Backend-as-a-Service: Bring Out Your Dead!

Michael Facemire

Appcelerator was acquired by Axway. Parse (once acquired by Facebook) closes up shop. It’s been a busy week in the BaaS world. It all reminds me of the “Bring out your dead!” sketch in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, except this time it’s mobile development shops driving the cart looking for the last remnants of BaaS companies to throw on the pile! Yet it was only 3 years ago that the BaaS space came into the mainstream — what happened?

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Online Self Service Dominates Yet Again. Why? Its An Effortless Way To Get To Your Answers

Kate Leggett

Customers demand accurate, relevant, and complete answers to their questions upon first contact - served up as painlessly as possible -  so they can get back to what they were doing before the issue arose.

Forrester data backs this up: In our December 2015 "Customer Lifecycle Survey," we found that 53% of customers are likely to abandon their online purchases if they can't find quick answers to their questions. 73% say that valuing their time is the most important thing companies can do to provide them with good customer service. We also found that older customers are just as, if not more, intolerant to friction in their customer service interactions as younger consumers.

Customer service organizations have to deliver easy and effective service. If they don't, customers will leave the brand. They will also complain to their networks about their experience. These emotions can get rapidly amplified in the world of social media and ultimately lead to brand erosion.

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Hadoop Is Data's Darling For A Reason

Mike Gualtieri

Hadoop thoroughly disrupts the economics of data, analytics, and data-driven applications. That's cool because the unfortunate truth has been that the potential of most data lies dormant. On average, between 60% and 73% of all data within an enterprise goes unused for analytics. That's unacceptable in an age where deeper, actionable insights, especially about customers, are a competitive necessity. Enterprises are responding by adopting what Forrester calls "Hadoop and friends" (friends such as Spark and Kafka and others). Get Hadoop, but choose the distribution that is right for your enterprise.

Solid Choices All Around Make For Tough Choices

Forrester's evaluated five key Hadoop distributions from vendors: Cloudera, Hortonworks, IBM, MapR Technologies, and Pivotal Software. Forrester's evaluation of big data Hadoop distributions uncovered a market with four Leaders and one Strong Performer:

  • Cloudera, MapR Technologies, IBM, and Hortonworks are Leaders. Enterprise Hadoop is a market that is not even 10 years old, but Forrester estimates that 100% of all large enterprises will adopt it (Hadoop and related technologies such as Spark) for big data analytics within the next two years. The stakes are exceedingly high for the pure-play distribution vendors Cloudera, Hortonworks, and MapR Technologies, which have all of their eggs in the Hadoop basket. Currently, there is no absolute winner in the market; each of the vendors focuses on key features such as security, scale, integration, governance, and performance critical for enterprise adoption.

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I'm Shocked, Shocked That GoPro Missed Its Number

Ted Schadler

GoPro's stock, the gadget darling IPO of 2014, laid off 7% of its workforce and took a big hit in the stock market when it announced it had missed its revenue projection.

All I have to say about that is, "duh."

How big did you think they would get last year? GoPro is now in the very tough early majority phase of adoption, where fewer people in that cohort are interested in the product.

And you can't forecast early majority adoption based on early adopter purchases. Early adopters are a breed apart. They love tech. They take more risks. They try things out and abandon them with ease. Early majority customers are none of those things. And mainstream customers are even less so. 

If you want to play armchair prognosticor about a new technology (Apple Watch, anyone?), start with 15 points and take away points by asking four questions:

  1. If you own a GoPro, when was the last time you used it? If it wasn't in the last month, then take away a point. If it wasn't in the last year, then two points. If you don't own one and don't plan to, then take away three points.
  2. Could you imagine your neighbor using a GoPro? If not, then take away two points.
  3. Could you imagine a lot of people at the airport, truck stop, Starbucks, and Disneyworld using a GoPro? Take a point away for each venue where most people won't.
  4. Would your mother, father, and baby brother or child want to use a GoPro? Take away one point for each that won't.
  5. Could you imagine a lotta lotta people in China or India or Brazil using a GoPro? If not, then take away three points.
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Benchmark Against Your Biggest Competitor — Yourself!

Diego Lo Giudice

As firms face growing competition for customers, they naturally seek to compare themselves with their peers and competitors, but there is a trap: Leaders don’t compare themselves with competitors anymore. Instead, they compare their current performance with where they need to be as a leader, and that’s what the business expects.

In the past, it was common to benchmark organizational performance against “industry averages,” and being “above average” was considered good. Today, “above average” is no longer good enough; fickle customers demand exceptional experiences. Delivering those experiences requires exceptional performance; anything less means that another company may steal your customers.

When we talk with leading modern application delivery organizations, we find that new benchmarking trends are emerging, making traditional benchmarking less attractive. Why?

  • Benchmarking is for followers, not leaders. Organizations want to be “unicorns,” like the Etsys, Netflixes, Googles, and Salesforces of the world. They don’t want to be losing “horses.”  


  • Most benchmarking approaches target the IT of the past, not BT. Benchmark methodologies and data were created and heavily used when software delivery capability was considered a cost, not a differentiator. In business technology, software is a key differentiator, and BT leaders want to be the best and continuously improve.
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Forrester's Top Trends For Customer Service In 2016

Kate Leggett

It’s a no-brainer that good customer service experiences boost satisfaction, loyalty, and can influence top line revenue. Good service — whether it's to answer a customer's question prior to purchase, or help a customer resolve an issue post-purchase should be easy, effective, and strive to create an emotional bond between the customer and the company. Here are 5 top trends - out of a total of 10 - that I am keeping my eye on. My full report highlighting all trends can be found here:

Trend 1: Companies Will Make Self Service Easier. In 2015, we found that web and mobile self-service interactions exceeded interactions over live-assist channels, which are increasingly used by customers as escalation paths to answer harder questions whose answers they can’t find online. In 2016, customer service organizations will make self-service easier for customers to use by shoring up its foundations and solidifying their knowledge-management strategy. They will start to explore virtual agents and communities to extend the reach of curated content. They will start embedding knowledge into devices — like Xerox does with its printers — or delivering it via wearables to a remote service technician.

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Apple's Real Innovation And Responsibility Is The App Store

Ted Schadler

Apple announced today that it sold $144 million in its App Store on January 1st and more than $20 billion in 2015. Wow. This from a company that launched $0.99 songs in 2001 on iTunes and didn't even consider apps to be useful when it introduced the iPhone in 2007. From public filings, Apple App Store net revenues (the 30% that Apple makes on digital media and app sales plus some other bits and pieces) grew from nothing in 2000 to $19,909 in fiscal year 2015 (see Figure 1). As you can see, growth is slowing down (though from a large base).

Figure 1 Apple's Reported App Store Net Sales. Source: Apple 10-K Filings

This App Store revenue breaks down into:

  • Media, including music, video, and books. Apple launched iTunes (the original App Store) in 2001 with the blessing of the music industry. For the first time, publishers had a paid outlet for digital music. It's only grown from there.
  • Apps. I remember vividly when my neighbor John told me he was coding apps on his nights and weekends (it was a brunch with snow outside in early 2009). That phenomenon -- developers flocking to this new computer opened my eyes to the power of smartphones. Apps and in-store purchases are more than half of App Store revenues.
  • In-app purchases. Apple keeps 30 cents for every dollar spent in an app, too. (It's why Amazon won't let you buy books in the Kindle app -- it doesn't want to give Apple that 30 cents.) 
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Three Billion Smartphone Customers Are Ready. Now Go Make Them Successful.

Ted Schadler

If I hear one more story about "the next big thing" only to find it's a niche product like a skateboard or a toy like a consumer drone or a convenience tool like a smartwatch or a fancy way to open a door or detect smoke, I think I'll puke. The last big product innovation was smartphones. And it was a doozy. Most people don't really need another gadget. They need the game-changing gadget they have to do more.

I believe we are still at the beginning the biggest technology-fueled shift we've every seen, the mobile mind shift. A smartphone in the hands over three billion people is a game-changer. But only if we embrace it as a platform to deliver everything someone needs in the mobile moments of their day.

On your smartphone today:

  • Can you always get a great Internet connection . . . you can afford?
  • Can you manage every aspect of your complex digital life?
  • Can you vote?
  • Can you schedule a doctor appointment, renew your dog license, apply for a mortgage, replenish your cupboard, or do your job?
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Enterprise And Midsize Customer Service Solutions - What's The Difference?

Kate Leggett

When looking to purchase a customer service solution, buyers have to remember that more features is not better; many times more is just more. In fact, when you don't need or can't use extra features, more is sometimes worse.

With this in mind, we see that customer service solutions fall into two primary groups to choose from: 

  • Customer service solutions for enterprise organizations. Customer service vendors focused on large organizations — organizations with typically 1,000 or more agents who are primarily phone agents — offer robust case management, agent guidance in addition to CTI integration, reporting, analytics and data management capabilities. These vendor solutions can scale to serve very large agent populations, in the tens of thousands or higher. These products have been traditionally been sold as on-premise products, but many deployments are now shifting to the cloud. Many vendors offer deeply vertical solutions, and have pre- and post-sale company resources dedicated to support their vertical products. Vendors in this category also target midsize organizations, offering prepackaged versions of their solutions with more affordable price tags. The leading vendors in this category are highlighted our most recent Customer Service Wave for enterprise organizations.
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The Forrester Wave: Customer Service Solutions For Enterprise Organizations, Q4 2015

Kate Leggett

The customer service vendor space is a mature space. Yet there have been many changes in the last five years and clearly more to come. Two driving factors will accelerate these changes:

  • Big fish eat little fish, and each bite broadens the reach of the big fish. The customer service market has consolidated in the last five years. Big vendors like Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce and SAP have made acquisitions to round out their core customer service or broader CRM portfolios.
  • Vendors from adjacent markets emerge as competitors. The most interesting disruptor to the current customer service market is coming from cloud contact center providers. They provide an end-to-end solution for customer service: a unified communications infrastructure, routing, and queuing engines for omnichannel interactions. Many offer integrated workforce optimization for agent quality management, scheduling, and forecasting. They also have lighter-weight agent desktops that can be easily hardened or acquired. These vendors were not included in this years wave, but they may well be candidates for the next evaluation round.
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