It Takes Two To Tango: Mobile Engagement Needs User Experience And Context

Katyayan Gupta

The growing affordability of smartphones and increasing ubiquity of high-speed wireless broadband are driving customers toward a mobile mind shift: the expectation that any desired information is available, on any device, in context, in a person’s moment of need. Firms in Asia Pacific in general and India in particular have become cognizant of this fact; in 2014, more firms plan to build a mobile strategy for customers or partners than for employees.

I recently spoke with members of the application development team at Torry Harris Business Solutions (THBS) in India. THBS develops mobile apps for clients worldwide. The team revealed that THBS clients now focus much more on user experience (UX) design — so much so that some of them are even willing to spend an additional 5% on top of the total app development cost to get a better design. UX design represents about 30% to 40% of the total mobile app development cost. But a great UX is only half of a mobile engagement; context is the other half. To develop a complete and effective mobile engagement, eBusiness and channel strategy professionals must:

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If Your Business Looks Digital, What Should Your App Delivery Look Like?

Diego Lo Giudice

When computers were invented 60 years ago, nobody would have thought that gazillions of 0 and 1s would soon rule the world. After all, that’s all there is in any computer memory, be it a laptop, a mobile phone, or a supercomputer like Watson;  if you could open memory up and visualize the smallest elementary unit, you would “see” only an infinite sequence of 0s and 1s, something that would look like this:

Interestingly, that has not changed. Computers are still processing 1s and 0s. What has changed is that we live in an age of digital disruption, an age where software applications run and rule our business more and more. To be successful, those applications need to be engaging and entertaining so that consumers enjoy and are delighted by them; they also have to be mobile and accessible anywhere and at anytime, and they have to leverage tons of information, no matter if it comes from a database, a tweet, or Facebook.  

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Build Mobile Systems Of Engagement To Thrive In The Age Of The Customer

Katyayan Gupta

Organizations in Asia Pacific (AP) have become cognizant of the fact that they have entered the age of the customer — an era in which they must systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers. In the past two years, most AP firms have primarily focused on using mobile apps to connect their organizations with internal employees. However, in the age of the customer, this trend will reverse. Results from Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets and Priorities Survey, Q4 2013 show that 44% of AP technology decision-makers will prioritize building a mobile strategy for customers or partners, while only 39% will prioritize it for employees. Firms in Australia, Indonesia, India, and China will lead the region.

In order to compete and win in the age of the customer, organizations cannot be simply “customer-centric” anymore — they must become “customer-obsessed.” To do so, firms must embrace the mobile mindshift and build mobile systems of engagement. This can be done by leveraging social, cloud, and predictive analytics to deliver context-rich mobile applications and smart products that help users decide and act immediately in their moments of need. Such systems will focus on people and their immediate needs in context rather than processes, as is the case with traditional systems of record.

Building mobile systems of engagements is even more critical for firms in AP, because:

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Level-Up Your Mobile Engagement With Proactive Experiences

Michael Yamnitsky

Last year, we saw mobile apps getting smarter, tapping a wider range of personal data to anticipate and deliver in-the-moment needs before a customer takes action. Google is in the lead with Google Now, but Apple and Microsoft also signal interest in this space. Much like the VIP concierge services of major credit cards and airlines, these apps have the potential to form intimate customer relationships and increase affinity for products and services. And they are resetting expectations in a new paradigm we call the mobile mind shift — the increasing expectation of individuals that they can access any service, in context, in their moments of need.

You have an opportunity to play in the game, but to a different tune, one that enriches your brand by enhancing existing scenarios, engagement points, and relationships. 

In 2014 and 2015, we anticipate that customer-obsessed companies in verticals such as retail, finance, and insurance will introduce and develop proactive features in their mobile loyalty apps. CIOs should expect an influx of requirements from marketing peers leading such efforts. With the opportunities will come challenges on three dimensions: 

1. Business strategy. Proactive experiences can reap extraodinary rewards but can also lead to devastating consequences. For example, achieving 85% accuracy with your recommendation engine appears to be a success — until you consider the diminishing returns of a 5x penalty on trust factor for that 15% you got wrong. 

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Three Proactive Assistance Startups Worth Watching

Michael Yamnitsky

I’ve been experimenting for the past year or so with several proactive assistant apps to guide my day — they remind me to get on conference calls with clients, offer to text participants if I'm running late to an in-person lunch, and keep me in touch with friends and colleagues. Some of these apps also integrate Salesforce, Yammer, and BaseCamp for job-specific context and assistance.

Among the most popular apps, Google Now personalizes recommendations and assistance by applying predictive analytics to data stored in email, contacts, calendar, social, docs, and other types of online services users opt in. Other examples include Tipbit applying predictive analytics to make a more intelligent inbox, and EasilyDo using the notification system to recommend ways to automate common everyday tasks. Expect Labs is tackling this space from the other end of the spectrum, offering an intelligent assistance engine for enterprises to plug into and add proactive features to their own apps. 

Here’s what we think:

•    Vendors will experience burnouts and early customer frustration, much like in voice recognition. In the music industry, it’s said that an artist is only as good as her last hit. We saw that analogy apply to voice recognition when users got frustrated at Siri as soon as she failed once on them. Expect a similar dynamic with all types of predictive apps.

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India And China Will Lead Asia Pacific Enterprise Mobile Software Spending In 2014

Katyayan Gupta

Consumer mobility in India and China is flowing into enterprises. Recent Forrester survey data shows that nearly three in five IT execs and technology decision-makers in these countries — 58% in India and 57% in China — plan to increase their spending on mobile software (including applications and middleware) in 2014.

India has leapfrogged Australia/New Zealand and now leads the Asia Pacific region in terms of expected mobile software spending growth. China has made the biggest move over the past year, jumping from eighth place to second.

We believe that the high growth in mobile software spending in India and China is primarily due to:

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Glimpse Conference 2013 Takeaways: Systems Of Engagement Need Access To Personal Data

Michael Yamnitsky

We attended the recent Glimpse Conference 2013, where members of New York's tech scene came together at Bloomberg headquarters to talk about social discovery, predictive analytics, and customer engagement.

Our key takeaway from the event: small, real-time data coming from very personal apps like email, calendar, social, and other online services will fuel next-level predictive apps and services. Specifically:

•    Better insight doesn’t require more data; it needs the right data. Amassing large databases of customer profiles, purchase history, and web browser activity only goes so far, and is costing companies millions, if not billions of dollars every year. Mikael Berner from EasilyDo sees a new opportunity in better utilizing data scattered across personal email indices, calendars, social networks, and file and content repositories that directly indicate customers’ plans, interests, and motivations. 

•    Email, calendar, and location data is a goldmine for predictive analytics. Expedia or TripAdvisor can track web activities to recall a user searched for hotels last November and is likely to travel again this year, but a flight confirmation sitting in email or vacation time logged in calendar is a much stronger indicator of travel plans.

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Understanding Gamification in APAC

Forrester's global analysts have written some great pieces on gamification. In general terms, this research is is just as applicable to the SE Asian markets. However, there are some specific differences within the region that should also be considered. The most important thing to remember is that, while the general principles of gamification definitely hold true within the region, there are still some specific differences that should also be taken into account.
 
First and foremost, we definitely see the same problems in APAC where a lack of clarity on the desired behaviour encourages game play - for games sake. This is probably the worst outcome of all for gamification initiatives, regardless of where they're deployed. If there's no clear desired behaviour change identified, there's absolutely no valid reason to introduce gamification. The real challenge though is ensuring that the right strategy is selected to achieve the right objectives.
 
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Business Leaders Spending On Technology Because It’s Too Important To Let I.T. Go It Alone

John McCarthy

In Forrester’s latest report, “Tracking The Renegade Technology Buyer,” we uncover the motivations and technology spending priorities of over 1,000 North American and European business executives. The data from the Forrsights Business Decision-Makers Survey was collected in Q4, 2012.  Of the 891 respondents that had a budget over US$1 million, 824 spent their own money on hardware, software, telecom or services. Twenty-four percent of the 891 spent over 21% of their budget on technology, accounting for over $US 31 billion in expenditures. Senior management and sales and marketing were the top spending business functions and financial services/insurance and telecom/utilities lead the pack from a vertical perspective.

So why are business leaders carving out part of their own budgets for technology? It’s contrary to what you think. The high business spenders are not doing it because it is faster or cheaper than central IT – they are doing it because they see technology as too important to their success not to be involved. In parallel, senior management is more relaxed in dealing with the technology – 33% of the high spenders say there technology IQ has increased and they are more comfortable working with IT. Another 20% say that their use of consumer technology has changed their expectations of how technology should be used. The consumerization of IT is not just about younger Gen Y staff wanting to bring their own Macs and iPhones to the office; just as or more importantly, it’s also changing the way senior managers drive business and technology strategy.

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COBOL Application Development: (Still) Not Dead Yet

There is a scene in the Broadway hit Spamalot in which a peasant jumps up from a cart of corpses and vigorously complains that he's "not dead yet".  It's a humorous side-story to the main theme of the search for the Holy Grail. One might be accused of thinking of COBOL in the same way, as a side-story to the current major themes of mobile and web development, or perhaps as a historical footnote to the current narrative.  IBM's recent announcement of major upgrades to its COBOL compiler technology provides a good reason to pause in our headlong pursuit of the latest technology to reflect on the value of COBOL applications in enterprise software portfolios.

While mobile and web technologies often garner everyone’s attention, the reality is that most organizations that have been around for more than 30 years still run their core business processes using systems that were written in COBOL. Anything that makes these apps easier to evolve and extend is a very good thing. The reality is that evolution and extension of these apps is critical to business success. In order for the flashy-new-social-networking-enabled mobile and web Systems of Engagement to succeed, the workhorse Systems of Record and Systems of Operation are going to have to evolve apace. This means that they must take advantage of the latest architectures as well as being refactored and modularized to align with a service delivery model.

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