The Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) role is changing significantly: I&O pros are increasingly helping to drive business strategies with the technologies they choose and implement. Business leaders tell Forrester that technology is too important to leave to technology managers alone; they are pushing their I&O colleagues to explore the business value associated with the technologies they choose, implement, and manage. I&O pros, in turn, tell us that their jobs are changing. As one I&O pro put it, “I’ve been an infrastructure manager for 15 years, but only in the past 3 have I been asked to construct a business plan and be part of the business planning team.”
Figure: Burberry's Technology-Powered Flagship Store In London
For I&O pros in retail and related verticals like hospitality (or for anyone involved in creating in-person experiences), we’ve just released a report to help aid this transition. Along with my co-author Michele Pelino, we’ve just released the report “Infrastructure Will Drive The Retail Store Experiences Of The Future.” The report asserts that I&O pros have an important role to play in helping their companies engage shoppers in experiences that will drive loyalty and spending.
Forrester recently surveyed 148 technology, marketing, and business professionals with decision-making roles in digital experience (DX) delivery technologies, and asked them about their strategies for the coming 12 months. In our recently published report, one of the more interesting trends we found was the “people” issues remain top of mind for most organizations. Our qualitative and inquiry data backs this up, as we often here that people, process, and cultural issues (not technology issues) have stifled progress towards delivering great digital customer experiences.
Our survey found that organizations were concerned about people issues such as:
Dividing up work between different groups. Digital experience has moved from a purely marketing centric function, to a decidedly cross business issue that touches everyone in the organization. This includes technology management, business, marketing, and sales groups. But this cross-business shift toward digital experience delivery presents significant challenges around coordinating work between various groups. Accordingly, this was the number one people-related pain point: 60% of respondents said dividing roles and responsibilities between marketing, technology management, and the business was their top challenge.
Everyone makes mistakes, but for social media teams, one wrong click can mean catastrophe. @USAirways experienced this yesterday when it responded to a customer complaint on Twitter with a pornographic image, quickly escalating into every social media manager’s worst nightmare.
Not only is this one of the most obscene social media #fails to date, but the marketers operating the airline’s Twitter handle left the post online for close to an hour. In the age of social media, it might as well have remained up there for a decade. Regardless of how or why this happened, this event immediately paints a picture of incompetence at US Airways, as well as the newly merged American Airlines brand.
It also indicates a lack of effective oversight and governance.
While details are still emerging, initial reports indicate that human error was the cause of the errant US Airways tweet, which likely means it was a copy and paste mistake or the image was saved incorrectly and selected from the wrong stream. In any case, basic controls could have prevented this brand disaster:
US Airways could have built a process where all outgoing posts that contain an image must be reviewed by a secondary reviewer or manager;
It could have segregated its social content library so that posts flagged for spam don’t appear for outgoing posts;
It could have leveraged technology that previews the full post and image before publishing.
Management consultants and business intelligence, analytics and big data system integrations often use the terms accelerators, blueprints, solutions, frameworks, and products to show off their industry and business domain (sales, marketing, finance, HR, etc) expertise, experience and specialization. Unfortunately, they often use these terms synonymously, while in pragmatic reality meanings vary quite widely. Here’s our pragmatic take on the tangible reality behind the terms (in the increasing order of comprehensiveness):
Fameworks. Often little more than a collection of best practices and lessons learned from multiple client engagements. These can sometimes shave off 5%-10% of a project time/effort mainly by enabling buyers to learn from the mistakes others already made and not repeating them.
Solution Accelerators. Aka Blueprints, these are usually a collection of deliverables, content and other artifacts from prior client engagements. Such artifacts could be in the form of data connectors, transformation logic, data models, metrics, reports and dashboards, but they are often little more than existing deliverables that can be cut/pasted or otherwise leveraged in a new client engagement. Similar to Frameworks, Solution Accelerators often come with a set of best practices. Solution Accelerators can help you hit the ground running and rather than starting from scratch, find yourself 10%-20% into a project.
Solutions. A step above Solution Accelerators, Solutions prepackage artifacts from prior client engagements, by cleansing and stripping them of proprietary content and/or irrelevant info. Count on shaving 20% to 30% off the effort.
Amazon plans to launch a smartphone this fall, according to The Wall Street Journal (reported based on undisclosed sources in the SF and Seattle area who have seen the device).
A few common questions:
1) Will they succeed?
Well, it depends on Amazon’s definition of success.
Is it about media? Amazon is still somewhat new to developing, building, distributing, and supporting hardware. If this device adds to its portfolio of PC, Kindle, and Fire TV to be yet another screen for Prime subscribers, that may be enough. The notion of subsidized hardware to support an extended media play is interesting. My colleague James McQuivey leads our research there.
Is it about commerce? mCommerce is a big deal in mobile, but not a big deal within the broader context of consumer spending. Offline commerce dwarfs eCommerce and eCommerce dwarfs mCommerce. The big opportunity in mobile is the influence of sales locally. But Amazon also plays in this space.
Is it about payments? I’d say unlikely in the near term, but I like the idea of using my Amazon account (linked to my credit card) for quick and easy online payments. However, it’s hard to imagine the same level of convenience translated into the physical world – with the greatest possibility in mCommerce. My colleague Denee Carrington is our expert here.
Dropbox has 275 million users. It's steadily improving the business capability of its Internet file system. That makes it important to understand what Dropbox is doing and why it matters to business. Here's what they are doing:
Last week, Dropbox secured a $500 million line of credit. My take is that Dropbox will use this money to build datacenters as well as global business capacity. Today, the company uses cheap storage from Amazon S3, but it keeps all the juice (like user permissions, search metadata, and application data) in its own data centers. This cheap funding (debt is much cheaper than equity) gives it a reasonable capital structure to buy lots of servers to build global applications.
Yesterday, Dropbox made its new Dropbox for Business "linked folders" generally available. This feature lets technology managers give employees a business Dropbox that it can secure and own. Employees can link the business Dropbox to their personal Dropbox so they see all their files in a consistent way. When an employee leavers the firm, the business Dropbox disappears from personal devices (if it works as designed). Customers like Facebook are using this product and seeing a big shift in its employees moving business files from a personal Dropbox to the new business Dropbox.
Dropbox has attracted 100,000 disrupters -- many of which are targeting mobile moments. Mobile moments open up a universe of new personal and business applications to get things done in a small moments of need. This level of partner investment is a huge deal because it signals that Dropbox is becoming a file system for the Internet era. Using Dropbox, these innovators can simply inherit the entire file management and storage sub-system they need.
Up until this week, Google had remained reticent about speaking of Google Glass as an enterprise tool. Google is a mass-market consumer company whose main revenue streams derive from huge scale; its aspirations for Glass are, presumably, both ambitious and far-reaching. In consequence, Google's leaders want Google Glass on the faces of as many consumers as possible. Enterprise represents, at best, a bit of a diversion from that mass-market ambition.
Nevertheless, as I pointed out in January, Google has begun to tell stories about how Glass can create value in an enterprise setting. Theirvideos of public safety officials using Glass for firefighting tugged at the heart-strings, even as the NYPDpilots the device as well. But April has seen a flurry of enterprise-related Glass news, including an explicit posting on Google+ about enterprise.
In addition to all those consumer Glass Explorers, "Something we've also noticed and are very excited about is how Explorers are using Glass to drive their businesses forward," Google wrote. "A number of companies have already teamed up with enterprise software developers to create new ways to serve their customers and reach their business goals."
As per the FDA press release "the diverse and rapidly developing industry of health information technology requires a thoughtful, flexible approach,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “This proposed strategy is designed to promote innovation and provide technology to consumers and health care providers while maintaining patient safety. Innovative health IT products present tremendous potential benefits, including: greater prevention of medical errors; reductions in unnecessary tests; increased patient engagement; and faster identifications of and response to public health threats and emergencies. However, if health IT products are not designed, implemented or maintained properly, they can pose varying degrees of risk to the patients who use them. The safety of health IT relies not only on how a product is designed and developed, but on how it is customized, implemented, integrated and used"
How do you start to narrow your choices when you are looking for the right customer service solution for your group. Start by asking whether your team is large or small, and whether your needs are primarily phone based, or whether you support your customers over a variety of voice, digital and social communication channels.