When I see smartphone market share reports, like the one from Gartner quoted in the Seattle Times, I wonder if anyone realises that there is a problem with ‘global’ reports.
The reason why I believe global reports are a problem is that they obscure the fact that market shares for this type of technology are not globally uniform, and can be very different between regions.
It’s wrong to assume that Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century is true. In fact, a recent article that examines Friedman’s view notes:
The world is still far from flat today, and, in many industries, it’s likely to retain its curvature for quite some time to come.
A more detailed mobile market share report shows how the market shares can vary widely by country.
It does amaze me though that US writers seem surprised that the market share patterns in their country are not followed elsewhere – even when the reasons are pointed out.
For technology companies, therefore, check what type of technology your industry is in. Is there significant regional variation? If so, do you know what the reasons are, and how can you address them?
I have just upgraded my Nokia Lumia to the Windows Phone 7.8 (that’s the brand name, the software version is 7.10.8862.114)
Microsoft has improved the user experience with features like additional background colours, and the ability to resize the tiles. They also seem to have improved the resolution on the screen so content looks clearer.
There’s a blog here that provides more details.
A blog criticising the hype around big data is something I have been thinking about for some time. There has been huge amount of discussion about big data, just about every major publication has covered it – e.g., Harvard Business Review blog, Forbes, MIT Sloan Management Review, McKinsey Quarterly, companies like SAP promote in conjunction with HANA, as does IBM, and others. Consequently I was reluctant to commit my thoughts to writing until I saw Dennis Howlett’s blog on ‘Big Data BS’, and Stephen Few’s site including ‘Big data, big ruse’. Since then I have been assembling sources to underscore R ‘Ray’ Wang’s comment that the hype around big data was reaching
the levels of SOA in the early 2000’s, cloud in the late 2000’s, and social in the past few years.
Traditionally, big data describes data that’s too large for existing systems to process
He goes on to describe the three common characteristics of big data.
Volume. This original characteristic describes the relative size of data to the processing capability … Overcoming the volume issue requires technologies that store vast amounts of data in a scalable fashion and provide distributed approaches to querying or finding that data.
Velocity. Velocity describes the frequency at which data is generated, captured, and shared. The growth in sensor data from devices, and web based click stream analysis now create requirements for greater real-time use cases.
Variety. A proliferation of data types from social, machine to machine, and mobile sources add new data types to traditional transactional data. Data no longer fits into neat, easy to consume structures.
I have put together my own definition from various others I have found.
- Big data are extremely large volumes, of mainly unstructured data, which are streamed (not batched), and which require real-time analysis
My issue is not that big data is incorrect, but that it is relevant to only a section of the business community at the moment. A Forrester Research blog shows the businesses using big data are the ones that have always handled lots of data in the past – e.g., banks and insurance companies, telcos, oil companies, large retailers, and the international CPG companies. An analysis by McKinsey shows those industries where big data has high value vs. those where it’s value is low; for me the interesting observation was that while big data is relatively easy to capture, it has low value for manufacturing industries.
The same McKinsey article mentions that the analysis was done for businesses with over 1000 people. If you look at the US Census bureau’s 2010 statistics for business you will see that businesses of that size make up less than 9000 (0.15%) of the total of over 5.7 million businesses in the US. Why is there so much hype about something that only a small proportion of the market can use, or is interested in using?
How relevant is big data now for most organisations?
- the majority of organisations don’t have the data sources for it – whether from customers, manufacturing plant, operations, inventory;
- most manufacturers and distributors are risk averse and cost conscious; the new and ‘bleeding edge’ technology of big data, and its cost of implementation, wouldn’t appeal to them;
- those organisations outside the McKinsey study that have large data volumes can easily handle them using existing relational database (RDBMS) software. This was born out at during an interactive survey session at the ITWeb 2013 BI conference I attended where even though 63% of attendees were from companies with over 1000 employees, 67% were still using standard RDBMS technology.
As the technology for big data matures – e.g., Microsoft’ s in-memory/big data product codenamed Hekaton – it may find a larger market, but the fact is that for most businesses, existing technologies provide the capability to manage and analyse large volumes of data without having to get into new technologies.
What could make big data become more important to the majority of businesses? There are conditions that would make big data important.
- The information content gets above a certain critical threshold
- Operations are instrumented to create enough of a data deluge
- Senior management learn how to work with the new issues created
Conditions 1 and 2 could arise with the growth of the Internet of Things This refers to how more objects are becoming embedded with sensors and linked through wired and wireless networks, often communicating via the Internet. As these objects can both sense the environment and communicate, they become tools for understanding complexity and responding to it. This could create huge volumes of data that flow to computers for analysis and could have an impact on even small manufacturers and distributors.
But until that starts becoming a reality, the big data phenomenon is really something that only a few people need to be concerned about.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 14 years to get that many views.
It used to be that we kept the important information we needed in a diary or notebook; then it became the turn of the PC and laptop to be our information store. Now it is becoming the smart phone.
I mentioned before about my initial experiences of changing to a Nokia Lumia running the Windows Phone operating system. It has been a several months since my change-over and I have been adding and experimenting with several apps available from the Windows Phone Marketplace. I have even started using the Xbox game app.
You probably have to be over thirty to remember what a cell phone was like originally, and how revolutionary it was at the time. However, when the functionality of mobile phones went from being just for phoning and texting, and added camera and then music playing, the mobile phone stopped being ‘a phone’.
Nowadays people’s lives almost revolve around their phones – just look what people do when they find their phone is lost or misplaced.
The modern smartphone has, in effect, become the new Personal Information Centre (PIC). Consider what you can now do.
- For reading there are e-book reader apps like Amazon’s Kindle or Freda, as well as audio book apps like Audible.
- The storage space on modern phones allows several hours of music to be stored which can be played on a Windows Phone with an app like Xbox Music.
- Many people rely on their phones as a GPS-enabled map reader.
- With productivity apps like Office OneNote or Evernote, you can make notes on your phone.
- Most people’s diaries are on their phone, and if you are like me, you supplement that with a do-list app like Remember The Milk.
So when do you think we will stop calling them phones, and start calling them PICs?
I have recently upgraded my mobile phone – I used to have a feature phone, Nokia E51, but upgraded to a smart phone, Nokia Lumia 710. The big upgrade though is the operating system; the E51 ran Symbian, the Lumia runs Windows Phone 7 (actually it’s 7.5, Mango). Getting used to the physical phone, from one with real keys to one with a keyboard display, wasn’t the biggest adjustment, but getting used to the new operating system with its new way of doing things, actually doing everything, was an enormous challenge.
This change in the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) was enormous. I think the last time I had to adjust to such a significant UI and UX was when I changed from a PC running DOS to one that ran Windows. You get to learn to do things a certain way, and then with the new operating system you discover that in order to learn about the new things you have to unlearn the old ones.
It probably took me a week to get used to the new UI (keyboard etc), but longer to become familiar with the UX (e.g. how the keyboard works in different situations). However, after I got used to doing things differently, I began to appreciate the new things that I couldn’t do before. Microsoft’s integration of Windows Phone with its Internet services and Office web applications is amazing. I am referring to how you can use SkyDrive to store not only pictures you take with the phone, but also notes and reminders you can create using the web version of Windows OneNote. You can also upload Word and Excel files to SkyDrive and read them on the phone.
As a phone, Nokia have done a great design and engineering job on the Lumia. Combine that with the capabilities of Office and other Microsoft software, and the Windows Phone is the best business-oriented phone I have seen. The iPhone is great for individuals, but if you work in a business environment where Microsoft predominates, Windows Phone is far better suited for your needs.
From a social point of view, Windows Phone allows you to share photos to Facebook very easily (Microsoft’s purchase of Facebook shares probably helped that) as well as other social networks like Twitter. There is also a very useful feature in contact management – Windows Phone allows you to combine your standard contact details with other details that the same person may logged via your phone elsewhere. For example, I could combine people’s Outlook contact details with their Google email address and Twitter handle. The only major weakness though is that there is no way to easily send someone’s contact card via an SMS (text message).
Windows Phone also allows you to combine calendars; so I can see my work-related Outlook Calendar and my personal Google Calendar appointments in one phone calendar view.
There is an app store, the Market Place, where you can download free and paid-for apps. The apps I really needed – e.g. for Twitter, Evernote, RememberTheMilk – I could find on the Market Place. I also found that Amazon provide a free Kindle app for the Windows Phone, so for the first time I have started considering Kindle books.
If I was interested in games, I might be able to say something about the Xbox features on the Lumia Windows Phone, but as I am not, I won’t. The music apps – Microsoft’s Zune, and Nokia Music – work well together and I found it very easy to use. But you do have to download Zune to your PC to in order to sync the music between your PC and the phone.
In sumary, I like the Nokia Lumia and am very glad I got it. I also think Microsoft have done a great job with Windows Phone in terms of its look-and-feel and general usability.
Anyone else got some comments?
Is it nearly three months since I last updated this blog? I don’t know if other bloggers have the same challenge I find - often issues come up which I want to blog about, but then my thoughts get interrupted, and then the urgency to blog goes away, and that opportunity is lost. Anyway, I now have the issue, the time and the urgency.
I recently found a report by the Gartner analyst organisation from 2010 with some predictions, most interestingly for 2012, but some beyond that. Predictions, like forecasts, are mostly going to be wrong – some in a small way, others in much bigger ways. If your organisation has a sales and operations planning activity, one of the key elements is feeding actual data back into the forecast, so you can see where the forecast was wrong, if incorrect assumptions were made, and most importantly, how you can make more accurate forecasts. I have never seen or heard Gartner do that with their forecasts. So here am I to do it.
Gartner’s top end user predictions in 2010 were:
- by 2012:
- 20% of businesses will own not IT assets
- India-centric IT service companies will represent 20% of the leading cloud aggregators
- Facebook will become the hub for social network integration and web socialization
- 60% of a new PC’s total life greenhouse gas emissions will have occurred before the user first turns on the machine
- for 2013:
- mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web access device
- by 2014:
- most IT business cases will include carbon remediation costs
- more than 3 billion of the world’s adult population will be able to transact electronically via mobile and Internet technology
- by 2015:
- internet marketing will be regulated
- context will be as influential to mobile consumer services and relationships as search engines are to the web
How are those forecasts looking? For their 2012 predictions, the only one that might be argued as being accurate is number 3 – Facebook. However, even that could be questioned; consider that Saleforce is pushing Chatter as its social network, and Microsoft recently bought Yammer to beef up SharePoint in the social space. Number 1, the cloud prediction, was clearly driven by analyst hype, and is wrong at the moment, so why doesn’t Gartner review this and give another (maybe more realistic) forecast?
The 2013 prediction is interesting because it is definitely coming, I’m just not sure that it will be by next year.
A lot can happen in two years, ask anyone who thought Groupon would be big. So for 2014 I am prepared to accept the second prediction about how many people will be transacting electronically. I doubt the prediction though regarding carbon remediation.
The predictions for 2015 still seem to be extravagant, but who knows what will happen in three years where the Internet is concerned.
Am I being unnecesarily harsh on Gartner about their prediction accuracy? I would be interested to hear what others think.
In the Old Testament part of the Christian bible, the book of Exodus (part of the Jewish Torah) tells how Moses called for the institution of the Sabbath:
“This is what the Lord commanded: Tomorrow will be a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath day set apart for the Lord.” Exodus 16:23
Very few people actually observe this nowadays, but I recently had the chance to revisit the concept, and I can see why it is still a good practice.
Recently my wife and I took an extended weekend to the Garden Route on the southern coast of South Africa where we have a holiday cottage. We both took laptops as we had various projects we could work on, however we had to stop using them on Sunday. The reason is that we had a notification that Eskom (South Africa’s government monopoly electricity supplier) would be cutting off power to the whole municipality from Sunday morning for the whole day to do important maintenance. Fortunately the cottage has gas so we weren’t going to be inconvenienced too much.
So on Sunday morning I sat, read articles I had printed, thought, jotted down notes and ideas, and realised how relaxing it was. I was being ‘forced’ to take a break and rest, and it was a good thing. It was such a good thing that when I went to work on Monday morning, I was re-energised and ready to start – which is not the case every Monday. I believe that was due to the rest I got on Sunday.
For many of us, every day we are busy trying to get things done at work. The problem is that same pace extends into the home, and into the weekend, as a result I don’t think people get the opportunity to disconnect. This was also brought home by a Harvard Business Review article “Are You Sleeping With Your Smartphone?“, which raises the issue of ’the cycle of responsiveness and the possibility of breaking it.’
I am now resolved to start having some purposeful down-time during week-ends, and that doesn’t mean watching more sport on TV. The experience that Sunday once again makes me realise how old truths are still important, eternal, and relevant. In Moses’ day people had busy lives as well - farming, shepherding, fetching water, etc – and would have also needed to rest. As I get older, the more I realise that what the ‘old folks’ said continues to apply.
By the way, this was my view on that Sunday morning:
This is a cross-post from the SYSPRO SmarterERP blog
Whether you call them RFIs, RFPs, RFQs* or some other acronym, and whether you are a vendor or a customer, those three letters conjure up the same impression in many minds – pages and pages of detailed questions about a software product’s functionality, which takes weeks to create, days to respond, and weeks again to review.
Frankly, no one likes these documents, but businesses evaluating ERP software keep producing them, and vendors keep responding. Isn’t there a better, more efficient, ‘leaner’ way? According to one view:
Regardless of how many consultants a client uses to select software, many would have been far better selecting out of a hat.
The people who see value in ERP selection documents are the consultants whose job it is to create those documents. I know of cases where the client didn’t really understand the reason and the purpose of several questions. I have also been on a project where literally hundreds of selection questions were used, but once the implementation started those questions – and the answers – were effectively forgotten.
The now undeniable truth is that the selection of software plays little part in the final success or failure of an ERP project. What makes the difference during selection is addressing the real questions.
- Has the organization identified the major business challenges that they want the ERP system to address, as well as the key business drivers the ERP system must support?
- Are the business processes which operate in the business clearly understood and defined, and how should the ERP software assist or improve those processes?
- Have executives clearly communicated the reason for, and objectives of, the ERP project to the rest of the enterprise, and more importantly, have they taken the time to get buy-in from the staff?
If those questions can be answered, here is an alternative process for selecting an ERP system:
- Check with other organizations, or industry groups, what ERP software deployment they know of, and their experiences around it.
- Do some of your own research. These days a bit of time using a search engine, and looking for some relevant blogs can give you a reasonable idea of issues in the ERP world.
- How do the vendors you have now identified articulate the direction and focus of future functionality in their product roadmaps, and is that consistent with your organization’s goals and plans?
- How are the vendors represented in your area? Do they have a local presence for training and support? What is the quality and quantity of skilled resources the vendor or reseller have available in your area?
- From the list you have now created, invite the vendors or their resellers to present to you. Provide them with some key requirements you need in an ERP and ask them to do a live demonstration or proof of concept using their software. Do they show an understanding of your business and its key issues? Can they show proven functionality in areas that concern you specifically? Lastly, what will it all cost?
The result of this process will be a few vendors with proven understanding and experience, who can then be engaged in more detailed negotiations. You might also ask these vendors to summarize in writing how their proposals address your key requirements. The vendors who understand the business issues should not only do a good summary but may also give you additional ideas you hadn’t thought of.
The key point is – don’t sweat the small stuff; avoid getting into too much detail on small issues of functionality. Focus on the important issues of the business and how the ERP software will allow you to improve them. No ERP system will address every single requirement perfectly, so make sure the ‘must have’ requirements are met.
Let me know if you have other ideas for selecting an ERP solution.
* RF = Request For. I = Information. P = Proposal. Q = Quote