Tuesday, December 29, 2009

For the Weary Travelers ... The Year in Twelve Posts

This from The Economist ...

It may not have been the worst year ever for business travellers, but 2009 had its unpalatable moments. These 12 episodes make us wonder whether we shouldn't just stay at home in 2010.

Read more:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Seeing Through the Cloud

Doesn't it seem that every dozen years or so, some "revolution" changes the way we use information?  The convergence of computing and communications services, the availability of "appliance"-like devices, the proliferation of online services ... these are just manifestations of the latest wave of capability.

In the 1960s (not that I am old enough to remember) there was the advent of monolithic mainframe computers. The 1970s was the era of the minicomputers.  The 1980s saw personal computers and the introduction of wide-spread communications services. And, the 1990s can generally be called the first era of true internet services.

So, what of the first decade in the 21st century?  What did 2000-2009 bring to us?

Well, the iPod (arguably one of the more significant game-changers of recent time) was a product of this era, as was salesforce.com and countless other enabling services. I tend to think of the past ten years as being more transitional than definitive, but then again weren't each of the decades in the information era merely a segue to the next?

The decade ahead is setting up to start out with an emphasis on things relating to "The Cloud."  I have no idea who coined that phrase, but it's been around for a few years now - at least among the smart folks developing network-enabled services.

The Cloud is the idea of computing on demand.  And, it's changing the possibilities for computing by giving individuals and businesses alike access to an array of powerful applications and services. All of these will be available "over the net."

In The Cloud, applications are accessible anywhere, anytime, and storage becomes, for all intents, infinite.

Enough about that - there are many better-informed sources of technican jargon about The Cloud than me.  What I can tell you is this: The Cloud is introducing material changes to the sourcing strategies of companies - small and large. 

Despite the predecessor "false starts" around "enterprise computing" and "utility computing" ... this Cloud thing has legs.  I am seeing CIO after CIO take very aggressive positions around the need for capital to build ones own computing and communications services. Intend, they are looking to the industry to show that the asset-light virtues of Cloud computing are real. 

While I don't know whether this will play out at the dominant theme of the 2010s, I can tell you that the new decade is starting with The Cloud as the top big idea.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Third Leg: Component-oriented Sourcing

It's been a meandering journey, but we've arrived at the final dimension of today's IT Services and Outsourcing marketplace. This is the aspect of the industry for which I sense the greatest level of energy and activity among the CIO community and the service provider universe. I call it component-oriented sourcing.

  • There continues to be a tempo of larger integration-oriented sourcing strategies coming to market by CIOs that are looking for holistic change of their operating models.
  • We also see a moderating pace around wage-oriented sourcing. This was the rage over the past few years, but the runway of improvements is limited by virtue of the form of relationships conceived around the lower-cost delivery models.
  • Things brings us to the current hotbed of sourcing - CIOs looking to leverage discrete solutions to achieve the benefits of consumption-based costing for commodity-like services.

Perhaps the task at hand is email services, or server administration.  Perhaps it's network - ubiquitous, mobile, secure connectivity.  And, what about storage?  Of course, there's also the poster child of cost/quality improvement targets:  desktop support.

Along comes the various tools to enable virtualization - of computing, communications, storage, and even some business applications - and CIOs look to reap the benefits through the IT Services industry.

Just as the promise of wage-based cost improvements gave rise to offshoring (and it's use as an avoidance mechanism for more holistic outsourcing), I sense that component-oriented sourcing is today's way to drive near-term cost improvements without the burden of a "traditional" outsourcing initiative.

What's different?  No transfer of staff when you're buying a standardized/industrialized service and little/no outlay of precious capital.

In my view, it's this third leg of the sourcing stool that has prompted some of the recent M&A activity and which is causing great concern among the wage-oriented providers in the industry.  Generally speaking, they don't have a dog in this fight.

Today's IT Services market is leaning decidedly towards component-oriented sourcing.  It's relatively quick to implement, discrete in scope, leveraging delivery models that have been "built for purpose", and bringing the promise of complete variability.  What's not to like?

Well ... history has proven that what a CIO buys today may not be what s/he needs in 3-4 years' time.  That's why so many of those wage-based contracts are dead-ends as the CIO tries to achieve broad transformation or even tap into component-oriented solutions. The wage-oriented providers can't sing those songs.

The recipe for winning as a provider in the emerging IT Services & Outsourcing market is to bring a transformational spectrum to the CIO - one that can deliver component-oriented benefits with confidence, can leverage lower-cost sources of labor when needed, and can step up to the broad transformation agenda that is surely a matter of time.

CIOs today are looking at the industry and seeing these three very different camps of eager providers.  Very few are positioned as a leader in all three.  

Source on.