Mobile Customer Experience is Asia Pacific’s Next Digital Frontier – 2015 Predictions

Forrester’s Asia Pacific (AP) top ten trends outlook launched today as part of Forrester’s series of 2015 global market predictions. We expect the opportunities and threats posed by digital disruption to shift into a higher gear in 2015 with a select group of regional organizations rising to the call, but most falling behind (often without knowing it). Success in a digitally disrupted world will require CIOs to develop a deeper understanding of their customer journeys and invest in mobile customer experience excellence. Here’s a preview of our predictions for the coming year:

  • Digital transformation will drive technology spending growth of 4.9%.Always-connected, technology-empowered customers are redefining sources of competitive advantage for AP organizations. In fact, 79% of business and technology decision-makers that Forrester surveyed indicated that improving the experience of technology-empowered customers will be a high or critical priority for their business in 2015. Similarly, 57% said that meeting consumers’ rising expectations was one of the reasons that they would spend more money on technology next year — the top reported reason for increased technology spending
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Five Insights From Digital Business Leaders In Asia Pacific

I had the good fortune of moderating a panel on the state of digital business at the Chief Digital Officer Global Forum in Singapore yesterday morning. The event showcased a who’s who of digital business leadership in the region, including my panelists Veena Ramesh of Johnson & Johnson, Jerry Blanton of Citi, and Veronique Meffert of Great Eastern Life.

The event paralleled many of the themes my colleague Clement Teo highlighted in his recent report on the State of Digital Business in Asia Pacific. Five key themes that I believe provide important insights on the pulse of digital business regionally:

  • Organizational issues are the greatest hurdle. There was not a single dissenting voice on the fact that organizational challenges represent the biggest impediment to digital business progress. The greatest organizational challenges are functional silos, business unit resistance, a lack of clear guidance from the CEO, rigid backward-looking mindsets, and a shortage of the skills needed to drive change. One approach — shared by Rahul Welde of Unilever — is to drive “digital experimentation funds” and “foundries” to drive co-creation innovation.
  • Media command centers are becoming critical marketing assets. Both representatives from Unilever and Philips spoke of the critical role that media command centers now play in their marketing campaigns. In the case of Philips, I was surprised to learn that its social media command center in Singapore employs 200 people — and that it is planning for expansion!
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Empower Your Digital Business with Forrester’s Summits for Asia Pacific CIOs!

It’s hard to believe almost a year has passed since our last Summits for CIOs in Asia Pacific. Our team is ramping up preparations to this year’s CIO Summit series and I’m looking forward to meet you at the events which will kick off in Sydney on August 14, Singapore on August 19 and Mumbai on August 21. Themed “Beyond IT: Empower Digital Business in the Age of the Customer”, Forrester’s 2014 Summits will focus on the significant shift we’ve seen in CIO’s traditional focus from the design and deployment of internal systems focused on process control to digital products and services for their customers.

Of particular importance on the digital journey are three domains: customer experience, the mobile mind shift and the transformation of big data into actionable business insights. Each of these topics will feature prominently at the Summits with select analysts flown in to delve deeper into how CIOs can overcome some of these challenges through Forrester guidance.

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Tracking A Private Dell

Earlier this year, I had the distinct honor of interviewing Michael Dell after his keynote address at an event organized by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore. It was a nostalgic opportunity as I recalled my macroeconomics professor in college over 20 years ago holding up a copy of Fortune magazine with Michael Dell on the cover.

Throughout my career as an industry analyst, I tracked the global PC giants as they clumsily tried to match Dell’s direct model in the ’90s and saw the company emerge as a multibillion-dollar IT industry juggernaut in the ’00s; most recently, I’ve watched with interest as the company went private. Like Michael (and me), Dell has undoubtedly passed through its youth and is now looking to embark on a new course that can leverage everything it has learned to this point through middle age. Something has indeed been lost, but much has also been gained.

My first and most lasting impression of our discussion was just how respectful and humble Michael is. When he speaks, he looks you in the eye, and when others speak, he listens. He wasn’t looking at his watch or thinking of other things. That said, I was quickly reminded of who I was speaking with when we discussed China. When I shared my views on the challenges facing the country, he perked up and told me that Jiang Zemin (China’s president from 1993 to 2003) told him the same thing at length in English (which is rare) a couple of years ago at an event. What we both said is off the record!

A Big Soft Underbelly

As it turns out, the global IT market is also entering middle age. Another clear takeaway from our discussion was Michael’s view that the global enterprise IT industry has a “big soft underbelly” that is ripe for new efficiencies, cost reductions, and innovations. I think he’s right.

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The Age Of The Customer Will Reshape Asia Pacific’s Tech Markets In 2014

Forrester’s team of Asia Pacific (AP) analysts released our top 10 predictions for the Asia Pacific tech market in 2014 this week. The most critical overarching trend for the region in 2014 will be the strengthening age of the customer, which we define as a 20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers.

The age of the customer will manifest itself in AP through 10 major trends that will fundamentally alter or disrupt regional tech markets in 2014. Here’s a preview of five of them:

  • Technology spending will remain flat. Forrester expects IT spending growth in AP to remain flat in 2014, with regionwide growth of 4%; the regional growth rate rises to 6% if we exclude Japan. We see China rebounding and generating healthy growth, but expect that local vendors will see more benefit than multinational brands. India is expected to rebound as well, in spite of an election in the first half of the year; once that’s over, we expect pent-up demand to be released. More details are offered in my colleague Fred Giron’s blog post.
  • CIOs’ IT spending will decline as the clout of the business grows. We’ve been writing about the growing clout of business buyers for more than a year now. But with continued business gains, we are now seeing CIO spending decline as business leaders and workforces take over more IT strategy and spending decisions. We expect to see this shift in spending power continue out to 2016 at a minimum.
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Q&A with Paul Cobban, Managing Director, COO, Technology and Operations, DBS Bank

In advance of Forrester's Summit for CIOs in Singapore on August 30, I had an opportunity to speak with Paul Cobban about his successful transformations at DBS Bank over the past few years. Based in Singapore, Paul oversees business transformation, operational excellence, customer experience, IT project office, procurement, real eastate, operational risk and business continuity management.  I've had a sneak peak at his event presentation and it is excellent.  Paul is a progressive CIO at the forefront of BT innovation and business engagement with a lot of valuable insight to share. 

1. What do you think IT departments are doing right and wrong these days?

In banking the IT departments have had to change enormously in recent years.  On top of the usual relentless advances in technology, security challenges have escalated, the war for talent has accelerated and regulation continues to evolve with the challenges. I believe that IT departments have had to adapt well to these changes. 

However, in most companies there is a lack of a truly customer centric design. Although there is some hype in the industry around service-oriented architecture (SOA), I believe that until budgets are allocated around customer processes rather than by functional units, systems will continue to be designed as applications for the department users rather than with the customer in mind. In addition, most companies fail to take usability seriously and have little concept of cross touchpoint consistency.

2. How do you measure ROI for IT? 

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Master Tomorrow’s Business Outcomes: Forrester’s Summit for CIOs in Asia Pacific

I am thrilled to formally kick off Forrester’s Summit for CIOs in Asia Pacific.  Building on our global CIO Summit series, this year’s summits will take place in Sydney on August 27, Singapore on August 30 and Mumbai on September 3.  This year’s theme is “Mastering Tomorrow’s Business Outcomes”, because more than ever, Asia Pacific CIOs need to understand the importance of moving beyond back-end IT to align to strategic business objectives and drive innovation.

High-level Networking

When sharing my excitement about our summits, I am often asked what makes our events special.  First and foremost, our attendees appreciate the fact that we bring together the most selective and senior group of CIOs in an intimate setting to connect.  Rather than targeting the masses, our aim is to set a high threshold for the delegates that attend and then provide them with a world class experience through our thought leadership, research, tools and networking opportunities. 

Distinguished Speakers

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Is Microsoft Rising To The Challenge(s)? — Notes From The Asia Pacific Analyst Summit

Forrester attended Microsoft’s Asia Pacific Analyst Summit in Singapore last week for a comprehensive and very timely strategy update with less than a month to go before the launch of Windows 8. Organized under a general theme of Microsoft’s New Era, the update highlighted Microsoft’s strategy for remaining dominant in the post-PC era, where mobility, consumerization, social, and cloud have driven massive IT industry innovation and disruption. Three key observations from our analysts in attendance:

  • Azure is emerging as a key strength as organizations increasingly leverage hybrid cloud approaches. As both a leading provider of public and private cloud services (directly and via hosting partners) and a strategic platform provider within enterprise data centers, Microsoft is very well positioned to embed hybrid cloud capabilities within its platform. This will benefit organizations of all sizes seeking to lower the cost of computing and increase business agility. While we were encouraged by how software license-agnostic Azure’s business leaders appear to be, we believe Microsoft can do a better job of leading with Azure in the enterprise market instead of leading so consistently with its traditional licensed software products.
  • Windows 8 devices will help boost Microsoft’s standing in the mobility market. Microsoft showcased a number of prelaunch Windows 8 devices from its OEM partners, and it’s clear that consumers will have a much better lineup of mobile devices to choose from in the future. Microsoft also presented several Windows Phone 8 smartphones from Nokia and Samsung and has wisely implemented a strategy to identify the top mobile apps in each Asia Pacific country and support app developers in creating versions for the Microsoft platform.
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Asia Pacific CIOs Learn Similar Lessons on the Path to Business Technology

 

Forrester’s Asia Pacific team is working at a fast and furious pace preparing for our CIO Summits in Singapore, Sydney and New Delhi throughout September.  As the content champion for the event, I have been working with about a dozen regional CIO speakers to prepare presentations on their journeys from IT to Business Technology, which is the focus of our summits.

Our distinguished line-up of CIO speakers provides an insightful cross-section of the countries, cultures and industries they span.  As they all embark on their respective BT journeys, it has become clear that they must each chart their own course and sequence activities in a way that makes sense for their unique circumstances.  Nevertheless, across these varied landscapes I have identified three key themes that are critical to the BT journeys regional CIOs will be forced to make:

  • Taking Care of the Basics: Although innovation and the power of BT are alluring, the BT journey starts with some basic plumbing.  All of our CIO speakers have emphasized that their BT journeys wouldn’t have taken the first step without first ensuring they were doing the basic things well.  They cannot convince the CEO that they deserve a seat at the table of business strategy without showing they know how to handle the basics first. In our Singapore Summit, Krishnan Narayanan, Managing Director and Head of IT at UBS will share his experience and provide recommendations for setting a solid foundation to enable the BT transition.
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