The open source project, Memcached, is a common staple for many of the largest Web sites including facebook, twitter, wikipedia, and others. The enterprise software vendors haven entered the market and have added features that are more attractive to enterprise IT - especially to Java shops.
In recent months, we have had a significant uptick in client inquiries about distributed cache technologies and how they can be used to improve performance, scale, and reduce costs of Web and application architectures. We are also encountering distributed cache technology in conjunction with other platform technologies such as CEP. There is also an intriguing potential for distributed cache technology to become a staple of cloud computing environments (some might say amazon S3 has the properties of a distributed cache).
I'm nobody's fan boy. I don't love any particular brand. Never have. Never will. It's not in my DNA. I love my family, I love food and wine and dinner conversation, I love making music with the band, and I love to ride my bike on Metro West roads with a buncha guys. I don't love products.
But I do love great technology that improves lives and businesses. That's my calling card and the reason I work at Forrester Research.
We have lots of data and analysis that illuminates the future. It's our stock in trade. Data like the level of enterprise IT support for BYO phones (46% provide some support). Or the number of working Americans that own a mobile phone (84%) or a smartphone (7.4%). BTW, this data shows where the real growth potential in this market is.
So what matters in the smartphone platform enterprise wars? Great products, stellar service, attractive prices, and memorable marketing matter of course. But in my experience with platforms wars and device wars through the ages, some other things will matter as well:
BYO phones will matter a lot because it allows firms to deliver the amazing benefits of smartphones to more people at lower cost. And that puts the decision into the hands of an individual (though perhaps from an approved list. [Forrester clients should ping me to see this data; it's an important shift in the market.]
Despite the current economic downturn, the need for organizations to create differentiation through unique customer experiences, strive for deeper insight into customer needs and behaviors, and serve customers cost-effectively has not disappeared. The need for “CRM” is not going away.
However, when I surveyed 133 organizations, using at one least of 24 different CRM technology solutions, I found that the risk of a spectacular project failure is still high. These companies reported over 200 problems, comprised of 27 risk areas in four categories. Thirty-three percent of the problems were related to technology; 27% spotlighted inadequate business processes; 22% were related to “people” challenges; and 18% comprised CRM strategy and deployment issues
Consider these statements as they portray your organization. A “Yes” or “No” answer will spotlight the hazards before they sink your program.
1. “The CRM solution we have chosen is mature and well-proven in use at other organizations with requirements similar to our company."
2. “The CRM solution we have chosen is flexible and can be easily adapted to meet unanticipated requirements in the future.”
3. “The CRM solution we have chosen does not have any major functionality deficiency gaps relative to our requirements."
I recently took part in my first Wi-Fi enabled flight (AA 387 STL — SAN) and, in addition to raving about the experience, I found it one of the better ways to make productive use of otherwise lost time. While the speed was reasonable, and better than I'd expected, there was a separate tier of experience that I encountered as a result of being a mobile user accessing Forrester's services and applications from 30,000 feet.
After a wave of pretty abysmal attempts in the early part of this decade, virtual chat agents pretty much disappeared from the scene. However, the past couple of years has seen a new wave of implementations of this customer-facing technology with some large-company implementations, including “Frank” on the Verizon website (Ask Verizon); “Louise” at eBay France (Votre conseillère virtuelle); and “Anna” at Ikea (Have a Question?). Virtual chat sits in the interaction spectrum between search and live customer service agents and combines natural language processing, conversational interactions, and an (optional) animated persona.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve spoken to three different vendors in this marketplace — all of whom have seen an uptick in the their business over the past 12 months. The common themes expressed by all three — the ability to engage customers with a more conversational tone where questions are answered, rather than search results based on keywords presented; and common results of better sales and higher service call avoidance, indicate that virtual agents may make a good corporate “hire” in the right circumstances. Rough estimates of costs — about $0.25 per successful resolution of the customer problem.
Jim addresses three key questions in this podcast: Question 1: What exactly is in-database analytics and why should business process professionals care? Question 2: Is in-database analytics a new approach, or is it an evolution of existing practices? Question 3: What are the main business drivers for in-database analytics? Question 4: How are data warehousing and data mining vendors supporting in-database analytics?
I talked recently with the SAP CRM management team and partnering with SAP appears to becoming less onerous for vendors of customer-facing complementary software products. Many of these interaction-centric products in areas such as email management, knowledge management, and communication channel management had been forced into a go-it-alone strategy when looking to integrate with SAP CRM and Customer Service installations due to complex partnering rules and high fees. In a recent briefing, SAP appears to have loosened the reins a bit – structuring mutually beneficial agreements with a number of companies (announcements to follow) outside of their traditional partner channels. This bodes well for all three stakeholders in such a relationship: SAP, who broadens the capabilities of its product with well-integrated point solutions; independent software vendors, who can now work with SAP to tighten integrations; and users, who will benefit from co-marketed, tested solutions. As an indication that this is not just trading logos on PowerPoint decks, in at least one case, most of the work to integrate the products is taking place by SAP within the SAP product. Expect more news about the specifics of this new strategy in next few weeks. This is a vast change from prior policies which offered potential “partners” two choices – take it or leave it.