Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Our friends over at Workday held a webinar with HR Expert Naomi Lee Bloom, Managing Partner of Bloom & Wallace. During the webinar, Naomi described two ways that organizations approach HR solutions, one of which is whack-a-mole - reacting to business needs as they arise. This methodology leaves little room for business transformation. Instead, she recommended that businesses should be anticipating and responding to HR needs by coming up with a different strategy that plans for the future.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
nearly a year since we last updated this group on CloudSpokes - a crowdsourcing development community focused on the cloud.
In the past, we shared how our crowd in the cloud has given back to the open-source community for furthering cloud development, how crowdsourcing can increase innovation, provided arguments for looking outside company walls to achieve open innovation, and summed up the first year highlighting some of the apps and partner work from CloudSpokes’ inaugural year.
As we’ve stated before, “The flexibility of cloud platforms has created a unique point where, for the first time, dramatic innovation can occur with both the underlying technology model and how results are delivered to businesses. With an Internet connection and some expertise, the world can be your development partner.”
This concept of the cloud accelerating crowdsourcing is echoed by GigaOM, “The Netflix Prize challenge in 2009 attracted more than 50,000 participants trying to improve Netflix’s Cinematch algorithm, and today we have Kaggle — an entire company dedicated to hosting competitions for companies trying to crowdsource their own analytical challenges. And it’s the cloud, with its centralized nature, virtually unlimited and on-demand resources, that makes it possible to have so many people access and work with the same data sets at the same time.” This is why we’re so excited about CloudSpokes, which sits right at the intersection of crowdsourcing and cloud development on its merry way to disrupt an industry.
There are many examples of us using CloudSpokes to our own benefit within Appirio, but one of our proudest examples of CloudSpokes in action is the migration of the CloudSpokes platform itself from Azure to Heroku and Database.com, performed almost entirely by the community itself. We love that the community built the community, it’s so... perfect. Again quoting GigaOM: “Because CloudSpokes crowdsourced the development of various aspects of the site, submissions came in using all sorts of languages and cloud platforms. When the new Database.com-based site is flipped on near the end of this month, the front end will run on Heroku, and the middle tier will run on a combination of Heroku-, Google App Engine- and Amazon Elastic Beanstalk-based services.” Below is a sample of a few of the challenges (some code based, some design based) we ran to rebuild the site from the ground up:
- Redesign CloudSpokes Site on Ruby on Rails
- CloudSpokes Discussions (on Rails!) w/ Chatter REST API
- Gamification SFDC Toolkit
- Android Mobile Discussion Boards
- Design our Notification Service
And we’re not the only ones using CloudSpokes to crowdsource innovation. During the past 15 months CloudSpokes has become an important vehicle for our customers to deliver innovative solutions. We’re overdue in describing some of these real world examples of how a 40,000+ member cloud development community can contribute to enterprise app dev, so here are a few recent challenges our enterprise customers have run:
- Twilio SMS for Force.com: An application that allows a user to send and receive SMS messages for contacts in Salesforce.com. Run by one of the largest, private sector universities in North America as a new way to engage with students.
- FTP with Google App Engine: An App Engine application that allows uploading and downloading files via FTP. Run by a biotechnology corporation as an extension to an app being built on App Engine
- Chatter Compliance: An application designed to filter out chatter posts according to identifiers configured by an administrator. All feed items and comments will be checked against a list of configured patterns. If a match is made, an email with the post will be mailed to a configured system account and the offending text will be replaced. Run by a medical device manufacturing company who wanted to use Salesforce Chatter for collaboration but needed to implement compliance controls.
- Mobile Lead Conversion: An HTML5 mobile lead conversion app using the new Salesforce Mobile SDK. The application displays a list of leads on a user’s phone/tablet and allow the user to quickly convert a lead to an existing account or a new account. Run by a technology company focused on storage and data management as a new way for mobile sales reps to better manage CRM.
- Weighted Round Robin Assignment Engine: A sales lead assignment engine that determines a way to assign new leads and opportunities to top producers (so that top producers receive the most leads by number) while still distributing leads fairly to the rest of the sales team. Run by a company specializing in green home energy to better help manage leads after industry events.
- Google calendar free/busy lookup within SFDC: An interface in Salesforce that looks up Google Apps Free/Busy data for a specified a Google Apps user(s), given a specified date range and availability of time. Run by a large media company as a way to manage corporate calendar information within CRM.
Interested in seeing how a community of experts can help your business innovate? We recommend checking out crowdsourcing pioneers like 99designs for design work and Tongal for creative video for starters. If you’re ready to jump into application development, start by architecting your applications so the pieces are independent. Loosely coupled elements of a larger project are simply easier to parse out to a development community, and easier for a community to digest. Once you're ready to post your first development challenge, check out the open list of challenges and the CloudSpokes blog for inspiration. And if you have any questions along the way, tweet @CloudSpokes.
Monday, May 14, 2012
A few days ago, Cisco released the results of a survey with 1,300 IT decision-makers and influencers from across the world. In summary, Cisco found that cloud adoption is being driven from executive levels but IT decision-makers continue to be held back by concerns around visibility, security, availability and performance.
The explanation lies in the difference between how people perceive cloud solutions before they have used them vs. their perceptions after using cloud solutions. In late 2010, we worked with a leading 3rd party survey company to understand the experience of cloud adopters at ~150 mid to large enterprises.
So, what does this mean for those who are evaluating cloud solutions? Based on our experience with 100s of enterprises, we recommend two immediate actions:
- First, get educated about the security and reliability of the cloud solutions you’re considering. Most cloud solutions offer a “trust” site where they share availability, performance and downtime information. See for yourself if the cloud application is more or less available than what you provide internally.
- Second, try out the cloud application to see how it performs for you. Unlike traditional solutions, most cloud solutions offer simple trials so you can be up and running without much investment and no more infrastructure than your web browser.
Friday, May 11, 2012
What’s the best single measure of IT success - increased productivity, or reduced spend? Two colleagues staked out opposite positions on this blog recently. As CIO at Appirio, naturally, my instinct is to cop out and say “both are important.” But let me be more specific.
Let’s think of IT as an athlete on our corporate team. We want lean, well-conditioned athletes at all positions. Getting a team ready to play means getting everyone in shape. The first step might be to set a goal weight. This goal will be different depending on the type of sport, and the position. An Olympic gymnast will likely have a very different goal weight than an NFL lineman. While there is no right or wrong goal weight, we all know that being overweight is never good for fitness.
Think of your total IT costs like your goal weight. It makes no sense to try to come up with a single number (e.g. “less than 3% of revenues”) that’s right for everyone. Set a target based on the kind of company you are, and the market you play in. Certain industries, such as financial services or consulting, naturally rely more heavily on tech spending than others, such as retail or construction.
Athlete can take both healthy and unhealthy steps towards reaching a goal weight. They can eat nutritious foods, or they can go on a starvation diet. CIOs also have healthy and unhealthy options. They can ensure funds are allocated towards technologies that yield the best returns, or they can cut essential productivity tools and defer needed upgrades in the single-focused pursuit of cost reduction.
Once you set a goal weight that’s right for your company, you’ll want to focus on your overall fitness level, and the abilities you derive from it. A good athlete eliminates wasted motion, improves technique, and is able to put most of their strength behind their action, whether it’s performing a backflip or swinging a bat. The IT equivalent is how you spend your limited IT budget, typically broken into three categories - run (nondiscretionary spend on continued operations), grow (supporting organic business growth), and transform (supporting new business models).
Gartner’s January 2012 “IT Metrics: IT Spending and Staffing Report” shows that, on average, 63% of our spend is on “run,” with only 21% on “grow” and 16% on “transform.” While these numbers are trending in the right direction - in 2007, they were 67%, 20%, and 13%, respectively - the amount of spend dedicated towards maintaining the status quo remains far too high in our industry. This is like a baseball player who isn’t leaning into the pitch and is hitting off the back foot. Instead of driving the ball, we’re limply popping out to the infield.
My own experience, both as Appirio CIO and as an adviser to many of our customers, is that shifting towards cloud computing enables a major focus shift away from “run” expenditures. Fewer people and resources are needed to keep the lights on, so the “build” and “transform” projects get more IT attention. I think we can flip the 63/37 ratio over the next several years by continuing the transformation towards public-cloud-enabled IT. It’s like a hitter who starts taking more solid swings at the ball, hits more line drives, and ultimately drives in more runs.
Therefore, the best single measure of IT success - assuming you’re at your goal weight and in peak physical condition (i.e. your IT spend is right-sized for your business) - is how much of your IT spend you’re able to put towards growing and transforming, rather than merely running, your business.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Michael Krigsman’s recent post estimating the worldwide cost of IT failure at $3T sparked an internal debate about technology investments and how to measure IT success. In the traditional view of IT as a cost center, success is measured in primarily in terms of IT cost as a percent of revenue. IT leaders are applauded when they can deliver projects under budget, on time, and keep the overall cost low as a percent of revenue. But, is this actually good for the business?
The cost-center view of IT has been challenged recently by the advent of technologies such as cloud, social and mobile that have the potential to impact top-line metrics such as customer engagement, retention, cross-sell and more. In fact, the Hackett group has found that world class companies invest 5% more than the median on technology while spending far less than in areas like Finance, HR and Procurement. Why is this? Is it because forward-thinking companies recognize that IT can be a differentiator and a strategic enabler?
Battle of the Brains - Appirio Experts Debate the Best Single Metric
So, the question we’re debating is, “How IT should be measured?” Is it business impact, cost savings or something else entirely? Here’s one case for business impact as the metric:
On the flip side, here is a case to continue viewing IT as a cost center, where success is measured primarily in terms of IT cost as a percent of revenue:
We’d also love to hear from you. What do you think? Please add your thoughts in comments or tweet them using #appirio #itsuccess.