My day pretty well always starts, or ends, the same way, with a check round the major manufacturers' press release sites, and some other sites that general seem to cover all the small, but frequently pretty innovative players. I have been doing this pretty well ever since it became possible on the web, and before that I used various industry magazines to note, yes really write down, what I considered important enough that I wanted to make sure that I would remember. It’s a variation on the old trick of writing notes before exams to make sure facts stick in your mind. Back in the mid-nineties some colleagues asked if I would pass them a copy of these notes each month, and from this it all built up to what Capgemini now publishes as the Monthly Technology Brief on the first day of each month.
If you have been tracking our industry month by month and including a summary of some key topic each month you develop a pretty good feel for what is really happening in a comprehensive and cohesive way from assembling all the pieces and timescales. In the same way I examine stories of how enterprises are applying the new technologies and at the end of this post there is a striking example of moving 35,000 desktops onto mobility with services support.
A significant change starts off with chips and development; goes into start-ups (which these days get bought by the big players as a part of their product portfolio changes), and emerges as new capabilities adding to existing mainstream vendors’ installed base. In parallel, a pattern of losing business starts to show around some products as their market gets overtaken. So what can we see in this year’s late summer/early autumn events?
Starting with Intel, and a new partnership with Google over the development of Android together with new development tools to support native Android, coupled with changes in chip designs to strengthen graphics and support multiple form factors. That’s a game-change shift as Intel has not been a mainstream player in the smartphone market so clearly it sees tablets etc. as an important development. Add to that its McAfee acquisition announcement of the DeepSAFE security platform integrated at chip level to provide a revolution in Malware protection for ‘standalone’ operations of devices consuming ‘services’ from many different sources in hybrid cloud situations and the focus seems to be pretty clear.
Meanwhile, Google has announced a reduction in the numbers of products it supports and is focussing on getting some ‘second generation’ products like Google+ that really make use of the Android environment as well as announcing new partnerships to the traditional providers such as SAP signing up to embed Google Maps into its business analytics offerings. IBM has added support for Android into its social network platform, plus Apple and BlackBerry as well as splitting its data storage operations into two parts; one to handle the Big Data model of mass storage in a traditional sense, and the other to handle a Big Data model of masses of small data with quick real-time recovery and use. The summary being that the mobile device and unstructured data world is rapidly converging with the traditional IT world.
HP has decided it doesn’t want to be in the PC or tablet business, or at least not around a competitive operating system to Apple and Android with their webOS offering. In the meantime every other player has introduced a tablet and other than Apple all are based on Android, thus effectively creating a new de facto market standard operating system. Talking of standards, Dell has increased its support for Cloud services introducing their OpenStack Cloud Solution based on the development of Cloud standards from the OpenStack community, whilst the Open Data Center Alliance has got together with the Open Compute group to really transform the resources delivery model of data centers. It seems that we can see pretty clearly a new era based on services delivered to mobility devices running Android, supported by a new generation of data center capabilities.
Not so fast though!! We are missing the not inconsiderable presence of Microsoft, which has a comprehensive alternative with its Windows 8 approach to provide a common development and deploy platform for devices, and the maturing Azure platform for development and deployment of services. A comprehensive update in development tools to support this creates an equally compelling picture. Equally interesting are the product portfolio additions by SAP around its HANA real-time platform, which now includes an upgraded Solution Manager that handles orchestration of services as well as the beginnings of a whole new portfolio of apps running on HANA. Plus a new mobility platform based on its Sybase acquisition to change what can be delivered to devices.
IBM, Oracle, and Cisco are all well into additions and changes to their portfolios too, and a week or so back I covered the Salesforce.com and VMware moves into what they define as the post-PC era. So, whichever products and partners make up your installed base, the news is the same, and more interesting is the marketing shift into whom and how these new capabilities are being taken to market. The executive suite and the new capabilities to manage customers, events, and real-time information in a tough market are the new sweet spot, as much or even more than the focus on even more cost-cutting with the CIO in the installed IT base. Oh and by the way the other point I should make is that by counting the number of product changes month by month the Monthly Technology Brief shows a continuing hockey stick curve upwards reflective of the creation of a whole new environment and use for technology that has been emerging over the last year.
Are people buying into these changes? On one side some of the new leaders show dramatic gains; Apple clearly, but so does Salesforce.com, which illustrates a change in development practice from big applications towards small apps with deployment as a service. Perhaps more telling at this stage is what people are now buying less of as a sign that it doesn’t seem to be in their mainstream plans, and that includes Nokia and BlackBerry smartphones, as well as PCs overall. The trouble with much of the market figures is that they report on the basis of the old market, and the gap that became apparent a couple of years ago when CIOs reported low use of Software-as-a-Service and the providers reported much higher figures is now probably true for the device mobility market. The question is what should be measured when use is unstructured and lacking in the conventional attributes that are measured! Yup, back to the need for Social CRM in the front office again!
My point? The CxO suite is asking for radical measures in one of the toughest periods faced for many a year, and part of that package of reforms requires more effective use of technology by support people, process and real-time data in the turbulent trading markets of various sectors. As an example, take a look at the radical approach the Australian airline Quantas is taking with 35,000 staff being shifted from conventional desktop IT into ‘bring your own’ and connect as mobility to services.
There is no less turbulence in the ‘IT industry’ itself in terms of the products, services, methods etc. so it’s time to reflect very carefully on winners and losers and their product strategy when considering how to deliver what the business is asking for beyond the usual cost control.
P.S. If you want to know what apps are being deployed to aid field workers using tablets and smartphones then there is a list that shows which members of the USA Fortune 500 are running what. The summary is that 86% have one or more app already deployed, but it’s interesting to see exactly what they have deployed and in some cases how many apps they have deployed already. Unfortunately, although I had the link it has stopped responding, so if anyone has the list can you please kindly share it on this page? Thanks.