My colleagues and I have spent the last four years studying the links between technology, human performance at work, customer experience, and the financial performance of companies. One fascinating insight we’ve learned is that what separates the highest performing people in their work from others is their ability to reliably focus their attention, bringing more of their cognitive resources to bear on their work each day than their colleagues do. It’s not easy in our distraction-rich, techno-charged world.
There’s plenty of research that proves that happy employees are more productive, but Drs. Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer made an important discovery in 2010 that turns conventional wisdom about where happiness at work comes from, upside down. The most powerful source of happiness at work isn’t money, free food or recognition, but rather getting things done; making progress every day toward work that we know is important. The more conducive our work environment is to staying focused, and the better we are at suppressing the sources of distraction within ourselves to get our most important work done, the happier we will be at work. And, the effect is even stronger for work that requires creativity and problem solving skills.
Unfortunately in our workforce technology research, technology distraction isn't on the list of things leaders are concerned about. It should be, because the most pernicious sources of distraction employees face are the ones that lie beyond their control - the distractions that originate from the technologies their employers require them to use, when there are no alternatives.
Clients and services partners have talked for years about linking services partner pricing to business goals. However, traditional pricing models such as time and materials and fixed fee still dominate in services partnerships; examples of truly innovative pricing models are rare. Despite the rarity of these outcome-oriented pricing models, interest remains high. Clients frequently ask Forrester for examples of next-generation, innovative services pricing models. So, I’m writing this post to highlight two recent examples (showcased at March customer and analyst events) that truly push the envelope for services pricing models linked to business goals.
Example 1: Venture-based
At BearingPoint’s recent analyst summit, the EMEA-centric business consulting provider showcased multiple examples of venture-based engagement. The examples showcased go beyond the typical “VC fund” that we see at other services providers (in which an arm of the services vendor operates like a venture capitalist by doling out funds to a set of early-stage companies). Instead, BearingPoint gives consulting time and tools to select clients or alliance partners in return for equity. For example, Bearingpoint has a services-for-equity partnership with tracekey, an early-stage company focused on track and trace functionality for pharmaceutical companies. This means that Bearingpoint’s financial rewards are directly tied to tracekey’s results, without getting tangled up in managing to the contract terms or project dashboards.
In the past two years, there has been a boom in wearable device adoption — but growth will slow. Instead of the anticipated adoption explosion that many tech enthusiasts dreamed of, Forrester predicts that US consumer wearables spending will roughly double in the next five years. The main reasons for consolidation are that:
Fitness activity tracker bands will be cannibalized. Fitness tracker bands currently dominate the market but will diminish in utility over time. They currently face a high abandonment rate because repeated measurement information becomes less useful unless the data they output is more prescriptive, rather than descriptive.
Smartwatches will largely drive the future of wearables spending. More sophisticated wearable technologies, such as smartwatches with fitness tracking features, will partially cannibalize standalone tracker bands as the price gap between these devices narrows. As vendors begin to pair devices with more tactical applications, smartwatches will drive further wearable adoption.
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." - Lao Tzu
Today’s Build keynote felt a bit like the final steps of a thousand mile journey for Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise group Scott Guthrie, if not the larger Microsoft. It’s been a multi-year journey, forging a cross-platform, cross-language and open source culture at Microsoft, and it was by no means a sure bet. Let’s review some of the history:
If you can’t beat cancer, join it. Steve Ballmer’s 2001 statement that “Linux is a cancer” is an almost mythic meme 15 years later. But it clearly articulates the corporate attitude of Microsoft toward open source at that time. Old attitudes (and cultures) die hard. That’s why yesterday’s announcement of Bash support in Windows was not just good for cross-platform developers, but symbolic of the now firmly rooted cultural transformation at work in Nadella’s Microsoft. We noted it years ago, but it’s pretty clear that the change is sticking.
The Indian government issued new guidelines for FDI in eCommerce on March 29, 2016 to provide clear definitions for the sector and to remove ambiguities in the law that companies have been using to get foreign investment. Here are some of the key changes and my thoughts on their impact:
The government has defined an eCommerce entity, a marketplace model, and an inventory-led model. For the first time, the government has given clear definitions to remove the ambiguity in this sector. It also makes clearer the government’s position on the business models that online retailers are adopting. Online retailers are increasingly adopting an inventory-led model, as it gives them more control over supply and speeds the route to profitability. By not allowing FDI in the inventory-led model, the government has made it more complicated for online retailers looking to become profitable in the near term to support their valuations, go for an IPO, or raise funds.
100% FDI is allowed in the marketplace model. Allowing 100% FDI in the marketplace model largely maintains the status quo, as most online retail companies like Amazon, Flipkart, and Snapdeal are funded through the marketplace loophole; these companies position themselves as technology facilitators for the buyer and seller. The new guidelines will help boost investment in marketplaces, as not every investor has felt confident about investing via a loophole. This is good news for the leading marketplaces that are looking for more funds to grow their business; they can now approach a new set of investors who were waiting for this clarification from the government.
From discussions with our clients in the financial services industry (FSI) in Asia Pacific, we’ve noticed that their digital agenda has changed dramatically over the past 18 months, shifting from a consideration of acquisitions and distribution channels to a broader business transformation imperative.
In fact, leaders at banks and insurance firms are increasingly realizing that:
Customer experience is fast becoming the only competitive differentiator.
Banks and insurance have to accelerate their ability to innovate and deliver new sources of value to customers faster.
The big number at this year’s Build: 270 Million. That’s the number of copies of Windows 10 that consumers and enterprises have purchased or upgraded to since Microsoft’s latest flagship launched last year. And the message that Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices group Terry Meyerson sent to developers at the Build conference was that Windows is very much alive and well, and that it’s a great platform for them to build on (pun intended).
But there’s another not so obvious theme in Microsoft’s messages to developers at Build. Satya Nadella painted a picture of the longer term future of operating systems in general and Windows in particular: The decomposition of monolithic OSes that served consumers well when our digital interactions were confined to one or two devices. As devices multiply and input/output mechanisms broaden, it can’t help but affect the underlying services that operating systems have traditionally provided, especially as entirely new categories of connected devices emerge. Here’s how:
Cortona is ready for deep developer integration. In my opinion, the biggest change at Build is the emergence of natural language processing as a first class input/output mechanism for. Conversations as a platform (CaaP) takes the power of human language and applies it to digital interactions. Microsoft’s CaaP framework layers in context about people, places and things to enrich the conversations. With CaaP, human language joins window chrome and widgets as a core UI element. And developers can now layer in their own extensions to Cortana via “bots”.
According to CB Insights (thanks, guys!), by the end of 2015, investors had given 152 tech startups “unicorn” valuations of more than $1 billion. But now, valuations are deflating for many private and public tech companies. Is this 2000 all over again? No. The bubble popping over the next two years will mean job loss in Silicon Valley and a pullback in disruptor investment but not a collapse of tech spending or of the wider economy. CIOs and CMOs should seize this small window of opportunity to hire or acquire talent for digital transformation to serve customers in the digital channels of their choice.
That’s our conclusion (24 analysts contributed to this analysis, with special thanks to Chris Mines and James McQuivey) in new Forrester reports for CIOs and for CMOs. We present the full analysis there, but here's a (long) summary.
1. The Unfolding Carnage Of Unicorns -- There’s Blood In The Water
Private investors dramatically drove up the number of unicorns -- private tech companies they valued at more than $1 billion -- from 31 in 2012 to 152 in 2016. But down rounds and post-IPO stock collapses have begun. Accel Partners’ Jim Breyer, believes 90% of unicorns will be repriced by investors or die. He called it “blood in the water.”
Brazil remains the largest, but slowest-growing, online retail market. The online retail market in Brazil is double the online retail markets of Argentina and Mexico combined. But the ongoing economic crisis in Brazil is hurting its online retail market and causing a slowdown. We expect online retail in Brazil to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.5% from 2015 to 2020, compared with the CAGR of 28.3% witnessed from 2010 to 2015. Customers are spending less on both offline and online retail, which affects the overall growth rate and penetration of online retail, particularly in non-metropolitan areas. A lack of regulations and an unfavorable tax regime make it difficult for online retailers to expand beyond metropolitan areas.
Those of you who have spent time in Japan might have noticed that interactions with service staff there play out in a carefully choreographed blend of ceremony and gratitude, regardless of whether you’re buying a coffee at the corner shop or a bag at a local boutique. The paradox is that this delightful customer experience occurs despite most companies in Japan lacking the accountability, rigor, and coordination that characterize leading CX global organizations.
What's interesting though, is that a high level of empathy enables Japanese organizations to overcome their CX maturity shortcomings by delivering an exquisite level of hospitality service. This empathy-focused culture is rooted in what the Japanese call omotenashi, a spirit of unobtrusive and respectful approach to guests that anticipates their needs, bestows respect, and surprises them at every point in the service scenario.
One misconception is that this exquisite hospitality is solely and inherently connected to Japanese culture and cannot be easily replicated elsewhere. Parents and schools inculcate an awareness of and sense of empathy toward others into Japanese children from an early age, and this ethos permeates Japanese society. However, as Charles Darwin pointed out in his book, The Descent of Man, everyone is born with an intrinsic level of empathy that remains present to varying degrees in all of us. Companies should recognize that omotenashi can take root anywhere and can begin planting the seeds of an omotenashi culture in their companies by codifying CX empathy programs that, in principle: