The Fragmenting SFA Ecosystem

Kate Leggett

Sales organizations, for the last couple of decades, have used sales automation (SFA) to manage account and contact data, sales pipelines, territories and more – all inside-out capabilities that help optimize their productivity, The problem is that today, customers control the conversation that they have with companies. Customers increasingly demand effortless sales interactions that increasingly trend toward self-service. They demand interactions tailored to their particular industry, pain point, and profile. They want streamlined interactions that value their time, such as a simple, efficient quote-to-order process or a contract renewal process.

Today sales organizations struggle to provide sales experiences in-line with customer expectations. They cant:

  • Support buyers on their terms. Buyers increasingly leverage mobile touchpoints, self-service, and digital channels to interact with companies which sales organizations cannot support.
  • Get sales representatives to follow consistent processes. Sales managers have sales reps of different calibers, and they must up-level a team’s performance. Also, without a consistent sales process that clearly articulates conditions for the different stages, managers can’t accurately qualify their pipeline. This affects forecasts, valuation, and profitability.
  • Personalize conversations with stakeholders. Sales reps don’t have near real-time information about their prospect’s company or industry or about a particular stakeholder to make conversations more relevant. They may not understand relationships between stakeholders that are involved in a purchase. They often lack insight about the effectiveness of sales collateral for different stages of the sales journey.
Read more

The New Customer Service Mandate - It’s No Longer Socially Acceptable To Not Be Social

Ian Jacobs

This a guest post by Danielle Geoffroy, a Research Associate on the Application Development & Delivery (AD&D) team.

Customer service teams are facing a dilemma that may bring back high school nostalgia – if you want to be one of the cool kids, you need to be social. But simply being present in the social scene doesn’t automatically make you hip to the digital customer. You need to talk the talk and have the latest gadgets.

In our recent report, we discuss the new reality of social customer service, and outline tools you should adopt for social workforce optimization.  Companies have all felt social flip the table – it affects their core business model because newly empowered customers have a giant bullhorn to make their feelings known. As a result, companies must incorporate social into all realms of their business, especially customer service teams.

Customers turning to social channels for service support have high expectations (I know I do). Those expectations mean you’ll need to:

Read more

Make Your BI Environment More Agile With BI on Hadoop

Boris Evelson
In the past three decades, management information systems, data integration, data warehouses (DWs), BI, and other relevant technologies and processes only scratched the surface of turning data into useful information and actionable insights:
  • Organizations leverage less than half of their structured data for insights. The latest Forrester data and analytics survey finds that organizations use on average only 40% of their structured data for strategic decision-making. 
  • Unstructured data remains largely untapped. Organizations are even less mature in their use of unstructured data. They tap only about a third of their unstructured data sources (28% of semistructured and 31% of unstructured) for strategic decision-making. And these percentages don’t include more recent components of a 360-degree view of the customer, such as voice of the customer (VoC), social media, and the Internet of Things. 
  • BI architectures continue to become more complex. The intricacies of earlier-generation and many current business intelligence (BI) architectural stacks, which usually require the integration of dozens of components from different vendors, are just one reason it takes so long and costs so much to deliver a single version of the truth with a seamlessly integrated, centralized enterprise BI environment.
  • Existing BI architectures are not flexible enough. Most organizations take too long to get to the ultimate goal of a centralized BI environment, and by the time they think they are done, there are new data sources, new regulations, and new customer needs, which all require more changes to the BI environment.
Read more

DAM Faces An Overcast Future Without Cloud

Anjali Yakkundi

Forrester recently published a report on moving digital experience platforms into the cloud. This effort, led by my colleagues Ted Schadler and Mark Grannan, highlights an important point: digital experience platforms have been slow to embrace cloud delivery and only now, very slowly, are they embracing cloud alternatives. Why now? Forrester data shows us that clients demand cloud delivery so they can speed up implementation and deployment times, support mobile and remote users, lower overall costs, and replace upfront capital spending with monthly operating cost expenses. 

While digital experience platforms are typically anchored by core technologies like web content management, eCommerce, and/or campaign management, digital asset management is a core complementary piece of these platforms. DAM supports these solutions by managing omnichannel brand and rich media content. But compared to these other digital experience platform components, DAM is among the slowest to embrace cloud delivery. Many of the most prominent DAM vendors today have been very slow to adopt cloud delivery, and as such, the market is ripe for a cloud disrupter to change the pace of the market. 

So what’s happening in the market today? In short, some vendors show hints of promise of doing what Salesforce has done to the CRM market, but no one vendor has stepped to the plate yet:

Read more

It's Time To Bring Your Digital Experiences To The Cloud

Ted Schadler
Despite the hype of marketing clouds, the full suite of software found in digital experience (DX) platforms has been slow to move to the cloud. Fortunately, digital experience platform vendors like Acquia, Adobe, EPiServer, and SAP hybris are now embracing the cloud to deploy and operate their software. Cloud DX stalwarts like Automattic, Crownpeak, and DNN are growing rapidly. Disruptive players like Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace are zooming up from the bottom to empower practitioners. And service providers like Deloitte, Razorfish, and SapientNitro have repositioned their managed hosting options as more cloud-like DX platforms.
 
But what cloud benefits do vendors and service providers actually deliver? That's been tough to nail down. In a new Forrester report, we clarify the scary terminology for digital experience platforms in the cloud, articulate the benefits that come from each cloud model, and prod the vendors you rely on to simplify how they talk about their cloud services (see Figure 1). With this report, we also announce our deeper investigation into how the cloud will disruptively improve digital experience platforms.
 
  • It's time to bring your digital experiences to the cloud. Companies can run a chunk of their digital experience platform in the cloud and deploy new sites in weeks or days. Deploying that same functionality on-premises can take months or years. If you are a marketer or developer with an immediate need -- and if a decent cloud solution is available -- you'll take the cloud, thank you very much.
Read more

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.