“Often, my IT group isn’t even aware of what application development and implementation is being outsourced. Eventually, this creates a big problem for us ...We have to clean up a lot of messes.” (North American manufacturing organization)
“Our marketing group paid an agency $250,000 to launch an app and didn’t tell IT. There was no QA done, the agency had no idea how to measure satisfaction, and the app was unstable. The app had just a 2.5 star rating in the iOS app store, and eventually marketing had to kill the app because it just wasn’t working.” (Fortune 500 company)
Do any of these anecdotes sound familiar? More often than not, we talk with organizations where the business uses agency partners to work around IT. But IT pros need to be marketing’s eyes and ears when it comes to evaluating a service provider’s technology expertise. We recommend asking some of the following questions:
What’s your mix of offerings? Vendors come in all shapes and sizes: marketing/ad agencies, creative design agencies, SIs, and consultants. When it comes to digital experience, these vendors are converging. It’s not about which vendor is “best,” but rather which service provider has the right mix of skills for your initiative. Are you looking to launch an innovative campaign to strengthen your brand messaging? You probably want a marketing/ad agency with strong creative skills. Are you looking to implement a killer mobile app? You want an agency strong in technical and design skills. Do you need a thought leader to help you revamp your omnichannel experience, helping create an overall strategy and implement a new website and mobile app? You need a partner strong in consulting, design, and technical skills.
Why is it so difficult to deliver consistent, effortless customer service interactions across communication channels and touchpoints. A fundamental reason has to do with how companies are internally organized. In many companies, sales, marketing, and customer service are discrete functional silos that don’t necessarily share the same technologies, business processes, data, or even the same definition of measures of success.
Let’s take a quick look at the organizations that make technology purchases for customer service. Obviously, the customer service operations group makes most of these purchases. Yet marketing and eBusiness organizations also purchase many technologies that are valuable to customer service such as social listening solutions, enterprise feedback management solutions, and social media technologies. Here are some numbers to back this up: in a survey of eBusiness and channel strategy executives, 91% said that they were responsible for the website and digital channels like email, chat, and web self service, and another 69% said they were responsible for the mobile operations, including the required technology purchases.
We all work very hard to make our BI initiatives, programs, platforms, applications, and tools very successful. We need a break. And what better way to relax than to joke about what we do? So... as my favorite Monty Python’s Flying Circus bit goes, “And now for something completely different [in BI]”:
Q: What’s the ROI/cost to achieve a single version of the truth?
A: 42 (compliments of my other favorite medium, Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy).
Q: How many BI pros does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: None — it’s an appliance.
Q: How many BI pros does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: It depends. How do you measure/analyze/report on success?
Looking for lots more to brighten up our BI days, so please post away!
Why? What organization couldn’t benefit from making better decisions? Just ask the Obama campaign, which used sophisticated uplift modeling to target and influence swing voters. Or telecom firms that use predictive analytics to help prevent customer churn. Or police departments that use it to reduce crime. The list goes on and on and on. Virtually every organization could benefit from predictive analytics. Don’t confuse traditional business intelligence (BI) with predictive analytics. BI is about reports, dashboards, and advanced visualizations (which are still essential to every organization). Predictive is different. Predictive analytics uses machine learning algorithms on large and small data sets alike to predict outcomes. But predictive is not about absolutes; it doesn’t gaurentee an outcome. Rather, it’s about probabilities. For example, there is a 76% chance that this person will click on this display ad. Or there is a 63% chance that this customer will buy at a certain price. Or there is an 89% chance that this part will fail. Good stuff, but it’s hard to understand and harder to do. It’s worth it, though: Organizations that employ predictive analytics can dramatically reduce risk, disrupt competitors, and save tons of dough. Many are doing it now. More want to.
Few understand the what, why, and how of predictive analytics. Here’s a short, ordered reading list designed to get you up to speed super fast:
Consumers’ preferences for customer service channels are rapidly changing. And it’s not just the younger generation of consumers — there’s disruption and change across all ages and demographics. Our 2013 data about communication channels that customers use for customer service is available in my latest report. Here are some key data points:
Customers want companies to value their time. 71% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.
Voice is the most used communication channel for service. Voice, which 73% of customers use for customer service, is still the most widely used channel. However, web self-service and digital channels like chat and email are following close behind.
Chat is increasingly popular. Online chat adoption among customers has risen from 30% in 2009 to 43% in 2012. In addition, it has the highest satisfaction rating of any channel used, after voice.
The demise of email is premature. Email remains the third most widely used communication channel among US online adults. In the past three years, email usage has increased by two percentage points, from 56% to 58%.
Social channels are increasingly important. Online communities and Twitter have seen increases in usage rates in the past three years. However, satisfaction remains low for these channels, as companies have not invested in best practices for managing interactions on these channels.
I recently had the pleasure of participating in Mike Gualtieri’s Technopolitics podcast. We discussed why digitally enabled customer experiences are no longer a nicety; they’re an obligation. But the problem is that IT and business don’t always work well together because:
Business relegates IT to a uncreative computing utility.
IT chuckles at business’s technology naïveté.
I think the gulf between business and IT is closing — I don’t see that the clash is quite as big as it used to be, and the IT pros I speak with already have been working on getting closer to the business. But often, they’re not going fast enough. Why? You cannot separate technology from customers’ digital experience and you cannot separate business from technology.
My solution: You need to hire IT pros who have the digital experience X factor. This is going to be increasingly important as the emerging role of “marketing technologists” and tech-savy customer experience professionals continues to evolve. I discuss in the podcast what I think the X factor is, but some of its major components are:
Customer-oriented, customer-centric values (even if they’re not customer-facing or customer service agents)
A marketing and business mindset
Creative and design thinking (not just technology-minded)
Strength in strategic and design skills
A “digital first” mindset
Competancies in a breadth rather than depth of skill sets (e.g., developers with knowledge of multiple programming languages instead of just deep knowledge of Java)
In theory, the agile Product Owner is a simple yet compelling solution to a tough problem: the development team needs, and often does not get, clear direction from the business. The ability to eliminate the confusion caused by the cacophony of voices of multiple stakeholders, and the ability to have continuous engagement with the business, certainly make the Product Owner attractive to the development team. And the business benefits, too: they, in theory, get continuous visibility into project health and status. Buried in that last sentence is the phrase that often sinks good ideas: "in theory", and therein lies a problem.
When we are developing software and find components that have responsibilities too broad for one component to encompass, we "refactor" it, breaking it down into a set of components with more manageable and cohesive sets of responsibilities. We have an analogous problem with the Product Owner, whose responsibilities are so broad as to be nearly impossible for one person to fulfill. In brief, the Product Owner is expected to:
Understand the needs and desired outcomes of the business
Negotiate consensus among stakeholders
Represent the interests of all stakeholders to the development team
Define the characteristics of solutions that meet the desired outcomes
Be a change agent in the organization to support the solution
Communicate and promote the vision to all interested parties
Define and prioritize items on the Product Backlog
Our application development and delivery (AD&D) team has recently launched our survey on digital customer experience initiatives, and we’re looking for information on your digital customer experience strategy and technology investments. Some of the questions we’d like to get answers to include:
What projects (if any) you have planned for this year.
Details about what those projects look like (e.g. budgets, staffing, and primary decision-makers).
What investments you plan to make in technology.
How you will use third parties (e.g. agencies, consultants, SIs) to help with your digital customer experience projects.
Not planning anything for the coming year? That’s okay — we still want to hear your thoughts! It should only take you 10 to 15 minutes to complete the survey. The information you provide will help shape an upcoming report. What’s in it for you? To thank you for your time, we’ll send you a free copy of that report when we publish it.
Here’s the survey again, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Mobile BI and cloud BI are among the top trends that we track in the industry. Our upcoming Enterprise BI Platforms Wave™ will dedicate a significant portion of vendor evaluation on these two capabilities. These capabilities are far from yes/no checkmarks. Just asking vague questions like “Can you deliver your BI functionality on mobile devices?” and “Is your BI platform available in the cloud as software-as-a-service?” will lead to incomplete vendor answers, which in turn may lead you to make the wrong vendor selections. Instead, we plan to evaluate these two critical BI platform capabilities along the following parameters:
Animations. Does the product support animations? For example, if a particular dimension, such as time, has hundreds or thousands of values (as in daily values over multiple years), manually clicking through every day is not practical. Launching an automated, animated scroll up and down such a dimension is a more practical approach.