Many of us have spent the past 10 years focusing on business intelligence solutions in order to help our businesses make better fact-based decisions. In fact, BI has been among CIOs’ top 10 priorities for more than a decade. These solutions have, for the most part, been successful — and we continue to improve our BI capabilities as the demand for fact-based decision-making goes deeper, wider, and further into the business.
This whole time, we’ve also been aware of the significant amount of unstructured data that resides within our business, and the fact that we struggle to use it to make better decisions. To begin to get value from this data, we have made our organizations more collaborative and implemented tools and platforms to support that collaboration — with varying degrees of success.
The fact remains that there’s a huge amount of unstructured information and data that we do not get value from. However, a growing number of solutions are beginning to mine elements of this data: product information, software code, legal case files, medical literature, messaging data, and other unstructured business data.
I’ve recently been working with TrustSphere, which is a messaging intelligence provider. TrustSphere has an interesting solution that mines your messaging data to get real insights and information from the mountains of emails and messages that bounce into, out of, and around your organization every day. This is an interesting concept, and TrustSphere has developed a number of use cases for its solution. I’ll be presenting at a webinar hosted by TrustSphere on February 25— feel free to register here.
In the Age Of The Customer, executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are – customers. In an attempt to move the needle on customer service operations, in order to keep customers satisfied and loyal to your brand, these are the top trends that you should be paying attention to. You can get my full report here.
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Trend 1: Customers Demand Omnichannel Service
Customers want to use a breadth of communication channels for customer service. Across all demographics, voice is still the primary communication channel used, but is quickly followed by self-service channels, chat and email. In addition, channel usage rates are quickly changing. Customers want consistent service experiences across these channels. They also expect to be able to start an interaction in one channel and complete it in another. In 2014 and beyond, customer service professionals will work on better understanding the channel preference of their customer base, and guiding customers to the right channel based on their on the complexity and time-sensitivity of their inquiry.
Trend 2: Customer Service Will Adopt a Mobile-First Mindset
Application development and delivery (AD&D) professionals in retail must contend with established categories of packaged apps for store operations, eCommerce, supply chain, and loyalty.
But most packages hail from the pre-digital disruption era of mono-channel retail — store or eCommerce.
AD&D pros must chart an application upgrade and integration course that delivers omni-channel consumer experiences despite the incompatibility of the package data models with new use cases such as click-and-collect or buy online, return in store.
I've had a preview of the new FUJITSU Retail Solution Market Place and I'm excited because it helps retailers to orchestrate the applications and data they already have to meet consumers' cross-channel expectations.
While the consumerization of IT marches on, in its footsteps lurks the specter of unknown risk. We live in a world of zero-sum games of litigation where suffocating regulations are the norm, and failure to comply can draw millions in fines and lawsuits. Technology diversity multiplies the challenge of maintaining compliance — it’s no wonder so many IT shops take a one-size-fits-all approach to workforce computing and forbid bring-your-own-device (BYOD). But it doesn't have to be this way. It’s possible to craft an approach that brilliantly achieves the conflicting goals of embracing BYOD and consumerization while slashing the risks and costs at the same time. Our recent research on the topic comes from working with lawyers and auditors who specialize in technology law and compliance reveals that it can indeed be done.
You Still Have to Act But the Cure is Often Worse Than the Disease
The technology attorneys we interviewed for this research agree — once you learn that BYOD is happening in your organization, you have a legal obligation to do something about it, whether you have established industry guidance to draw on or not. The answer is seemingly simple: Take action to stamp out the risk. However, the answer isn't that straightforward because:
The more restrictions you put in place, the more incentive people will have to work around them and the more sophisticated and clandestine their efforts will be.
There is no data leak prevention tool for the human brain, so arguably the most valuable and sensitive information walks around on two legs and leaves the building every night. Accepting this is important for keeping a healthy perspective about information risk on employee-owned devices.
I am currently in the process of wrapping up a report on implementing cloud collaboration solutions in Asia Pacific. For this report, I interacted with technology vendors, collaboration service providers, and customer organizations to understand the current state of cloud collaboration adoption in Asia Pacific and the drivers and key criteria that organizations need to consider when evaluating a solution and service provider. Three distinct business scenarios emerged as the most appropriate for cloud collaboration services deployment:
To reduce the total cost of ownership. Compared with an on-premises infrastructure, public cloud deployments offer a lower total cost of ownership to individual companies, as multiple customers share the service provider’s infrastructure and associated costs such as hardware, software upgrades, and IT maintenance. While it’s beneficial for organizations across all segments, it’s especially advantageous for small and medium-size businesses with limited IT budgets and small IT teams.
Implementation in greenfield projects. Existing legacy communications infrastructure investments discourage customers from adopting cloud solutions. But this works well for newly established companies, as it offers better flexibility and efficiency at a lower operating cost — a critical business requirement, especially during the first few years of operation. Furthermore, lower upfront expenses help customers boost business agility and utilize funds for functions that are critical to operations and help them gain a strategic advantage in the marketplace.
Digitally empowered customers are disrupting every industry; the age of the customer brings with it some inherent risks that will push organizations to increase spending on security software. In Asia Pacific, security software has leapfrogged other software categories and leads the region in terms of expected software spending growth in 2014 (see figure below).
We believe that the high growth in security software spending in Asia Pacific is primarily due to the following risks related to the age of the customer:
Migration to public cloud services. In a recent survey, 41% of Asia Pacific firms identified public cloud and other as-a-service offerings as a high or critical priority for 2014. Increased adoption of public cloud-based services like storage and disaster recovery is stretching the attack surface, exposing enterprises to a variety of security issues related to confidentiality, integrity, availability, and accountability. In response, firms must strengthen their security infrastructure.
Increased mobility. Nearly 45% of the Asian organizations in our survey identified mobility as a high or critical priority for 2014. As enterprises introduce mobility into their environment and add devices to support the initiative, the footprint of their infrastructure increases. The new access points attached to the network create opportunities for attackers to break into the infrastructure directly or via mobile application portals that provide gateways to protected, sensitive data.
IBM launched on January 9, 2014 its first business unit in 19 years to bring Watson, the machine that beat two Jeopardy champions in 2011, to the rest of us. IBM posits that Watson is the start of a third era in computing that started with manual tabulation, progressed to programmable, and now has become cognitive. Cognitive computing listens, learns, converses, and makes recommendations based on evidence.
IBM is placing big bets and big money, $1 billion, on transforming computer interaction from tabulation and programming to deep engagement. If they succeed, our interaction with technology will truly be personal through interactions and natural conversations that are suggestive, supportive, and as Terry Jones of Kayak explained, "makes you feel good" about the experience.
There are still hurdles for IBM and organizations, such as expense, complexity, information access, coping with ambiguity and context, the supervision of learning, and the implications of suggestions that are unrecognized today. To work, the ecosystem has to be open and communal. Investment is needed beyond the platform for applications and devices to deliver on Watson value. IBM's commitment and leadership are in place. The question is if IBM and its partners can scale Watson to be something more than a complex custom solution to become a truly transformative approach to businesses and our way of life.
Forrester believes that cognitive computing has the potential to address important problems that are unmet with today’s advanced analytics solutions. Though the road ahead is unmapped, IBM has now elevated its commitment to bring cognitive computing to life through this new business unit and the help of one third of its research organization, an ecosystem of partners, and pioneer companies willing to teach their private Watsons.
There is a great deal of wildly divergent and sometimes seemingly fabricated information on the size of the US and global healthcare market. For 2014, here are the numbers that I will be using, with my sources, and assumptions and notes.1
Data Privacy Day is on January 28. But isn't all hope lost when it comes to the P-word? Interestingly, Daniel Solove is one key expert who doesn't think so: His recent Year in Privacy roundup sounds a number of positive notes, largely having to do with regulatory pressure driven by public pressure. In the age of the customer, we really can see "water wear away stone" when ordinary people demand change.
My colleague Fatemeh Khatibloo recently published some must-read research on contextual privacy: a framework for negotiating the collection and use of personal data that ensures a fair value exchange for both the customer and the business. Don't miss the blog post where she lays out some takeaways:
Privacy isn't dead, it just needs redefining.
Privacy will be a market differentiator.
Privacy technology will disrupt the marketing ecosystem.
CPG companies are a great example of what Business Agility really means in “The Age of the Customer”. They produce tissues, disinfecting wipes and cold remedies are finding new ways to predict and chase outbreaks around the country.
Forrester is putting significant effort into Business Agility – what it is, how it relates to the success of companies within industries, and what foundations business agility is built on. Our recent study of agility and performance found that high-performing companies were building agility into their core business. (see recent Agility PerformanceReport)
No where does this seem more true than CPG industry. CPG has been innovating in - Market Responsiveness - one of forrester's 10 dimensions of business agility. This means simply understanding what’s going on in your market and shifting strategies and resources to respond. In the CPG context, it means to figure out when people are getting sick and ramp up marketing, and then reduce expenditure when people are well.