Archive for October, 2011

Top tips for CIOs migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 – part 1 of 2

October 30th, 2011

Microsoft ends support for Windows XP in 2014. Realistically, businesses will need to start migration plans in 2012, to leave enough time to test and roll-out desktops. So what steps can an IT department take to simplify the Windows 7 upgrade.

Prepare for XP migration with hardware and software audit

Organisations should try to eliminate Windows XP by the end of 2012 to avoid disruptions, says Gartner. CIOs and IT leaders will be confronted by a host of challenges, as well as some degree of risk, as they work through the preparation and deployment processes. Issues such as software compatibility, licensing agreements and SLAs will need to be addressed.

The place to start is with a hardware and software audit. This allows IT departments to discover what hardware will run Windows 7 and catalogue the desktop applications run in the organisation. Depending on how much flexibility IT gives business users to deploy their own desktop software, IT can find it has hundreds of un-licensed and un-supported applications.

With potentially thousands of applications to check, organisations must starting anticipating the migration from Windows XP to Windows 7. 

Use automated tools to test application compatibility with Windows 7

But be aware that Windows 7 is no ordinary desktop upgrade. In fact, treating it just like a Windows upgrade would be missing the point as it offers the chance for IT to rethink how it does desktop IT. Businesses have to think about their IE6 websites and applications, whether or not to take advantage of 64-bit computing available on Windows 7 and a virtual desktop infrastructure.

Windows XP application compatibility could be a major issue – some XP applications will fail on Windows 7 – but there are various software tools available that will allow organisations to check if applications will install on Windows 7. These are automated tools so developers don’t have to test applications themselves. Such tools can reduce the manual migration process significantly. As usual, expect the 80/20 rule; most applications should pass through with no compatibility issues, leaving fewer that need manual checking.

Post remediation, to fix the compatibility issue, around 98% of applications should then be able to run on a Windows 7 desktop. That leaves 2%, which will need re-engineering.

The move to 64-bit computing will cause 16-bit to become inoperable. This is likely to affect legacy device drivers and older peripheral hardware. On modern PCs, users should update 32-bit device drivers to the latest 64-bit versions.

Buyer’s Guide: Social networking adds another layer to CRM practices

October 19th, 2011

From the way social networking is often reported in the media, it would seem to be that traditional customer relationship management (CRM) has had its day, and all companies need to do is to create a Twitter account and a Facebook page and engage prospects and customers through these. However, it is not quite as simple as that, and the devil – as always – is in the detail.

As with any new technology, the social network does not push away everything that has gone on before. Companies still receive paper mail, telephone calls, e-mails, web contacts and so on. All social networks do is add to that complexity. Any business user of social media must ensure they view the total picture of any individual or group across all of these touch points.

Social media users can be your greatest asset – or your greatest enemy. A happy customer who passes the word on in the social network can rapidly extend positive brand awareness. An unhappy customer is far more likely to pass on their views, though. However, if you identify their problem rapidly and deal with it effectively, they may turn to being positive. But, without everything being integrated, it is far more likely the customer will end up even more unhappy, and the company’s brand enters into a downward spiral that is difficult to halt.

So ensure you discuss Social media with your current or future CRM suppliers to ensure they are offering you an integrated solution to cover all the social bases.

Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the right tool in a changing business intelligence landscape

October 12th, 2011

Business intelligence is supposed to provide decision-makers with the insight they need. The growth in data is making it harder for people to gain meaningful insight because they can only track data on a quarterly or yearly basis. Increasingly, business leaders want to make decisions faster and this is putting the IT department under more pressure at a time when they are being asked to do more with less.

IBM (with Cognos), Microsoft, SAP (Business Objects) and Oracle have strong BI offerings. IBM and Microsoft lack ERP products that the other two can offer. But Gartner says so far it’s an open and heterogeneous position and increasing use of services in its value proposition are helping IBM to maintain par as a standard with SAP and Oracle.

However, in Gartner’s report, The Changing Attitudes of Business Intelligence Users, Gartner analyst James Richardson notes that, in 2011, more than 50% of IBM Cognos respondents stated that SAP or Oracle is their primary ERP and these firms will form a key battleground over the next few years for Cognos.

Richardson says: “The biggest loser in the standardisation battle is Microsoft, which has neither the strength in ERP nor IBM’s service provider touch to defend its position, and as such has fallen out of parity with the other three megavendors as a BI standard.”

Life support for the £11bn NHS IT system has been turned off

October 5th, 2011

The UK government’s decision to accelerate the dismantling of the NHS National Project for IT (NPfIT) came as little surprise to those who have followed the terminally ill project since 2002. But what is the prognosis for the NHS’s badly needed modernisation programme?

Few details have yet been released on how the end of the NPfIT will affect NHS trusts and existing contracts with BT and CSC, but there will be significant changes under the government’s move to a local commissioning-based approach. The previous framework contract under the NPfIT meant just a handful of suppliers dominated this market. There is optimism that the decision could stimulate a more vibrant healthcare market, including greater involvement from SMEs. This could also dovetail into the government’s cloud strategy, with the likes of Google supplying records systems.

Part of the cancellation of the NPfIT means the government is devolving commissioning responsibility to trusts. But as the market fragments into multiple suppliers and multiple procurements, there is a real danger that systems won’t be able to communicate and share patient information – one of the fundamental reasons for electronic healthcare records. The cancellation of the project will likely mean that already cash-strapped trusts will have to dig deep in their pockets to find the cash to deliver their own electronic records systems.