Apple’s iPhone 5s Touch ID: A Game Changer

We analysts are known for our bold predictions about the future. Well here’s one from me though I don’t really think it is the least bit audacious. In a few years, we will look back at the iPhone 5s as a milestone in terms of biometrics, strong authentication, and a wave of new types of trusted applications.

To be clear, this has very little to do with Apple, the iPhone, or Touch ID per se. As an analogy, few people (other than we industry history geeks) know about the Altair 8800, but many researchers believe that this microcomputer launched in 1975 unleashed the PC era and with it the introduction of Compaq, Dell, Intel, and Microsoft, and the associated changes they made to business and the world.

Topics: Information and Risk Management mobile Security and Privacy Social Enterprise

This Week at the Oracle Industry Analyst World

I’m on my way back from the Oracle Industry Analyst World for 2013 held in beautiful Redwood City, California. What is great about events such as this are the insights you can glean from the presentations and conversations with company executives and leaders. What is unfortunate is how much of the good stuff can’t be discussed at this time. That’s like standing in line for the buffet when you’re hungry. You can see what you want but have to be patient. So here are some takeaways and observations from the conference:

  1. My favorite quote was from Oracle’s EVP of Systems, John Fowler. When talking about benchmarks on Oracle’s engineered systems, he said that they used “non-lunatic” configurations. I love the phrase but also the sentiment. Testing makes no sense when you use a perfect world test bed that no one can reproduce, let alone make any use of.
  2. The coolest idea I heard was from Chris Leone, Senior Vice President of Development for Oracle Fusion Human Capital Management, when talking about the use of predictive analytics for HCM. He talked about using analytics to determine an employee’s propensity to leave or perform. What a great tool for a manager. Most managers are pretty busy people but know that the care and feeding of their team is one of their prime responsibilities. Tools that throw up a red flag before an employee situation becomes acute is something that any manager will appreciate.
  3. Oracle President Mark Hurd talked about the impact of non-IT managers and knowledge workers on IT buying. He was frank about the increasing influence and outright buying power that the non-IT community is wielding in corporate IT buying. This is something that Oracle has recognized for some time, but it is refreshing to hear such a high level executive talk openly about it.
  4. However, where are the programs for those non-IT influencers and buyers? Jeb Dasteel, Chief Customer Officer, emphasized the importance of user groups and programs for maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction. These programs are still nascent at best. As David Vap, Group Vice President, Oracle Applications Development, pointed out, Oracle did run a program for non-IT attendees to Oracle OpenWorld. That’s a start, but hopefully we will see Oracle expand on those events and programs.
  5. Oracle was also enamored with diagrams showing systems layers. That’s great for explaining architecture to IT professionals but not for transmitting value to the non-IT buyer or influencer. One of the best diagrams was the mobius diagram Oracle uses to explain the totality of the cross channel customer experience. The diagram talks to the shift from episodic marketing campaigns to continuous customer engagement.
  6. There seemed to be confusion around the overlapping products in the various software portfolios. I don’t get that. In a company the size of Oracle, product portfolios are comprised of product lines that address different customers’ needs. It’s not strange to have the PeopleSoft, on-premises HR software in the same portfolio as the Fusion HCM cloud software. They address very different types of customers. I also don’t think it odd that Oracle would maintain older products for customers that don’t want to switch. Why would they want to force themselves into a bake-off with other vendors, which would be inevitable if they discontinued a product with a big installed base. Why not protect the revenue? Yes, it would be easier but would it be more profitable? I doubt it would.
  7. They have figured out how social, both social media and social collaboration, works in the Oracle milieu. By making social features a part of the infrastructure that is always there, they encourage customers to deploy social features in an intentional way. This, to me, recognizes a big problem with how social – social collaboration specifically – has rolled out in companies. With little guidance to users but a big commitment, companies have often felt that their social rollouts weren’t meeting expectations. That is because they need to justify a big expense and project. Oracle’s method clearly takes away the unwanted focus on social for social’s sake and makes it a tool that can be used when and where appropriate.

With a company the size and breadth of Oracle, trying to get to all the good stuff is nearly impossible. I know I’m missing something. That’s a good thing for customers who have an enormous amount of choice from Oracle.

Topics: Enterprise Software Oracle Social Enterprise

Enterprises Are Experiencing a Wide Variety of Web Application Attacks

In a recent research survey of 200 security professionals, ESG discovered that 79% of enterprise organizations (i.e., more than 1,000 employees) have experienced web application security attacks over the past year.

Topics: Information and Risk Management Enterprise Software mobile Security and Privacy Social Enterprise web application security

User First, Not Mobile First

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”— Antoine de Saint Exupéry

One of the common refrains from software companies regarding application design is “mobile first.” This is in response to perceived changes in the applications market that is driven by the popularity of smartphones and tablets as computing platforms. There is no doubt that mobile platforms are starting to have an effect on the business application environment. It is not mobility per se that is driving these changes though. Yes, the fact that a computing platform can move around is providing opportunities for applications to use location to enhance user experience. More profound changes are coming from the limitations of the platforms. With small screens relative to desktop and laptop screens and less memory and compute resources, application designers have had to rethink the user experience. Part of this redesign has been to pare down applications to the most necessary features or create several applications for the same system that target different types of knowledge workers. The latter especially is a good way to approach application design, effectively eliminating the monolithic, one-size-fits-all, interfaces that confuse knowledge workers who need to use common business applications.

Topics: End-User Computing Endpoint & Application Virtualization Enterprise Software mobile Social Enterprise

Social Media Drives Continuous Marketing

I can remember planning out product marketing campaigns in the past. They played out like a story with a beginning, middle, and end. First, we determined the audience, crafted a message, and developed content for various media outlets-—in my case, print and websites. Then we would place the content, both advertising and articles, in the outlets and wait. Finally, we would see how well we did usually by looking (hopefully) at an increase of leads tied to the sources—the various outlets—we had placed content in. This was an expensive and laborious process but followed a fairly simple blueprint of plan, message, create, place, and evaluate. The same process could be applied to trade shows as well, where the costs were higher but the feedback more immediate.

The downside to this process was twofold. First, if something was wrong in our message or content, we didn’t find out about it until too late. We could change our web ads, keywords, and the like but that assumed that we could even tell that something wasn’t working in time for meaningful change. Waiting for leads to come in (or not) and doing surveys was too slow a process. The second challenge was that there was no way to leverage influencers and most methods of amplification were fairly costly. In other words, we couldn’t pivot quickly enough and didn’t have the information to even know we needed to.

Topics: Enterprise Software marketing Social Enterprise

With Social Collaboration, Start Small

It’s pretty clear that social collaboration tools, especially enterprise social networks, have been struggling to find wider corporate acceptance. Recent ESG research shows that the knowledge workers in general don’t see or anticipate social collaboration tools having much impact on their ability to collaborate. This lack of enthusiasm was seen across companies of different sizes, different roles, and between different industries. There have been success stories but Facebook-like social collaboration features are struggling to transition from the early adopters to the mainstream. In the survey, ESG found 40% of those respondents that had access to an enterprise social network never used it at all. Only 13% said they used it daily. That is clearly not the type of usage data one wants to see in software with “network” in the title.

Why is that? Social collaboration software clearly has a lot to offer, especially for an increasingly mobile and virtual workforce. IT professionals certainly think so, citing reasons such as greater efficiency and the ability to collaborate across departmental and geographic lines for installing social collaboration tools in the first place. Yet even IT professionals recognized that there has been resistance from the rank and file knowledge workers, mirroring what knowledge workers themselves are saying.

Topics: Enterprise Software Social Enterprise

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Gamification

Gamification, which is the use of game mechanics developed for video games in non-game software, used to bother me. Stripped of the marketing title, gamification is about behavior modification. The techniques such as badging, rankings, and levels are all a form of reward designed to affect our behaviors in some fashion or another. This is classic operant conditioning, pioneered by B.F. Skinner. Voluntary behavior can be modified through a system of perceived rewards and punishments so that the behavior is shaped in a certain manner. Gamification tries to do just this. It helps to shape behaviors in a direction that benefits the company deploying the software. A common place one finds gamification in business applications is in onboarding knowledge workers to new applications, shaping their ability to make use of the software through a series of rewards. Another area where gamification has taken hold has been in CRM and Sales Enablement systems to help drive behaviors that result in more sales revenues. Gamification shows up a lot in customer-facing applications especially social applications where peer interactions can be leveraged by the game mechanics. Typically, companies use game mechanics to engage customers and encourage them to buy products.

Topics: Enterprise Software Social Enterprise

A Shift in the Messaging around Social Enterprise

I’ve noticed a shift in how vendors and some IT professionals have been talking about Social Enterprise, especially enterprise social networks. In the past, it was felt that social enterprise adoption, especially social collaboration adoption, was a bottom up process. Knowledge workers wanted to work together better but found that their tools were inadequate. Provide the tools and adoption would spread virally. The truth is, that didn’t happen. New ESG research on knowledge worker attitudes toward Facebook-like enterprise social networking tools shows how little impact knowledge workers see these tools having on their ability to collaborate or be productive.

Subsequently, there has been a shift in the messaging from vendors of these enterprise social networks. Now, we are being told, it’s really a top down affair. Upper management must make a commitment to change the culture of their organizations in order to see value from these social tools. Within this narrative, the cultural change will drive more innovation and productivity.

Topics: Enterprise Software Social Enterprise

The People-Data Connection

Here at IBM Connect 2013, IBM is taking great pains to get across two big ideas. First, that culture drives business. Culture and people are the real strategic value in a business. Because of this, IBM is providing a number of solutions that help to build and harness the human capital of a business and unlock that value. This is a key reason that they acquired Kenexa and continue to help customers to implement social collaboration in their organizations. The value of human capital extends to customers. Engaging customers as people and understanding and appreciating their culture are important factors in driving growth and IBM stands poised to assist.

Topics: Enterprise Software Data Management Data Analytics Social Enterprise IBM Connect data

What I’ll Be Looking for at IBM Connect 2013

Next week is the first big IT conference of the year for me, IBM Connect. It used to be called Lotusphere but since the Lotus name is going away, so must the Lotusphere name. Such is the changing fortunes of technology brands. No matter what it is called, this is the conference for IBM Customers and Partners engaged in social enterprise (or social business in IBM parlance), web commerce, and lots of other end-user facing IT activities.

Topics: Enterprise Software Social Enterprise