Take a second to think back to the year 2009. The US was in the thick of the financial crisis; companies were slashing budgets, and the unemployment rate was in double-digits. And do you remember a little thing called the “swine flu”? The World Health Organization (WHO) deemed the H1N1 strain of the swine flu influenza a global pandemic in June 2009. These were just some of the events top of mind for much of the nation and the broader global community three years ago.
2009 was also the year that the annual Forrester And Disaster Recovery Journal (DRJ) Survey focused on the role of risk management in business technology (BT) resiliency and crisis communications programs. Needless to say, the survey was fairly timely. Forrester found risk management was becoming a more common practice for business continuity teams, but that there was still more room for further collaboration with their risk management counterparts.
Fast forward three years, and the 2012 Forrester/DRJ survey is again focusing on the role of risk management in BT resiliency and crisis communications (you can take the 2012 survey by clicking here). A lot has changed since 2009 with a number of new events, technologies, and organizational challenges currently plaguing business continuity and risk management professionals.
This case study is from TJ Keitt and my social business playbook report, “The Road To Social Business Starts With A Burning Platform.” A social business harnesses mobile technology to empower sales reps in their moments of customer – or in this case, patient – engagement. Here’s the story.
Sales executive Barry Somervell has a passion for arming his team with tools that yield productivity; he believes in the power of technology to transform the selling process. Barry was asked to come into Kindred Healthcare, a $5 billion supplier of post-acute-care services, to energize and modernize its nursing center division's sales process to bring patients into its 224 skilled nursing and transitional care centers. Barry quickly saw that the tools that the "clinical liaisons" carried were lacking. This group of sales professionals, from a clinical or nursing background, needed better ways to collaborate with colleagues and with hospital medical staff to offer the right services to patients about to be discharged and in need of rehabilitation services. You can see Barry and his team in this video.
Out of all the inquiries I get from Forrester enterprise clients, the above question is by far the most common these days. However, the question shows that we have a lot to learn about true public cloud environments.
I know I sound like a broken record when I say this, but public clouds are not traditional hosting environments, and thus you can't just put any app that can be virtualized into the cloud and expect the same performance and resiliency. Apps in the cloud need to adapt to the cloud - not the other way around (at least not today). This means you shouldn't be thinking about what applications you can migrate to the cloud. That isn't the path to lower costs and greater flexibility. Instead, you should be thinking about how your company can best leverage cloud platforms to enable new capabilities. Then create those new capabilities as enhancements to your existing applications.
This advice should sound familiar if you have been in the IT business for more than a decade. Back in 1999 we did the same thing. As the Web was emerging, we didn't pick up our UNIX applications and move them to the web. We instead built new web capabilities and put them in front of the legacy systems (green screen scrapers, anyone?). The new web apps were built in a new way - using the LAMP stack, scaling out, and being geographically dispersed through hosting providers and content delivery networks. We learned new programming architectures, languages, and techniques for availability and performance. Cloud platforms require the same kind of thinking.
In a recent post, I shot down the myth that you can predict the ratio between web content management license cost and implementation services. (You can read the post here, but the summary is: There is no standard ratio. Like snowflakes, every WCM implementation and digital experience project has its own unique … personality, and cost. It’s not only about the technology.)
But for any application development professional who sources and implements these systems and strategies, you (or your friends in marketing) will inevitably get put on the spot by the person holding the wallet. Their question, “What’s this going to cost us, all-in?” is hard to answer. And no exec wants to hear, “I don’t know.”
We can provide a recipe for turning this question in a productive discussion that lets budget holders understand the Great Unknowns that accompany digital projects.
Costs can balloon for many reasons on a WCM or DX project. Below are just a few reasons in the form of questions. Use them early on in the project/process to educate key stakeholders on the true costs of WCM- or digital-related work – the levers that get pushed and pulled, affecting cost, timeline, and outcomes. It may be your best defense when the money people start asking questions.
Who’s leading your WCM- or digital experience-related services? Will you spend internal IT staff time or money on external agency partners getting something built?
Service support functions have many names. Some of them are called a help desk, and others have moved on to be a service desk. But there is more out there to tackle! Is your service desk ready for a new identity? I am a huge fan of the IT support organization, as they help us when we need them . . . but to call them a help desk or a service desk . . . Really? Think about all the things we want and need them to do for us — I think this important function should get a new name!
Here are some new functional names that we (Forrester) came up with. Please tell us which one you like! Or tell us a name you like! As Victor Hugo said, “The future has many names: For the weak, it means the unattainable. For the fearful, it means the unknown. For the courageous, it means opportunity.” Looking forward to hear from you.
Today, the gap between customers’ expectations and the service they receive can be huge. There’s an explosion of communication channels that customers use—voice, digital channels like email and chat, and social channels like Facebook and Twitter. There’s also an explosion of touchpoints, like smartphones, tablets, and self-service kiosks. Customers expect efficient, consistent, personalized service experiences across these channels and touchpoints.
There’s no denying that mastering the service experience is hard to do. Yet focusing on leveraging digital channels is one way customer service leaders can move the needle on customer experiences.
My customer experience with T-Mobile UK (or was it EE — Everything Everywhere, the joint venture between Deutsche Telekom and France Télécom in the UK?) last Friday was so shocking — and in some cases ridiculous — that I had to share it and highlight the potential customer experience parallels with IT service desks.
For balance: I’ve been a T-Mobile customer since February 2011 and its actual mobile service has been pretty good to date. I might whinge a little that availability seems to have dipped post–transition to EE (and I have no idea why) but that is probably just me imagining things. However, I didn’t imagine this . . .
So what happened?
I bought a second-hand phone and when I put my partner’s SIM in it (to test it), it registered on the EE network but I couldn’t send or receive calls or text; however, I could use mobile Internet. So I thought: is this a service provider, software, or hardware issue? After a quick but unsuccessful “Google” — always my first port of call for support these days — I realized that I needed some expert advice. As the SIM was “nearly working” I decided that I would call EE first.
It started well-ish, taking three minutes to get through the interactive options to a point where I could hear the now mandatory “we are really busy so you might be wasting your time on hold for a while” message. Thankfully I think it was only a minute or so. Then the “helpful” Patrick was available to help. And this is where the relationship started to break down . . .
Why is the system of record, not the customer, always in the right?
New Mountain Capital, the owner of Red Prairie, the demand sensing and supply chain execution software vendor, announced last week that it would fully acquire supply chain planning vendor JDA. The merger will result in a supply-chain planning and execution solution provider with more than $1 billion in revenue with 87 of the world’s top 100 consumer goods manufacturers and 82 of the world’s top 100 retailers running either Red Prairie or JDA applications.
For some time Red Prairie has been buying assets to extend supply chain into the store, a strategy it calls “commerce in motion.” The idea is to extend beyond mere inventory visibility to better predict where inventory should be held. Red Prairie’s demand sensing and eCommerce solutions as well as its warehouse management and store execution capabilities can complement JDA’s collaborative planning to provide a platform for collaborative new product introduction and promotion investments.
This looks like an extension of the idea that applications and processes will become interenterprise or value-chain centered rather than enterprise focused and will ultimately move to the cloud to capitalize on collaboration opportunities with a whole network of value chain partners. JDA 8.0 is already delivered (together with multichannel assortment planning) as a cloud solution.
It seems to me the opportunity to think beyond "four walls" and plan demand, in the case of retailers all the way back up to sourcing, or in the case of manufacturers to plan and execute down to the shelf or the fulfilment of e-commerce orders, offers a really intriguing opportunity to deliver more effectively on private-label and branded merchandise assortments to demanding consumers browsing and buying across channels.
Some of my readers know that I worked in my career before Forrester in product management and business development at MSA, SSA, and Mapics, all now part of Infor. When people ask if I “follow Infor,” I’m inclined to reply that Infor follows me. I attended an “Infor on the road” event last week to listen to the briefing from CEO Charles Phillips and President Duncan Angove. I learned that Infor’s strategy for disrupting the SAP Oracle duopoly depends on choices that Infor has made about:
1) Architecture: Infor’s clients have a wide choice of application portfolio elements and choices about when to upgrade each element thanks to its loose coupling strategy and its maturing of the ION platform that I described here:
This is attractive to firms that can no longer force all their functions and divisions to upgrade simultaneously to a lowest common denominator set of functionality.
Message-based interoperability also enables Infor’s apps to Tweet to interested users about changes in status of accounts, documents, people, or objects as previously described by my colleague China Martens here:
Having attended analyst events by Cisco and Polycom in the past month I'd like to share my key takeaways from the announcements for the companies' positions in the videoconferencing and collaboration software markets.
CEO Andy Miller called October 8 the "most important day in Polycom history" when the company made a wave of announcements on products it will release over the next six months:
Cloud AXIS, a browser-based videoconferencing service promises to simplify connectivity. Videoconferencing in a browser window without the need for any downloads will help promote adoption. It could also make other enterprise videoconferencing initiatives — B2B, desktop-to-room connectivity, and BYOD — easier to achieve. We can see the promise of browser-based connectivity in BlueJeans' introduction of the technology, where it already accounts for 25% of endpoints on calls using the service.
SVC and multi-stream videoconferencing architecture lower the cost per port. Room-based videoconferencing vendors are under growing pressure to provide alternative deployment options to the expensive transcoding MCU. By supporting the SVC codec as well as interoperability with mainstream AVC, Polycom can offer the best of both worlds. Also, Polycom is using the same flavor of SVC as Microsoft in Lync 2013, maintaining the synergy of a Polycom + Microsoft strategy.