Big Data Is On The Rise In India’s Midmarket — But Without Clear Business Outcomes

Manish Bahl

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:

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Q&A with Paul Cobban, Managing Director, COO, Technology and Operations, DBS Bank

Dane Anderson

In advance of Forrester's Summit for CIOs in Singapore on August 30, I had an opportunity to speak with Paul Cobban about his successful transformations at DBS Bank over the past few years. Based in Singapore, Paul oversees business transformation, operational excellence, customer experience, IT project office, procurement, real eastate, operational risk and business continuity management.  I've had a sneak peak at his event presentation and it is excellent.  Paul is a progressive CIO at the forefront of BT innovation and business engagement with a lot of valuable insight to share. 

1. What do you think IT departments are doing right and wrong these days?

In banking the IT departments have had to change enormously in recent years.  On top of the usual relentless advances in technology, security challenges have escalated, the war for talent has accelerated and regulation continues to evolve with the challenges. I believe that IT departments have had to adapt well to these changes. 

However, in most companies there is a lack of a truly customer centric design. Although there is some hype in the industry around service-oriented architecture (SOA), I believe that until budgets are allocated around customer processes rather than by functional units, systems will continue to be designed as applications for the department users rather than with the customer in mind. In addition, most companies fail to take usability seriously and have little concept of cross touchpoint consistency.

2. How do you measure ROI for IT? 

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Microsoft Launches Office On The iPhone - Welcome To The Next Stage Of Employee Empowerment

Tim Sheedy
UPDATED 26th June 2013  As you may be aware Microsoft has finally introduced its Office Suite for the iPhone (launched in the US on Friday 14th June, and now available in much of the rest of the world according to my sources). This is great news — it has been one of the real holes in the iOS application store and in high demand in many businesses we speak to (although will be MUCH more valuable when it's available as a native iPad app). Over the next week or so it is likely that many of your senior executives will read this news — as it has already made the consumer press. Soon they'll be knocking down your door asking how to get access to it.
 
However, the licensing model that Microsoft has chosen is one to encourage the uptake of the Office 365 Suite. ONLY those users with a MS Office 365 license will be able to activate the apps on their iPhone. This may mean a significant licensing impact for you. If, like many companies, you have not yet made the move to Office 365, your company’s employees will not be able to use the Office apps on their iPhone. There is a big risk here that you will see employees activate the license themselves and charge it back through the traditional expenses channel. And if senior management are doing it, it is hard for them to say no to the more junior ranks.
 
I reached out to Duncan Jones, one of our resident sourcing pros and Microsoft licensing experts to get his analysis of the situation. Here are his thoughts:
 
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70% of Indian CIOs Will Report Into CEOs By 2016

Manish Bahl

I recently analyzed 60 companies in India to understand the CIO reporting structure and the key projects that these organizations are focused on. Some interesting findings from this exercise:

  • Currently, 40% of Indian CIOs or top IT executives report to CEOs or the senior-most person (president, managing director, etc.) in their organization. Among the other 60%, most report to CFOs (35%), followed by COOs, group CIOs, and chief sales officers.
  • CIOs who report to CEOs tend to have a 30% higher IT budget than CIOs who report to CFOs, COOs, or group CIOs.
  • Projects led by CIOs not reporting directly to the CEO focus primarily on reducing IT costs and aligning IT to the business; these projects are typically measured in terms of cost savings.
  • Projects led by CIOs reporting directly to the CEO are more likely to focus on customer acquisition and retention and measured more in terms of business outcomes for the organization.
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Winning The Customer Experience Game

Nigel Fenwick

We all hear and read stories of terrible customer experiences; like me, you probably have had your own share of bad experiences. And social media has made it possible for these bad experiences to be shared instantly with millions of people. But in our journey through life, we also experience service that exceeds our expectations. And as we read reviews online, we're more likely to see a mixture of both good and bad experiences. For example, I recently posted a glowing review for a B&B in Bethel, ME, even though a few things about my stay would have typically caused me to deduct points. My five-star review was extremely positive because the proprietor had blown away my expectations on service, delivering an experience way beyond any I've had in a five-star hotel.

But excelling at the personal touch in a small-town B&B is far easier than doing it at scale in a multibillion-dollar business. Yet there are companies that consistently deliver great customer experiences. (My colleagues even wrote a book on them). They aren't perfect all the time, but, on average, they are better than their competitors. At Forrester, we identify these companies through our annual Customer Experience Index (CXi) research. Toward the top of the 2013 index, we find companies like Marshalls, Courtyard by Marriott, USAA, TD Bank, Southwest Airlines, Vanguard, Home Depot, Kohl's, Fidelity Investments, and FedEx.

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Engaged Employees Expect IT Leaders To Understand Their Needs

TJ Keitt

My colleague Simon Yates and I have spent a good bit of time recently discussing the role of IT in creating engaging experiences for employees. We've proposed that IT leaders concern themselves with helping business leaders convert that engagement into productive actions that achieve positive business outcomes, like good customer experiences and employees advocating for the company. But what does this mean for IT leaders in practice? Well, let's look at a group of employees who are currently creating the types of outcomes businesses seek: those willing to advocate for their business as a place to work and as a place to do business. According to our Forrsights Workforce Employee Survey, Q4 2012, around two-thirds of this group feel IT understands and meets their needs (see figure below).

These positive attitudes toward the IT department's performance stand in stark contrast to the views of employees who aren't achieving these outcomes. For example, while 65% of employee advocates are satisfied with the service they receive from the IT department, just 27% of employees not fully advocating for the company share a similar opinion. So what creates this chasm in opinion? We find clues when we look at some of the attitudes employee advocates have about what their organizations allow them to do:

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Disruptive CIOs Focus On Business Outcomes

Khalid Kark

The Renaissance was possible because of dissemination of ideas from the later 15th century. The availability of paper and the subsequent invention of the printing press in 1445 forever changed the lives of people in Europe and, eventually, all over the world. Previously, bookmaking entailed copying all the words and illustrations by hand, often onto parchment or animal skin. The labor that went into creating books made each one very expensive to make and acquire. The advent of the printing press helped produce books better, faster, and cheaper and led to disruptive cultural revolution.

We are experiencing a very similar phenomenon today. We are in the midst of digital disruption. The printing press of our time is platforms such as social, mobile, cloud and analytics that help propagate value to our customers better, faster and more cheaply than previously available options. So whether you are on board or not, this disruption is taking place; the two choices you have are: become a disruptive CIO or be disrupted.

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The CIO Is The Facilitator Of Engaging Employee Experiences

TJ Keitt

Employee engagement is a hot topic in many C-suites today. There's a growing body of research that says engaged employees are productive employees, contributing positively to the bottom line. Forrester's own workforce research shows those who feel supported by managers, respected for their efforts, and encouraged to be creative are more inclined to recommend the company as a workplace or a vendor. So, we see a debate within the upper echelons of organizations on how best to create engaging workforce experiences which give an employee's contributions meaning, provide the flexibility they require to be successful, and continuously develop the skills they need to serve customers. It's critical that the CIO is at the table during these conversations. Why? Regardless of the talent retention and management strategy, technology will be necessary to help unlock the potential within the workforce.

The CIO at a large software vendor with a reputation for great employee engagement said it best: "Technology is expected, but [business leaders] do not think about how it enables people." Technology is an ambient part of the workspace. Businesses outfit their workforces with a range of gadgets and give them access to numerous systems which facilitate interactions, manage orders, track projects, store data, and more. Of course, deficiencies in these corporate toolkits lead employees to find and embrace things like iPhones, Galaxy Tabs, Dropbox, and Evernote on their own. But has anyone given serious consideration to how these disparate tools come together to help engage employees so they can properly support the customer?

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India Ranks Second In Expected 2013 Asia Pacific Mobile Software Spending Growth

Manish Bahl

Data from Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets and Priorities Tracker Survey, Q4 2012 highlights that a total of 53% of IT organizations interviewed in India plan to increase their software spending on mobile applications in 2013. Among all the countries, India ranks second only after Australia/New Zealand and considerably higher than the regional average:

It’s encouraging to see Indian CIOs start to give a high priority to mobility software spending, but our research shows that the majority of mobile application initiatives are skewed toward employees and BYOT (and, to some extent, partners) with little focus on mobile customer engagement. Forrester research findings indicate that mobile applications will be a more critical channel to reach consumer markets in Asia Pacific in the future compared to more developed western markets.  This is especially true in India, where the population is younger (according to the UN, 27% of the population is between the ages of 15 and 29), the mobile Internet user base is growing at the rate of more than 30% annually, and sub-$100 smartphones are further fueling mobile Internet growth.

What It Means For CIOs:

  • Put customers at the center of your mobile strategy. If you’re not establishing the architectures and capabilities to reach these mobile customers now, you won’t be positioned for success three years from now. CIOs have an opportunity to lead their organizations by leveraging technology in strengthening customer relationships.
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Misaligned Perspectives Are Driving CIOs And The Business Apart In India

Manish Bahl

Data from the Forrsights Budgets and Priorities Tracker Survey, Q4 2012 highlights the increasing gap between CIOs and business decision-makers (BDMs) in India — a gap that originates in misaligned perspectives. The rapid rise of social media, cloud computing, and mobility in India has started to significantly affect how organizations do business in the country. Business leaders’ use of consumer technology has changed their expectations of how enterprise IT should be harnessed. They increasingly seek to use technology in innovative ways in order to gain a competitive edge and drive business growth. However, most CIOs are still caught in the old world of focusing exclusively on IT budgets and project delivery performance issues:

I recently spoke with a few CIOs in India to explore their views on the reasons behind this misalignment. When I shared data from the chart above and asked their opinions on the insights, some interesting findings that came out:

  • There are many “heads of IT” and few “business technology (BT) CIOs” in India. One CIO from a large auto manufacturing firm mentioned that a majority of CIOs in India are actually “IT heads” who think and act mainly from an IT perspective. Even worse, their thinking is generally very hardware-centric. This CIO’s opinion is in sync with my recent  report highlighting the fact that Indian CIOs are at risk of losing business credibility (and eventually their jobs) if they do not improve their understanding of BT.
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