Goodbye Yellow Brick Road?

George Lawrie

Most Forrester readers certainly understand the importance of empowering their employees to contend with highly informed and increasingly demanding customers. But I’m often asked just how to overcome the process and data integrity challenges of apps or services that empower employees and/or drive continuity of experience for consumers across channels. With the rise of mobile as well as web and call center interactions and with a proliferation of new tools for managing distributed processes and data, most application development and delivery professionals as well as their business process and applications colleagues have to absorb all the arguments before they make decisions that could be critical to their firms’ futures – to say nothing of their own careers.

One pioneer whom I interviewed was immensely proud of his lightning rollout of a guerilla app to support his firm’s front office in advising clients on complex product choices. I asked him about future plans and sheepishly he admitted they would be starting again from scratch because the guerilla app was unable to leverage enterprise services exposing critical data about product offerings. He remarked ruefully that sometimes you do have to follow the IT standards “yellow brick road” rather than just head for the hills, but wouldn’t it be great to have the best of both worlds, with both agile deployment and full advantage taken of enterprise assets and data?

If you need a deeper understanding of the issues and options, then I’d like to invite you to join us at Forrester's Application Development & Delivery Forum, where my colleague Clay Richardson and I will discuss in practical terms how to deliver integrated experiences across multiple touchpoints.

Plea For Sanity. Ban The *-As-A-Service Moniker

Mike Gualtieri

Guilty! You will find SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS terms in my past research documents and blogs posts. But I have decided to stop using the *-as-a-service moniker because it is a redundant pleonasm like horseless carriage, wireless phone, and absolutely necessary - meaningless because it is excruciatingly redundant.

 Does “as-a-service” merely mean that “it”:

  • Resides in the cloud?
  • Is pay-per-use?

Stop the insanity.

Join me in pledging to eliminate-as-a-service (EaaS) the *-as-a-service term. Darn. There I go again.

Update Your Application Development Sourcing Strategy To Drive Innovation And Differentiation

Forrester Technographics Data Points To Increased Communication Channel Usage With Inconsistent Satisfaction Ratings

Kate Leggett

The most recent data cuts from Forrester’s North American Technographics® Customer Experience Online Survey, Q4 2010 of how more than 3,400 consumers interacted with customer service organizations in the last 12 months highlight some interesting trends:

  • For the first time, web self-service topped the phone channel as the communication channel most widely used by customers to interact with customer service organizations.
  • Consumers use the phone channel 50% of the time. However, other channels are more widely used than the voice channel: 58% of the time, consumers search for an answer on the Web; 61% of the time they send an email to customer service; and 66% of the time they search a company’s FAQ.
  • Social channels are used for customer service, but numbers are very low (1% of customers used Twitter, but 6% of customers used forums).
  • Live-assist communication channels (phone, chat, cobrowse) have much higher satisfaction ratings than asynchronous electronic channels (email, web self-service). Satisfaction ratings are:  phone (74%), chat (69%), cobrowse (78%), email (54%), and web self-service (47%).
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Optimizing Software Development Sourcing To Drive More Customer Value

Diego Lo Giudice

The past few years haven’t been kind to software developers. Having the equivalent of a US master’s in computer science and having spent the first 20+ years of my professional life developing mission-critical software products and applications, I have had a hard time adjusting to the idea that developing software applications is a cost to avoid or a waste of time for many CIOs and application development leaders. It seems to me that we have been giving more emphasis to contracts, legal issues, SLAs, and governance concerns but forgetting about how IT can really make a difference – through software development. 

Nevertheless, outsourcing kept increasing, and packaged apps exploded onto the scene, and software developers “outplaced” from enterprises. People started to believe they could get more value and good-quality software cheaper…but could they really?

With BT, digitalization, and customer centricity exploding, today is the perfect moment for application development leaders to review their application development sourcing strategy and align it to their BT strategy.

Why? Many reasons, including:

  1. Software is the most important enabling technology for business innovation.
  2. Clients use software every day. It’s become part of their life, and they enjoy the experience. Better software makes a better experience.
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May Not Be With You

Mike Gualtieri

Lack Of Infrastructure Portability Is A Showstopper For Me bills as "The leading cloud platform for business apps." It is definitely not for me, though. The showstopper: infrastructure portability. If I develop an application using the Apex programming language, I can only run in the "cloud" infrastructure.

Don't Lock Me In

Q: What is worse than being locked-in to a particular operating system?

A: Being locked-in to hardware!

In The Era Of Cloud Computing, Infrastructure Portability (IP) Is A Key Requirement For Application Developers

Unless there is a compelling reason to justify hardware lock-in, make sure you choose a cloud development platform that offers infrastructure portability; otherwise, your app will be like a one-cable-television-company town.

Bottom line: Your intellectual property (IP) should have infrastructure portability (IP).

Forrester's First-Ever Application Development Forum

Mike Gualtieri

Johnny Depp is coming to Boston. So too are application development professionals like you. Depp will make a movie about Paul Revere's legendary midnight ride 236 years ago to warn the revolutionaries that the British were coming. Application development pros will arrive in Boston on September 22, 2011, to attend Forrester's first-ever Application Development & Delivery Forum.

Boston is a great city of revolutionary ideas and rich history. This is the inspiration for the conference we have put together for you. Our goal is simple: Provide a fantastic two-day event for application development pros to:

  • Hear from leaders who have successfully transformed app development to deliver more customer value more quickly.
  • Learn from expert analysts about the latest best practices and technologies to speed transformation.
  • Share new ideas with peers.
  • Become more valuable to their organization.
  • Help their organization become world class at application development and delivery.
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The Emergence Of CXM Solutions, And Why The Term “WCM” Lives On

Stephen Powers

There has been a great deal of talk over the past few years about what acronym will replace WCM (web content management). Web experience management? Web site management? Web engagement management? Web experience optimization? The list goes on and on.

Certainly, the evolution of the WCM term makes sense on paper, since traditional content management functionality now only makes up a portion of the products that WCM vendors now offer. WCM vendors are also in the content delivery/engagement business, and are even dipping their toes into web intelligence. However, Forrester clients still overwhelmingly ask about “WCM” and that term isn’t going away any time soon.

But even without changing the acronym, it is time to start thinking about WCM beyond just managing content or siloed websites or experiences. Instead, we need to think of how WCM will interact and integrate with other solutions – like search, recommendations, eCommerce, and analytics – in the customer experience management (CXM) ecosystem in order to enable businesses to manage experiences across customer touchpoints.

How are we handling this convergence at Forrester? Several of us who cover various CXM products – like Brian Walker (commerce), Bill Band (CRM), Joe Stanhope (web analytics), and myself (WCM) – teamed up to outline what our vision of CXM looks like, including process-based tools, delivery platforms, and customer intelligence. We've created two versions of the report: one written for Content & Collaboration professionals and one for eBusiness & Channel Strategy professionals.

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Leave IT Order-Taking Behind — How To Become A BT Leader

John R. Rymer

[Forrester Principal Analyst Phil Murphy and I collaborated on this research — and the consulting projects that prompted it.]

Business technology demands that application development and delivery pros help business leaders define IT capabilities to drive business strategies and either create or broker delivery of those capabilities. To respond, app development and delivery pros must adopt new delivery methods, organizational models, roles, and processes. Providing excellent IT project execution and predictable IT utilities is now table stakes. Welcome to the world of BT — where the walls between IT and the business have faded or disappeared almost entirely.

Three case studies illustrate the paths that app delivery organizations will follow as they make the transition from IT order-takers to business technology (BT) leaders. (The company names have been fictionalized.)

  • "Services Inc." struggles to keep the lights on while the business expands globally. The IT group initially thought it needed a new software development life cycle (SDLC) and stronger project management. In fact, it needs much more: a productive relationship with line-of-business leaders, an application platform flexible enough to keep up with demands, and a refocusing of its efforts on the work that would help it globalize and that would truly differentiate it from competitors.

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Turbocharge Customer Service With Social Channels

Kate Leggett

We all know that companies are trying to leverage social channels for customer service. But how can they be deployed in a way that adds value to an organization? Here are my thoughts:

You can’t implement social technologies in a silo within your contact center because you have to be able to deliver a consistent experience across the communication channels you support: voice, the electronic ones, and the social ones. Read my blog post on how you can do this.

Once you get the basics right, you are ready to add social media capabilities. Best practices include:

  • Start by listening to customer conversations. These conversations can surface general issues with products, services, and company processes. Make sure you create workflows to route surfaced issues to the correct organization so they can be worked on.
  • Flag and address social inquiries. Understand the general sentiments expressed in these conversations, but also identify specific customer inquiries and route them to the right agent pool for resolution.
  • Extend your customer service ecosystem with communities. This allows your customers to share information, best practices, and how-to tips with each other, as well as get advice without needing to interact with your agents. But don’t implement them in a technology silo; they should be well-integrated with current contact center processes.
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