It's About Time That Salesforce Fixed Its Gaping Commerce Hole

Kate Leggett

Salesforce announced today their intent to acquire Demandware for $2.8 billion – its largest acquisition to date. This move adds commerce to its CRM portfolio. It's an acquisition long due, with the question of why it took Salesforce so long to fill their gaping hole in CRM functionality – commerce functionality that its formidable CRM competitors such as Oracle and SAP already have - and that Microsoft sorely lacks.

Demandware offers an enterprise cloud commerce suite (digital commerce, order management, point-of-sale, store operations), and together, in conjunction with other Salesforce clouds – marketing, sales, service, communities, analytics and IoT – allows companies to support the end-to-end customer journey which include scenarios like asking a product question during an online purchasing process, or purchase a purchase a product or service during an online customer service interaction.

The positives of this acquisitions are:

  • It's a software category with a bright future. The market for B2C commerce suite technology is mature, yet it is growing, and set to exceed more than $2.1 billion in the US alone by 2019. This acquisition allows Salesforce to tap into a growing market, and coupled with their IoT cloud, allows them to also explore personal, high touch retail experiences.
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It’s Risky Doing Digital Half-way

John Wargo

I attended a software-related conference recently; I’m not going to say which one as this is about something I observed at the conference, not about the conference itself. Being a software conference, the conference organizers did a lot of the expected digital stuff: registration, reminder emails and conference check-in. Up to the end of the registration process, everything I did with respect to the conference was handled electronically. The first time I went analog was after I picked up my geek badge (conference credentials) from the printer and went over to a human who handed me my badge holder, backpack and requisite stack of sponsor advertisements.

I dutifully loaded the conference app and proceeded to manage my interaction with the event (session schedule, location of special events and so on) through the app. When attending conference keynotes and sessions of interest, I carried my smartphone and tablet, nothing more, and that’s when it got interesting.

One of the things the conference gave me during registration was a pen. I’m a digital guy; I didn’t have any reason to use a pen, so I dropped it on the desk in my hotel room and carried on. As I approached any conference session, the gatekeeper outside the session would try to hand me an evaluation form. Yes, a paper evaluation form. This is what started me thinking about what happens when you only do digital half-way.

Being digital is like jumping out of an airplane: Once you’re out that door, there’s no getting back in the plane.

In this case, the conference had an app, so I expected to do session evaluations in the app. At each session, I politely informed the gatekeeper that I didn’t have a pen, so I couldn’t do the evaluation. They got to know me and eventually started letting me know they’d have a pen for me the next time, but never seemed to come up with one.

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Customer-Obsessed Businesses Driving Infrastructure Transformation

Robert Stroud

Customers today are hyper-connected and their connectivity is rewriting the rules of business. Access to mobility, social networks, wearable devices, connected cars and hotels managed by robots are rapidly changing the behaviors of how customers engage and purchase. Think how you watch a film, shop or order a taxi.

The disruptive power in the hands of newly tech-savvy customers is forcing every business to evolve into a digital business or perish.

Infrastructure is at the center of the Digital Transformation

The digital transformation requires that organizations evolve their underlying technology infrastructure investments to fuel a business technology (BT) agenda, with technology designed to win, serve, and retain customers. Infrastructure – whether it is managed internally or hidden behind some cloud service – is a big part of the digital in digital business. I&O leaders can no longer simply focus on the same old approach to infrastructure. Internal business operations, or systems of record will remain important, but the emphasis must shift more to systems powering the newer digital customer experience

We are all aware that software is at the center of transitioning every successful business today. This software focus fueled a rapid expansion of cloud services and many argue that there is no longer a necessity to own hardware. This has turned the infrastructure world upside down. Hardware speeds and feeds no longer dominate infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals' criteria. In some use cases, qualities like the fastest packet-processing chip or largest disk capacity are critical, but they matter less to many of the systems of engagement in the BT agenda. As you design your BT services, be aware of which solution is right for optimizing the customer experience.

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Established Chinese cloud providers hope to succeed in Europe's public cloud market

Paul Miller

When we think about the public cloud, the list of credible providers can sometimes seem rather short.

(The Great Wall of China. Source: Paul Miller)

In North America, Europe, and elsewhere, the same few names tend to dominate. But not in China. There, big local brands continue to command impressive market share. And now they're looking to expand into new territories, including Europe.

Huawei hardware and Huawei's distribution of the OpenStack open source cloud platform power T-Systems' Open Telekom Cloud. This was launched, with some fanfare, at CeBIT in Hannover. 

Alibaba Cloud, which leads the Chinese public cloud market, is also coming to Europe this year.

In my latest report, I take a look at what both Alibaba and Huawei bring to Europe's public cloud market, and ask whether they can repeat their domestic success in this market.

TL;DR - it would be unwise to discount either of them.

It’s Elementary, My Dear Watson: Developers Will Build Cognitive Experiences Bit-By-Bit

Rowan Curran

It seems like nearly everyone is ready (or at least willing) to add intelligence to their applications. Despite the enthusiasm, developers building cognitive applications have encountered some real growing pains. The way we're going about things, it's almost begun to feel like the promise of cognitive computing would collapse like the AI hype in the 1980s or the first robotics hype in the 1960s and 70s. Thankfully, instead cognitive breaking down, we're breaking down cognitive.

Intelligent software is being taken down to the the atomic level so that developers can easily embed cognitive capabilities into applications. Instead of being totally overwhelmed by the breadth of cognitive possibilities, developers can instead use cloud-based API services to pick from among a menu of cognitive services. Services for image recognition, facial recognition, dialog, sentiment analysis, recommendations and more are callable via APIs no fuss no muss - pass the right parameters and the APIs will do the rest. The market landscape of these services is beginning to burst and bloom, much faster than expected. Developers can now build up cognitive applications with IBM's Watson Developer Cloud, HP is augmenting intelligence with Haven OnDemand, Microsoft has recently introduced Cognitive Services, and Google has begun to build the foundations with CloudML.

Are you building applications using these platforms to add more intelligence to your application experiences? What do you think about their potential to help realize the promise of cognitive computing? Let us know in the comments, I'm excited to see what the future holds.

Is "Mobile Approval" An Oxymoron?

Duncan Jones

I’ve recently been studying what a customer-obsessed operating model means for Purchasing functions and the software they use. I've concluded that Purchasing needs to transform its approach to visibility and control, due to the tradical impact that Mobility has on procure-to-pay (P2P) processes. I've been warning ePurchasing software companies for years about the potential impact of Mobility, but while a few visionaries have heard and acted on the message, most are lagging behind. That may be OK while their customers – mostly Finance and Procurement professionals – are similarly behind the times, but they may be unable to catch up when the market finally starts to demand fully mobile solutions. And customer-obsessed organizations will demand mobile P2P solutions, because they need to enable employees to quickly and easily buy the goods and services they need, so that those employees can get on with their main job, which is winning and serving customers.

What the laggard vendors miss is that Mobility is not about a user interface that works on iOS and Android; its about making the software so smart that it works well in a mobile context. Many product managers tell me proudly “our software works the same on a mobile as it does on a PC”, but that completely misses the point; mobile apps needs to work completely differently from the way traditional PC-based software works.

Take requisition and invoice approval as an example. One leading P2P vendor claims that over 70% of approvals are either performed in its mobile app or via its email response feature. I would argue that few of these approvals are worth the paper on which they are rubber-stamped. A manager can check many aspects of a transaction on a PC because they can see a lot of information on their screen and can drill down to investigate potential problems. They can’t do that on a phone, because:

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Forrester’s Security & Risk Research Spotlight - Governance, Risk And Compliance

Stephanie Balaouras

Crises don’t discriminate. Whether they are economic, geopolitical, technological or environmental, you can expect to have to deal with a major one soon. And how well you minimize the impact of that crisis is the difference between achieving your business objectives, and completely missing them, disappointing your customers, employees, partners, and shareholders in the process. Lucky for you (if you believe in luck and not the probability of chance events), Forrester’s risk experts have updated The Governance, Risk, And Compliance Playbook For 2016. I also recently finished a series of reports on the state of business continuity (which I have creatively named part 1, part 2, and part 3) to give you a jump start on your GRC efforts. Below, I’ve highlighted some of our most recent and exciting GRC research:

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My Mobile Mind Shift Acceleration

John Wargo

My Mobile Mind Shift (MMS) happened this year! What’s interesting about this revelation is that I’ve been working in the smartphone industry for more than 10 years now. If that’s how long it took me, and I work in the industry, how long is it going to take the rest of the world? Not much longer, I expect.

I used to work for BlackBerry, so I was involved with early smartphones. At the time, a smartphone was a phone that did ‘more’; it had a browser, email, PIM, and you could make apps for it that allowed you to do pretty much anything you wanted. The definition has changed a bit, and nowadays most of the world thinks that Apple created the smartphone, but experience tells me otherwise.

Anyway, for all these years, I’ve loved having a smartphone – Just having a phone, email and a browser was enough for me. I helped a lot of people write apps for smartphones, and used a few apps myself (Facebook, Fandango, Twitter and Flipboard for example) but my phone wasn’t such an important part of my life that it replaced other things. Actually, having worked for BlackBerry, and being connected all the time, drove me to want to disconnect from access at the end of my day. If I was on the road, you could reach me any time, but while at home. I’d leave my phone in my office at the end of the day. Friends or coworkers would call or email me after hours and not hear back from me until the next morning.

So, what happened? Well, mobile just got easier, that’s what happened. I don’t know how to explain it any other way.

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You Don’t Think You Need An Online Video Platform? Think again.

Nick Barber
If your idea of “doing video” means having a YouTube channel, then you need to up your game. While a freemium player like YouTube can be an important part of an overall video strategy, it shouldn’t be the only part. We detail that and more in Forrester’s Vendor Landscape: Online Video Platforms For Sales And Marketing
 
Last year marked the first time that digital video outpaced every other online activity in time spent. It even eclipsed social media. If your customers are spending time with video, then you need to be there too. 
 
Online video platforms or OVPs used to serve media and broadcasting companies. OVPs took charge in streaming media assets online. They still do, but their roles have expanded and now they serve online sales and marketing operations, too.
 
Video is an important component in each step of the customer journey. Brand videos fit into the discover phase, while product demonstrations are important in the buy segment. User generated content and personalized videos fit into each stage of the process and OVPs support and enable them. 
Online video platforms or OVPs should be an essential part of your strategy because they support your efforts to:
 
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Linux vs Unix Hot Patching – Have We Reached The Tipping Point?

Richard Fichera

The Background – Linux as a Fast Follower and the Need for Hot Patching

No doubt about it, Linux has made impressive strides in the last 15 years, gaining many features previously associated with high-end proprietary Unix as it made the transition from small system plaything to core enterprise processing resource and the engine of the extended web as we know it. Along the way it gained reliable and highly scalable schedulers, a multiplicity of efficient and scalable file systems, advanced RAS features, its own embedded virtualization and efficient thread support.

As Linux grew, so did supporting hardware, particularly the capabilities of the ubiquitous x86 CPU upon which the vast majority of Linux runs today. But the debate has always been about how close Linux could get to "the real OS", the core proprietary Unix variants that for two decades defined the limits of non-mainframe scalability and reliability. But "the times they are a changing", and the new narrative may be "when will Unix catch up to Linux on critical RAS features like hot patching".

Hot patching, the ability to apply updates to the OS kernel while it is running, is a long sought-after but elusive feature of a production OS. Long sought after because both developers and operations teams recognize that bringing down an OS instance that is doing critical high-volume work is at best disruptive and worst a logistical nightmare, and elusive because it is incredibly difficult. There have been several failed attempts, and several implementations that "almost worked" but were so fraught with exceptions that they were not really useful in production.[i]

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