In a recent report on next-generation services, I give several examples of how tech services firms are reinventing their operating models and value propositions to provide a new path to digital transformation to their clients. Interestingly, many such initiatives are coming either from very large service providers like Accenture or from small specialists like VMob, Bluefin Solutions, or Point of Origin. Small service providers’ next-gen service value proposition is starting to catch the interest of large clients too. A few weeks ago, VMob announced a major deal with McDonald’s in Japan wherein the company will leverage the VMob solution for its 3,200 restaurants in Japan.
The next-generation services report highlights the key tenets of these new digital transformation offerings. In this customer-controlled, digital world, successful tech services companies will bridge the gap between technology and business outcomes for their clients. In other words, it is not just about implementing a new technology solution anymore. It is about helping clients harvest the power of digital technologies and achieve specific business outcomes like growing revenues, reducing operating costs, or mitigating risks. This is where next-generation service providers like VMob, Bluefin, and Point of Origin get it. As leaders in the new services world, their approach is fundamentally different from the traditional tech service providers, as they:
There are a few well-engineered products out of Stuttgart, Germany — Mercedes-Benz, an oft-visited tourist stop, is one. Another good Stuttgart product: SoftPro’s E-signature solution. Its strengths lie in its use of biometrics for image verification, particularly the SignAlyze product, a signature verification tool used extensively by German banks. SoftPro has a strong global presence outside of the US and solid banking accounts, all delivered with the kind of engineering foundation you would expect. The acquisition will help Kofax a lot, as it is virtually unknown in the US, with marketing and strategy behind the market leaders, and it has been slow to enter the trending SaaS market. In addition, SoftPro’s shortfalls in selected areas compared to the broader field, such as workflow and analytics, can be quickly plugged with the Kofax Total Agility BPM platform.
All in all, the SoftPro acquisition enhances Kofax’s competitive position in the smart process application category. E-signature also adds to Kofax’s portfolio for capture, process automation, analytics, and mobility to address key requirements for the rapidly growing need to automate and digitize document-centric applications. Kofax talks a lot about the first mile, but now can have deeper conversations about that last mile — where something needs to be signed.
Earlier this year, The New Yorker published an article entitled "Twilight of the Brands," which posited that due to the abundance of information now available to consumers, brands are irrelevant. For all the die-hard brand marketers out there — myself included — it felt like a blow to the chest. But the analysis is flawed and the conclusion is erroneous because the abundance of information now available to consumers makes brands more — not less — relevant. Brands have always been a shortcut to decision-making, and in a world where consumers are increasingly overwhelmed with information, that role becomes even more important. But what has changed is the art and science of brand building. In the age of the customer, we see that:
Brand communications have shifted from controlled to chaotic. In the pre-digital world, marketers had the luxury of being able to control most of their customers’ interactions with their brands — through ads, packaging, POS, and carefully solicited PR editorial. But in today’s post-digital era, most of consumers’ information about a brand originates from sources outside of the brand’s control, such as user-generated content, ratings and reviews, or social chatter.
A group of us just published an analysis of VMworld (Breaking Down VMworld), and I thought I’d take this opportunity to add some additional color to the analysis. The report is an excellent synthesis of our analysis, the work of a talented team of collaborators with my two cents thrown in as well, but I wanted to emphasize a few additional impressions, primarily around storage, converged infrastructure, and the overall tone of the show.
First, storage. If they ever need a new name for the show, they might consider “StorageWorld” – it seemed to me that just about every other booth on the show floor was about storage. Cloud storage, flash storage, hybrid storage, cheap storage, smart storage, object storage … you get the picture.[i] Reading about the hyper-growth of storage and the criticality of storage management to the overall operation of a virtualized environment does not drive the concept home in quite the same way as seeing 1000s of show attendees thronging the booths of the storage vendors, large and small, for days on end. Another leading indicator, IMHO, was the “edge of the show” booths, the cheaper booths on the edge of the floor, where smaller startups congregate, which was also well populated with new and small storage vendors – there is certainly no shortage of ambition and vision in the storage technology pipeline for the next few years.
Practice makes perfect. In daily life, if someone has proven experience and a good reputation in specific area for relatively long time, we would normally consider them to be trustworthy. For example, if Amazon Web Services claimed that it was a trusted public cloud service provider — if not the most trusted provider — not many professionals in the US would argue against that.
However, this does not necessarily hold true in China; cloud service providers need to receive an official authorization from the government that certifies them as a provider of trusted cloud services (TRUCS). I recently attended the International Mobile and Internet Conference, where I got an update on TRUCS.
TRUCS is an official recognition of standards compliance and quality. TRUCS is issued by the trusted cloud servicesworking group of the China Academy of Telecommunications Research of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The working group defined the basic principles in June 2013; earlier this year, it finalized the evaluation standards in the form of a cloud service agreement reference framework.
The problems Rick identified in CX ecosystems seem to be the result of ossified organizations, cultures, and business relationships. This means CX leaders must drive new levels of responsiveness and creativity into their ecosystems. And the way you drive these attributes into your ecosystems is to seize on the concept of business agility. My colleague Craig Le Clair outlined 10 dimensions of business agility that provide the market, organizational, and process frameworks necessary to embrace market and operational changes as a matter of routine. This is merely setting the strategy, though; executing it requires a marriage between the business and technology strategies.
This Forum will help you identify brand new software opportunities and run with them. It will hit on the must-have competencies that will empower application development and delivery leaders to execute on their company’s engagement strategies. This includes accelerating development processes, creating digital experiences, reaching mobile customers, and exploiting analytics and big data. Forrester analysts will deliver forward-thinking content while industry specialists – from companies such as McDonald’s, Mastercard, and GE Capital - will provide insight into some real and revolutionary new business approaches that are relevant to you right now.
Behavior tracking data is the new black. It is a type of big data that can help you better understand your target consumers — everything from the amount of time they spend on each social media outlet to their most popular time of day to visit shopping websites. Compared with other data sources, it allows you to capture actions at a very detailed level with precision, eliminating measurement errors by analyzing usage of what consumers do, not what they say they do.
In our recent publication, Mobile Behavioral Data: UK, we analyzed Forrester's UK Consumer Technographics® Behavioral Study, November 2013 to March 2014, and found that:
WhatsAppkeeps UK smartphone owners engaged the longest. Forty-one percent of UK adults use the app for just over 8 hours per month (or about 2 hours per week). That is longer user engagement than for any of the other top 10 most popular apps that UK consumers use on their smartphone; this includes Facebook, the most popular app, which keeps smartphone users engaged for a little over 90 minutes per week.
Young UK smartphone owners are most likely to use finance/banking apps. More than half of 18- to 24-year-old UK smartphone owners use finance/banking apps, like the Lloyds Bank app and the NatWest app. These youngsters show the highest adoption of finance/banking apps in the UK, and rates decline with age; about 40% of 25- to 44-year-olds and 34% of 45- to 54-year-olds use finance/banking apps.
Will the iPhone 6, to be announced on September 9, have NFC and a Sapphire Crystal display?
What about the new Samsung Galaxy Note 4, to be announced at Unpacked on September 3? And will the new Nokia Lumia 730 (a.k.a Superman), to be announced on September 4, have a 5-Megapixel rear-facing camera?
As my colleague Frank Gillett puts it, “Samsung's challenge is to establish an enduring relationship with customers, rather than being an interchangeable Android device maker – and it will take more than a new Galaxy Note to do that.”
I’ve recently been thinking a lot about application-specific workloads and architectures (Optimize Scalalable Workload-Specific Infrastructure for Customer Experiences), and it got me to thinking about the extremes of the server spectrum – the very small and the very large as they apply to x86 servers. The range, and the variation in intended workloads is pretty spectacular as we diverge from the mean, which for the enterprise means a 2-socket Xeon server, usually in 1U or 2U form factors.
At the bottom, we find really tiny embedded servers, some with very non-traditional packaging. My favorite is probably the technology from Arnouse digital technology, a small boutique that produces computers primarily for military and industrial ruggedized environments.
Slightly bigger than a credit card, their BioDigital server is a rugged embedded server with up to 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB SSD and a very low power footprint. Based on an Atom-class CPU, thus is clearly not the choice for most workloads, but it is an exemplar of what happens when the workload is in a hostile environment and the computer maybe needs to be part of a man-carried or vehicle-mounted portable tactical or field system. While its creators are testing the waters for acceptance as a compute cluster with up to 4000 of them mounted in a standard rack, it’s likely that these will remain a niche product for applications requiring the intersection of small size, extreme ruggedness and complete x86 compatibility, which includes a wide range of applications from military to portable desktop modules.