IT in 2015, a Gartner prediction

This week I attended a fantastic briefing given by #Gartner senior analyst Hung LeHong.  In December 2011 Gartner produced a report on the future of IT, the predictions can be seen here (   Everyone that reads that piece will have its own favorite prophesy, mine is this one: By 2015, 35 percent of enterprise IT expenditures for most organizations will be managed outside the IT department’s budget.  Why would they predict such a thing?  Could it be that other departments are demanding technological functionality that the IT departments are incapable or too slow to respond to?  The 80 – 20 rule that has been presented before goes like this.  80% of the time spent by IT departments are strictly for keeping the lights on, (keep the systems running, update patches, backups, etc.).  Those activities are important but, to the corporate CFO, that is a cost and not an investment.  The other 20% of the time is spent on important new initiatives that will yield business innovation.  These innovations will enable new smart business process that perhaps will obsolete others altogether.  The digital natives (those born post PC invention) are entering the workforce and replacing the baby boomers (between 1946 and 1964) that have started to turn 65 in 2011.  This new generation has grown in a technological period that has seen great advances and of course the birth of the iPOD.  Imagine being in your early 20s and being offered a green screen to work with.  Hardly state of the art!  If the responsibility of the implementation a new CRM or sales application or client support system falls to the shoulder of the traditional IT departments, they will now be held accountable to business offerings that are available on the market.  Something like 7 to 10$ per user for email, 30-50$ for CRM.  Instead of calculating your true cost in terms of how many servers, how much storage, electricity, software, etc… the Modern IT department should also calculate that cost in terms of how much it costs per user.  Most astute CFOs these days know what that cost is, and you should also.  If not, Gartner’s prediction could actually become reality or perhaps actually happen even faster than in 2015!

Same “TheBenz” Benzekry


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Gartner Prediction 2012

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A place between Home and the office

For the first time that I can recall, Fortune Magazine’s business person of the year and InformationWeek’s Chief of the year share the same employer.  Like this title blog infers, I am talking about the corporation that claims to be the third place between home and work, Starbucks.

Fortune magazine details the second coming of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Howard Shultz as nothing short of spectacular.  When you look at the stock price, a little under 10$ when he came back in 2008 to around 45$ (Dec-28-2011) it’s hard to disagree with Fortune’s conclusion. Could the use of new technology have anything to do with it?  I will let you decide.

Chief Information Officer, Mr. Stephen Gillett was selected as Chief of the year in the magazine InformationWeek.  I would recommend reading the December 12, 2011 article on that subject here (

For a while now, I have been very interested in the relationship between business and Information Technology.  I have been a proponent that IT should be present in the business process development and corporate strategy direction talks.  Why?  Simply because all business process are now digitized.  Therefore, technology is an essential part of the business strategy.  And just how did Starbucks make use of technology?

When you think about it, people who sit down at a Starbucks for coffee either do it because they want to read a book, that’s my case my favorite book store actually has a Starbucks in-house, or they want to do some work.  About 7 to 10 years ago, this meant that if you wanted the client to stay in your hospice you needed to provide something she or he needs on top of just a good cup of Java. A good way was to introduce free WiFi.  It still is a good way, and in many respects, it is expected that a coffee-house offers free WiFi.  I find myself being quite productive in such an environment, usually in between 2 meetings when it is too time consuming to go back to the office or home before the next meeting.  Having that internet connection is most definitely a big reason why I keep coming back.

So how do you wow clients these days?

Well the first thing is to realize that the client has changed. They are digital natives, meaning they were born post the invention of the common PC.  They are technology savvy even if they don’t work in IT.  To take advantage of that trend Starbucks now offers mobile payments that use 2D bar code scanners that make good use of their clients smart phone Starbucks app.  Just like I carry in my wallet a piece of the companies I deal with every day in the form of plastic, their digital cousins exist in the form of apps in my smart phone.  How wonderful is that!   Yes, I am aware that they probably tally big data bases of what my favorite coffee and snack is, but, so what?  If I get better service, and the clerk actually knows I usually take a single shot, skim milk, very hot latte and reminds me that I forgot to say skim milk, thank-you for that ‘relationship’, Mr. or Ms. Barista!

It’s important to realize that not just your clients are tech wizards; even the employees at Starbucks, for the most part young adults paying their way to higher education, are.  So, why not make good use of their technological skill?  Exactly what Starbucks did!  They offer Desktop virtualization and let their employees choose the best device they want to use for their work.

By know you probably have realized that technology is no longer an ‘ELITE’ sport.  The average person today knows a lot more about technology than just 5 years ago.  Remember, those days when we were using ‘Dumb’ phones?


Samy ‘TheBenz’ Benzekry

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Have you noticed the trend?

It would seem like Telcos are positioning themselves as major cloud providers. Bell Canada with the long-term lease of Hypertec massive Datacenter, Verizon with the purchase Terremark, now Centurylink with the 3.2 US$ billon purchase of Savvis.

“I got a feeling” that the rationalization in this field is nearing!

May the prices drop!


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There is a little revolution that is going on in the payment world at the moment, did you know about it?

There is a little revolution that is going on in the payment world at the moment. Did you know about it? First off, square is a start-up from Jack Dorsey (person behind Twitter) that promises to make the life of small business owners easier when it comes to accepting payments.  It has manufactured a relatively cheap magnetic smart reader in the form of a, you guessed it, square!  That little gadget can easily be plugged into a phone or a Pad and away you go accepting payments.  No more bulky clunkers at the cash!  I really like the form factor and the elegance of this solution.  It will be nice to see how this newcomer grows in the next few years.  Intuit has also been touting their GoPayment product.  It is essentially the same thing, a magnetic strip reader that snaps to your iPhone.  OK, it’s not a square it’s, well, as plain as strip readers get, but it does get the job done!  Square and GoPayment differentiate their offering in the way they charge for the transaction and the unit.

Both of these technologies offer the same thing, essentially getting paid fast, preferably, after the job is done.  Having worked a bit with hardware based cryptographic engines; I wonder how these two gizmos will manage security and prevent man in the middle attacks?

The next interesting one is a company by the name of Dynamics. They have managed to design a programmable magnetic card.  They show an online video demo here.  I find the way they have solved the issue of bringing the magnetic strip to the 21st century very appealing.  A few years ago during the .com era my buddies and I had grandiose aspirations.  The idea was that we would invent a programmable plastic card that would work with a chip (aka smart card) where multiple accounts could be stored in the chip.  Sadly, we were unable to bring this idea to fruition, but, I really like how Dynamic has decided to tackle the problem. Having said that, will you be able to have multiple accounts in the same card? Probably. How about multiple accounts from different banks? Fat chance of that happening!  Banks, use card as ‘portable mobile brands’ carried around by you free of charge.

The overwhelming advantage of Dynamics is that it makes use of all of the current and well established technologies like Point Of Sale (POS) and server attached hardware encryption boxes in use today.  You don’t know it, but every time you withdraw money from a bank or pay something with a credit card or make use of a POS system, those technologies are used to secure the complete transaction.  Believe or not, there are reasons why banks are relatively slow at deploying new payment concepts, they can be expensive to rollout and worst of all, one major hack and your reputation is out to lunch.  Granted, bank’s reputations have taken a beating in the last couple of years, but would you open an account with a bank that has been hacked?

Having said that,  I am not against the principle of bringing new thoughts and elegance to payments just add a hardware encryption at the POS, and secure the entire transaction and you got my vote.

Samy “TheBenz” Benzekry

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In the age of Social media, how will corporations differentiate themselves from their competitors?

How will corporations differentiate themselves from their competitors?  I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do think that we are starting to see some areas that will impact how we use technology and how it can be used to further create closer relationships on the web.

It used to be that to make friends you needed to “invest” time with someone.  That investment comes easily when you like that someone but when you have just some affinity with that individual he she becomes just an acquaintance.  Enter the world or Facebook, Linked in, Twitter, Myspace etc… and you can now have hundreds if not thousands of “friends”.  I guess the term friend is used to determine a fairly loose relationship here.

I am truly impressed to see how corporations are using the web to increase sales and relationships they make with their clients.  The order here is important, first sales then purchases.  I would like to submit to you here that this represents a year 2000 (I reuse the “Y2K” acronym here 😉 ) way of seeing an online presence.  A few weeks ago I met a corporation that uses Facebook, to find out more about its clients and how they use their brands in order to increase sales.  Read here, they are first and foremost interested in finding out more about their clients and then they are making the bet that their knowledge will translate into better products that increase brand fidelity.  Don’t plan to throw away your traditional Business Intelligence/Data Warehouse just yet, but, I would like to suggest here that these traditional methods of data gathering and analysis can be enriched with the usage of social media.

We will take the social media “poster child” example of Facebook.  At 500 million and still counting users, is there a more popular site out there?

I buy some technology and gadgets on the web.  Other than entering my credit card information and email to accept the weekly newsletter and sometimes special saving pamphlet, that’s as far as my “relationship” goes!  That is what I qualify as Y2K approach to online sales.  Basically, you get in, browse, buy and leave once your business is done!  And for some, it’s OK, as they have no wish to get involved with the corporations they do business with.

At a high level, this requires that the online merchant creates a web site or use a dedicated online retailer, use or build a credential store to securely have clients register and fill a Data Base of products.

How about, instead of developing for the “web”, why not develop for Facebook (or any other social media).  The advantage here is that Facebook, like many other social sites and cloud operators, lets you into their world through a series of doors (in developer lingo Application Programmatic Interfaces or APIs) referred to as the Facebook Platform.  The first one you will typically use is the one that authenticates the user.  Once a user is authenticated on Facebook those same credentials can be passed to the application you are creating.  All the user has to do is click on the ALLOW button.  From that point on, hello Mafia World and Farmville apps.  Keep in mind that, upon acceptance a user is giving permission to share potentially all of this information.

This is a Marketer’s dream!  You now have great insights into the demographics of who and when they use, browse or talk about your brand.  In other words, you now have a more significant relationship with your client.  An old Vice President use to call this, customer intimacy.  I never quite liked the term “customer” to depict a “client”.  Maybe it’s just me?

At any rate, you should have a marketing plan that includes social media because I guarantee you either your competition is into it or worse perhaps people are talking about you and you have absolutely no idea they are!

Samy “TheBenz” Benzekry

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All I want is to watch some TV anywhere and anytime I want. Is that too much to ask?

In the early 80’s I use to work part-time for a little company that use to sale and rent video tapes via regular mail.  Back then, the internet was, to the masses, still unheard of and very few people owned a VCR.  Fast forward 17 years, a little corporation in Los Gatos California (very nice place by the way) started a similar business renting movies via snail mail. People laughed, who could compete against well established players like Blockbuster? Well my friends, that little company enjoyed a 200% return on its stock in 2010 (sadly, I am not a holder).  That company happens to be Netflix.  Its CEO, Reed Hastings, was touted as the Business person of the year by Fortune magazine.  Netflix entered the Canadian Market last September and for about 8 bucks, you get their “all you can eat” version of TV watching.  Sure, you don’t have all the titles and the selection is limited to what is released on DVD, but, seeing that most movies are now available a couple of months after they are released on the big screen, 8$ is amazingly cheap.

When I compare this to the 16 bucks my local cable operator charges me for an almost similar offering, well, I feel a little cheated!  I would love to switch to Netflix and stream movies directly from my kids Wii gaming console, but (there had to be one!) unlimited internet is not available!  Therefore, my puny 40GB monthly cap is starting to feel like a 5$ allowance when the theater fee is 7$.

Somehow, somewhere, some businessman will figure out the proper ratio of bandwidth access versus the digital rights of tv/film viewing.  But, alas, as we have seen in the news last week, I won’t be holding my breath!

I am “holding out for a hero” with the magic formula.


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