Forrester Blogs For Business Technology Professionals
This is a roll-up of all Forrester blogs written for Business Technology Professionals. Role-specific blogs are listed below. Visit Forrester.com to learn how we make Business Technology Professionals successful every day.
Many organizations today get caught up in what I call the “social media binary,” where there are only two options to social media control: 1) Allow unrestricted access to social networks, and potentially expose the company to myriad security, regulatory, reputational, and other risks, or 2) set and enforce policy that completely forbids the use of social media while at work, and forgo potentially lucrative business opportunities for the firm.
Tablets drive worker productivity in part due to their hyper-portability, as I argued in a recent blog post. Workers can (and, we showed with data, do) use tablets in more places, places where they wouldn’t (and don’t) take their PCs.
The top question I’ve received about tablet hyper-portability is this one: “Tablets are very portable, sure, but are people using them as creation devices or as (mere) consumption devices?” The general assumption behind this question tends to be that “creation” activities are equal to “productivity,” while “consumption” activities are not. I believe this is a false dichotomy, however. Consuming the right information at the right time can increase worker productivity in and of itself. Let me offer a few examples showing how that can work:
Retail sales associates using tablets with customers. Retailers are equipping sales associates with tablets to use on the retail floor, creating richer interactions with customers – and driving higher sales.
Physicians conducting patient rounds with tablets. Physicians can gain rich, immediate insight into their patients’ health records – saving time and driving more accurate diagnoses in less time. They also use the tablets to show patients results (like x-ray images), creating a better patient experience.
Banks have a reputation for being stodgy and conservative. But Credit Agricole (CA) has broken the stereotype. I had a great discussion a few weeks ago with Bernard Larrivière, Director of Innovation, and Emmanuel Methivier, the CA Store Manager, about the CA Store launched last fall. The store houses new services developed by third-party developers using the bank’s secure customer data — one small step for CA, one giant step for the banking industry and the data economy.
The CA Store was not only inspired by the Apple Store model but also by government open data initiatives. The public sector provided the model of exposing APIs to internal data and working with independent developers to encourage application creation. However, in a move that will likely be carefully watched by their public sector brethren, CA recognized the need for a better business model to incent developers to use the data, and to sustain the development and maintenance of the applications.
“Often, my IT group isn’t even aware of what application development and implementation is being outsourced. Eventually, this creates a big problem for us ...We have to clean up a lot of messes.” (North American manufacturing organization)
“Our marketing group paid an agency $250,000 to launch an app and didn’t tell IT. There was no QA done, the agency had no idea how to measure satisfaction, and the app was unstable. The app had just a 2.5 star rating in the iOS app store, and eventually marketing had to kill the app because it just wasn’t working.” (Fortune 500 company)
Do any of these anecdotes sound familiar? More often than not, we talk with organizations where the business uses agency partners to work around IT. But IT pros need to be marketing’s eyes and ears when it comes to evaluating a service provider’s technology expertise. We recommend asking some of the following questions:
What’s your mix of offerings? Vendors come in all shapes and sizes: marketing/ad agencies, creative design agencies, SIs, and consultants. When it comes to digital experience, these vendors are converging. It’s not about which vendor is “best,” but rather which service provider has the right mix of skills for your initiative. Are you looking to launch an innovative campaign to strengthen your brand messaging? You probably want a marketing/ad agency with strong creative skills. Are you looking to implement a killer mobile app? You want an agency strong in technical and design skills. Do you need a thought leader to help you revamp your omnichannel experience, helping create an overall strategy and implement a new website and mobile app? You need a partner strong in consulting, design, and technical skills.
I find that enterprises continue to struggle under increasing volumes of varying types of content. Historically, you will see the enterprise architecture professionals take a product-specific approach to their enterprise content management (ECM) strategies: document management for office docs, web content management for online content, records management for corporate records, and so on. However, enterprises increasingly need to support multiple content types in different ways. The most successful content management implementations have focused on controlling and optimizing information assets using content and records management technologies, policies, and best practices.
We are finding that sourcing content management technologies are becoming increasing more difficult due to the wide array of business use cases and content technologies to support them. Merely buying a content management solution can still result in functionality gaps, or it may result in shelfware if you don’t need the total breadth of functionality. Instead, as the number of content types grows, you will find it easier to match requirements with content usage, rather than just content types. A successful content management program must:
■ Provide a consistent, predictable ECM experience.
■ Surface the content easily.
■ Increase the value and reliability of the information.
Last week I attended Enterprise Connect 2013 where I had over two dozen one-on-one briefings with UC technology and services vendors. Highlights included Microsoft’s keynote by Derek Burney (Corporate VP, Skype Division) the content of which was almost entirely live-demos of Lync mobile and room-based video conferencing run on Lync Online (including using several mobile devices, not all Windows OS, with Smart’s Lync room screens – which performed better that at the Smart booth). The very heavy load on the venue’s Wi-Fi network (which the Cisco keynote demo suffered from the previous day) made the performance particularly impressive. [NB: Funny how comms’ folk are still impressed when the technology performs before a live audience the way it did in the lab.]
Another noteworthy demo was BT Conferencing and Dolby’s demo of very high quality sound-around audioconferencing. This was impressive due to the amount of time most of us spend on audioconferencing or videoconferencing calls where it’s near impossible for a remote attendee to break in, and where side-bar conversations in a meeting room are typically mostly or entirely lost. Moreover, it works equally well with a cheap headphone ($30 models actually work probably better than much more expensive ones that might cause ‘interference’ on the line) – and on Apple as well as Windows devices.
Technology’s value to a business derives at least in part from its ability to increase productivity. The 1987 Nobel Prize winning economist Robert Solow demonstrated that technology increases the productivity of both capital and labor to create economic growth.
Some technologies radically reshape productivity. Take, for example, the cotton gin (1792), which fundamentally transformed labor. A quote from Wikipedia claims: “With a cotton gin, in one day a man could remove seed from as much upland cotton as would have previously taken a woman working two months to process at one pound a day.” By profoundly increasing worker productivity, the cotton gin revolutionized both the textile and agricultural industries.
We’re living through several technological revolutions of our own right now – in, for example, cloud services, mobility, and big data. One technology that leverages all three to some extent is the tablet, a device I follow very closely.
Tablets drive worker productivity through a variety of vectors. One of those vectors is portability. In our Forrsights Hardware Survey, we asked IT decision-makers who either support tablets today or plan to support them soon why they would do so. IT decision-makers’ #1 answer, at 62%? Because tablets are a “more portable form factor than the traditional laptop.” This response eclipsed end user preferences, ease of use considerations, and other possible answers.
Data management history has shown, it is not what you buy; it is how you are able to use it that makes a difference. According to survey results from the Q4 2012 Forrsights BI/Big Data Survey, this is a story that is again ringing true as big data changes the data management landscape.
Overall . . .
Big technology adoption across various capabilities ranges from 8% to just over 25%.
Plans to implement big data technology across various capabilities is as high as 31%.
Pilot projects are the preferred method to get started.
However . . .
High-performing organizations (15%-plus annual growth) are expanding big data investments by one to two times in many big data areas compared with other organizations.
The key takeaway . . .
For most organizations, big data projects aren't leaving the pilot stage and aren't failing to attain strong return on investment (ROI).
Employee engagement is a hot topic in many C-suites today. There's a growing body of research that says engaged employees are productive employees, contributing positively to the bottom line. Forrester's own workforce research shows those who feel supported by managers, respected for their efforts, and encouraged to be creative are more inclined to recommend the company as a workplace or a vendor. So, we see a debate within the upper echelons of organizations on how best to create engaging workforce experiences which give an employee's contributions meaning, provide the flexibility they require to be successful, and continuously develop the skills they need to serve customers. It's critical that the CIO is at the table during these conversations. Why? Regardless of the talent retention and management strategy, technology will be necessary to help unlock the potential within the workforce.
The CIO at a large software vendor with a reputation for great employee engagement said it best: "Technology is expected, but [business leaders] do not think about how it enables people." Technology is an ambient part of the workspace. Businesses outfit their workforces with a range of gadgets and give them access to numerous systems which facilitate interactions, manage orders, track projects, store data, and more. Of course, deficiencies in these corporate toolkits lead employees to find and embrace things like iPhones, Galaxy Tabs, Dropbox, and Evernote on their own. But has anyone given serious consideration to how these disparate tools come together to help engage employees so they can properly support the customer?
Why is it so difficult to deliver consistent, effortless customer service interactions across communication channels and touchpoints. A fundamental reason has to do with how companies are internally organized. In many companies, sales, marketing, and customer service are discrete functional silos that don’t necessarily share the same technologies, business processes, data, or even the same definition of measures of success.
Let’s take a quick look at the organizations that make technology purchases for customer service. Obviously, the customer service operations group makes most of these purchases. Yet marketing and eBusiness organizations also purchase many technologies that are valuable to customer service such as social listening solutions, enterprise feedback management solutions, and social media technologies. Here are some numbers to back this up: in a survey of eBusiness and channel strategy executives, 91% said that they were responsible for the website and digital channels like email, chat, and web self service, and another 69% said they were responsible for the mobile operations, including the required technology purchases.