CX Marketing 2016 Singapore: Guest Q&A with David Peller, Booking.com

Some of you may have seen my earlier blog post on why you should attend CX Marketing Singapore 2016! Our annual Forrester Singapore event returns in less than two weeks, and I'm excited to hear from our own Forrester experts as well as esteemed industry speakers on how customer experience is and will continue to be the key differentiator for organizations to succeed in the age of the customer.

I hope to see you at the Marina Mandarin on August 25 — register here if you haven't already! In the meantime, here's a sneak peek of what to expect at the Forum. I had the opportunity to speak with David Peller, ‎Director, Strategic Partnerships, Asia Pacific at Booking.com, who gave us the inside scoop on how Booking.com has organized itself to be customer-obsessed, which it believes gives it an edge today. Here's what he had to say:

How has the age of the customer affected the travel industry? How have you seen your customer needs evolve?

If you think back to the time when travel was essentially an offline shopping experience, the customer used to spend hours deliberating with imperfect information, guided by a travel agent. Today, technology democratizes the travel experience — and you don't just have to take the view of one person for granted. On Booking.com, we have more than 100 million verified reviews of properties, places and activities, which provides engaging content for every potential traveler to explore.

Can you tell us briefly about Booking.com's digital transformation program and the approach that you've taken?

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Forrester’s Customer Experience Marketing Summit 2016 Is Coming To Singapore August 25th!

Customer experience (CX) and marketing leaders, mark your diaries! I’m excited to announce that Forrester’s CX Marketing Singapore 2016 event is less than six weeks away.

As all organizations operating in Singapore and in Southeast Asia understand, CX is fast becoming the only competitive differentiator for their business. The lines between brand, marketing, and CX disciplines are blurring as customers gain access to companies, services, and products on their own terms. How can you thrive in this dynamic environment? Start by effectively coordinating between brand, CX, and marketing teams. 

We’ve filled our agenda with senior CX and marketing professionals from leading organizations across Singapore and beyond. Key topics they’ll cover include:

  • Driving business results, competitive advantage, and growth by delivering the right customer experience.
  • Identifying the key practices and behaviors that fuel CX innovation.
  • Building and maintaining a brand in a digital world.
  • Instilling an understanding of customer emotions into design experiences and branding strategy.
  • Systematically improving CX through effective measurement.
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CIOs must operate at the speed of the customer

Digital transformation is about reinventing the business model of your company. It’s an end-to-end transformation that moves at only one speed: the speed of the customer. Back-end systems are not immune from these pressures, somehow shielded from change as customer-facing systems and processes innovate quickly to keep up with fast-changing customer behaviors.

Forrester believes that the pursuit of two-speed IT (aka bimodal IT) is a trap for CIOs. My colleague John McCarthy recently published a report that explains why CIOs need a single, bolder business technology (BT) strategy to accelerate innovation and simplification, not a two-class system that adds more silos of complexity (Forrester clients can have access to the report here).

At a recent CIO event organized in Singapore with our partner Odgers Berndtson, we shared the results of this research and related case studies. The audience was in agreement with this call, best illustrated by two examples that were shared during the discussion:

  • Two-speed operations break the best unified customer experience intent. The head of digital for a life insurance provider mentioned how his team did a great job creating a digital only policy purchasing capability enabling customers to purchase a life policy within 15 minutes online. Unfortunately, it then takes about 2 months for the operational teams to come back to the customer with the actual policy due to slow back-end systems moving at yesteryear speeds. Once the complete engagement has been executed, most clients are lost.
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Accelerating Digital Business And Innovation In Financial Services

From discussions with our clients in the financial services industry (FSI) in Asia Pacific, we’ve noticed that their digital agenda has changed dramatically over the past 18 months, shifting from a consideration of acquisitions and distribution channels to a broader business transformation imperative.

In fact, leaders at banks and insurance firms are increasingly realizing that:

  • Customer experience is fast becoming the only competitive differentiator.
  • Banks and insurance have to accelerate their ability to innovate and deliver new sources of value to customers faster. 
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Predictive Analytics Requires A Customer-Obsessed Innovation Culture

Over the past month, I participated in predictive analytics events in Indonesia and Thailand organized by SAP with about 70 regional CIOs. There is a palpable excitement around predictive analytics these days, but I see a risk that, beyond the excitement of the demo and first implementations, a number of these advanced analytic tools remain shelfware. Why? Because tech management teams often struggle to realize the business value of these investments.

With this in mind, my presentations focused on why companies need to approach analytics with a new mindset: The business discipline and technology to harness insights and consistently turn data into effective action. My colleagues Ted Schadler and Brian Hopkins call the resulting business capability a system of insights. This approach received a lot of positive feedback from the audience and generated discussions on how it can solve their key data & analytics challenges:

  • Ensure strong business support. Many CIOs I have talked to complained that they lack business support, because business sees data & analytics as a technology responsibility and they simply do not want to get engaged. My recommendation to them: stop talking about Big Data and start focusing on business outcomes like improved customer loyalty. That’s where the System of Insights concept can help. Actually, one of the CIOs, part of a large Indonesian conglomerate, told me that this approach would really help him explain how business and tech teams need to collaborate to turn data and insights into actual business value.
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TCS’ CrewCollab Solution Fills a Gap In Airlines’ Digital Transformation Journey

Earlier this week, TCS launched its CrewCollab Solution at the Singapore Aviation Festival. The sector has attracted a lot of investments from service providers lately with companies like NIIT Technologies, Pactera, Hexaware and others strengthening their portfolio of software assets for airlines. The TCS CrewCollab mobile solution – co-developed in partnership with Singapore Airlines – fills an important gap in the digital transformation strategy of airlines globally. Why is that?

  • The in-flight experience remains disjointed from the rest of the customer journey. Airlines like Delta, United and Emirates have already invested in developing successful digital customer experience initiatives covering the pre- and post-flight phases of the customer journey. However, airlines typically struggle understanding and serving their customers as they board the flight, customer data being seldom available to the cabin crew.
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Carefully Navigate Malaysia's Jungle Of Service Providers

While Malaysia's tech services market is mature compared with other fast growing ASEAN markets like Indonesia, it remains very fragmented. Some vendors also tout capabilities in technology services that fall outside of their core competencies and for which they have not yet developed a strong track record. The fast-rising digital expectations of business stakeholders are making it increasingly difficult for client organizations to find the right partner for their requirements. In a new report, my colleague Zhi Ying Ng and I provide a detailed analysis of the leading consulting and technology service providers in Malaysia. Here are a few high-level recommendations when choosing a service provider in Malaysia:

  • Reset your expectations when engaging with local service providers. Organizations looking to expand in Malaysia will find it beneficial to tap into these providers' local knowledge and experience. However, companies looking for sophisticated skills — like those related to enterprise applications — should be aware that providers might lack experience even though they claim otherwise. As such, it is crucial that enterprises set a clear strategy based on the goals and objectives that they want to achieve, together with a road map that aligns services sourcing with internal capabilities before beginning such engagements.
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Singapore CIOs Look Beyond IT To Enable Digital Transformation

I cannot believe it’s been a month already since the Forrester CIO Summit took place in Singapore. As usual, it was a great forum to exchange views with you, Singapore-based and other regional technology management leaders, on what is keeping CIOs busy these days: the digital transformation of their enterprises. Following these exchanges and my recent discussions with CIOs in Singapore and beyond, it is clear you understand that:

  • The power has shifted into the hands of your customers. Dane Anderson kicked off the Summit by making the case that the balance of power has shifted from institutions to always connected and technology empowered customers. To remain relevant as CIOs to your business stakeholders, you must shift your focus from the design and deployment of internal systems focused on process control to enabling digital products and services for more effectively engaging your customers.
  • The future of business is digital. My colleague John Brand then explained what makes a digital business. Companies like Alibaba and Burberry are digital businesses because they excel at integrating the two sides of digital strategy: creating leading digital customer experiences AND agile digital operations in service of customers.
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Look Beyond Traditional Service Providers For Your Digital Transformation Journey

In a recent report on next-generation services, I give several examples of how tech services firms are reinventing their operating models and value propositions to provide a new path to digital transformation to their clients. Interestingly, many such initiatives are coming either from very large service providers like Accenture or from small specialists like VMob, Bluefin Solutions, or Point of Origin. Small service providers’ next-gen service value proposition is starting to catch the interest of large clients too. A few weeks ago, VMob announced a major deal with McDonald’s in Japan wherein the company will leverage the VMob solution for its 3,200 restaurants in Japan.

The next-generation services report highlights the key tenets of these new digital transformation offerings. In this customer-controlled, digital world, successful tech services companies will bridge the gap between technology and business outcomes for their clients. In other words, it is not just about implementing a new technology solution anymore. It is about helping clients harvest the power of digital technologies and achieve specific business outcomes like growing revenues, reducing operating costs, or mitigating risks. This is where next-generation service providers like VMob, Bluefin, and Point of Origin get it. As leaders in the new services world, their approach is fundamentally different from the traditional tech service providers, as they:

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Bridging The CIO/CMO Disconnect In Asia

It’s a fact: Marketers in Asia purchase digital technologies without involving the tech management department. They do it because they believe that:

  • Digital technologies are key enablers of successful marketing strategies. Customers in Asia Pacific in general, and in Singapore in particular, are always connected and empowered by technology to access the right information in their moments of need. They increasingly value — and do business with — organizations that provide them with experiences that are effective, easy, and emotional across all customer touchpoints. It’s not a surprise, then to see marketing professionals — just like their colleagues in sales, product management, and customer service — source digital technologies to enable such experiences.
  • The tech management department hinders their business success. This is the more worrying part, but if you take a step back, as a technology management professional, you understand why. You work with technology life cycles that are oriented toward core business, back-end systems like enterprise resource planning and therefore are risk-averse and slow. However, marketers need tech management professionals who are open to innovation, experimentation, and moving toward a risk-tolerant, agile life cycle that supports digital experience delivery.
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