By here, I mean here in Europe. And it’s here to stay.
Amazon launched Europe’s first Black Friday sale in 2010, with a small fanfare and some success. Most European retailers did the polite thing, and looked bashfully away while their brash American cousins celebrated a day with zero cultural significance this side of the Atlantic. “We’ll wait for Boxing Day” was the overwhelming sentiment.
But consumers bit, and the following year a small handful of global brands like Apple and Walmart (in the form of its UK subsidiary Asda) followed suit. Black Friday grew somewhat organically.
But 2014 was different.
Previous Black Friday successes unleashed a literal tidal wave of copy-cats in the run up to Christmas last year. This was most publically a UK phenomenon, with well-known brands like John Lewis taking part, but don’t fool yourself into thinking it was just a quaintly British emulation of the American trend. French and German retailers like Darty and Saturn also indulged. Akamai saw triple the normal web traffic to retail websites across Europe on Black Friday. But it was the UK that bore the brunt of the impact as:
High profile websites buckled and crashed under unprecedented load, with many retailers reporting upwards of a 300% uplift in traffic on Black Friday.
There’s a renewed interest in integration technologies due to new needs for integration to mobile, the Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud — but also because integration requirements betwen systems of engagement and systems of record are requiring realtime for seamless boundaries omnichannel, higher volume, with end-to-end security highlight the changes in integration practices. Forrester will soon publish a report about the integration trends around these subjects.
I am happy to pick up this subject again from Stefan Ried after being away from the space for the past six years. Stefan left Forrester in December and I regret his departure, because he was a very passionate analyst and a smart guy to work with.
“With the gift of listening comes the gift of healing.”
-Catherine de Hueck Doherty
We’ve all heard the canned notifications when we call companies for customer service: “this call may be recorded for security or quality purposes.” Most customer service organizations today record their phone interactions with their customers. Often those recordings just sit untouched on the digital equivalent of a dusty shelf in a storage closet. The recordings are there to ensure regulatory compliance or, in rare cases, to be pulled off the shelf in case of a major dispute with a customer. In essence, the part of the notification about security rings true; the quality part, not so much.
But, as part of continuous improvement programs, companies have begun to change that by actually analyzing the recordings for quality purposes. That process of quality monitoring allows firms to select recordings for review and assessment. In forward-thinking organizations, the tools enable managers to replay agent screen actions, allowing evaluations to include screen activity in addition to voice content. Managers use these reviews to pinpoint which agents perform well, which need further training, and to identify processes that need to be refined.
Companies doing this basic form of quality monitoring, however, find they cannot change the outcome of those calls — the interactions are long since over. This is where the emerging field of real-time speech analytics comes into play. Vendors of real-time speech analytics tools promise to allow companies to intervene at the moment of truth, while the customer and the contact center agent are still talking.
The battle of trying to apply traditional waterfall software development life-cycle (SDLC) methodology and project management to Business Intelligence (BI) has already been fought — and largely lost. These approaches and best practices, which apply to most other enterprise applications, work well in some cases, as with very well-defined and stable BI capabilities like tax or regulatory reporting. Mission-critical, enterprise-grade BI apps can also have a reasonably long shelf life of a year or more. But these best practices do not work for the majority of BI strategies, where requirements change much faster than these traditional approaches can support; by the time a traditional BI application development team rolls out what it thought was a well-designed BI application, it's too late. As a result, BI pros need to move beyond earlier-generation BI support organizations to:
Focus on business outcomes, not just technologies. Earlier-generation BI programs lacked an "outputs first" mentality. Those projects employed bottom-up approaches that focused on the program and technology first, leaving clients without the proper outputs that they needed to manage the business. Organizations should use a top-down approach that defines key performance indicators, metrics, and measures that align with the business strategy. They must first stop and determine the population of information required to manage the business and then address technology and data needs.
With 25 years of history and 178 million active public websites around the world, you would think that the backbone technology for websites would be mature, sophisticated, basically done as a market. But it's simply not true. Web content management (WCM) systems are still in their infancy. Here's the one-minute history:
1995. These ever-changing systems first had to learn to deliver content interactively, tailoring the experience to the needs of the day. Think Yahoo.com.
2000. Then they had to deliver business services directly into customers' hands. Think eBusiness.
2010. Then they had to deliver experiences on smartphones and tablets. Think Google Maps app.
2015. And now they have to deliver highly personal digital experiences on any device directly into a customer's immediate context and moments of need along every step of her journey (see Figure 1).
2020. What's coming next? Well, let's get the platforms up to 2015 requirements first. But those of you with a future slant need to be thinking about modern app architectures, where the building blocks -- content systems, digital insights, customer databases, integration, delivery tier, and so on are decoupled to handle IoT, glanceable moments on wearables, and a gazillion other digital scenarios.
Over the past four years, the commerce technology market has undergone significant consolidation. Commerce technology is now table stakes for any enterprise software vendor with a focus on systems of engagement. Consequently, Forrester has observed an unprecedented chain of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in this space over the past four years with eBay, IBM, Oracle and SAP alone, having spent in aggregate over $10 billion on commerce related acquisitions. Furthermore venture capital and private equity firms have been making big bets in this space. Between them, Shopify, Volusion and Big Commerce have accumulated $337 million in funding in the past few years, while Siris Capital Group are set to shortly complete their acquisition of Digital River for $840 million. Beyond these headline transactions, dozens of smaller deals have been done, with vendors including Demandware and NetSuite both having been on acquisition binges’ in the past 12 months.
Yesterday I had a chance to join the fantastic Global eCommerce Leaders Forum here in New York. Leaders from Puma, Borderfree and Alibaba delivered keynotes at the event, and in the afternoon, I did a quick presentation on five key themes in global eCommerce to tee up a panel on international expansion:
The Asia pivot. Arguably the biggest story in global eCommerce over the past five years has been the rise of China as an eCommerce force. No other eCommerce market has rivaled China’s ascent to power: Between 2009 and 2014, revenues increased by 16-fold, reaching over $440B in 2014. That shift fundamentally changed how brands view eCommerce in Asia. Instead of contemplating expansion into Asia only after years of operating in North America or Europe, a digital strategy for Asia—and China in particular—is now front and center for many brands.
Options for brands beyond direct sites. Today there are very few brands whose global expansion plans focus exclusively on localized, direct-to-consumer sites. Cross-border shipping and marketplaces —two relatively low-cost, low-risk approaches to international expansion—now factor into the consideration set of almost every brand evaluating new global markets. Indeed, today many solutions are available which enable brands to tap into online shoppers overseas without massive investments or years of preparation. While direct sites will remain a core part of brands’ global expansion efforts—and their value unrivaled in many ways—other approaches will increasingly supplement this tried and true method.
Software is getting smarter, thanks to predictive analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI). Whereas the current generation of software is about enabling smarter decision-making for humans, we’re starting to see “invisible software" capable of performing tasks without human intervention.
One such example is x.ai, a software-based personal assistant that schedules meetings for you. With no user interface, you simply cc “Amy” on an email thread and she goes to work engaging with the recipient to find a date and optimal place to meet.
It’s not a perfectly automated system. AI trainers oversee Amy’s interactions and make adjustments on the fly. But over time, she becomes a great personal assistant who is sensitive to your meeting and communication preferences.
One can imagine Amy extending into new domains — taking on parts of sales/customer service operations or business processes like expense management and DevOps. Indeed, we’ll see a new generation of AI-powered apps, as predicted here.
To capture, manage, and deliver live and on-demand video you need a video platform. Selecting the right platform helps companies maximize the impact of video on customer and employee experiences.
Enterprises looking at applications for video across marketing, corporate communications, and training need to consider products in multiple categories. Our just-published Forrester Wave on Enterprise Video Platforms and Webcasting evaluates the 16 leading providers focused on live presentations with slides and publishing video on demand. We included BrightTALK, Cisco, InXpo, Kaltura, Kontiki, Kulu Valley, MediaPlatform, Nasdaq, On24, Panopto, Polycom, Qumu, Ramp, Sonic Foundry, TalkPoint (PGi), and VBrick in the evaluation.