Now some IBM customers might be able to take advantage of cheaper third party software support.

Mark Bartrick

Chief information officers (CIOs) are dedicating more of their budgets to what we call “systems of engagement” (technologies that help win, serve, and retain customers) rather than “systems of record” (back-office technologies). According to research here at Forrester, new business investment in the former will be eight times that of the latter in 2014. All of which means CIOs are re-examining their back-office legacy spend to see what savings can be made to fund new front-office innovations.

But releasing back-office spend is not easy. For many companies, most of the ‘easy’ savings have already been achieved - so squeezing even more savings has become a tougher game. For example, you can only try to re-negotiate legacy support costs a few times before the vendors say ‘enough is enough’. While such comments may have discouraged negotiators in past, the advent of third party software support in the last five years has, for Oracle and SAP users at least, kicked the cost savings door back open and given fresh impetus to procurement people seeking to reduce software support costs.

I am sure that many of you have read some of my previous comments on the emergence of the third party software support market over the past number of years. Companies like Rimini Street, Spinnaker Support and Alui have saved some Oracle and SAP clients a lot of money. For companies who have moved to third party support, or who have simply used the threat of moving to third party support in order to drive the vendor’s costs lower, the savings they are enjoying have freed up cash to spend on new innovations and front-office client engaging stuff.

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A Nice Example Of Applying Desktop Virtualization To Improve Customer Experience

David Johnson

When I was maybe 2 years old, my mother lost track of me in a Toys-R-Us store. After a dozen stressful minutes, she finally found me - holding a Fisher-Price airplane. And so began my love affair with airplanes and aviation. So as I looked through the break-out schedule while attending NVIDIA’s GPU conference two weeks ago in San Jose, California, Gulfstream Aero’s session on transforming manufacturing and field service with desktop virtualization caught my eye. It didn’t disappoint.

There are 2 reasons why I liked this session so much and why I think it’s worth sharing with you:

  1. It’s a nice example of technology that makes the work easier for employees, and helps them improve the customer experience directly.
  2. It’s also an example of how a technology that’s not necessarily a money saver (in this case, VDI) shines when it enables workers do something that would be difficult or impossible any other way.
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Telefónica Leadership Event 2014 Highlights Plans To Lead The Digital Telco Parade

Michele Pelino

With Brownlee Thomas, Ph.D., Forrester Research

Forrester recently attended the Telefónica Leadership Conference 2014, its annual global customer event that brought together more than 600 customers, partners and its Global Solutions leadership team. This year’s event was an exemplary mix of Telefónica and external content, including a keynote live video interview with former US President Bill Clinton on day one, and also a keynote speech by Sebastián Piñera, President of Chile 2010-2014 on day two. Additionally, well known academics presented research findings related to how cloud and social are changing marketing (Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard), and how multigenerational workforces are reshaping business – from how they use technology to interact, and also to learn and transfer skills (Dr. Paul Redmond,  University of Liverpool).

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The Forrester Wave: Customer Service Solutions For Enterprise Organizations, Q2 2014

Kate Leggett

During the past five years, the customer service capabilities leading vendors has matured as vendors have focused on solidifying the foundational building blocks of customer support capabilities. Vendors have folded new technologies such as social capabilities, business process management, decisioning, business intelligence, and mobility into their solutions to allow organizations to offer more-personalized customer service experiences. Vendors have also focused on different buyers – those that have to support enterprise-size teams who respond to inquiries primarily over the phone channel, and those that have to support small to mid size teams  who support multichannel operations.

This maturation makes it, in a way, increasingly challenging to be confident of your technology choice. In The Forrester Wave: Customer Service Solutions For Enterprise Organizations, Q2 2014, we pinpoint the strengths of 11 leading vendors that offer solutions suitable for large and very large customer service agent teams. Here are some of our key findings:

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Why Every Data Architect Should Be An Analyst First

Michele Goetz

“Context” is the new buzz-word for data.  Jeffery Hammond talks about it in Systems Of Automation Will Enrich Customer Engagement, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel talk about it in their book “Age of Context”, and you can’t ignore it when it comes to a discussion for Cognitive Computing and the Internet of Things.  We’ve live in a world where data was rationalized, structured, and put into standardized single definition models.  The world was logical.  Today, we live in a world where the digital revolution has introduced context, the semantic language of data, and it has disrupted how we manage data. 

Big data technologies were created not because of volume and cost.  They were created to manage the multi-faceted model that data takes on when you have to link it to how regular consumers and business people see the world.  Performance and cost are only factors that had to be considered to scale in order to support the objective.  Search, recommendations, personalized web experiences, and next best action could not be possible in a structured single definition environment.  Why we know this is that the sculpted purpose built environments that supporting business applications collapsed when analytics to discover causation in relationships and correlations at scale was applied.

That is the tipping point for data architects.

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When You Play The Game Of Service Management, You Evolve Or You Die

Courtney Bartlett

Valar Morghulis, service management professionals.*

If you're reading this blog, chances are pretty high you're a nerd. Therefore chances are also high you're at least aware (or a fan) of author George R. R. Martin's epic fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire now adapted into the dark and stormy HBO series: Game of Thrones. Now, chances are slightly less high you're the kind of fan who has crafted a dragon headdress made out of construction paper in anticipation of this weekend's premiere of season four, but I digress...

Whether you're a (big) fan or not, much can be learned from the trials, tribulations, betrayals, deceptions, swords, and sorcery surrounding the characters of the "known world" as they jockey for the right to rule the seven kingdoms and sit upon the iron throne. And you needn't speak Dothraki to be able to understand the (fairly non-spoilery) lessons below culled from Game of Thrones, and practice them in the game of service management:

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Microsoft’s New Personal Digital Assistant Signals The Start Of Something Bigger

Clement Teo

When Clippy, Microsoft’s paper-clip assistant, disappeared in 1998, it was hardly missed; it was both annoying and offered little value to users. Zip forward 16 years: Microsoft has just introduced Cortana, a new personal digital assistant that the firm will launch on Windows Phone in the coming months. Powered by Bing, and about two years in the making, Cortana will be important if Microsoft gets it right. Here’s why it’s an exciting development:

  • Mobile-first is a growing enterprise strategy. The whole idea of creating a mobile-first enterprise strategy has taken root in many enterprises, as they recognize that users now expect any information or service they desire to be available to them, in context and at their moment of need. Users are cognitively and behaviorally ready to embrace wearable technology as an extension of mobility — and to weave it into their business processes. My colleague JP Gownder shares his views on wearables here.
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Large Chinese Enterprise Targets Improved Agility

Gene Cao

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) in China face a quickly changing competitive landscape — one that their existing technology strategies can’t keep up with. To address this challenge, organizations are migrating from earlier-generation BI architectures, technologies, and organizational structures to new models and approaches. My “Chinese State-Owned Enterprise Targets Improved Agility” report, scheduled to appear later this month, describes the experience of a typical large Chinese SOE, the China National Cereals, Oils, and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO), which leveraged a BI-led program to jump-start the transformation of its technology management capabilities.

COFCO is China’s largest supplier of agricultural and food products and services, including oils, rice, wine, tea, and various other products, and is expanding into real estate, shopping centers, and other industries. COFCO is a large B2B trader with many technology stakeholders, and its headquarters couldn’t quickly collect or analyze data from branches or business units, delaying the company’s response to and decisions about market changes. Major obstacles included siloed operations centers and business units; inconsistent data management rules that complicated centralized data governance; and other process and people challenges.

To address these issues, COFCO decided to redefine the position of technology management in the organization and review its technology agenda and planning. It evaluated and selected BI as the most compelling project to deliver quick business outcomes that would convince business executives to further invest in the transformation. Best practices that COFCO implemented include:

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3D Printing Trends 2014

Michael Yamnitsky
Now that the media hype of 2013 has settled . . . somewhat, 2014 will be a pivotal year in which we see small, tangible steps towards reality. Below are a few trends and commentary on what we’re seeing in the market:
 
1. Ecosystem components begin to marry. Investments, acquisitions, partnerships, and new developments will focus around unifying printers, software, and services for seamless 3D printing experiences. For example, Adobe recently announced direct integration with MakerBot and Shapeways to close the gap between 3D modeling tools and what printers need to physically produce objects. Other major software vendors like Autodesk will play an evangelist role in bringing ecosystem players together to enable interoperability across proprietary platforms. 
 
2. New startups stretch our imaginations of business model disruption. 3D printing is a catalyst for rethinking inefficient analog processes. Startup SOLS aims to disrupt the entire orthotics value chain with an end-to-end digital service for custom shoe insoles. Customers scan a 3D model of their feet, input data on weight, lifestyle, and activity patterns, and send to print.
 
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Get Application Optimization Right in the Cloud Era

James Staten

There’s a new and refreshing trend in my conversations with CIOs and IT leaders — acknowledgement that cloud services are here to stay and a desire to proactively start taking advantage. But to get this right takes the right approach to application portfolio optimization. And we’ve just released a new version of our Strategic Rightsourcing tool that helps you do just that.

The decision to proactive embrace cloud services is quickly followed by two questions:

  • How to prepare my IT organization to be cloud-forward?
  • What apps to move to the cloud?
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