From Jugaad To Reverse Innovation

Next month, I will be relocating to Singapore after two years in India. These two years have been an amazing learning experience for me, both from a personal and professional point of view. A very intense experience too! Of the few Hindi words I learned during my stint in India, there is one that I am particularly fond of: “jugaad,” which can be translated as “making things work.” This is one way to summarize what India is all about — and why India works as an economy, in spite of the gods and despite all of the challenges that India currently faces as a society.

This concept has taken on a lot more importance on the global scene in recent years from an innovation management point of view. A former Forrester colleague has recently coauthored a book about the concept and how it could “reignite American ingenuity.” The economic and ecological crises that we have been through over the past few years call for new ways of approaching economic development and growth. And the “jugaad” concept could bring interesting solutions to our modern societies.

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Agile Adoption Is A Trip Down The Cone Of Uncertainty

One of the core priniciples of Agile is a realistic attitude about the unknown. We might have a rough idea of how much work it will take to complete a project, but we cannot state with the certainty of a papal bull how we're going to get to that destination. Therefore, Agile teams have to embrace Agile principles like loving plans, but abandoning any fetishistic relationship with specific, immutable plans.

Agilists learn to live with uncertainty, but they're far from fatalistic about it. In fact, the opposite is true: the truly good Agile teams assume a very aggressive posture about the management of uncertainty. In this respect, Agile software teams behave a lot like military professionals. First, they accept the inherent unpredictability that they'll face, either on the battlefield or in the backlog. They adopt maxims like, "No plan survives contact with the enemy," or concepts like friction, to describe the nature, sources, and effects of uncertainty. Next, they develop strategies, like the OODA loop (observe, orient, decide, and act), to navigate through the minefields of unexpected outcomes. And finally, they adopt a great deal of rigor and discipline, plus no small amount of self-criticism, to the application of these uncertainty-management practices.

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Finovate Spring 2012: Digital Financial Services Innovation

I attended Finovatethis week to get a preview of new financial services digital technology vendors. I say preview because if you have ever been to Finovate, you know it’s a little like speed dating, where 63 vendors have 7 minutes each to show you their best moves.  The themes at Finovate this year were not much different as previous years with the focus being on mobile banking, personal financial management, and payments.  However, this year, a few new topics emerged:  rewards, coupons, and mobile banking services for Pre-Paid Visas customers.  Apparently, Pre-Paid Visas are the new black. 

 While there was plenty of interesting and innovative demonstrations, Forrester attended the conference to identify trends and solutions relevant for our retail digital financial services clients. Specifically, we looked at innovative solutions for our clients related to mobile banking, personal financial management, and payments. The following vendors stood out as innovative solutions for mobile banking, personal financial management, and payments:

  •  DWOLLAis a next-generation social, mobile and online payment network. Its financial service product, FiSynch, integrates its technology into financial institutions.
  • IP Commercesolves the development challenge of multi-payer acceptance and multi-payee disbursement
  • iQuantifiprovides users with automated and personalized financial advice online
  • Money Desktopoffers the next generation of personal financial management.  Its slick design makes excellent use of the native app features. 
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Looking Through The Cloud

SaaS vendors must collect customer insights for innovation and compliance.

As of the end of last year, about 30% of companies from our Forrsights Software Survey, Q4 2011, were using some software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution; that number will grow to 45% by the end of 2012 and 60% by the end of 2013. The public cloud market for SaaS is the biggest and fastest-growing of all of the cloud markets ($33 billion in 2012, growing to $78 billion by the end of 2015).

However, most of this growth is based on the cannibalization of the on-premises software market; software companies need to build their cloud strategy or risk getting stuck in the much slower-growing traditional application market and falling behind the competition. This is no easy task, however. Implementing a cloud strategy involves a lot of changes for a software company in terms of products, processes, and people.

A successful SaaS strategy requires an open architecture (note: multitenancy is not a prerequisite for a SaaS solution from a definition point of view but is highly recommended for vendors for better scale) and a flexible business model that includes the appropriate sales incentive structure that will bring the momentum to the street. For the purposes of this post, I’d like to highlight the challenge that software vendors need to solve for sustainable growth in the SaaS market: maintaining and increasing customer insights.

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And Now For Something Completely Different . . .

Market insights professionals tend to work long hours, under a lot of pressure, with a need to produce ever more with ever less. Needless to say, this can make us a bit, well, stressed and serious. Sometimes too serious for our own good.

So, every once in a while, it’s good to connect with our inner child — or connect with our real children (who may be wondering why mommy and daddy are working so much). Last week, Forresterites in Cambridge got to actually do both with our annual Bring Your Kid To Work Day. It brought a whole new meaning to multitasking!

Morning was spent balancing serious emails with serious games. The juxtaposition really helped me understand that we don’t have to be so serious to do great work. In fact, being too serious might actually be an impediment to the creativity and out-of-the-box thinking that market insights professionals so need to bring to the position nowadays!

The height of the day for me was when I brought my nine-year old son to my “office.” OK, it’s a cubicle. Nothing to write home about, but he thought it was the coolest thing in the world! Being still somewhat in a frame of mind to play games, I started to see my office in a whole new light!

So what is the deep analytical insight of this blog? Well, nothing. And sometimes that’s OK. It’s good for market insights professionals to take some time off, do nothing, be like a kid (or with a kid), let your mind wander, and do silly things. This is also, by the way, how creative ideas are formed, how innovations are born, and how, perhaps paradoxically, market insights professionals might find a way to do more with less!