What Are Companies And Brands Investing In To Deliver Great Digital Experiences?

The intense work by companies and brands to deliver stellar digital experiences (DXes) has been exciting to witness. This isn’t just incremental change for most organizations; it’s transformational. (Think: Outside In, a new book by two Forrester colleagues.)

But these things don’t just happen. It’s not magic. It takes significant planning and commitment across silos: Execs establish a mandate. Digital strategists and marketing pros set direction. User experience and design pros translate the vision. The same goes for marketers and content strategists.

Application developers, meanwhile, must choose and implement the right tools and technology to support DX initiatives. It isn’t easy figuring out what to prioritize (hello, internal politics), where to source solutions (suite vs. best-of-breed?), and how to roll out new capabilities to eager users.

In my research focus area, web content management (WCM), solution vendors have tried to fill the gaps and deliver DX features by building on their own platform or partnering with third-party providers.

Where are organizations investing to support digital customer experiences? Forrester asked 170 WCM leaders earlier this year and their answers, charted below, provide a snapshot of their current status and foreshadow near-term DX investments.

Mobile delivery, video streaming, email tools, and content targeting are high on the list of capabilities or near-term focus to serve digital experience requirements, according to respondents.

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What Do BI Vendors Mean When They Say They Integrate With Hadoop

There's certainly a lot of hype out there about big data. As I previously wrote, some of it is indeed hype, but there are still many legitimate big data cases - I saw a great example during my last business trip. Hadoop certainly plays a key role in the big data revolution, so all business intelligence (BI) vendors are jumping on the bandwagon and saying that they integrate with Hadoop. But what does that really mean? First of all, Hadoop is not a single entity; it's a conglomeration of multiple projects, each addressing a certain niche within the Hadoop ecosystem, such as data access, data integration, DBMS, system management, reporting, analytics, data exploration, and much much more. To lift the veil of hype, I recommend that you ask your BI vendors the following questions

  1. Which specific Hadoop projects do you integrate with (HDFS, Hive, HBase, Pig, Sqoop, and many others)?
  2. Do you work with the community edition software or with commercial distributions from MapR, EMC/Greenplum, Hortonworks, or Cloudera? Have these vendors certified your Hadoop implementations?
  3. Do you have tools, utilities to help the client data into Hadoop in the first place (see comment from Birst)?
  4. Are you querying Hadoop data directly from your BI tools (reports, dashboards) or are you ingesting Hadoop data into your own DBMS? If the latter:
    1. Are you selecting Hadoop result sets using Hive?
    2. Are you ingesting Hadoop data using Sqoop?
    3. Is your ETL generating and pushing down Map Reduce jobs to Hadoop? Are you generating Pig scripts?
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Focus On Customer Experience To Navigate Digital Disruption

Executives don't decide how customer-centric their companies are—their customers are the ultimate arbiters. Digital disruptors—a term coined by Forrester describing companies that leverage digital platforms to take advantage of customers' heightened expectations and deliver a more compelling product and service experience at a lower cost—are threatening traditional business models. I will be exploring this challenge and discussing how to establish the right digital agenda on October 18-19 at the upcoming Forrester conference Developing Digital Disruption: A Forum For Application Development & Delivery Professionals.

Our research shows that a good experience impacts customers' behavior in three ways: 1) they are more willing to consider another purchase; 2) they are less likely to switch their business to a competitor; and 3) they are more likely to make a favorable recommendation. But how does that affect a company's bottom line? We estimate that the revenue impact from a 10-percentage-point improvement in a larger service company's performance, as measured by Forrester's Customer Experience Index score, could exceed $1 billion.

During our research, we discovered three customer experience (CX) trends that you can capitalize on:

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TechnoPolitics Podcast: Government Website User Experience Design

The US federal government maintains a mind-boggling 1,200+ websites. The user experience design varies widely from being totally fresh and inspired to like visiting a museum dedicated to 1998 website design. This range of design is not just true for the government but also for companies and organizations. Many firms have gone through one or more redesigns in the past few years. That is harder to do for the departments and agencies of the federal government because they are often handcuffed by budget cycles, contracting rules, information regulations, and lack of design talent.

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Four Points To Ponder In A Digitally Disruptive World

It’s amazing how quickly the world of digital experiences is changing technology, and vice-versa. I’ve covered web content management (WCM) since I joined Forrester in 2006, and that particular market has changed quite in a bit, due in large part to the disruptions caused by digital experiences. These days, many more stakeholders participate in the WCM decision-making process, traditional technology decision-makers can no longer afford to make technology decisions in a silo, and key WCM players are refining and expanding their strategies. I’ll tackle this in more depth with Ron Rogowski next month at our Forum in Orlando but, if you’re a digital experience (DX) decision-maker, you should keep in mind:

·         Don’t hold your breath for a true DX suite. Though some of the vendors are promising integrated suites that contain content management, commerce, analytics, optimization, etc., none has best-of-breed offerings in all of these areas. And even if one were available, haven’t you already made too many investments to do yet another rip-and-replace? Some of the vendor strategies remind me of the great promises of the all-encompassing enterprise content management suite (remember how that turned out)?

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BI In Russia And Israel

I recently had both the privilege and pleasure to do a deep dive into the cold and warm BI waters in Russia and Israel. Cold - because some of my experiences were sobering. Warm - because the reception could not have been more pleasant. My presentations were well attended (sponsored by www.in4media.ru in Russia and www.matrix.co.il in Israel), showing high levels of BI interest, adoption, experience, and expertise.  Challenges remain the same, as Russian and Israeli businesses struggle with BI governance, ownership, SDLC and PMO methodologies, data, and app integration just like the rest of the world. I spent long evening hours with a large global company in Israel that grew rapidly by M&A and is struggling with multiple strategic challenges: centralize or localize BI, vendor selection, end user empowerment, etc. Sound familiar?

But it was not all business as usual. A few interesting regional peculiarities did come out. For example, the "BI as a key competitive differentiator" message fell on mostly deaf ears in Russia, as Russian companies don't really compete against each other. Territories, brands, markets, and spheres of influence are handed top down from the government or negotiated in high-level deals behind closed doors. That is not to say, however, that BI in Russia is only used for reporting - multiple businesses are pushing BI to the limits such as advanced customer segmentation for better upsell/cross-sell rates. 

I was also pleasantly surprised and impressed a few times (and for those of you who know me well, you know that it's pretty hard to impress the old veteran):

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Digital Disruption: What Software Dev & Delivery Competencies Matter?

The team and I have been testing a hypothesis for the past year while meeting with business and IT leaders in large enterprises, agencies, and smaller firms, and I'd like your input. My working hypothesis is this:

 

In this age of digital disruption and a society empowered by software-fueled technology, firms that can cultivate competencies in software development and delivery will establish competitive advantage, as they will be better equipped to meet and exceed the engagement and experience needs of their customers, employees, and constituencies.

 

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What Is IT’s Role In Digital Customer Experience Strategies?

 

 

This is a guest post from Anjali Yakkundi, a researcher serving application development & delivery professionals. 

Organizations today often take a broad focus on digital customer experiences, which carries great risks for your firm: too much experimentation for not enough return; too much duplication and waste; and too little use of data to drive and measure business results. And often, IT professionals are only involved at the end of a digital experience strategy. I’ve spoken with many individuals who recount instances when the business only comes to IT when it's ready to implement a campaign or a large-scale digital experience initiative.

 The result? IT ends up playing the “no man” to marketing teams (or eBusiness, or sales, or product teams), which then makes the IT-marketing divide even greater. Instead, IT must be an enabler for exceptional customer experiences. IT pros can and should provide major contributions to – if not help lead - their firms’ digital customer experience strategies along with marketing, line-of-business, and/or eBusiness leaders.

How can IT begin to take a more vocal role in the creation of digital experience strategies? Start by aligning better with the business, defining your technology architecture, redefining your policies and procedures, and updating your “must-have” IT skill sets.

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What I Have Learned Being A Customer Service Analyst

The anniversary of my two-year tenure at Forrester quietly snuck by me last week, and when I remembered about the milestone, it gave me pause to think about how much the customer service landscape has changed these past years and how quickly it keeps on changing. Here are my key thoughts:

  1. The customer service landscape is complex. We mapped the maturity and business value of 24 key contact center technologies in our Forrester TechRadar on this topic and found a number of technologies – case management, channel management, WFM, IVR, etc. – at the peak of the maturity curve, which is no surprise given that contact center operations are focused on productivity and process optimization. However, there are newer technologies such as real-time decisioning, process guidance, interaction analytics, VOC, and social service that are starting to be leveraged by companies needing to differentiate themselves on customer experience. I expect to see an acceleration of technologies used in organizations outside of customer service to start being leveraged by contact centers.
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TechnoPolitics Podcast: The State Of Customer Analytics 2012

Forrester defines customer analytics as:

"The set of methods, tools, and technologies used to analyze customer data - where the goal is to inform customer acquisition and retention, enhance customer relationships, and drive customer profitability."

To better understand The State Of Customer Analytics 2012, Forrester analyst Srividya Sridharan surveyed 90 customer analytics professionals from around the world about their customer analytics practices. Among her findings:

  • 54% of respondents say managing and integrating data from multiple sources is the biggest inhibitor to performing more-advanced analytics.
  • 42% of respondents say they lack analytics resources.
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