What Is The Value Of Agile In Your Organization?

From: Forrester Analysts Tom Grant and Diego Lo Giudice
To: App dev and delivery practitioners, especially ones with Agile experience
Re: It’s time for us to take another look at the value adoption, and we’re inviting you to join our survey

Starting around 2009, Agile moved into the mainstream of software development methodologies with startling speed. Today, Forrester’s data shows approximately 38% of developers have adopted Agile across a wide range of industries. The demand for Agile is so great that it has broken through many potential barriers, including ones such as compliance. As year-to-year growth of Agile adoption continues, it’s clear that a lot of teams are seeing a lot of value in Agile. But what kind of value? In some of our earlier surveys about Agile, it was clear that velocity was only one of several perceived benefits.

For example, Scrum is far and away the most widely adopted flavor of Agile. Scrum focuses on how teams organize themselves and how they organize their work. For teams that have struggled to make accurate estimates or adapt to changes to the backlog, the attraction of Scrum isn’t just velocity.

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Customer Service Done Right In 10 Easy Steps: Step 2

We all know that the gap between a customer’s expectations and the service they receive is huge. Customers are increasingly knowledgeable about products and demand value-added, personalized service. Businesses struggle with understanding which initiatives will move the needle in a positive direction and are thus worth investing in. Here is the second tip in my 10-part blog series on how to master the service experience.

Step 2: Is your customer service aligned with your company brand?

Meeting the needs of your customers are important. However, it’s just as important to stay true to your brand and design a service experience that supports your value proposition. Customers need to know what your company represents — which is especially important in the message-cluttered social media world that we live in — and have this brand reinforced every time they interact with you during the sales process, and for every interaction after the initial sale.

These companies have aligned their service offering to help reinforce their brand with their customers:

  • Apple. Its products are high-style and priced at a premium. Apple’s customer service is very much in line with its brand. The firm delivers customer service on the customer’s terms — you can arrange a phone call with an Apple Expert who specializes in your exact question and can talk with them now or later at your convenience. They’ll even call you. You can email Apple or browse its extensive knowledge base.
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The New Productivity Platforms: Your Solution To The AD&D Crunch

For fast delivery of new business applications, conventional Java and .NET coding is usually no longer your best choice. Instead, a generation of new productivity platforms holds the potential to speed initial application delivery and ongoing updates. These platforms abstract away configuration chores, repetitive coding tasks, and long testing and quality assurance (QA) cycles. Some allow application development and delivery (AD&D) teams to delegate application delivery — in part or in whole — to business experts. AD&D teams under pressure to deliver more with less should evaluate these platforms. This research outlines this emerging category's benefits and risks. Full report URL: http://www.forrester.com/rb/Research/new_productivity_platforms_solution_to_ad%26d_crunch/q/id/58576/t/2. (Note: Pay wall.)

Most application development and delivery teams have simple marching orders: "Do more with less — and fast. And when you've done more with less, figure out how to do even more with still less on your next set of projects. And deliver even faster."

We've not met a single application development and delivery professional during the past two years who isn't struggling to meet this imperative. Why? Competitive markets, business models, and consumer preferences change so quickly, and keeping up requires either making changes to existing software or writing entirely new applications.

Clients react to the AD&D crunch in a variety of ways, but one of the most common responses is to search for new development processes and tools. And right now, AD&D teams will find that a bumper crop of new development-productivity tools has arrived for their consideration. We call these products the new productivity platforms and define them as:

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Increased Demand For MFT Is Being Driven By Enterprise Compliance Requirements

Over the past couple of years, we have noticed a significant uptick in inquiries from clients on the subject of MFT to support external data exchanges. In fact, one survey listed MFT as the primary area of planned enhancements to their B2B program (see the graphic).

But what is driving this need? Our discussions with clients indicate that the primary push for MFT is coming from the business side and is related to the increasing number of compliance regulations that organizations must deal with. For example, information security provisions are extensively covered under HIPAA regulations in the US healthcare sector and Sarbanes-Oxley and Basel II laws covering financial reporting. Similar regulations have come up in other sectors as well.

Another factor is the number of highly visible security exposures that have resulted in the compromise of company and employee information over the past several years. This has captured the attention of both senior management and auditors in forcing a review of existing file transfer processes that typically reveal many shortcomings that can be overcome with the use of a robust MFT tool.

We expect that security and privacy demands will continue to grow, so expect MFT to be an increasingly hot topic for some time to come.

Customer Service Done Right In 10 Easy Steps

Today, the gap between a customer’s expectations and the service they receive is huge. Customers are increasingly knowledgeable about products and demand value-added, personalized service.

Companies know that good service is important: 90% of customer service decision-makers tell Forrester that it’s critical to their company’s success, and 63% think its importance has risen. Yet companies struggle to offer an experience that meets their customers’ expectations at a cost that make sense to them, especially in these economically challenging times.

The end result for companies is significant: escalating service costs, customer satisfaction numbers at rock-bottom levels, and anecdotes of poor service experiences amplified over social channels that can lead to brand erosion. 

Mastering the customer service experience is hard to do. Focusing on the end-to-end experience can help you move the needle in a positive direction. In this 10-part blog series, I will outline one tip each day that you should think about.

Tip 1: Do you know how your customers want to interact with you?

Customers know what good service is and demand it from each interaction they have, over any communication channel that they use. Forrester’s data shows that in general, customers still prefer to use the phone, closely followed by email and web self-service. That being said, customer demographics affect channel preference with the younger generation more comfortable using peer-to-peer communication and instant service channels like chat. Its important to understand the demographics and communication preferences of your customers.

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MFT Alternatives Cover A Wide Range Of Needs

There are four main categories of MFT solutions available in the market today, including:

  • Robust, general-purpose solutions. These are products that provide comprehensive MFT features based on enhanced FTP capability in the areas of security, administration, and governance support. One example in this area is IBM Sterling Connect:Direct, which has a long history in providing MFT support. Many other vendors, including Axway, Ipswitch, and Tibco, also provide products in this category.

  • High-speed solutions. A small number of vendors provide MFT products specifically designed to support high-speed file transfers. Tibco's RocketStream and GroupLogic's MassTransit are leading examples of this type of product.

  • Software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based solutions. Several vendors, including Accellion, Adobe, Aspera, Cyber-Ark Software, IntraLinks, Ipswitch, Liaison Technologies, ShareFile, and Smith Micro Software, offer MFT solutions hosted in the cloud.

  • Ad hoc and email-based solutions. Vendors including Ipswitch, Smith Micro Software, and YouSendIt provide MFT solutions based on commonly available email systems such as Microsoft Outlook.

Which one is best for your organization? It all depends. In fact, you may need more than one type. Take a look at the following report for a sampling of vendors providing MFT solutions. http://www.forrester.com/rb/Research/market_overview_managed_file_transfer_solutions/q/id/58585/t/2

What Is The State Of Your Consumer-Facing Mobile Initiatives?

My colleague Julie Ask is fielding a survey that asks a number of questions about your company's consumer-facing mobile strategy. If you have a few minutes to spare, please take the survey to answer her questions and help us out with some in-process mobile research.

Here's the link to the survey.