Context Matters: Functional Or Domain Challenges Cross Industries

In a previous blog, I outlined how context matters, and specifically how the industry context in which you are doing business matters to the strategic decisions you make. But there are also commonalities across industries. Some business challenges plague multiple industries such as how to improve customer experience, retain loyal customers, and improve sales whether in the retail or hospitality sector, or how to get the inputs you need to make your products and to get your products to market in a timely manner in  the manufacturing or pharmaceutical sectors. And, everyone these days is increasingly concerned about fraud, risk and security.

 

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Uber's Movement In The Right Direction

Uber’s new initiative, Movement, is a step in the right direction. Facing criticism, the company decided to open its treasure trove of data to the cities in which it operates. Hidden in the anonymized ridership data are potential insights about the impact of major events, rush hour, lane closures or other factors on traffic flow and congestion.While the details remain to be seen, the website shows dashboards and data visualizations. Uber plans to build out the Movement platform, and will roll it out across cities and eventually to the public.

 

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Context Matters, And That Means Your Industry

It’s likely not news to you that your business context matters.  Your vendors and services providers must understand the reality you’re doing business in.  They’ve got to have the experience and knowledge to intelligently "speak the language" of your internal stakeholders, identify relevant insights, and recommend appropriate actions. And that means knowing the industry in which you operate.  And, that’s even more so for someone providing you with the insights you need to improve your business. 

Some of these industry differences include:

  • Top priorities. Although business priorities are often similar, each industry pursues them with varying levels of urgency. Decision-makers in retail see improving customer experience as a do-or-die requirement, with 80% reporting that it's a high priority over the next 12 months; in oil and gas, only 49% report that it's a key area of focus. Under intense competitive pressure, telecoms look to reinvent themselves: Over two-thirds of decision-makers report that improving innovation is a high priority, while only 47% in healthcare say it's a top initiative.
  • Strategic objectives. Strategies for growing revenue, a unanimous priority, vary greatly by industry. Decision-makers in the consumer goods industry emphasize acquiring new customers as well as launching and selling new products over retaining, upselling, and cross-selling to current customers. In contrast, decision-makers at financial services firms see enriching current customer relationships as key to growing revenues. Other verticals, like utilities and primary production, have a greater appetite for pursuing new opportunities in emerging markets. Yet only a quarter of decision-makers in retail responded that this initiative was on their firms' agenda. It is clear that one approach doesn't fit all industries.
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Context Matters, And That Means Your Industry

It’s likely not news to you that your business context matters.  Your vendors and services providers must understand the reality you’re doing business in.  They’ve got to have the experience and knowledge to intelligently "speak the language" of your internal stakeholders, identify relevant insights, and recommend appropriate actions. And that means knowing the industry in which you operate.  And, that’s even more so for someone providing you with the insights you need to improve your business. 

Some of these industry differences include:

  • Top priorities. Although business priorities are often similar, each industry pursues them with varying levels of urgency. Decision-makers in retail see improving customer experience as a do-or-die requirement, with 80% reporting that it's a high priority over the next 12 months; in oil and gas, only 49% report that it's a key area of focus. Under intense competitive pressure, telecoms look to reinvent themselves: Over two-thirds of decision-makers report that improving innovation is a high priority, while only 47% in healthcare say it's a top initiative.
  • Strategic objectives. Strategies for growing revenue, a unanimous priority, vary greatly by industry. Decision-makers in the consumer goods industry emphasize acquiring new customers as well as launching and selling new products over retaining, upselling, and cross-selling to current customers. In contrast, decision-makers at financial services firms see enriching current customer relationships as key to growing revenues. Other verticals, like utilities and primary production, have a greater appetite for pursuing new opportunities in emerging markets. Yet only a quarter of decision-makers in retail responded that this initiative was on their firms' agenda. It is clear that one approach doesn't fit all industries.
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What's My Data Worth?

See original imageThat question seems to come up often. I know I’m sitting on valuable data but I’m not sure just how valuable. When it comes to using the data internally to improve operational efficiency or service delivery, the resulting cost savings demonstrates the value.  Or when using the data to identify new customer opportunities, either upsell to existing customers or identifying potential new customers, the resulting revenue generated demonstrates the value. But what if I want to take the data to market? What’s the data worth?  That question is harder to answer, but not impossible.

The first question I’d ask myself is what I already know.  What are the givens in the equation?  Think back to a math course. You are trying to solve a problem. What have you been told? In fact, I’ve been doing math with my son and that exercise has helped me in framing the approach to pricing data.  We know the length of one side of the triangle, and we know the relationship with the other sides. While we don’t know the length of all sides we know enough to figure it out.

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Digital Government: Digitally Enabled, Not Necessarily Digitally Delivered

The new eGovernment Benchmark 2016: A Turning Point For eGovernment in Europe? was published this week. Although many countries show progress toward the goals, the transformation is not happening as quickly as expected.  Public services are increasingly accessible, with 81% available online. However, one area that disappoints is user-centricity. While business-related services have improved significantly, citizen-related services lag particularly in ease and speed of use.  Results, however, differ by geography as delineated by a “digital diagonal” running from south-west to north-east. Those countries running diagonally through the middle of Europe seem to be digitizing more effectively. (See the figure to the right). Not all countries are transforming at the same pace – and not surprisingly.

I’ve been thinking a lot about “e-government” and “digital government” these days, and one thing bugs me: the push for online services. Yes, I like the convenience of being able to get things done online: renewing driver’s licenses, requesting permits, paying fines. But I also recognize that there are some things that might be better done in person. Yet not everyone has easy access to a government office.  My own regional administration is over an hour away by car, and I certainly don’t want to have to go there to get things done.  Therein lays a tension that isn’t necessarily solved by “digital services” but that can be addressed by “digital government.” 

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Doubting Thomas Or Devil's Advocate? CX Does Matter To Government

During a recent discussion of the Age of the Customer and how it applies to government, one of the participants from a government agency essentially asked why they should care.  The argument was “If I’m providing passport services why does customer experience matter to me? My “customers” can’t walk out that door and find another passport services provider.”  

Needless to say I was taken aback – not shocked really, this is the government after all and not traditionally known for accessible or user friendly services. But personally my experiences have never been as bad as the stereotype of government.  In fact, I just received a new passport in 2 weeks, having been told that it might take 3 – 6 weeks.  And, at least the rhetoric of late has certainly embraced, in principle, more customer centricity in government.  But here it was, the government monopoly argument rearing its ugly head.  At least to play devil’s advocate, suggesting that the sentiment did exist somewhere in the organization.

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Navigating The New Insights Service Provider Landscape

“We are in the business of building [FILL IN THE BLANK], why would we build an insights platform out ourselves.” 

That sentiment will drive more and more companies to explore the insights services option.  Many already feel like they are chasing a moving target. Data and analytics practices are evolving quickly with new tools and techniques moving the bar higher and higher. Not to mention the explosion of data sources, and the dearth of skilled talent out there.  As executives become more aware of the value of data and analytics, they become increasingly dissatisfied with what their organizations can deliver:  in 2014 53% of decision-makers were satisfied with internal analytics capabilities but by 2015 those satisfied fell to 42%.  These are the leaders who will look for external service providers to deliver insights. They realize they might not get there themselves.

The sentiment expressed in the quote above was actually from a consumer packaged goods company.  For its execs winning in cities has become paramount.  As urbanization increases, cities provide big opportunities. But not all cities are alike and differentiating what they take to a specific market requires deep local knowledge – and a lot of diverse data.  To create hyperlocal, timely, and contextually relevant offers, the company needs data on local news, events, and weather as well as geo-tagged social data. All of that must be combined with its own internal and partner data.  

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Improving The Reality Of Government: AR And VR Use Cases

Since Mobile World Congress, where the reality on the show floor was often either virtual or augmented, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the practical uses of AR and VR – particularly in government and a smart city context. It’s not just all fun and games, is it?

The example of changing a roller coaster experience with new settings delivered via VR glasses is really cool. Yes, you can imagine repeating the ride to experience catapulting through medieval battle, flying through a tropical jungle, or bobsledding down alpine slopes. But the practical side of us – or at least me – wants to know what else there is. And, fortunately, I have a colleague who has already been thinking of these things.

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of collaborating with JP Gownder on a presentation for Forrester clients in Geneva.  I presented on the ways to derive value from data and opportunities to leverage new insights service providers – clearly something top of mind for many of our clients. But alas JP’s presentation was much cooler, providing examples of how to derive real value from new technologies including AR and VR.  Since then I’ve being thinking about how the two are related.  And, in fact, they are.

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"Sustainability" - What Does It Mean For Your Business?

Forrester is kicking off research on what it means to be a sustainable business and why it matters. In short, it matters because customers and investors care. But what do they care about? And, what does sustainability mean to them, and to the companies they do business with? 
 
First stop in exploring the definition of something is, of course, a search for the term. “Sustainable” means that something can go on, and continue and “be maintained at a certain rate or level.” For consumers, that might mean their health, their environment, or the health and environment of others -- but also their budgets. The literature on sustainability often refers to three pillars: social, environmental and economic. But how does this translate into business metrics?
 
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