In a recent report on next-generation services, I give several examples of how tech services firms are reinventing their operating models and value propositions to provide a new path to digital transformation to their clients. Interestingly, many such initiatives are coming either from very large service providers like Accenture or from small specialists like VMob, Bluefin Solutions, or Point of Origin. Small service providers’ next-gen service value proposition is starting to catch the interest of large clients too. A few weeks ago, VMob announced a major deal with McDonald’s in Japan wherein the company will leverage the VMob solution for its 3,200 restaurants in Japan.
The next-generation services report highlights the key tenets of these new digital transformation offerings. In this customer-controlled, digital world, successful tech services companies will bridge the gap between technology and business outcomes for their clients. In other words, it is not just about implementing a new technology solution anymore. It is about helping clients harvest the power of digital technologies and achieve specific business outcomes like growing revenues, reducing operating costs, or mitigating risks. This is where next-generation service providers like VMob, Bluefin, and Point of Origin get it. As leaders in the new services world, their approach is fundamentally different from the traditional tech service providers, as they:
Forrester’s survey data shows that the vast majority of Indian CIOs (87%) consider addressing rising customer expectations and improving customer satisfaction to be their top business priorities. Soaring customer demand is putting pressure on businesses to invest in customer experience (CX) initiatives. For my recently published report, The State Of Customer Experience Management In India, 2014, we surveyed 89 CX professionals in Indian organizations and asked them about their spending plans for 2014. Here's what we found: 60% of them expect to spend more on CX programs this year.
While this increased spending on CX by Indian organizations is encouraging, their initiatives too often lack alignment with business goals. We asked the same set of CX professionals about their key CX practices and found that 44% don’t regularly model the influence of CX metrics on business outcomes, while 49% don’t consistently consider alignment with CX strategy as a criterion for project funding and prioritization decisions.
These findings highlight the disconnect between organizations’ commitment to boosting CX and the impact of these initiatives on business outcomes. In the long run, this disconnect has two implications for organizations and their CX teams:
Lack of business alignment with soaring customer demands will result in dissatisfaction and churn. While business investment in CX is growing in India, initiatives that don't align with desired business goals will fail to result in desired business outcomes, thus creating a gap between market demand and the business offering.
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:
Over 40% of senior business executives are looking to suppliers and external parties to co-develop and deliver measureable business outcomes. Telling suppliers to forget their old pricing metrics and focus instead in delivering value while also sharing risks and rewards requires a new set of skills on both sides of the negotiating table. This is a real challenge for both suppliers and buyers, and it takes both parties out of their comfort zones into new territory for risk management, project control and revenue sharing.
Forrester’s Forrsights data reveals business executives want to see more value delivered from IT projects and more outcome-based contracts. This is a priority for them in the next few years and sourcing professionals must develop and enhance their skills in this key area or risk getting left behind.
Whether it’s increasing revenues, driving more client subscriptions, cutting costs, facilitating more paperwork processing in less time or driving up customer satisfaction and retention, some IT companies are now offering outcome based contracts and are happy to be paid purely on the results.
Unfortunately for some of today’s technology giants, clients don’t want to pay anymore for software licenses, hardware products or time & materials staffing. They want the suppliers to have ‘skin in the game’ and want to pay based only on the value delivered and the outcome achieved.
To help their organizations navigate through the emerging world of business outcome based contracts, we have identified three key principals of change that both suppliers and buyers will need to address:
Anybody out there who doesn't have a mobile device, raise your hand...just what I thought.
The explosion of mobile phones and apps in the everyday lives of consumers--and agents--is powering big changes in the business of insurance. Heightened customer expectations are getting formed by the changing mobile landscape; new generations of customers; new competitors, and the ferocious pace of mobile tech-enabled innovation that is radically reshaping how customers become informed, purchase, and get service.
In our new report, the first of Forrester's Mobile Insurance Playbook, we examine how mobile forces are driving customer expectations and how customer demands are going to influence new insurance business models.
Consumers are living La Vida Mobile. Mobile is a pervasive element in the daily lives of insurance customers. With more mobile devices available within easy reach, US consumers are tapping into this ready convenience to research, buy, and service their financial needs, including insurance. And how about those Millennial insurance customers? More than one in four told us that they use mobile as their main personal financial channel.
Agents are becoming proficient mobile tool users. The tablet form factor looks almost purpose-built for the needs of agents. From their hi-def displays to fast boot-up and super portability, agents are ardent tablet-ers, and half the agents in an informal survey at the end of last year cited mobile as one of their leading business initiatives.
Development leaders! Project leaders and business analysts! Application and solution architects! Want to move forward on your business technology (BT) journey and be viewed by your business stakeholders as a valuable team member? Take a tip from last week's Forums held in Boston. Embrace Business Process Management (BPM) And Customer Experience. Don't ignore them, embrace them. Why? They're essential to helping you achieve your business outcomes.
I know, I know. You read the above and now think "Gee Kyle, what's next? Going to enlighten me on some new BPM or customer experience management technology that's going to transform my very existence, my company's future?"
Nope. Let me explain....
Last week we hosted more than 250 of your application development and delivery and business process peers in Boston and focused on how to succeed in the new world of customer engagement. The most impactful discussions I heard were the side conversations we held with attendees, sometimes occurring over dinner and cocktails. We didn't discuss technology. We discussed the skills your peers were developing in two fundamental areas:
BPM - no, not the technology but the Lean and Six Sigma based methods, techniques, and tools organizations use to focus on business processes and not functions; to strive for continuous improvement; and to focus on customer value.
Customer experience - defined more eloquently by my peer Harley Manning, but I'll summarize as the methods, techniques, and tools used to understand how customers perceive their interactions with your company.
Ah, the good ol’ days, when technology customers just wanted smaller, faster, and cheaper. Well, they still want that, but that’s not all they want. They want business outcomes: the differentiated business capabilities that technology makes possible realized with minimized risk.
Today’s business technology buyers are embedding technology deeper into their organizations. They’re using technology to not just record business, but to uniquely mediate customer interactions, stream offerings, and shape market futures.
These differentiated business capabilities are complex, requiring customers to effect a multitude of trade-offs, implementation choices, and organizational changes. The journeys businesses take to achieve differentiated capabilities are uncertain. Outcomes, therefore, often are unknown.
Business technologists have learned the hard way that happy outcomes are not achieved simply by purchasing the right stuff. The real challenge is to successfully transform technology investments into business capabilities, at the least cost, risk, and time.
Ultimately, business technologists have learned that outcomes are co-created by vendors and users.
But most vendors are still set up primarily to sell products. Product portfolios, marketing activities, and sales behaviors still presume that customers largely are passive in the value-creation process, as though the act of buying and achieving outcomes was one and the same.
Most vendors simply do not try to sustain engagement across a customer’s entire outcome lifecycle.
The words of "War," Edwin Starr's 1969 Motown classic, began ringing in my head this morning. It was brought on by a Harvard Business Review blog post by Steve W. Martin, "Why Sales and Marketing Are at Odds — or Even War." Within tech vendors, sales and marketing teams often fail to communicate or align go-to-market strategies. Forrester's sales enablement visionary Scott Santucci discussed the different languages of sales and marketing in his blog over two years ago. As for my own experience with sales and marketing:
A few years ago, I sat with the chief marketing officer and chief sales officer of a Fortune 100 tech vendor. The conversation didn't focus on customer problems, which should be the starting point for sales enablement professionals. The conversation didn't focus on sales efficiency issues such as sales cycle duration or win rates, which should be critical imperatives for all sales and marketing professionals. Each of these executives controlled massive budgets but neither one sincerely trusted the other. Their words were about aligning sales and marketing programs, but the real conversation, when read between the lines, was about control, boundaries, and politics. They were at war!