Tag: enterprise

HP – In the MooD for F&A Visibility | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

I recently had a briefing with HP Enterprise Services about HP BPO Flight Deck, a visual F&A performance monitoring and reporting tool focused on processes such as order to cash, source to pay and record to report. The flight deck is based on MooD software, which produces visual performance reports based on an enterprise business model that is built to reflect the client’s organization. This typically includes interrelationships between components and processes. HP is offering the tool as part of its BPO proposition in every deal, to engage with clients on transforming processes from the earliest stages of a procurement cycle.

The intention is to help clients increase visibility of F&A performance across the organization to manage operations better and to help with achieving business outcomes. Views can include specific initiatives such as electronic invoicing or dynamic settlements. HP also highlights the application in multi-sourced outsourcing deals, with HP BPO Flight Deck used to measure and monitor service provider performance as well as outcomes and issues. Other features include trending information and scenario-based planning capabilities, e.g., what would be the knock-on effect on processes if certain factors were altered.

This tool could potentially addresses the kind of F&A issues that Everest Group’s buy-side clients often highlight to us, including:

  • The need to get a broader and yet in-depth view of what is going on in the organization, what is broken and what needs changing
  • To get clarity and identify choices that support the organizational vision, strategy, framework, scope and approach
  • How plans are progressing and if an implementation or new F&A initiative is meeting its objectives

Getting that end-to-end view of processes is not easy though. One of the biggest challenges that organizations face is getting their data in order. Data challenges typically include:

  • Data from disparate systems having different definitions and formats making it difficult to compare and contrast information
  • Poor data quality – data that is simply not maintained, out of date and/or erroneous

HP and MooD have worked together to address some of the typical data integration issues that organization face when seeking this kind of end-to-end view of operations. The offering includes pre-built data dictionaries, templates and ready-built connectors for major enterprise systems and their reports.

Deployment can be done by degrees starting from a consulting engagement to map out the enterprise business model, and data taken for a sub-set of processes. A hosted proof of concept can be built, if required, before the full deployment is taken live in the client’s production environment. The software can also deal with data quality issues as part of its extract, transform and load (ETL) processes which include automated checks and fixes for standard types of issues, such as different date formats or typing errors in standard terms.

With HP BPO Flight Deck, HP aims to address many of the data challenges that organizations face when going for global process views but at the end of the day, organizations still have to get their data practices in order to be able to make the most of such tools. That said, in these days of intense global competition in business, there are strong drivers, such as year-on-year efficiency and profitability improvement targets, for coordinated group-wide action for every organization to improve its data. Many organizations are also proactively looking to gain end-to-end views of their F&A operations.

HP’s product addresses growing demand and adds an edge to its F&A offerings with the flight deck and its price built into every deal. It also supports HP’s strategy to provide a new style of BPO, based on data and performance analytics.

HP’s challenge is to help potential clients build the business case for the technology. As part of this, it highlights the case of an oil company that saved circa $23m in the first six months of deploying a similar MooD-based tool for its IT. HP believes the savings were possible because the client’s management team got visibility of problems and was able to take immediate action to fix them.

HP BPO Flight Deck has been deployed at one major client in the U.S. and is currently being implemented for another client in the UK.

Enterprise Technology Disruption: It’s not the Cloud, Stupid… | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Today’s conversations and research around technology disruption and the causes invariably focus on cloud services, and rightly so. Be it infrastructure, software, or any other facet of technology consumption or development, cloud services have had, and will continue to have, the most disruptive impact. The disruption discussion also includes the impact of mobility, next-generation analytics, and the growing importance of software to control the enterprise.

This is leaving enterprise technology providers in a state of amazement and numbness. They are investing all their energy in responding to these disruptive trends. However, there are equally important dimensions they need to understand. Some of these include:

  1. Where is the talent? How many conventional enterprise technology providers are the first choice of employees these days? They themselves believe, very few. The mindboggling (and questionable) valuation of companies such as Pinterest, Uber, and WhatsApp, and the flood of consumer technology start-ups/niche firms (reminders of 2000?), are pushing the technology talent toward these smaller companies. Job seekers now believe that all the action and fun are in consumer technology. Even within the enterprise technology segment, new candidates and existing talent are focusing on new and innovative firms (e.g., Alteryx, Coupa, Dropbox, Palantir, Tableau, Workday) or their own start-up more than on traditional vendors. Given that technology is as good as the people who innovate it, this is a serious threat for most enterprise technology providers.

  2. Where is the plan? Enterprise technology providers take pride in their exhaustive business case modelling and time to market planning. These cases normally create a multiyear plan and staggered investments across the timeline. However, given that technology disruption is reducing the cycle of innovation and time to market, these time and tested strategies are increasingly becoming irrelevant. Do these technology providers have sufficient internal strength, processes, and willingness to jettison the age-old model of investment planning and be in sync with the shortening technology cycle?

  3. Why so many competitors? The huge entry barriers incumbent technology providers created for newer players are crumbling in the face of technology disruption. Enterprise buyers, driven by internal and external factors, have become more receptive of nimbler and more innovative technology companies than in the past. Moreover, new-age technology providers now better understand the requirements of an “enterprise grade product.” More so, the enterprises’ requirements are themselves undergoing significant changes that suit these new-age technology firms, such as agility over control, and first to market rather than best to the market.

  4. Who is the competition? IBM is fighting retailer Amazon for dominance in cloud services, Oracle is fighting smaller MongoDB and Postgres for the database market, Teradata is fighting Cloudera for next generation analytics, and so on. While the technology world has been replete with similar David versus Goliath stories seemingly since time immemorial, their occurrence and impact have become more severe in the past couple of years.

The enterprise technology providers are responding by leveraging their tried and true methods of acquisition, (e.g., IBM/SoftLayer, VMware/AirWatch, Tibco/Jaspersoft,) and partnering with nimbler firms (e.g., SAP, Microsoft, and IBM partnering with Hortonworks and Cloudera for Hadoop, HP partnering with OpenStack for cloud services, and Oracle partnering with NetSuite for SaaS.)

The big challenge these enterprise technology providers now have is to strategize based on the type of competition. In earlier times, they knew their competitors and how they would react, and they were comfortable in their planning meetings. However, now the environment has changed. No one knows who and where the next competition is coming from (airline industry versus video conferencing, anyone?)

While there are likely numerous other dimensions shaping the technology market today, they are tough to foresee. This makes enterprises’ and technology providers’ task of planning for their technology roadmap almost impossible.

What is the best way to move ahead? Should enterprises and providers stop their technology planning cycles and become real time planners? Should they wait it out for the disruption smoke to clear? Should they continue with their existing strategies?

If you are an enterprise technology provider or a customer trying to make sense of this juggernaut, please do share your perspectives with me at [email protected].

Productivity Improvement or Cost Takeout – Pick Your Battle! | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

I wish I had a dollar – or a couple of aspirin – for every time I heard someone claim “20 percent productivity improvement” when all they had really done was move the work to a less expensive location. When they make these claims, they’re confusing cost takeout and productivity.

Cost takeout certainly has its uses, including:

  1. Moving work to a talent model with a flatter pyramid
  2. Getting fewer people to work faster/harder
  3. Offshoring

But cost takeout is not productivity, which is precisely what enterprises need to start thinking about, as most of them have already done all of the above, and then some.

As discussed in our recently released research report, “In Search of ADM Productivity,” productivity can be about (among myriad other things):

  1. Optimizing shared services organizational structures
  2. Standardizing and automating business processes, toolsets, and technologies
  3. Automating infrastructure and application deployment processes

In essence, productivity is an output-input ratio. Productivity improvement has been described as “doing more with less.” I believe a better definition would be “improved output-input ratio, by virtue of being done differently.”

Think about this distinction. Technology and sourcing leaders often talk about “the need to improve productivity.” And they then promptly start flogging the dead cost takeout horse, with roughly the same return as I get (exactly nothing) from listening to the “20 percent productivity gain from outsourcing” line.

The difference between the two is worth bearing in mind because identifying and focusing on the right productivity initiatives can bear startling benefits. Our research suggests as much as 20-50 percent incremental cost savings. More importantly, the emphasis on productivity can lead to increased agility and a focus on greater functionality as opposed to “managing the mess.”

The first step is to pick the right weapon, for the right battle. Or you could always stock up on more aspirin.

Let’s Talk About Me | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

American country music artist Toby Keith’s hit song “I Want to talk about me” reminds me of a phenomenon in today’s services world — too many providers’ conversations with customers are unproductive.

Service providers are very eager to grow their revenue in their existing accounts. As the market matures, this is clearly the fastest, less costly way to grow. Customers often ask their providers to demonstrate that they can bring innovation. The problem is the provider comes back with products. That approach doesn’t align with the customer’s expectations. Clients think: “Let’s talk about me and my issues, not you and your products. Help me with my issues.”

As anyone in a marriage knows, you have to listen to the spouse’s whole day to understand what the issues are. Clients typically are not able or willing to succinctly articulate their needs. They will talk to providers about what they’re struggling with and what’s going on in their business. Out of that knowledge come issues they’re working on or potential issues they want to work on.

It’s rare that customers will have thought something through to the extent that they will say: “I want to do this” or “here’s how I want to do that.” A clear articulation of the customer’s needs and issues is particularly rare for the empowered, senior individuals.

Service providers need to engage their customers in broad discussions and at multiple levels (junior, mid-level management and senior management). And out of those discussions comes a picture of the issues and needs that they are working on or need to work on. Then the provider can talk to the client about those issues.

That talk-about-me conversation will be productive and may lead to work. And the client will feel satisfied that the provider did not “sell” something to them but, rather, helped them on their agenda.


Photo credit: Marc Wathieu

Cloud Moves | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Moving work from an enterprise data center to the cloud is not a lift-and-shift transaction. Cloud moves involve reengineering processes. The good news is that providers are emerging with innovative solutions for deploying to the cloud. We’re watching their progress, as we believe they will disrupt the traditional players in the services market.

I blogged before about CSS Corp Cloud Services’ solution for cloud migration. Redwood Software and its RunMyJobs platform is another proven automated cloud migration solution. Redwood’s solution includes automation consultants who are skilled in reengineering high-value processes and packaging them for cloud migration through Redwood’s RunMyJobs platform. The solution is especially effective for problematic legacy applications.

Meeting enterprise needs

Both of these specialist firms provide interesting capabilities for moving production opportunities to the cloud with ease. They have a demonstrated and growing track record of successfully deploying applications into the cloud in a way that meets the robust security compliance, performance and resilience requirements of sophisticated large enterprises.

The impending disruptive nature of RunMyJobs and other such automated cloud migration technologies raises some hard questions about traditional service providers’ capabilities.

All I Need to Know Is Men Are Stupid And Women Are Crazy | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Comedian George Carlin commented that men are stupid and women are crazy — and that the reason that women are crazy is that men are stupid. My observation is that it’s a strikingly similar dynamic to what’s occurring in large enterprises’ spend decisions in the global services market today.

Business stakeholders are “stupid.” They’re off doing their own thing, making snap decisions, stringing together solutions with half-tested as-a-service offerings and believing those solutions will scale up to meet enterprise production needs.

CIOs are “crazy.” They’re tearing their hair out, so to speak, in frustration over the business stakeholders’ actions. They try to engage business stakeholders in conversations, but the biz folks don’t have time for that. Furthermore, the CIOs’ funding has been taken away and given to the business stakeholders.

There is no time to plan, so CIOs must show a complete offering rather than going through a meticulous planning process. And CIOs are told they are accountable for security and compliance, yet they are not given the ability to shape the new solutions going in place. The situation is turning them into crazy people.

Why they talk past each other

CIOs and business stakeholders march to different drums, thus frustrating each other to the point of being stupid or crazy.

But in a way it makes perfect sense since both operate in their own world. And neither perspective is irrelevant. It’s just that the perspectives and operational goals differ in those two worlds, so they misunderstand each other. The business units misunderstand the CIO, and the CIO misunderstands the business units. In the words of Winston Churchill, they are two nations divided by a single language. They both talk technology, but they talk past each other because they come from completely different places.

Carlin’s opinion is that as long as men are stupid, women will be crazy. My opinion: As long as business stakeholders focus on business needs that get met in immediate gratification through SaaS and proofs of concept, the CIOs will be crazy. Look out for some very complicated discussions when it comes to funding and scaling the SaaS and proofs of concept across the enterprise.

Will Cloud Kill The CIO? Survey Says No | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish the facts from hype in enterprise cloud adoption. This is why Everest Group and Cloud Connect continue to conduct our annual joint survey to understand why and how enterprises are migrating to the cloud, and what they are migrating to the cloud. Check out my blog on InformationWeek for more findings on the Enterprise Cloud Adoption Survey. Here’s an excerpt:

If supermarket tabloids covered enterprise cloud adoption, their headlines would scream “The CIO is Dead,” “Security Concerns are Old News,” and “Cloud Makes Consumption Easy—No External Help Required.” And as we perused these headlines in the checkout line, we would wonder how much truth lay behind the hype.

To distill fact from fiction, the Everest Group launched the Enterprise Cloud Adoption Survey in 2012, in conjunction with Cloud Connect and UBM TechWeb. We have just completed the third annual survey of enterprises and vendors and will share the results in Las Vegas on Monday, March 31, at Cloud Connect Summit, co-located with Interop.

Read more on InformationWeek

You can also download the full survey summary report here.

Enterprise Mobile Apps – Are We Done? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The state of today’s enterprise mobile apps industry is akin to the dark side of a jungle: a dense forest and tangled vegetation, inhabited by hundreds of largely unfamiliar animals and plants that rely on its delicate ecosystem to survive, perhaps to thrive. This is creating frustration among stakeholders including the CIO, CFO, CMO, and CEO, who believe they might have over-invested in mobility initiatives.

However, this is far from the truth. Mobile apps have a long way to go in enterprise. Yet, to avoid the earlier pitfalls, enterprises and technology providers need to be fully aware of the following dangers in the mobile apps jungle:

  1. Business process transformation: Few enterprises or technology providers even consider that enforcing mobile access to an existing business process may be a poor idea. Making the end-user consume the same business process albeit through a different, perhaps “cooler,” app is not true mobility. User interest will not last if the business process is itself unsuitable for mobile. At the same time, not all business processes require this change. Enterprises must be selective in changing business processes while undertaking the mobility journey. Consultants, vendors, and others with vested interests will always extol the virtue of business process transformation for mobility, but enterprises should be very wary of this aggressive spiel.

  2. Line of business collaboration: In their desire to be the first movers, many line of business managers are creating all kinds of mobile apps with little collaboration with other business units. Given the increasing influence of non-CIO budget centers to approve technology funding, the tried and tested processes of application development are being compromised under a convenient, self-pleasing argument that mobile apps do not require a structured or “traditional” approach.

    Will this ad-hoc development blow up in our faces? I think it will. Can we prevent this? Unfortunately not. Business users are happy getting the needed application functionality on mobile devices, yet no one is thinking about the mobile application lifecycle. A long-term technology adoption framework is an unthinkable thought for these budget owners. They do not believe collaboration is their mandate or their responsibility. Their KPIs are linked to business outcomes, not to channelizing or seamlessly introducing mobile technology, and thus they will rarely ever have an incentive to create the needed structure.

  3. Cost of mobility: Enterprises and technology providers need to understand that while business agility, flexibility, and access is all good, the cost of these should not outweigh the rewards. Therefore, enterprise mobility should be viewed in its entirety to understand whether the incremental business has come at a greater cost of management and complexity. Yet the existing mechanisms across enterprises, where different unconnected lines of businesses are creating their noodly soups of mobile apps, does not engender great confidence that they will take a view of the broader picture any time soon.

  4. Mobility governance: It is fashionable these days to ignore any advice from someone who wants to instill structure or a governance model on enterprise mobility. Governance is perceived as “anti-growth” and “uncool.” Given this perception, few technology managers, despite their strong opinions, express any sentiments against the ad-hoc enterprise mobile strategy. This is a recipe for disaster.

So what can enterprises do to quash the mobile apps jungle’s beastly flora and fauna?

  1. Be selective about changing/transforming the underlying business process while mapping to mobile apps
  2. Create an environment that incentivizes lines of businesses to collaborate rather than compete in creating the next “cool” mobile app
  3. Adopt a lifecycle management approach to mobile apps
  4. Balance the growth objectives with the cost implications of enterprise mobility
  5. Incorporate an “eagle eye” to govern mobility projects

If you are undertaking an enterprise mobile application initiative and want to share your experiences and perspectives, please comment below or reach out to me directly at [email protected].

Enterprise Cloud Adoption: 5 Hard Truths | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Originally posted on InformationWeek


Last fall I had the honor of sitting on the selection committee for the inaugural ICE (Innovation in Cloud for Enterprise) Awards, sponsored by the Cloud Connect show and Everest Group. The experience taught me how large enterprises are adopting cloud computing in ways that are often compelling, sometimes surprising, and occasionally breathtaking.

The winner, Revlon, Inc., presented an impressive case for how it leverages cloud to achieve organizational transformation that boosts competitiveness and consumer wallet share.

As impressive as each individual entries was, there were five recurring themes that emerged across the enterprise cloud adoption stories we read. While certainly not scientific, they reflect what enterprises themselves report as important factors in the success of their cloud deployments.

1. Identify a compelling reason to step out of the comfort zone.
We’ve read about the importance of senior management buy-in to achieve success in cloud transformation. But what we found in the award entry submissions is that the truth is even starker: Senior management must believe that cloud adoption is critical to organizational survival.

The high-level driver might be one of the ethereal themes we read about in the tech press: Product or service differentiation, moving to market faster with new services, or getting closer to the customer through big data analysis. However, the visceral driver is always primal: We do this or we’re going to suffer at the hands of our competitors.

Read more on InformationWeek

Big Data Analytics in 2014: 5 Things That Won’t Happen | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

While talking about a new year’s next cool thing or development is a thoroughly enjoyable ritual, discussing what will not change provides valuable lessons for technology adoption strategy and investment planning, and highlights potential future disruptions.

So what are the five things that will remain more or less the same in 2014 for big data analytics?

  1. Hadoop will NOT REPLACE ETL: The nine-year old platform has achieved great traction, and its mindshare has significantly increased. Well-known analytics providers such as Cloudera, Hortonworks, and MapR have supported it for a couple of years, and even the big boys such as IBM and Pivotal have embraced it. However, Hadoop’s proponents are positioning it as a panacea for all the ills of big data. The antagonists are equally up to the task, denouncing it as one of the important, yet small, pieces of the puzzle. Most Hadoop proponents confuse ETL as an “activity,” rather than a “process.” The way in which ETL is performed in a Hadoop framework set-up may differ, but it does not make ETL redundant or replaceable.

  2. Analytics will still be UNDEMOCRATIC: Innovative data analysis and visualization technology players such as Tableau, QlikView, Alteryx, and Tibco (Spotfire) have gained traction as “end user” friendly products. And mega providers such as SAP have increased their efforts in this direction (e.g., rebranding SAP Visual Intelligence as SAP Lumira). However, despite significant efforts to “consumerize” big data analysis and move the power out of the ivory towers of data scientists, 2014 will witness only incremental changes in this regard. 

  3. Big Data will still be a PROJECT: Organizations always pilot a new technology before they put it into mainstream production. However, this attitude defeats the purpose of big data analytics. To gain real advantage from the deluge of data, companies must engrain a big data mindset into their DNA, rather than treating it as a silo “project.” Will 2014 see organizations jettisoning their age-old habits to wholeheartedly adopt big data analytics? Not according to my market conversations.

  4. Real talent will be TOUGH to find: Every technology transformation comes with “talent imposters,” and organizations desperate for talent will hire some of these and then repent later. Unfortunately, most of the existing data warehousing and business intelligence analysts masquerade themselves as “big data talent.” And the mushrooming of big data certifications and aggressive resume fabrication will not make organizations’ hiring task any easier in 2014.

  5. Integration will be a CHALLENGE: Technology providers such as Attunity, Dell Boomi, Talend, and Informatica have created multiple solutions to integrate disparate data sources for a consistent analysis framework. Most of these solutions work with data sources such as Amazon Redshift, IBM PureData System for Analytics (Netezza), HP Vertica, SAP HANA, and Teradata. However, organizations continue to face challenges in seamlessly integrating these, and are thus unable to extract meaningful value from their big data analytics engagements. While we’ll see major improvement in this area in 2014, a world in which different data sources are seamlessly integrated and analyzed will still be a mirage.

With cloud-based data management, modeling, and analytics disrupting the landscape, coupled with the rise of in-memory computing, the big data market will continue to surprise: we’ll see technology providers entering “unknown” domains, competing with their partners, and even cannibalizing existing offerings.

What are your takes on big data analytics in 2014 and beyond?

How can we engage?

Please let us know how we can help you on your journey.

Contact Us

  • Please review our Privacy Notice and check the box below to consent to the use of Personal Data that you provide.