Don't Throw Hadoop At Every BI Challenge

Boris Evelson

The explosion of data and fast-changing customer needs have led many companies to a realization: They must constantly improve their capabilities, competencies, and culture in order to turn data into business value. But how do Business Intelligence (BI) professionals know whether they must modernize their platforms or whether their main challenges are mostly about culture, people, and processes?

"Our BI environment is only used for reporting — we need big data for analytics."

"Our data warehouse takes very long to build and update — we were told we can replace it with Hadoop."

These are just some of the conversations that Forrester clients initiate, believing they require a big data solution. But after a few probing questions, companies realize that they may need to upgrade their outdated BI platform, switch to a different database architecture, add extra nodes to their data warehouse (DW) servers, improve their data quality and data governance processes, or other commonsense solutions to their challenges, where new big data technologies may be one of the options, but not the only one, and sometimes not the best. Rather than incorrectly assuming that big data is the panacea for all issues associated with poorly architected and deployed BI environments, BI pros should follow the guidelines in the Forrester recent report to decide whether their BI environment needs a healthy dose of upgrades and process improvements or whether it requires different big data technologies. Here are some of the findings and recommendations from the full research report:

1) Hadoop won't solve your cultural challenges

Read more

Finding the Best Developers: Separating the Me’s From the We’s

Dominique Whittaker

Everywhere you go, you hear the news stories about the talent shortage of qualified software developers. This isn’t just a Silicon Valley problem or even a US problem----it’s a global problem. We have an explosion in demand for talented software developers and higher education institutions unable to keep up with that demand. This is only going to get worse. You need software developers to win, serve, and retain customers. But so does everyone else, so you need to make sure your organization is the one people want to work for.


Read more

Choose Your Chat Vendor From These 5 Categories

Kate Leggett

Customers are increasingly leveraging chat. But its difficult to determine what chat vendor solution to use as the market is crowded and chat vendors offer a breadth and depth of capabilities. Forrester groups chat vendors into 5 broad categories based on how their customers use these technologies. They are:

  • Standalone Chat Vendors.  These vendors  provide full-featured chat solutions that are easy to deploy and can support  to small to midsize chat teams, but rarely are used by large teams. They tend to be purchased by eBusiness, and eCommerce organizations.Representative vendors for this category include Netop, Olark, and Velaro.
  • Online engagement vendors. These vendors provide proactive and personalized customer interactions. Some use sophisticated proactive rules engines, while others use predictive analytics to target visitors and customers with offers, multimedia content, and chat invitations optimized for whatever device the visitor is using or to predict intent to optimize customer journeys. In these scenarios, chat aims to increase sales conversion, support customers in pre- and post-purchase scenarios, and increases customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.Representative vendors for this category include [24]/7,  LivePerson, BoldChat by LogMeIn, Needle, and TouchCommerce.
Read more

Chat - Core To The Promise Of Effortless Service

Kate Leggett

Customers today simply want efficient, effortless service, and are increasingly using chat as a way to get to the information that they are seeking. Chat usage rates have risen in the past three years — from 38% in 2009 to 43% in 2012 to 58% in 2014. We find that all demographics - young and old - are comfortable with chat. Chat can cost less than a voice call, especially for organizations that allow their agents to handle multiple chat sessions simultaneously. Its no wonder that there are hundreds of case studies that showcase the power of chat.

The chat vendor landscape is crowded, and recently I profiled the capabililties of 21 vendors. Because of the wealth of vendors in this space, you have to be clear about your chat strategy, and your core requirements. Here are 5 questions to help you articulate your goals for chat.

Read more

A focus on mobile app testing and how it affects app quality

John M. Wargo

Last year, Michael Facemire and Rowan Curran published a report entitled A Benchmark To Drive Mobile Test Quality. As a result of being the new guy on the team, I was asked to give that particular report a refresh. I scheduled a series of interviews and updated the report. It’s on its way into the editing process; I’ll post an entry here when it’s published.

Much of the report is targeted at QA and mobile app testing; there are some pretty interesting stories in the report that talk about how development organizations are integrating more sophisticated testing strategies into their continuous delivery pipelines. Mobile app testing has always been an interest of mine and working on that report allowed me to dig even deeper into the topic. What I learned is that there are a lot of new tools available to Application Development and Delivery professionals that allow them to more easily deliver higher quality, more thoroughly tested mobile apps.

As a result of that work, we’ve decided that I’ll continue to do research and write on that topic. I’ll soon begin work on an update to the existing Market Overview: Mobile App Testing report. Next, Diego Lo Giudice and I will begin work on a Forrester Wave on the topic. Stay tuned, I’ll post here when I have more solid delivery timelines for the reports.

Hit the road running with a new BI initiative

Boris Evelson

Even though Business Intelligence applications have been out there for decades lots of people still struggle with “how do I get started with BI”. I constantly deal with clients who mistakenly start their BI journey by selecting a BI platform or not thinking about the data architecture. I know it’s a HUGE oversimplification but in a nutshell here’s a simple roadmap (for a more complete roadmap please see the Roadmap document in Forrester BI Playbook) that will ensure that your BI strategy is aligned with your business strategy and you will hit the road running. The best way to start, IMHO, is from the performance management point of view:

  1. Catalog your organization business units and departments
  2. For each business unit /department ask questions about their business strategy and objectives
  3. Then ask about what goals do they set for themselves in order achieve the objectives
  4. Next ask what metrics and indicators do they use to track where they are against their goals and objectives. Good rule of thumb: no business area, department needs to track more than 20 to 30 metrics. More than that is unmanageable.
  5. Then ask questions how they would like to slice/dice these metrics (by time period, by region, by business unit, by customer segment, etc)
Read more

Contact center outsourcers move strongly to omnichannel—brands’ attitudes need to catch up to that change

Ian Jacobs

Contact center outsourcers have gotten a bum rap. Customers frustrated with offshore accents, agents with no power to actually solve problems, and overly scripted interactions have complained, sometimes loudly, about the practice. Comedians have mocked offshore agents, often mercilessly. In particular, the shared services outsourcing model in which a single agent supports multiple brands at the same time has come in for a real savaging. Check out this Funny or Die video for just one the literally dozens of such comedic rips on outsourcers. 

In many ways, brands set themselves up for such criticisms by focusing on outsourcing simply as a way to take costs out of their businesses. That focus on efficiency left little room for the types of excellent service that built customer loyalty. Today, however companies’ motivations for outsourcing customer support are changing and options for onshore or so-called near-shore outsourcing have expanded. Contact center outsourcing actually remains quite vibrant. For example, more than two-thirds of telecommunications technology decision-makers at companies with midsize or larger contact centers report they are interested in outsourcing some or all of their contact center seats or have already outsourced them. So, it is clear that outsourcing is not going away; brands, however, are starting to look at outsourcers for new types of interactions. 

Read more

Systems Of Insight: Next Generation Business Intelligence

Boris Evelson

Earlier Generation BI Needs A Tune Up

Business intelligence has gone through multiple iterations in the past few decades. While BI's evolution has addressed some of the technology and process shortcomings of the earlier management information systems, BI teams still face challenges. Enterprises are transforming only 40% of their structured data and 31% of their unstructured data into information and insights. In addition, 63% of organizations still use spreadsheet-based applications for more than half of their decisions. Many earlier and current enterprise BI deployments:

  • Have hit the limits of scalability.
  • Struggle to address rapid changes in customer and regulatory requirements.
  • Fail to break through waterfall's design limitations.
  • Suffer from mismatched business and technology priorities and languages.
Read more

When it Comes To Site Search, Don't Make Your Customers Play 'Hide-and-Seek'

Dominique Whittaker
Picture this: you're on a website looking for this must-have item for someone special and you know that the product exists on the website but every time you search for it you can't find it for the life you! If you've never had trouble searching for a product or information on a website---well, you're lying. We know that customers are demanding effective and relevant search results in addition to a easy-to-use interface. If they don't get it, they're likely to look elsewhere for what they need---and nobody wants that.
Site search sounds like a no-brainer functionality that every website has and is an easy thing to do but relatively few companies have actually mastered site search. Done well, it: 
  • Promotes customer self-service. If your visitors are able to successfully find what they need, then you’ve done your job while also deflecting calls away from the more expensive contact center.
  • Increases time-on-site. When customers find what they’re looking for in a painless manner, they’re more likely to spend more time on your site, looking for additional information or products. 
  • Provides overall better customer experiences. Let’s be honest, site search isn’t  top-of-mind. But if you can not only make the functionality an accurate, seamless experience for your visitors and provide recommended solutions based on search terms---well you’ve hit the site search jackpot. 
Read more

The Mobile App Gap: Still A Billion Apps Short

Ted Schadler

Think 1.5 million apps is a lot? Pfffft. Netcraft reports 175 million active websites globally. Each one of those sites has many "apps" embedded in it -- one for shopping, one for service, one for each region or product line. I'm guessing we have a global app potential of 1 billion. 

The ancient elders of the web era -- vendors, webmasters, marketers, technology managers, agencies -- all appear to operate under the delusion that if they add responsive web templates to their site, they can make each of those billion experiences a mobile moment. Pfffft. They can't. Responsive web techniques are better than nothing -- at least Google will stop cramming your site to the bottom of the search list. But it's not enough to serve customers in their mobile moments of need.

To do that requires knowing exactly what someone needs, then creating the shortest path from I Want to I Get. And that means nailing the mobile moment.

We know already that people spend more time shopping on their smartphones than on computers. We know already that 70% of the traffic to around Black Friday 2014 came from mobile devices. We know already that 69 million Americans go online more often from smartphones than any other device. [Source: Forrester Research] 

Mobile is not an option. It's your reality. Mobile is as urgent for business customers and employees as for consumers. Here's what one manufacturer had to say: "Our customers look for us when they're installing our equipment in their datacenter. If we're not on their smartphone, then we don't exist." 

Read more