Understanding Gamification in APAC

Forrester's global analysts have written some great pieces on gamification. In general terms, this research is is just as applicable to the SE Asian markets. However, there are some specific differences within the region that should also be considered. The most important thing to remember is that, while the general principles of gamification definitely hold true within the region, there are still some specific differences that should also be taken into account.
 
First and foremost, we definitely see the same problems in APAC where a lack of clarity on the desired behaviour encourages game play - for games sake. This is probably the worst outcome of all for gamification initiatives, regardless of where they're deployed. If there's no clear desired behaviour change identified, there's absolutely no valid reason to introduce gamification. The real challenge though is ensuring that the right strategy is selected to achieve the right objectives.
 
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SAS attempts to bridge the traditional analytics and big data/cloud divide

A number of my colleagues and I attended the recent global SAS analyst event to understand the future of SAS’s business and technology strategy. It was clear to me from this event that SAS is attempting to bridge the increasing divide between “traditional” analytics and the big data and cloud-based analytics worlds.

Here’s a few of our key observations and takeaways from the event:

  • A greater emphasis on visual analytics. The range of tools available and the integration capabilities to enable visual analytics will be significantly improved in future releases.
  • Better support for governance and audit. One of the benefits that any decision support system should provide is better business governance – the transparency and auditability of how and why decisions were made and what data was used to make them. SAS continues to make good progress here.
  • A more encompassing view of big data. Most analytic vendors believe either nothing – or everything - has changed in the emerging world of big data. SAS’s view is generally an inclusive one, which will be more beneficial to clients long-term if successfully implemented. The SAS architecture is evolving towards supporting big data economies of scale, in theory at least.
  • Better integration with all forms of cloud technologies. Still operating largely at the OS virtualisation layer, SAS is nonetheless extending its portfolio to include a range of cloud-enabled architectures. We expect that client demand will drive further development here.
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How mobility can change the economics of IT

I recently took some holiday leave and saw two small, but clear examples of where mobility changes the economics of IT. The first was in a restaurant where the wait staff used their own smartphones and a simple order taking app. There was no expensive mobile platform for the restaurant to purchase in order to use this system. There was no expensive training program in place to teach the employees how to use the software. They simply bring along their own phone, download a free app to their device and start working.

The software is intuitive enough that any training required is done by their fellow staff members during shifts. What’s interesting about this example is that using mobile devices for taking restaurant orders isn’t new – but using employees own devices is. Previously, the expense incurred by restaurants having to purchase proprietary devices meant that only high margin operations could afford to use mobile order taking systems. And loss, theft or damage of the devices was not only expensive but also proved to be a sticking point for employer/employee relations.   

The second example provides a sharp contrast. It involved a trip to a museum and the use of the audio commentary service. Though almost every visitor to the museum now has a smart phone device, an old proprietary hand held device was still in use there. This is an expensive option to operate for a low-margin business like a museum. There are now museums that have recognised this and offer apps on smart phones with capabilities well beyond what the previous dedicated hardware could provide. One such museum is the American Museum of Natural History. It not only uses the rich visual interface of the smart phone, along with the required basic audio commentary services, but it also reportedly helps the user navigate the complex campus using sophisticated wi-fi triangulation.

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Customer Engagement And Mobility: Beware The Globalization Challenges

Over the past 12 months, I’ve taken a number of client inquiries on globalization and multilingual strategies. But in all cases, it turned out that the challenge wasn’t really providing multilingual support. Instead, organizations are struggling to meet demand among customers, suppliers, partners, regulators and others for direct access to core enterprise systems from multiple regions, often through mobile devices or pervasive web applications. So the real question is: How are user engagement strategies affecting our ability to achieve a single, global business and technology platform that supports the increasingly pervasive use of mobile technologies?

This is now a top-of-mind consideration for many companies, especially as emerging markets are an increasingly important part of their global business strategies. The challenge is how best to tailor and adapt their products and services to capitalize on these emerging market opportunities without losing the benefits of economies of scale and the requirements for global transparency and compliance. And it’s not just about global IT service delivery; it’s about how technology can now serve the unique needs of both internal and external users, particularly where major differences may exist across language, culture, law, infrastructure, geography, value systems, and the economy.

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Make no mistake - IBM’s Watson (and others) provide the *illusion* of cognitive computing

IBM has just announced that one of Australia’s “big four” banks, the ANZ, will adopt the IBM Watson technology in their wealth management division for customer service and engagement. Australia has always been an early adopter of new technologies but I’d also like to think that we’re a little smarter and savvier than your average geek back in high school in 1982.

IBM’s Watson announcement is significant, not necessarily because of the sophistication of the Watson technology, but because of IBM's ability to successfully market the Watson concept.   

To take us all back a little, the term ‘cognitive computing’ emerged in response to the failings of what was once termed ‘artificial intelligence’. Though the underlying concepts have been around for 50 years or more, AI remains a niche and specialist market with limited applications and a significant trail of failed or aborted projects. That’s not to say that we haven’t seen some sophisticated algorithmic based systems evolve. There’s already a good portfolio of large scale, deep analytic systems developed in the areas of fraud, risk, forensics, medicine, physics and more.

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What's Your APAC Enterprise Software Strategy — SAP Or SaaP?

A number of Forrester analysts from the Asia Pacific region attended the recent SAP analyst event in Singapore. Meetings with SAP global and regional executives and a large number of detailed breakout sessions over the 1½-day event all clearly indicate that SAP is continuing to try and reposition itself as a true generalized application platform player.

At the core of (almost all) initiatives is the HANA in-memory database technology. Whatever the problem, HANA will solve it (said with tongue planted very firmly in cheek). While the technology clearly has immediate performance benefits, particularly for existing SAP clients, net-new customers will likely need to compare the value of SAP’s offerings with others much more seriously.

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Asia Pacific in 2013: Hype, fear, panic and paranoia drives the “googlization” of business intelligence and analytics

In a previous post I highlighted that disruptive technologies don't even need to be implemented to be disruptive. The mere fact that vendors and other organisations are either creating or being swept up in the hype can be a major disruption to any organisation. 

In our soon to be released research on Asia Pacific Trends for 2013 we highlight a number of disruptive trends that are affecting organisations all all types and sizes - whether commercial, government or not-for-profit. None is more profound than the impact that big data will have on Asia Pacific organisations in 2013. The Asia Pacific region has a very broad spectrum of capabilities, maturity and variations in its outlook and optimism. Big data and deep analytics are two areas where we see significant disruption occurring. The Asia Pacific 2013 trends report highlights some of these differences in Asia Pacific and calls out specific implications for specific markets. There's also more detailed information in our Big Data in Asia Pacific report, also due out shortly.

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Big Data in Asia Pacific: Why you don't even need to own disruptive technologies for them to be disruptive

I've been spending the last few months doing research and a number of speaking engagements and webinars on the evolution of Big Data in Asia Pacific. What has become clear is that APAC organisations are struggling with the disruptive forces of big data - whether they have actually implemented it or not.

Disruptive technologies are often assumed to be disruptive because of the transformational benefits they might bring to those organisations that actually implement them. However, this research has highlighted that disruption exists simply because the concept exists. Whether the term relates to something physical or real (or not), it's still becoming disruptive to the organisation. We've seen this many times before - cloud computing, radio frequency identification tags (RFID), electronic market places - the list goes on.

How companies choose to cope with this disruption...or how they attempt to challenge it head-on...is particularly interesting. For some, it's a case of complete denial - "there's nothing new or different about this technology (or the problems that it's supposed to be solving)...so we don't need to do anything". For others it's a case of failing fast and pushing the bounds of what is, or what is not, possible. Whether Big Data is the underlying driving force or not, really doesn't matter. It's a catalyst for change that brings a change in thinking, a change in organisational priorities and a change in operational and project budget allocations.

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The Changing Landscape Of Data Visualization Requires A Radical New Approach

In a recent media interview I was asked about whether the requirements for data visualization had changed. The questions were focused around whether users are still satisfied with dashboards, graphs and charts or do they have new needs, demands and expectations.

Arguably, Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics were probably the first real "commercial" examples of data visualization (though many people before the Egyptians also used the same approach — but more often as a general communications tool). Since then, visualization of data has certainly always been both a popular and important topic. For example, Florence Nightingale changed the course of healthcare with a single compelling polar area chart on the causes of death during the Crimean War. 

In looking at this question of how and why data visualization might be changing, I identified at least 5 major triggers. Namely:

  • Increasing volumes of data. It's no surprise that we now have to process much larger volumes of data. But this also impacts the ways we need to represent it. The volume of data stimulates new forms of visualization tools. While not all of these tools are new (strictly speaking), they have at least begun to find a much broader audience as we find the need to communicate much more information much more rapidly. Time walling and infographics are just two approaches that are not necessarily all that new but they have attracted much greater usage as a direct result of the increasing volume of data.
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Do Banks Really Need To "Own" Mobile Banking?

Australian Banks have often been at the forefront of global banking trends, or at the very least, fast followers that learn quickly from the mistakes of others. In Australia, mobile banking has quickly become a "war" amongst the majors with a range of different banking services and approaches - from basic access to transactional histories, transfers, payments, integrated retail services, and even near-field-communications-based micro-payments systems.

But how much of the mobile banking channel do banks really need to own? Most banks no longer own or operate their own ATM networks. They control the flow of transactions through that channel, but they generally have little to no interest in owning the assets or operating ATM cash management processes. Mobile banking is a complex and costly business to be in. With the advent of Internet banking, it quickly became clear that the cost of delivering online banking services through the internet was rarely, if ever, a more cost-effective channel than the bank-owned and operated PC-based products (remember the dedicated dial-up modems!). But in theory it should have been. All of the cost modeling showed that it should be cheaper. Yet banks have continued to invest more and more in building out, maintaining, operating - and particularly securing - their Internet banking channels.

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