Think A Data Lake Is THE Answer? Think Again. Here Comes Elastic Analytics

Brian  Hopkins

Enterprise architects, are you mired in a tangled web of data marts while your business pursues customer engagement without you? If you think a Hadoop-centric architecture is going to save the day, you may need to rethink. Your customers expect you to create systems of insight to deliver win-win engagement in real time. I'm seeing a new class of digital predators leverage the cloud to do just this. For example, Netflix designs cover graphics for its series based on subscriber viewing habits. They know their customers that well.

I call their technology approach an Elastic Analytics Platform in my recently published report. I formally define it as:

"A combination of data storage and middleware technology that allows the creation and dissolution of analytics components on demand, while provisioning these with data from one, or a few, distributed, virtualized data sources."

That's a mouthful. So here's a rough picture:

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Smart Home Activities Will Align With Existing Markets, Rather Than Create A New One

Frank Gillett

Consumers are implementing connected home activities one gadget at a time - Forrester surveys show that about 13% of US online adults use one or more smart home device. But unlike mobile, where a brand new technology established a new category, smart home products will transform existing home markets, such as insurance, energy, health, water, and food, rather than create a new one.

Sure, Apple and Google will battle to be the dominant app interface and software platform – but they won’t be controlling or taking over those markets. Instead, individual companies will soon be experimenting with how to promote and even subsidize smart home products to create interactive relationships with their customers that simply weren’t possible before. Liberty Mutual and American Family just started subsidizing Nest Protect smoke detectors in return for monthly confirmation that the homeowner is keeping them on and connected to Wi-Fi. Similarly, grocers and food brands such as Nestlé and Unilever will begin promoting smart devices, like the Drop baking scale, and recipe filled apps to encourage shoppers to keep coming back.

Emerging smart home devices will perform 13 activities that can be organized into two domains: crucial background activities that automate everyday tasks like environmental comfort, home access, and home safety, or fun and helpful foreground activities that sustain engagement, such as entertainment activities, cooking and health management, and monitoring family members. Clients can see more details and many examples in our report, The Smart Home Finally Blossoms

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Contact center outsourcers move strongly to omnichannel—brands’ attitudes need to catch up to that change

Ian Jacobs

Contact center outsourcers have gotten a bum rap. Customers frustrated with offshore accents, agents with no power to actually solve problems, and overly scripted interactions have complained, sometimes loudly, about the practice. Comedians have mocked offshore agents, often mercilessly. In particular, the shared services outsourcing model in which a single agent supports multiple brands at the same time has come in for a real savaging. Check out this Funny or Die video for just one the literally dozens of such comedic rips on outsourcers. 

In many ways, brands set themselves up for such criticisms by focusing on outsourcing simply as a way to take costs out of their businesses. That focus on efficiency left little room for the types of excellent service that built customer loyalty. Today, however companies’ motivations for outsourcing customer support are changing and options for onshore or so-called near-shore outsourcing have expanded. Contact center outsourcing actually remains quite vibrant. For example, more than two-thirds of telecommunications technology decision-makers at companies with midsize or larger contact centers report they are interested in outsourcing some or all of their contact center seats or have already outsourced them. So, it is clear that outsourcing is not going away; brands, however, are starting to look at outsourcers for new types of interactions. 

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The Cross-Border eCommerce Opportunity Unfolds

Zia Daniell Wigder

In last year’s global eCommerce predictions report, we wrote that in 2015, cross-border eCommerce would become "more seamless and less apparent to shoppers". We’ve started to embark on this path: Today consumers around the world have access to growing selection of products as more retailers make their offerings available to shoppers in other countries. My colleague Michelle Beeson recently documented that cross-border sales in Europe alone will reach €40 billion by 2018.

Retailers that haven’t yet started to ship cross-border—and those that have only dipped their toes in the water—now have a variety of different solution providers that can help them take their brands into new markets. Analyst Lily Varon and I just published a report that looks at the trends and leading vendors in this space with a focus on solutions targeted at US-based merchants. It’s now common to see retailers working with different partners including:

International parcel carriers. A number of retailers elect to manage their international shipping options directly with an international carrier such as UPS or FedEx. In some cases, a cross-border option is an extension of the existing relationship between the merchant and the carrier; in others, merchants will seek out a new partner specifically to help with cross-border shipments.

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Nestle Used The Four Ps To Achieve Social Intelligence

Gene Cao

Nestlé took a different approach to its Chinese social command center than it did in other countries. Nestlé China used the firm’s global digital acceleration team (DAT) framework to create a centralized social command center in its Beijing headquarters.

The four Ps — purpose, people, process, and platform — are all important to establishing a successful social intelligence capability. My recent case study, entitled "Succeed With Social Intelligence In China", shows how Nestlé localized the four Ps to establish a successful social intelligence capability in China. The company:

  • Set measureable goals for social activities. One of the major challenges that Nestlé China faced was how to use social to manage precampaign customers and how to measure the effectiveness of social marketing campaigns. When Nestlé China built its social command center, it set a detailed goal to improve precampaign customer management, including A/B testing of customer usage hypotheses, customer feedback on marketing content, and spokesperson selection satisfaction rates.
  • Hired experienced employees with both global and local social marketing experience. The person that Nestlé China chose to head its social command center was involved in the creation of Nestlé's first social command center outside of China. The company allocated dedicated resources to the platform who had a keen noise filter and could determine which actions the business should take based on the data. It developed regular training sessions for its lines of business and assigned the social expert to share social intelligence findings with the rest of the business.
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Forrester's Annual ECM Panel Survey, 2015. Call for Participation — Deadline July 31, 2015

Cheryl McKinnon

Forrester's survey for ECM decision-makers is open, and we're looking for your participation! Take this opportunity to provide your perspectives on the key vendors, the challenges, and the opportunities you see in this technology market. This survey is intended for ECM decision-makers or influencers in end user organizations. This is not for ECM vendors or systems integrators . . . but vendors and consultants — we would love it if you could share this survey invitation with your customers. The survey will remain open until end of day Friday, July 31, 2015.

Why is your input important? Forrester uses this data to:

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Millennial Shopping Experience Series: A Stroll Down Fifth Ave: Digital? Yes. Helpful? Not so much.

Patti Freeman Evans

Omnichannel retailing is a ubiquitous initiative among retailers today.  It's ambitious, necessary and very challenging.  Each channel reinforces the others and Adam Silverman's digital store work is great stuff advancing the thinking around how retailers are bringing new digital tech into the store environment, putting into customer and store associate hands to drive value.  He writes about it in a recent doc: The Future of the Digital Store.  And, two millennials on our team tested out some digital store experiences recently.   Here is the second in the millennials shopping experience blog series, this one by Laura Naparstek and Diana Gold.

On a recent afternoon, we took a walk down NYC’s Fifth Avenue to discover that many retailers are not always getting the in-store tech game right. This area of Manhattan is like an upscale mall where retailers experiment and test new in-store innovations; however, the technology we saw did little to reduce friction. Many retailers’ in-store tools were cosmetic—or broken.

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How To Make The Case For Customer Experience - For B2B Pros

Deanna Laufer

Are you working as a CX pro in a B2B company? And do you find it challenging to make the case for your CX program? You are not alone. In fact, many CX pros in B2B companies we spoke with struggled to get funding for their efforts: because they can't isolate the role of CX in driving financial success, they lack insight into how different clients’ experiences affect purchasing decisions, or they don't gather sufficient data about these experiences. That’s why Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian and I researched how B2B companies like Cisco Systems, Sage Software, Optum, Shell, and Tetra Pak have conquered these challenges and built a burning platform for their CX initiatives.

CX professionals managed to overcome these challenges by creating the preconditions for success. Following their lead, you should:

  • Rethink metrics and analytics to link CX to financials. CX pros need to look beyond the usual metrics like revenue or NPS to find the metrics that help link CX to business success.. For example food packaging company Tetra Pak found that a custom partnership index was a better predictor of sales and volume growth than other metrics they tested.
  • Use customer understanding tools to segment clients by role and influence. Working with internal stakeholders that cross the customer life cycle, CX pros can use qualitative research or journey mapping to understand the different roles within client accounts and the role they play in overall account health. For example, Walker Information conducts qualitative research with its client’s customers to identify the decision-makers and user.
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How To Win Funding For CX In B2B – 4 Steps To Building A Burning Platform To Spark Action

Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian

Are you working as a CX pro in a B2B company? And do you find it challenging to make the case for your CX program? You are not alone.

In fact, many CX pros in B2B companies we spoke with struggled to get funding for their efforts --because they can't isolate the role of CX in driving financial success, they lack insight into how different clients’ experiences affect purchasing decisions, or they don't gather sufficient data about these experiences.

That’s why Deanna Laufer and I researched how B2B companies like Cisco Systems, Sage Software, Optum, Shell, and Tetra Pak have conquered these challenges and built a burning platform for their CX initiatives.

CX professionals managed to overcome these challenges by creating the preconditions for success. Following their lead, you should:

  • Rethink metrics and analytics to link CX to financials. CX pros need to look beyond the usual metrics like revenue or NPS to find the metrics that help link CX to business success.. For example food packaging company Tetra Pak found that a custom partnership index was a better predictor of sales and volume growth than other metrics they tested.
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Automated Malware Analysis Wave - Call for feedback

Rick Holland

We are in the planning stages of a new Forrester Wave on automated malware analysis/sandboxes. As we prepare for this research, we are looking for research interview candidates to discuss your experiences with automated malware analysis solutions. Please note we are not seeking feedback from vendors at this  time. We are focused on the buyers of these offerings. We would like to talk to you about: 

  1. The most useful features
  2. The least useful features
  3. The most significant challenges
  4. Preferred deployment model (physical appliance, virtual appliance, cloud)
  5. Most useful integrations (e.g. endpoint integrations that validate sandbox alerts)
  6. Feedback on vendors (e.g. FireEye, Trend Micro, Palo Alto Networks ...)

You don't have to be a Forrester client either. If you are willing to participate in a confidential research interview, we will provide you a free copy of the research when it publishes. If you are interested in speaking with us please contact Kelley Mak (kmak at forrester dot com) and Josh Blackborow (jblackborow at forrester dot com) 

In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about Forrester's perspective on automated malware analysis, please check out Pillar No. 1: Malware Analysis from Targeted-Attack Hierarchy Of Needs: Assess Your Advanced Capabilities