Take The “Big” Out Of Big Data With Customer Recognition

I remember my first day at high school. Yikes it was scary. The older kids were BIG! The teachers were BIG (the phys ed teacher was even a little mean), the school was BIG . . . Everything felt so BIG! But as the year ticked by, l became familiar and comfortable with my classmates, teachers, and the school -- the place shrunk to a more comforting size.

Today marketers feel about data as I did about my first day at big school -- it’s BIG. There is lots of it, and it’s coming at them from many directions and in many forms. But data does not feel so big and daunting to the marketer who recognizes their customers buried in the fog of big data. The fact is, customer recognition is the key for marketers to make sense of big data; and it is at the heart of all effective marketing activities. I write about this in my most recent report: “Customer Recognition: The CI Keystone.”

So what is customer recognition?

  • Recognition associates interactions with individuals or segments across time and interactions. The strength of recognition is gauged on its ability to associate interactions to anything from individuals to a broad segment; and to persist those associations across different touchpoints over time.
  • Keys are needed for recognition at touchpoints. There are many types of keys, ranging from IP addresses, to cookie-based TPIKs, to phone numbers and customer account numbers. At Forrester we call them touchpoint interaction keys (TPIKs)
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What Will Jason Cover At Forrester?

You don’t need to be a fine woodworker to sit in a chair. An inability to precisely construct an angled mortise and tenon joint does not preclude you from resting your feet. Similarly the time is rapidly approaching where you won’t need to be a marketing scientist to deploy analytics. Ignorance of neural networks will no longer impede your ability to use them to improve a campaign. The democratization of predictive modeling or other trends involving the intersection of customer analytics and marketing technology is much of what I will cover for Forrester Research.

In my new role as a senior analyst I look forward to helping Customer Insight professionals increase marketing and business returns through becoming more intelligent enterprises. This might involve guiding clients on technology decisions, organizational strategy, or benchmarking to their peers. What topics would you like to see me cover?

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Amdocs: A safe pair of hands in a confined territory

I recently attended the Amdocs annual analyst relations event in Tel Aviv. Amdocs intends to live up to its paradigm “embrace challenge, experience success” by anticipating challenges and offering solutions to its client base. Some of these initiatives include:

  • Amdocs achieved progress on its mission to enable communication service providers moving up the chain. Amdocs is probably the most outspoken vendor in its loyalty to carriers. This is a strong pitch to retain the trusted advisor status in the domains of customer care and billing services — i.e., domains which operators regard as their core competence. Such trust is vital for the ambition to go deeper into joined go-to-market and transaction-based revenue share models. But the journey towards using business-outcome-based SLAs to reflect the rising influence of business leaders has just begun. 
  • Amdocs is committing to improve customer experience. The vendor invests in its operations and solution capabilities to keep the portfolio aligned with the evolving needs of the carriers. Upgrades include the regional state of the art operations center for European carriers in Galilee and progress on packaging its tools as full B2B2C solutions. Additional enhancements come with the $120 million acquisition of Actix, allowing service providers to use geo location-based services.
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Take a forward thinking, while pragmatic approach to Windows migration

Many CIOs, technical architects as infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals in Chinese companies are struggling with the pressures of all kinds of business and IT initiatives as well as daily maintenance of system applications. At the same time they are trying to figure out what should be right approach for the company to adapt technology waves like cloud, enterprise mobility, etc., to survive in highly competitive market landscape.   Among all the puzzles for the solution of strategic growth, Operating System (OS) migration might seem to have the lowest priority:  business application enhancements deliver explicit business value, but it’s hard to justify changing operating systems when they work today. OS is the most fundamental infrastructure software that all other systems depend on, so the complexity and uncertainty of migrations is daunting. As a result, IT organizations in China usually tend to live with the existing OS as much as possible.

Take Microsoft Windows for example. Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 have been widely used on client side and server side.  Very few companies have put Windows migration on its IT evolution roadmap. However, I believe the time is now for IT professionals in Chinese companies to seriously consider putting Windows upgrade into IT road map for the next 6 months for a couple of key reasons. 

Windows XP and pirated OS won’t be viable much longer to support your business.

  • Ending support. Extended support, which includes security patches, ends April 8, 2014. Beyond that point, we could expect that more malwares or security attacks toward Windows XP would occur.
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Big Data Is On The Rise In India’s Midmarket — But Without Clear Business Outcomes

As part of the research for my upcoming report on midmarket IT budgets in India, we collected responses on big data adoption trends and maturity levels from 430 midmarket businesses (those with 400 to 2,500 employees) in the country. Our research shows that around 35% of Indian midmarket firms plan to invest in big data technologies and solutions in the coming one to two years, but we also found that many of them focus on reducing costs (30%) or optimizing asset utilization (25%) as the business outcomes expected. Moreover, only 8% of midmarket CIOs who plan to invest in big data have a projected or proven ROI for their big data investments — showing that many Indian organizations are getting caught up in big data hype.

India’s weakening economic conditions have put tremendous pressure on businesses to be more competitive and drive growth. As competition in the midmarket increases, business leaders will expect new IT capabilities to respond to customer needs better, faster, and cheaper. The pressure is now firmly on CIOs to deliver clear business outcomes on their big data investments. Our survey and my discussions with Indian CIOs have led me to the following recommendations for midmarket CIOs investing in big data:

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Don't Have A Big Data Strategy Yet? Good.

Big data noise has reached the point where most are reaching for the ear plugs. And with any good hype bubble, the naysayers are now grabbing attention with contrarian positions. For example, The New York Times expressed doubt about the economic viability of big data in "Is Big Data an Economic Big Dud?" This post grabbed a lot of attention, but, like many others I read, it fundamentally misses the point of what big data is all about and why it's important. The article compares the productivity boom associated with the first wave of the Internet to the lack of growth experienced since the inception of "big data"; it implies that big data’s expected economic impact may not happen. Furthermore, the article implies that big data is something that firms will do or implement. Thinking about big data this way or differentiating between data sets as big, medium, or small is dangerous. It leads to chasing rabbits down holes.

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Big Data Governance Protect And Serve Are Equals

I had the opportunity to speak and participate in a panel on data governance as it pertained to big data. My presentation was based on recently completed research sponsored by IBM to understand, what does data governance look like by firms embarking/executing on big data? The overarching theme was that data governance is about protect and serve. Manage security and privacy while delivering trusted data.

Yet, when you look at data governance and what it means to the data practice, not the technology, protect and serve is also a credo. In business terms it represents:

  • Protect the reputation and mitigate risk associated with inappropriate use or dirty data.
  • Serve information needs of the business to have information fast and stay agile to market conditions.
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SAP Takes Another Step Towards Agile BI With KXEN Acquisition

Business intelligence (BI) is an evergreen that simply refuses to give up and get commoditized. Even though very few vendors try to differentiate these days on commodity features like point and click, drag and drop, report grouping, ranking, and sorting filtering (for those that still do: Get with the program!), there are still plenty of innovative and differentiated features to master. We categorize these capabilities under the aegis of Forrester agile BI; they include:

  • Making BI more automated: suggestive BI, automatic information discovery, contextual BI, integrated and full BI life cycle, BI on BI.
  • Making BI more pervasive: embedding BI within applications and processes, within the information workplace, and collaborative, self-service, mobile, and cloud-based BI.
  • Making BI more unified: unifying structured data and unstructured content, batch and streaming BI, historical and predictive, and handling complex nonrelational data structures.
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Midmarket IT Spending In India: Rising Customer Expectations Drive Change

I’m currently in the process of wrapping up a report on midmarket IT budgets and spending trends in India for the 2013-2014 fiscal year (April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014). For this report, we collected extensive data from 430 midmarket businesses (those with 400 to 2,500 employees) in the country to examine IT and business priorities among IT decision-makers. In addition to analyzing spending plans across standard IT categories (software, hardware, and services), we also analyze the likely impact on IT spending of key initiatives, including computing, mobility, and big data.

Despite increasing economic and political uncertainties in India, our survey found that midmarket companies are continuing to invest in IT to drive competitive differentiation. Our survey also signaled a changing attitude among Indian midmarket companies who are increasingly viewing IT as a means to better engage digitally enabled constituents. This is fueling a fundamental shift in the way Indian midmarket firms interact with customers. Here are some key highlights from the report:

  • The majority of Indian midmarket firms will increase IT spending in 2013-2014. Among all the companies surveyed, 61% of firms surveyed expect to increase their spending on IT by 5% to 10% in the current fiscal year. New IT initiatives and expansion of capacity will contribute to an increase in IT capital budgets as the current fiscal year’s budget is evenly split between new IT initiatives and expansion of existing capacity to better support growth initiatives. The need to modernize infrastructure and improve business applications to grow business will drive hardware and software spending from Indian midmarket firms.
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