Why Infrastructure Will Drive The Retail Store Experiences Of The Future

The Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) role is changing significantly: I&O pros are increasingly helping to drive business strategies with the technologies they choose and implement. Business leaders tell Forrester that technology is too important to leave to technology managers alone; they are pushing their I&O colleagues to explore the business value associated with the technologies they choose, implement, and manage. I&O pros, in turn, tell us that their jobs are changing. As one I&O pro put it, “I’ve been an infrastructure manager for 15 years, but only in the past 3 have I been asked to construct a business plan and be part of the business planning team.”

Figure: Burberry's Technology-Powered Flagship Store In London

For I&O pros in retail and related verticals like hospitality (or for anyone involved in creating in-person experiences), we’ve just released a report to help aid this transition. Along with my co-author Michele Pelino, we’ve just released the report “Infrastructure Will Drive The Retail Store Experiences Of The Future.” The report asserts that I&O pros have an important role to play in helping their companies engage shoppers in experiences that will drive loyalty and spending.

Read more

Google Makes Glass Visible To The Enterprise

Up until this week, Google had remained reticent about speaking of Google Glass as an enterprise tool. Google is a mass-market consumer company whose main revenue streams derive from huge scale; its aspirations for Glass are, presumably, both ambitious and far-reaching. In consequence, Google's leaders want Google Glass on the faces of as many consumers as possible. Enterprise represents, at best, a bit of a diversion from that mass-market ambition.

Nevertheless, as I pointed out in January, Google has begun to tell stories about how Glass can create value in an enterprise setting. Their videos of public safety officials using Glass for firefighting tugged at the heart-strings, even as the NYPD pilots the device as well. But April has seen a flurry of enterprise-related Glass news, including an explicit posting on Google+ about enterprise.

In addition to all those consumer Glass Explorers, "Something we've also noticed and are very excited about is how Explorers are using Glass to drive their businesses forward," Google wrote. "A number of companies have already teamed up with enterprise software developers to create new ways to serve their customers and reach their business goals."

Read more

How to Build the Perfect Smartwatch

It’s time for vendors to step up and build the perfect smartwatch. It’s not really about the device at all, but the ecosystem around the device. Infrastructure & operations professionals have an opportunity here: to work with their business partners and vendors to construct next generation experiences around smartwatches.

For example, retail marketers, always on the hunt for the perfect in-store experiences, and are increasingly turning to mobile technologies to create customized interactions. By opting in to a relationship with a store, a patron can be recognized by name by a sales associate, see the images on digital displays change as she walks by them (tailored to her), receive in-store targeted promotions as she picks up particular products, and even leave the store without handing over any overt form of payment. All of these things are possible with today's technologies.

Scenarios like this one are inherently mobile, but smartphones aren't actually the best vehicle for these experiences. Smartphones can be easily stolen, for one thing, making the retail scenario challenging. And retailers don't want the eyes of patrons who walk into their stores glued to a smartphone; they want those eyes looking around the store.

Smartwatches, on the other hand, can be the perfect enabler of scenarios like this one (and like others in healthcare and other verticals), so long as they have all the necessary components. There are in fact eight strategic pillars for smartwatches:

Read more

Wearables Helping People With Disabilities – A SXSW Talk

Readers of this blog and of my syndicated reports know that I’ve spent a great deal of time lately researching and analyzing the market for wearable devices and the emerging wearables ecosystem. I’m excited to announce that I’ll be co-presenting a talk at SXSW with Jen Quinlan (Twitter: @QuirkyInsider) about a specific sub-segment of the wearables market – how wearable devices, in concert with the Internet of Things, can help people overcome various sorts of disabilities.

Jen conceived of this talk, and was kind enough to invite me to collaborate with her. And I was thrilled, particularly when I heard about the topic she had proposed. Why? I’m interested – and hope you will be too – because:

Read more

Wearables Require A New Kind Of Ecosystem

In the fast-moving markets of wearables and IoT, it's easy to be dazzled by new technologies. But what's more impressive to Forrester is a coherent, disruptive business model. I've written that 2014 will be the year of wearables 2.0, when select vendors develop real wearable business models. To help that journey along, I'd like to offer up a hypothesis for a new industry axiom:

In the era of wearables and the Internet of Things, tech companies must create a new kind of ecosystem  an ecosystem not of developers, hardware makers, or services companies, but of brands, healthcare providers, retailers, financial services companies, and governments.

I'm still testing this hypothesis out, and will write about it in future research. In the meantime, I'd like to hear your examples. To give you a sense of what I'm talking about, it's an ecosystem comprised of companies in:

Read more

Google Aims For More Eyeballs With VSP Deal

Google, the online search superpower, has for years sought to maximize "eyeballs" -- in search marketing, a colloquial term for ad impressions viewed online.

Lately, though, Google's been going after a new kind of eyeballs. The literal kind.

Hot off of its announcement of a future product roadmap for smart contact lenses, Google today announced a partnership with VSP -- the largest optical health insurance provider in the United States -- for Google Glass. The New York Times quoted me saying, "the key business model of the year for wearables is becoming embedded into the health care system." By injecting wearables into health care:

  • The addressable market expands. VSP serves 59 million members with vision care insurance. 
  • Costs go down. VSP will offer subsidized frames and prescription lenses tailored to Google Glass. Some VSP members save additional money on purchases with pre-tax payroll deductions for the money they spend on optical care.
  • Credibility goes up. By coordinating with opticians and opthamologists, Google Glass can be recognized as consistent with healthy optical practices.
Read more

Can Google Glass Overcome Social Stigma With Enterprise Scenarios?

This week, Google released a new promotional video for Google Glass that featured a non-consumer scenario – public safety. In this case, firefighters can use Glass to help them in a hands-free way in the field. For example, they can pull up an architectural schematic of a burning building before they run inside. They can pull up design specs for specific models of cars before using the jaws of life to save a crash victim. Or they can locate the nearest fire hydrant. Take a look:

Public safety is well-established as a scenario for wearable technology – as Motorola Solutions and other vendors have shown in their product portfolios. In this case, it also pulls at the heart-strings: Who’s more beloved by the general public than firefighters and other first responders?

Read more

Google's Smart Contact Lenses Extend The Long Tail Of Wearables

On January 16, 2014, Google announced its smart contact lens project. But it’s not what you might have immediately thought (or hoped) – i.e., some sort of Google Glass display transferred to contact lens format. (Though that technology might someday exist). Instead, Google’s smart contact lens project is working toward productizing a healthcare wearable device that monitors blood glucose levels.

I’ve written a more extensive report that you can read and download here. But let me offer you a sneak peak at the analysis:

  • Smart contact lenses aim at diabetics, but will have other uses. Although Google didn’t mention these uses, blood glucose data is also valuable to other groups of patients – from overweight people aiming to lose weight to migraine sufferers.
Read more

Wearables 2.0 at CES 2014: Richer Business Models And Enterprise Relevance

Las Vegas – Hello from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014, an industry gathering point for technology vendors, retailers, partners, media, and industry analysts. Like many, I’m here to meet with the innovators, witness demonstrations, and assess the state of the technology industry in 2014 (and beyond).

As they were at last year’s conference, wearables will be a very hot topic at CES 2014. But in the fast-moving world of technology, a year is a long time. In 2014, wearables will graduate to their 2.0 state. To understand this 2.0 iteration, Forrester released two new reports that clients can read and download. The first is an overarching view of the enterprise aspect of wearable technology, The Enterprise Wearables Journey. The second focuses on wearable health, Building A Fitter Business With Wearable Technology. Let me offer a sneak peak into why Wearables 2.0 is a critical topic.

Read more

Predictions for 2014: Computing Technologies In The Age Of The Customer

I've published a report for Forrester clients, "Predictions 2014: Mobility and Computing Technologies in the Age of the Customer." This blog post offers a sneak peak into the content.

With 2013 coming to an end, it’s time to bring out the crystal ball and make some predictions about 2014. Those who follow Forrester’s research will know that we’re living in the age of the customer, a period in which customer obsession will be the key to winning in all markets. Computing is a critical technology element in the age of the customer: The use of tablets by sales professionals creates richer experiences for prospects and customers, even as the use of wearable technologies by health professionals helps phlebotomists find the vein in a patient’s arm more quickly. Computing is a front-line, customer facing experience that helps companies win and serve customers more effectively.

With that context in mind, I present six meta-trends that will be critical for computing in 2014:

Read more