I was fortunate this week to attend a presentation by James Whittaker in which he delivered his view on the next era of computing. This was one of the best presentations I’ve seen, because the content was presented in a compelling manner that created an outstanding overall experience. I point this out because it parallels James’ message: The future of computing isn’t apps or a collection of websites, but experiences delivered across an ecosystem of devices. I absolutely agree with his vision and am excited about the possibilities ahead. The pertinent question is then: How can enterprises adjust today’s behaviors to best prepare for this future? Let’s take a look at some of the key points of Whittaker’s talk and how we can take action on them today:
Search was king of the last era. As of September 2012, overall search volume on the web has started to decrease. This means that your customers are now using app-driven mechanisms to find your content as these provide context around their requests ensuring they get more accurate responses. Don’t immediately jettison your SEO strategy but prepare for how tomorrow’s customers will access your data: through well-designed and easily consumable APIs. This API layer will be the core around which every successful enterprise digital strategy is based.
I’ve read a few headlines proclaiming that IT is dead and marketers are the future in this age of the customer. We reject this widely cited notion. After all, what’s the point of great design, user experience, and marketing strategy if you can’t use technology to deliver the right experience to the right customer? IT is far from dead. IT just needs to evolve and take on a new look and feel in order to keep up with the digital customer experience (CX) imperative.
Traditional IT shops will need to rethink how they are organized and hire for new skill sets in order to keep up with digital CX projects. We recommend that application development and delivery (AD&D) pros answer these five questions when organizing around CX:
Will you be a lead actor or a supporting player? There are three main roles that AD&D pros can play for digital CX projects: provide back-end services; design, architect, and implement projects; and partner with marketing to take on a CX leadership role. There’s no “right” role. Depending on your maturity, you’ll want to take on the role that best suits your organization.
Next week, I will present first results of Forrester’s 2012 global banking platform deals survey. A total of 28 banking platform vendors submitted their 2012 deals for evaluation. One year ago, the same set of deals would have included at least one more vendor: Sopra Banking Software’s solution portfolio now includes those of past survey participants Callataÿ & Wouters and Delta-Informatique. These theoretically 29 participating vendors submitted a total of close to 1,900 banking platform deals, a steep increase compared with the about 1,000 submitted deals for 2011.
We had to classify a large share of these 1,900 banking platform deals as extended business or even as a simple renewed license — if the vendors did not already submit them with the corresponding tag. Forrester’s rules of the game did not allow us to recognize further deals; for example, if a non-financial services firm signed a deal, that deal was “only” about pure services or application infrastructure. Overall, Forrester counted close to 350 of the submitted deals as 2012 new named customers. 2012 is the first year with double-digit growth in banking platform deals since 2006.
For the first time, Forrester did not only count new named clients, but also scrutinized (and counted) extended business deals at a very detailed level. This provides two perspectives on the global banking platform market: How well do vendors play the game of expanding the client portfolio, and thus their market footprint? What is a vendor’s level of success in a given year? The outcome: Market dynamics have changed, and many vendors have moved up or down in the global success pyramid – and some barely defended their traditional positions.
BI is used to build, report, and analyze business performance metrics and indicators. What about measuring the performance of BI itself? How do you know if you have a high-performing, widely used BI environment? Is your opinion based on qualitative “pulse checks” or is it based on quantitative metrics? BI practitioners who preach to their business counterparts to run their business by the numbers need to eat their own dog food: run their BI environment, platforms, and apps by the numbers. For example, do you know:
How many reports and queries do end users create by themselves versus how many IT creates? That's a great efficiency metric.
How many clicks within a dashboard does it take to find an answer to a question? That’/s another great efficiency metric.
How long does each user stay within each report? Do they just run and print the reports, or export the data to Excel, or do they really slice, dice, and analyze the information? That’s a good example of how effective your BI environment is.
Do you see any patterns in BI usage? User by user, department by department, or line of business by line of business?
How many reports, queries, and other objects are being used, how many are shelfware (not being used)? How often are people using the ones that are being used?
Nothing like starting off the day with a koan, right? How would one develop a mobile app without developing a mobile app? In my latest piece of research on the future of mobile application development, I make the point that if developers overrotate their focus to building mobile clients, we risk creating the same sorts of vertical stovepipes we’re trying to work our way out of right now with all the web apps we built to run on Wintel in IE6. Rather, I think it’s time we broadened our focus and shifted our efforts toward building modern applications. Mobile apps are an important component of a modern application architecture, but only part of the whole picture.
So what’s a modern application? A modern application is:
Omnichannel. Modern applications are designed to work across tablets, smartphones, phablets, heads-up displays, automobiles — and, yes, desktops and laptops. They are designed to anticipate new client demands and new methods of interaction, including voice, touch, mouse, and eye tracking. Modern apps may start with a consistent cross-channel expereince, but they quickly move beyond that to a cross-channel and a channel-optimized interface.
Elastic. Successful modern applications are designed to spin up or spin down as needed. They take advantage of cloud economics. They comprehensively use open source software because it adds licensing flexibility to scale-out architectural flexibility.
One of our recent surveys on business applications shows that more than 60% of business and business technology (BT) decision-makers consider consolidating, rationalizing, and transforming their business applications a high or critical priority — business applications drive three of the top four software initiative priorities (see the figure below). If we include closely related analytics, business intelligence (BI), and decision support tools, we cover all four top priorities.
At the same time, business and BT execs responsible for a variety of different business and IT domains across multiple industries typically explain that customer experience has moved to center stage; digital value has increasing importance in an information society and an information economy; and better use of things like real estate, intellectual property, available inventory, skilled personnel, and digital assets has become mandatory to manage costs and create new revenue streams. Managing and reducing costs in a continuously changing business and IT environment remains a key driver for functional departments in many firms.
DevOps is a movement for developers and operations professionals that encourages more collaboration and release automation. Why? To keep up with the faster application delivery pace of Agile. In fact, with Agile, as development teams deliver faster and in shorter cycles, IT operations finds itself unprepared to keep up with the new pace. For operations teams, managing a continuous stream of software delivery with traditional manual-based processes is Mission Impossible. Vendors have responded to DevOps requirements with more automation in their release management, delivery, and deployment tools. However, there is a key process that sits between development and operations that seems to have been given little attention: testing.
In fact, some key testing activities, like integration testing and end-to-end performance testing, are caught right in the middle of the handover process between development and operations. In the Agile and Lean playbook, I’ve dedicated my latest research precisely to Agile testing, because I’ve seen testing as the black beast in many transformations to Agile because it was initially ignored.
Apple ignited the smartphone market with the innovative, super-desirable iPhone. But is the company’s innovation engine starting to sputter? That’s the question I pose to Forrester mobile analysts Jeffrey Hammond and Michael Facemire in this episode of TechnoPolitics. Of course, the answer isn’t so simple. Apple’s ultimate challenge is not about tit-for-tat feature innovation. Jeffrey Hammond says that this is a battle between two fundamentally different innovation models: directed innovation and open innovation. Apple is the high church of directed innovation, whereas Google’s approach is to let a thousand flowers bloom. Both mobile platforms have been enormously successful. But Michael Facemire thinks that conditions are ripe for the open innovation model to dominate. Jeffrey and Michael have amazing insights that you can only get at TechnoPolitics.
2012 is still a vivid memory for most of us. But it’s time to look ahead to 2013 and focus on the key trends that customer service professionals need to pay attention to as they plan for success this year. Here are the top trends that I am tracking. My full report is here.
PERSONALIZE CUSTOMER SERVICE
Trend 1: Channel Preference Is Changing Rapidly
Across all demographics, voice is still the primary communication channel used, but is quickly followed by self-service channels, and digital channels like chat and email. Channel usage rates are also quickly changing: we’ve seen a 12% rise in web self-service usage, a 24% rise in chat usage, and a 25% increase in community usage for customer service in the past three years. Expect customer service organizations to better align their channel strategy this year to support their company’s customers’ needs. Expect them to also work on guiding customers to the right channel based on the complexity and time sensitivity of interactions.
Trend 2: Mobile Solutions Are Becoming A Must-Have
My colleague Melissa Parrish recently posted how perpetual connectivity will change how we experience the world. I read this and couldn’t help but get excited about the endless mobile possibilities — but I can see how enterprise leaders are filled with an equal amount of trepidation. Consumer mobile devices create countless new opportunities to engage your customers, employees, and business partners at a level never before seen. As Melissa points out, this will change nearly every facet of how your business operates. Here are the areas that I’m excited about:
Enterprise architectures will change from a three-tier model to a four-tier model that incorporates an aggregation/data transformation tier. This will allow existing enterprise infrastructures to react to the new mobile demands on performance and scalability while allowing the enterprise to migrate existing services (public and private) to a cloud-based service-oriented offering.
Successful mobile strategies include four key areas: mobile delivery, cloud, social, and big data. The service tier in the new four-tier model will not only federate internal services for mobile consumption but will naturally extend to include third-party services. This statement will cause security leads to block my blog from being accessed within your company, but don't fret: new security architectures (zero-trust, among others) are being developed with exactly this service-level interaction in mind.