Agile Business Intelligence Solution Centers Are More Than Just Competency Centers

Boris Evelson

By Boris Evelson and Rob Karel

Our latest BI solution center (BISC, which in our definition is more than a BICC/BI COE) report is now live on the Forrester website. Here’s a brief summary.

Forrester firmly believes that tried and true best practices for enterprise software development and support just don’t work for business intelligence (BI). Earlier-generation BI support centers — organized along the same lines as support centers for all other enterprise software — fall short when it comes to taking BI’s peculiarities into account. These unique BI requirements include less reliance on the traditional software development life cycle (SDLC) and project planning and more emphasis on reacting to the constant change of business requirements. Forrester recommends structuring your BISC along somewhat different lines than traditional technical support organizations.

Earlier-generation BI support organizations are less than effective because they often

  • Put IT in charge
  • Remain IT-centric
  • Continue to be mostly project-based
  • Focus too much on functional reporting capabilities but ignore the data
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Verint + Vovici: Another Example Of Market Consolidation In The Contact Center Space

Kate Leggett

Contact centers for customer service are a nightmare in terms of the complexity of the technologies. At a high level, to serve your customers, you need to:

  1. Capture the inquiry, which can come in over the phone, electronically via email, chat, or SMS, and over social channels, like Twitter, Facebook, or an interaction escalated from a discussion forum.
  2. Route the inquiry to the right customer agent pool to address it.
  3. Create a case for the inquiry that contains its details and associate it with the customer record.
  4. Find the answer to the inquiry; this can involve digging through different information sources like knowledge bases, billing systems, and ordering databases.
  5. Communicate the answer to the inquiry to the customer.
  6. Append case notes to the case summarizing its resolution, and close the case.

You want to make sure that your agents deliver answers in a consistent way and to make it easy for your customers to find answers themselves. To do this, you need to invest in:

  • A knowledge base for your agents. You also need to then expose a subset of the content to your customers via a web self-service portal.
  • A discussion forum where your customers can share information and escalate issues to a customer service agent.
  • Some type of process guidance to lead agents through complicated scripts so that they deliver service in a reproducible way.

You also need to understand what expectations your customer base has regarding your service offering by:

  • Surveying your customers
  • Listening to their sentiments on social media sites
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Recent Benchmarks Reinforce Scalability Of x86 Servers

Richard Fichera

Over the past months server vendors have been announcing benchmark results for systems incorporating Intel’s high-end x86 CPU, the E7, with HP trumping all existing benchmarks with their recently announced numbers (although, as noted in x86 Servers Hit The High Notes, the results are clustered within a few percent each other). HP recently announced new performance numbers for their ProLiant DL980, their high-end 8-socket x86 server using the newest Intel E7 processors. With up to 10 cores, these new processors can bring up to 80 cores to bear on large problems such as database, ERP and other enterprise applications.

The performance results on the SAP SD 2-Tier benchmark, for example, at 25160 SD users, show a performance improvement of 35% over the previous high-water mark of 18635. The results seem to scale almost exactly with the product of core count x clock speed, indicating that both the system hardware and the supporting OS, in this case Windows Server 2008, are not at their scalability limits. This gives us confidence that subsequent spins of the CPU will in turn yield further performance increases before hitting system of OS limitations. Results from other benchmarks show similar patterns as well.

Key takeaways for I&O professionals include:

  • Expect to see at least 25% to 35% throughput improvements in many workloads with systems based on the latest the high-performance PCUs from Intel. In situations where data center space and cooling resources are constrained this can be a significant boost for a same-footprint upgrade of a high-end system.
  • For Unix to Linux migrations, target platform scalability continues become less of an issue.

Please Join Us At The Forrester Technology Trends Tweet Jam, 10-11 ET on 7/29

Brian  Hopkins

It's that time again, and we are busy updating our annual report, "The Top 15 Trends EA Should Watch." For this year, we have expanded the number of analysts contributing to the research, and we want to capture your thoughts condensed into 140 character sound bytes.

In addition to using the jam as research, we are going to prepare a second, special report citing key tweets and providing our analysis. We will make this report available on request to non-clients who participate, so come join us!

Info on the Jam

  • Hash tag: #forrtttj
  • When: Friday, 7/29, 10-11 a.m. Eastern time
  • Host: Brian Hopkins (@practicingEA)

Scope of the jam:

We predicted that 2011 would be about mobile, social, cloud and data. So far we have been right, but things are always changing. Some things we want to jam on:

  • What are the major technology landscape shifts you are seeing?
  • Are social, mobile, cloud and data still the big four or are there new things going on? What about each of these is interesting or vexing? What are the key shifts in client and vendor approaches?
  • What technologies are looming big on your radar this year and next?
  • Around the halfway point I'll steer the jam towards speculation -- what's going to happen that we don't expect?
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Mobilize Your Collaboration Strategy

Ted Schadler

Here's the 411 on that:

1. We published a new report called, you guess it, "Mobilize Your Collaboration Strategy." It describes eight collaboration apps that employees need, crave, want, and are getting (with or without your support) on the mobile devices.

2. We also make the argument that client/server is the wrong architecture to deliver mobile collaboration apps to a workforce already expert in iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry and trained by Angry Birds and Google Maps. The right architecture is the mobile app Internet -- read more about that here. See our complete analysis and a forecast of the size of the mobile apps & services market in a Forrester report here.

3. Our Content & Collaboration IT clients have found this report and presentation a good way to introduce mobile strategy and the mobile app Internet to their teams. (We've delivered it a half a dozen times in the past few weeks.)

4. The media has found this interesting enough to write about it. (ReadWriteWeb, CIO UK, and GigaOM included.)

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Adobe Enhances E-Signature Position With EchoSign Acquisition

Craig Le Clair

Electronic signatures are gaining momentum and becoming an increasingly popular topic of discussion among Forrester clients. In retrospect, today’s e-signature users will be seen as early adopters. And in 10 years, the dominant form of signature will be digital, with adoption driven by rampant uptake in consumer technology — particularly mobile applications with embedded signing authority. It’s a vision that helped push this SaaS-based acquisition — but it’s only part of the story. Today, many vendors integrate with Adobe LiveCycle, which has a digital signature available in its Forms product. Adobe Forms has a strong signing capability, but did not provide a well-integrated platform  for handling documents or executing agreements, including such functionality as hierarchical signing, embedded PKI support, separate forms management, adding fields at the time of signing, or electronic evidence. These had to be developed with other LiveCycle components, such as BPM, or with other e-signature solutions such as those from Silanis, DocuSign, and ARX.  As it’s Monday morning, I’ll make it simple. Until the EchoSign acquisition, Adobe allowed you to send a form for signing — but had limited signing applications out of the box. Further, EchoSign is a hard-charging company with a SaaS solution that emphasizes simplicity, but it did not focus on IT buyers and had fewer authentication options. This acquisition is a great fit for both: Adobe will provide more solutions capability and IT focus and gets a full e-signature application. Initially, EchoSign will be part of Adobe’s online document exchange services platform and be integrated with Adobe’s SendNow for FormsCentral for form creation.

A Consistent Customer Experience Requires Consistency In Managing Voice, Electronic, And Social Interactions

Kate Leggett

Customers expect the same experience every time they interact with a company — whether it be when researching a product, completing a sales transaction, or getting customer service — over all the communication channels that a company offers. They also expect companies to have an understanding of their past purchase history and prior interactions. Finally, customers further expect that each interaction with a company adds value to their prior interactions so that, for example, they do not have to repeat themselves to a customer service agent when being transferred or when migrating from one communication channel to another during a multistep interaction.

How many companies can deliver a consistent service experience in this scenario?

Three fundamental elements are needed to deliver a consistent customer experience across all communication channels:

  • A unified communications model. Companies need to queue, route, and work on every interaction over all communication channels in the same manner, following the company business processes that uphold its brand.
  • A unified view of the customer. Each agent needs to have a full view of all interactions that a customer has had over all supported communication channels so that the agent can build on the information and experience that has already been communicated to the customer.
  • Unified knowledge and data. Agents need to have access to the same knowledge and the same data across all communication channels so that they can communicate the same story to their customers.
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How Successfully Is Your Organization Using Social Technologies?

Nigel Fenwick

Let's face it, there are plenty of examples emerging of organizations doing great things with social technologies -- but just how many are having a measurable impact on their organization's goals?

If you think your organization is already doing great things with social technology you may be right. If you are seeing measurable results, I encourage you to nominate your organization for a Groundswell award.

What's a Groundswell award? Josh Bernoff, one of the authors of Groundswell, explains the history of the award in his blog here. Each year we review multiple nominations across various categories of social technology use; we identify the examples we believe best demonstrate the criteria for winning each award. We have categories that include internal and external uses of social technologies, and we're especially interested to see examples of strong collaboration between IT and Marketing. This is the fifth year we are running these awards (you can see past winners here and a full list of award categories below).

The 2011 award categories include:
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Stop Wasting Money On WebLogic, WebSphere, And JBoss Application Servers

Mike Gualtieri

Use Apache Tomcat. It is free.

I don’t understand why firms spend millions of dollars on Java application servers like Oracle Weblogic or IBM WebSphere Application Server. I get why firms spend money on Red Hat JBoss -- they want to spend less on application servers. But, why spend anything at all? Apache Tomcat will satisfy the deployment requirements of most Java web applications.

Your Java Web Applications Need A Safe, Fast Place To Run

Most Java applications don’t need a fancy container that has umpteen features. Do you want to pay for a car that has windshield wipers on the headlights? (I wish I could afford it.) Most Java applications do not need these luxuriant features or can be designed not to need them. Many firms do, in fact, deploy enterprise-class Java web applications on Apache Tomcat. It works. It is cheap. It can save tons of dough.

Expensive Java Application Servers Sometimes Add Value

There is a need for luxury. But, you probably don’t need it to provide reliable, performant, and scalable Java web applications. Application server vendors will argue that:

  • You need an application container that supports EJBs. EJB3 fixed the original EJB debacle, but why bother? Use Spring, and you don’t need an EJB-compliant container. Many applications don’t even need Spring. EJBs are not needed to create scalable or reliable applications.
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OpenText: On A BPM Tear And Now Rolling Up a Roll-Up

Craig Le Clair

OpenText is at it again — and another independent BPM provider is gone. This time it’s Global 360. But Global 360 was more than BPM; it had done a good — no, great — job revitalizing what was at its core an ECM rollup of midrange and questionable solutions (remember Kodak, Keyfile — I actually met an original Keyfile developer there — and ViewStar?). But it nurtured this account base well and  built a fast-growing BPM and case management business. It’s now been purchased by the ultimate ECM rollup, OpenText. (It would be interesting, although not partcularly productive, to count the number of original products that OpenText now has — perhaps 500?) Global 360 also created a strong case management platform (you may want to consult our Forrester Wave™ on the subject, where Global 360 was a Leader), with an integrated suite to address the mix of complex unstructured and structured processes that organizations face. Global 360 continued to focus on content-centric case management applications — a strong fit with OpenText’s transaction management assets — and provided an innovative process vision based on a “persona” approach that focuses on the needs of case workers and stakeholders and leveraging emergent design principles. In short, this should really help OpenText in the emerging case management market, and OpenText will be able to put more meat behind Global 360’s  focus on the SharePoint ecosystem.

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