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.
I started blogging on a South Africa site in 2005, but moved here to WordPress after about a year. That South African site is going to be terminated soon so I decided to copy over a number of my blogs to a page on this blog – see the Archive page.
It was interesting for me to see some of the observations I made back then – some of them were quite presceient, others actually came true or show things haven’t changed at all.
I attended the Microsoft Partner Summit Africa, and heard some interesting points in the keynote address made by the two executives who run Microsoft’s business for most of Africa – Nteto Nyati, Managing Director of Microsoft South Africa, and Hennie Loubser, Regional General Manager for Microsoft WECA (West, East and Central Africa).
- The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) are now areas where most growth is projected;
- 6 of the 10 fastest growing economies are in Africa;
- a number of Microsoft employees from Africa who have been working abroad are repatriating from Europe and the US back to Africa;
- there are 1300 large and mid-market companies in Africa from which Microsoft gets 75% of its revenue in this region;
- Africa has become a continent of hope and opportunity;
- on the African continent, the community expects companies to become an integrated part of the society – profitable returns to company owners must also accompany returns to society.
This led me to these thoughts:
- the focus of economic growth in the world has moved from developed economies (the so-called North) to the emerging and developing economies (the South);
- this change should have some impact on the issues and location of technology innovation;
- a good deal of technology innovation focuses on mostly ‘northern’ business, consumer and societal issues;
- there is an expectation, particularly in the North, that the source of technology innovation should still occur in certain ‘northern’ locations;
- Points 1 and 2 do not agree with Points 3 and 4
It makes me proud therefore to say that SYSPRO is an African company that supports the real issues of small and medium businesses throughout the world. Comments of “how can innovation come from Africa?” should now be discarded for the irrelevant and arrogant rubbish that they are.
Some other information from the keynote
Microsoft SA’s FY2011 growth areas:
|Entertainment and devices||32%|
|Small & medium business group||20%|
Microsoft SA’s FY2011 market share changes:
|Web browser||+ 11 pts|
|Email, calendaring||+ 17 pts|
|Unified communications||+ 7 pts|
|Database server||- 2 pts|
|Smartphone||- 7 pts|
Some Microsoft Africa stats (via IDC):
|PC shipment growth||15%|
|Serve shipment growth||6%|
|Software piracy rate||> 80% (US $785 mill) in 2010|
This morning we heard of the death of Steve Jobs. The man could be described as a gargantuan – someone who is gigantic, wonderful, prodigious. The fact that he was personally instrumental in so many technological innovations is astounding:
- first consumer computer, Apple
- popularised the graphical user interface, Mac
- technical innovation in film animation, Pixar
- personal music player, iPod
- first smart phone, iPhone
- first touch-oriented consumer computer, iPad
He is probably the first ‘well-known’ figure in the modern computer industry to have died. Other significant personalities in the industry have already passed away – e.g., Thomas Watson, founder of IBM – but none had achieved Jobs’ level of worldwide recognition.
Jobs was a year older than me when he died. The other person with a similar claim to fame is Bill Gates, but as he is the same age as me, I hope it’s somewhat longer before we hear of his passing.
RIP Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011
A more in-depth analysis and apprecation by Richard Poplak at http://dailymaverick.co.za/article/2011-10-06-jobs-vacancy-apples-genius-dies-at-56
Part 1 of a series on enterprise information systems
This is the start of a series of blogs looking at various ways enterprise information systems are used
Hospital systems are not an area I thought much about – until I had the chance to experience them when my son was admitted to a private hospital in Johannesburg for an operation.
To start, the process of admission took a long time with multiple forms to sign and authorise, and foolishly I thought the process after that would be straight-forward. When we got to the ward, however, there was even more paperwork to complete, some of it involving duplication of other paperwork, and this took even longer than the admission process did.
I am aware that hospital information systems are a major drive by some advocates of improving information management and flow in hospitals. But I am married to a doctor and when I have asked her why there is so much paper in hospitals, her response is that doctors need the information in that way. What is provided on paper has evolved over time so that the information doctors and nurses need is in a way that is easy and quick to understand and interpret.
The other aspect of the medical world that is now apparent to me is how expensive a relatively minor operation has become. Fortunately my medical insurance covered the operation but they provided reports on the various costs, and I was amazed at the expense.
If new information systems are to be introduced into hospitals, they cannot be a factor that increases costs further, or give doctors and hospitals a reason to charge more. Eli Goldratt argues in the Theory of Constraints, and in his seminal book, The Goal, that a business benefit is only real if it does at least one of three things:
- increases throughput (the rate at which revenue is generated);
- reduces inventory;
- reduces operating expenses.
In a hospital, Item 1 is constrained by regulation and medical practice. Item 2 is one area for improvement considering the cost of medical material these days, but it would be Item 3 that new systems would have to be focused on.
Where in the hospital process chain can operating expenses be reduced? One area might be administration-related costs – all that paper pushing. So could hospital information systems reduce operating expenses by focusing on information delivery, its content and context? If information on a form was captured once, then other forms could be generated from that information.
It did occur to me that all the paper forms that I saw had to cost the hospital something, and storing it must have a cost. However, I could not personally justify a new system that, say, used tablet computers (like the Apple iPad) to record and display information if that cost was more than the paper processing and storage cost.
The same applies to enterprise systems in other businesses: what are the real business benefits of a new system. I will be getting to that issue in a later article.
For benefits that are less easy to quantify – such as improving risk or governance, information visibility, or alignment of operations and strategy – the difficulty is to collectively decide and agree on the assumptions that make up these benefits.
What is your experience of assessing business value of an enterprise system? Specifically for hospitals, I would be very interested to learn how new systems have performed in terms of the Goldratt measures.
Michael Krigsman makes a living from the subject of of IT project failure. There are a number of issues he discusses on project failures:
There was report in the South African Sunday Independent on 18 April 2010 which highlighted a number of the issues Michael has covered. The report concerned the bungling of the multi-billion rand contract awarded by the South African Department of Home Affairs to black-empowered IT company Gijima AST. (Note: The Sunday Independent only gives access to articles online for subscribers of its print version).
In a memo by the consultant whom Home Affairs contracted to manage the project, some typical IT failure issues were mentioned.
- Lack of project ownership by the client (Home Affairs), leaving Gijima to determine and drive the project deliverables, and making project governance difficult.
- Lack of involvement and support from the client executive sponsor.
- Poorly defined business case, little budget commitment and continually changing project priorities. Points 1 and 2 create this situation.
- Low level of capability in the client making it difficult at the IT level to get agreement on technical architecture and design specifications, as well as at other levels.
- Lack of end-user skills in the client to enable the project to achieve objectives.
Reading the article made me sympathise with the project manager, who I once worked with at one of South Africa’s big banks.
The question some South Africans are asking is how and if Home Affairs and Gijima can patch things up and get the project going again. From this South African’s perspective, however, one question is how would you go about reviving this project. A place to get ideas would be from Glen Alleman’s discussion on Project Disentanglement. The other question would be, for such a high profile and high risk project, who would be prepared to take on the project management role.
How would you go about getting such a big government project back on track? And would you even want to?
I would recommend that anyone involved in ERP projects or support read Susan Cramm’s insights into why business gets frustrated with IT – Eight Things Executives Hate About IT. In summary, here they are:
- IT limits managers’ authority
- Consists of condescending techies who don’t listen
- Doesn’t understand the true needs of the business
- Proposes “deluxe” when “good enough” will do
- IT projects never end
- Is reactive rather than proactive
- Doesn’t support innovation
- IT never has good news
One of the concluding comments is:
… companies can no longer afford to waste precious resources on IT “investments” sponsored by business leaders who believe IT is not their job – or wish it weren’t.
What’s your experience in IT working with business, or vice versa?
After my previous blog, I re-discovered JP Rangaswami’s Confused of Calcutta blog (although he should consider using the newer name, Kolkata). What got my interest was the series of blogs on the ‘Facebookisation of the enterprise’.
In the first part – The Facebookisation of the enterprise – he describes how a business
“needs to look a bit like Facebook. Responsible for identifying, authenticating and permissioning people, making sure that appropriate controls are in place from a privacy and confidentiality perspective. Responsible for providing an environment, a platform, for people to congregate electronically. A marketplace, a bazaar. A place where people converse with each other, share their interests, identify inventories, discover prices, negotiate, trade. A place where the things that need to be recorded get recorded, as in everyday life.
This is reflects the world that Generation M, or Millennials experience through technology and social interaction (read this to learn about generational theory). As they move into the enterprise, how will they change the world of work to match their attitudes and expectations?
In the new world, the worker would have the choice of device, platform, and applications. It would also mean that IT and HR would lose their traditional control over the employee.
In the second part – More on the Facebookisation of the enterprise – he discusses how IT would need to operate to support this work environment by providing:
- simple self-service signup
- a set of directories and tools to classify and filter them
- a range of communication and scheduling tools
- a platform for development
I think something else should be added – access to a library of in-house and external applications which the worker could use to do get their job done.
While the Facebook analogy is a bit far-fetched, if not revolutionary, it’s a good place to start thinking about the direction in which IT should be moving.
I read with much interest Don Dodge’s predictions for 2010 and the new decade. I find predictions a bit of a waste of time – when you look are what people predicted for 2009, about half came true, which is what a random selection would give. However I was struck about the prediction on future computing and mobile computing.
“Your cell phone will become your primary computer, communicator, camera, and entertainment device, all in one … I think in the near future there will be docking stations everywhere with a screen and a keyboard. You simply pull out your phone, plug it into the docking station, and instantly all your applications and data are available to you … Your phone will have enough storage so you can decide which applications and data are stored on your phone, and which will be in the cloud.”
When I look at what I can already store on my cellphone, this prediction seems quite plausible. But if people store applications on their phone, which they will presumably choose themselves, and if they decide to use the cloud to select their preferred applications, how will this impact the role and responsibilities of the company IT function? Their role of deciding what applications are suitable for the organisation becomes irrelevant, but they still have to ensure application and data security and integrity.
”Mobile phones are clearly the next computing platform … Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley says Mobile Internet usage is bigger than most people think, and it is exploding.”
Application developers will have to re-consider the presentation layer for a different user interface and experience, and will have to assume that the mobile interface will be the preferred or default one, rather than as a side issue.
Where I do have a problem is the predictions about cloud computing and mobile bandwidth:
The explosion of reliable broadband bandwidth, virtualization technology, cheap storage, memory, and servers, has made Cloud Computing the obvious choice for the next decade … Why buy servers, hire IT admin to manage them, buy operating system licenses, application licenses, pay 20% maintenance fees every year, worry about security updates/breaches, hassle with asset management, etc., when you can just “pay as you go” with cloud computing resources? …
The new 700Mhz wireless spectrum became available in 2009, and will be built out over the next decade … Cell phones will see the same explosion in bandwidth in the coming decade, which will enable new applications and uses.”
This is a simplified view of the world. Firstly, business applications for even small and medium businesses are getting more complex. I’m not talking about simple accounting or CRM solutions, but the complex applications to manage orders, receive and dispatch inventory, schedule and manage manufacturing operations. It isn’t as simple as paying and starting, as the “pay as you go” mantra likes to make out. It may well be that business hands over the management of the application infrastructure to a cloud provider, but every successful business has a particular way of working that is different to others, and that is unlikely to be assisted by a standard enterprise application.
Secondly, the comment about mobile bandwidth is US-centric. Developing countries like South Africa are constrained in all sorts of bandwidth (Internet, radio, cellphones) because they have been already allocated to developed countries years ago. That is not to say that cellphone bandwidith will not significantly increase. What Don fails to note is that the growth of the mobile Internet will probably come more from developing regions like Africa than the US, as reported by Opera and Google.
However you look at it, the next decade is probably going to redefine the way we use, consume and interact with computing resources.