I attended an NG Telecom summit in Hong Kong recently; at the event, I chaired a discussion on how telcos need to improve the customer experience.
Consumers now have powerful mobile devices in their hands, speedy access to social platforms, and the ability to call up information on the go. More importantly, customers today can choose to easily switch to a competitor if they don’t like the customer experience they are receiving. As a result, telcos no longer “own” customers — it’s the other way around.
The discussion participants all agreed that telcos must do the following to meet customer-centric needs:
Simplify systems and processes. The debate on how to simplify complex telco business support systems (BSS) to make it easy for customers to consume services is an ongoing one. When BSS cannot provide a single, unified view of the customer, it’s difficult to provide a consistent customer experience. This happens with CRM systems: Call center agents struggle through five or six screens just to get a complete customer profile while irate customers spend time repeating their personal details or waiting for a resolution. Telcos must be like OTT players, which have very complicated businesses, systems, and processes on the back end but present a simple front-end interface to the customer.
It was five years ago, March 2009, when Cisco formally announced “Project California,” its (possibly intentionally) worst-kept secret, as Cisco Unified Computing System. At the time, I was working at Hewlett Packard, and our collective feelings as we realized that Cisco really did intend to challenge us in the server market were a mixed bag. Some of us were amused at their presumption, others were concerned that there might be something there, since we had odd bits and pieces of intelligence about the former Nuova, the Cisco spin-out/spin-in that developed UCS. Most of us were convinced that they would have trouble running a server business at margins we knew would be substantially lower than their margins in their core switch business. Sitting on top of our shiny, still relatively new HP c-Class BladeSystem, which had overtaken IBM’s BladeCenter as the leading blade product, we were collectively unconcerned, as well as puzzled about Cisco’s decision to upset a nice stable arrangement where IBM, HP and Dell sold possibly a Billion dollars’ worth of Cisco gear between them.
Five years later, HP is still number one in blade server units and revenue, but Cisco appears to be now number two in blades, and closing in on number three world-wide in server sales as well. The numbers are impressive:
· 32,000 net new customers in five years, with 14,000 repeat customers
· Claimed $2 Billion+ annual run-rate
· Order growth rate claimed in “mid-30s” range, probably about three times the growth rate of any competing product line.
The update to the Benchmarks report for Forrester’s Service Management & Automation (SMA) playbook is now live and with its publication marks a change in how we at Forrester - and you - should look at SMA.
Past efforts in IT service management have brought some changes, but as our survey done in conjunction with itSMF USA indicates, not much has changed. Service management has focused too much on internal infrastructure and internal operations (IT), and while this is still important, the demands for technology to acquire and retain customers, which Forrester calls business technology (BT), must be addressed to leverage and apply technology to advance, not hinder or stifle the business we enable.
The world we support is progressing exponentially while ITSM is progressing linearly, arguably statically – please see the report for further evidence. Being linear is being human; the exponential comes from harnessing technology, and radically shifting our focus towards service management and automation topics essential to being partners with our business teams.
In lieu of data, here are three concepts from the report that promote a new way of thinking:
I’m seeing many signs of an evolving role and recognition for enterprise architecture. This is changing how we ourselves see the practice of EA.
For example, one of the more frequent inquiries I get from EA leaders is around customer experience and the customer lifecycle - where our clients want to know how EA should help translate business customer experience goals into architecture. Our inquiries around mobile are less around the technology and more around shaping an enterprise digital strategy. The questions we get around Big Data have shifted from technology towards how gain better insights on a company’s markets.
‘Engagement’ is the underlying theme of this evolution. Companies need to build Systems of Engagement - and EAs are at the front-lines of decisions. But also, EAs are stepping up their engagement with their business leaders to provide the value their busness needs.
A movement that began in Silicon Valley, is starting to have profound impacts on corporations throughout the world that are far from obvious but critical to your success and maybe even your company’s survival. This is a massive shift that all CIOs need to start preparing for - a seismic shift that is documented in my latest report released to clients this week.
As we enter the age of the customer we are leveraging cloud, mobile and big data technologies to build better and more complete experiences with our customers. In doing so we are creating new digital experiences, radically different interactions, and redefining what our companies do and how they should be viewed. Nike’s FuelBand is both a device and a collaboration solution (that’s why Under Armour bought MapMyFitness). Siemens Medical’s MRI machines are both a camera (of sorts) and a content management system Heck, even a Citibank credit card is both a payment tool and an online financial application. Any company that is embracing the age of the customer is quickly learning that you can’t do that without software.
Next month Forrester will publish research focusing on the role the customer plays in security planning. Customer attitudes are changing, and companies need to recognize these changes or risk losing customers. These changes put enormous attention on the CISO and the security team. But CISOs should also look at this as a big opportunity for CISOs to move from the back office to the front office. Security incidents, managed well, can actually enhance customer perceptions of a company; managed poorly, they can be devastating. If customers lose trust in a company because of the way the business handles personal data and privacy, they will easily take their business elsewhere. Sales will fall, stock prices will follow, and the CISO will be accountable. CISOs need to improve their security program by focusing on the company’s true customers – the ones that create revenue – clarifying and speeding communications and implementing customer-focused security controls. Look for it next month!
It hit me the other day when I was speaking with a call center operator about my reservation. She was funny, smart, well informed and flew around her app. with the quickness of the chipmunk. She is the new breed of worker. Not the production worker that performs repetitive tasks, like data entry and responding to the same dumb information requests, anxious to get you off the phone to meet a call duration metric. No, our relentless offshoring, automation, and customer self-service is slowly eliminating this type of worker.
We hear numbers like this consistently, and this from a Workforce Planning VP at a major Major Telecommunications company,
“Today 70% of our inquiries are handled by self service (IVR, Web, or mobile) with only 30% that ever get to our call center. But these calls that get through are really hard. The customer has researched the problem on line and is ready to have a deep conversation. So unfortunately, even though the call volumes are way down, the number of agents we need has not decreased due to how complex these calls are. "
What does this mean for enterprises? High performance will be achieved supporting these workers with advanced information management and solutions like Dynamic Case Management that give them freedom to make decisions and advance the customer experience.
We will shortly publish a wave on DCM. Look for some new European solutions like BeInformed (Netherlands), Whitestein (Germany), and ISIS (Austria) to gain ground on PegaSystems, IBM, EMC, Appian and others from the traditional BPM market.
Some of the highlights in case you haven't read it yet:
Six months before the incident, Target invested $1.6 million in FireEye technology.
Target had a team of security specialists in Bangalore monitoring the environment.
On Saturday November 30, FireEye identified and alerted on the exfiltration malware. By all accounts this wasn't sophisticated malware; the article states that even Symantec Endpoint Protection detected it.
Do you ever wonder how your business applications portfolio stacks up against your peers?
We conducted a series of interviews to understand how firms measure applications portfolio coverage of their business units and business models, end-user use of applications, and business value. We’re inviting application leaders to take a 10 to 15 minute survey anonymously to give their feedback on the metrics and their own estimate of their scores. We plan to aggregate the data then slice and dice by size or SIC or other “firmographics,” so that you can compare yourself with similar firms.
Dozens of your peers have already completed the survey and we want to write the report next week. But it's not too late. You can still join the fun here :
The information security profession is built on three fundamental tenets, those of confidentiality, availability, and integrity. Increasingly, however, I see two things happening:
- Organizations are reprioritising these to reflect their significance within their organization, with confidentiality often trailing to availability and integrity; or
- Additional aspects such as authentication, authorization, non-repudiation etc. are supplementing the CIA triad.
It seems that there may be a growing group of S&R professionals who are dissatisfied with these concepts, feeling that they are ambiguous or incomplete, and some find it troublesome that they lack standard units of measurement.
It was with interest, therefore, that I noted a competition issued by the O-ISM3 Consortium, an organization that focuses on fostering alignment between security objectives and business goals. Their challenge lays out a use case for participants to navigate. It involves a mock audit on a travel company and presents entrants with the audit findings. The participants are then challenged to create a set of audit questions that would lead to these responses, but they have to choose one of two alternative paths – either their questions must all include references to C, I, and A, or none of them may.