply side economics make sense. The IoT ecosystem is getting ready for enterprises to innovate business models and improve operational efficiency.

Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data were among the key ICT themes that dominated the majority of panel discussions and presentations at CommunicAsia 2014. Both buzzwords, in addition to cloud and social, are often the current topic of discussions in IT circles. I chaired a panel discussion on IoT and will be using that session in this blog in an attempt to demystify IoT.
IoT is a natural evolution of Internet and machine to machine (M2M), which find its roots in industrial automation. It not only further integrates the physical world with the digital world, but also enables machines to learn from the events and become smarter by gaining predictive and cognitive capabilities. Machine learning will play important role in gaining these capabilities through data mining, statistical modeling and artificial intelligence. The IoT ecosystem will enable companies and consumers to create and enjoy new services that are founded on web-based business models. Read more of this post

Cisco Live 2014: It’s the End of the Collaborative World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Cisco has a lot of explaining to do at this year’s Cisco Live, stemming from its recent, apparent abandonment of Cisco WebEx Social.
  •  With a careful focus on programmability for the network, the data center and its own applications, however, Cisco can use this opportunity to leap forward rather than justify the past.

Once again, it is time for IT professionals and service providers from around the world to convene and converge upon a city of Cisco’s choosing for the company’s annual über-user conference, Cisco Live. This time around, the venue is San Francisco, a stark contrast in terms of weather and populous to last year’s somewhat warmer and more rural destination of Orlando, Florida. Still, I’m sure the heat, symbolically anyway, will remain in full effect for Cisco as the networking giant faces its customer constituency for the first time since Cisco announced its surprising joint venture with enterprise social networking (ESN) darling Jive Software. Read more of this post

In Search of the Rare and Elusive DevOps Beastie

Steven Hill

Steven Hill

• Assuming that you can simply combine two important job functions into a single entity isn’t necessarily the best or smartest way of managing IT resources.
• Your environment may need a lot of work before you can effectively cross that line.
As IT professionals we’re constantly challenged to do more with less, and no one can argue that all of the wonderful flexibility offered by virtualization hasn’t fundamentally changed the nature of the data center in a remarkably short period of time. But simplifying the physical concerns of standing up servers and applications doesn’t necessarily mean that you can simply merge developer and operations functions into a single entity with a unified purpose. This is an evolutionary process, and — because bean counters are always looking for things like this to thin head counts — smart IT managers might want to head this off until they’ve taken an honest look at their environment. Read more of this post