Sitecore v.8’s Walls Are Being Built On v.7.5’s Data Foundation

Mark Grannan

At Sitecore’s annual Symposium event last week, CEO Michael Seifert opened the show with a story about a splash of paint and small town in Tuscany -- a Jackson Pollock splash of paint and the town where he proposed to his wife to be exact.  Fast-forward a few minutes and Seifert revealed the plot: tying his knowledge of his future wife’s love of Jackson Pollock with the context of how he fumbled (and then recovered) his marriage proposal, she agreed to marry him.  He told this story to deliver his message of ‘experience marketing’: the more you know about someone and the context they’re in, the better your chances to dynamically respond to and refine the experiences that will resonate with them. 

While nay-sayers might comment that this strategy feels like a ‘me too’ to Adobe’s Marketing Cloud announcements from the past few years, the specific features were getting a healthy amount of excitement from the audience because they saw momentum.  Specifically, momentum built on v.7.5’s  MongoDB "Experience Database" foundations released in July.  These foundations will be put to good use to help v.8 deliver new features later this year or early 2015 around customer data and content testing/ optimization:

  • Unified experience profile includes visualization across the customer’s interactions over their entire relationship timeline.  All data in profile is (or will be) fully extensible and you can personalize against it.
  • Federated Experience Manager' tracks data on non-Sitecore sites via a JavaScript layer -- and can inject personalized content there too.
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The Four Social Programs Every Marketer Should Study — A Free Webinar

Nate Elliott

Nearly all marketers say they use social media. But many aren’t getting much value from their investments. Despite marketers’ excitement about social media, many say the channel simply doesn’t offer enough return on their investment; for instance, barely one-half of those who buy Facebook ads say they’re satisfied with the business value those ads provide. The sobering reality is that a decade into the era of social media, many social marketers remain baffled by the channel.

The good news? There are success stories you can study to see how social media can work for companies like yours. In April 2014, Forrester announced the winners of the eighth annual Forrester Groundswell Awards. The awards recognize the very best in social marketing — focusing on programs that go beyond engagement metrics to deliver real business value to both B2C and B2B marketers in a range of industries.

Forrester clients can check out our report, The Four Social Programs Every Marketer Should Study. But even if you’re not a client, we’d like to offer you this content in a free Webinar on September 18 — just click here for details.

Not “Smart” But Efficient: Schneider Electric Helps Cities Achieve Realistic Goals

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

My sister used to tell me that I wasn’t smart I was just organized.  I’m not here to argue (anymore) but I have never forgotten her claim. In fact, it’s true for more than just me.  It’s really what is at the heart of smart cities. It’s not about what you know but what you can do with it. The industry has been pushing “smart” on cities for a half a decade.  But the most successful stories about cities cutting their cost of operations and improving the lives of their citizens are about being better organized or more efficient. 

At the Schneider Electric Influencer Summit in Boston this week, Schneider execs and customers focused their smart city story on just that – getting more efficient. We all have heard the numbers: cities take up only 2% of the world’s surface but they consume 75% of the world’s energy and account for 80% of the world’s carbon emissions.  As the Schneider CMO cited, “If left unchecked, our appetite for energy will grow 50% by 2040.” And there is significant room for greater efficiency. The sweet spot for Schneider in this Next Age of Change is in helping cities control their public energy consumption.  While their vision  – and “marketecture stack”  – extends into water and other domains, they plan to establish their footprint with energy efficiency.  Phew! That’s a refreshing change from vendors who want to do it all.

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Taking Stock Of Linux – Maturation Continues

Richard Fichera

[Apologies to all who have just read this post with a sense of deja-vue. I saw a typo, corrected it and then republished the blog, and it reset the publication date. This post was originally published several months ago.]

Having been away from the Linux scene for a while, I recently took a look at a newer version of Linux, SUSE Enterprise Linux Version 11.3, which is representative of the latest feature sets from the Linux 3.0 et seq kernel available to the entre Linux community, including SUSE, Red Hat, Canonical and others. It is apparent, both from the details on SUSE 11.3 and from perusing the documentation on other distribution providers, that Linux has continued to mature nicely as both a foundation for large scale-out clouds as well as a strong contender for the kind of enterprise workloads that previously were only comfortable on either RISC/UNIX systems or large Microsoft Server systems. In effect, Linux has continued its maturation to the point where its feature set and scalability begin to look like a top-tier UNIX from only a couple of years ago.

Among the enterprise technology that caught my eye:

  • Scalability – The Linux kernel now scales to 4096 x86 CPUs and up to 16 TB of memory, well into high-end UNIX server territory, and will support the largest x86 servers currently shipping.
  • I/O – The Linux kernel now includes btrfs (a geeky contraction of “Better File System), an open source file system that promises much of the scalability and feature set of Oracle’s popular ZFS file system including checksums, CoW, snapshotting, advanced logical volume management including thin provisioning and others. The latest releases also include advanced features like geoclustering and remote data replication to support advanced HA topologies.
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Apple Follows

Beautiful, but a niche product. I estimate that only 10% of the 250 million worldwide iPhone users will buy the Apple Watch. That's approximately $8-$12 billion of revenue for Apple -- not bad, but hardly the "breakthrough" or "new chapter" claimed from the Cupertino stage.

Why? 1) For many, two devices on the body are unnecessary. Pulling the iPhone out of a pocket or purse is fine -- most will not need another device to access payments or track health. 2) What we wear is a deeply cultural and emotional choice. A watch, like a shirt, shoes, tattoo, skirt, jewelry, contains complex and carefully crafted information about the wearer -- and these messages are continually massaged and warped by the often inexplicable forces of fashion. And no amount of "Milanese" and "buckle" luxury watchband talk can obscure this issue. 3) Wearing a radio directly on the body spooks many people who rationally or irrationally fear the health risks of close electromagnetic radiation. 4) It's expensive -- and not covered by carrier subsidies. It's $600 for the whole package of a subsidized $200 iPhone and the $400 Watch. 5) The form factor has fixed limits -- the small screen obviates advertising, electronics fatten the case, big fingers obscure the screen when touching. For many, the form will be seen as simply ugly. 6) Having to charge yet another device every day will be a bridge too far for many.

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The Data Digest: Heart Over Head — The Role Of Emotion In Decision-Making

Anjali Lai

Allow me to make a confession: In the debate over whether people are rational or emotional decision-makers, I have persistently seated myself on the rational side of the table. However, recent research has challenged my views. Witnessing cross-discipline academics reinforce the motivating power of emotion has resulted in a general consensus among fellow rationalists that “reason leads to conclusions; emotion leads to action.”

We are now recognizing the power of emotional decision-making in consumer behavior and — most importantly — the effect that it has on a company’s bottom line. Nothing is more convincing than the data itself. For example, a combination of Forrester's Consumer Technographics® quantitative and qualitative insight shows that when banking providers fail to meet a customer's expectations in moments of high emotional investment, they risk losing that customer altogether:

From the moment they open an account to their on-going interactions with bank employees, customers navigate a series of emotional experiences that directly affect their decision to enhance or withdraw from the brand relationship. Companies that appeal to customer emotions during such engagements master these "moments of truth" and ensure that outcomes are positive — and profitable.

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Great Customer Experience, European Style

Harley Manning

I love Europe. I especially love the fact that in a very real sense there is no “Europe” as such: The UK experience is not the German experience, which is not the French experience, which is not the Italian experience, and so on.

Yet all of these countries are so close together that once I’m over there, I can visit a variety of very different cultures and architectures more easily than I can travel from Boston to Denver. And in any given city, just walking between buildings from one business meeting to another can make me feel like I’m on vacation. Then there’s the food . . .

Although European variety is amazing, it can also create challenges. On a recent trip, I was in London, Rome, Milan, and Budapest within a two-week period. That often brought me into contact with people in service industries — like taxis, restaurants, and hotels — who had very different ideas of what “service” means than I do.

I began to wonder: Do the locals also find some of this service subpar, or am I just being a parochial American? As it turns out, our recent research shows that European customer experience as judged by local customers does vary wildly depending on country and industry, ranging from truly great to truly awful.

Which is one reason why I’m so excited by Forrester’s upcoming Forum For Customer Experience Professionals EMEA on November 17th and 18th in London. We recruited speakers from companies with customers who say that they’re already doing a standout job as well as speakers from companies that are in the midst of tackling tough CX challenges.

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Observations From IFA 2014

Dan Bieler

I recently visited the oldest and largest global consumer electronics trade fair, Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA), which took place in Berlin. IFA highlighted that the technology sector retains its appeal. On IFA‘s 90th anniversary, about a quarter of a million visitors attended, and orders for products worth about €4 billion were placed at the event. IFA’s floor space was sold out, despite a 3% expansion.

Electronics companies from around the globe showcased a wide spectrum of connected devices ranging from the smart stove to the latest smartphones and computerized wristwatches — just a few days ahead of Apple announcing its latest gadgets. Although IFA primarily focuses on consumer products and services, many themes are of increasing relevance for CIOs. Leading CIOs recognize that consumer electronics have an impact on their business and that:

  • Consumer electronics offer a new customer engagement channel. Traditional businesses are facing opportunities to use the emerging possibilities for closer customer engagement that consumer electronics in combination with social media channels offer. For instance, smart TVs allow media companies to communicate in real-time with their customers while they watching or listening to the “product.” However, this requires a dramatic rethinking of marketing and sales techniques — something most of the traditional companies are struggling with. This underlines the need to view the “consumer electronics” opportunity as part of the wider digital transformation process.
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Join Us At the eBusiness & Channel Strategy Forum in Chicago, October 28th and 29th!

Carrie Johnson

It’s a boardroom topic, it’s changing the way that firms do business, and it’s unleashing innovation at an unprecedented pace. No, it’s not the new watch from Apple, it’s digital business, and getting it right is crucial to the survival of nearly every business. Mapping Your Path To Digital Mastery is also the theme of our annual eBusiness Forum, which will take place in Chicago on October 28th and 29th. Come join us!

At the event this year we’ll be tackling this fundamental tension: According to our survey with partner Russell Reynolds, 73% of firms think that they have a digital strategy but just 34% of executives that think their digital strategy is correct, and only 16% believe they can deliver their strategy.

Danger Will Robinson! Firms are in trouble: Digital innovation isn’t slowing down and customer expectations are rising. And when you think it couldn't get any more difficult to pull off a digital business transformation, digital business success requires a new, even thornier element: the creation of ecosystems of value.

This means re-envisioning your business not as a standalone entity but as part of an ecosystem of suppliers that customers assemble according to their needs and an ecosystem of collaborating businesses sharing data and services.

Do ecosystems sound complicated? Don’t panic, we’re focusing the majority of our event content on how to create internal and external ecosystems. On the main stage, Forrester keynoters Bill Doyle, Martin Gill, Julie Ask and David Johnson will outline what it takes to become a digital business leader and to create partner ecosystems.  Speakers from Walgreens, 3M, Bank of America and others will share their firms’ digital business journey and transformation stories.

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Technology Jeopardy: Beat The Odds Of Project Failure With A Single Question

David Johnson

A version of this post originally appeared on Computerworld.

People are always asking me, “What can we do to help people do their very best work?”

Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that question. But I really do wish someone who stewards workforce computing for his or her company would — and I'd be over the moon if it were someone who really wanted to know the answer.

Spend a million bucks on security? Sure! Two million on a sales force automation system to get better reports and more predictable forecasting? Of course! Another million or so on private cloud automation to speed up provisioning? Sign me up! But how much would you spend to understand how technology impacts the most powerful driving force in your company: the intrinsic motivation of your people? The what? Yes, exactly.

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