As Software Enriches The Brand, Companies Need Help

Charles Green
In the age of the customer, companies need to drive a new business agenda around customer engagement- and to achieve that level of engagement, software becomes critical. Software has become a strategic asset which sits at the intersection between companies and their customers and has become vital in enriching companies’ brands. For example, how you interact with a travel agency or retailer today is often through their mobile app – and the experience of using that app has a direct impact on how you perceive the company.
 
However, developing software-enabled products requires sophisticated technology and architectural design skills which presents tremendous challenges — even more so for companies for whom technology is not in their DNA. Reflective of this, already in 2012, 38% of the business budget decision-makers who indicated that improving their firm's ability to innovate was a top priority, expressed an increasing willingness to partner with other firms to address their innovation challenges.
 
The recently published Forrester Wave on software product development services (PDS) evaluated the leading providers who can partner with companies to help develop these software-enabled products (EPAM Systems, GlobalLogic, HCL, Infosys, Mindtree, Ness Technologies, Pactera, Persistent Systems, Symphony Teleca, TCS, and Wipro).
 
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Run, Don’t Walk, If The First Thing You Hear From Your Network Vendor Is BYOD, TCO, Or SDN

Andre Kindness

If a network vendor representative starts off with any of these three phrases — software-defined networking (SDN),bring-your-own-device (BYOD), or lower total cost of ownership (TCO) — I would ask them to leave and come back when they have done their homework on your business. Why? Because clearly they don’t know what your business does and aren’t prepared to help you improve revenue, add new clients, or delight current customers in The Age Of The Customer. The company is treating your team and infrastructure as just a number.

These phrases are all vendor-led marketing initiatives, not customer pain points. Fundamentally, networks should be more than packets delivering PowerPoint slides, connecting users to SAP, or enabling a voice call. Networks touch every part of the business and have significant impact on changing the way business can be done. And the business is expecting to get some business value of out the platform. Therefore you shouldn’t be ok getting a generic networking pitch. You are the customer —make them work for your dollars by making them demonstrate how they can help your business. If you work for a:

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Where Does Windows 8.1 Stand With Enterprises And Users?

JP Gownder

Since the original release of Windows 8 on October 26, 2012, the operating system has benefitted from two major updates — Windows 8.1 (in October, 2013) and the Update to Windows 8.1 (in April, 2014). With these updates, Microsoft sought to address a variety of user concerns and feedback, including some major revisions to the user interface. In the latest update, Microsoft has introduced some useful new features like the ability to right-click from the Start Screen:

We've just released a new report assessing the status of the Update to Windows 8.1 and what it means for enterprises. Whoa — hold on, you might say: Isn't Windows 7 the enterprise standard now? Does Windows 8.1 matter to the enterprise at all?

Indeed, Windows 7 remains the enterprise standard; most enterprises have only recently weaned themselves fully off of XP. But Windows 8.1 does matter in the enterprise, for several reasons:

  • Infrastructure buyers are interested in Windows 8.1 devices. In more than 50 recent inquiries with Forrester, clients asked about laptop replacement scenarios for Windows 8 devices. I&O pros tell Forrester that they like the idea of deploying replacement devices that are two-in-one laptop replacements — that is, devices used both for mobile tablet scenarios and then back at the desk with a mouse and a keyboard. 2-in-1 can conceivably save them money; rather than buying a laptop and a tablet, they like the idea of providing one device that can fill both purposes. They also cite manageability, the ability to domain-join the devices, legacy application compatibility, and other reasons for their interest.
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What’s Your Cloud Future?

James Staten

We know that cloud services and cloud platforms are here to stay and should be considered part of your overall IT portfolio but how much of that portfolio will these services occupy in your future? For most companies – and probably all enterprises - your future won’t be 100% cloud. And your business units and line employees have already ensured that it won’t be 0% cloud. So what’s the right number?

Answering this question isn’t as important as understanding how to prepare your organization for the percentage to be higher than you think it will be – that’s where you should be prioritizing.

On July 9th and 14th, I will be conducting a two-part webinar series for Forrester clients on The Future of Cloud Computing that will help you better understand how this market is moving, how your application portfolio is evolving and what you should be doing about it.

The research behind this webinar series comes primarily from three recent Forrester reports that are recommended reading for those planning their Cloud Playbook. They are:

·      The Public Cloud Market is in Hypergrowth – this report details the rate of cloud services adoption today and our forecast for cloud services between now and 2020. In this report, we discuss the factors affecting cloud service adoption and the patterns of use, which are key to understanding how your company is shifting to the cloud.

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Are Hong Kong And Taiwan Losing Out In The Age Of The Customer?

Bryan Wang

In the past three weeks, I’ve been in Hong Kong and Taiwan; several things that happened while I was there led me to think about their competitiveness in the age of the customer.

I was in Hong Kong to moderate three panels at a CIO summit. During a break, I chatted with a Singaporean CIO who’s been working in Hong Kong for 15 years but is thinking about moving back. We discussed the recent criticisms of mainland Chinese who allow their small children to pee by the curb of main thoroughfares. Hong Kong media and residents have been quick to criticize mainland parents without listening to their explanations that the city doesn’t have enough public toilets and that there are long queues at every shopping mall — hardly a surprise given that Hong Kong attracts more than 100 million visitors from mainland China each year.

Yesterday, I read that Hong Kong’s chief executive is considering limiting the number of mainland visitors to address local residents’ complaints. I wonder what impact passing such a bill would have on the city’s retail revenue growth, employment rate, commercial property prices, attractiveness towards global investment — even its economic freedom index ranking. As my CIO friend asked me: “Imagine what would happen if, for just one day, no mainland tourists came to Hong Kong. What impact would that have on Hong Kong’s retail, property, and financial markets?” I had no answer for that.

On to Taiwan: I was just in Taipei for a couple of days on business. I go to Taipei at least once a year, but this is the first time I’ve gotten the impression that Taiwan is really losing its attractiveness, despite the fact that I really love the city’s culture and food.

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Service Differentiation Kicks JD.com’s Business Growth Into Top Gear

Gene Cao

Contributed by Bryan Wang, Di Jin, and Vanessa Zeng

JD.com, the second largest online retailer in China, went public on May 22, listing itself on Nasdaq after merely 11 years of existence. At the time of IPO, JD had a market value of nearly $30 billion. Despite its size however, JD still managed to increase its customer base by 62% in 2013. How did JD manage to continually achieve business growth? I believe this is due to three key factors that differentiate JD:

■  Comprehensive logistics network for online retail in China. JD.com invested heavily in a last-mile strategy to ensure that customers receive products as quickly as possible, establishing 82 local warehouses with 1,620 delivery and 214 pickup stations across nearly 500 cities in China. This has made same-day delivery available in 43 cities — far ahead of the capabilities of Google Shopping Express in San Francisco. To better reach customers in lower-tier cities, JD is also collaborating with local convenience store chains in provinces like Shanxi and Guangdong to further strengthen its last-mile delivery capability.

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Surprise! Customer Service Doesn't Need To Be Delightful - Just Effective

Kate Leggett

Forrester data shows that valuing a customer's time is the most important factor in good customer service. Customers simply want an accurate, relevant, and complete answer to their question upon first contact, so they can get back to what they were doing before the issue arose. Here are the numbers:

  • Consumers have little tolerance for long or difficult service interactions. 55% of US online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can't find a quick answer to their question. In addition, 77% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service, up 6 points from 2012.
  • Older customers are as intolerant to friction in service interactions as the young.  Impatience is not only a characteristic of the young. Older Boomers are not tolerant to long customer service interactions. Meeting these high expectations for the older generation can pay off. US online seniors may be less likely than their younger counterparts to purchase online, but don't underestimate their online commerce activity: 71% of US online consumers ages 69 and older have made an online retail purchase in the past three months.
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Can You Afford To Ignore The Artificial Intelligence Wave?

Michele Goetz

Recent news of a a computer program that passed the Turing Test is a great achievement for artificial intelligence (AI).  Pulling down the barrier between human and machine has been a decades long holy grail pursuit.  Right now, it is a novelty.  In the near future, the implications are immense.

Which brings us to why should you care.

Earlier this week the House majority leader, Eric Cantor, suffered an enormous defeat in Virginia's Republican primary by Tea Party candidate David Brat.  No one predicted this - the polls were wrong, by a long shot.  Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster and communication advisor, offered up his opinion on what was missing in a New York Times Op-Ed piece - lack of face-to-face discussions and interviews with voters.  He asserts that while data collection was limited to discrete survey questions, what it lacked was context.  Information such as voter mood, perceptions, motives, and overall mind set were missing. Even if you collected quantitative data across a variety of sources, you don't get to these prescient indicators.  

The new wave of AI (the next 2 - 5 years) makes capturing this insight possible and at scale.  Marketing organizations are already using such capabilities to test advertising messages and positioning in focus group settings.  But, if you took this a step further and allowed pollsters to ingest full discussions in person or through transcripts in research interviews, street polls, social media, news discussions and interviews, and other sources where citizen points of view manifest directly and indirectly to voting, that rich content translates into more accurate and insightful information.

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Salesforce Wear Aims To Turbo-Charge Both Enterprise And B2B2C Wearables Markets

JP Gownder

On June 10, Salesforce.com announced Salesforce Wear, a bundle of free tools and reference applications aimed at evangelizing the power of enterprise wearables. The offering supports six different wearable devices, each with its own open-source reference application to help developers design and build wearable apps that connect to the Salesforce1 platform.

Salesforce Wear has the potential to turbo-charge the growing market for enterprise wearables. Enterprises using Salesforce Wear will gain tools and reference applications that immediately apply to six wearable devices: three smart watches (Pebble, Samsung Gear, and Android Wear), plus Google Glass, the Myo armband, and Bionym’s Nymi authentication device.

Some of the reference applications are pure enterprise/B2B workforce enablement applications, like the Google Glass application for oil rigs, which can be generalized to other field service scenarios (and which, conceptually, I have written about before). Salesforce Wear’s app facilitates real-time field actions by providing schematics of the equipment being serviced, offering a view into the full service history of the equipment, and connecting field workers to colleagues for real-time collaboration. All in all, the reference app helps field workers fix problems more quickly and effectively.

Salesforce Wear's Casino Reference Application with the Bionym Nymi Band. Source: Salesforce

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Q&A With Jeroen Tas, Chief Executive Officer, Informatics Solutions and Services, Philips Healthcare

Sharyn Leaver

Our Forum For Technology Management Leaders in London starts tomorrow and I'm very excited about the program that we have been able to put together across the two days. On day one, we will be hearing from Jeroen Tas, Chief Executive Officer, Informatics Solutions and Services, Philips Healthcare, about how he and his team have evolved IT to become a fundamental enabler of growth for Philips as a real-time, connected company. Jeroen has over 30 years of global experience as an entrepreneur and senior executive in the financial services, healthcare, and information technology industries. Before taking on his current position, Jeroen was the Group Chief Information Officer of Royal Philips, leading IT worldwide. 

In the run-up to the Forum, I asked Jeroen to answer a number of questions on Philips Healthcare's digital business journey. Jeroen's answers are a must-read for healthcare- and other technology management leaders about to embark on the same journey, and provide great insight into the challenges of making connected healthcare a reality. I look forward to hearing Jeroen speak on the main stage tomorrow!

Q: You have been a driving force behind Philips Healthcare’s strategy to create a connected healthcare world. Can you explain your approach?

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