The Business Phone System Reinvented: The Next-Generation Cloud Communications and Collaboration Tool

The only way to build a truly innovative and collaborative culture is to give everyone a voice. In working with Dialed, I just completed some ROI research to understand how quickly, easy and affordable it is today to plug every employee into your business with a very innovative phone system. They way it works is that Dialpad turns all of your devices into your business phone, letting you make high-definition calls over Wi-Fi or your carrier network from anywhere. And businesses can let their  remote workers and global offices feel like a part of HQ with peer-to-peer HD video. This is especially great for field service, where video often can solve the problem like no other solution because you can SEE the issue. In these new systems, modern business communications integrate seamlessly with the productivity apps that employees use every day, making it easier than ever for them to collaborate with docs, emails, and calendar invites.

With this system, a brand can move a phone call from their WiFi to their carrier or from a desktop to a mobile device very easily, so in essence it is very easy to switch calls from device to device (phone, tablet, desktop…) It is also easy to transfer calls between colleagues or departments simply by looking up a name in the directory.

In the ROI research we interviewed two companies, Vivant Solar and a large communication services provider to see how they transformed their on-premises telephony systems to a purely cloud-based communications solution using Dialpad. The change, depending on the situation, resulted in six- to seven- figure cost savings. Both companies previously had legacy, on-premises PBX (Private Branch Exchange) technology, which is a private telephone network used within a company.

Dialpad provides a secure, enterprise communications cloud solution that incorporates traditional PBX features into a modern cloud-based, business communications VoIP system. The solution integrates with Google Apps for Work and with Office 365, with a user interface built to satisfy the needs of a modern workplace but without the typical costs of traditional enterprise, on-premise telephony systems.

The platform offers messaging, voice, video, conference calling in the cloud, attributed call transfer, auto-attendant, IVR, business SMS, MMS, and group messaging, call recording, live-call device switching, international outbound calling, local telephone numbers, multi-device functionality, toll-free numbers, visual voicemail, contact profiles, a company directory and fax support as well as core social profile applications, such as LinkedIn and Twitter for context about the caller. In case you are wondering, has anyone else discovered this service, Dialpad’s customers include 60 percent of the Fortune 500, high-growth enterprises, and forward thinking organizations and start-ups. The service is built on the WebRTC framework and runs on a redundant global network of nine data centers on four continents.


In the evaluation of various technology infrastructure systems, Mike Hincks, Director, IT Infrastructure at Vivint Solar, found that traditional IT voice systems come with hundreds of thousands of dollars of yearly infrastructure and hosting costs, all designed around employees using desk phones. The catalyst for change was to use a system not tied to a desk phone. One of the many interesting features was that Dialpad had no upfront capital expenditures or maintenance costs, which made it easier to get the technology approved by senior leaders at Vivint Solar.

In addition, Hincks looked at the money the sister company was spending on long-distance contracts. With Dialpad, there were no long-distance carrier costs. Hincks also looked at the cost of the team he would need to hire in order to maintain an on premise, hosted solution. The sister company had had a five-person team to manage voice applications. In addition, Hincks would have needed to schedule the IT team’s time to provision a new phone for each employee, with at least one hour of training per employee and some additional time from the IT team for troubleshooting. Dialpad required less than one full-time equivalent employee.

Another one of the biggest conveniences was that Dialpad integrated with Google for Work without any authentication process. “I found the Millennial workforce wants technology to work right away. They don’t want to set up an application, have to go through training or troubleshoot it. They want to click on an app and see it work immediately,” said Hincks.

The positive feedback about Dialed from Vivint Solar’s more than 4,000 mobile workers includes:

  • Improving the ease of signing up and using the communications technology
  • Increasing agility to work anytime and anywhere on any device with technology that doesn’t get in the way of productivity
  • Increasing productivity by being able to use a simple user interface
  • Boosting the ability to make bigger sales at a faster rate.

The ROI: Costs were reduced by several hundred thousand dollars, year over year. Savings came from:

  • No upfront capital expenditure and maintenance costs
  • No long-distance carrier costs
  • No need to hire a team to manage the cloud based communications
  • No need to train employees or engage the training department
  • High user adoption rate because of the simple user interface
  • Improved ability to attract talent by reducing recruiting costs and increasing retention of top talent


In the second company, the Director of Digital Workplace Technologies set up a proof of concept (POC) with Dialpad. He found that the best way to meet the needs of workers in the modern enterprise was using cloud technology. He wanted to re-conceptualize how communications services could be presented to users and to eliminate deterrents to productivity, especially for the geographically distributed workforce that used telephony systems. The Director of Digital Workplace Technologies said, “It was important to look at an IT project as an organizational change management project. We learned this lesson when we moved our users to Google Apps for Work. Technology changes that affect how productive workers are should be seen as organizational change projects. If you can’t find something you are looking for, it makes you less productive and frustrated. So we always overlay organization change management with our IT rollouts.”


The company needed to have a new communications system that could be completely up and running in minutes, compared to months or even years required for deploying global on-premises systems. Applications built in the cloud reduce costs because they are more flexible, extensible, and easier to work with while making collaboration intuitive. And this company found organizational change management was a key element for a successful implementation of this new communications system.


Using Dialpad, the company was able to retire several of its old telephony systems and realize millions of dollars in cost savings by reducing:

  • Maintenance agreements
  • Infrastructure
  • Service and support for the infrastructure
  • Phone lines from service providers.

Today, the company has deployed about 6,000 VoIP lines on Dialpad, which cover about 40 percent of its global employee base. It is looking to expand coverage every quarter. The company’s savings were several million dollars, year over year. Savings came from:

  • No upfront capital expenditure
  • No maintenance costs
  • Reduced reliance on IT helpdesk
  • No long-distance carrier costs.


After implementing Dialpad at just one large site, the global company reduced the site’s cost per minute of call time by double digits. In addition, the new system offered features that the old telephony systems could not. For instance, the PBX system had been tied to a particular device – the desk office phone. However, most people are now mobile, working from various devices and remote locations. Clearly, workers could not take their desk phones outside of their offices. When workers were away from their desks, they had to use cell phones or other alternatives – from multiple phone numbers – that created additional costs for the company.

Dialpad, however, allows employees use to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony. When the company moved to Dialpad, employees could use their computers to place calls, essentially replacing desk phones. They could also use the Dialpad application on their Android or iOS mobile devices. To the person receiving the call, it all comes from the same phone number, whether the VoIP call is made from a computer or from a mobile device.

Employees could also become more productive. With the ability to communicate from any place, using any device, while still being accessible from a single phone number, people could connect with each other more easily. As collaboration was made easier, the ability for teams to work more effectively with remote employees was also improved. In essence, the company had a new potential to increase the agility and adaptability of its workforce. Employees could be more productive, collaborative and feel more connected to each other using Dialpad.


The new technology enabled the company to modernize its workplace. The company realized that it needed to give employees – as well as new hires and interns – technology tools that are modern, intuitive and easy to use, unlike traditional enterprise tools. The company found employees could easily pick up how to use Dialpad because they were familiar with Google Apps for Work. While moving to Dialpad, the company was also able to shift a portion of its traditional help desk activity to a self-service and community-supported model. In the community, users can ask influencers an guides questions.


Hardware costs and desk phones traditionally have driven the voice communications industry. While struggling for decades to bring down hardware costs, providers attempted to shift to a software model that yielded some feature and cost improvements. However, these changes have not significantly reduced costs, improved scalability, boosted agility or simplified use. In contrast, a revolutionary, exponential change occurs in the telephony industry from using a 100 percent cloud based system designed with the user in mind that is extremely easy to deploy and use while slashing operating costs, eliminating call charges, and offering rapid, unlimited and affordable scalability.


At the end of the day, it’s really the employees that create the customer experience. And employees can’t do that unless they are given the right technology. It’s up to companies to evaluate the technology they are using and to provide them the latest technology that allows them to be their best. For information about this research study, you can find it here.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Creating Great Customer Experiences By Empowering Employees


DX is the New CX- Why Customer Experience Isn’t Up to Snuff

Having been a long-term customer experience advocate and studied the field, I as many others, have noticed that while companies are saying that customer experience is a key differentiator, that it’s at the top of their priority list of business initiatives, that they are spending more on it but when customers are asked, they don’t think it’s better. So how could that be?

I know many customer experience professionals who spend a lot of time mapping out their various customer journey’s for different personas or customer profiles, they have purchased and implemented some of the top omni-channel software, are conducting social media / digital media monitoring so they know what their customers are saying… So it’s not that customer experience professionals aren’t doing what they need to do. But if they are doing all that, why do customer still report, in large part, that their experience of most brands is not up to snuff?

What I discovered is that there are two groups of people that think about customer / digital experience, but in very different ways. One group of people tends to be the typical customer experience professional who has done all of the things I mentioned above and done them well. And then there’s another group of people, often in IT, that worry about digital performance management (DPM.) They look at the technology stack that is underneath the omni-channel customer experience technology and optimize it. They worry about things like page load speed, do shopping carts get hung up, etc…

And I found that often the two groups either don’t know they exist or they tend not to work together. And if that is so, the digital customer experience can suffer. Some brands have optimized both the customer experience, omni-channel technology as well as the technology stack underneath omni-channel technology. When that is done, the customer experience is truly optimized from both the DPM and DX perspective and the CX perspective.

If you’d like to learn more about this, please join me on Wednesday, Sept 28th at Sept 28, 2016 @ 10am PT/1pm ET for a Live Webinar and we will look at this topic in-depth! The topic? What the smartest brands know about CX and what they still may not be doing about it! And here’s a link to the research I just completed on The Business Imperative of Optimizing Digital Customer Experience. And here’s all the professionals who spend their days work making the customer experience the best it can be with customer experience professionals collaborating with IT professionals. If content is king, DPM is the ACE!

@DrNatalie Petouhoff

VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Customer-Facing Applications that Create Amazing Customer Experiences


#OOW16 – #IOT Is Really Asking Your Business What Outcomes Are You Looking For?

Many companies approach the internet of things by starting with a device, make it connectable and then are in search of a business use case. This is a typical process that happens when there is a new area of technology area. If a company uses that as a strategy, it can be the long road to #IoT innovation. What businesses need to ask themselves are, “What business outcomes are they looking for and what innovations could be possible to shift their business model?”

We heard from the @OracleIOT group several business scenarios:

  • Break / Fix it – which drives a predictive prescriptive business process
  • Static Analytics – which drives the use of real-time, big-data analytics
  • Ownership – which drives as-a-service business models and
  • Central Service– which drives self-service as well as self-guided service.


What they are finding is that there are various phases a business often goes through when deploying IOT. It can start with the devices or assets (trucks, phones, factories, etc…) which are then connected to a platform which are connected to a network. For a business to actually make use of IOT, the first phase, Phase 1 can be about Connecting Assets for situations like remote monitoring and asset tracking. Phase 2 is can be using Predictive Analytics which means designing predictive algorithms to transform decisions into proactive instead of reactive decisions and improving products and processes. Phase 3 can be about Service Excellence. This is where the customer or employee experience is affected. It is where IOT is being used to transform business processes by blending IOT into enterprise applications like ERP, SCM, Customer Support, CRM, HCM…


Some of Oracle’s IOT applications are in the areas of:

  • Asset monitoring for the utilization, availability and data from connected sensors
  • Production monitoring and prognostics of the equipment on the manufacturing factory floor
  • Fleet Management for business who have fleets of trucks, buses, delivery and maintenance vehicles
  • Connected worker for the tracking of employees, for instance in the mining, engineering construction

Here are some examples of clients applying IOT to their businesses:


VINCI is building the next generation sensor-driven building automation to reduce the number of “truck rolls” which has a huge ROI. They are doing this with the integration or Oracle Service Cloud and SAP. Lochbridge is creating connected fleets where IOT and big data is being used for predictive maintenance in monitoring fleet / cargo to reduce the response time. GEMU is using real-time filtering and processing of valve events and proactive parts replacement with the integration of CRM, IOT and a service ticketing system. And SoftBank is using IOT to deliver mobility-as-a-service where they are monitoring vehicle location for billing and geo-fencing.

As the world of IOT expands and more and more companies start to see the value in connecting enterprise applications, with devices, and networks, we will see the transformation of workers, employees and customer experiences. When those experiences are transformed, the real value and ROI of the connected enterprise will come to life.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst

Constellation Research, Covering Customer Facing Applications and IOT





What You Don’t Know About Millennials Will Hurt Your Bottom-line

This research that I just completed is about how to use customer experience to turn Millennials into brand advocates. Why does it matter? They are different than other generations that have come before then. If you are in the Boomer Generation and are running a contact center there are some changes on the horizon that are key to know about and start preparing for now.

Let’s look at some of the stats. There are >2 billion people in the world. Two billion are active on social media and 1 in 3 consumers prefer social to phones for service. Who’s leading the way? Those that were born into the world with nearly a device in their hand, well almost. And while this post is about customer service, we can’t really separate marketing, customer service and other disciplines. We’ll see why in a minute.

Millennials are the largest, most diverse, educated & influential shoppers on the planet. They are positioned to be the wealthiest generation to date and have influence over their Baby Boomer parent’s choices & will inherent their money / real estate. In fact, by 2018 in US, projected income = $3.4 Trillion/year & surpassing Baby Boomer income.

They are different than The Boomer Generation in that social networks & technology are their LIVES! Here’s some stats:

  • 75% created a profile on a social networking site
  • 55% visit those sites once/day
  • 60% connect to the Internet wirelessly when they are away from work or home
  • 88% text each other
  • 74% new technology makes their life easier
  • 50% use it to be closer to their friends
  • 65% are disconnected one hour or less a day

And millennials take online action all the time!

  • 70% recommend their favorite brands to family & friends
  • 47% write about good online experiences
  • 40% have criticized a brand on a social network
  • 70% would create a video and post it online or write a review about their experience with a company

This post is about customer service, but the initial engagement of Millennials is typically through efforts that tend to fall into marketing – though can also be done in customer service. You want to asknormal-customer-text yourself are you really ready for the Millennials generation? Do you understand how different theunder-20-customer-texty are?






So if you are wondering where to start here’s some tips:

Map Your Generational Customer Journeys. This is Maya. She is 22 and social is her life. She may do some research using google and find your website. They she may decide to buy something from  Facebook ad, then one the she’s using the product and finds it not up to her standards, she complains on twitter and then leaves critical feed back you your website.


Learn Why Millennials Trust Your Company Enough to Buy from Them

While 55% said “price” was most important reason, however, price is the least important in building their trust

  • 30% cared more about product quality & quick service
  • 20% cared more about the range of products offered
  • Brand switching is common (least loyal of all generations)

Learn How Do Millennials Decide To Buy From You

A company’s reputation can matter as much as the performance of its products

  • 34% bought from a brand because of the social or political values of the company
  • 89% intentionally visit showroom to see product; then price compare & buy online at best price
  • 90% tell their family & friends NOT to purchase the company’s products when they lose trust or respect for a brand

Engage Millennials Around Life Events

  • They care about things that affect their life
  • Graduating, getting married, buying a house, having children, getting a job, getting divorce, dating…
  • That’s the type of content they are looking for from you – help them with their life events and they will reward you with their loyalty

But Know As You Engage Millennials, Don’t Separate Marketing and Customer Service!

Millennials don’t see the company from separate silos. They see the company as one large department and they expect that you know them and that you treat them the same in all channels, on all devices and from all interaction aspects – from marketing, to service to…. If a Millennial has a problem with a company, instead of calling customer service… 

  • They text 5 friends & share frustration on Facebook
  • Friends share the story with peer groups
  • Result: Friends comment on the incident & share their own stories of disappointment
  • A single event can spread like wildfire
  • When seeking customer service <1% will call customer!

Empower WORD-OF-MOUTH Millennial From All Departments and Share Data About Customers Across All Departments

Know what Marketing said to the customer about a product and service. Know what the brand promise was and make sure the product lives up to it. And that customer service knows what that promised was so they can help transform a bad situation into a good one. Millennials want to trust your brand.

  • Millennials are looking for great products and brands to share with their friends
  • Focus on making an excellent product
  • If you do, then your marketing efforts can be authentic
  • As a result, WOM marketing will be done by Millennials.

So here’s some take aways and look forward to a new report with much more details soon! I am speaking at OpenWorld on Tuesday Sept 20 at 11 AM in Moscone West. Come say hi! I want to hear your stories!


@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst

Constellation Research Covering All Customer Facing Applications to Create Great Customer Experiences!


*Sources: Pew Research,  Javelin Strategy & Research Study  &  IRI study



Where I am Speaking This Fall! Come Say Hello!

It’s a busy fall and I hope to see you all out there, whether in person or on a webinar. Here’s some of the places I will be:

1. Webinar: ROI of Social Customer Care Sept 6th @clarabridge #custserv #CX

(Here’s the report: )


2. Think ROI of Social #custserv can’t be calculated? Think again! Webinar Sept 13th @clarabridge

(Here’s the report: )


3. Digital Transformation: the Digital Blindspot – don’t let it happen to your co #ITRATL Sept 14th @constellationr (Here’s the report: )


4. Modern survival guide: Speaking on #custserv for Millennials #OOW16 Tues 11AM Sept 20th @constellationr


5. Webinar: How #DPM is the new #CX Sept 28th @dynatrace @constellationr

(If you’re not actively managing digital #CX you’re not doing it right. check out the report on how to make #CX the best in the biz )


6. Digital Performance Management #DPM #DXS16 November 14 – make your #customerexperience #CX really powerful

(If you’re not actively managing digital #CX you’re not doing it right. check out the report on how to make #CX the best in the biz )


Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst

Covering Customer Experience and Customer Service, Digital Performance Management and Digital Transformation




The Need for Customer Experience is Based on Science Not Myth

The need for customer experience to improve is not a myth. In fact, here’s why. Noted psychology researcher and writer Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi observed in 1998 that people who perform seamless, sequence-based activities on a regular basis are happier than people who don’t[i]. He coined the term “flow” to describe this behavior. With the advent of CoIT, we’ve actually imposed a new set of demands on our customer’s brains. But instead of offering a series of smoothly sequential flows, websites and mobile applications are characterized by lag, downtime, and restarts. And at the same time customer’s flow-oriented brains simply aren’t wired to deal with poor digital experience interactions. Science has shown the business need for great customer experiences is a fact, not a myth.

And it can be tempting to label customers picky and impatient. But there’s a wealth of research on what happens to customers at a neurological level when they are forced to deal with slow or interrupted processes.[i] Their impatience is an indelible part of their human circuitry. Brands must recognize that customers’ hardwiring of the brain’s and their neurological desire for flow and easy of use as part of the cost of doing business. Companies must come to terms with the economic imperative of the customer experience or drive customers to their competitors because of their poor focus on customer experiences.

Fast websites and mobile experience create happier users. Those happier users are more likely to follow “calls to action” to register, download, subscribe, request information, or purchase. Unhappy users, which could include those who experience a mere two-second slowdown in how a web page loads, make almost two percent fewer queries, three point seven-five percent click less often, and report being significantly less satisfied with their overall experience[i]. Worse, they tell their friends about their negative experience. With the word-of-mouth social networks provide, brands need to heed the seriousness of differentiating their brand’s customer experience or be left in the dust.

Response Times have been consistent for 45 years. Based on neuroscience, the facts about human perception and response times have been consistent for more than forty-five years[i]. In fact, these numbers are hard-wired in human brains. And they are consistent regardless of the type of device, application, or connection a customer is using. In fact, that’s key to where customer expectations come from thus important to capitalize on. And what’s critical is determining where a brand’ web / mobile sites compare to customer expectations as well as benchmarking against CoIT applications or competitors or even non-competitors who have a great customer experience.

Response Time Has Not changed Much. In Robert B. Miller’s 1968 paper, “Response Time in Man-Computer Conversational Transactions[ii]“, found people have always been most comfortable, most efficient and most productive with response times of less than two seconds. Since 2006, what has changed slightly is the average online shopper expects pages to load in four seconds or less. Today, forty-nine percent expect page load times of two seconds or less, and eighteen percent expect pages to load instantly[iii]. And while optimizing every aspect of a brand’s digital assets to meet an “instant” expectation is a laudable goal, organizations simply may not have initially budgeted the resources to achieve these goals. Digital experience maturity, however, provides teams the ability to identify the interaction points in the digital customer journey most sensitive to improvement so they can maximize return on performance investment and include this in the budget and resource planning activities. Here’s the results of the Walmart study on page load times and conversion rates:

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 10.11.29 AM

Businesses can keep arguing that customer experience doesn’t matter, it’s a touchy-feely construct or get it directly affects the bottom-line and start by designing and measuring customer experience performance management. For more on this see my report, here.

@drnatalie petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst

Covering Customer-Facing Applications


[ii]Robert B. Miller’s 1968 paper, “Response Time in Man-Computer Conversational Transactions,



[i]Dual-task interference in simple tasks: Data and theory. Pashler, Harold Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 116(2), Sep 1994, 220-244.

[i] The Concept of Flow: Handbook of Positive Psychology, Nakamura, J. and Csikszentmihayi, M. 2002.


New Report: Neuroscience Proves Customer Experience (CX) Isn’t Just Fluff

What’s the Importance of CX? There’s a lot of talk about creating a great customer experience. Seems the world has gone from being concerned with CRM to customer experience. And every vendor is talking about it- whether its a marketing vendor, customer service vendor, mobile vendor…. What I wondered was what scientific data is there to help prove that customer experience wasn’t just a fluffy initiative that was the next fad. From being a customer myself (we all are) I found that intuitively I know that the type of customer experience I have and others have does make a difference in our opinion about a brand. It changes whether we want to interact with them again, whether we purchase from them, whether we become a loyal customer bringing repeat business and whether we make positive remarks to our friends and family as well as what we post in social media. Social media carries more weight that most realize because while most people won’t post a response, they will read it. That’s the 1-9-90 rule, where ~1% of the people post, ~9% respond to the person who posted and ~90% just read the post, but don’t respond. 90% of my 58,000 followers on Twitter is 52,200 people.  Even if not all of them see a post, it’s still a lot of people.

The Science of Flow That Makes Up Customer Experience. Noted psychology researcher and writer Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi observed in 1998 that people who perform seamless, sequence-based activities regularly are happier than people who do not. He coined the term “flow” to describe this behavior. However, instead of offering smoothly sequential flows, websites and mobile applications often experience lag, downtime, and restarts. At the same time, customers’ flow-oriented brains simply are not wired to deal with poor digital interactions. As a result, when the customer experience is poor, they leave the site and go to a competitor’s that has optimized both their IT and CX metrics so the experience does flow well. Science has shown the business need for great customer experiences is a fact, not a myth.

The Neuroscience of Customer Experience. It can be tempting to label customers picky and impatient, but there’s a wealth of research on what happens to customers on a neurological level when they are forced to deal with slow or interrupted processes. Impatience is an indelible part of human circuitry. Brands must recognize that the hardwiring of customers’ brains and their neurological desire for flow and ease of use are part of their expectations. Companies must come to terms with the economic imperative of the customer experience or risk losing customers to the competition.

Based on neuroscience, the facts about human perception and response times have been consistent for more than 45 years. They are hard-wired into the brain and are consistent regardless of the type of device, application, or connection a customer is using. That’s key to understanding where customer expectations come from. It is critical to determine how a brand’s web and mobile sites compare to customer expectations as well as to benchmark against CoIT applications, competitors or even non-competitors who have a great customer experience.

Customer Expectations Mean Business. In Robert B. Miller’s 1968 paper, “Response Time in Man-Computer Conversational Transactions,” he found that people have always been most comfortable, efficient and productive with response times of less than two seconds. Since 2006, what has changed slightly is that the average online shopper expects pages to load in four seconds or less. Today, 49 percent expect page load times of two seconds or less and 18 percent expect pages to load instantly. While optimizing every aspect of a brand’s digital assets to meet an “instant” expectation is a laudable goal, organizations simply may not have budgeted the resources to achieve this goal. Digital experience maturity, however, provides teams the ability to identify the interaction points in the digital customer journey most sensitive to improvement. As a result, they can maximize return on performance investment and include this in the budget and resource planning.

Fast websites create satisfied users who are more likely to follow “calls to action” to register, download, subscribe, request information, or purchase. On the other end, unsatisfied users, which could include those who experience a mere two-second slowdown in web page load time, make almost two percent fewer queries, nearly four percent fewer clicks, and report being significantly less satisfied with their overall experience. Worse, they tell friends about their negative experience. With the word-of- mouth that social media networks provide, brands need to heed the seriousness of positively differentiating the brand’s customer experience.

Want more information on this new report? You can find it here.

The neuroscience of customer experience @drnatalie petouhoff

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Customer-facing applications that make great customer experiences


Local Motor’s Self-Driving Vehicle Taps the Power of IBM Watson

There’s been a lot of talk around self-driving cars and Local Motors, a leading vehicle technology integrator and creator of the world’s first 3D-printed cars, introduced the first self-driving vehicle to integrate the advanced cognitive computing capabilities of IBM Watson. Local Motors is a technology company that designs, builds and sells vehicles. The Local Motors platform is a combination of a global co-creation with local micro-manufacturing to bring hardware innovations quickly to market. Local Motors in National Harbor, Maryland is a public place where co-creation is the focus for advancement of vehicle technologies.

What can you see if you visit the Maryland facility? On display are 3D-printed cars and a large-scale 3D printer. There visitors can have an interactive co-creative experience that showcases what the future of 3D printing, sustainability, autonomous technology will be. Visitors can get involved with Local Motors engineers and the company’s co-creation community.

The automobile has a name and it’s called “Olli.” At its debut it was carrying the CEO of Local Motors and co-founder John B. Rogers, Jr. and vehicle designer Edgar Sarmiento. The vehicle took them from the Local Motors co-creation community into the new facility. While there are already self-driving action in Washington, DC, soon there will be vehicles on the road in Miami-Dade County and Las Vegas. The cars can carry up to 12 people. More details can be seen in this video:

Source: IBM Watson

What’s the Big Innovation? The electric vehicle is equipped with some of the world’s most advanced vehicle technology, including IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive. Passengers can interact conversationally with Olli and ask about:

  • Destinations, for example, “Olli, can you take me downtown?”
  • Specific vehicle functions  like: “How does this feature work?”
  • Time related questions like, “Are we there yet?”

In addition, Olli can make recommendations on local restaurants or historical sites. Olli is essentially designed to deliver interesting, entertaining, intuitive and interactive experiences for riders. How is IBM Watson is being used to improve the passenger experience? It is enabling the natural interaction with the vehicle via the cloud-based cognitive computing capability of IBM Watson IoT to analyze and learn from high volumes of transportation data produced by more than 30 sensors embedded throughout the vehicle. As the vehicle gets used, Local Motors plans to install more sensors and adjust them continuously as passenger needs and local preferences are identified.

The platform leverages four Watson developer APIs:

  • Speech to Text
  • Natural Language Classifier
  • Entity Extraction and
  • Text to Speech.

Harriet Green, General Manager, IBM Watson Internet of Things, Commerce & Education commented that, “Cognitive computing provides incredible opportunities to create unparalleled, customized experiences for customers, taking advantage of the massive amounts of streaming data from all devices connected to the Internet of Things, including an automobile’s myriad sensors and systems. IBM is excited to work with Local Motors to infuse IBM Watson IoT cognitive computing capabilities into Olli, exploring the art of what’s possible in a world of self-driving vehicles and providing a unique, personalized experience for every passenger while helping to revolutionize the future of transportation for years to come.”

Having worked in the automotive industry in Detroit, it’s exciting to see new develops like this. It’s also exciting to see the application of cognitive computing in a real world situation. Using it for something like empowering self-driving vehicle is probably the best way to advance not only the self-driving cars but also the ability to deploy cognitive computing in a real world application. This looks to be the start of something very interesting that other brands in this space should be taking note of. Competition in the automotive is rapidly changing, from the provision of Cars-As-A-Service, with GM investing $500M in Lyft to cars that drive themselves. The Future is here.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering customer-facing applications that create amazing customer experiences.


From the Field: Lithium Technologies and Microsoft Dynamics Partner To Create A Total Community Digital Strategy

Is social CRM dead? Depends on what you consider social CRM to be. With the partnering of Lithium Technologies and Microsoft Dynamics, we will see yet a new and more extensive version of intelligent customer engagements. The partnership includes Microsoft Dynamics and Lithium’s community data, social customer intelligence and analytics.

The expectation of the value of an online community is often associated with cost savings – just as call deflections can reduce the costs of customer service. While many cost savings are possible, there also are six major areas that my research has found through which an online community can contribute to a company’s revenue, profits and margins. The six areas are: increased revenue through new products and services; enhanced communications, marketing and public relations; improved employee engagement; better business cost efficiencies; expanded business value in customer service; and heightened senior leadership and board member business guidance. With this paper, leaders can create a basic blueprint to embark on a discussion about whether to create an online community, the value the community can provide, and how best to lead this key strategic initiative in their organization.

Back to the conference, @jasonlsilva gave a wonderful talk on perception, change and our ability to redefine the meaning of a billionaire to one that helps a billion people. That I think is quite different than most of the start-up wanna-be billionaire’s who are in tech to become the next billionaire. You can see more of the videos from Jason’s show BrainGames on youtube called Shots of Awe. He talked about how the smart phone is the most powerful tool to get people out of poverty. And that it’s important to step back and understand where we are in time with respect to technology. 100 years ago we were electrifying the world – today we are cognifying the world via technology. In cognitive psychology, after a signal reaches the brain, the instant when we are aware of a change in our environment, but it is before the brain is able to identify and codify what the change is. The key is to not only not be afraid of change, but to embrace it with a positive mindset. The book Mindset was recommended by Lithium’s CEO Rob Tarkoff @rtarkoff by Carol Dweck. And lucky me – got a selfie with @jasonlsilva – @jasonlsilva and @drnatalie

Speaking of great customer service, I got this note from Claudia Kardzair & Nena Gadingan who are Guest Care Managers at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis:

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 11.11.04 AM

The days of loyalty driven by customer care are here. Some analysts think companies will be competing on customer experience in the future. I believe they always have been. It may not have been as measured as it is now, it may not have been as obvious as now — but customers have been making mental note of their experiences. If it is bad, they will take themselves out of your marketing funnel, regardless of the number of emails, tweets or other communications a brand sends. It is the era of customer experience being the number one metric all CEOs and CFOs need to pay attention to.

And at the conference we got to hear about the wonderful total community results from customers like @USAA and Renee Horne and Mark Nichols from Skype.

Skype Community Results Renee Horne USAA Results






The keynote on the future of CRM and intelligent customer engagement by Jujhar Singh, General Manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, provided a deeper understanding of what the partnership means to customers.  He shared key insights into how businesses can maximize customer data to create more personalized brand experiences. The combination of online communities and the power of CRM is an amazing capability. Rob Tarkoff, president and CEO of Lithium Technologies, explained that with the partnership Lithium will be able to expand what they now offer, the power of Total Community across Microsoft’s intelligence and data infrastructures.

Microsoft Dynamics Integration with Lithium Technologies

By working closely with Microsoft, they together bring a much broader solution to their our customers. The strategic alliance will allow the integration of Lithium social interactions and community data into Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Microsoft Dynamics customers now have a community platform that offers businesses greater insights from the wealth of customer signals embedded in communities.

What does the future of CRM hold? Perhaps it will finally go from it’s former capabilities – a customer contact management system to actually become the more aspirational customer RELATIONSHIP engagement system that enrolls a brand’s customers and never looses sight of what is important to THEM and is always there when their customers need them with the things that are important to them. When companies do this they become truly customer-centric.

@drnatalie petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering customer-facing applications



One Big Step for Commerce, One Giant Step for Salesforce

Salesforce’s $2.8 billion acquisition of Demandware will serve as the company’s Commerce Cloud. Demandware and Salesforce have a series of joint customers. This acquisition will enable more e-commerce for Salesforce along with Salesforce’s customer relationship management tools. CEO’a are realizing the value of platforms vs. point solutions and the trend is going towards the vendors creating more holistic platforms that offer a continuous marketing, sales, service process. In truth, only companies separate those aspects of their companies into different departments. But customers don’t see a company as separate departments. So the departments really need to act as a whole and software as a platform can be the key to that.

The acquisition will grow the sales “funnel” for Salesforce. There is the possibility to expand the relationship with existing customers. So it gives Salesforce a new group of customers to upsell for the other services that it already offered, from marketing and online analytics through to back-office software for sales and other IT functions. Who is Demandware working with now? Some customers include Design Within Reach, Lands’ End, L’Oreal and Marks & Spencer.

With more and more people buying on their phone and online, commerce and e-commerce is more and more important. This is a smart move by Salesforce.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering customer-facing applications that make great customer experiences