In a recent blog post that I wrote right before the Agile 2012 conference in Dallas, I expressed my hope that the conference sessions would be full of specifics, not generalities. No, thank you, I don't need another presentation explaining what test-driven development is. I'd like to hear someone talk about how they did test-driven development in a large project, or how they made it a standard practice across projects, or whether anyone has had success with it when working with outsourcing partners.
The presentations at this year's conference were a mixed bag, consisting of the following:
Very high-level discussions, often from consultants, about Agile and Lean concepts. These presentations consisted of a lot of name dropping ("Mumblemumble Daniel Pink mumblemumble Geoffrey Moore mumblemumble Taiichi Ohno") and colorful polygons ("You want to be in the two-by-two Grid Of Delight, not the Overlapping Ovals Of Doom"). Unfortunately, the keynote bore a bit too much resemblance to this category.
Emphatic statements of Agile precepts. Sometimes, the arguments were convincing, such as a good workshop-ish session I attended on Agile planning. Others were less persuasive, such as the contention that Scrum should be the governing methodology in every project. (That's exactly the sort of over-the-top pronouncement that gave birth to the phrase "Agile zealot.")
Stephen Powers and I wrote this research together. The full report is available to Forrester clients at this link. The research is part of Forrester’s playbook to advise application development and delivery professionals on how to support their organization’s digital customer experience strategies.
Today’s rush to reach customers on their smartphones and tablets is just the beginning of an explosion of software-fueled digital touchpoints. Smartphones, tablets, eReaders, games, smart TV, goggles . . . there’s no end in sight. As Internet-connected devices spread and people adopt them, companies can reach and engage with their customers wherever they are and in new ways not possible through brick-and-mortar stores, television advertising, and catalogs. Each of these digital touchpoints enables continuous relationships between enterprise and customer.
But digital touchpoints cannot be islands. Customers expect a unified, consistent experience across the several touchpoints they use when engaging your firm. The vast majority of companies don’t yet have the design disciplines, technologies, and organizations to support unified digital experiences. Application development and delivery (AD&D) pros can and should help lead the search for the right practices, talents, and technologies to create unified customer experiences.
Jeffrey S. Hammond and I wrote this research together. The full report is available to Forrester clients at this link.
One Microsoft platform era is ending, and another is beginning. The .NET era as we’ve known it is winding down. .NET doesn’t go away — it becomes Microsoft’s preferred server environment for a broader platform that also includes Windows 8 clients, the Windows Runtime (WinRT) application programming interface (API), and the Windows Azure cloud environment. This collection of technologies will define the new platform era — Forrester calls the set the new Windows platform. Why is Microsoft making a big change now? The answer is simple: Mobile devices from Apple and based on Google’s Android threaten Microsoft’s “Wintel” client franchise. Microsoft must introduce major change to its platform to keep up with advances in client hardware and device acquisition as well as an evolution in the very nature of software applications.
Microsoft has endeavored to make introduction of its new platform technologies evolutionary, and application development and delivery (AD&D) pros won’t face a forced march to the new technologies. But few AD&D leaders yet see the big picture of the new Windows platform, much less understand its implications for their .NET strategies. Our research report advises clients on how Windows 8, WinRT, Windows Azure, and .NET Framework 4.5 can help them develop and support mobile and cloud applications, create new styles of web and desktop applications, and deliver solutions faster, all while minimizing the disruptions to their current .NET activities.
I’ll refrain here from my urge to inject cynicism upon hearing the US government wants to take a more user-friendly and efficient approach to serving its citizens online.
Instead, we’ll applaud United States Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, who just appointed the first class of Presidential Innovation Fellows. These 18 hand-picked, private-sector leaders will spend the next six months in Washington working on five impactful digital projects. Their mandate: to help better connect US citizens to government information, data, and services, all part of the Digital Government Strategy unveiled in May.
Embracing new ideas and technology to solve real problems and deliver winning customer experience management (CXM) strategies is separating winners from losers in business, so why not government? Thinking holistically from the point of view of your customers is at the center of Forrester’s new book, Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business, by my colleagues Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine.
Each of the Fellows’ projects is compelling. You can read more about them here. (Follow the Feds’ innovation on Twitter at #digitalgov and #innovategov.)
As result of “big data” mania, there is an explosion of interest in business intelligence solutions and advanced analytics techniques. In particular, organizations of all sizes want to sharpen their ability to track the health of customer relationship management (CRM) business processes. A common question that I get from my clients is: "What are the best sales metrics that we should track, and how do we do it?"
Recently, my colleague Boris Evelsonand I responded to an inquiry on this topic. Our answer is summarized below.
"How do we set up BI dashboards for a sales-focused company? We currently have Cognos, IBI, and various cubes around a 6 (+) year old Teradata warehouse. We are upgrading our Teradata to its latest technology and have purchased IBI's BI suite to use in conjunction. Our focus is on sales -- How did other organizations start out? We would like to know what works best for different roles from the CEO down to an inside sales rep?"
We believe the answer to your question relies in adopting best practices around analytical sales performance management. You should take a top-down approach that has five steps:
1. First, define the overall sales strategy.
2. Then, identify goals and objectives that you need to achieve in order to make your sales strategy successful.
Every day our clients flood us with inquiries on what to do about mobile and social software and smartphone and tablet adoption—not just as it pertains to their customers but to their employees too. Many firms seem to be scrambling to develop their mobile application strategy, spinning up new teams or working with outside agencies in a rush to introduce their own “killer app” or deploy some mobile capability on their CRM platforms. Smartphones and tablets are just the beginning of an explosion of digital touchpoints we will use to engage with each other, commercial enterprises, and public sector institutions. Gaming platforms, smart TVs, goggles, “magical mirrors”—there’s no end in sight.
I just received yet another call from a reporter asking me to comment on yet another BI vendor announcing R integration. All leading BI vendors are embedding/integrating with R these days, so I was not sure what was really new in the announcement. I guess the real question is the level of integration. For example:
Since R is a scripting language, does a BI vendor provide point-and-click GUI to generate R code?
Can R routines leverage and take advantage of all of the BI metadata (data structures, definitions, etc.) without having to redefine it again just for R?
How easily can the output from R calculations (scores, rankings) be embedded in the BI reports and dashboards? Do the new scores just become automagically available for BI reports, or does somebody need to add them to BI data stores and metadata?
Can the BI vendor import/export R models based on PMML?
Is it a general R integration, or are there prebuilt vertical (industry specific) or domain (finance, HR, supply chain, risk, etc) metrics as part of a solution?
What server are R models executed in? Reporting server? Database server? Their own server?
Then there's the whole business of model design, management, and execution, which is usually the realm of advanced analytics platforms. How much of these capabilities does the BI vendor provide?
Did I get that right? Any other features/capabilities that really distinguish one BI/R integration from another? Really interested in hearing your comments.
We all know the 4 P’s of marketing – product, price, placement, promotion – that dictate the success of your marketing initiative. But, what about customer service? To me, 4 different P’s apply, which are:
Pain – Or more specifically, lack of pain. Customers want effortless service from the touchpoint (web, tablet, in person, etc.) and communication channel of their choice (ex. voice, chat, email, social). They want to receive an accurate, relevant, and complete answer to their question upon first contact with a company. They want to be able to start a conversation on one touchpoint or channel and continue it on another without having to repeat themselves. Forrester data backs this up: 66% of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide good service. 45% of US online adults will abandon their online purchase if they can't find a quick answer to their question.
Personalization – Customers don’t want a “one size fits all” service experience. They want the interaction to be tailored to the products and services that they have purchased, to their specific customer tier, to their past interaction history, and to their specific issue at hand.
Productivity – Customer service organizations must pragmatically walk the balance between customer satisfaction and cost. A customer service experience has to be reliable and efficient. This is a service experience that gets positive customer satisfaction ratings and that can also be delivered at a cost that makes sense to the business.
Are you or someone you know a Mac lover but brutally forced to use a PC at work? Don't fret or give up yet. Many firms such as Genentech are saying "no" to PCs and "yes" to Macs. And other firms are instituting BYOC (bring your own computer) programs that allow Mac followers to worship at work. Is this a trend that has legs, or have we entered the post-PC era where it doesn't really matter what hunk of hardware employees use?
Macs have less than a 10% share in enterprises. But, Senior Analyst and Forrester's resident Mac-whisperer Dave Johnson says that is changing and changing fast as a result of increasing BYOC programs and smaller firms that standardize on Macs.
Listen to Dave's authoritative, balanced analysis in this episode of TechnoPolitics to find out if Macs can make it in the enterprise.