4 Must-Dos For Continuous Business Innovation

Diego Lo Giudice

The modern business world echoes with the sound of time-tested business models being shattered by digital upstarts, while the rate of disruption is accelerating. Organizations that will win in this world must hone their ability to deliver high-value experiences, based on high quality software with very short refresh cycles. Customers are driving this shift; every experience raises their expectations and their choices are no longer limited. Like trust, loyalty takes years to build and only a moment to lose. The threat is existential: Organizations need to drive innovation and disrupt their competitors or they will cease to exist.  

The modern application delivery (MAD) strategy document of the MAD playbook that my colleague Kurt Bittner and I are co-leading, has a wealth of research to help transform IT led organizations in business technology leads to achieve high levels of continuous business innovation and to win, serve and retain customers.

In talking to hundreds of vendors, system integrators and end user clients that develop, test and deliver software and application every day we've come to realize that:

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Right Size Your CRM To Your Needs

Kate Leggett

CRM solutions have been on the market for a long time. The first products were introduced over two decades ago, and many features are commoditized. New vendors are continually pushing the envelope on CRM capabilities and exploring the “white space” of capabilities that are not necessarily core to CRM. Old stalwarts are working on capabilities that differentiate them from others - like verticalized offerings, offerings tuned to to mobile user, offerings tuned to a certain size or complexity of organization.

CRM buyers need to remember that more capabilities these days is not better; more is simply more. In fact, when you don't need — or perhaps can't use — extra functionality, more is sometimes worse. Small businesses — and small customer-facing teams in larger enterprises — need to carefully evaluate vendors that they are evaluating in order to pick a solution that is right-sized for their needs. Categories and criteria that should be closely evaluated include:

  • Ease of use. Our research finds that 58% of employees interface directly or indirectly with customers. Small customer-facing teams don't have the luxury of deeply configuring or customizing CRM user experiences. Make sure the user experiences that come "out-of'the-box" from your CRM vendor are highly intuitive; that they work on the devices and platforms that your team use; and that they don't impede your productivity in any way.  
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Agile, flexible, modern BI deployments often require help from the professionals

Boris Evelson

Digitally empowered customers — both businesses and consumers — wield a huge influence on enterprise strategies, policies, and customer-facing and internal processes. With mobile devices, the Internet, and all-but-unlimited access to information about products, services, prices, and deals, customers are now well informed about companies and their products, and are able to quickly find alternatives and use peer pressure to drive change. But not all organizations have readily embraced this new paradigm shift, desperately clinging to rigid policies and inflexible business processes. A common thread running through the profile of most of the companies that are not succeeding in this new day and age is an inability to manage change successfully. Business agility — reacting to fast-changing business needs — is what enables businesses to thrive amid ever-accelerating market changes and dynamics.

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Salesforce.com Enters The BI Market With Wave, The Salesforce Analytics Cloud

Boris Evelson

There just might be another 800-lb gorilla in the Business Intelligence market. In a year.

The popular cult book “Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy” by Douglas Adams defines space as “. . . big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. . .” There are no better words to describe the size and the opportunity of the business intelligence market. Not only is it “mind-bogglingly big,” but over the last few decades we’ve only scratched the surface. Recent Forrester research shows that only 12% of global enterprise business and technology decision-makers are sure of their ability to transform and use information for better insights and decision making, and over half still have BI and analytics content sitting in siloed desktop-based shadow IT applications that are mostly based on spreadsheets.

The opportunity has provided fertile feeding ground to more than fifty vendors, including: full-stack software vendors like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP, each with $1 billion-plus BI portfolios; SAS Institute, a multibillion BI and analytics specialist; popular BI vendors Actuate, Information Builders, MicroStrategy, Qlik, Tableau Software, and Tibco Software, each with hundreds of millions in BI revenues; as well as dozens of vendors ranging from early to late stage startups.

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Oracle Open World 2014: Focus on Cloud CRM

Kate Leggett

This is my fifth time attending Oracle OpenWorld in as many years. The show, held on September 28-October 2 in San Francisco, drew a large crowd this year, topping 60,000 attendees from over 145 countries. I spent my time at the CX Central conference-within-a-conference, dedicated to Oracle's Sales, Service and Marketing cloud. I went to high-level vision sessions, road map sessions, and customer testimonials. I also spent a lot of time talking to systems integrators that have recently deployed these solutions. My impressions of this year are mixed. Here is why:

  • Oracle has deeply solidified its customer experience messaging. The vendor explains the importance on being focused on customer experiences that are in-line with customer expectations through the entire customer engagement journey, from researching to buying to using, and how few companies are doing a good job at delivering on expectations — a point that Forrester backs with a tremendous amount of research and data. Each session I attended led with a quick recap on the importance and value of delivering good CX, and this consistency was much appreciated.
  • There was an over-emphasis on technology as opposed to the business value that Oracle’s CRM solutions deliver. The banners and posters were about infrastructure, platform, cloud. Customer case studies were about “30% less customization; “20% greater efficiency; 40% faster.” What I found missing was the business value for the customer, articulated in better experiences that impacted top-line revenue.
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Weebly Gives Digital Professionals The Freedom Of An iPad

Ted Schadler
I recently gave a speech about the impact of mobile on (all) commerce at a national retailer. To 450 terribly enthusiastic and mostly millennial employees celebrating a great eCommerce month. When I looked out at this horde of digital professionals -- merchandisers and marketers, designers and developers, writers and editors, testers and analyzers, the list goes on -- I realized that they are the operators of our digital experiences.
 
They are passionate about great digital experiences. But they have mostly crappy browser tools to do their job. In fact, every one of our planet's one billion websites is managed by someone using mostly crappy tools.
 
When I looked at at the throng of digital professionals, I suddenly realized they deserved some digital experience love, too. They deserved better digital tools. On any device. After all, they live out their working weeks in front of screens so that we, their customers, get great digital experiences. But today, the state of the art in browser design tools looks like scaffolding on a building where the result is unveiled at the end. It's anything but fun.
 
Weebly, supplier and hoster of 25 million content and commerce websites serving 200 million unique visitors monthly, decided to unshackle its digital professional customers from the tyrany of the browser and desktop. It built a native iPad app on iOS 8 to help them build and manage websites from anywhere at anytime. Weebly's digital professionals are now mobile. And that will lead them to be more in touch with the mobile moments of their customers, hence more able to serve them in their moments of need.
 
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Leverage the Power Of Proactive Chat For Predictive Engagement

Kate Leggett

Chat as a customer engagement channel is being used more widely today than ever before. All demographics use it widely, even the Older Boomers (ages 57 to 67) and the Golden Generation (ages 68+). Users are satisfied with chat interactions as they can be less painful than a phone call or a self-service session gone awry. Proactive chat  — triggering of chat invitations based on a predefined set of visitor behaviors - is also on the rise, with 44% of  US online consumers saying that they like having a chat invitation appear to help answer questions during an online research or purchase, up from 33% in 2012 and 27% in 2009.

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Realizing The Joint KANA-Verint Value Proposition Is A Work In Progress

Kate Leggett

KANA Software (a Verint Company) was kind enough to invite me to their user conference on September 19-20. The event was packed with product, strategy, and customer information. A good number of industry- and independent analysts attended, including Forrester's Ian Jacobs. Here are my thoughts:

  • Software categories are ripe for consolidation, and the KANA-Verint combination is well positioned: There are three main technology categories that comprise a contact center: queueing and routing technologies; CRM, or agent desktop technologies and workforce optimization technologies. We have predicted that these technology categories will converge because (1) these are mature markets and vendors will move into adjacent spaces to increase market share and (2) companies are looking to simplify their technology ecosystem in order to improve the quality of service. The user conference did a good job at articulating the value of consolidating these spaces. 
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The Customer Activated Enterprise Will Redefine The Worker Experience

Rob Koplowitz

Customers have an unprecedented voice in your organizations ability to succeed and thrive. And investments reflect the critical need to listen and respond to customers. Marketing spend on customer facing systems continues to rise as listening to and talking with customers at more intimate level becomes an imperative. At the same time, we continue to invest in enterprise social business and collaboration solutions to drive greater effectiveness and engagement for our employees. Sounds like we're doing the right things, right? Well, sort of. Each silo is doing the right thing. But, lacking a coordinated approach, marketing and technology management spend will never reach full potential. Only when these two come together, do we have a foundation for creating a Customer Activated Enterprise. 

The good news is that we have a solid foundation, with some key investments in place. Today:

We listen

There are a lot of proven solutions to listen to customers—from training customer-facing employees to be more empathetic to installing social listening technology within your contact center. Having a good ear is only half the battle—what your company does with what it hears is equally important. Moving the “voice of the customer” through your firm more rapidly is the next step.

We analyze

Companies gather product requirements and mash them together at the front end of new product development cycles. Companies test the “temperature” of their brand on social media and adjust marketing messages accordingly. Those are examples of actions taken directly from accumulated knowledge of customer needs. With the proper care, customer insights can be actionable, searchable, useful digital assets.

Alright, so far so good. So, where are we falling short?

We don’t share

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Consumer Engagement Is Shifting Toward Micro Moments

Jeffrey Hammond

Happy iPhone 6 day. If you're reading this you're proabably not standing in line hoping to get your hands on Apple's latest devices. My colleague Mike Facemire drove past the local Apple store in Back Bay last night at 1 A.M. on the way home from Logan airport and described the scene as "nuts". The line was completely around the block, in 40 degree weather no less.

Developers should pay attention, as there's more going on here than hipsters queuing for the latest shiny. Today Mike, Julie Ask, and yours truly published a research note for eBusiness professionals detailing the top ten ways to leverage Apple’s new tech. Central to our argument is that iOS 8 takes many steps to break down the barriers between custom 3rd party apps and Apple's mobile platform. Mobile developers used to be constrained to their own secure, sand-boxed containers with minimal access to sensors on the device and local storage, but separated from other custom apps. As a result, we saw development teams gradually move toward "least common denomiator" apps that saved money by using a common code base.

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