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Business - Written by on Friday, October 30, 2009 7:50 - 1 Comment

Laura M.  Carrillo
Employee Computing and Your Vendor Relationships

In a past post I wrote about Web 2.0 policies and some of the findings from our recently published study entitled Redefining Employee Computing. Another area we studied as part of that project was how technology vendor relationships change as employee computing evolves to include more open and collaborative technologies.

Vendors such as Apple and Google are driving the consumerization of technology and hence the need to redefine employee computing. However, the majority of vendors, including providers of traditional “end-user services,” have vested interests in yesterday’s computing model and customer relationships. They may not be a source of progressive advice on how to transform employee computing, but you may nonetheless need to leverage their capabilities and adjust how you work with them.

As a first step, understand where vendors are coming from and how their strengths and directions fit (or don’t fit) your roadmap for employee computing in the future. For purposes of illustration, the figure below arrays selected major vendors on three important dimensions: Are they focused on the consumer or enterprise market? Do they primarily provide hardware or software? And are their offerings geared for the public cloud or private networks? The figure also includes generic buckets to represent the Web 2.0 and SaaS vendors. It shows the historical strengths of each vendor, but their placements are shifting. For example, Google is coming from the consumer space and moving more towards the enterprise.

Vendor Landscape

Technology Vendor Trends

Individual technology vendors may not be clear about how they want to play in tomorrow’s employee computing environment. However, we see positive trends among vendors generally. They tend to be:
• Appreciating the need to provide more open solutions, including software that is available from any device.
• Finding that their devices and applications are increasingly being put to both professional and personal uses as work and personal habits intertwine. The BlackBerry and iPhone are good examples.
• Developing more offerings in the cloud (though what may be free in the cloud for individuals may not be free to enterprises).
• Aware that consumerization of technology means individuals have more power.
• Building interfaces that are increasingly more intuitive and easy to use.
• Enabling mashups by letting progressive users configure the information and applications that they need.
• Offering more APIs (application programming interfaces) to developers. The iPhone is a good example.
• Admitting that current applications don’t always translate easily between global locations but they have to.
• Supporting small vendors offering innovative functionality (although we expect consolidation to occur at some point).
• Blurring boundaries as they expand beyond their historical strengths.

What Should You Be Asking Your Technology Partners?
As you work with your current and prospective vendors to evaluate and plan how they fit your employee computing plans, we recommend discussing all of the following issues. They cover not only functionality and cost, but also value and the ongoing viability of the vendor’s business model in the fast-changing technology services scene.

• Vision: What is your vision for how we might operate our employee computing environment?
• Architecture: What does you architecture look like, and how is it evolving? How scalable is it? What resides on your devices and ours? What’s in the cloud?
• Capabilities: What capabilities are available today and what is planned in next 12-18 months?
• Costs: What are my total costs, direct and indirect, immediate and ongoing?
• Openness: How do your products and services interoperate with other vendor solutions in the marketplace?
• Integration: How will your solutions tie to our infrastructure and employee computing roadmaps?
• Security: What is your security model? How do you make sure my company’s information is secure in your environment?
• Value: What value are your reference accounts seeing from your products? How is that measured, both quantitatively and qualitatively?
• Business model: What is your business model? How do you make money? How is your model changing, and why?

A free download of the Redefining Employee Computing management summary is now available. We welcome your comments and questions.

1 Comment

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Dr. M.G. Lazarus
Mar 25, 2010 17:04

Very useful post. Employee computing is not my area of interest. Just came across with this article. Now I feel that I read something really useful.

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