Demands of a cross-channel world

David Aponovich

This blog post originally appeared on destinationCRM

Enterprise technology buyers are moving rapidly to adopt strategies and software to support digital experience (DX) initiatives. And with good reason: Forrester research shows that one of the last remaining areas for differentiation is the ability to provide compelling, engaging user experiences through digital channels. Your customers demand it, and your competition is probably already there (or well on their way).

The road to get there is replete with challenges covering the gamut of people, processes,  and technology. For technology buyers seeking to adopt DX tools and technologies, it’s a vast but immature market.

Application development and delivery pros, often on the front lines, face a proliferation of legacy and new technology to manage, engage, and measure customer experiences through digital channels—we’re talking Web sites, mobile channels, and many other digital touchpoints.

Here’s a truism: These professionals frequently encounter systems that don’t live up to their promises. They may be too old or inflexible to support rapidly changing requirements. Tech vendors add to the confusion. Some deliver all-encompassing DX suites, which have varying degrees of successful integration. Others provide pointed solutions that may deliver one part of the DX equation well, but rely on integration with third-party systems to provide a full solution.

The challenge for DX professionals is to determine how best to assess, choose, integrate, and apply the right software solutions to meet strategic DX imperatives. Easier said than done, right?

Look at Seven Main Technology Categories

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API Management: A Key Component Of Modern Application Architecture

Jeffrey Hammond

I’ve previously written about how modern application architectures are shifting toward compositional, service-oriented architectures — “for real” this time. RESTful services using XML or JSON payloads proliferate because they’re easy for developers of omnichannel clients to use on virtually any device they need to support. It doesn’t matter if they’re building native apps in Objective C or hybrid apps with Cordova — if they can get an open web API call, it’s good enough to move forward.

This shift to web APIs and modern applications means that companies have to shift their API management strategy as well. They need to 1) create the web APIs and 2) create a life cycle to manage them. It’s this life-cycle element that’s conceptually distinct from traditional SOA governance solutions. For one thing, the services live on the open bus of the Internet and carrier networks. Another difference is that web APIs are increasingly made availabe to third-party developers. They may be part of a newly formed developer community, or they may support the growing number of digital agencies and mobile specialist firms that your company uses to supplement development projects. Security and access models are different (e.g., OAuth 2), provisioning access to APIs needs to support light-touch approval workflows, sandboxes where developers can test their calls are important, and analytics that detail call volume and how developers are using APIs are must-have capabilities. Above all, a developer portal that provides good documentation, example code, and quick time-to-value are important if you want to attract and keep developers.

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iSPIRT: Why India’s New Software Think Tank Will Struggle To Make A Big Impact

Manish Bahl

 

Thirty software product members of NASSCOM, the industry association for the IT BPO sector in India, announced that they would form a group to expand the software ecosystem in India: the Indian Software Product Industry Round Table, or iSPIRT. The key driver behind this development appears to be NASSCOM’s limited focus on software product companies in India. iSPIRT plans to:

  • Convert ideas into policy proposals to take to government stakeholders
  • Enable product startups to discuss issues through a dedicated platform (productnation.in)
  • Create awareness for the adoption of software products within the Indian SMB sector
  • Work with NASSCOM and other industry associations to provide a platform for product start-ups
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What’s Ahead For DAM? A Look To The Road Ahead

Anjali Yakkundi

This past year was an exciting one for digital asset management (DAM). In 2012, DAM became an important part of the customer experience management (CXM) ecosystem, especially in providing content and data services and acting as a repository for rich media content. In other words, DAM helps enable marketers and information workers to create and manage digital experiences and they’re associated content. Although many vendors I speak with have trouble articulating this vision to customers — many still think of DAM in terms of its traditional roots with creative professionals and niche verticals like publishing and media and entertainment — I’ve also seen a shift in other vendors to embrace this trend. This is smart, as based on the client questions I get, CXM is where DAM will find the most traction.

But as we’re now officially one month into 2013, I’ve started to ask myself what’s ahead for DAM this year and beyond:

  • Is 2013 the year of vendor consolidation? Probably not, at least for the major players. The market continues to be fragmented, with independent players and only a few larger CXM vendors. Independent DAM vendor North Plains — backed by venture capital funds — has made moves to consolidate the market by acquiring Xinet and Vyre. I expect them to continue to make moves to expand their global and CXM footprint. Many large CXM vendors like IBM or Oracle don’t yet have best-of-breed DAM solutions and have remained quiet on the DAM front. I expect them to remain preoccupied with bigger priorities like cross-channel analytics and experience delivery.
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TechnoPolitics Podcast: Microsoft Office 365 Versus Google Apps — How To Decide

Mike Gualtieri

Enterprises have a choice when it comes to employee productivity and collaboration apps (email, documents, spreadsheets, presentation, video conference, etc) in the cloud: Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps. Deciding which solution is best for your business is not easy, because it is not an apples-to-apples comparision of apps and features. It’s more like a fruit basket containing some apples, some pears, and a few exotic fruits. Not to worry — Forrester’s expert on collaboration software, TJ Keitt, is here to help.

In this episode of TechnoPolitics, TJ helps you decide by offering deep insights on:

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Mobile's Next Era: Not Apps, Not Websites — Experiences!

Michael Facemire

I was fortunate this week to attend a presentation by James Whittaker in which he delivered his view on the next era of computing. This was one of the best presentations I’ve seen, because the content was presented in a compelling manner that created an outstanding overall experience. I point this out because it parallels James’ message: The future of computing isn’t apps or a collection of websites, but experiences delivered across an ecosystem of devices. I absolutely agree with his vision and am excited about the possibilities ahead. The pertinent question is then: How can enterprises adjust today’s behaviors to best prepare for this future? Let’s take a look at some of the key points of Whittaker’s talk and how we can take action on them today:

  • Search was king of the last era. As of September 2012, overall search volume on the web has started to decrease. This means that your customers are now using app-driven mechanisms to find your content as these provide context around their requests ensuring they get more accurate responses. Don’t immediately jettison your SEO strategy but prepare for how tomorrow’s customers will access your data: through well-designed and easily consumable APIs. This API layer will be the core around which every successful enterprise digital strategy is based.
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Build Best-In-Class Digital Customer Experience Teams: Five Questions For AD&D Pros

Anjali Yakkundi

I’ve read a few headlines proclaiming that IT is dead and marketers are the future in this age of the customer. We reject this widely cited notion. After all, what’s the point of great design, user experience, and marketing strategy if you can’t use technology to deliver the right experience to the right customer? IT is far from dead. IT just needs to evolve and take on a new look and feel in order to keep up with the digital customer experience (CX) imperative.

Traditional IT shops will need to rethink how they are organized and hire for new skill sets in order to keep up with digital CX projects. We recommend that application development and delivery (AD&D) pros answer these five questions when organizing around CX:

  1. Will you be a lead actor or a supporting player? There are three main roles that AD&D pros can play for digital CX projects: provide back-end services; design, architect, and implement projects; and partner with marketing to take on a CX leadership role. There’s no “right” role. Depending on your maturity, you’ll want to take on the role that best suits your organization.
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2011 Wasn’t Good, 2012 Was Great: Global Banking Platform Deals 2012

Jost Hoppermann

Next week, I will present first results of Forrester’s 2012 global banking platform deals survey. A total of 28 banking platform vendors submitted their 2012 deals for evaluation. One year ago, the same set of deals would have included at least one more vendor: Sopra Banking Software’s solution portfolio now includes those of past survey participants Callataÿ & Wouters and Delta-Informatique. These theoretically 29 participating vendors submitted a total of close to 1,900 banking platform deals, a steep increase compared with the about 1,000 submitted deals for 2011.

We had to classify a large share of these 1,900 banking platform deals as extended business or even as a simple renewed license — if the vendors did not already submit them with the corresponding tag. Forrester’s rules of the game did not allow us to recognize further deals; for example, if a non-financial services firm signed a deal, that deal was “only” about pure services or application infrastructure. Overall, Forrester counted close to 350 of the submitted deals as 2012 new named customers. 2012 is the first year with double-digit growth in banking platform deals since 2006.

For the first time, Forrester did not only count new named clients, but also scrutinized (and counted) extended business deals at a very detailed level. This provides two perspectives on the global banking platform market: How well do vendors play the game of expanding the client portfolio, and thus their market footprint? What is a vendor’s level of success in a given year? The outcome: Market dynamics have changed, and many vendors have moved up or down in the global success pyramid – and some barely defended their traditional positions.

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Do You Have BI On BI?

Boris Evelson

BI is used to build, report, and analyze business performance metrics and indicators. What about measuring the performance of BI itself? How do you know if you have a high-performing, widely used BI environment? Is your opinion based on qualitative “pulse checks” or is it based on quantitative metrics? BI practitioners who preach to their business counterparts to run their business by the numbers need to eat their own dog food: run their BI environment, platforms, and apps by the numbers. For example, do you know:

  • How many reports and queries do end users create by themselves versus how many IT creates? That's a great efficiency metric.
  • How many clicks within a dashboard does it take to find an answer to a question? That’/s another great efficiency metric.
  • How long does each user stay within each report? Do they just run and print the reports, or export the data to Excel, or do they really slice, dice, and analyze the information? That’s a good example of how effective your BI environment is.
  • Do you see any patterns in BI usage? User by user, department by department, or line of business by line of business?
  • How many reports, queries, and other objects are being used, how many are shelfware (not being used)? How often are people using the ones that are being used?
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The Best Way To Develop Mobile Apps? Don't Develop Mobile Apps!

Jeffrey Hammond

Nothing like starting off the day with a koan, right? How would one develop a mobile app without developing a mobile app? In my latest piece of research on the future of mobile application development, I make the point that if developers overrotate their focus to building mobile clients, we risk creating the same sorts of vertical stovepipes we’re trying to work our way out of right now with all the web apps we built to run on Wintel in IE6. Rather, I think it’s time we broadened our focus and shifted our efforts toward building modern applications. Mobile apps are an important component of a modern application architecture, but only part of the whole picture.

So what’s a modern application? A modern application is:

  • Omnichannel. Modern applications are designed to work across tablets, smartphones, phablets, heads-up displays, automobiles — and, yes, desktops and laptops. They are designed to anticipate new client demands and new methods of interaction, including voice, touch, mouse, and eye tracking. Modern apps may start with a consistent cross-channel expereince, but they quickly move beyond that to a cross-channel and a channel-optimized interface.
  • Elastic. Successful modern applications are designed to spin up or spin down as needed. They take advantage of cloud economics. They comprehensively use open source software because it adds licensing flexibility to scale-out architectural flexibility.
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