Google sets amazing new standards when it comes to web, mobile, and cloud technologies. That's why we are here at Google I/O 2013 in San Fransciso to find out what new technologies and tools developers can expect on all technology fronts. See this special edition of Forrester TechnoPolitics to experience the energy of Google I/O.
If you’ve been reading my blogs, you know that I love to write about sports analogies to help marketers get a new perspective on the issues they deal with. But, although we’re in the midst of what most likely will be our world champion Miami Heat’s march to its second NBA championship in 2013, I’m going to turn left and mix things up a bit in this post.
I’ve been married to an architect for 25 years (as of this May 29th), so it probably won’t surprise you that I also often think of things in terms of designing and building. Considering what goes into creating a building, it provides a fitting analogy to think about how you should approach building your relationship with your chief information officer (CIO); similar to the way architects needs to work with their clients.
Of course, one can’t construct a solid and sustainable building alone or with just anyone. It requires the unique contribution of a diverse group of professionals with specific areas of expertise — the creative vision of the architect; the construction team’s ability to execute; and the specialized skills of concrete workers, carpenters, roofers, and plasterers. And let’s not forget the importance throughout the process of interior design experts as well as the technical insights from structural engineers to ensure that the building is and remains hurricane- and/or quake-resistant.
So how does constructing a strong, yet flexible, building apply to CMOs and the relationship you should have with your CIO?
At Forrester we spend a lot of time analyzing the impact of digital disruption on business, technology and marketing. We even wrote a book on the subject. But don't just take our word for it. At Forrester's Forum For Marketing Leaders EMEA, MickePaqvalén, Founder, Chairman and Entrepreneur at Kiosked- a platform that turns any online content, images, videos and applications into interactive and viral storefronts - will present his view on what it takes to think, and act, like a (digital) disruptor. The below Q&A gives a summary of my conversation with Micke as a preview to his session on day two of our Forum, which takes place in London on May 21 - 22.
Q: You've founded and sold several successful start-ups. How do you tell the difference between real innovation opportunities and over-hyped ideas?
A: When I hear about new business ideas I always ask one question: How does it benefit everyone involved or which existing problem does it solve? That’s it. It’s a simple test, but if it fails the business will fail. If a business idea is not beneficial it is an over-hyped idea, which sadly happens too often as well. Hype is an important factor of business but I would rather create long-lasting impact.
If you are at the deYoung museum in San Francisco and do a search on “painting,” you might be looking for a Van Gogh. If you are in Home Depot and do a search on “painting,” you likely need supplies for your weekend project.
I heard the term “invisible search terms” today at Google I/O in the Indoor Location session. While you may not type in “Impressionism” or “supplies” with paint, a smart application – or search function, in this case – can take a pretty good guess at what you want based on where you are.
In a report I wrote in 2011, I talked about layering intelligence on top of location – yes, you have my lat/long, but what does it mean? And how do you use that intelligence to make services and content relevant to me?
I’m at Google I/O, and the discussion continues around how to use context to make applications smarter.
I recently had the distinct pleasure of moderating a panel discussion on innovation at Forrester’s Forum For CIOs, where I was able to share the stage with Lawrence Lee, Sr. Director of Strategy, PARC, a Xerox company, and Jim Stikeleather, Chief Innovation Officer, Dell Services. We had the opportunity to discuss the business imperatives for innovation, how to look at inventions and translate them into business value, and how to build the narrative that tells a compelling story around these innovations.
While the discussion gave me fodder for a suite of future blog posts, I just want to highlight a few things that came out of our talk to get you thinking a bit more about how to make your innovation program more effective.
Innovation is about turning invention into business value. The innovation process takes these inventions (whether internally or externally generated) and answers the questions to decide whether there is a business opportunity hiding within or to decide quickly (and cheaply) not to pursue that opportunity because of some learned facts.
Innovation requires both discrete funding and discrete staff. To think out of the box, we need to have both the funding and people whose metrics and goals are around innovation. As we generally want our best and brightest involved in our innovation programs, we also need to protect them from being called back to deal with the crisis du jour.
At Google I/O, the company managed to impress on a lot of fronts, enough that its stock began to climb as investors realized that Google is keeping up with — and in some cases, staying in front of — its digital platform competitors Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft. The new developer tools and resources announced will certainly lead to better apps, be developed more quickly, and be capable of generating more revenue. And consumer experiences in mobile, Google Maps, and the browser are about to get significantly more useful and elegant.
But one announcement debuted at I/O that doesn’t move the needle for Google — at least not as much as it could have — is the Google Play Music All Access pass. Despite the convoluted moniker, the service is straightforward: Pay $9.99 a month (in the US for now, more countries to come), and you’ll have unlimited access to a cloud-based music library with intuitive features that allow elegant discovery, consumption, and sharing of music.
If it sounds familiar, it’s because it is. The service can’t differentiate on its music library because the best it can do is license the same library that Spotify and Rdio already offer. All Access also creates playlists for you based on your music tastes as expressed by you directly or learned from your listening patterns and friends. That should also sound familiar because the same value is contained to various degrees in Pandora, iTunes, and Amazon Cloud Player.
Bottom line: Despite working really hard, the best that Google can do in music is to catch up to everybody else in the field. And that’s precisely what the company has done.
Mobile services must be contextual. Screens are small. Interfaces are limited. Consumers are task-oriented. “I want to pay a bill” or “I need to make this shopping list before my son is finished with soccer practice." Total context – the sum of everything you know about a consumer, including what he/she is experiencing now – must be used to create the relevancy in the delivery of content and services.
Context can help shorten the number of steps on a phone to complete a task. We already see this with companies like Apple – the application switches to “store mode.” Starwood Hotels switches its app to 'travel mode' when a guest is within 48 hours of a stay. Services we only envisioned two years ago are real today.
Why don’t more companies use mobile context? Our research tells us it's lack of bandwidth; executing on the basics keeps us busy enough. It’s also hard to do – and most enterprises don’t have the right analytics or metrics in place to measure the impact.
Google rolled out a number of tools/features for developers today to make using context easier. It’s exactly what we need.
Here’s the list:
1) Geofencing within apps: This allows developers to set up 100 geofenced areas. It will be excellent for local services and smaller brands (plus media companies). Too few for large national brands with hundreds or thousands of locations.
2) Google Activity: It abstracts the context of walking, running, cycling, making it easier for developers to use motion context.
Software AG today announced its cloud strategy. It is based on services that are already available, one that will soon be available (H2 2013), as well as a service planned for Q1 2014.
Journalists have already been in touch with me, asking the following question: Is this an overdue “coming out” after many competitors have already announced or offered extensive cloud strategies — or is this a courageous act from a leading technology firm demonstrating its strength in innovation?
I've known Software AG quite well for many years and believe that today’s announcement marks the next stage in a 10-year corporate turnaround strategy. I well remember the time before Karl-Heinz Streibich took over a nearly bankrupt software vendor 10 years ago. Since then, the firm has been through a financial stabilization phase, which saw both a spending and innovation freeze in many areas. Then, Software AG started to renovate its existing products to stabilize its market share, innovating both carefully and cost-effectively. The third phase saw its acquisition of webMethods and IDS Scheer, which brought the firm sufficient scale in both current products and consulting services. For more details, see my earlier blog post.
It may come as a surprise to some to hear that technology teams play an important role in the implementation of an effective customer experience strategy, but that's the conclusion from our latest research.
Mobile devices have cut the mustard as the first tool of choice against the PC. Despite their deficits, they are now poised to become the universal device many people will chose to work with. This trend, driven by end users, was predicted some time ago. But the displacement is happening faster than many anticipated and is now catching the PC manufacturers. One quarter of the world population already has a smartphone and Forrester expects this number to rise to over 40% in 2017*. And they have an impact on the business world. One third of business leaders expect that more than 75% of their employees use a smartphone regularly for work today, only 18% of them believe that the same is true for laptops**.
The latest quarterly figures of manufacturers also speak a clear language. Classic PC and laptop producers like HP, Fujitsu and Dell face restructuring, even Microsoft numbers are down. Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics is generating € 6bn through consumer electronics, a large part of this is due to smartphones, in a single quarter. The numbers also suggest that Samsung is now challenging Apple in a two horse race. Between the two manufacturers, all three established mobile application platforms Android, Microsoft and i-Tunes are covered. But such developments could turn fast with new entrants. Remember, it’s not even a decade ago that Nokia was carefully observed by regulators for holding over 40% market share with mobile handsets. The likely scenario that smartphones and tablets take over is is posing challenges to many organisations. They need to embrace mobile devices as more than an extension for the classic desktop. Users will expect increasing capability to access corporate systems, UC, text and tabular programmes.