Application Developers: Ignore Big Data At Your Own Peril

Mike Gualtieri

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that big data is only about analytics for business intelligence. Big data is the fuel, and predictive analytics the engine, that will power the next generation of predictive applications, as I wrote in a prior post (Predictive Apps Are The Next Big Thing In App Development). Sure, there are absolutely many exciting use cases in traditional business intelligence. But the same knowledge, insight, and predictive models gained from big data analytics can transform boring business and consumer apps with the ability to design and develop predictive apps. What are predictive apps?

Predictive apps anticipate user intent and provide the right functionality and content on the right device, at the right time, for the right person by continuously learning about them.

A Home Depot Example Of A Predictive App

Let’s say your toilet is leaking. You go to Home Depot and buy a tank repair kit. You get it home and realize that you need a special screwdriver, so you make a second trip to Home Depot. You go home and find that the screws you tried to reuse were stripped after years of decay. You make a third trip to get the screws. Finally, you can fix the toilet successfully — but it took you three trips to Home Depot. Multiple trips to Home Depot stores is pain point for many customers.

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7-Part Series On Customer Service Technology, Part 5: Technology Maturity

Kate Leggett

Good customer service is the result of the right attention to strategy, business processes, technology, and people management. This seven-post series focuses on customer service technology and explains the what, why, how, and when technology questions.

Part 1 reviewed the customer service technology ecosystem.

Part 2 reviewed the challenges caused by the complexity of this technology ecosystem.

Part 3 reviewed the tactical outcomes of poor customer service.

Part 4 focused on the ways that the customer service technology ecosystem is changing.

Let’s now focus on the how we categorize customer service technologies by their maturity and business value delivered.

 

Technology ecosystem phase

Technologies for customer service

Why technologies are categorized in  this way

Survival

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CA Makes A Case For Renewed Growth in Asia Pacific

Michael Barnes

Since joining CA Technologies as president of Asia Pacific (AP) in August 2010, Lionel Lim (formerly president of Sun’s AP business) has consistently stressed the need to re-establish CA as a leading enterprise IT provider across the region. Along with a mix of regional and global executives, Lim used the recent CA Expo 2013 in Melbourne as an opportunity to update analysts on the company’s progress.

Key messages at the event all centered on CA’s value in helping CIOs drive, manage, and optimize IT/business transformation. The company plans to achieve this goal by supporting open, heterogeneous management capabilities across all internal and cloud-based systems, from mainframes to mobile devices.

This is a major leap for CA, a company whose strength has always been IT performance management, particularly for mainframe platforms. The broader focus now involves providing key capabilities and solutions to help CIOs on the journey to private cloud enablement and “as-a-service” delivery of applications or application capabilities. CA has not been shy in making the case. As one executive stated, “CIOs not viewing themselves as service providers to their organizations are not adequately addressing the needs of the business.”

While I applaud the position, it also carries risk. CA is aligning itself with CIOs as change agents. In many parts of AP, CIOs are still more interested in maintaining the status quo, which typically means traditional on-premises data center-related investments and minimal disruption. By preaching so forcefully for change enablement, CA is positioning itself well for future strategic growth, but could be risking near-term opportunities in its more traditional, but still stronger, mainframe-centric IT performance management market.

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Organizing To Deliver Great Digital Experiences

Anjali Yakkundi

Many have interpreted the customer experience imperative to mean that IT is dead and marketers are the future. We reject this. IT is far from dead. After all, what’s the point of great design and marketing strategy if you can’t deliver the right experience to the right customer based on factors such as location, device of choice, and place in the customer journey? Now more than ever, application development and delivery (AD&D) is vital to actually deliver experiences to customers, and the majority of organizations we interviewed agreed with this.

This means that AD&D pros need to sit at the forefront of business strategies around customer engagement by, among other things, empowering business and marketing professionals with the right applications and mastering analytics for better insights and experiences. Most firms we speak with aren’t organized to support this imperative. In preparation for our forum on Driving Customer Experience With Smart Technology Solutions, my colleague John Rymer and I are updating our digital organization research. So far, some of the things we’ve learned are:

  • New organizational models abound. Some organizations have their digital group within IT, while others have it under marketing. Others are paving new path, and have a singular group that combines customer experience, marketing, and business folks with technologists.
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TechnoPolitics Podcast: Next Microsoft CEO Must Divest

Mike Gualtieri

Steve Ballmer is quitting Microsoft. His reign as Microsoft CEO will come to an end in the next 12 months. As he put it in his resignation letter, “This is an emotional and difficult thing for me to do. I take this step in the best interests of the company I love.” Fair enough. We love your passion and stewardship of Microsoft through these changing post-PC times. However, perhaps the times they are a-changing too fast. Internet giant Google has needled Microsoft’s core business and completely eclipsed it in mobile. And Apple has become expert at winning hearts. That leaves us with the big question: How does the next Microsoft CEO need to think to prove Ballmer’s assertion that “Microsoft has all its best days ahead”?

In this episode, TechnoPolitics asks Forrester Senior Analyst TJ Keitt to offer advice to Microsoft’s next CEO to avoid looming extinction and thrive in the post-PC era. Might an IBM-style divestiture strategy might be in the cards? Listen to find out.

 

Click here to listen on iTunes.

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7-Part Series On Customer Service Technology, Part 4: How Is The Customer Service Technology Ecosystem Changing?

Kate Leggett

Good customer service is the result of the right attention to strategy, business processes, technology, and people management. This series of seven blog posts focuses on customer service technology and explains the what, why, how, and when technology questions.

Part 1 reviewed the customer service technology ecosystem.

Part 2 reviewed the challenges caused by the complexity of this technology ecosystem.

Part 3  reviewed the tactical outcomes of poor customer service.

Let’s now focus on how the customer service ecosystem is changing.

  • The customer service vendor landscape is consolidating. Nice Systems, Oracle, salesforce.com, and SAP are just a few examples of leading customer service solution vendors that have aggressively acquired other vendors in order to support consistent, effortless multichannel customer service experiences. For example, in 2011, Oracle acquired InQuira, a leading knowledge management solution. In 2012, it acquired RightNow Technologies, a cloud CRM vendor that emphasizes customer experience and contact center technology. RightNow had gone through its own series of acquisitions prior to this, acquiring Q-Go, a natural-language search vendor, and HiveLive, a social media monitoring vendor. These acquisitions are happening because customer service leaders want a simpler, single-vendor technology solution to manage, instead of having to buy, integrate, and manage disparate systems from a number of vendors.
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Haste Makes Waste — Take Your Time When Selecting Business Applications

Jost Hoppermann

When my teenage son is interested in purchasing a mobile phone, some PC equipment, or a games console, he will typically spend weeks gathering the necessary information to arrive at a well-informed decision. He once told me that he feels this is necessary to make the best use of his savings — a trait that I do not always observe banks around the world exhibiting.

Recently I had a phone call with a few people from the business side of a medium-size bank somewhere in the world. Their challenge? They wanted to use the best method to find the mobile banking application most suited to their bank. Their real challenge? They had no time to make a deeper assessment of their individual business and technology situation and only wanted to get proof that their approach would be the right one. They wanted a clear recommendation within a few days.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. When I know nothing about a bank’s business environment, its supporting application landscape, and its underlying technology, I am very reluctant to offer more than a long list of business applications, regardless of whether the topic at hand is mobile or cross-channel solutions, core banking, or something else. This is in line with a research report about best practices for banking platform transformation that Forrester published some time ago. At the time, we identified a few key reasons common to major banking platform transformation failures. One of those reasons: ill-designed shortcuts.

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Key Findings From Our Site Search Market Overview

Anjali Yakkundi

Although often overlooked, site search plays a vital role in your digital customer experience strategy. It helps improve customer self-service, increase sales conversion rates, and increase page views and site traffic. Accordingly, organizations are revisiting their site search technology decisions. They need site search tools that deliver more personal experiences to customers in ways including contextual results pages, promotions, recommendations, and dynamic browsing and navigation structures.

Our recent site search market overview  examined 14 site search solutions, including commercial solutions from Adobe Systems, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Apptus Technologies, Attivio, Coveo Solutions, EasyAsk, Google, HP Autonomy, Mindbreeze, Nextopia, Oracle, SDL, and SLI Systems. We also looked at the open source solution Lucene/Solr. Some of our biggest findings were that:

  • Search is more than processing queries. As site search technology has matured, vendors have started to branch out beyond core query processing to support overall trends like browsing and navigation, content presentation, customer self-service, product recommendation, merchandising, and local search.
  • The search vendor market is consolidating. As search technology has matured and moved into adjacent areas, the vendor search landscape has matured and consolidated, with many independent vendors getting acquired like Fredhopper (acquired by SDL), Omniture (Adobe),  and Endeca (acquired by Oracle). Other vendors have shifted focus; IBM has focused the Vivisimo product, for example, more on big data concerns. Despite this, some stalwarts and independent vendors remain on the market (e.g. Google, Coveo, Attivio).
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7-Part Series On Customer Service Technology, Part 3: What Are The Problems Caused By Current Customer Service Technology?

Kate Leggett

I’m back from maternity leave, so youll be hearing more regularly from me now . . .

. . . So, to continue my series on customer service — its value, the challenges in getting it right, and what you can do about it from a technology perspective — here is a quick recap of my two older posts, and a new one from today. Enjoy.

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Good customer service is the result of the right attention to strategy, business processes, technology, and people management. This series of seven blog posts focuses on customer service technology  and explains the what, why, how, and when technology questions.

Part 1 reviewed the customer service technology ecosystem.

Part 2 reviewed the challenges caused by the complexity of this technology ecosystem.

Let’s now focus on the tactical outcomes of suboptimal customer service technology.  Customer service organizations are struggling to:

  • Provide standardized customer service across communication channels. Transactional data and customer history are often inconsistent and not reliably available to agents across communication channels.
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Why It's Important To Start Every Big Data Project With A Question

During a recent webinar on big data, several listeners wanted to know what the biggest stumbling blocks and reasons for failure were when it comes to big data projects, and what they could do to avoid them. Given the amount of resonance, in particular the top issue I cited, I thought I’d share it in this blog post. Please let me have your views and comments.

There are clearly many reasons why projects struggle or fail, and big data projects are no exception. What can put big data initiatives in a league of their own, though, is the level of (typically unrealistic) expectations often associated with “big data” technologies. Based on many conversations with clients, consultants, and conference delegates over the past couple of years, I find three key issues are being mentioned time and again. These are:

  • Not starting the project with a question
  • Underestimating the technical skills and expertise required
  • Creating another data silo
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