Master Your Customers' Mobile Pathways

I'm excited about a new report for Forrester customers called Master Your Customers' Mobile PathwaysNicole Dvorak and I spent months examining the data, Jennifer Wise helped us bring a marketing point of view, Xiaotong Duan brought the beauty of graphics to the project, and Reineke Reistma shepherded it across the finish line.

We've been tracking how people use their smartphones and tablets in the US and UK: every mobile moment, every session, every brand, every website. This data gives us deep insight into consumers' mobile lives. If you have questions about who, what, which, when, how often, and for how long consumers visit you and your competitors, we can answer it. Here's a picture and excerpt from that report. Look at how much time, how few brands, and how many mobile sites consumers visit on their smartphones and tablets every month. It's your customers' mobile world -- you just live in it!


With our Consumer Technographics behavior tracking data, we have created a new analytic framework we call mobile pathway analysis, which we define as:

Charting the immediate path customers take to and from your brand's mobile moments.

In this analysis, we answer five mobile pathway questions:

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Why IBM Bought The Weather Channel: My Quick Thoughts

Today, IBM "has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire The Weather Company’s B2B, mobile and cloud-based web properties, including WSI,, Weather Underground and The Weather Company brand." This deal does not include The Weather Channel programming.

I spent my early cable TV years watching Jim Cantore and his colleagues tell us which storm was about to slam us. We watched while those cheery commentators predicted a massive Nor'easter in Baltimore on my wedding day in January 1996. Oh boy did we get that storm. The city shut down for almost a week. (We just kept the party going.)

So why did IBM do this deal? In a conversations with IBM's Bob Picciano and TWC CEO David Kenny, it became clear that three things drove this deal:

  • Massive amounts of atmospheric data. Digital weather is the most important exogenous data source on the planet. Weather sets the mood of the nation and all us citizens. If you want insight into people's actions, the  global supply chain, and myriad risks and opportunities, forecast the weather. TWC already handles 26 billion API calls for this data each and every day.
  • A powerful data ingestion platform. TWC ingests 40 terabytes of every day, maybe 15 times more data than even Google. TWC's data from sensors, cameras, satellites, radar, and 150,00 citizen meteorologists is the largest source of crowdsourced and engineered environmental data on the planet. 
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Digital Experience Software: The Next Major Packaged Software Market

by Ted Schadler and Mark Grannan (click to see his post)
It happened with ERP in the 90’s. It happened with CRM in the 2000’s. It’s happening now with the digital experience software to serve up content and interactions on every screen along every step of a customer's digital journey. 
This highly fragmented and factured market -- amusingly and powerfully captured in Scott Brinker's chaos of vendor logos -- is starting to to converge and consolidate as major software vendors like Adobe, IBM, Oracle, SAP, and Salesforce as well as smaller vendors including Acquia, Demandware, EPiServer, SDL, and Sitecore build or buy the building blocks of a great digital experience. We just evaluated these vendors' digital experience platform portfolio in our Forrester Wave(tm): Digital Experience Platforms, Q4 2015.
Four forces are driving the convergence. 
  • First, digital consumers and business customers need consistent experiences across every channel, screen, and step in their journey. No more passoffs from marketing to commerce to service to loyalty. No more fractured experiences between online and offline channels. No more clunky mobile adaptations.
  • Second, content, customer, and analytics are core assets that span every product category. They are shared assets delivered as software components, no longer bound up in the delivery software.
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Some Thoughts On Shippable Software And Microservices

Stop reading now if you don't care about the machinations, architectures, and human reality of software. This post is for software philosophers and architects.

Dries Buytaert, the founder and core committer in chief of open source Drupal (according to Built With, the second most popular content management system software among the top million web sites) posted thoughtfully on keeping his open source software always in a shippable state. He writes this after a 3-year delay in releasing Drupal 8:

"We [will] create a feature branch for each major feature and only core committers can commit to feature branches. . . . Once we believe a feature branch to be in a shippable state, and it has received sufficient testing, we merge the feature branch into the main branch. A merge like this wouldn't require detailed code review."

This is sensible and now standard practice: Develop new features as decoupled components so committers and software managers can add them to the application without breaking it. That keeps the application always in a shippable state.

But the future of software is more than decoupled components. It also requires highly decoupled runtimes. That's called a microservices architecture: decoupled components available over the Internet as decoupled services. Think of it as a software component exposed as a microservice -- a microservice component. 

A microservice to place an order is decoupled from a microservice to alert you that your shoes have shipped. A microservice to display an image sized to your phone or computer is decoupled from a microservice to paint the page.

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It's Time To Bring Your Digital Experiences To The Cloud

Despite the hype of marketing clouds, the full suite of software found in digital experience (DX) platforms has been slow to move to the cloud. Fortunately, digital experience platform vendors like Acquia, Adobe, EPiServer, and SAP hybris are now embracing the cloud to deploy and operate their software. Cloud DX stalwarts like Automattic, Crownpeak, and DNN are growing rapidly. Disruptive players like Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace are zooming up from the bottom to empower practitioners. And service providers like Deloitte, Razorfish, and SapientNitro have repositioned their managed hosting options as more cloud-like DX platforms.
But what cloud benefits do vendors and service providers actually deliver? That's been tough to nail down. In a new Forrester report, we clarify the scary terminology for digital experience platforms in the cloud, articulate the benefits that come from each cloud model, and prod the vendors you rely on to simplify how they talk about their cloud services (see Figure 1). With this report, we also announce our deeper investigation into how the cloud will disruptively improve digital experience platforms.
  • It's time to bring your digital experiences to the cloud. Companies can run a chunk of their digital experience platform in the cloud and deploy new sites in weeks or days. Deploying that same functionality on-premises can take months or years. If you are a marketer or developer with an immediate need -- and if a decent cloud solution is available -- you'll take the cloud, thank you very much.
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The Mobile App Gap: Still A Billion Apps Short

Think 1.5 million apps is a lot? Pfffft. Netcraft reports 175 million active websites globally. Each one of those sites has many "apps" embedded in it -- one for shopping, one for service, one for each region or product line. I'm guessing we have a global app potential of 1 billion. 

The ancient elders of the web era -- vendors, webmasters, marketers, technology managers, agencies -- all appear to operate under the delusion that if they add responsive web templates to their site, they can make each of those billion experiences a mobile moment. Pfffft. They can't. Responsive web techniques are better than nothing -- at least Google will stop cramming your site to the bottom of the search list. But it's not enough to serve customers in their mobile moments of need.

To do that requires knowing exactly what someone needs, then creating the shortest path from I Want to I Get. And that means nailing the mobile moment.

We know already that people spend more time shopping on their smartphones than on computers. We know already that 70% of the traffic to around Black Friday 2014 came from mobile devices. We know already that 69 million Americans go online more often from smartphones than any other device. [Source: Forrester Research] 

Mobile is not an option. It's your reality. Mobile is as urgent for business customers and employees as for consumers. Here's what one manufacturer had to say: "Our customers look for us when they're installing our equipment in their datacenter. If we're not on their smartphone, then we don't exist." 

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To Be Customer-Obsessed, Firms Must Also Be Technology-Obsessed

There is much talk about being customer-obsessed. What does it take to be customer-obsessed?

Recently, in The New Yorker, Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power, a small energy company in Vermont, told a story of customer-obsession. Her customer-obsession starts simply: Help customers reduce their energy footprint at no net cost. Green Mountain accomplishes this by investing hugely in the latest and best technology, to pull electricity from the sun, insulate the bejesus out of the house, run massively efficient heat pumps, and micro-manage the draw on the power grid draw. Yes, the capital expenses and labor costs are immense. But when you reduce a home's energy footprint by 85%, you reduce the $250 electric bill by 85% -- or more than $25,000 over 10 years.

Green Mountain Power has a customer-obsessed culture and a customer-obsessed operating model. But it also has become expert in using technology to win, serve, and retain customers. The company is technology-obsessed, often out ahead of even the pundits when it comes to the latest technology. Green Mountain Power unites all three forces to be customer-obsessed: culture, operating model, technology.

The same is true for every company and government. Igniting a culture of customer experience is important. Relentlessly improving the operating model to put customers first is also important. But without the right customer-serving business technology in place, customers will be stuck with ancient web sites, cranky mobile apps, pathetic call centers, and disempowered employees.

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Here Come The Insights Ecosystem (s)

In doing research on why big data is not enough and customer insights teams are disconnected from business operations, Brian Hopkins and I came across three hugely important things happening:

  1. Firms are adopting systems of insight -- insights teams with business, data, and developer skills using an insights-to-execution process and taking advantage of a new insights architecture. This is what our new big idea report is about.
  2. Service providers are building insights practices with reusable technology, reusable insights models (including some with cognitive capabilities), and reusable engagement models for an industry or business function. Deloitte Digital and now IBM specialize in this, but many other service providers are recrafting their analytics practices to jump in.
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Digital Insights Are the New Currency of Business

All the big data technology in the world won't close the gaps between data and action. One global bank told us, "even with all the capabilities and tools in place, we are drowning in data and starving for insight."

To harness the power of all your data to attract and serve customers -- to be a digital business -- you also need a new way of consistently harnessing insights that matter: insights teams using an insights-to-execution process anchored by a new digital insights architecture. We call this combination of people, process, and technology "systems of insight" (see Figure 1).

Brian Hopkins and I just released a Forrester report called "Digital Insights Are the New Currency of Business" for CIOs. I've never worked harder or longer on a 16-page document: one year, 75 drafts, and help from 25 colleagues spanning business, marketing, data, and technology.

What we found is that successful firms go beyond big data and business intelligence practices to build the business discipline and technology to harness insights and consistently turn data into action. This approach works by linking business actions back to data and discovering and testing insights to take action (see Figure 2).
Systems of insight embody five essential advances over previous approaches:
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Apple Watch -- Bliss or Bling? Glanceable Moments Will Decide

Our 2014 Technographics survey of 4,575 North American consumers reveals that 40% of smartphone owners are "tired of pulling my phone out of my pocket." No wonder. Smartphones have become an extension of our psyches -- our confidence and our strength, our entertainer and our assistant. We look at them sometimes 100s of times a day in our mobile moments of need. How many of those moments can shrink down to wrist size?

We're about to find out. Apple is shipping its Apple Watch today. Millions of people will buy them. But will it be bliss or bling? Will people will still be wearing an Apple Watch six months from now? And will word spread so it shows up in the holiday gift list of millions more consumers?

Source: Forrester Research, Inc.

I believe that Apple Watch can succeed and even has a chance to make geeky watches cool. But only if app designers and developers master a new kind of mobile moment we called glanceable moments or micro moments.

Here's a rule of thumb: people will stare at a desktop screen for 3 minutes. They will spend 30 seconds on their smartphone. But they will spend only 3 seconds with a watch app. That's a glanceable moment: 3 seconds to communicate vital information, deliver a service, or help someone take action.

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