I did a morning run to Lowes this morning. The employees were cheerful and helpful as I looked for Birds of Paradise for Margaret's gardening hobby. The morale was impressive considering they had been there since 8 am on Easter Sunday. But then if you were surrounded by cheerful objects as in the photo I took below, why would you not be?
My work at the New Florence store keeps me similarly cheerful. Through March, I have posted 198 innovation entries this year. At that pace, I could beat last year's run of 750. Not likely given my book and other commitments this year, but I don't mind starting early and staying late with so much color and flavor.
Peter High had a Forbes column a few weeks ago where he identified CIOs who have also taken on titles of Chief Innovation Officers, Heads of HR, Chief Supply Chain Officers, and Heads of Shared Services and he identified several at Marsh & McLellan, Waste Management and other entities. Chris Murphy at Information Week identifies a trend where CIOs may soon morph to Chief Digital Officers.
In addition to the many innovative executives Peter and Chris identify, I have had the chance over the years to interact with many others who have been CIO/CTO+ for a while now.
Here are some:
Rob Carter, who is also Co-CEO at Fedex Corporate Services
In my post So you want to be a (Big) Data Hero I highlighted several examples of impressive payback from projects around predictive maintenance of railcar wheels, hurricane tracking, water leakage etc. I listed other examples in a follow up post and here and here
As I continue research on my next book I have been posting several other examples on New Florence. The primary data sources used in each case are unique, the volumes of data and the scale of the data scientist staff is impressive and they are not just trying faster ERP reporting or pretty visualization here.
Watching this Dennis Howlett interview with Ray Wang, it occurred to me how the industry still talks about 3PM as a taboo topic:
a) Enterprise software vendors still pretend they have no defections, even though Rimini Street, for one has over 600 customers
b) Over a beer, enterprise software executives will agree they should move to offering tiers of maintenance ("one size does not fit all'), but inspite of all the heartache involved they would rather wrestle their own long-term customers to some level of discount, one at a time
c) 3PM vendors will sheepishly agree they are just a bargaining chip in thousands of wrestling matches each year described in b)
d) SaaS vendors will only grudgingly agree when a customer moves to 3PM they may have missed (or at least postponed) an opportunity to convert a customer not happy with the incumbent vendor
e) Analysts don't seem to realize our industry has a long history of third party alternatives - remember Amdahl 470 plug compatibles in the 70s which would allow customers to literally move from an IBM 360 over a weekend?
f) Many pieces of software over 20 years old have customers either maintaining themselves or having an outsourcer support it for them. Or the current vendor owner is similarly letting a partner maintain it or handle the entire customer relationship for them.
3PM is another choice for enterprise customers. Not quite like another brand in the cereal section in a grocery store, but something to rationally discuss not whisper about in hushed tones.
It's not right for everyone - but everyone would be wrong to not discuss it periodically.
"It's not about information technology anymore. It's about digital
business. The new description is a testament to IT's advancement from a
back-office, support-the-business role into a developer of products and
apps that customers use directly. It's also a reflection of the central
role of data analytics in letting companies see and anticipate customer
tastes more quickly than ever before."
Chris is one of my favorite tech journalists because his stuff is always full of customer use cases. This article is no different. While many of the examples have been cataloged on New Florence in the last couple of years - Walgreen's prescriptions,Vail Resort's apps, Disney's MyMagic - the nice thing in this article is he summarizes composite data from the annual Global CIO Survey.
It shows a CIO pivot away from infrastructure and the back office.
"41% have leaders on the team shaping mobile strategy, and 38% have IT intimately involved in product development."
"While cutting costs is still the area of innovation cited most by survey
respondents (39%), that percentage is the same as a year ago. Next come
two kinds of growth initiatives: introducing an IT-led product (35%)
and creating a new business model or revenue stream (31%). The fourth
highest innovation priority among IT leaders, another cost cutter, is
making processes more efficient -- though at 28%, it's down 11 points
from a year ago. Rounding out the top five is a customer-centric
priority -- engage customers in new ways -- cited by 20% of the execs in
our survey, up from 13% a year ago."
"Across industries, companies are learning how different developing
software for customers is from developing software for internal users.
Employees "have an obligation to use your software," Walgreens' Dhar
says. "There's something very different when there's no obligation to
use your software.""
""The 'standardization of process' and the 'upgrade of ERP' age is past."
Those activities are still necessary, of course, but the energy is
around customer-facing tech."
My friends at Horses for Sources are introducing their Blueprint which they position as "not reliant on the arbitrary viewpoint of a single analyst" as say a Gartner Magic Quadrant or a Forrester Wave.
I hope they do well with it, but there are some fundamental flaws with the MQ or Wave that I am not sure the Blueprint fixes.
a) Buyers intently look at such market assessments when they are in purchase mode. Once they move to implementation or steady state, their interest in the next MQ drops dramatically. I think that painful realization came to me in my 3rd year at Gartner.
b) In contrast vendors, especially their AR groups, intently follow each version of the MQ and lobby analysts and create a buzz around each version where they are favorably positioned.
c) Even in evaluation mode, the MQ or Wave is only one (small) influencer. Most buyers go through RFP responses, demos, reference checks, site visits, negotiations in their decision process. Many often find individual calls with the analyst who produced the MQ far more useful than the document itself.
d) In emerging or rapidly changing markets, the MQs and Waves are far more useful. So today, coverage of Digital Marketing or Cloud Infrastructure or Vertical BPO is far more useful than those on ERP or BI or Help Desk outsourcing.
e) Analysts in mature markets feel compelled to continue to update their MQs every few months and come up with nuanced versions by geography, industry or size of customer. That ends up with so many versions that I have seen, in competitive deals, proposals where surprise, surprise each competitor positioned their most "favorable MQ".
So, while analysts put a lot of work into each MQ or Wave or Blueprint, their impact on actual industry commerce is actually pretty limited. Their impact on industry gossip, on the other hand, is huge!
People tell me I am impatient for calling Microsoft's Enterprise Apps a laggard for not leveraging for years innovations a stones' throw from them - Azure, Surface, Lync, Kinect etc. The enterprise is full of other examples - multi-year projects, 2% of vendor revenue from products introduced years ago etc - that we often don't focus on how what else has moved on in the meantime.
This week while scrounging for posts for New Florence, I seemed to hit a bunch of markets where industry leaders took a breather only to find themselves in a brand new, unfamiliar world,
"How did we reach this point without viable successors to today's
increasingly ineffectual drugs? The answer lies not in evolution but
economics. Over the past 20 years, nearly every major pharmaceutical
company has abandoned antibiotics. Companies must make money, and there
isn't much in short-term drugs that should be used sparingly. So
researchers have discovered promising candidates, but can't reach into
the deep pockets needed to develop them."
MIT Technology Review talks about how blacklist and signature based security may have run its course - we have to move to assume everything is suspect
That its core product was essentially useless against the
attack—allegedly sponsored by the Chinese government—came as no surprise
to those in the know. But the blunt admission points to a rapidly
changing computer security landscape and a growing threat to Symantec’s
$6.7-billion-a-year business. A recent study by Imperva,
a California data security startup, found that antivirus products from
top vendors detected less than 5 percent of more than 80 new viruses
FastCompany talks about Yahoo's portfolio of properties
But Mayer is sitting on a trove of products that her predecessors
mismanaged, neglected, or even abandoned. Groups, a hub for users to
congregate based on shared interests, hasn't been updated in more than
10 years. Yahoo has areas devoted to such advertising-friendly cash cows
as news, sports, finance, movies, and games, and each one already
offers users an opportunity to experience the content their way.