Business Solutions and Shoes

Watching my wife enthusiastically click through the innumerable models of footwear the wordwide web has to offer, I came to think that IT administrators around the world will soon be able to enjoy a similar pastime. Of course it will have nothing to do with shoes, although some parallels do exist, as you will see. I am talking about the Fujitsu Business Solutions Store. Though the official launch will be later this year you can already click and see what it looks like – and of course, you are free to do some ‘solutions-shopping’.

The Business Solutions Store is a transparent on-line marketplace where companies can easily find solutions optimally suited to achieving their goals – like the perfect pair of shoes. The decision is facilitated by rating and evaluation systems. Just as shoe stores offer footwear suitable for all weather conditions, all occasions and sizes, the Business Solutions Store provides all kinds of software for companies of all sizes – for the long run as well as for temporary use. The solutions are accessible for everyone and available on demand. Best of all – once the optimum solution has been identified, it is ready to use immediately. This is where I see the difference to shoe shopping. You do not have to wait impatiently until the postman delivers your package or worry whether it will arrive in time.

Getting your solution via the Business Solutions Store cloud means no migration plans, no endless sets of test runs, no database configurations, no licence management, etc. Think that sounds like wishful thinking? Then you are going to be surprised by how concrete our plans have already become. We have received an overwhelmingly positive response from software firms. Since our internal “Forum” fair in November 2011, we have rapidly gained critical mass with over 500 interested companies, and there are already more than 70 cloud-enabled services within the store – and it’s steadily becoming more. The ISVs recognized right away that the Business Solutions Store will be the cloud model of the future, offering revenue-sharing opportunities and enabling them to reach a wider base of customers in new markets. What software houses find most attractive is the ease of transition, plus the way we have removed the cost and risk barriers. Maybe that is the secret of our successful start: since Fujitsu is not tied down by legacy software-licensing models, we are able to move really fast. There is virtually nothing holding us back.

So within four months of announcing the Business Solutions Store, it is available for every software vendor to join. Let’s hope that solution buyers will find the Business Solutions Store as attractive as some women find shoe stores (sorry for serving prejudices. I admit that I myself already bought some pairs of shoes online and spent an awful lot of time browsing).

Yours sincerely,

Andre Kiehne

Ideas, Innovations and Inventions – Everything is an App

When I am up in the sky in an airplane and I look down at the earth below, it looks like a huge beehive. Especially in the dark, you see the headlamps of thousands of cars moving like busy bees. Everybody’s mobile, everybody’s connected, everybody’s eager.

So much energy has to flow somewhere. That was exactly my thought when I was mobile myself and on my way to the CeBIT. At the fair in Hanover, I saw where it ends up – in creativity, in fresh ideas, in innovations. In Hall 16 there were lots of innovative start-ups with ideas for mobile applications. It was at CODE_n12 , an international competition for developers of digital innovations.

Fifty finalists presented fifty applications. And there were quite intriguing ideas shaping mobile life. Maybe some of the cars I watched from the plane were taxis being called with the ‘myTaxi-app whose inventor was among the participants (and who turned out to be the winner, by the way). Maybe some other people were just cooking with the help of ‘caramelised ’, an app that helps you find the recipe you’re looking for within seconds. And at someplace else there might have been friends searching and locating each other with ‘Joined ’.

Granted – the majority of the apps are specially suited for private use. However, the consumerization of IT is also affecting business applications. Especially mobility is a big instigator of technology and of cloud computing. People are connected, using different devices to access their applications in private as well as in business life. In combination with the Business Solutions Store cloud services and mobility will unite and unfold their full force. ‘There is an app for that!’ What nowadays is mostly said concerning private pleasure will soon become a standard utterance in our business life. No need to worry about proliferation of applications though, there is an app for that as well – a cross-platform mobile device management tool.

Anyway, the code_n competition shows more than specific tools and applications. It shows how much potential there is for new ideas – especially from Germany. Six out of the ten finalists come from Germany. A recent survey confirms that Germany has improved its position and is now among the top 4 countries when it comes to innovation. More innovation means greater competitiveness. The good news is, this is not a snapshot but a long-term development because successful innovations are based on a stable foundation. Having seen all the inventions, innovations and new ideas at the CeBIT, I am convinced that the future of innovation – not only from Germany but from all over the world – is very promising indeed.

 

Yours sincerely,

Andre Kiehne

SaaSification Factory: In contrast to a box of chocolates, you know exactly what you’re going to get

Most of you have probably seen the movie Forrest Gump at least once. Remember Forrest citing his mom: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get”? In many ways, Forrest’s mom was right. Fortunately though, it does not apply to all the modern amenities the market has to offer. Take our Business Solutions Store, the new way for ISVs to provide their business solutions to a wider base of customers in new markets via the cloud and, best of all, without any risk. However, not only ISVs, but also companies using the services know exactly what they will get, at which conditions. They also know that they can rely on the cloud platform in the background.

 

Transparency is an important factor in this context. Moreover, transparency is what we demonstrated at the CeBIT with our SaaSification Factory. Our live cloud-enablement workshops have shown independent vendors how to uplift their software into the cloud in just a few workdays – and thus add their product to the Business Solutions Store offering. No secrets, no back room but a hands-on working atmosphere that could be watched by everybody passing.

Small wonder that the workshops were oversubscribed by 500 per cent: they meant a unique chance to go cloud with a future-proof concept for ISVs to such areas as customer-relationship management, document management, archiving, ERP solutions, infrastructure security and other business-process intensive apps like HR or security systems. After finalizing the uplifting process, software vendors will possess all the tools necessary to successfully offer cloud services. Among those who will soon be part of our cloud ecosystem: docs & rules (project management software,  BBL Software (project controlling) and Saperion (ECM Web Content Archiving).

Up to now, we already have more than 40 cloud-enabled applications in our Business Solutions Store – click and see!  We look forward to integrating your product into our Business Solutions Store, too. I promise, you will know exactly what you’re going to get. Let’s start shaping tomorrow together!

 

Yours sincerely,

Andre Kiehne

Resellers of the World: It’s time to move!

Happy Birthday, Planet Reseller! For ten years now, the area has been the focal point for resellers visiting the CeBIT fair. A lot has changed during that time. Cloud computing, for example, has reached the channel and is about to turn it around. Around half of the resellers in the German channel agree. Meanwhile, they expect opportunities from new products and services related to cloud computing. But a remarkable 22 percent fear that cloud computing will endanger their business model. Who’s right?

 

Maybe both are, because the only constant is change. It is simply inevitable that a successful player in the IT channel will constantly adapt to new products, new challenges and new trends. So why not embrace cloud computing? I believe that people who think they can sit it out and wait for cloud computing to yield to some other trend will face hard times because they may miss huge opportunities. Maybe their business model really is endangered, but this may be true only because they have not yet found a way to integrate cloud computing.

Take the smashing success of our SaaSification factory. Hundreds of ISV partners have lined up to benefit from our Business Solutions Store. Maybe all a reseller needs to do is find the right ISV partner who can offer his solutions as a cloud model. Or maybe it is simply time to think out of the box. My advice: think like a user who – in most cases – doesn’t really care about gigahertz or gigabytes but rather, about running his business smoothly, about results and about flexibility. You will then naturally arrive at a cloud solution.

I hear from my colleagues at our Planet Reseller booth in hall 14 that many of their visitors believe that CeBIT 2012 will mark a turning point for cloud computing in the channel. My personal impression from my talks with partners is exactly the same. Whereas the cloud had a somewhat futuristic touch in 2011, it has now fully arrived in channel members’ everyday lives. It’s like good food or the air that we breathe: nobody can resist it.

Yours sincerely,

Andre Kiehne

It does not end with the cloud!

Ever wanted to hang a new painting couldn’t find your level? What did you do? Maybe you simply trusted your sense of proportion or postponed the task. Nowadays help is literally at your fingertips: you click into the app-market of your smartphone and get yourself the latest water-level app. A few minutes later and the picture is hanging straight – problem solved. I think this will be a software ‘purchasing’ model for enterprises as well, probably sooner than later, because habits change fast when they bring more convenience.

Take my kids: A few days ago, I watched them getting in touch with a laptop for the first time in their lives. Guess what happened? They intuitively touched the monitor to navigate through it.

What’s already normal for our children is getting more and more normal for us in our private lives. The boundaries between consumers and businesses are blurring – even more so with the ever-growing trend toward BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). But in contrast to the past, innovation today is being driven by the consumer market. More and more of our gadgets are based on cloud technology. Take mobile robots, for example. In the future, they will depend on the Internet for getting a software update during inspection. The Internet has become the lifeline of our private lives, our products and our businesses, linking all of these areas together. That’s why businesses catch up rapidly. According to avanade , 74 percent of businesses worldwide already use some form of cloud service.

So why not learn from each other and adopt functioning systems? Enterprise-wide upgrades and rollouts could easily belong to the past. What’s coming is the business-app market (the Business Solutions Store) and with it, enormous savings as well as a plus in efficiency. This is twofold as it reduces administration costs. It also leverages productivity since each employee can easily and quickly get the tools he needs to do his job.  He can access those tools from anywhere, anytime – paying by use. Moreover, due to the rating system and experience of other companies in the market, enterprises will quickly find the application that suits their goals best.

As the Internet and all the apps we installed on our smartphones are inextricably linked with our lives, we want to constantly improve them. We will do this through the ratings and the feedback that providers receive. This affords a great opportunity to improve products, to get even better ratings, more downloads, more success – much faster than was possible with traditional market research. This is a great advantage for businesses! Consumers will probably develop greater brand loyalty because their feedback will be heard immediately, directly.

Of course businesses will have to make sure that there is no proliferation of software. They will have to make sure that there is no proliferation of systems in order to avoid inconsistencies in data quality or access. However, a store concept can handle that easily by allowing only downloads of programs that have been internally certified. This could be a new task for the IT department in the future.

Some time ago, I said that cloud computing is the new black . Now I may add: It’s like a comfy pair of shoes that you hardly feel while walking (and you know: there are these other pairs out there that give you blisters instantly. Not every shoe is comfortable, not everything is cloud).

Cloud technology enables businesses and consumers to focus on problems that need to be solved and tasks that have to be done. Apps live and die with the results they obtain; pragmatic tools that are easy to handle are thus the most promising. As users can influence features directly, they will make sure they get what they really need in the long run.

Democratization of software – that is the magic word. And where will this lead to? I think, next year we will already be talking about the internet of things. It is not only about new business models, it’s a radical change in our daily lives that are becoming easier and more and more comfortable with the progress of technology. The cloud is not the end.

Yours sincerely,

Andre Kiehne

The Art of Touching Running Systems

Some days ago, I went for a run. It was a quiet Sunday morning. Some other runners were peacefully doing their laps while other people walked their dogs. Maybe you know the feeling: after a few minutes, the runner’s high kicks in. Your feet move effortlessly, your mind is free to wander and nothing seems more natural than running. Suddenly though, you stumble – maybe because of a root you did not see –and you realize that running is a complex process.

“Never touch a running system” is one of the most cited mantras in ICT. True as it might be though, there is always something better on the horizon – or up in the clouds – that makes change worthwhile. The true art of managing an IT infrastructure is thus not to avoid change, but to plan well and make safe, bold moves at the right time. The key to success is keeping an eye out for stumbling blocks.

In today’s complex IT infrastructures, there are many “touch points” where disturbances can arise. Sometimes they come in the form of in-house regulations or processes as I pointed out previously in my blog. Sometimes though, they also come in the form of politics. An example that especially addresses enterprises all around the globe is the Patriot Act. Cloud customers are unsettled about where their data is being stored. This has slowed broader implementation of public cloud computing. Because of the Patriot Act Europe becomes a more interesting place for vendors who operate outside of US – but how long can someone really afford to base a value proposition on this?

Europe has the chance to play an important role in the cloud computing business because of things like the Patriot Act but also in terms of digital leadership. Take Germany for example: A recent study of the BSA confirms its top position regarding cloud computing, but this position is in danger. Therefore, it is vital that European legislative bodies are aware of this battleground between the so-called old and new worlds; for once, they can really make a difference! My request to all legislative bodies: Please do not simply copy ideas from other parts of the world without applying common sense first! The cloud business is simply much too important for the future of the entire IT industry to be bogged down by legislation that misses the needs of individuals and enterprises alike. This would only result in frustration on a wide scale and loss of economic power in the end.

Take the global civil commotion about ACTA, for example. It sounds like a good idea to protect copyrights better. But in times of digital goods and social media we also have to be alert to the subtle difference  between copying and sharing. Cloud Computing is much about sharing. What if ACTA limits an enterprise’s rights to share e.g. paid research with its teams? What if ACTA forces all cloud providers to constantly control all documents in their cloud? What would people think of such a ‘big-brother’ service? How would it affect cost? How would it affect privacy? These are very important questions that have obviously not been resolved yet. Worse than that, a lack of clarity will result in a loss of trust. We must not let that happen to cloud computing!

On the contrary, we need a constructive debate about a global concept of data privacy that ultimately transcends national boundaries. This is not possible if all countries go their own way. Moreover, we need local interest groups and national governments to join forces here. In Germany, we have 17 different government agencies for data protection causing different interpretations of the law and lots of confusion. Further interest groups should be part of the developments, like eco (German association of internet economy) or BVDW (German association of digital economy). Therefore, I think it is a good time for BitKOM as most prominent and influential of all to take the lead and unite the forces in order to come up with a tangible proposal on how to promote a global cloud computing ecosystem, that harmonizes national markets with international laws. After all, the German market is seen as one of the most promising role models for cloud computing throughout the world.

I am convinced that the data privacy discussion will not endanger the cloud concept because the cloud is just too promising and useful. It is just one of many touch points we need to be prepared for so that we do not stumble.  So what can you as an enterprise lookout for on your way?

  • It is most important to evaluate your trusted cloud partner thoroughly. Obtain information about different providers, different offerings, different terms and conditions. Where is the provider from? Where are his cloud data centers located? Take the time to study the fine print. Make sure you know what rights and duties you have and what rights and duties other parties have. Check the SLAs. Make sure you understand how they are calculated. Set up a process for staying aware of any changes in these conditions.
  • Last but not least, it is also crucial to know the internal processes and standards as well as the international regulations and compliance issues. Is your cloud provider a good consultant in that respect?

As a reward, you will have the solution that fits your requirements best. You will know exactly with whom you are dealing and whom you can trust with your data. It’s like having completed a run: you will feel very satisfied. You will have peace of mind when thinking about your cloud service.

You will not only be perceived as opinion leader and role model in your industry, but your customers will appreciate it as well. Meanwhile, please, BitKOM, eco, BVDW and others: please embrace this opportunity for European IT providers and support! Go ahead and touch those running systems!

Yours sincerely,

Andre Kiehne