Customer Success: A Hot New Software Category That Helps You Manage Your Customers

Kate Leggett

We live in a subscription economy, thanks to the internet and cloud-based computing. Industries like media, entertainment, and telecommunications have fully embraced a subscription software model, while others, such as publishing, computer storage, financial services, healthcare services, transportation, and business-to-business (B2B) software, are moving in this direction.

What has also happened in parallel is the arrival of the "age of the customer." Customers have become more demanding, staying loyal to companies only when they deliver value. If you offer your products as services, you must manage customer relationships to make sure that your customers are satisfied and will stay loyal to your brand. You must do this to:  

  • Preserve revenue. Managing customer churn becomes increasingly important as you move out of an early-stage, high-growth mode. This is because focus shifts to more steady growth, and customer retention becomes a significant metric for financial success.
  • Expand revenue. If a customer is obtaining value from their purchase, renewal and upsell conversations become easier. For example, you can collect data on how a customer is using a product to realize their business goals and use it to present the appropriate cross-sell and upsell to the customer.
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Data Before Technology: IBM Watson's Vision

Michele Goetz

I sat down with Steve Cowley, General Manager for IBM Watson, on Tuesday at IBM Insights to talk about Watson successes, challenges since the January launch, and what is in store.  While the potential has always intrigued me, the initial use cases and message gave me more than a bit of pause: the daunting task to develop and train the corpus, the narrowness of the use cases, what would this actually cost?  Jump ahead nine months and the IBM Watson world is in a very different place.

IBM is clearly in its market building phase.  It is as much about what IBM Watson is and how IBM overall is repositioning itself as it is about changing the business model for selling technology.  However, it is easy to get negative very fast on this strategy as seen with the tremors on Wall Street as IBM's stock has gone from a 52 week high of $199 to $164 at close on Friday 10/31, much of that happening in the past month since earnings release. Wall Street may not like company uncertainty during transitional periods, but enterprise architects care about what will make their organizations successful, make development and management of technology easier, and making sure costs don't sky rocket when new bright shiny objects come in. And, that is where IBM is headed with an eye toward changing the game.

IBM Watson delivers on information over technology.

Steve surprised me with this statement, "[With] traditional programmed systems, the system is at its best when it is deployed, because it is closest to the business need it was written for. Over time these systems get further and further away from the shifting business need and so either they fall in effectiveness, or require a great deal or maintenance." Steve pointed out that data is what is changing the game.*

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Microsoft’s Cleans Its Windows Licensing To Reveal The Path To BYOD

Duncan Jones

Today’s announcement by Microsoft of a per-user subscription licensing (USL) option for Windows is significant, and good, news for its customers. I’ve been telling Microsoft product managers for years to phase out their obsolete per-device licensing models, and this is a major step in that direction. it marks a major change in Microsoft’s attitude to bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs involving non-Windows devices such as Apple Macs and Android tablets.

Source: Microsoft

Previously Microsoft tried to discourage customers from using virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) on top of rival operating systems by applying complex licensing rules involving various TLAs such as RUR, VDA and CSL (which I’m not going to explain here, because they are, thankfully, no longer needed). The USL is far simpler - clear Windows licensing replacing translucent frosted glass, so to speak.

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Forrester Wave: Enterprise Marketing Software Suites

Rusty Warner

Last week, Cory Munchbach and I published the first-ever Forrester Wave: Enterprise Marketing Software Suites, Q4 2014. Or, as they

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Forrester's Top Emerging Technologies To Watch, Now Through 2020

Brian  Hopkins

Technology has given your customers choices and digital predators the edge. Ask marketing, they will tell you about the decreasing effectiveness of traditional campaigns. Look at your business strategy and find plans to address new digital competitors that have become serious threats overnight. Across the board, Forrester finds high expectations that emerging technology will help firms stay competitive amidst these changes. But which ones should you pay attention to? Cloud, mobile, social, Read more

Meet China’s Cloud Innovators: Automation Is Key For Cloud User Experience

Charlie Dai

My January 2013 report “PaaS Market Dynamics in China, 2012 To 2017,” forecast that China’s platform-as-a-service (PaaS) market would remain in flux until 2015. But now I think it will take even longer for the cloud landscape in China to consolidate and stabilize, for three reasons:

1. The boundary between infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and PaaS is breaking down.

2. Emerging technologies like Docker are having an impact on technology and mindsets.

3. China has emerging startups in both the IaaS and PaaS segments.

The startups mainly focus on differentiating the cloud user experience by automating various layers to deliver unique value to potential adopters of cloud solutions. They include:

  • QingCloud.Founded in 2012, QingCloud raised US$20 million in Series B funding in January 2014. Its IaaS offerings for public and virtual private cloud include computing (image and instances), network (VxNet, routing, elastic IP, and load balancing), storage (volume and snapshot), database (MySQL-based, master/slave synchronization support with auto-snapshot), security (group policy and SSH key pair login), and management features (web console to deploy, manage, and monitor resources), which are billed on a per-second basis.
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HP's 3D Printing and Computing Products Bridge Digital And Physical Worlds

JP Gownder

My colleagues Sophia Vargas, Michael Yamnitsky, and I have just published a new Quick Take report, "HP Announces Innovative Tools That Will Bridge Physical And Digital Worlds." Sophia and Michael have written about 3D printing for CIOs previously, and all three of us are interested in how computing and printing technologies can inform the BT Agenda of technology managers.

Fresh off of the announcement that HP will split into two publicly owned companies, one of those new entities -- HP Inc, the personal computing and printing business -- announced its vision for the future with two new products that help users cross the divide between physical and digital. The Multi-Jet Fusion 3D printer represents HP's long-awaited entry into 3D printing, with disruptively improved speed and quality compared to existing market entries. The sprout desktop PC combines a 3D scanner with a touchscreen monitor, touchscreen display mat, and specialized software that allows users to scan real objects, then manipulate them easily in digital format.

In both cases, a video demonstration helps you to really grok what the product is about.

CNET posted a video tour of the Multi-Jet Fusion 3D printer on Youtube:

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EY Releases New Global Information Security Survey For 2014

Edward Ferrara

EY has released its Global Information Security Survey 2014. The survey, published every year, focuses on the issues facing information security pros for the coming year. Many of the trends identified in the report are trends that Forrester has seen evolve in the past two years. At the same time, these trends are accelerating. I am one analyst that is reluctant to paint information security with the fear, uncertainty, doubt (FUD) brush, but after reading the EY report I am not sure that FUD is inaccurate. We live in challenging times and the EY report validates this assertion. For example the research shows:

  • Attack power on the part of adversaries continues to grow. The capabilities and attack power of the adversary are on the rise. Criminal syndicates, hacktivists, and state-sponsored attackers top EY's respondents' list of top attack sources. This is not surprising based on the level of political instability in the world and the financial gains cybercrime can provide criminal groups derived from cybercrime.
  • Organizations are in battle with outdated weapons and strategies. Business today is using a set of outdated strategies and technologies to combat adversarial groups that are well financed and supported using some of the best offensive technologies available. These groups are well trained in the use of social engineering and technical cyberattack craft.
  • Organizations continue to see a dissolution of the perimeter. Mobility, outsourcing, cloud computing, and third-party consulting agreements continue to poke holes in companies' perimeters. All of these issues point to the need of a more flexible defense that uses a variety of smart detection and protection methods.
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It’s Time To Consider Enterprise B2B Solutions In China

Charlie Dai

Previously, when CIOs and enterprise architecture professionals talked about “business-to-business” (B2B) commerce in China, most people thought of third-party B2B marketplaces like Alibaba.com or HC360.com. Very few companies use professional B2B solutions internally, instead relying on a combination of order management systems, customer relationship management, and third-party B2B marketplaces to trade with their business partners.

This is going to change. We have observed a few trends in the Chinese market that will become major drivers for the adoption of enterprise B2B solutions. These trends were further validated during the SAP summit last week in Shenzhen.

  • The legacy application architecture on the market won’t address the challenges of the age of the customer. Most of the companies currently doing business in China’s B2B market are small and medium-size companies with low IT systems maturity — many of them still exchange business information by emailing Excel files. These firms must rely on third-party marketplaces for business collaboration.
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MSFT Expands Azure To Australia, Calls Out (Some) Competitors

Michael Barnes

On Monday Microsoft officially announced the launch of two Azure Data Centers in Australia. This is big news for the many Australia-based organizations concerned about data sovereignty, as well as those who simply equate on-shore data residency with increased security and control.

Announced as part of TechEd 2014 in Sydney, Microsoft specifically called out Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google as it’s key competition. In fact, Microsoft has gone to great lengths over the past year plus to consistently position these two companies as the only other viable longterm cloud providers. This is based on three cloud provider capabilities identified by Microsoft as critical: hyper-scale, enterprise-grade, and hybrid.

Overall it’s a good angle for Microsoft. All three players operate at hyper-scale as public cloud providers. All three also offer enterprise-grade services, (although this definition varies based on workload). Most importantly for Microsoft, neither AWS nor Google have a primary focus on enabling hybrid cloud services.

In contrast, all traditional large infrastructure vendors (Fujitsu, HP, IBM, VMware, etc.), system integrators (Dimension Data, NTT, etc.), and telco’s (Telstra) focus squarely on enterprise-grade services and hybrid cloud enablement. Rackspace, IBM and HP also have Australia-based data centers. But all these providers lack hyper-scale.

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