With the press overhyping 3D printing, virtual reality, and Bitcoin, it’s hard for CIOs to track the startup trends impacting business today. Below are two trends we see startups and their investors focused on, and a future trend we expect to gain interest in the next 12 to 24 months that CIOs should care about.
Self-service business models disrupting industries. Startups are coming up with creative ways to reengineer cumbersome analog business processes with technology. Uber uses cloud, mobile, and analytics to recreate and bypass parts of the taxi/private car value chain. It connects customers directly to drivers, and uses data and analytics to make more efficient use of vehicle capacity. Other examples of startups developing new approaches to old industry processes include Oscar in health insurance and Simple in retail banking. What’s next? As 3D printers and connected products become more mainstream, and digital is further embedded in the physical world, we’ll see entrepreneurs apply self-service to new markets. Sols hopes to shake up orthotics by allowing customers to customize and print custom-insoles on 3D printers.
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).
Over the past two decades, the Internet has triggered a tectonic shift in the concept of networking — one that has redefined how companies market and sell products. More recently, social media, mobile, and cloud have fundamentally changed the concept of collaboration, enabling businesses, employees, customers, and partners to continuously interact with each other to create innovative new products and services and enhance existing ones. Rising customer expectations and faster product life cycles are forcing companies to adapt to a new style of business: “the collaborative economy.” My new report outlines the core dynamics of the collaborative economy and the implications for CIOs and their business partners:
Collaboration is much more than unified communications. It’s not sufficient for the CIO to roll out a unified communications solution; technology solutions alone do not change business processes or support employees’ changing collaborative behavior — let alone alter business models. A modern collaboration strategy requires CIOs to make organizational adjustments in addition to technology planning.
Collaboration is becoming part of the corporate strategy. A modern collaboration platform is the foundation for better innovation, faster processes, and greater employee satisfaction, which lead to happier customers and new revenue opportunities. We believe that modern collaboration is part of competitive advantage — and leading CIOs must support it as part of their group strategy.
The next generation of product development will require wholesale change to the types of skills companies need. As my colleague James Staten recently wrote, an earthquake in Silicon Valley is turning every company into a software vendor. It is this notion, that every company becomes an ISV, that will profoundly change the nature of business, and in particular product development:
Software, and customers interaction with that software, now defines companies and their brands.
Developing software-enabled products requires sophisticated technology and architectural design skills. This presents tremendous challenges — even more so for companies for whom technology is not in their DNA.
Companies must look in the mirror and evaluate if they currently have the skills and expertise to navigate this new environment. In this new world where customers interact with you through software, do you have the skills to develop products and services which will create intense and enjoyable customer experiences?
Last week I attended the RSA Conference (RSAC) Innovation Sandbox for the first time. Not only was I an attendee, but I also was fortunate enough to host a CTO panel during the event. For those that aren’t aware, the Innovation Sandbox is one of the more popular programs of the RSAC week. The highlight of the Innovation Sandbox is the competition for the coveted “Most Innovative Company at the RSA Conference” award. This is basically the information security version of ABC’s Shark Tank. If you want to learn about the up-and-coming vendors and technologies, this is one place to do it. To participate, companies had to meet the following criteria:
The product has been in the market for less than one year (launched after February 2013).
The company must be privately held, with less than $5M in revenue in 2013.
The product has the potential to make a significant impact on the information security space.
The product can be demonstrated live and on-site during Innovation Sandbox.
The company has a management team that has proven successful in the delivery of products to market.
Last week I hosted Media Corp’s CIO Leaders Summit in Sydney. In addition to my emcee duties, I also moderated two panels, both of which inspired significant discussion among the more than 50 senior IT decision-makers present. Highlights included:
Peter Bourke, CIO of Westfield, helped drive a lively discussion on the changing role of the CIO and strategies for leading innovation within the organization versus simply responding to business needs.
Andrew Wiles, CIO of Vodafone, addressed the importance of talent management and the skills that IT professionals require to succeed in a fast-paced business environment.
The CTOs of Avaya and Cisco provided excellent insight from the vendor perspective, while David Gee, CIO of Credit Union Australia, wrapped up the event with a vision of the future — the “microtrends and megatrends” likely to affect our lives, both professionally and personally.
I’ve spent the past two days at Finovate Europe in London, which must be one of the more thought-provoking ways anyone in digital financial services can spend two days.
Here’s my perspective on the lessons from the event for digital financial services executives:
More people are focusing on the small business opportunity. There were far more companies proposing to help small businesses manage their finances this year, in numerous ways from access to capital through to document storage and expense management. I was particularly impressed by the work that Efigence and Idea Bank have done to help Idea Bank’s small business customers manage their finances.
Automated financial advice for mainstream customers is edging closer. For years, Forrester has talked to its clients about the huge opportunity, and pressing need, for financial firms to use software to automate the production of financial advice. A growing number of firms are trying to solve this problem from one angle or another, including Money On Toast, Vaamo, Your Wealth and Yseop. Perhaps the best quotation of the event came from Elizabeth Farabee at Yseop: “A banker doesn’t sell the customer the best product, but the product he knows best.” Automating the manufacture of advice can fix that.
Traditional marketing organisation structures are failing touchpoint innovation. With marketing teams largely organised by channels such as search, display, social, and customer care, there is little incentive to think laterally about problems and opportunities across the group.
Emerging touchpoints often redefine and cross channel boundaries, which can quite quickly cause problems for teams with restricted views, budgets, and personnel. Take the emerging touchpoint of interactive video, for example, which turns video content into a microsite and has implications on eCommerce, search engine tactics, social, and content marketing. Aside from process and budgeting issues, many brands find that staff members who have worked together for years find it difficult to break out of their habits when asked to embrace and drive the 'new'.
So what does this emerging touchpoint talent look like? Along with core qualities of entrepreneurial drive, creativity, and the ability to work flexibly across direct and virtual teams, there is also a skills profile that suits this multifarious role. Emerging touchpoint staff members have a wholly different profile from staff members in your ROI-driven, core marketing machine, who typically have a single specialism. In 1991, Tim Brown, the CEO of Ideo, described this flexibility as a T-shaped skill set. While he intended it to be used for collaboration across roles, it's also a useful way to think about a broadening of functional skills, resembling more of an "M" shape. See the figure below for an illustration of this new balance with greater emphasis on multiple skills.
My colleague John Dalton and I recently published a report outlining our major predictions for customer experience in the coming year. What we envision is perhaps best summed up by the old William Gibson quote: “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.”
Here’s why: As I wrote in a recent post, roughly half of the attendees at Forrester’s three customer experience forums in 2013 said that their organizations are in the first phase of the path to CX maturity (repair). Their priority is — and for the immediate future will remain — finding and fixing broken experiences.
A much smaller group of companies — no more than 10% — say that their organizations are in the ultimate phase of CX maturity (differentiate). In contrast with companies in the repair phase, they'll build on their past success with well-funded efforts that leverage their skills in strategy, customer understanding, and design.
With that as background, we predict that two major themes will deserve the most attention in the coming year.
Companies in the repair phase will fight to advance along the path to customer experience maturity. Companies just starting to fix their broken experiences will find themselves in a struggle that's hard, slow, and increasingly costly. They'll focus on getting key infrastructure in place to assess what's broken, manage a portfolio of repair projects, and measure the results they need to build enterprisewide support for CX.
Holiday season musings: One of the biggest differences between the US and Britain is the great British pub. And recently I’ve been wondering about the connection between the pub and innovation.
It seems to me that Britain produces a surprising amount of innovation per capita (no doubt someone can point me to some research on this). Why do so many great innovations come from this small island?
Could it be that the great British pub has something to do with it? It’s clear that a great many innovations are nurtured and developed through the interactions between people. And the pub has always been place for social interaction. For me, one of the facets that distinguishes a great UK pub from an American bar is that it’s relatively easy to sit next to a complete stranger in a pub and strike up a deeply philosophical conversation about something of great import; in a bar, it’s almost impossible to strike up a conversation with anyone you don’t already know unless it’s related to the local sports team.
Assuming my premise is correct that there is some causative effect between the traditional local pub and innovation, what will happen to innovation in Britain with the demise of the local pub. Will we see a reduction in great innovation from the UK?