Insights Services Fuel Digital Transformation In Utilities

Jennifer Belissent

Today I answered an inquiry about digital strategy and transformation programs in in the utilities sector and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts more widely.  While I don't have any formal reports specific to utilities, the sector often comes up in discussions about smart cities and is one we track in our research on data and analytics.  For example, utilities have one of the highest rates of engagement with insights service providers which illustrates their drive to better leverage data and insights to inform their digital transformation. 

Several of the customer references we interviewed for our recent insights services wave were from the utilities sector. For example, an Australian power company described itself as a "poles and wires business” with significant investment in the network, and need to optimize investments. Their first priority was to improve digital operational excellence (as opposed to digital customer experience). However, the biggest challenge they had was the implication to the organization and the change management required to implement the insights into their operations. A water company in the UK engaged an insights service provider for similar operational and process optimization. 

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The Digital Insurance Imperative: Go Digital Or Go Bust

Ellen Carney

The bedrock of the insurance industry is quaking. For decades, large North American insurers got bigger by dominating distribution and methodically mastering information technology.  But the confluence of changing customer demands, hundreds of insuretech startups and non-traditional competitors sniffing around the business of insurance is messing up the long-standing insurance equilibrium.  Insurance carriers--and their agents and brokers--must go digital or go bust.  

During the second half of 2016, my fellow Forrester analyst, Oliwia Berdak and I interviewed digital business strategy executives with traditional insurers and hot startups around the globe to get their take on the role that digital will play in the business of insurance over the coming decade.  What were the big takeaways from our conversations?  Consider that:

  • Digital technologies have enabled new insurance models, threatening incumbents. Digital disruption threatens to reduce many insurance companies to low-margin utilities, with limited engagement with or relevance to customers.
  • Legacy insurers are struggling to respond.  Even though nearly one in three insurers told us in a separate survey that they were in the midst of massive disruption, insurers are being thwarted by their business silos, legacy tech, disconnected business partners, their scramble for skills, legal and compliance, AND the fact that except for auto, other business lines are profitable.
  • Vertical integration will break apart. The vertical integration that served insurers so well in the past has become an obstacle to the rapid change unleashed by digitally empowered customers. The insurance value chain will fragment as companies build new partnerships, pursue new revenue streams, and seek new ways to create value for customers.
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Alexa Will See You Now: Why Echo Has A Camera

James McQuivey

Today Amazon announced the latest addition to its Amazon Echo line of Alexa-enabled devices. The Echo Look is the first Echo device to include a camera. It will not be the last. Adding a camera is the smartest next move for Amazon even though it will trigger an "ick" response by people nervous about Amazon looking into their homes. First, the details.

Echo Look is being positioned as an Alexa device that can also take your picture or capture video hands free. By playing on a double meaning of the word "look" the company baits a nice marketing hook because it then goes on to emphasize that by looking at you, the device can help you "love your look." How? By fulfilling a portion of the long-hoped-for magic mirror concept I first wrote about in 2011. The magic mirror would look at you and help you make yourself over. While many companies like L'Oreal and Rimmel have adapted this concept for use in a mobile phone makeup app, nobody has yet gone for the full-body closet assistant we described in 2011. (Actually, there are several of these available in upscale dressing rooms, but none available for in-home use.)

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Advocating For Bespoke Content For Sellers

Steven Wright

If you’re a B2B marketer and take responsibility for building content for sellers, here's one of those déjà vu moments that you’ve come to dread. During a presentation, a slide comes up. You’ve seen this slide before. In fact, you built that slide — a few years ago. What is it doing in this presentation? How out of date is it?

Oh, you know the story. The seller had some version of the original presentation and mixed this and other slides with newer content. Or the original presentation with additional slides is still findable somewhere on a shared drive. But someone changed — customized — it without regard to current positioning, messaging, or branding. From the seller’s point of view, nothing is more natural than to fit content to the needs of the buyer, which progresses the sale. But from the marketer’s point of view, carefully crafted messages are garbled or — worse — just plain wrong.

What do we do? For B2B marketers, the answer is not to just clamp down on customizing. Sellers will always have ways to download or screen-capture content and alter it. The answer is to think about how and why the content sellers use should be customized.

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For Better Security Operations, Speak to the Pack in its Native Tongue

Chase Cunningham

I have a huge German Shepherd that ranks only slightly behind my human children when it comes to being spoiled and how much attention he gets.  I’ve been working on training him for nearly a year now, and he amazes me with how intelligent he is. He knows all the basics: sit, stay, here, lay down, etc. But he also picked up detecting scents very quickly and is learning to detect things with his nose that I can’t even see with my eyes. And he does all of these things faster than most kids learn to break the Netflix password.  

The other day, working with him on his training points, I thought to myself, “Woah, my dog speaks human.” Not just English either. He speaks German (that’s the language he's trained in), and he totally understands it. I realized the problem is that I don't speak “Dog.” My dog knows about 30 human words, and they are words in a language his master has no business trying to pronounce, mind you. But he knows what those words mean, and he gets the tasking or request down every time they're uttered. He could look at me for an hour and bark, growl, howl, yip, or yelp constantly, and he could be telling me the cure for cancer and I wouldn’t know it.  

OK that’s interesting, but what does it have to do with better communication among techies?

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Are You Using A Content Marketing Platform?

Peter O'Neill

At last October’s B2B Marketing Forum,Ryan Skinner, senior analyst at Forrester, delivered one of the more resounding messages — and gave us a serious wake-up call on our content marketing work to date. He told us, “Too much, not enough quality.” And our greatest quality issue is in our content distribution strategies.

This is indeed a serious challenge for B2B marketing organizations, which spend an average of 12% of their budgets on content marketing. We dedicate three times as much headcount to this as our cousins in consumer marketing. But Forrester’s recent survey of technology buyers revealed that 60% of these buyers believe that content that vendors provide is “useless.”

That’s a wastage of$4.3 million for a business with, say, $1 billion in revenues!

Now when they say “useless,” they don’t mean badly written. The content’s useless because it is usually the wrong information that gets delivered at the wrong time and probably to the wrong person.

What do you do if you have so many resources and so much waste? Well, consider a process improvement program such as outsourcing or even automation. No, not automatically generated content (though we do talk about the emergence of content intelligence and intelligent agent tools in the recent Forrester report “The Top Emerging Technologies For B2B Marketers”), I am thinking here of how to improve your content management and dissemination.

Enter the concept of content marketing platforms.

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DevOps, Invest For Velocity And Quality!

Robert Stroud

Delivering exceptional customer experiences and product for your business take speed and flexibility. More than ever before, speed and flexibility are required from every part of your organization, business and IT alike. DevOps provides your business leaders, enterprise architects, developers and I&O leaders a philosophy to achieve, not only the velocity that customers desire but also drive innovation and enforces quality. One example is ING. The company is undergoing a major digital transformation in which DevOps is a primary driver supporting their transformation. ING CIO Ron van Kemenade has initiated DevOps as the vehicle to aggressively support ING’s evolving customer needs. At ING, technology is the beating heart of the bank.[i]

DevOps requires a transition from technical silos to product centered teams

Effective DevOps will require the tearing down of the technology based silos within an organization.  Instead, teams need to focus on the products (or service) delivered and be empowered to own the complete lifecycle.  Key performance metrics such as such as availability, the number of features added are used to measure the speed and quality of how these product centered teams work.  In some organizations, the team may even own support of the designed and delivered services.  This integrated product team is a fusion of developers, infrastructure & operations, quality assurance, and release managers into a single team that works on the entire pipeline, from commit to deployment. Existing centers of excellence such as DBA’s or security teams will remain and support the DevOps team; in some cases, they might even be allocated to the team for a particular duration. [ii]

Deconstruct silos of automation and replace with full pipeline automation

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A CMP Wave And The Vision Of True Brand Orchestration

Ryan Skinner

Ted Schadler first said “content is the soul of digital.”
To that, I add: “…and content marketing platforms are its church.”

CMPs. This tech is like the ace up the sleeve for savvy marketing leaders. A marketing leader at Airbnb told us that this is the crucial tech that allows the company to move faster than competitors.

Despite excitement and 3x growth over the past two years, CMPs can still be described as emerging. Many don’t get what they do.

Do they replace content management systems? No, not really.

Do they promote your content for you? No, not really that either.

Do they automate content production somehow? Not exactly.

What they do is this:

  • Provide a common environment for everyone across the brand to plan out their campaigns and communications.
  • Manage production by dozens and even hundreds of teams simultaneously.
  • Provide systematic structure to make in-channel execution and reporting far more intelligent.
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The Data Digest: Chatbots Can’t Fully Replace Humans Just Yet

Kristopher Arcand
Customer service departments in all industries are increasing their use of chatbots, and we will see usage rise even higher in the next year as companies continue to pilot or launch their own versions of the rule-based digital assistant. What are chatbots? Forrester defines them as autonomous applications that help users complete tasks through conversation.
 
While Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data reveals that 60% of US online adults already use online messaging, voice, or video chat services, there are challenges to widespread adoption. We reached out to our ConsumerVoices Market Research Online Community members to better understand consumer impressions of chatbots and found that our respondents had a difficult time identifying clear benefits to interacting with them. Many prefer to communicate with a representative who can show real empathy, address more complex needs, and offer them assurance.
 
Earlier this month, I attended the Qual360 2017 conference in Washington, D.C., where chatbots were a hot topic in both qualitative research and customer experience. Speakers highlighted the opportunity of chatbots while warning about their shortcomings. For example:
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Check Out The New Forrester Wave™ Of Leading DRaaS Providers

Naveen  Chhabra

I am pleased to announce that the new Forrester Wave™: Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service Providers, Q2 2017 for infrastructure and operations professionals is now live! This Wave evaluation uncovered a market in which four providers — Sungard Availability Services, Bluelock, IBM, and iland — all emerged as Leaders, although their strengths differ. Another five providers — HPE Enterprise Services (now DXC Technology), Recovery Point, Plan B, Daisy, and TierPoint — are Strong Performers. NTT Communications is a Contender.

To evaluate these vendors, we developed a comprehensive set of criteria in three high-level buckets: current offering, strategy, and market presence. The criteria and their weightings are based on past research and user inquiries. In addition to typical user demands, this Forrester Wave™ evaluation also has a few thought-provoking criteria such as the provider’s capability to deliver security services, real-time views through a readiness score, automated change management, and orchestration-led enterprise application recovery.

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