Tag Archives: success

Innovation leaders must learn to ‘co-create’ the future

Conventional ideas about leadership no longer hold when business success depends on continual innovation, said Linda Hill, the Wallace Brett Donham professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School and co-author of the book Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation.

She cited as an example how her mentors, John Potter and Warren Bennis, scholars who helped pioneer the contemporary field of leadership studies, defined leadership. For them, leadership is largely about the ability to come up with a vision, communicate that vision and then get people to fulfill that vision. While that sort of top-down approach is effective for leading change, leading innovation is different, argued Hill, who has spent the last decade studying leaders of innovation around the globe.

“Innovation leaders see their primary role not as the visionary, but as the creator of a context in which others are willing and able to innovate,” said Hill during a keynote session at the recent LiveWorx event in Boston in which she offered up advice to IT professionals on leading innovation.

In other words, as a leader of innovation, you’re not necessarily the person who’s out in front telling everybody “this is where we’re going,” Hill said. Instead, you’re the “stage setter” — giving the players a shared purpose and letting them go from there.

“If you want to innovate and if you want to get at something new, you have to unleash the talents and the passions of individuals,” Hill said.

However, if innovation leaders want those individual sparks of innovation to be useful, they have to figure out how to harness all the diverse ideas, talents and passions of their teams to do something that actually meets the needs of the collective good. That’s one of the many tests leaders face: whether they can unleash and harness, Hill said.

Give them space

When it comes to unleashing innovation, a gentle push in the right direction is better than a forceful shove, according to Hill.

You cannot tell people to innovate. Formal authority has nothing to do with whether they’ll innovate.
Linda Hillprofessor of business administration, Harvard Business School

“You cannot tell people to innovate,” Hill said. “Formal authority has nothing to do with whether they’ll innovate. You have to get people to volunteer and want to do what is really emotionally and intellectually taxing work.”

A piece of that puzzle is understanding that these people “don’t want to follow you to the future, they want to co-create that future with you,” Hill said. Innovation leaders need to create the space where that co-creation can happen — where a leader’s vision serves as a starting point rather than an ending point.

Steve Jobs understood that innovation comes from collective genius, not solo genius,” Hill said. “Innovation is a team sport. [Successful innovation leaders like Jobs] really think you need to be a part of a community if you’re going to be able to innovate.”

Hill also relayed some interesting advice from her friend and study subject Bill Coughran, former senior vice president of engineering at Google. Coughran’s advice to innovation leaders when people come to them looking for guidance: “Keep it fuzzy.”

“They’re going to get nervous, depressed and frustrated and they’re going to come to you and want you to tell them what to do,” Hill said. “But the first time you tell them, that’s it. They’ll rely on you too much, they’ll delegate back to you and they won’t do the collaborative work that needs to be done.”

Hill said it’s the innovation leader’s job to coach everyone in the organization, no matter their position, how to be not only a “value creator,” but also a “game-changer.” A value creator is someone who knows how to identify and close the performance gap — the gap between where the organization is now and where it should be. A game-changer is someone who knows how to identify and close the “opportunity gap” — a gap between where the organization is now and where it could be.

In fact, if innovation leaders want to hold onto talent, they need to give the talent the chance to work on opportunity gaps, Hill said. That usually means letting the talent work on cutting-edge projects. If innovation leaders don’t do that, the talent is more likely to defect because they’re not going learn the expertise required to make new things happen and therefore they’re not going to be as marketable.

Innovation leaders, it seems, can’t be without vision themselves. To create an environment where new things happen — and where the talent is excited to innovate — leaders need to have a clear “point of view” on technology and innovation, as Hill put it. “If you don’t have a point of view, they don’t want to play with you,” she said.

Google’s partner ecosystem remains a work in progress

To gauge the success of a cloud vendor, look no further than the company it keeps.

Public cloud providers have a symbiotic relationship with their partner ecosystems — a marriage of marketing and technological convenience that links these massive platforms to thousands of ancillary products. These arrangements helped propel AWS deeper into the enterprise market and helped Microsoft parlay its precloud partnerships into more revenue from its cloud.

For Google, however, these relationships remain a work in progress.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) lags behind AWS and Azure in a number of areas, and its partner ecosystem’s relative lack of depth and breadth is no exception. This is a particularly acute shortcoming for a company known more for its technology than its rapport with traditional corporate IT, but there are signs that Google has addressed the problem.

The turning point for GCP, according to industry observers, was the late-2015 hiring of VMware co-founder Diane Greene, who has emphasized success in the enterprise market. Partners and other vendors said it was difficult to coordinate any collaborative efforts with GCP in the past, but that process has slowly improved since Greene took over.

CenturyLink has worked with Google for more than two years to provide networking and application migration services that link to GCP. In the early stages of that relationship, discussions centered on how many petabytes of data GCP could ingest or the size of a Hadoop cluster.

“That would resonate maybe with data scientists working on big data analytics or cutting-edge app developers, but it didn’t resonate with the broader IT department,” said Chris McReynolds, vice president of core network services at CenturyLink.

Google has made great strides in this area, but it must continue to translate its broad set of technologies into products and services that meet customers’ specific needs, he added.

“I don’t think Google can do that alone,” McReynolds said.

Google’s scored some victories in this space in the past 18 months, such as prominent deals with Cisco, SAP and Salesforce. It also streamlined its partner application process, added incentives for partners and provided categories for customers to find particular types of partners. But some notable gaps remain in its partner ecosystem, including Oracle and VMware. And its 13,000 partners are far short of those for AWS, which added more than 10,000 partners in 2017 alone.

Google also has increased its financial commitment to this effort. The company’s channel and partner team is as much as 10 times the size it was 18 months ago, said Nan Boden, head of global alliances for Google Cloud. That’s a significant leap, but it’s hard to gauge the exact impact, because Google wouldn’t provide details about the actual size of the organization.

Part of that extended outlay is proactive outreach to partners to speed up adoption. Rather than wait for third parties to come to them, Google has invested to train channel providers, so they can get certified and well-versed in the platform. That avoids a scenario where independent software vendors and enterprises wait for the other to jump first.

Clouds and their partners: Can’t have one without the other

We watched the early interest in Google, and there wasn’t enough momentum for us to spend time and effort … but there’s been a lot of fast-growing momentum lately.
Joe KinsellaCTO and founder, CloudHealth Technologies

By some estimates, a public cloud partner ecosystem will generate as much revenue as the clouds themselves in the coming years, mainly driven by technology or consulting companies. The vibrancy of a given cloud’s marketplace is particularly important to enterprise clients. Corporations want assurances that their third-party software licenses are supported on the platform, or they require assistance to architect and manage their cloud assets. If a cloud lacks the appropriate scaffolding to support either scenario, IT shops may look elsewhere.

IT vendors tend to follow their customers’ lead with public clouds and extend to other platforms only when it becomes worth the investment in software and staff. Most third parties started with AWS and later expanded their support to Microsoft Azure. That shift to Azure several years ago was an early indicator that Azure was firmly established as the No. 2 public cloud on the market.

By contrast, Google’s mantra, “if you build it, they will come,” in the early years of GCP emphasized the company’s technical prowess and spoke directly to developers and data scientists with the message that they could operate just like Google. That grassroots momentum ultimately stalled, and Google remained an afterthought for most large enterprises.

“We watched the early interest in Google, and there wasn’t enough momentum for us to spend time and effort developing a value proposition there,” said Joe Kinsella, CTO and founder at CloudHealth Technologies. “But there’s been a lot of fast-growing momentum lately. We’re kind of being pulled into Google [by our customers].”

CloudHealth, based in Boston, provides cloud management and optimization and has worked with Google for two years. It already has support for AWS and Azure and plans to roll out a GCP service in the coming months. In conversations with corporate executives this past year, Kinsella noticed a curious trend in how the three hyperscale platforms crossed paths within an enterprise.

A given company likely deploys AWS and Azure, but the usage is often disconnected, as different teams work independently. However, a company typically operates with Google’s cloud in concert with AWS, which could give GCP an edge going forward, Kinsella said.

“What most enterprises are realizing is there is a lot more compatibility across stacks, from the migration services that Google offers to compute, database, storage and even their developer tools,” he said. “They’re more apples-to-apples compatible.”

AWS clearly has a broader, more mature set of tools available to its users, but Google has checked off equivalents for the top 10 or so features, which account for 95% of the revenue for these vendors anyway, Kinsella said. He said he sees GCP in the same position AWS was in 2015, when it started to turn the corner with partners and enterprise clients.

Versa SD-WAN counts progress in customer wins, not ‘dollars’

Success in the software-defined WAN market means more than revenue, at least according to one SD-WAN exec, who backs his claim by touting the number of licenses his firm has obtained since 2012.

“While others are talking about their progress in dollars, we’ve been quietly progressing in winning service providers and enterprises and getting them under contract,” said Kelly Ahuja, CEO and president of Versa Networks, based in San Jose, Calif.

Versa counts more than 150,000 global contract licenses since the firm was founded six years ago. Versa SD-WAN customers include enterprises, as well as more than 50 service providers, including Verizon, Comcast Business, CenturyLink and China Telecom.

Yet “progress in dollars” remains a key metric, according to market watcher IHS Markit, which reported 2018 second quarter SD-WAN revenues reaching $162 million, a 12% jump from over a year ago.

The IHS Markit report ranked VeloCloud — acquired by VMware in 2017 — as segment leader, with 19% market share. Aryaka and Silver Peak trailed, recording shares of 18% and 12%, respectively.

Kelly Ahuja, CEO of Versa NetworksKelly Ahuja

Versa SD-WAN wasn’t listed in the IHS report, which included appliances and control and management software as part of the revenue numbers. But Ahuja said revenue is just one dimension of market traction, as vendor products and offerings widely vary. Versa numbers and revenue, for example, don’t include hardware, as the company is subscription only, he added.

“Our traction in terms of the number of licenses [we have] should speak for itself about how well we’re doing in the market,” Ahuja said.

Our traction in terms of the number of licenses [we have] should speak for itself about how well we’re doing in the market.
Kelly Ahujapresident and CEO of Versa Networks

Versa Networks offers three types of license tiers: standard, advanced and secure SD-WAN. The secure SD-WAN service comes with a next-generation firewall and unified threat management and accounted for about 70% of the 150,000 licenses, Ahuja added. Further, customers can purchase Versa SD-WAN licenses based on throughput requirements, which ranges depending on customer type.

“A lot of our business is business to business — to service providers that then sell to enterprises,” he said. “Their customers are typically financial, transportation, retail, hospitality and healthcare.”

Ahuja said the majority of enterprises Versa serves consists of organizations with large internal IT teams that can deploy and manage the service themselves. These include global oil and gas companies, brand-name technology vendors, retailers, and banks and financial firms such as Capital One.

New Dynamics 365 integrations across Adobe Experience Cloud advance sales and marketing capabilities

We know that your business success is directly tied to how well you are equipped to respond to your customers in a digital environment. That’s why we’re pleased to continue delivering progress on our strategic partnership with Adobe. Our joint efforts are helping enterprises transform their customer experiences, and drive more efficient business processes.

Together with Adobe, we are announcing today that Dynamics 365 is now integrated with Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe’s industry leading content management solution in Adobe Marketing Cloud. Now available to our joint customers, this integration will help organizations optimize enterprise sales and lead management.

The value of this integration really extends from the data that underpins both solutions. Enterprise organizations can now design and connect rich marketing content with CRM data in Microsoft Dynamics 365 to transform how their sales and marketing organizations can collaborate and ultimately personalize brand experiences for their customers.

By connecting our solutions, we are helping companies to solve complex challenges and ultimately grow efficiently. Examples of improvement areas include:

  • Audience: Helping organizations move from disparate view of customers and poor segmentation, to a more holistic view with intelligent segmentation.
  • Workflow: Shifting from teams using multiple systems and processes for customer engagement, to integrated systems and a unified view that empowers actions, collaboration and productivity.
  • Personalization: Transitioning from manual process for defining and delivering customer experiences to data driven and automated content personalization.

Ultimately, customer experiences are the heart of succeeding in business today. Together with Adobe, we’re looking forward to partnering with organizations to help them better understand customer intent, and even predict where those intentions will move, providing intelligent personalization for customers and offering seamless integration for business users.

More details on today’s announcement are available here, and for more information about our partnership with Adobe and the range of joint solutions we offer, please visit our new Dynamics 365 solutions page.

Adding LinkedIn’s Profile Card on Office 365 Offers a Simple Way to Build a Professional Relationship

Over my career, I’ve learned that the success of a project is often determined by the strength of the team. That’s why it’s important to take time to know the people you work with, and it’s why I’m excited to share LinkedIn’s integration into the Office Profile Card, bringing personalized LinkedIn insights directly into your Microsoft Office 365 experience. This makes it easier to develop authentic relationships with your colleagues, your customers, and your partners, and is part of our efforts to help you be more productive and successful.

The latest about people you work with

How often do you get an email or walk into a meeting not knowing much about the people you’re about to collaborate with? According to Microsoft more than half of the emails its users receive are from people outside their organization. We know how much relationships matter, and now with Profile Card in Microsoft Office 365, you’ll have a quick and easy way to find more information about the people you work with, all without having to leave your workflow.

After you connect your LinkedIn account to your Microsoft account, you’ll seamlessly discover more insights within the Profile Card in your Inbox, your calendar and contacts lists. Simply hover over a contact’s name to see information from their LinkedIn Profile, such as where they work, what they do, and where they went to school. For example, when you receive an email from someone you haven’t met, you can instantly identify them and make a more meaningful start to the conversation. Or, if you’re not already connected with someone you collaborate with in Office 365, you can send a LinkedIn connection invite directly from Profile Card.

Google Chrome Enterprise adds management options

Chromebooks have found success in the education market and now Google is aiming to bring the Chrome OS to the enterprise with a suite of new features and security options.

Google Chrome Enterprise offers many of the same benefits as consumer Chrome OS, like automatic updates, but adds options such as 24/7 support from Google, management tools for the Google Play Store and Chrome extensions, and a new partnership with VMware allowing the use of VMware Workspace ONE as “the first third-party solution provider to manage Chrome devices.”

Sharon Vardi, CMO at Prevoty, the application security company based in Los Angeles, said Google Chrome Enterprise opening up to enterprise mobility management (EMM) partners was a big step.

“Up until now, only Google and a few other cloud services were able to design, implement and apply configuration and security policies for these devices and none were really enterprise ready,” Vardi told SearchSecurity. “Now with both the Active Directory integration and VMware integration, policing these devices becomes a much easier task whether they are owned by the enterprise or if they are personal devices that employees bring to the office and add to the network.”

Craig Young, computer security researcher for Tripwire’s Vulnerability and Exposures Research Team, said Google Chrome Enterprise could be a good option for “certain organizations looking for a locked down yet enterprise friendly computing platform.” 

“Chrome OS itself is based around Gentoo Linux and benefits heavily from Google’s heavy investments in security. Google has generally been on the cutting edge of vulnerability research particularly related to identifying memory safety issues, and I think they have done a lot of work to harden all components of Chrome OS,” Young told SearchSecurity. “Chrome OS is also backed by a standing bounty of $100K for anyone who can demonstrate an exploit chain yielding a persistent device compromise. Google also enables researchers with grants to perform security research as well as provides Google scale computing resources.”

In addition to the security of Google Chrome Enterprise, Vardi said the Active Directory integration should sway some IT staff.

“The one big problem this does solve that also ties into security is IT fragmentation in the enterprise with devices on the network that the enterprise has no control over and cannot be controlled via traditional CMDBs [configuration management databases] or EDR [enterprise data replication] solutions,” Vardi said. “With the announcement of their Active Directory integration for identity and access management of Chrome OS devices [this] is a big step forward to allowing these types of devices to be accepted on enterprise networks.”

Google Chrome Enterprise with Android apps

Although Google said not all Chromebooks will support the Play Store, even with a Chrome Enterprise license, the addition of Android apps to Chrome OS has been somewhat controversial. Some have said the addition of Android apps extends the functionality of Chrome OS, while others claim it could hurt Chrome’s appeal as a “thin client”.

Young said Chrome OS had also suffered from risks of “abuse from third-party content,” especially given security issues surrounding Chrome extensions, which Young said “can be extremely dangerous given their ability to read from and inject content into arbitrary web sessions.” 

“It looks like Chrome Enterprise could make strides to alleviate this concern for network administrators by providing managed Play Store and extensions,” Young said. “I’m not sure exactly what this will look like in practice, but my hope would be that an organization could configure their Chrome Enterprise stores to automatically install certain apps and deploy specific settings as well as also give users the ability to select and install pre-approved third-party content.”

Ultimately, Young said, Google Chrome Enterprise “could be a really ideal environment for an organization like a hospital where staff members currently use laptops, ultrabooks, or tablets to input data into clinical web or desktop applications. In addition to security benefits, Chromebooks can provide benefits in terms of operating expense and mobility.”