CIOs and Mobility: Present Concerns Still Trump Future Vision

Michael Barnes

 

I recently hosted an Executive Roundtable in Singapore along with my colleagues Dane Anderson and Tim Sheedy. The theme of the session was “From Systems of Record to Systems of Engagement - Understanding the New Mobile Imperative for IT Leaders".

The discussion centered on the fact that mobility doesn’t simply mean another device for IT to support. Instead, mobility is driving a clear and permanent link between virtual services and physical activities. In other words, mobility is part of a broader set of technologies – including social, cloud, and advanced analytics – that are creating ubiquitous and information-rich Systems of Engagement.

The above broad themes made for great discussion. And there was general agreement among the CIOs present that mobility would drive significant business transformation. But there was also a common set of concerns that emerged among the group:

·         Deploying new technology (including mobile apps) with limited budget or relevant skills. And more broadly, how to prioritize mobile strategies relative to other IT (and business) initiatives. Ultimately the challenge for CIOs is how to align business requirements with budget realities, particularly as user expectations continue to rise and change management becomes a critical issue due to condensed release cycles. A critical first step is to better define your mobile strategy using a simple framework for prioritizing mobile applications and features.

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Contact Center Agent Turnover Is A Fact Of Life That Must Be Tracked And Managed

Kate Leggett

Agents turn over in contact centers, and managing your turnover rate is a fact of life. Low agent turnover rates are those that are below 20% a year, and some contact centers have turnover rates as low as 5%. Turnover rates higher than 50% are considered high, and some contact centers have attrition rates of more than 100% a year. Turnover impacts organizations because of recruiting and training costs, and ongoing agent morale issues which can impact customer satisfaction. As turnover costs must be built into overall contact center plans, its important to have an attrition benchmark and manage your operations to that number.

Not all turnover is the same. It is useful to quantify each turnover event as voluntary or involuntary, and understand the causes of turnover so that you can address them, especially if your metric far exceeds the benchmark that you have set for the organization. Common causes of turnover are:

  • Involuntary turnover: This is attributable to a mismatch between the contact center agent and the expectations of the position for which the agent is hired. Examples include poor hiring and training practices; poor job descriptions; effort required for the job that were miscommunicated during interviewing; poor toolset that causes overly-long training times.
  • Voluntary turnover: This is attributable to the contact center organization not meeting long term job expectations of the contact center agent. Examples include job monotony; better pay elsewhere; lack of career advancement; poor management; over- supervision;  lack of empowerment to solve customer issues; lack of control of personal schedules; frustration with the toolset; stress of dealing with irate customers.
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COBOL Application Development: (Still) Not Dead Yet

There is a scene in the Broadway hit Spamalot in which a peasant jumps up from a cart of corpses and vigorously complains that he's "not dead yet".  It's a humorous side-story to the main theme of the search for the Holy Grail. One might be accused of thinking of COBOL in the same way, as a side-story to the current major themes of mobile and web development, or perhaps as a historical footnote to the current narrative.  IBM's recent announcement of major upgrades to its COBOL compiler technology provides a good reason to pause in our headlong pursuit of the latest technology to reflect on the value of COBOL applications in enterprise software portfolios.

While mobile and web technologies often garner everyone’s attention, the reality is that most organizations that have been around for more than 30 years still run their core business processes using systems that were written in COBOL. Anything that makes these apps easier to evolve and extend is a very good thing. The reality is that evolution and extension of these apps is critical to business success. In order for the flashy-new-social-networking-enabled mobile and web Systems of Engagement to succeed, the workhorse Systems of Record and Systems of Operation are going to have to evolve apace. This means that they must take advantage of the latest architectures as well as being refactored and modularized to align with a service delivery model.

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BI on BI Or How BI Pros Must Eat Their Own Dog Food

Boris Evelson

 

BI professionals spend a significant portion of their time trying to instill the discipline of datadriven performance management into their business partners. However, isn’t there something wrong with teaching someone else to fly when you’re still learning to walk? Few BI pros have a way to measure their BI performance quantitatively (46% do not measure BI performance efficiencies and 55% do not measure effectiveness). Everyone collects statistics on the database and BI application server performance, and many conduct periodic surveys to gauge business users’ level of satisfaction. But how do you really know if you have a high-performing, widely used, popular BI environment? For example, you should know BI performance

  • Efficiency metrics such as number of times a report is used or a number of duplicate/similar reports, etc
  • Effectiveness metrics such as average number of clicks to find a report and clicks within a report to find an answer to a question and many others
  • Metric attributes/dimensions such as users, roles, departments, LOBs, regions and others
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Grudging Acceptance Is Not Enough — Time for IT to Embrace SaaS

Michael Barnes

 

I’ve noticed a growing trend among Asia Pacific organizations over the past 6-12 months: complete IT resistance to SaaS has steadily given way to more pragmatic discussions, even if IT has come to the table grudgingly. Over the next two years I expect this trend to accelerate. In fact, I believe that many SaaS solutions, particularly those that cross business and functional boundaries, will be rapidly subsumed within the broader IT portfolio, even if they were originally sourced outside IT.

Many SaaS vendors report already seeing more IT involvement in procurement, requirements definition, RFP creation, and negotiations. The clear procurement guidelines published by the IT department of the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) is one high profile example. Don’t get me wrong, in most instances business decision-makers will still lead, particularly in identifying the required business processes and determining how best to consume SaaS-based services. But IT decision-makers are getting more involved, particularly around integration.

Some areas to consider as you look to work more closely with business decision-makers to evaluate and negotiate SaaS and other public cloud deals:

 

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Forrester Data Shows An Explosion Of Channels For Customer Service With Inconsistent Satisfaction Ratings

Kate Leggett

We know that consumer preferences for customer service channels are rapidly changing. And it’s not just the younger generation of consumers — there’s disruption and change across all ages and  demographics. Our 2013 data about communication channels that customers use for customer service is available in my lastest report, and key data points from this report can be found in my latest blog post. Key takeaways are:

  • Consumers want to use more, rather than fewer communication channels for customer service.
  • Consumers are using a set of new channels were not statistically significantly used 3 years ago. For example: SMS, click to call, screen sharing, virtual agents
  • Online and digital communication channels are becoming increasingly utilized for customer service
  • Voice is still the most widely used channel, with a 73% utilization rate. This percentage has not changed in the last 3 years.
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With agile software development going mainstream, the cutting edge is DevOps

Agile software development practices have been transforming AD organizations for more than a decade.  With more rapid development cycles has come a bottleneck at the deployment boundary - at the frontier between Development and Operations. The DevOps movement is working to remove this bottleneck, and in the process is transforming both Dev and Ops for the better. In many respects it is a logical evolution of the agile movement, but practices like continuous deployment are deeply transformative of the way that organizations think about customer engagement, business engagement, testing, development and requirements - in fact, nearly every aspect of agile development is subtly but powerfully affected. The implication of a check-in resulting in code being deployed to production gives a whole new emphasis to the word "commit"!

A sign that DevOps is heating up to be the new ALM battleground was last week's announcement of IBM's acquisition of UrbanCode, which Glenn O'Donnell blogs about in his post IBM Escalates the DevOps War with UrbanCode Acquisition

Where are you on your agile journey, and is continuous deployment on your radar?  If not, it should be!

TechnoPolitics Podcast: Zero Trust - Your Only Hope For A Secure Network

Mike Gualtieri

Forrester TechnoPoliticsWith apologies to the late great President Ronald Reagan, "trust but verify" is outmoded advice when it comes to computer network security. So, why do so many information security professionals still think trusted and untrusted networks zones are still best practice? Most think that people are trusted or untrusted. The problem with that thinking is you never know who can or cannot be trusted. Remember wikileaks? It was an inside job.

The solution: Zero Trust - Verify Then Trust

Meet John Kindervag, Forrester Principal Analyst and a leading expert in network and information security. He says that firms must take a Zero Trust approach to network security that means "verify then trust". In this episode of Forrester TechnoPolitics, John describes the what, why, and how of the Zero Trust approach to network and information security.

Podcast: Zero Trust - Your Only Hope For A Secure Network (8 mins)

 

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Oracle's Customer Experience Management Technology: Its A Good Thing, But Really Hard To Do

Kate Leggett

I was at Oracle’s Analyst day today, and spent time with the Customer Experience Team drilling into the technology that allows organizations to deliver consistent, cross-channel, cross-touchpoint experiences across what Oracle terms the buying and owning journey – and which parallels Forrester’s viewpoint quite nicely. Here is Oracle's view of this journey:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most companies cannot deliver consistent customer experiences across the explosion of touchpoints and communication channels.  This is, in part, because companies have historically implemented customer-facing technologies in silos, disconnected from each other. Here's some data points about customer service that backs this up. In a survey of eBusiness professionals, only 19% and 21% of the respondents believe that they are effective at multichannel integration and back-end integration, respectively.  More than that, companies are not treating this problem as pressing: In our latest Forrsignts survey, only 34% of companies interviewed are planning to do any type of multichannel integration – and again, this is data for customer service only!

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Threats And Opportunities For Software Innovation In India

Manish Bahl

The continued economic viability of software development in India, whether by independent software vendors (ISVs) or “captive” business units, depends less on pure labor arbitrage and more on delivering time-to-market advantage for clients. The pressure of meeting business expectations demands that software firms harness creative capability wherever they can find it. The increased focus on Business Technology innovation and customer experience over mere cost savings presents both a threat and an opportunity to software configuration and development business units (BUs) in India.This is the key finding from my just-published report

Forrester developed its software innovation assessment workbook to assess software innovation capability of firms. We provided this tool to members of NASSCOM (the industry association for the IT BPO sector in India), comprising both ISVs and captive development BUs in India, and surveyed them to assess the most important process, organizational, cultural, geographical, and staffing practices that promote software innovation. We also interviewed a dozen selected respondents in greater depth to better understand how innovation capability contributes to business success in India. We found evidence of widespread adoption of the practices correlated with software innovation capability, helping to drive a rapidly changing role for Indian business in the global software supply chain.

Innovators in India that were engaged in software development and configuration received high scores for many of the practices that drive effective innovation. They demonstrated strength in:

  • Listening to the voice of the customer
  • Making the development process more iterative and responsive
  • Developing organizationwide best practices
  • Shaping the culture
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