Today I attended a conference for Russian entrepreneurs organized by Digital October. I’m going to digress a moment and describe the location which for a Moscow veteran is one of the coolest places I’ve seen in new Russia. Digital October has taken over part of the old Red October Confectionary Factory, a red brick factory on the banks of the river on the outside with a state-of-the-art, loft-like business space on the inside. The building has a view of the Kremlin and of the new church built on the other side of the river (where the world largest outdoor swimming pool used to be for those of us who knew Moscow before the church reconstruction).
Today's Digital October event, “The Art of Going Global,” brought together startup founders, VCs and entrepreneurs to discuss how to expand globally, including global marketing and PR, and getting funding from global VCs.
During the VC panel, Alisa Chumachenko, Founder and CEO of Game Insight, and one of the entrepreneurs in the audience, really grilled the panelists asking them to name their top geographical markets, top horizontal markets and top vertical markets. Some responses were not surprising. Others were.
During the past decade, I have worked with many analyst relations (AR) people as well as specialist AR firms. I have never blogged about them in the past, and I have no intention to do so in the future. Earlier this week, however, I saw that an employee of one of the specialist AR firms authored and published a comment on my most recent report: “Global Banking Platform Deals 2011: Functionality”.
This comment gives the impression that my report only provides common wisdom in that it only suggests that “one of the key differentiators for system selection is a strong track record.” The author also explains that this “may be at odds with the current market landscape as new regulations are set to change the way that the capital markets work and vendors are all developing new functionality to cope” – just to mention a few examples.
My perception is that the author either did not read my entire report or preferred to focus on the six-and-a-half-line summary of an eleven-page report – with a comment that is longer than the summary. Why this perception? First of all, the report is about banking platforms, and Forrester’s definition of banking platforms does not even mention capital markets. More importantly, I do not disagree at all with the author’s statement as far as the relevance of supporting new regulation is concerned – just the opposite, albeit more from the perspective of retail/consumer, private, or corporate/commercial banking.
I continue to field a steady stream of inquiries about “mobile CRM.” There has been an explosion of mobile devices and applications entering enterprises through corporate-approved channels as well as via employees who bring their own devices to the office. Assembling all the components of a mobile CRM solution to meet the precise use cases for specific types of customer-facing workers requires navigating a complex set of decisions, including:
Application types. Applications can be native (thick client), Web or hybrid (native plus Web), or cross-platform (mobile middleware or rich Internet client applications). Today, developers build specialized thick-client applications that are downloaded onto PCs or mobile devices. But the rise of HTML5 will solidify the browser as a viable local host for applications. With HTML5, the browser becomes a more capable thin client, accessing services on a centralized, cloud-based host.
CRM applications. All of the leading CRM application vendors focusing on large enterprises support mobile access to their applications, and they are racing to upgrade their capabilities to keep up with the new form factors that mobile workers demand. These vendors and their products include Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Oracle Siebel CRM and Oracle CRM On Demand, salesforce.com, and SAP CRM. CRM suite vendors focused on the midmarket, such as CDC Pivotal CRM, Maximizer Software, Sage SalesLogix, and SugarCRM, also have new mobile solutions offerings.
It was Sunday morning and I got up around 6:00 as I do most mornings, and picked up the Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition over a cup of coffee. I was moved by a story about middle-aged professionals struggling to find work for 3 years or more, and it got me thinking about how the role of I&O professionals is changing right now, who is at risk, and what skills will offer the best chances of staying employed (and hopefully happy) for years to come. Many of us are approaching or well into our 40s and beyond, and the older we get, the more difficult it can be to find new jobs.
How you are perceived by others matters most
I'm a strong believer that our employability (true for everyone - analysts included) is directly proportional to the perceived value that we provide to the people around us and those in the hierarchy that we are directly accountable to. Customer value that we create is a factor as are formal metrics, but let's face it, peer feedback often matters more than anything else in many organizations, and there is inevitably an invisible org chart in addition to the one drawn by HR. Few of us are lucky enough to work for companies where the measures of performance are clear and include a strong customer-focus component (I work for such a company, but it's not common) - let alone what behaviors and skills will give us the best shot at job security and growth. There are just so many variables.
Perception is a function of your mindset and daily conduct
Poor customer service experiences lead to increased service costs. 75% of consumers move to another channel when online customer service fails, and Forrester estimates that unnecessary service costs to online retailers due to channel escalation are $22 million on average.
Poor customer service experiences risk customer defection and revenue losses.Forrester survey data shows that approximately 30% of a company’s customers (or more) have poor experiences. And even if a fraction of these defect, this represents a loss in annual revenue.
Growing up in the UK, one of the TV shows I remember watching featured Australian artist and musician Rolf Harris. As each show drew to a close, Rolf would quickly set to work filling a large empty board with seemingly random brush strokes of different colors. About mid-way through his painting, Rolf would turn to the studio and TV audience and ask with an impish grin, “Can you tell what it is yet?” As he continued painting, the strokes would finally resolve themselves into a recognizable image like a portrait or a landscape.
When it comes to revisiting billing software and established practices, many firms are reaching that middle phase. While they have the sense of something starting to take shape, they don’t yet have any clear sense of what the ultimate endpoint will be. Is that your experience with your organization and the industry it serves?
Firms are simultaneously trying to anticipate which types of billing will resonate with prospective and existing customers, while also responding to what their peers are offering. Frequently, one or more competitors in a given industry have emerged with a fresh approach to packaging and charging for products and/or services, which often involves some type of subscription billing. However, what tends to remain unclear is whether the billing type in the ascendant is the ultimate market destination or just a midpoint on the way to a completely different billing model.
Last December, I published three things I'd tell your CIO. Since then, I've spent time with dozens and dozens of sourcing and vendor management professionals, CIOs, and leaders of application development and delivery, including last week's Paris Forrester Forums. Most days, I share our ongoing research on what impact today's software-fueled, consumer-led digital disruption has on your ability to meet and exceed the expectations of your customers and the employees serving them. For some folks, software and software development remains a commodity. But for many, the need to deliver great software has taken hold of 2013 planning discussions. With July just around the corner, and as you start 2013 planning, focus on what you need to start delivering great software (remember, software is your business), and keep these three things I'd tell you and your CIO in mind:
Think you developed a secure mobile app? Think again. Many mobile app developers have a naive notion of app security that leads them into believing their apps are secure when they are not. Some developers authenticate users and encrypt passwords and think that they’re all set, but there could still be security holes so wide you could sail a ship through them. The results of releasing an insecure app can include financial loss, reputation tarnish, lawsuits, and Twitter shame.
When designing your mobile apps and mobile backend services, be sure to consider the six security properties of confidentiality, integrity, availability, authentication, authorization, and nonrepudiation (see Figure below). Simply considering how each security property applies to your app won't make it more secure. You will need to perform threat modeling on your design and find solutions to secure your app based on your specific technology and use cases. Don't forget that the mobile backend services must be secure too.
Watching the Mobile Device Management market is a bit like watching a sneeze. My colleagues Christian Kane and Benjamin Gray are tracking nearly 75 vendors in the space, many of them just a few years old. We've also seen a fresh round of acquisitions as established endpoint management vendors look to shore up their flanks and freshen their portfolios.
Differentiation amongst vendors is hard to come by, as is long-term enterprise MDM experience. And that's what makes LANDesk's acquisition of Wavelink interesting. Mobile Device Management in an industrial or field setting is more than just enforcing passcode restrictions, enabling remote wipe in case of loss, or rolling out software. Companies like Wal-Mart and FedEx have significant portions of their businesses that depend on handheld devices for package delivery, inventory and point of sale. MDM in these settings involves a range of capabilities from diagnosing connectivity and printing issues over the air, to interfacing modern mobile apps to mainframe-based warehouse inventory systems.
Perhaps the best way to describe what Wavelink does is "Industrial MDM". They boast 15,000 customers in 85 countries, and have been in the business for several years. The flagship product is called Avalanche and its historical strengths have been in Windows Mobile environments. They added iOS and Android a couple of years ago and are about to release their 2nd generation release of the same.
Why it makes sense for LANDesk:
Competitive: It gives LANDesk the opportunity to own the IP for MDM technology and positions them differently than other MDM solutions on the market given Wavelink's industrial focus.
If there is one theme that jumps out of my most recent client discussions, it is the need for business smarts in our approach to smart cities. Cities are faced with a barrage of vendor solutions pitched as the holy grail of X, where X is public safety or transportation or some other city department. I feel like the smart city discussion has reached of fevered pitch with conferences, congresses, expos and summits cropping up around the world. But what is real and now as opposed to truly aspirational and future?
Smart computing is really about putting together the right pieces of technology, not about any particular smart technology. Yes, the ability to capture and aggregate data is important. But so is the ability to share information and collaborate. A new Forrester report on smart computing addresses the realization that “smart” is really about finding the right solution and leveraging the new technologies available to better connect both machines (and information) and the people who can use them. It’s less about smart technology and more about using technology to get smart, or really using technology intelligently. (I really wanted to say “smartly” but couldn’t do it).