Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Top Five Technologies You Need to Know About in '07

Five Hot Technologies for 2007
1. Ruby on Rails
Faster, easier Web development
2. NAND drives
Bye-bye, HDD?
3. Ultra-Wideband
200x personal-area networking
4. Hosted hardware
Supercomputing for the masses
5. Advanced CPU architectures
Penryn, Fusion and more

Full stroy from

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I.T. Outsourcing: Expect the Unexpected

Outsourcing, Offshoring, Insourcing on the Rise
Outsourcing and insourcing aren't mutually exclusive. Outsourcing is commonplace and growing: 81 percent of companies outsource at least one IT activity, and these organizations are devoting a larger share of their IT budgets to these services than they did in 2005. Much of that increase is in offshore outsourcing; for the first time, companies that use offshore and domestic outsourcers are spending more on offshore vendors than domestic ones. While outsourcing is on the rise, far more companies are insourcing, too—the opposite of what might be expected. Why are outsourcing and insourcing going up at the same time? Among the reasons: Most IT executives feel they are successful at outsourcing, so few bring all IT activities back in-house. Also, the most frequently outsourced IT activities—systems development and integration—tend to hire outside talent as projects scale up and cut back as they scale down. But there are other reasons, as later findings suggest.

Outsourcing Is Not a Money Saver
The exception: Offshore outsourcers help large companies cut costs. Most IT executives think outsourcing is overrated as a cost-cutting strategy. That's certainly true in regard to domestic outsourcing: It usually costs more to use a domestic outsourcer than it is to perform the same work in-house. Even offshore outsourcers fail to save money for their smaller clients much of the time. That means most large companies—and many small companies—are often disappointed when they aim to save money by outsourcing. When IT executives do consider their companies to be successful at outsourcing, it's usually because they are achieving other important benefits, such as freeing up management time.

IT Executives Like Outsourcing; It's the Outsourcers They Can't Stand
Hiring domestic outsourcers works out more often than using offshore firms. IT executives aren't jumping for joy, but most are satisfied with outsourcing the 11 IT activities we tracked. In fact, fewer respondents say they're dissatisfied than in last year's survey. That's consistent with the high outsourcing success rate we reported in the introduction, and undoubtedly is helping spur the growth of outsourcing. Yet domestic and offshore outsourcers, in general, get very mediocre grades for value and service. What's more, only 31 percent say offshore outsourcers do a better job than domestic firms. Our respondents consider offshore outsourcing vendors worse than domestic ones. Undoubtedly, poor performance is causing companies to insource work.

Mismanagement Causes Most Outsourcing Problems
Outsourcing vendors do a better job when IT executives know how to manage them. IT executives are dissatisfied with outsourcing vendors, but they concede the vendors aren't entirely at fault. The inability to effectively supervise vendors is the single biggest reason outsourcing fails. IT executives, especially at large companies, admit they must do a better job of managing and selecting vendors; close to half admit they lack effective management processes. At companies with management processes in place, satisfaction rates with outsourcing and vendors increase by as much as 26 percentage points. Educating managers on how to manage outsourcing is clearly a priority for IT executives.

Fear of Outsourcing Is Down, But Not Out
Outsourcing means layoffs at over a third of companies. Fewer respondents than in 2006 say their IT organizations are being disrupted by worries about job losses from outsourcing—even at larger companies. It would be great to give the credit to better management, but there's little evidence that companies have gotten better at managing outsourcing. If the level of job-loss jitters has dropped, it's probably because the U.S. economy remains strong. What is notable, however, is that fear does remain a problem at large companies, and with good reason: On average, big firms eliminated 127 jobs due to offshoring in 2006. Most top offshoring destinations—India, China, Eastern Europe and the Philippines—offer low IT wages, underscoring the fact that cost reduction is the main impetus for outsourcing.


Monday, March 19, 2007

The Seven Roles of Highly Effective CIOs

Key Role 1: Utility Provider

CIOs oversee building and sustaining robust, reliable and economical IT infra-structure services. As businesses expand globally, CIOs will direct the addition of key utility services such as helpdesk and the deployment of communication, collaboration and productivity tools.

Key Role 2: Information Steward

CIOs lead the development of an enterprise architecture that defins the business' information and data needs, estabilishment of enterprise-wide standards for information management and use, and compliance efforts with key regulatory and industry norms for integrity and privacy of information.

Key Role 3: Educator

CIOs rasie the awareness of their business peers about the strategic role and relevance of key informatio technologies and help them become more "savvy" in making strategic IT decisions. Savvy business exces appreciate how IT can be leveraged to drive business innovation and are willing to adopt IT-enabled business initiatives.

Key Role 4: Integrator

CIOs lead enterprise efforts to digitize and integrate processes, information and decision-support so that the firm effectively leverages enterprise information technologies such as customer resource management and business intelligence. In particular, CIOs oversee the implmentation of crucual program management offices and portfolio management systems.

Key Role 5: Relationship Architect

CIOs maintain relationships with top business leaders inside the enterprise and externally with key IT services providers. Both are critical for effective business technology management. CIOs employ formal mechanisms such as IT executive councils and business process steering teams, as well as informal mechanisms such as one-on-one relationships for nurturing collaboration. CIOs also drive the development of sourcing networks through vendor relationship management that is critical, not just in leveraging external partners for cost-effective IT applications development and services, but also in gaining access to new IT skills and knowledge.

Key Role 6: Strategist

CIOs activity serve as innovation catalysts and work with their business peers in discoving opportunities to leverage IT in innovative business models, customer relationships and the pursuit of agility.

Key Role 7: Leader

CIOs lead, design and govern the IT organization, ensuring that the IT organization has the right staff, works actively on developing human capital, and inspires IT professionals to contribute to the organization's mission and achieve their full potential.

Source: Society for Information Management

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Major technology trends for a happy IT in 2007

Doing business is becoming increasingly more complex as companies need to cope with global competition, multiple jurisdictions, laws and compliance requirements such as Sarbanes-Oxley and Basel II, and the explosion of data.

Information technology (IT) is also becoming increasingly complex as larger applications and operating systems looms, along with more complex networks, including wireless connections causing security concerns created by the challenge of more users in a variety of locations, including mobile access on the road.

A solid IT foundation can help industry CXOs refocus on their core business objectives and become more flexible to ultimately enable growth and manage industry fluctuations. As CXOs begin to create 2007 plans, they would do well to consider the following major technology trends for a happy IT in 2007.

Maturing mobility. In Japan and Korea, where 3G has been established for quite some time, the current devices and applications of mobility are reaching a plateau until the next generation of communications, battery life and human interface technologies emerge.

In Hong Kong and Singapore, where 3G is just beginning to enjoy take-up, businesses can look forward to further advances in these applications, while in China, where 2G is the norm and WiFi hot spots are scarce, the enormous market means that the market for mobile devices is exploding. For example, adding 5.5 million cellphone subscribers per month requires applications to support millions of new users as well as network and infrastructure upgrade.

Expanding edge. In Japan and Korea, the Edge, or the farthest point of IT with application, will continue to extend modestly in terms of devices, and in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, the expansion will be more aggressive, while in China, the advance will be dramatic. Increased wireless Internet access and 3G take-up will be the key drivers.

Across the region, the volume of IT will expand rapidly. This year, companies will begin understanding the value of context in addition to content, as seen in the quick and widespread adoption of Internet advertising to cellphone and PDA form factors as well as in user-generated content, and, in parallel, personal electronic devices will progress significantly in use and application.

Shift from monolithic to granular applications. This shift is orchestrated by automated business processes and will begin with enterprise applications and expand as part of the shift to Service Oriented Architecture as demand for more customized applications and the market for goods and services moves towards customer empowerment.

Firms in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore are leading the way in this area, as both the existing IT infrastructure and widespread Internet access have already conditioned businesses and customers to change both goods and services purchase habits.

Security and privacy. More sophisticated and subtle attacks on security will continue, and prevention and remediation techniques will mimic the defense mechanisms of the human body. A global study by IDC ranked human factors as the three most important elements in information security. People and their lack of adherence to procedures will remain the dominant security and privacy risk. In APAC, IDC rated wireless security solutions as the top security technology, with forensics, storage security and business continuity and disaster recovery solutions among the top five.

Infrastructure goes virtual. Smaller and mid-sized companies, the predominant business model in Asia, will begin to adopt the rudimentary idea of cloud computing where data services and architecture are on a server and you can access the "cloud" by a PC, Blackberry, or mobile phone. On the other hand, large companies will continue to struggle to understand the how, what, when and why of utility computing, where customers are billed for the actual use of resources.

Decision automation improves. Simulation capabilities will move from engineering to business usage and will drive better decision-making. Advanced companies will begin using multi-chorus chips to build cause-and-effect models to make decisions. Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore are likely to see the earliest deployments to speed up decision-making with customers.

Shift of IT spend from maintenance to development. Application rationalization and modernization, through refactoring business rules, extracting business processes and applying them to advanced capabilities, will cause this shift. System governance requirements will force management to become more aware of the risk associated with old, unsupportable code and demand action. It is likely this shift will initially take place in the more advanced economies in the region.

Personalized services will increase service quality. With concern of identity theft on the rise in the region concurrent with the proliferation of broadband and 3G, anonomyzed personal information will become increasingly available to protect privacy. However, there will be a continued acceptance of trading some degree of privacy for service, price and convenience.

Fast-paced change is the hallmark of modern life and modern business, as globalization forces people and companies all around the world to interact and conduct transactions. To manage life and business in a globalized environment, complexity in IT is something that not only is necessary, but should be embraced. The trend towards complexity in IT enables savvy executives to combine interwoven components into a synergy more than a sum of the parts, empowering them to lead their organizations ahead of changes.