Digital Innovation Labs For Customers: Do They Inspire?

Nigel Fenwick

EinsteinMany technology vendors tell me they have established digital innovation labs as a place to bring customers and inspire them. So I was wondering, have you and your leadership team visited such a lab? If so, I'd like to hear from you:

  • What did you like? 
  • What didn't work so well?
  • Were any of your expectations not met?
  • Did your team come away inspired?
  • If so, what did you do differently as a result?
  • What would you like to see more of?

Drop me a confidential note via Twitter @NigelFenwick, LinkedIn or email me (or simply comment below - not confidential).

(If you're a vendor with an innovation lab, send me a factsheet about your lab(s)). 

Thanks.

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Forrester’s FSI Summit In Singapore: Accelerating Digital Business And Innovation In Financial Services

Dane Anderson

A recent Forrester survey found that business leaders in the financial services industry (FSI) saw 34% of revenues in 2015 generated through digital products and services or products sold online. Their expectation is that this digital quotient will surge to more than half of their business by 2020, leading to a digital arms (and capabilities) race against a new breed of competitor. JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon accurately sums up the new competitive dynamic when he notes that “there are hundreds of startups with a lot of brains and money working on various alternatives to traditional banking.”

Our inaugural invitation-only summit in Singapore on Friday, April 15 will bring together an intimate group of senior executives from banks, insurance companies, and fintech firms to share Forrester’s latest FSI digital business research and facilitate a discussion with industry leaders. Our team of esteemed analysts will lead the discussion; here is a snapshot of the topics that will be presented on the morning of the summit:

  • Frederic Giron (Vice President and Research Director serving CIOs – Singapore): Accelerating Digital Business In Financial Services
  • Oliwia Berdak (Senior Analyst serving eBusiness and channel strategy professionals – London): How To Organize For Digital Financial Innovation
  • Randy Heffner (Vice President and Principal Analyst serving application development and delivery professionals – Dallas): APIs Take Center Stage In Financial Services
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Microsoft And Lowe's Announce Augmented Reality Is Coming To Stores

Nigel Fenwick

If you're one of my regular readers, you may remember a post from August 2015 – "The Future Of Retail Is Digital" – in which I highlight key findings from a report on the future of retail experience. One recommendation was that retailers should begin to experiment with augmented and virtual reality technology early, so that potential use cases can be piloted in-store. Well this week, Microsoft announced a partnership with Lowe's to demonstrate the viability of Microsoft's Hololens to help Lowe's customers visualize custom kitchens.

While VR/AR is a long way from widespread market adoption (see this March 16 post by J.P. Gownder), the time needed to pilot and experiment with this technology means tech and CX teams in retailers need to be piloting use cases now in order to figure out what, if any, business impact the technology will have. (See also my comments from CES 2016).

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Observations From Mobile World Congress From A B2B Perspective

Dan Bieler

Photo: Bergman

This year’s big technology themes at Mobile World Congress (MWC) can be summarized as big data, Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, and virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR). These themes will be important for B2B players and especially for revolutionizing customer experiences, optimizing industrial and operational processes, and boosting service enhancements. My recently published report, “Brief: Observations From Mobile World Congress That Will Shape Your B2B Digital Transformation,” summarizes our observations from MWC 2016 and the key takeaways for developing B2B digital transformation strategies. We observed that:

  • The main MWC themes are increasingly intertwined. VR and AR will enhance user experiences on mobile devices and expand mobile moments. Big data will provide context-based, and more relevant, insights and use cases — including for VR and AR solutions.
  • Mobile data is driving digital customer experience. Enterprise apps are increasingly integrated with business processes. In turn, enterprise apps help generate data-derived insights from mobile objects and devices. This will help transcend app silos to generate a single view of the customer who benefits from a better end-to-end user experience.
  • Bigger is not necessarily better. MWC feels near its zenith in terms of visitor numbers and industry impact. In 2016, nearly 101,000 attendees from 204 countries made it to MWC — more than ever. Yet, for business users MWC still falls short of translating mobility into tangible business benefits for digital transformation.
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Digital Business Ecosystems Rewrite The Rules Of Business

Dan Bieler

Customers use digital experiences to help satisfy their needs every day. Digital tools expand our experiences and change our lives at home and at work. Digital is now intertwined into the fabric of our lives at work and at home. We expect digital tools to add value to us no matter what we’re doing. Some 89% of executives believe digital will disrupt their business in the next twelve months.

To keep up with the rapidly evolving digital expectations of customers, businesses must not just develop a digital strategy but also become a digital business. This means more than building a few bolt-on mobile apps. It’s a fundamental rethink of your business model within a dynamic digital ecosystem that impacts every aspect of your business.  

Transforming into a digital business is complex enough. But the rapid evolution of digital products and services makes it even more challenging for business leaders to navigate the landscape of digital business. Slow innovation cycles jeopardize the survival of traditional firms, and winning businesses will move toward an ecosystem business model. Digital businesses need to embrace digital ecosystems that support the continuous exchange of information and data to create value.

To master digital business, business leaders must minimize the complexity of digital ecosystems and learn to create value within such ecosystems. Digital ecosystems drive faster innovation, more efficient production, and more agile go-to-market activities, because:

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The Digital Transformation Playbook

Nigel Fenwick

As regular followers of my blog know, I’ve been covering digital business transformation since 2012 - before “digital” became the be-all and end-all term of technology marketers. (Have you noticed how every tech vendor is now an expert in digital business?). At the end of 2012 I penned a post predicting 2013 would be the year of digital business. And since then I’ve focused much of my research on the interconnections between digital business, customer experience, marketing and technology.

I’m happy to announce that we’ve now published a playbook on digital business transformation for the C-Suite - specifically for CIOs, but useful for all executives, including CMOs. The first few reports in the playbook are already live on our website, with the remainder coming on stream in the next few months. This playbook complements the earlier e-business digital playbook we published a couple of years ago.

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Hadoop, Spark, and the emerging big data landscape

Paul Miller

Not very long ago, it would have been almost inconceivable to consider a new large-scale data analysis project in which the open source Apache Hadoop did not play a pivotal role.

Every Hadoop blog post needs a picture of an elephant. (Source: Paul Miller)

Then, as so often happens, the gushing enthusiasm became more nuanced. Hadoop, some began (wrongly) to mutter, was "just about MapReduce." Hadoop, others (not always correctly) suggested, was "slow."

Then newer tools came along. Hadoop, a growing cacophony (innacurately) trumpeted, was "not as good as Spark."

But, in the real world, Hadoop continues to be great at what it's good at. It's just not good at everything people tried throwing in its direction. We really shouldn't be surprised by this. And yet, it seems, so many of us are.

For CIOs asked to drive new programmes of work in which big data plays a part (and few are not), the competing claims in this space are both unhelpful and confusing. Hadoop and Spark are not, despite some suggestions, directly equivalent. In many cases, asking "Hadoop or Spark" is simply the wrong question.

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Expectations For Mobile World Congress 2016

Dan Bieler

The last year has flown by: In just a few weeks the Mobile World Congress (MWC) is on again. So what can we expect from the leading global get-together of mobile-heads this year? In my view there will be:

  • Less hype concerning mobile device launches. The leading smartphone and tablet providers will announce or showcase new models of established product lines, including more wearables and watches, like Samsung’s Galaxy S7, Sony’s Xperia Z6, LG’s G5, Huawei’s P9, HTC’s One M10, and Microsoft’s Surface Phone as well as newcomers like the Nextbit Robin or the OnePlus 2 Mini. Yet, I expect more of an evolution than a revolution. Blackberry might provide more insights into its future as device manufacturer beyond the Priv. Both Apple and Google will announce their upcoming devices at their own respective events, not at MWC. I am interested to see which way the pendulum is swinging: device commoditization or real new innovation. I expect the former.
  • Increasingly intertwined messaging of big data and IoT vendors. Big data will play an important part in most IoT solutions. Ultimately, IoT is not really about things but rather about data. Mobile-connected objects create scale and various channels for sensor data that flows back and forth. I will listen to how the messaging for front-end, customer-facing and back-end operational activities are emerging among IoT vendors like Nokia, Telstra, GE, Ericsson, and Salesforce but also among firms like ABB and John Deere. I expect AI and machine-learning to play a growing role for big data and IoT initiatives.
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Welcome To The Age Of Innovation - Perspectives On CES 2016

Nigel Fenwick

Presenting and hosting a panel on digital transformation at this year's CES gave me the opportunity to wander the 2 million square feet of exhibit space and assimilate some of the changes coming our way:

Welcome To The Age Of Invention. For me, the most exciting aspect of CES is the sheer volume of innovative, inventive startups that are tapping into the power of sensor-enabled technology to create new products and services. Many of these companies are funded through crowdfunding platforms like Kickstartergofundme and indiegogo. The pace of innovation will accelerate as high-school kids use their fertile imaginations to tap into the technology that’s now second nature to them.

The Internet Of Things Will Fuel Rapid Digital Transformation. Based on the sheer volume of internet connected devices coming on the market this year, we’re going to see an explosion in the Internet Of Things (IoT). Everything – from wearables that track everything from your health and fitness to the temperature of a newborn child, and in-home appliances that interconnect to create a home environment tailored to your preferences – everything is now designed with sensors that collect data that's used to deliver better customer outcomes. Or at least that’s the promise. Sensors can and will improve our lives – giving us more data and insight about our environment and allowing us to tailor experiences to be more finely tuned to our personal desires. The data provided by the sensors in the Internet Of Things is the fuel for further digital transformation.

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The Internet Of Things Will Drive Customer Relationships, And The Industrial Sector Is Realising The Opportunity

Paul Miller

The Internet of Things, or IoT, finds its way into a lot of conversations these days. CES in Las Vegas last week was awash with internet-connected doo-dahs, including cars, fridges, televisions, and more. Moving away from the home and into the world of business, the IoT furore continues unabated. Instead of connecting cars to Netflix or a teen-tracking insurance company, we connect entire fleets of trucks to warehouses, delivery locations, and driver monitoring systems. Instead of connecting the domestic fridge to Carrefour or Tesco or Walmart in order to automatically order another litre of milk, we connect entire banks of chiller units to stock control systems, backup generators, and municipal environmental health officers. And then we connect the really big things; a locomotive, a jet engine, a mountainside covered in wind turbines, a valley bursting with crops, a city teeming with people.

A picture of wind turbines in Scotland
Wind turbines in Ayrshire. (Source: Paul Miller)

The IoT hype is compelling, pervasive, and full of bold promises and eye-watering valuations. And yet, despite talking about connected cars or smarter cities for decades, the all-encompassing vision remains distant. The reality, mostly, is one in which incompatible standards, immature implementations, and patchy network connectivity ensure that each project or procurement delivers an isolated little bubble of partially connected intelligence. Stitching these together, to deliver meaningful views — and control — across all of the supposedly connected systems within a factory, a company, a power network, a city, or a watershed often remains more hope than dependable reality. 

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