Friday, January 30, 2009

Future is all about Fusion!

If you think we are not going to see anything innovative in 2009, you will be surprised!

Ford and Microsoft partners to deliver the most compelling In-car infotainment service. In the recent Consumer Electronics Event (CES 2009), Ford has demonstrated its future vision of its In-Car Infotainment Service - ‘SYNC’. Don’t miss to watch the video!

The Sync service has been in the market for quite sometime now and Ford plans to continuously improve the service in the new models coming in 2009 and 2010. The service was initially positioned as a competitor to GM’s OnStar. However, Sync Service has an edge over OnStar in terms of Technology partnership (Microsoft) and Voice-Reconition technology.

Ford-Microsoft partnership attempts to take the Human-Machine Interaction to the next level. One of the most interesting and geeky features which I liked in the vision is the feature of a ‘personal assistant’ avatar called ‘Eva’, who appears in the ‘cockpit’ of the car and converses with the Driver. Eva ‘understands’ your preferences and manages your address book/calendar and helps you to find news clips or restaurant bookings.

Apart from common mobile/media player functions, the service also provides Driver services like Vehicle health report/Diagnostics, Traffic/Directions and 911 Assistance.

Ford also partnering with Best Buy and its service arm Geek Squad to market and service the Sync compatible mobile phones / accessories.

Interestingly, the Sync service perfectly syncs with Microsoft Software+Services vision where an individual can seamlessly move between car, office and Home staying connected without interruptions.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Who is Growing despite Recession?

It’s IBM. In the news article, IBM has found a formula for Growth – Even During Recession, the analyst writes that IBM has emerged as a resilient company with flawless execution and Strong Profits.

While the rival Tech companies such as SAP remain extremely cautious and conservative in their spending for this year, IBM has announced a strong outlook for the year 2009 financials.

Not to deny the fact that IBM also figures in the layoff bandwagon, I believe it’s relatively minimal when compared to its rivals’ numbers.

Some of the salient points that I like to draw from this story:
- IBM has built a Strong, highly diversified and integrated business model over the past years. This brings shared customers, positive impact of one business unit on the other / cross-selling & up-selling opportunities / tremendous amount of credibility built over long years / Continued Investment in Technology / Highest Patent Generator year-after-year.
- Significant investments into Emerging Markets to capture their local markets
- Focus on High-Value Chain Software/Service offerings that maintains huge profit margins
- Well-thought out acquisitions in the past like ILOG, Telelogic, Rational, Webify and the subsequent integration into IBM family of products.
- Fantastic Cash Flow of $7.9 billion, an invaluable defense in the time of recession
- Solid Roadmap for the core products. Interesting to see the outlook for the WAS products including the ‘Rainmaker’ technology.

So, Is it all hunky-dory? Not really. I have observed IBM being very slow in responding to new trends like web 2.0/Mashups / RIA or Cloud Computing. They do have offerings in those segments, but not necessarily leading the market in terms of innovation.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tech Bits!

Each of the following bits deserve a separate post. So, Pls treat them as preview to my future posts.
- SAP is Timeless Software – SAP’s CTO Vishal Sikka writes that the company believes in incremental innovation and its NetWeaver product suit just follows the same philosophy. It promises its customers a seamless, incremental migration to the new platform without needing a radical transformation of the existing infrastructure.
He also states that SaaS paradigm is suitable only for pointed solutions and not a broader, end-to-end encompassing ecosystem based solutions. Sounds believable?

- I have written about the viability of internal clouds within the company’s own data center. And here is a company doing just that. The company, Cassatt, provides Cloud computing software for Data Centers. The software promises to make the data center efficient, Green and Agile. Sounds very interesting!. Companies which are skeptical about engaging the Internet clouds for security/integrity/SLA reasons have the option to try out and experiment in their own data centers.
You know what – The Company says, it may take another 15 years for companies to fully migrate into a Cloud platform. They believe whatever cloud software that we see in the market is just 1.0 and there is more work to do. As I have written before, the Chief Engineer of Cassatt writes that its all about the Architecture and ilities when it comes to Cloud computing. Couldn’t agree more!

- IBM Smart SOA – Statistics indicate that about 60% of SOA implementations done by IBM are at maturity level 1. And IBM aims to shift the focus of SOA programs to demonstrate business value. This move by IBM clearly indicates the change in the industry’s perspective of SOA programs and the rising demand for demonstrating value.

- I received an email carrying the subject line ‘Future of IT’ and I was curious to find out more. The white paper goes on to say that automation of IT processes is the Future of IT. The perspective is that IT management processes should be automated around ITIL/CMDB practices and the management/resources should be relieved to connect and engage with Business. All this, boils down to the question – ‘Do we need an ERP for IT?’

I strongly believe an ERP for IT will shift the focus of IT from inward to outward and the most important aspect - aligning with business.

- Palm has released its new version of Smartphone 'Pre' and Operating system. As one analyst writes, every other smartphone that gets introduced to the market of late, tries to outdo ‘iPhone’ obviously. And it only adds some more credibility to iPhone, that its is seen as the benchmark to evaluate any new phones coming to the market. Instead of adding features and trying to outdo iPhone, it would be interesting to see if the companies demonstrate the real value brought by the new product. One more phone in the Enterprise Mobility space?. We will have to wait and see.

Don’t Waste the Crisis!

Yes, Don’t Waste the Crisis. WhenI first heard this statement, I said 'Wow! What a perspective?'.

It is a question of whether we choose to participate in the recession or make the most of the recession. The one who sees this downturn as the opportunity will emerge stronger when the market starts to recover.

We had our CIO addressing the company yesterday. And this is the quote, he said, was given by a Wall Street Analyst in the Company’s Senior Leadership Meeting. Every company sees this recession as a litmus test for their management competency. The market is watching industry leaders on:

-How do you respond to this downturn?
-Are you able to sustain your growth rate despite the downturn?
-What is your strategy / approach to manage this recession?
-What are your core values?
-What are your strong competencies?
-How robust is your business model?

Remember, the market will have different set of questions during haydays.

What does it mean to IT?. IT is relieved to certain extent from the pressure of responding to growing market trends at least in medium term. Now, it’s the question of whether IT chooses to wait and watch and respond when the market picks up. Or, IT sees a tremendous opportunity in the period of least business events and makes an attempt to internal transformation.

For the past few weeks, I see lots and lots of people talking about Anne’s (Burton group analyst) comment on ‘SOA is Dead’. As someone said, these statements help to generate conversations and engage in a debate.

It’s like Wall Street Collapse. We went to the extent of calling the failure of Capitalism, forgetting that it’s the Failure of Capitalists. Sameway, I would say, it’s the failure of practitioners / Enterprise IT management folks to recognize the value of SOA and pilot it within the company and not the failure of SOA, the paradigm.

I have been participating in the forums of EA and SOA and people literally spend countless hours and efforts in Semantics and Definitions. What is EA and What is not EA?. Though am an Architect myself, I should admit that EAs are self-centered and more focused on roles/responsibilities and what they should do and What they should not do. I agree it is of paramount importance. It is important because we need to communicate to the stakeholders on what we do. However, I strongly feel we need to move beyond that.
We need to focus on ‘what problems do we solve?. How do we help?. Or more exactly – How can we be of immediate help to the company in these tough times?’ Again, We should be talking more about the practice and its and not just the practitioners.

Gartner finds that in 2009, about 50% of the EA efforts will be stopped due to ineffective results of those programs. David Linthicum, the famous SOA evangelist, once said, if your EA efforts are not effective, Stop it! Don’t do something if you don’t pursue it whole-heartedly.

While many of the pundits want us to believe that recession is the best opportunity to invest in innovative, small projects that would bring long-term benefits, it is hard to implement it. Because, for the simple reason that money is tight!.

Instead, Gartner says, EA office should ‘Stop the Projects’ if they don’t result in near-term business value! It’s a different perspective altogether! One wouldn't get credit for stopping something usually!. But, this is the time! :-)

Cost optimization is the need of the hour! Whoever does that will be Hero in the Company!