Where Do You Go From Here, CRM Technology?

MyCustomer.com recently asked me what my thoughts were about CRM — why initial CRM projects failed, what has changed to make deployments successful, and what the future holds for CRM. Here is the third and last part of my answers, as well as a link to the published article.

Question: It has long been suggested that ‘CRM’ is becoming increasingly opaque, with some ‘CRM vendors’ sharing few common features. Lithium, for instance, is categorized by Gartner as a ‘Social CRM’ player yet has no sales or marketing functionality at all. Has CRM become too much of a ‘catch-all’ category in your opinion, and what are the dangers of this?

Answer: I think back to the situation that happened a decade ago when the new “e” (electronic) channels became available as customer service channels. There was now customer service, and eService. Fast-forward 10 years. Electronic channels are now just another way of servicing our customers. What matters more is for a company to provide a consistency of experience across the communication channels in order to reinforce and preserve the brand.

I see this happening with social CRM. Social is just another way of selling, marketing, and servicing your customers. The vendors in the CRM landscape will change, with a tremendous amount of consolidation in the vendors landscape. The communication channels will change, but the fundamental value proposition of a CRM system will remain intact.

Question: How do you envisage CRM will continue to evolve as a technology and category?

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The Hottest BPM Trends You Must Embrace In 2011!

As 2010 winds down, many business process professionals are finalizing plans to take their BPM initiatives to the next level in 2011. With so many different BPM trends and predictions floating around out there, I’m sure you’re scratching your head wondering which trends to adopt in 2011 and which trends to push off for another year. 

My colleague Gene Leganza recently published an excellent report titled "The Top 15 Technology Trends EAs Should Watch". I was pleased to see several BPM-specific trends show up in the report’s “Top 15” list. For the second year in a row, the report highlighted social BPM as one of the top trends to watch. In addition, process data management — the combination of MDM and BPM — was highlighted as another top BPM-related trend.

I recommend reading the entire report, since Gene does an excellent job slicing the survey data to show how we selected and ranked the top 15 trends.
 
So, as you're finalizing your 2011 BPM plans, here are the hottest trends and capabilities I recommend adding to your road map:

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Key Findings From Forrester's Latest Enterprise BI Maturity Survey (2010 Update)

Here's what the latest numbers from Forrester's 2010 enterprise BI maturity survey show.

  • Organizations that use BI show increased (+5.7% from 2009) levels of maturity. However, most of the respondents still rate themselves below average on Forrester's BI maturity scale: 2.75 (on a scale of 1-5) for overall maturity, with the following details:
    • 3.25 for governance and ownership.
    • 2.81 for organizational structures.
    • 2.65 for BI processes.
    • 2.82 for data and technology.
    • 2.34 for measurement and adjustment.
    • 2.07 for innovation.
  • A few aspects of BI, mainly platforms and tools, mature, while . . .
  • . . . most aspects of BI such as processes, architectures, and measurements of BI efficiency and effectiveness lag behind.
  • And (drum roll, please) the most interesting, and, I am sure, controversial finding is that Forrester’s predicted trend that Agile BI and BI self-service will trump centralization and consolidation has been confirmed. Here's the proof:
    • In 2010, 59% of the respondents said that they do not have a centralized BI competency solutions center, versus . . .
    •  . . . only 36% in 2009
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Finding the right vendor partner for your IT organization: HCL

Over the past few months I have had the opportunity to spend some quality time with a number of IT vendors such as HCL, Fujitsu, Oracle, and Dell. This has been some time coming, but over the next few weeks I am taking the opportunity to summarize the overall perceptions I have received from these vendors when evaluating them from a CIO perspective - i.e. as a potential partner for your IT organization and your business. Today I'll tackle HCL, and will move onto the other vendors throughout January. The goal of these blog posts is to give an overall perception of the vendors - something that we don't particularly capture so well in a Wave or vendor analysis where we are focusing on one particular capability of a large vendor. I am trying to capture the "culture" or "style" of the vendor, as this is something that is hard to include in a Forrester Wave, but it IS something that makes a significant difference to the partnership in the longer term.

HCL. A company that is comfortable in its own skin.

That is the way I would summarize HCL. They are a company that know where they have come from and know where they are now, and have a pretty good idea that in five years time they will be nothing like they were or are. They don't know what that future is, but they know they have to put the capabilities in place to ensure the organization can effectively morph into that future form in order to achieve longer term success. Employees First, Customers Second is the first step on this pathway, but it is only that. It will not shape the company that HCL is tomorrow, but it will probably provide the groundwork and internal culture to allow the smoother change.

Confident. Capable.

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Evaluating Complexity

We’re starting to get inquiries about complexity. Key questions are how to evaluate complexity in an IT organization and consequently how to evaluate its impact on availability and performance of applications. Evaluating complexity wouldn’t be like evaluating the maturity of IT processes, which is like fixing what’s broken, but more like preventive maintenance: understanding what’s going to break soon and taking action to prevent the failure.

Volume of application and services certainly has something to do with complexity. Watts Humphrey said that code size (in KLOC: thousands of lines of code) doubles every two years, certainly due to increase in hardware capacity and speed, and this is easily validated by the evolution of operating systems over the past years. It stands to reason that, as a consequence, the total number of errors in the code also doubles every two years.

But code is not the only cause of error: Change, configuration, and capacity are right there, too. Intuitively, the chance of an error in change and configuration would depend on the diversity of infrastructure components and on the volume of changes. Capacity issues would also be dependent on these parameters.

There is also a subjective aspect to complexity: I’m sure that my grandmother would have found an iPhone extremely complex, but my granddaughter finds it extremely simple. There are obviously human, cultural, and organizational factors in evaluating complexity.

Can we define a “complexity index,” should we turn to an evaluation model with all its subjectivity, or is the whole thing a wild goose chase?

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The Evolution Of Enterprise Carbon And Energy Management Software

Forrester just published my comprehensive research report (approx. 40 pages) on the current state and future prospects for enterprise carbon and energy management (ECEM) software. We surveyed more than 40 suppliers, did interviews and demos with more than 20, and drew upon our ongoing discussions with consultants, service providers, and of course enterprise buyers that are participating in the takeoff phase of the ECEM market. One of the interesting takeaways from our research is that the carbon and energy management market is actually three market segments, not one (see figure below):

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An Enterprise Data Warehouse Without A Database—Is That Even Conceivable?

 The Twittersphere keeps chirping with definitional disputes about what exactly constitutes an enterprise data warehouse (EDW). This is the sort of debate that we geekier analysts love to engage in, since it gives us a chance to beat our chests and brandish our superior powers of cogitation. 

Since I have exposed skin in this game, I’ll flex my cognitive muscle a little bit more for those who wonder what Forrester’s position is on all this. Given that my update to the Forrester Wave™ for EDW platforms will come out in a month or so, this is probably a good time to level-set the discussion. In this post, I will also point to some trends that are pushing the boundaries of what an EDW is and can do for you. 

Some have argued that an EDW requires a DBMS, but is not, in itself, a DBMS. I’ve heard it said that a DBMS only becomes an EDW when it incorporates a schema and stores data. Still others argue that an EDW is something entirely distinct from a DW (without the “enterprise”) modifier, a data mart, or an operational data store (ODS). 

I find all of these perspectives hairsplitting and misleading, in that they blur the actual distinctions among these architectural constructs. Paradoxically and obliquely, though, they all hint at the rapid evolution of the EDW into something more protean and virtualized. 

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5 Tech Vendors' Different Views On The IT-for-Sustainability Opportunity

5 Tech Vendors' Different Views on the 'IT-for-Green' Opportunity

My analyst duties took me to a number of industry and tech-vendor events this fall; in fact, looking back at my calendar, I have been out of my home area in Boston for nine of the last 12 weeks. The upside of all that time in airplane seats is that I get to meet and interact with leaders across the technology industry, including supplier companies, large and small, and their customers and partners.

In the first 10 days of December I spent time with five important technology suppliers, each of which has very different views on the opportunity in the broad arena of IT-for-sustainability (i.e., how information technology products and services help corporations achieve their sustainability goals).

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Text Analytics: A Key Trend To Watch Over The Next Three Years

My colleague Gene Leganza, who serves Enterprise Architecture Professionals, compiled the top 15 technology trends EA should watch over the next three years. He highlights technologies that are new or changing, have the potential for significant impact, and require an IT-led strategy to exploit.

He highlights text analytics technology in the report because understanding unstructured data plays a critical part in daily operations. Enterprises have too much content to review and annotate manually. Text analytics products from vendors like Temis and SAS mine, interpret, and add structure to information to reveal hidden patterns and relationships.  In my 2009 overview of text analytics, I cite the primary use cases for these tools: voice of the customer, competitive intelligence, operations improvements, and compliance and law enforcement.

But there are a few other sweet spots for text analytics tools in the enterprise:

Analytics and search: Analytics tools surface and visualize patterns; search tools return discrete results to match an expressed need. But these disciplines are blending. People want to drill in to high-level analysis to find the specific thing customers buzz about.  And many searchers don’t know how to articulate their need as a query and are looking for the big picture on a topic or trend. Forrester expects these solutions to come together, as search tools mainstream semantic features like entity extraction out of the box, and analytics vendors introduce new ways to investigate relationships and data output.  

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Benchmark Your Job Responsibilities Against Peers

Consumer product strategists hold a wide variety of job titles: product manager, product development manager, services manager, or a variation of general manager, vice president, or even, sometimes, CEO or other C-level title. Despite these varying titles, many of you share a great number of job responsibilities with one another.

We recently fielded our Q4 Global Consumer Product Strategy Research Panel Online Survey to 256 consumer product strategy professionals from a wide variety of industries. Why do this? One reason was to better understand the job responsibilities that you, in your role, take on every day. But the other reason was to help you succeed: By benchmarking yourself against peers, you can identify new job responsibilities for growth, improve your effectiveness, and ultimately advance your career.

What did we find out? The bottom line is that consumer product strategy jobs are pretty tough. We found a wide range of skills are required to do the job well, since consumer product strategists are expected to:

  • Drive innovation. Consumer product strategists are front-and-center in driving innovation, which ideally suffuses the entire product life cycle. Being innovative is a tall task, but all of you are expected to be leaders here.
     
  • Think strategically... You've got to have a strategic view of your markets, identifying new concepts and business models and taking a long-term view of tomorrow's products.
     
  • ...but execute as a business person. While thinking strategically, you generally have to execute tactically as well. You're business unit owners. At the senior-most levels, you hold the P&L for the product or portfolio of products.
     
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