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 Walmart.com 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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Google's Mobile-Friendly Search Will Bury Your Mobile-Unfriendly Sites

Customer are mobile first. Is your website? Are all your webpages?

Google did something important for your customers today: it changed its ranking algorithm for searches on smartphones. If Google deems your web page mobile-unfriendly, then it will be devalued in the search rankings. Your page will be buried.

My colleagues Mark Grannan, Jennifer Wise, Deanna Laufer, Peter Sheldon, and I capture the problem and how to fix it in a new Forrester report: Don't let this good crisis go to waste -- use it to convince your company to make the mobile mind shift and invest in mobile-friendly experiences. I summarize the report here.

 

1. The digital world is web.

With 177 million active websites in the world and enterprises reporting 268 websites (with sometimes 10s of thousands of webpages), this amounts to 10s of billions of webpages that are either mobile-friendly or not. This is not a small problem. It's a problem with global scale and complexity.

Source: Netcraft.com

 

2. Customers are mobile.

Our data is irrefutable: 2/3rds of the global online population uses smartphones. And 86% of US smartphone owners use Google to find websites.

Base: 1,680 US online smartphone owners (18+)

Source: Forrester's Consumer Technographics Behavioral Study, Q1, 2015

 

3. Most enterprise webpages are designed for PCs only.

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All Broadband Is Local

All broadband is local. If the Internet pipe that reaches your home or small business is too slow (or too expensive), then all the net neutrality regulations in the land won't help citizens avoid the Netflix spinning wheel (or the logy load times of valuable Internet services for education, employment, communications, and banking).

Companies -- both technology leaders and marketing leaders -- should care about the quality of broadband to homes and small businesses. Why? Because your ability to deliver great digital customer experiences is hampered when broadband speeds are low. 

I'm all in favor of a robust national discussion about net neutrality, particularly if the discussion balances market conditions for Internet services against market conditions for broadband providers, a challenge that begins with transparency and competition rather than controls. (See this for some ideas on the importance of transparency, market forces, and local competition.)

And I'm certainly massively in favor of Internet-driven "human rights, innovation, and progress" as Tim Berners-Lee espouses. But I am not convinced that over-regulating our country's Internet pipes will solve our spinning wheel problems. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Why did the Internet at home slow to a crawl during the Boston blizzards?
  • Why does Google invest some of its massive profits to provide 100 gigabit bandwidth to homes in Kansas City, Austin, and Provo, with 34 more cities coming?
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Pick The Right Web Content Management System -- It's The Backbone Of Your Digital Experiences

With 25 years of history and 178 million active public websites around the world, you would think that the backbone technology for websites would be mature, sophisticated, basically done as a market. But it's simply not true. Web content management (WCM) systems are still in their infancy. Here's the one-minute history:

  • 1995. These ever-changing systems first had to learn to deliver content interactively, tailoring the experience to the needs of the day. Think Yahoo.com.
  • 2000. Then they had to deliver business services directly into customers' hands. Think eBusiness.
  • 2010. Then they had to deliver experiences on smartphones and tablets. Think Google Maps app.
  • 2015. And now they have to deliver highly personal digital experiences on any device directly into a customer's immediate context and moments of need along every step of her journey (see Figure 1).
  • 2020. What's coming next? Well, let's get the platforms up to 2015 requirements first. But those of you with a future slant need to be thinking about modern app architectures, where the building blocks -- content systems, digital insights, customer databases, integration, delivery tier, and so on are decoupled to handle IoT, glanceable moments on wearables, and a gazillion other digital scenarios.
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Debate Internet Regulation On Market Principles, Not Outdated Laws

I was reviewing this Forrester brief from May 2014 to realize that it's still terribly current in light of the recent presidential blast on net neutrality. It expresses a point of view missing from the public debate and Twitter rants in my view. It raises the bar on what consumers should expect, vendors should invest in, and governments should manage.

Original title: Debate Internet Regulation On Market Principles: Transparency, Choice, And Freedom

Published on May 15, 2014

The debate over broadband regulation — why there should or shouldn't be fast lanes and slow lanes on the Internet — has spurred outrage from nongovernmental organizations like MoveOn.org; energized the entrepreneurial juggernaut; triggered the frantic lobbying of major broadband providers like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast; and wound up in federal court to take down a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation. On May 15, 2014, the FCC proposes to allow content providers like Netflix and Google to do deals with broadband providers like Comcast and Verizon to ensure a quality service experience for consumers. Let the response be rational and not virulent. The worst outcome would be to hastily create or reject a policy based on old thinking. Managing the Internet for all requires new policy thinking. Forrester understands and respects the positions of the players in the debate, but in service of our CIO and CMO customers, we believe that it's time to reframe the debate on the basic principles of markets: transparency, choice, and freedom.

A VITAL INTERNET MUST REFLECT MARKET NEEDS, NOT REGULATORY HISTORY
 
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