Customer Insights And Big Data Analytics Will Sprawl in 2015

Forrester recently published its 2015 Predictions for Asia Pacific. I wanted to highlight some specific trends around customer insights (CI) and big data, two very hot topics for many AP-based organizations.

We strongly believe that success for many organizations hinges on your ability to close the gap between available data and actionable insight. Marketing is taking the lead here, as CI pros seek to use data to fuel customer engagement improvements. Hence 2015 will be a year of increased fragmentation as reliance on analytics spreads across organizations.

What will this mean for you? More cloud-based and mobile analytics, more demand for interactive and responsive analytics, and more use of specialist and niche BI and analytics service providers. Given this backdrop, Forrester believes that:

  • Analytics spending will increase by at least 10% across the region. Yes analytics spending will increase, but less of it will be visible in the CIO's budget. Marketing and other business departments will drive analytics investments to address specific challenges and opportunities. The technology management (TM) organization will have little control over the implementation and deployment of niche and specialist BI and analytics services.
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MSFT Expands Azure To Australia, Calls Out (Some) Competitors

On Monday Microsoft officially announced the launch of two Azure Data Centers in Australia. This is big news for the many Australia-based organizations concerned about data sovereignty, as well as those who simply equate on-shore data residency with increased security and control.

Announced as part of TechEd 2014 in Sydney, Microsoft specifically called out Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google as it’s key competition. In fact, Microsoft has gone to great lengths over the past year plus to consistently position these two companies as the only other viable longterm cloud providers. This is based on three cloud provider capabilities identified by Microsoft as critical: hyper-scale, enterprise-grade, and hybrid.

Overall it’s a good angle for Microsoft. All three players operate at hyper-scale as public cloud providers. All three also offer enterprise-grade services, (although this definition varies based on workload). Most importantly for Microsoft, neither AWS nor Google have a primary focus on enabling hybrid cloud services.

In contrast, all traditional large infrastructure vendors (Fujitsu, HP, IBM, VMware, etc.), system integrators (Dimension Data, NTT, etc.), and telco’s (Telstra) focus squarely on enterprise-grade services and hybrid cloud enablement. Rackspace, IBM and HP also have Australia-based data centers. But all these providers lack hyper-scale.

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The Case For Optimising Customer Analytics – Improve or Perish

As I wrote in my recently published report, customer insights (CI) are an increasingly critical source of competitive differentiation in the age of the customer. Forward-thinking business and technology management leaders in Asia Pacific (AP) are actively looking to better leverage customer data and advanced analytics to increase marketing effectiveness and improve the customer experience (CX).

Unfortunately this isn’t the case everywhere. Many AP firms still lag in their understanding of customer analytics. They also lack the skills and ability to execute.

A collection of internal and external factors will affect customer analytics success. How can you improve your ability to transform available data into insight? Start by taking Forrester’s self-assessment to help determine where your organization falls in Forrester’s customer analytics maturity model and use that to identify specific areas of focus for future improvement.

But CI pros can also minimise risk by taking the following concrete steps:

  • Link customer analytics to broader CX and digital initiatives. Effective digital transformation fueled by CI requires an outside-in approach to customer understanding. For most AP organizations, this is only possible with direct CEO support. In the absence of executive sponsorship, successful customer analytics will likely be limited to improving and/or extending existing marketing approaches – important, but nowhere near sufficient.
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Customer Experience Q&A With Carl Mogridge, Head of Digital, Australia & New Zealand, Avon Products, Inc.

For many organizations, the digital journey is full of potential roadblocks. Successful organizations excel at overcoming traditional operational practices, approaches, and mindsets to enable change.

For a well-known global brand like Avon, embracing an omnichannel approach to customer engagement was essential to continue thriving in a digital world. We’re therefore pleased to have Carl Mogridge speak at Forrester’s Summit For Marketing & Strategy Professionals: Australia. Carl is head of digital at Avon Products, leading the company’s initiatives to implement systematic, measurable change on the path to digital disruption.

Carl was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about what he’s doing. Those of you who’ll be with us in Sydney this Wednesday, August 13, can hear even more from Carl. I hope to see you there!

Q: When did your company first begin focusing on the customer experience? Why?

Avon is 127 years old and from day one we’ve focused on creating customer-centric conversations based on personalized service and innovative products. At Avon, we want to be helpful, safe, and reliable to our customers — so our entire customer experience strategy revolves around these simple criteria.

Q: How do you determine which aspects of the customer experience you must try to excel at?

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Customer Experience Q&A With Louise Long, Head of Customer Experience, NAB

As customers we’re rarely satisfied with simply buying goods and services. What we really want, on top of the actual purchase, is a great customer experience (CX). This drives us to seek out companies that not only understand our wants and desires but more importantly, understand the role their company’s products actually play in our lives.

Nowhere is this more true than in the hyper-competitive Australian retail banking market. That’s why we invited Louise Long to speak at Forrester’s Summit For Marketing & Strategy Professionals: Australia. Louise is Head of Customer Experience at National Australia Bank (NAB), leading the company’s initiatives to deliver truly great customer experiences to NAB’s clients.

Louise was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about what she’s doing. Read on for insight into how NAB continuously seeks innovative ways to ensure that the customer remains at the center of the company’s business strategy.

Those of you who’ll be with us in Sydney on Wednesday, August 13th, can hear even more from Louise. I look forward to seeing you there!

Q: When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?

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Forrester’s Marketing & Strategy Summit Is Coming To Sydney August 13th!

I’m thrilled to announce that in less than six weeks’ time Forrester Research will hold its first-ever Summit for Marketing & Strategy Professionals in Sydney, Australia.

The entire Australia team is incredibly excited about this landmark event for Forrester. Here’s why:

The theme for this year’s event is “Winning In The Age Of The Customer.” What does this really mean? It’s simple, really. Empowered by digital platforms, your customers are free — free to act on their own needs and priorities, free to pick their own moments of engagement, free to design their own experiences — and free to ignore your own best efforts to shape and control all three. Forrester calls this new reality “the age of the customer.”

We’ll be releasing some brand-new research at the event that sheds light on the current state of customer experience management practices in Australia. While I don’t want to give away the ending, suffice it to say that Australian firms of all sizes are making customer experience a strategic priority. Firms across Australia increasingly have C-level executives driving their focus on CX, and they expect to get significant value from their efforts.

But not all firms are at the same level of maturity — or even awareness. While some are finding ways to pull ahead of competitors through CX differentiation, others have not even gotten started yet. That’s why we’ve tailored this event to show attendees the one sure path to CX maturity and provide detailed guidance on how to advance along that path.

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Asian Banks Are Adopting Cloud Computing, But Best Practices Are Scarce

Ahead of the publication of my full report in mid-April, I wanted to follow on from my recent blog post and expand on the topic of cloud adoption in the Asia Pacific (AP) banking sector. Despite some views to the contrary, all AP banks will ultimately leverage cloud-based services and capabilities; most already do. The real challenge is mapping workloads, processes, and data to the various flavors of cloud approaches — in other words, it’s still a portfolio management exercise.

Legacy application architectures and inflexible software licensing practices will certainly influence, and potentially hinder, cloud adoption. But while banking regulations will continue to heavily influence cloud strategies, they don’t forbid them. Senior technology and business decision-makers in the AP banking sector should therefore consider the following:

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Australian CIOs Talk Agility And Collaboration In Sydney

Last week I hosted Media Corp’s CIO Leaders Summit in Sydney. In addition to my emcee duties, I also moderated two panels, both of which inspired significant discussion among the more than 50 senior IT decision-makers present. Highlights included:

  • Peter Bourke, CIO of Westfield, helped drive a lively discussion on the changing role of the CIO and strategies for leading innovation within the organization versus simply responding to business needs.
  • Andrew Wiles, CIO of Vodafone, addressed the importance of talent management and the skills that IT professionals require to succeed in a fast-paced business environment.
  • The CTOs of Avaya and Cisco provided excellent insight from the vendor perspective, while David Gee, CIO of Credit Union Australia, wrapped up the event with a vision of the future — the “microtrends and megatrends” likely to affect our lives, both professionally and personally.
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Asian Banks Are Embracing Cloud Computing Faster Than You Think

As research for my upcoming report on cloud adoption among banks in Asia Pacific (AP), I’ve spent the past several months interviewing senior IT and business decision makers at banks and other financial institutions across the region. I’ve also met with banking regulators and spoken with cloud providers with a strong AP presence. Look for the full report early in the new year. In the meantime, I wanted to share some key findings.

  • Cloud adoption is among the top priorities for most banks in the region. In fact, contrary to popular belief, I’d categorize cloud adoption as nearly mainstream among banks in many parts of Asia Pacific. But adoption drivers vary based on the cloud approach. Private cloud initiatives, for instance, centered on data center transformation to drive improved operational efficiency and cost savings. Public cloud initiatives typically focus on expanding mobile banking capabilities and other customer-facing systems of engagement — the key to customer retention and overall growth.
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Evaluating BI Services In Asia Pacific

Business decision-makers in Asia Pacific (AP) are increasingly aware of the importance of business intelligence (BI) and broader analytics to business strategy and execution. However, lack of internal expertise remains a significant barrier to BI project success.

In response, Fred Giron and I have just published The Forrester Wave™: Business Intelligence Service Providers In Asia Pacific, Q4 2013. In it, we identified eight companies that offer strong capabilities and services for AP-based organizations seeking BI service support.

To succeed in the region, BI service providers must provide guidance on how to translate data access into actual insight and information into business value. This requires a strong understanding of local cultures, business practices, regulatory frameworks, and market dynamics. When evaluating providers, understand how their capabilities are likely to evolve across five categories:

  • People. To minimize project risks, understand who will be the on-site business and technical leads on BI projects and how many successful implementations this staff has led in a similar industry and similar technical environment within the region.
  • Technical expertise. Service providers need to demonstrate region-specific knowledge of the technical characteristics of various BI tools, platforms, architectures, and applications. Most companies will not have all of the necessary skills on site, so closely evaluate ease of access to remote staff from the service provider as well.
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