Saturday 30 January 2010

Gartner Perspective on IT Spending in 2010

Gartner has published its take on IT spending in 2010. It is available as free downloadable booklet. Following are the key figures (in billions of USD), worth taking note of.

2007

2008

2009

2010

Worldwide End-User Spending on IT

3,181

3,372

3,198

3,304

Worldwide End-User Spending on Computing Hardware

370

380

317

317

Worldwide Enterprise Spending on Software

209

225

221

231

Worldwide End-User Spending on Telecommunications

1,854

1,958

1,879

1,940

Worldwide End-User Spending on IT Services

747

809

781

816

This booklet provides following 10 top business priorities:

  1. Business process improvement
  2. Reducing enterprise costs
  3. Improving enterprise workforce effectiveness
  4. Attracting and retaining new customers
  5. Increasing the use of information/analytics
  6. Creating new products or services (innovation)
  7. Targeting customers and markets more effectively
  8. Managing change initiatives
  9. Expanding current customer relationships
  10. Expanding into new markets and geographies

It also provides top 10 technology priorities:

  1. Business intelligence
  2. Enterprise applications (ERP, CRM and others)
  3. Servers and storage technologies (virtualization)
  4. Legacy application modernization
  5. Collaboration technologies
  6. Networking, voice and data communications
  7. Technical infrastructure
  8. Security technologies
  9. Service-oriented applications and architecture
  10. Document management

Gartner List of Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2010

In October 2009, during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, Gartner declared its list of top 10 strategic technologies for 2010. Here is the list for quick reference:

  1. Cloud Computing
  2. Advanced Analytics
  3. Client Computing
  4. IT for Green
  5. Reshaping the Data Center
  6. Social Computing
  7. Security – Activity Monitoring
  8. Flash Memory
  9. Virtualization for Availability
  10. Mobile Applications

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Describing myself

Today on 60th Republic Day of India, I got into thinking to come out with description of myself. How do I describe myself? Typically we use resumes and profiles to describe ourselves in public life. So updating my resume was my first step. But then I wondered whether I can use any different structure or format.

I am currently involved in developing Triple-3 Framework for IT Strategy Consulting. Why triple-3? Because for IT Strategy Consulting, we intend to do following three activities: understand three factors, examine three areas and recommend using three artifacts. Now I must admit that this triple-3 notion is simply used to increase recall value of the framework. BTW, the framework is under development and I hope to write about it soon.

So I decided to use this notion of Triple-3 to describe myself. After a lot of thinking (I am not that smart!), I came up with my description using following Triple-3 format:

  1. Three Aspirations:
    1. Contribute at least one knowledge artifact (e.g. management framework) in public domain.
    2. Make enough money to become financially secure.
    3. Help improve quality of life for quite a few underprivileged individuals
  2. Three Assets:
    1. More than a decade-long hands-on experience with diverse software tools and technologies.
    2. Management Education from premier institutes (MBA from IIT Bombay and Executive Education at IIM-A & IIM-B).
    3. Good amount of professional networking
  3. Three Action Areas:
    1. Continue to acquire, share and create knowledge in information technology management.
    2. Improve business acumen through work experience.
    3. Systematically increase professional networking.

Preparing this description of oneself is not necessarily an easy task. Do you want to try yourself? What are your three aspirations, three assets and three action areas? Just think over!

Friday 22 January 2010

Board Briefing on IT Governance

Today I read an excellent document published by "The IT Governance Institute" on the topic of IT Governance. The document is titled as "Board Briefing on IT Governance". Written for Board members as target audience, this 63-page document provides an excellent introductory view of the IT Governance area. Following are my takeaways from reading this publication, in the form of Q&A:

  • What is IT Governance?
    • IT governance is the responsibility of the board of directors and executive management. It is an integral part of enterprise governance and consists of the leadership and organizational structures and processes that ensure that the organization's IT sustains and extends the organization's strategies and objectives.
  • Why is IT Governance important?
    • With IT now so intrinsic and pervasive within enterprises, governance needs to pay special attention to IT, reviewing how strongly the enterprise relies on IT and how critical IT is for the execution of the business strategy, since:
      • IT is critical in supporting and enabling enterprise goals.
      • IT is strategic to the business (growth and innovation).
      • Due diligence is increasingly required relative to the IT implications of mergers and acquisitions.
  • Whom does it concern?
    • IT governance, like most other governance activities, intensively engages both board and executive management in a cooperative manner. However, due to complexity and specialization, the board and executive must set direction and insist on control, while needing to rely on the lower layers in the enterprise to provide the information required in decision-making and evaluation activities.
  • What can they do about it?
    • Both Board and Management should engage in following activities:
      • Become informed of role and impact of IT on the enterprise
      • Assign responsibilities
      • Make transformation happen
      • Manage risk
    • Only Board should engage in following activities:
      • Set direction and expected return
      • Define constraints within which to operate
      • Measure performance
      • Obtain assurance
    • Only Management should engage in following activities:
      • Determine required capabilities and investments
      • Sustain current operations
      • Acquire and mobilize resources
  • What does IT Governance cover?
    • Strategic Alignment - focusing on aligning with the business and collaborative solutions
    • Value Delivery - concentrating on optimizing expenses and proving the value of IT
    • Risk Management - addressing the safeguarding of IT assets, disaster recovery and continuity of operations
    • Resource Management - optimizing knowledge and IT infrastructure
    • Performance Measurement - tracking project delivery and monitoring IT services
  • How does your organization compare?
    • The use of maturity model greatly simplifies this task and provides a pragmatic and structured approach for measuring how well developed an enterprise's processes are against a consistent and easy-to-understand scale. Following maturity scale could be useful:
      • 0 Nonexistent – Management processes are not applied at all
      • 1 Initial – Processes are ad hoc and disorganized
      • 2 Repeatable – Process follow a regular pattern
      • 3 Defined – Processes are documented and communicated
      • 4 Managed – Processes are monitored and measured
      • 5 Optimized – Best practices are followed and automated
  • What reference material exists?
    • COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and related Technology), issued by the IT Governance Institute
  • What is the ultimate message?
    • IT Governance should be integrated within Enterprise Governance.
    • IT Governance Roles and Responsibilities need to be defined.
    • IT Governance Implementation Plan is required.

Book Review: The Secrets of Consulting

Written by Gerald Weinberg, this book provides memorable rules, laws and principles for becoming a successful consultant. Since the language is quite witty, it's fun to read this book. There are more than 100 laws, a list of which is provided at the end of the book. But it's important to read these laws in the flow of the book though a list makes a good reference. Out of these laws, I found following laws quite useful. Please note that this is personal selection and to appreciate these laws, one will need to read the book (or the chapter which contains it).

  • If you can't accept failure, you'll never succeed as a consultant
  • In spite of what your client will tell you, there is always a problem.
  • If they didn't hire you, don't solve their problem.
  • We can do it – and this is how much it will cost.
  • Things are the way they are because they got that way.
  • It may look like a crisis, but it's only the end of an illusion.
  • You'll never accomplish anything if you care who gets the credit.
  • Pricing is not a zero-sum game.
  • Set the price so you won't regret it either way.
  • The best marketing tool is a satisfied client.
  • The trick of earning trust is to avoid all tricks.
  • Never be dishonest even if the client requests it.
  • Spend at least one day a week getting exposure.
  • Never promise more than 10% improvement. If you happen to achieve more than 10% improvement, make sure it is not noticed.

Friday 8 January 2010

A Viewpoint on Open Source Software

I recently attended Interop 2009, in which one CIO provided his views on open source software. Being a strong advocate of open source software, I found these views quite interesting and useful.

Firstly, the speaker classified the open source software into two categories: popular open source software and not-so-popular open source software. The popular open source software included Apache web server, mySQL database, Linux etc. As per the speaker, there are no issues with the popular open source software; rather they should be used as they provide low-cost alternatives to proprietary software plus they provide simpler licensing as compared to that of proprietary software products. On the other hand, he noted two problems with not-so-popular open source software. Firstly there is inadequate number of people that can be hired to customize/configure and secondly, one can't be sure about the security since not many people would have evaluated the not-so-popular software.

I tend to agree with him. I see a laundry list of open source software alternatives for a given product category but always recommend the ones which have got the maximum community involvement. Now how one can measure the community involvement? I typically go by the sourceforge.net ratings and/or reviews in the blogs and press. Though this method is quite imprecise, I guess one can easily build a quick list of recommended (read: popular) open source software for each product category. Let me make an attempt in my next blog!