Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad AI?

Peter Burris

I’ve read a lot recently about the emerging danger of increasingly powerful artificial intelligence. Are there dangers? Of course, but I don’t think we have to worry about machines suddenly deciding it’s in their best interest to end humanity. Here’s why:

The debate first assumes that machines develop a “self-interest” that’s distinct from their programming. Again, leaving aside all the research that demonstrates that the relationship in humans between self-interest, rationality, and intelligence is weak, at best, let’s assume that machines do “learn”:

  • the need to protect “themselves”;
  • acts that can protect them from humans;
  • the ability to discern the impacts of taking those acts; and
  • acquire enough control to execute those acts.
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The Top Tech Trends To Watch: 2016 To 2018 — Should Help Accelerate CIOs’ BT Agenda

Bobby Cameron

CIOs already face significant pressure to understand and respond to digitally empowered customers. And as their firms’ customer experience (CX) focus intensifies, CIOs must bring digital into the heart of customer engagements — leveraging technology to assure high value end to end across the customer life cycle.

The next wave of tech trends to watch — 2016 to 2018 — support tech management’s move to the heart of digital CX implementation. Today’s mainstream CX investment path has individual organizations making point investments in the latest technology inventions — like social, mobile, big data, cloud, and analytics. But today’s leading firms are delivering solutions that reach end to end across customers’ journeys and across systems that connect the employees who service the customer life cycle. And these trends will accelerate over the next three years.

We see the top tech trends making this shift in three phases from 2016 through 2018:

■        Visionaries will dominate dawning phase trends as they drive point inventions to address specific business organizations’ opportunities.

■        Fast followers will discover the limits of point solutions in the awareness phase and begin to work through the challenges of end-to-end innovation.

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OpenStack Is Now Ready For Business

The open source cloud computing project, OpenStack, has a reputation as a bit of a science project; technologically interesting, fine for those who don’t mind getting their hands dirty, but not something that normal companies are going to depend upon for anything serious or important.

That reputation, although possibly justifiable a year or two back, really doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny anymore. And that’s what my very first (short) Forrester report argues.

OpenStack is now ready for business, but implementation is not without its challenges.

As part of the selection process here at Forrester, prospective analysts prepare a short report in the Forrester style. They also deliver a presentation based upon that report, and defend their hypothesis in the face of some pointed questioning.

An earlier version of this report was my interview piece, which I wrote back in June. The tone and broad argument remain pretty true to the original, but a number of my new colleagues proved invaluable in deepening arguments, augmenting assertions with more data, and enriching the whole with extra endnotes and links to additional resources. Lauren Nelson, in particular, contributed a wealth of material gathered during her own work for May’s longer OpenStack Is Ready - Are You? Today’s document may have begun life as ‘mine’ (cue Gollum impression), but the piece that Forrester clients can now download is very much a team effort. This, I hear, will be a recurring theme here!

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Huawei’s ICT Summit Shows Digital Transformation Redefining Oil & Gas

Bobby Cameron

It’s easy to see digital transformation playing a major role in consumer-facing firms. Digital customer experience sits at the core of retail — through Web sites, mobile devices, and increased focus on customer experience across the complete engagement cycle. However, it might be surprising for many how digital technology transforms core process industries like oil & gas.

At Huawei’s Global Energy Industry Summit 2015 — held this past August 19 in Almaty, Kazakhstan — the impact of digital to this traditional industry was the key topic. At this conference I gave a keynote, prepared with my colleague Holger Kisker, on the major industry trends and the challenges and opportunities of the digital business transformation in oil & gas. The current deep price drop for oil has focused firms on rapid and targeted response to increasingly dynamic markets of hydrocarbon supply and demand.

Some roles in the sector have a natural ability to thrive in price drops — like refiners, distributors, and retailers. But the closer you get to production, the tougher it is to stay whole. And this is where digital comes in. Firms that can dynamically react to volatile market needs — with growing operational efficiency — can meet market and customers’ changing expectations and still make money. And digital is at the core of this capability.

These challenges in oil production operations clearly highlight problems, like the aging workforce, leaving gaps across the industry. But filling the biggest operational gap will, at the same time, open the biggest door. Take, for example, the absence of modern remote sensor equipment at the majority of wells. When production falls off, many pumps must be checked by people traveling into the field to determine the cause. It’s costly, slow, and misses critical information like reduced cred pressure and production volumes.

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Do You Need A Chief Data Officer?

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

You’ve heard it before but we said it again – this time in our recent webinar. There's a new kid in town: the chief data officer. Why the new role?  Because of an increasing awareness of the value of data and the painful recognition of an inability to take advantage of the opportunities that it provides — due to technology, business, or basic cultural barriers. That was the topic of our webinar presented to a full house a few days ago; we discussed our recent report, Top Performers Appoint Chief Data Officers. Fortunately for those who weren’t there, the presentation – Chief Data Officers Cross The Chasm – is available (to clients) for download.

As the title suggests, chief data officers are no longer just for the early adopters – those enthusiasts and visionaries on the forefront of new technology trends.  With 45% of global companies having appointed a chief data officer (not to be confused with a chief digital officer, as we specifically asked about “data”) and another 16% planning to make an appointment in the next 12 months – according to Forrester's Business Technographics surveys, the role of the chief data officer really has move into the mainstream. 

However, there remain many companies who are not sure of whether they need a CDO or not.  Many of those in our audience fell into that category.  We asked two questions of the audience to gauge their interest and their actions to improve their data maturity:

  • Are you making organizational changes specifically to improve your data capabilities?
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Cisco Is In The Midst Of Some Major Repositioning

Dan Bieler

As the digital economy gains momentum, CIOs will have to reassess and evolve their technology vendor portfolio. CIOs need to evaluate if their main technology vendors support the required new business practices and focus on crucial technologies.

Cisco has made massive investments in its portfolio and go-to-market strategies that help to sustain its role as a preferred vendor to most of its clients. We believe, however, that Cisco still has some distance to travel to transform its skillsets and business culture to become a truly strategic technology provider. The recent leadership transition offers Cisco the opportunity to redouble its efforts to strengthen its digital and customer experience skills, flatten its corporate hierarchies, and build a strong digital ecosystem of software and services partners. Our main observations when scrutinizing Cisco as a vendor in the emerging digital ecosystem are that:

  • Cisco is on the path to becoming a partner of the CIO's technology agenda.Cisco has launched programs to change its operational setup, its business culture, its compensation incentives, and its skillsets. Its willingness to disrupt itself positions Cisco well to eventually transform from a network business into a global BT provider.
  • A gap remains between top management's vision and Cisco's go-to-market pitch.Cisco's vision to transform from selling networking boxes to selling architectures, solutions, and business outcomes is spot-on. However, we still perceive a go-to-market approach focused on engineering and products. This disconnect remains a challenge to becoming a strategic technology provider.
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The Future Of Retail Is Digital

Nigel Fenwick

Retail CIOs have always had a tough job, but digital makes it tougher. Emerging digital technologies threaten to transform retail experiences both in stores and at home. Without a good business case, CIOs at large retailers will find it hard to prepare their business to compete with small, nimble startups. My latest report highlights the potential of today's digital technologies to radically disrupt the retail industry once more. It serves as a call to CIOs to begin shaping their strategy to digitize the end-to-end customer experience and start proving the business case in time to make the investments needed.

Specialty fashion retailer Rebecca Minkoff is creating a truly differentiated in-store customer experience by combining RFID tags with new technologies like digital mirrors in the changing room connected to employee mobile devices. At the NYC Rebecca Minkoff store, customers can select products from racks or a digital fashion wall and head to the dressing room, where they meet their personal fashion consultant. Once in the dressing room, a digital mirror displays all the products and sizes the customer has in the room. The customer can easily request a new size by selecting it on the mirror. The consultant delivers the new sizes to the dressing room without the customer having to redress or wander the store half-undressed. By extending what Rebecca Minkoff has already achieved, we get a glimpse of a future in-store experience that helps each customer quickly find more products that satisfy their desires.

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Exploit The Top Mobile Mind Shift Technologies

Dan Bieler

Picture: Leonardo da Vinci

As change agents, CIOs, CTOs, and technology and strategy managers need to help design great mobile moments that drive revenue growth, improve the customer experience, and eventually help transform their organization’s business model. Technology will play a major role in this endeavor. To succeed, it is important to remember that:

  • There will not be one single new revolutionary mobile technology. Many mobile technologies are coming of age; their true potential will unfold through the intelligent combination of mobile technologies to support mobile moments. The goal for the CIO should not be to chase the latest mobile technology, but rather to combine emerging mobile technologies in the most effective manner.
  • Mobile has moved well beyond smartphones and tablets. Mobility is now embedded in nearly every business process in both the consumer and business markets. Wearables and all sorts of devices and machines are becoming part of the mobile universe. The Internet of Things will also have a strong mobile dimension.
  • CIOs must focus on the mobile technologies with the greatest user impact. As CIOs create their business technology (BT) agendas, they need to take a more proactive approach to understanding and investing in emerging technologies for competitive differentiation. CIOs need to identify and catalog the customer impact of the main emerging mobile technologies that will help their organizations thrive in the age of the customer.
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You May Not Need A CDO - But Wouldn’t You Want To Improve Your Odds Of Success

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Gene Leganza and I just published a report on the role of the Chief Data Officer that we’re hearing so much about these days – Top Performers Appoint Chief Data Officers.  To introduce the report, we sat down with our press team at Forrester to talk about the findings, and the implications for our clients.

Forrester PR: There's a ton of fantastic data in the report around the CDO. If you had to call out the most surprising finding, what would top your list?

Gene:  No question it's the high correlation between high-performing companies and those with CDOs. Jennifer and I both feel that strong data capabilities are critical for organizations today and that the data agenda is quite complex and in need of strong leadership. That all means that it's quite logical to expect a correlation between strong data leadership and company performance - but given the relative newness of the CDO role it was surprising to see firm performance so closely linked to the role.

Of course, you can't infer cause and effect from correlation – the data could mean that execs in high-performing companies think having a CDO role is a good idea as much as it could mean CDOs are materially contributing to high performance. Either way that single statistic should make one take a serious look at the role in organizations without clear data leadership. 

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Turn CMO-CIO Collaboration into Digital Action at Forrester’s Asia Pacific Summits

Dane Anderson

September winds bring the spring to Sydney, the official end of the monsoon to Mumbai, more of the same to equator-bound Singapore and Forrester’s CMO-CIO Summits to all three! We are looking forward to bringing together the region’s digital business leaders in Singapore on September 2, Sydney on September 16 and Mumbai on September 22. Themed “Build Your Customer-Obsessed Enterprise”, Forrester’s 2015 Summits will focus on how to strengthen the vitally important CMO-CIO partnership to build a customer-obsessed digital business. 

Our agenda will focus on the specific roles and responsibilities of CMOs and CIOs on the digital journey and the collaboration points between them. We will explore how CMOs can drive digital customer experience (DCX) and how CIOs can support their progress by driving digital operational excellence (DOX). Instead of frothy appeals that explain the importance of the CMO-CIO partnership, we will provide specific steps that will enable a roadmap to better teamwork.

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