Welcome to my customer analytics blog!

Greetings!  My name is Brandon Purcell and I am the new Senior Analyst serving Customer Insights professionals at Forrester.  I will cover customer analytics which uses advanced analytics to analyze customer data to optimize customer-focused programs and initiatives to drive acquisition, retention, cross-sell/upsell, loyalty, personalization, and contextual marketing. I am a recovering customer analytics practitioner and come to Forrester from a boutique consulting firm where I led a team of data scientists that helped our clients solve their urgent business challenges by harnessing the latent value in their customer data.  A few highlights from my former life:

  • I helped develop a best in class Voice of the Customer program at one of the country’s largest banks
  • I created and led many trainings in business applications of predictive analytics
  • I built a patented algorithm that uses geospatial data to predict a person’s future location
Read more

The Power To Predict Can Give B2B Marketers An "Unfair Advantage"

Laura Ramos

When Sir Francis Bacon, coined the aphorism "Knowledge is power", he didn’t foresee a 21st century where technology and data science would more automatically and immediately turn knowledge into insight. Today, the phrase “Prediction is Power” may be more appropriate.

My colleague Mike Gualtieri works with applications developers and has been looking at the power that predictive analytics can infuse into a myriad of business applications these developers may encounter.

What I found fascinating about his recent research is that the example he chose a marketing example (Figure 1, subscription required) to demonstrate this power.

At Forrester, we define predictive analytics as:

Techniques, tools, and technologies that use data to find models — models that can anticipate outcomes with a significant probability of accuracy.

Read more

Get your customer service ready for the digital-first generation

Ian Jacobs

This is a guest post by Danielle Geoffroy, Research Associate on the AD&D team who helps with our customer service and unified communications research.

Do you hear that swooshing sound of a tweet being sent in the middle of a Google Hangout? It’s faint, but strong, and it means they’re coming.  Generation Y—a generation raised entirely in a technology-driven world.  This new breed of consumers demands more from companies and government agencies, with particularly high expectations for friction-free customer experiences. They’re prepared with knowledge of your company, and your top competitors. In fact, they often have more information about you and your products than your own employees.

This new generation should matter to you, because by 2018, the millennials will surpass the spending power of baby boomers. Remember: there is a dollar value to every positive and negative Yelp review, tweet, and Facebook status they target at you. With so much information at consumer’s fingertips, there is some give with the take. People don’t want to retain all of the information they receive on a daily basis. Striking a balance between the knowledge of your customers, and the methods deployed by your customer support agents, will lead to an enjoyable service experience, and keep you far away from the dreaded viral video of a support request gone wrong.

Read more

Digital Experience Personalization Is Hollow Without Predictive

Rowan Curran

There’s no other way to slice it: competition for digital audiences is brutal. Intolerance for poor performance and disengaging experiences drives customers to competitor’s sites more quickly and more permanently than any time in history. Users increasingly demand digital experiences that personalize to their immediate needs and adapt to the current context, not treat them as a market or demographic segment.

In recently published research, we found that even as expectations soar, enterprises are personalizing with methods that are too unsophisticated, too opaque, or too convoluted to meet the complexity and mutability needed to serve individuals.  Persona-based segmentation is too simplistic to meet current, much less future, customer expectations. Some solutions provide predictive analytics capabilities but are limited to a few algorithms or black-box methods (e.g. neural networks) are not easily adaptable to new data or scenarios. Those that rely heavily on rules have become morasses, some customers needing to manage and maintain hundreds or thousands of rules to guide digital experiences.

Read more

Driven to distraction - a new breed of contact center agents need new tools to succeed

Ian Jacobs

I first noticed the creeping changes a few years ago. In college I majored in comparative literature and averaged about five novels read per week. Even when I entered the hustle and bustle overdrive of the working world, I still rapidly pounded through stacks of books every month. Over the past few years, while I still read more than the average American, the act of actually finishing a book became something of a notable achievement. My brain was more easily distracted, my ability to focus on and engage with complex information diminished, and my capacity to multitask as required by a modern work environment was seemingly illusory.

Of course, I wasn’t alone in experiencing these changes. This distracted mental state has become a common problem among knowledge workers and heavy users of Internet and mobile technologies. Excellent books such as Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age and The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains detailed the changes we are all undergoing and described much of the neuropsychological research that seeks to explain the mental modifications that have left us in such a state. At heart, the research shows that our tools have begun to shape our brains just as much as we fashion our tools--and not always for the better.

Such mental modifications would seem to pose some significant and idiosyncratic problems for customer service organizations. Indeed, a new generation of contact center agents has begun to vex application development and delivery professionals. The new agents seem reluctant to learn detailed product and service information that previous cohorts of agents had little problem with. These new agents prefer to learn where to find such information, but have little intention of actually memorizing product support details.

Read more

Leverage The Convergence Of BI And Big Data In 2015 - Or Miss Out

Martha Bennett

Big data – the Holy Grail of business intelligence (BI)? Big data technologies certainly hold the promise of closing the gap between the data that’s available in your organization, and the ability to make that data available to those who need it, when they need it. But it’s about more than just technology: you also need the skills and processes in place to ensure that those technologies are exploited to best effect. Most importantly, application development and delivery (AD&D) professionals must make sure that their BI and big data initiatives don’t move forward on parallel tracks, resulting in yet more data silos. The real value lies in combining existing BI and analytics capabilities with new big data technologies and techniques, and this is why AD&D pros involved with BI and analytics should focus on how these new capabilities can augment and extend the existing environment. Two key areas of focus for 2015 should be:

Read more

New ARM-based Moonshot Servers from HP Exemplify Workload-Specific Computing

Richard Fichera

One of the developing trends in computing, relevant to both enterprise and service providers alike, is the notion of workload-specific or application-centric computing architectures. These architectures, optimized for specific workloads, promise improved efficiencies for running their targeted workloads, and by extension the services that they support. Earlier this year we covered the basics of this concept in “Optimize Scalable Workload-Specific Infrastructure for Customer Experiences”, and this week HP has announced a pair of server cartridges for their Moonshot system that exemplify this concept, as well as being representative of the next wave of ARM products that will emerge during the remainder of 2014 and into 2015 to tilt once more at the x86 windmill that currently dominates the computing landscape.

Specifically, HP has announced the ProLiant m400 Server Cartridge (m400) and the ProLiant m800 Server Cartridge (m800), both ARM-based servers packaged as cartridges for the HP Moonshot system, which can hold up to 45 of these cartridges in its approximately 4U enclosure. These servers are interesting from two perspectives – that they are both ARM-based products, one being the first tier-1 vendor offering of a 64-bit ARM CPU and that they are both being introduced with a specific workload target in mind for which they have been specifically optimized.

Read more

Developers Hold The Key To Your Business’ Brand

Stephen Powers

By now, you all know that in order for your company to win, it needs to be customer obsessed. But how do you support that obsession from a technical standpoint? It takes innovation, and the key to innovation is software. In the 21st century, successful brands will rise and fall based on software. Because of that, developers have never been more important than they are today, which is why we’re so excited about the theme of this year’s Forrester Forum For Application Development & Delivery Professionals Build Software That Powers Your Business. 

This Forum will help you identify brand new software opportunities and run with them. It will hit on the must-have competencies that will empower application development and delivery leaders to execute on their company’s engagement strategies. This includes accelerating development processes, creating digital experiences, reaching mobile customers, and exploiting analytics and big data. Forrester analysts will deliver forward-thinking content while industry specialists – from companies such as McDonald’s, Mastercard, and GE Capital - will provide insight into some real and revolutionary new business approaches that are relevant to you right now.

Read more

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.

Read more

What does Business Intelligence integration with R really mean

Boris Evelson

“A little prediction goes a long way” wrote Eric Siegel in his popular Predictive Analytics book. True, predictive analytics is now part and parcel of most Business Intelligence (BI), analytics and Big Data platforms and applications. Forrester Research anecdotal evidence finds that open source R is by far the most ubiquitous predictive analytics platform. Independent findings and surveys like the ones by KDNuggets and RexerAnalytics confirm our conclusions (and I quote) “The proportion of data miners using R is rapidly growing, and since 2010, R has been the most-used data mining tool.  While R is frequently used along with other tools, an increasing number of data miners also select R as their primary tool.”

To jump on this R feeding frenzy most leading BI vendors claim that they “integrate with R”, but what does that claim really mean? Our take on this – not all BI/R integration is created equal. When evaluating BI platforms for R integration, Forrester recommends considering the following integration capabilities:

Read more