Robots Will Soon Be Parking Your Car

JP Gownder

During our research for the Forrester Big Idea report The Future of Jobs, 2025: Working Side-by-Side with Robots, we spoke with not one, but two different vendors that automate parking garages, Boomerang and Serva Transport Systems. Rather than explain, I'd invite you to watch a few seconds of the following video, which depicts how Serva TS robots park cars -- all cars -- at the Dusseldorf airport in Germany:

Looks a bit like sci-fi, right? But it's happening right now. Two vendors, one in the US, one in Europe, take somewhat different approaches to robotic parking:

  • Boomerang positions its offering as RoboticValet, a service that serves two customers. For property owners (developers, real estate investment trusts), Boomering solves a key problem: The high price of real estate in places like Miami, Chicago, or San Francisco. Robotic valets can save significant space, allowing developers to build more profitable buildings. And for consumers -- that is, buyers of the condominimums -- Boomerang's service is a luxury amenity: A 24/7 valet service that drops their car off to the same spot every time.
  • Serva TS can retrofit existing garages to 'expand' usable space. Serva TS reports gaining 40% capacity in an existing garage space, making it a less disruptive and expensive solution for garage expansion. For customers, there's a smartphone app: As soon as your flight lands, you can summon your car, which a robot will bring to the designated spot.
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Brands In China Have High CX Aspirations But Most Fail To Deliver

Ryan Hart

With recent drops in global stock markets and all eyes on China’s economy, the timing of the China CX Index report couldn’t be more serendipitous. While customer experience (CX) most likely doesn't have a direct impact on all this sudden share volatility, our research shows that there is a strong correlation between CX and revenue growth.

Forrester’s Business Technographics™ data shows that CX improvement is a growing priority for companies in China: 70% of tech and business decision-makers indicated that improving the experience of their customers was a high or critical priority for 2015 and 2016. However, CX Index scores reveal that these aspirations have yet to manifest themselves in actions and — more importantly — results.

Evolved from the inaugural assessment we completed last year, The China Customer Experience Index, 2015 now includes loyalty elements to the mix to gauge how well brands in China are at delivering quality customer experiences that create and sustain customer loyalty. This year, we examined 60 brands across five industries in China: banking, insurance, retail, eCommerce, and mobile device manufacturing.

At a high level, the results of 9,000 customer surveys in China revealed that:

  • No brands stand out as especially good or bad. The good news: No brands ended up in the very poor category. The bad news: none achieved excellent scores either. The vast majority of brands (80%) rated as just OK; 5% landed in the poor category, and 15% qualified as good.
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Cisco Is In The Midst Of Some Major Repositioning

Dan Bieler

As the digital economy gains momentum, CIOs will have to reassess and evolve their technology vendor portfolio. CIOs need to evaluate if their main technology vendors support the required new business practices and focus on crucial technologies.

Cisco has made massive investments in its portfolio and go-to-market strategies that help to sustain its role as a preferred vendor to most of its clients. We believe, however, that Cisco still has some distance to travel to transform its skillsets and business culture to become a truly strategic technology provider. The recent leadership transition offers Cisco the opportunity to redouble its efforts to strengthen its digital and customer experience skills, flatten its corporate hierarchies, and build a strong digital ecosystem of software and services partners. Our main observations when scrutinizing Cisco as a vendor in the emerging digital ecosystem are that:

  • Cisco is on the path to becoming a partner of the CIO's technology agenda.Cisco has launched programs to change its operational setup, its business culture, its compensation incentives, and its skillsets. Its willingness to disrupt itself positions Cisco well to eventually transform from a network business into a global BT provider.
  • A gap remains between top management's vision and Cisco's go-to-market pitch.Cisco's vision to transform from selling networking boxes to selling architectures, solutions, and business outcomes is spot-on. However, we still perceive a go-to-market approach focused on engineering and products. This disconnect remains a challenge to becoming a strategic technology provider.
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The Data Digest: Social Media And Social Revolution

Anjali Lai

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect posits that seemingly small changes at one moment in time can result in large, dramatic changes at another. The subtle flap of a butterfly’s wing can trigger a violent hurricane that occurs miles away or days later. Rationally, the idea may seem like a stretch, but in a digital sense, we are witnesses to – and victims of – the butterfly effect every day through social media. A few individuals’ posts online can escalate into a chorus of voices that mobilizes communities and creates new standards. We saw this last year after a homeless man in Boston turned in a backpack and, more recently, when Cecil the lion was killed in Zimbabwe.

Social media has always been a catalyst for bringing people together as well as an outlet where consumers can vent. But when a surge of voices results in change, social media posts are more than ephemeral cybertext. And, according to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data, consumers around the world leverage social media to generate buzz about current events, although members of some countries are more vocal than others: 

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Differentiate Your Digital Business With A Device Innovation Lab

JP Gownder

I've just released a significant new report, How To Build The Device Innovation Lab That Differentiates Your Digital Business. Innovation is a huge topic – just ask my colleague Martin Gill, who leads Forrester's digital business transformation research. But I&O leaders have their own role to play in innovation: Specifically, the use of devices and similar technologies to drive business results.

I interviewed companies from a variety of verticals – travel, retail, energy, clothing, financial services – and spoke to thought leaders in innovation theory to help I&O leaders solve a series of problems: How can we innovate using customer-facing interaction technologies such as mobile devices, robotics, digital signage, and virtual reality (VR)? How can we establish a device innovation lab (DIL) to help technology and business leaders at our company develop technology-infused, customer-obsessed strategies? And what are the success factors for DILs – from mission statement to staffing to key performance indicators?

In the context of my report, a device innovation lab is an a in-house space for designing, experimenting, piloting, and deploying device-based innovation projects. Done right, a DIL can differentiate your business's digital business efforts in impressive ways. Take, for example, Lowes' robotic retail associate, OSHBot.

Lowes' OSHBot Redefines Retail Customer Service

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The Tug Of War Over Front-End Development Ownership

Dominique Whittaker

Front-end developers are getting the short end of the stick: they're either considered not technical enough to be a developer or too technical to be considered a designer/engineer. This conflict resonates further into the organization and stakeholders aren't in agreement on where front-end developers should sit---with the BT organization or within the business. Both sides make compelling arguments as to why front-end devs should sit within their respective parts of the organization. Our recent developer survey tells us that 47% of developers sit within a single centralized BT organization.

 

The main reasons BT organization argues three reasons front-end developers should sit within BT:

  • To make sure that development standards are consistent.
  • It ensures that they work in sync with the back-end team.
  • Front-end devs work with code and BT should have ownership of anything related to code.

On the other hand, marketing argues that front-end developers (also referred to as designers/web developers) are better suited for marketing since:

  • They don't really code, mainly working in HTML, CSS, and Javascript.
  • Front-end devs can create rapid prototypes for customers to see their ideas conceptualized, but it’s not intended to be production-ready at all.  
  • BT organization moves too slowly and is unable to deliver the changes needed to enhance the customer journey at the speed it requires.
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The Future Of Retail Is Digital

Nigel Fenwick

Retail CIOs have always had a tough job, but digital makes it tougher. Emerging digital technologies threaten to transform retail experiences both in stores and at home. Without a good business case, CIOs at large retailers will find it hard to prepare their business to compete with small, nimble startups. My latest report highlights the potential of today's digital technologies to radically disrupt the retail industry once more. It serves as a call to CIOs to begin shaping their strategy to digitize the end-to-end customer experience and start proving the business case in time to make the investments needed.

Specialty fashion retailer Rebecca Minkoff is creating a truly differentiated in-store customer experience by combining RFID tags with new technologies like digital mirrors in the changing room connected to employee mobile devices. At the NYC Rebecca Minkoff store, customers can select products from racks or a digital fashion wall and head to the dressing room, where they meet their personal fashion consultant. Once in the dressing room, a digital mirror displays all the products and sizes the customer has in the room. The customer can easily request a new size by selecting it on the mirror. The consultant delivers the new sizes to the dressing room without the customer having to redress or wander the store half-undressed. By extending what Rebecca Minkoff has already achieved, we get a glimpse of a future in-store experience that helps each customer quickly find more products that satisfy their desires.

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The Proliferation Of Cloud Services Is Creating The Need For Cloud Orchestration Solutions

Naveen  Chhabra

Ubiquitous public cloud services are making stronger strides into the world of business technology, and enterprises are increasingly looking to cloud services to help them succeed. Cloud services stretch across the business value chain, including ideation, prototyping, product development, business planning, go-to-market strategy, marketing, finance, and strategic growth. Consumption patterns vary by service. For the past few years, the businesses has owned certain services, in some cases without keeping their technology management teams in loop — AKA “shadow IT”. Every business unit engages in this behavior, each one sourcing the various services they use from multiple providers. As a result, today’s businesses face a complex array of cloud services, each with their own business functions and requirements. The emerging cloud landscape does not provide a “single pane of glass” for the tech management team and lacks a standard governance model across services. Finally, it does not allow firms to compare costs for a standard service, which could result in suboptimal spending. This situation is creating a need for what we call “cloud orchestration solutions”. Such a solution would provide:

  • A single window on all cloud services. It merges all required and approved service types from multiple cloud service providers into a single portal, much like the ITSM service portals that offered services built within an organization.
  • Information on the service provider most suited to a given workload.
  • Comparison of services across service providers.
  • Consistent governance models across services.
  • Control over service life cycles and thus service cost.
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New Announcements Foreshadow Fundamental Changes in Server and Storage Architectures

Richard Fichera

My colleague Henry Baltazar and I have been watching the development of new systems and storage technology for years now, and each of us has been trumpeting in our own way the future potential of new non-volatile memory technology (NVM) to not only provide a major leap for current flash-based storage technology but to trigger a major transformation in how servers and storage are architected and deployed and eventually in how software looks at persistent versus nonpersistent storage.

All well and good, but up until very recently we were limited to vague prognostications about which flavor of NVM would finally belly up to the bar for mass production, and how the resultant systems could be architected. In the last 30 days, two major technology developments, Intel’s further disclosure of its future joint-venture NVM technology, now known as 3D XPoint™ Technology, and Diablo Technologies introduction of Memory1, have allowed us to sharpen the focus on the potential outcomes and routes to market for this next wave of infrastructure transformation.

Intel/Micron Technology 3D XPoint Technology

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Improving Mobile App Quality Testing

John M. Wargo

In 2014, Michael Facemire and Rowan Curran published a report entitled A Benchmark To Drive Mobile Test Quality. The report covered how organizations had to adjust mobile app testing in a world with an overabundance of mobile devices and applications in constant enhancement mode (very frequent updates). As the new guy, I was asked to do an update to the report, so I reviewed what already existed and proceeded to do some research to see what had changed in the market since the original report was published. Well, my update to the report is called Improving Mobile App Quality Testing and it was just published today.

Later this month, I will be completing reports on HTTP/2 as well as an update to Building High-Performance Mobile Experiences, a report by Jeffrey Hammond and Michael Facemire.