The Event Horizon of In-Store Retail Automation

It came out of nowhere: A muffled, mechanical voice with electronica undertones called out “Hel-lo there.” It was leering down at me and a few other eTail West attendees: Over 7’6”, a fiberglass robot straight out of a Transformers movie with giant glowing blue eyes and dark mechanical fingers that looked as if they had 300 psi of hydraulic force – enough to crush a car.

Of course, this robot was a ContentSquare-emblazoned suit with a person inside, but the subsequent conversation was surreal.  “Can I take a picture?” a fellow attendee blurted out.  “Cer-tain-ly.  Step ov-er here for a nice-ly lit shot,” in staccato English with the eerie, deep mechanical voice.  The neurons in my head started firing.

Suppose this robot was real? The technology is mostly here.  We have natural language processing, basic AI functionality, robotic prosthetics, centralized controllers.  Now – how about if we gave it a bit more capability – perhaps even manage basic functions in a retail environment.  How about pick and pack capabilities, identifying objects on store shelves and labeling processes.  What about moving it to the front room and engaging with actual customers?  I’m sure it could handle basic questions such as where to find my size 34 jeans or directions to the restroom.  Add a camera or two and it becomes a surveillance device as well – mobile and dynamic for loss prevention and security.  Maybe even a checkout with a torso based kiosk to scan items and a POS.

 

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DevOps has reached critical mass, CIOs need to get on board

Elinor Klavens

DevOps is one of the most powerful weapons that CIOs have in their arsenal. DevOps unites the entire enterprise in delivering business transformation with superior customer experience. Companies like Target, Capital One, Walmart, ING, Nordstrom, Netflix and JetBlue are already reaping the benefits. In order to unlock the promise of DevOps, CIOs must lead the call for cultural change.

As any leader knows, changing institutionalized behavior is the toughest of all management challenges and CIOs are understandably skeptical of new trends.  Despite this, CIOs must recognize when a trend becomes an imperative for survival. DevOps has become this imperative, and CIOs must act now. CIOs who embrace the DevOps challenge must first fostera culture of collaboration and learning, then enable their people with the right tools to drive holistic life-cycle automation. Those who meet this challenge won't just beat their competitors — they will decimate them. 

CIOs must replace traditional linear thinking with Agile thinking.

 
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Welcome to 2017: The year of #DevOps

Robert Stroud

We are eager to announce a beacon of light to help penetrate the post-holiday fog: Forrester’s DevOps Benchmark Survey for 2017 is officially live! Led by myself and Researcher Elinor Klavens, this benchmark survey serves as the backbone for a large portion of our DevOps research, facilitating the identification and tracking of trends and supporting our research including predictions for the future. Pivotal to many of our reports, this is your opportunity to shape our research, including our upcoming report “Six Trends That Shape DevOps Adoption In 2017 And Beyond.”

The DevOps survey expands on the extensive data contained in Forrester’s Business Technographics survey, drilling into the context, adoption, use, and plans with DevOps. The research team uses the survey’s findings to provide deeper, more informed insights to help guide your DevOps journey.  Questions - including how you are dealing with the business mandate of velocity, how DevOps is changing your culture, and where you see DevOps heading - are partnered with practical use of tools and automation.

No matter where you are on your DevOps journey, please take five minutes to complete the survey! All participants can receive an executive summary of the results of the survey after it closes on February 13, 2017.

Additionally, should you want to share your DevOps experiences in more detail or provide more feedback please connect with me at RStroud@Forrester.com or @RobertEStroud

Again, welcome to 2017, the year of #DevOps…. 

Velocity with quality mandates a model based approach to ARA tools and DevOps

Robert Stroud

DevOps velocity mandates change velocity

Enterprises today are focusing on delivering applications faster to drive customer experiences and drive business transformation to meet rising expectations. For some, faster delivery is simply faster time to disappointment where the delivery process is shoddy and speed is the only metric. Speed without quality in an oxymoron – and extremely dangerous. The automation of the process known as Application Release Automation (ARA) is one of the critical impediments in the DevOps journey for I&O organizations today. ARA tools are designed to remove errors from manual processes by standardizing and automating the movement of applications with middleware and infrastructure – the critical final step in the delivery pipeline of applications to deliver customer value.

Continuous delivery is the goal; ARA tools are the vehicles to get there

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Don't Wait; Rethink Your ITIL Journey Now!

Robert Stroud

Over the past 25 years, many organizations have modelled their support – and in some cases their delivery organization – after the ITIL frameworks and processes. For many, ITIL has been helpful in establishing the rigor and governance that they needed to bring their infrastructure under control in an era where quality and consistency of service was critical and technology was sometimes fragile.

Today, we are 5 years into “The age of the customer” – an era where customer obsession is driving technology and which demands a culture of speed and collaboration to differentiate and deliver extraordinary customer experience to drive business growth. In this era, the rise of mobility and the race to deliver differentiated business processes is critical to success. Your development teams are driving velocity and elasticity with increased quality and availability, leveraging DevOps practices and often driving change directly to production.

This transition has led some organizations to experience friction between the competing priorities, velocity and control, especially for those who continue to execute on the traditional model of ITIL.

ITIL is starting to show signs of age. That does not mean it is on the verge of demise. ITIL must adapt. To understand the relevance of ITIL and IT Service Management practices in this era of Modern Service Delivery, Eveline Oehrlich and Elinor Klavens and I have embarked on a review of ITIL and the use of IT Service Management practices supporting todays BT agenda.

Our key findings include:

ITIL must pivot to support digital transformation

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Robots Will Soon Be Parking Your Car

JP Gownder

During our research for the Forrester Big Idea report The Future of Jobs, 2025: Working Side-by-Side with Robots, we spoke with not one, but two different vendors that automate parking garages, Boomerang and Serva Transport Systems. Rather than explain, I'd invite you to watch a few seconds of the following video, which depicts how Serva TS robots park cars -- all cars -- at the Dusseldorf airport in Germany:

Looks a bit like sci-fi, right? But it's happening right now. Two vendors, one in the US, one in Europe, take somewhat different approaches to robotic parking:

  • Boomerang positions its offering as RoboticValet, a service that serves two customers. For property owners (developers, real estate investment trusts), Boomering solves a key problem: The high price of real estate in places like Miami, Chicago, or San Francisco. Robotic valets can save significant space, allowing developers to build more profitable buildings. And for consumers -- that is, buyers of the condominimums -- Boomerang's service is a luxury amenity: A 24/7 valet service that drops their car off to the same spot every time.
  • Serva TS can retrofit existing garages to 'expand' usable space. Serva TS reports gaining 40% capacity in an existing garage space, making it a less disruptive and expensive solution for garage expansion. For customers, there's a smartphone app: As soon as your flight lands, you can summon your car, which a robot will bring to the designated spot.
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Differentiate Your Digital Business With A Device Innovation Lab

JP Gownder

I've just released a significant new report, How To Build The Device Innovation Lab That Differentiates Your Digital Business. Innovation is a huge topic – just ask my colleague Martin Gill, who leads Forrester's digital business transformation research. But I&O leaders have their own role to play in innovation: Specifically, the use of devices and similar technologies to drive business results.

I interviewed companies from a variety of verticals – travel, retail, energy, clothing, financial services – and spoke to thought leaders in innovation theory to help I&O leaders solve a series of problems: How can we innovate using customer-facing interaction technologies such as mobile devices, robotics, digital signage, and virtual reality (VR)? How can we establish a device innovation lab (DIL) to help technology and business leaders at our company develop technology-infused, customer-obsessed strategies? And what are the success factors for DILs – from mission statement to staffing to key performance indicators?

In the context of my report, a device innovation lab is an a in-house space for designing, experimenting, piloting, and deploying device-based innovation projects. Done right, a DIL can differentiate your business's digital business efforts in impressive ways. Take, for example, Lowes' robotic retail associate, OSHBot.

Lowes' OSHBot Redefines Retail Customer Service

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Robots Won't Steal All The Jobs -- But They'll Transform The Way We Work

JP Gownder

This morning, WIRED published an article about my new Forrester Big Idea report, The Future of Jobs, 2025: Working Side-By-Side With Robots. You're probably familiar by now with the panic-stricken books (like Martin Ford's Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future) and headlines (HBR's What Happens When Robots Replace Workers?) proclaiming that the future of employment is bleak because of the rise of automation technologies. In other words, the meme goes, robots are taking all the jobs.

By "robots," we mean all forms of automation technologies, including those that conduct physical tasks, intellectual tasks, or customer service tasks (which mix elements of both physical and intellectual activities, but which constitute a distinct category in the age of the customer). Indeed, some impressive new technologies are becoming incredibly useful in a variety of organizational settings. Take, for example, Rethink Robotics' Baxter robot, seen in the video below. Unlike traditional industrial robots, it's safe for workers to be around Baxter -- and it's imperative, too. Because software engineers don't program Baxter; human colleagues simply move the robot's arm to teach it new actions, and it learns in real time.

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The Forrester Wave™ Evaluation Of Functional Test Automation (FTA) Is Out And It's All About Going Beyond GUI Testing

Diego Lo Giudice

A few months ago, I blogged about testing quality@speed in the same way that F1 racing teams do to win races and fans. Last week, I published my F(TA)1 Forrester Wave! It examines the capabilities of nine vendors to evaluate how they support Agile development and continuous delivery teams when it comes to continuous testing: Borland, CA Technologies, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Parasoft, SmartBear, TestPlant, and Tricentis. However, only Forrester clients can attend “the race” to see the leaders.

The market overview section of our evaluation complements the analysis in the underlying model by looking at other providers that either augment FTA capabilities, play in a different market segment, or did not meet one of the criteria for inclusion in the Forrester Wave. These include: 1) open source tools like Selenium and Sahi, 2) test case design and automation tools like Grid-Tools Agile Designer, and 3) other tools, such as Original Software, which mostly focuses on graphical user interface (GUI) and packaged apps testing, and Qualitia and Applitools, which focus on GUI and visualization testing.

We deliberately weighted the Forrester Wave criteria more heavily towards “beyond GUI” and API testing approaches. Why? Because:

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A Glimpse Into The Future: Software Goes Invisible

Michael Yamnitsky

Software is getting smarter, thanks to predictive analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI). Whereas the current generation of software is about enabling smarter decision-making for humans, we’re starting to see “invisible software" capable of performing tasks without human intervention. 

One such example is x.ai, a software-based personal assistant that schedules meetings for you. With no user interface, you simply cc “Amy” on an email thread and she goes to work engaging with the recipient to find a date and optimal place to meet.

It’s not a perfectly automated system. AI trainers oversee Amy’s interactions and make adjustments on the fly. But over time, she becomes a great personal assistant who is sensitive to your meeting and communication preferences. 

One can imagine Amy extending into new domains — taking on parts of sales/customer service operations or business processes like expense management and DevOps. Indeed, we’ll see a new generation of AI-powered apps, as predicted here.

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