Innovation & Disruption In Delivery: Could Your Next Amazon Delivery Be By a Drone?

Ever Had a Package Delivered Late, Not at All Or To the Wrong Address?

One of the most irritating issues with ordering online is whether the package gets delivered and to the right address and on time. I know I’ve experienced this a number of times and what’s interesting is that, as customer’s we don’t always think about the delivery service as the issue, but rather it reflects poorly on the company we by the product from. How to fix this customer experience issue? One option is to deliver packages to consumers’ homes using drones. Could this allow companies to bypass the challenges with that last step of the delivery? It might be for delivery to people’s homes. It might not work at apartments, though, because the drone can’t get into the apartment building. Or can it?

What customers may not know is that the last leg of the delivery is the most expensive and inefficient part of parcel delivery. Customers don’t often think about that the product has to go from a store or warehouse, to the shipper’s delivery center and then from there, be deployed to the customer’s address. It is often not the place you bought the product from that is having the issue. It maybe who their delivery service or services are. It could be the individual who works for the delivery service. I know I personally had package delivered to an address that was similar to mine, but not mine. The individual was new to the delivery route and got mixed up. I had to run after the delivery truck, stop them and tell them they delivered to the wrong building. (I had gotten a text my package was delivered, but it was not on my doorstep or at the post office boxes for my building.) And since this happened more than once, I knew what had happened.

What’s the Solution To Better Customer Experience Delivery?

E-commerce companies, like Amazon, are using drones to speed up the this last part of the delivery process, while cutting costs. The result? Improving the customer experience, customer satisfaction and loyalty. And what’s interesting is even legacy retailers could take advantage of a similar process to grow online sales.

So What’s the Hold Up?

While there are many obstacles to overcome for instance, drone regulations, the development of autonomous flight and traffic control systems for drones, as well as consumer acceptance, there are companies actively trying to figure this all out. For instance, Amazon is working on drone delivery, depending on when and where they have the regulatory support needed to safely delivery packages. They want to use drones to deliver packages to customers around the world in 30 minutes or less. In fact, they have Prime Air development centers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Austria, France and Israel.

Amazon Prime @drnatalie

Photo Source: Amazon

They believe the airspace is safest when small drones are separated from most manned aircraft traffic, and where airspace access is determined by capabilities. To learn more, you can look at Amazon’s airspace proposals here: Best-Served Model for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Revising the Airspace Model for the Safe Integration of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Disruption to Delivery Logistic Firms

As e-commerce providers like Amazon look for solutions within their own company, many logistics providers are experimenting with drone delivery. These firms also seek to cut costs as well as ward off competition, whether it’s from startups, technology companies or e-commerce companies. In fact, FedEx is betting on automation to Fend off contenders like Uber and Amazon. The shipping giant is investing in autonomous trucks and is interested in delivery robots, drones and an Alexa app. And while there are attempts to get this right, those of us in the innovation space know that #failfast – iterating and pivoting is the key. In my book, it’s ok to fail. You can’t learn what you don’t know, you don’t know unless you try. Trying means you learn something each time. Though the concept of failfast is very popular today, if we look back at Edison, it took him 9,999 times to get the filament for the lightbulb to work on the 10,000th time. What if he gave up? We’d all be in the dark!

How Is Amazon’s Prime Air Trial Drone Deliver Program Progressing?

Amazon have started with a private customer trial, to gather data to continue improve the safety and reliability of their systems and operations. As they gather data, this will bring them closer to realizing this how to use this innovation for all their customers. Does weather affect the delivery? Currently, Amazon is permitted to operate during daylight hours when there are low winds and good visibility. However, they are not using it when it rains, snows or in icy conditions. They feel they need to gather more data to improve the safety and reliability of their systems and operations to expand the offering. They are working with regulators and policymakers in various countries in order to make Prime Air a reality for customers around the world.

Video Source: Amazon

Where Can you Find more Information On the Disruption and Innovation Drone Delivery Can Provide?

In a new report, BI Intelligence examines the benefits drone delivery can provide as an e-commerce fulfillment method. In the report, they look at the different approaches companies are taking to experiment with the new technology and processes involved in this new delivery process. In addition, they look at the key players working in the drone delivery space. And have researched the challenges drone delivery faces in reaching mainstream adoption.

Will Your Industry Be Disrupted? Every Industry Should Be Thinking It Will Be Disrupted!

As I was giving a talk on disruption and innovation, I had many questions from what would be considered very standard legacy firms. What they need to be careful of is being aware of the fact that somewhere, in someone’s basement or garage, someone is probably working on a project that will disruption their industry. It’s customary to do the ostrich: stick you head in the sand. But doing so will only make you a dinosaur, (extinct) if you are not careful.

Disruption and innovation are all around us. Just look at what happened to the taxi industry. Not only did Lyft and Uber transform how customers’ order, receive and pay for rides, but they disrupted an age old industry that had not changed for years. And take GM for instance. They make cars. But they decided to look at cars as a service and invest $500M in Lyft to be part of the cars-as-a-service industry.

Disrupt Yourself or Die

Instead of being one of those industries or companies that waits until an upstart disrupts their revenue model and takes marketshare, why not start innovating within your own company. Too many companies are complacent or don’t have the skills to think outside the box. If you don’t, it may want to seek out a firm that can you help you think through this new and confusing new frontier of design-thinking, innovation and disrupting yourself — as a company and as a person. No one wants to be the company that had the leg up on IBM and caused it’s own demise: i.e, nobody wants their story to go down like Digital Equipment Corporation: DEC.

“Digital Equipment Corporation achieved sales of over $14 billion, reached the Fortune 50, and was second only to IBM as a computer manufacturer. Though responsible for the invention of speech recognition, the minicomputer, and local area networking, DEC ultimately failed as a business and was sold to Compaq Corporation in 1998. The  fascinating modern Greek tragedy in book form by Ed Schein, a high-level consultant to DEC for 40 years, shows how DEC’s unique corporate culture contributed both to its early successes and later to an organizational rigidity that caused its ultimate downfall.” Don’t do a DEC.

@drnatalie

Natalie Petouhoff

VP, Program Executive, Innovation and Transformation Center | Salesforce.com

 

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Digital Transformation Projects Have an 84% Chance of Failure; Are You Ready to Failure or Succeed?

Would You Invest If You Knew the Investment Had a High Likelihood of Failure?

If I were to tell you that I had an investment opportunity for you and the probability of you making money was 16% or less, how likely would you be to invest in it? But if I told you that the investment opportunity had a 90% chance of returning your investment, might you be more likely to want to invest?

What’s interesting is that digital transformation is all around us. We can’t help but be impacted in our person lives, from smart phones, smart TVs, apps (think taxi’s vs. Lyft), Siri, Alexa and Google Home. In business, it’s clear that customers want to engage with business in digital and mobile channels. Businesses need to make the transition to be competitive and survive. Yet according to Consultancy.uk* and Bruce Rogers** who wrote Profitable Brilliance: How Professional Service Firms Become Thought Leaders, 84% of businesses undergoing digital transformation are likely to fail. 

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Having been at this game for a while, the statistics reminded me of stats from nearly 20 years ago when the topic was CRM and ERP. Though they are not exactly the same, they have many of the same elements. Digital transformation, innovation and CRM and ERP implementations are IT implementation of people, process and technology. What they have in common is the use of technology to make scalable processes that were once manual. The advantages among many, were higher productivity (cost savings) but also providing better customer-facing experiences (revenue generating.) Going back through my old papers about CRM and ERP failure rates,*** I saw many of the same type of stats predicting similar failure rates for digital transformation projects are being predicted today**** (and by many prominent groups, including IDC, Gartner Group and Forrester Research.)

Things that make you go hmmmm. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

When Will Organizational Change Management and Culture Change Be Taken Seriously?

The stats show since the late 1990’s – early 2000’s until now, when Culture Change (CC), Organizational Change Management (OCM) and Behavioral Change (BC) is missing from a project, there are issues, yet it’s still not “fashionable.” Perhaps the lack of fashionability is from an old paradigm stemming from the command and control type leadership that doesn’t deem people as an important aspect of the business transformation, whether its CRM, ERP or Digital Transformation. Perhaps it stems from leadership that doesn’t know there’s a whole science and set of CC and OCM methodologies that go along with IT implementations. Perhaps they have never been shown the value of that OCM and CC can bring, so they still don’t think it’s important enough to invest in. Perhaps it’s a matter of showing people that it works and makes a difference!

The Time for Change is Now

The 4th industrial revolution challenges most of our existing mental models. What this means is that cultural change is essential to enable and execute successfully, any business / organizational / digital transformation. The key is having a plan, as well as, having developed tools and process for culture change and organizational change management which includes, but is not limited to having a:

  1. Communication plan and regular communication cadence
  2. Leadership and stakeholder involvement and engagement
  3. Training and skill development for the future state of the business and
  4. Organizational readiness and adoption on a continuing basis of the ongoing changes.

And of course, underneath each of these very simplistic groupings is a deep set of assumptions, tools, methodology and business-driven outcomes. So digital transformation isn’t uniquely about technology. It is about having the right digital strategy to ultimately transform a business to achieve higher objectives. This type of digital transformation must be built along with the human capital component, including skill sets, as well as, a cultural adoption of changing the way we do business. So what it boils down to is evolving behaviors within the organization, both from a leadership point of view as well as middle level managers to all employees.

Being Stuck in the OCM Adoption Chasm Will Cause Digital Transformation Failure

What is seems like, referencing one of my favorite people and author’s is Geoffrey Moore. It’s seems that perhaps we are, after twenty or more years of having OCM and CC at our finger tips, we are stuck in the adoption chasm. What we are headed for is the digital transformation iceberg of failure. We know what the iceberg did to the Titanic. We don’t want to be on a sinking ship. So what does an organization need to do? More on all of this in a future post.

@drnatalie

Natalie Petouhoff

VP, Program Executive, ITC | Salesforce.com

References

* Consultancy.uk. “Two Thirds of Digital Transformation Projects Fail” Consultancy.UK. N.p., 28 Sept. 2015. Web. 28 July 2016

**Rogers, Bruce. “Why 84% Of Companies Fail At Digital Transformation.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 7 Jan. 2016. Web

*** http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/the-end-of-corporate-culture-as-we-know-it/

*** http://www.cio.com/article/2440386/supply-chain-management/supply-chain—hershey-s-bittersweet-lesson.html

*** http://customerthink.com/failed_crm_implementation_finally_costs_hp_465_million_in_damages/

*** http://www.destinationcrm.com/Articles/Columns-Departments/The-Tipping-Point/The-Scientific-Reason-for-CRM-Failure-Part-1-42510.aspx

*** http://www.destinationcrm.com/Articles/Columns-Departments/The-Tipping-Point/The-Scientific-Reason-for-CRM-Failure-Part-2-42655.asp

*** http://media.techtarget.com/searchCRM/downloads/CRMUnpluggedch2.pdf

*** http://www.zdnet.com/article/crm-failure-rates-2001-2009/

*** https://hbr.org/2002/02/avoid-the-four-perils-of-crm

*** http://www.infoworld.com/article/2648303/applications/waste-management-sues-sap-over-erp-implementation.html

*** http://www.computerworld.com/article/2517917/enterprise-applications/sap–waste-management-settle-lawsuit.html

*** https://www.google.com/#q=hershey+crm+failure&*

*** http://www.crmsearch.com/crm-failures.php

*** http://www.destinationcrm.com/Articles/Columns-Departments/Insight/A-Succession-of-Failures-70822.aspx

**** https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=US40550115 ; http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3337617 ; https://www.cmo.com.au/article/545992/will_your_business_digital_predator_prey_/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is Organizational Change Management Just the “Fluffy Stuff” or Is There Real Business Value?

Is OCM and CC Kumbaya?

When I first lead organizational change management (OCM) and culture change (CC), it was at previous high tech company; a company made up of mainly engineers. When the topic was first announced as part of our integrated product developed process (a.k.a. teaming) it was labelled very quickly as “apple pie and motherhood.” Many thought we were going to sing Kumbaya or I was going to bring cake and cookies to meetings. What I learned was framing what the results could be and by providing individuals, teams and organizations, with tangible results, I found being outcomes-driven was the missing key. How so?

Outcomes-based Driven Values

When I framed OCM and CC in terms of outcomes and business value, I asked questions like, “Would you like it if everyone showed up to your meetings? On time? With the action items completed? With a proactive attitude vs “not invented here or we don’t do that – that way here” attitude…  Get a high rate of return on projects- projects on time, within budget and scope, high customer satisfaction…? Of course the answer was a resounding “YES.” The employees were craving answers to these issues that plagued the organization. And no one knew how to fix these issues. They just persisted. People stopped taking deadlines seriously. They expected project scope to creep. Budget overruns were somewhat typical.

WIIFM?

When I was able to explain the value of the outcomes of OCM and CC to them personally and their teams- the WIIFM (What’s in It For Me), they became extremely interested as the cultured suffered from too many meetings, people always in meetings so they never had time to do their action items; a passive-aggressive culture- so instead of coming to the meeting (without the action items completed and saying they didn’t have time and figuring out how to change something so they did have time) they just wouldn’t show up… And in that company – one team’s action items directly impacted another. For instance, if team 1 didn’t finish their action items teams 2, 3, 4… couldn’t do theirs… and the project fell behind, out of scope, over budget… It was a horrible domino affect that one one really knew how to fix. Giving orders that projects needs to be on-time, within budget and on scope didn’t really lead to change. It just lead to frustration because there were reasons why those things were happening, but giving an order that they needed to be done didn’t fix the root cause. So nothing changed.

What I learned about Leading Change

What I learned was when I presented OCM and CC in terms of outcomes – employees and leaders were very interested. I learned when I first presented OCM and CC without the business outcomes, it resulted in #fail. Then, I pivoted and iterated to an outcomes driven aproached, related to WIIFM and it resulted in #success… Net-net? Choosing a few key behaviors’ that help people work better together in a way that supports desired organizational outcomes, gets people on board…

What 20 years of leading change has taught me is that it’s all about framing CC and OCM in a way that people can relate to. Unfortunately a lot of CC or OCM got a bad rap as the fluffy stuff. But I have spent a great deal of my career over the last 20 years writing ROI (return on investment) models for the “fluffy stuff.” And I can tell you, it’s not fluffy… it impacts the bottomline…  

OCM and CC Tools and Methodology Are Key to Successfully Transitioning From The “Fluffy Stuff” To Concrete Business Results

And of course having a methodology and tools that help teams and people make those changes… takes it out of the “fluffy stuff” and into the business realm. OCM and CC is so much more, but people don’t know, what they don’t know… so it’s key to have a concrete methodology so it’s taken seriously and it can add business value to teams and our customers. More on that in future posts.

@drnatalie

Natalie Petouhoff

VP, Program Executive, ITC | Salesforce.com

 

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The Smart Home Race: Who Will Win?

Here are three main smart home contenders:

  • Apple’s HomeKit
  • Amazon’s Echo, Tap and Dot and
  • Google’s Home.

The main issues? Consumer confusion, which adoption follows. There is, unfortunately, technological fragmentation within the connected home ecosystem. Currently, there are many networks, standards, and devices being used to connect the smart home, creating interoperability problems (the ability of a system or a product to work with other systems or products without special effort on the part of the customer) and this makes it confusing for the consumer to set up and control multiple devices.

Until interoperability is solved, consumers will have difficulty choosing smart home devices and systems. So here’s how different companies are approaching the market place. Some make it really easy for the customer, while others require a more technical approach.

Apple’s HomeKit

Tim Cook demonstrated how he uses Apple’s HomeKit in his personal life to give potential or current users some ideas on how they can apply it. During Cook’s quarterly earnings conference call he talked about how he has integrated HomeKit products, and the iOS 10 Home app, into his home routine. There are about 100 HomeKit-compatible products available.

Ways to use Apple’s homeKit? When you wake up and say good morning to Siri, your house lights can be programmed to come on and the coffee machine can be started! Though there don’t seem to be any coffee makers on the market with integrated HomeKit support, it’s likely he may be using  smart plug. There are plenty of HomeKit smart plug options on the market— AppleInsider has reviewed both the Elgato Eve Energy and iHome iPS5 SmartPlug. There are two options For HomeKit lighting: bulbs and switches. Philips Hue is a popular option bulb option. It  comes in a starter pack with three bulbs and a HomeKit-enabled hub for ~$199.99.

As far as switches go, the Lutron Caseta Wireless in-wall dimmer kit is HomeKit compatible. Like Philips Hue, it needs a hub to be connected to a home router for HomeKit support— the hub is included in the ~$190 bundle. Smart plugs are only useful with appliances that automatically turn on and operate when they are connected to an outlet. If the connected device requires any sort of manual input, HomeKit and Siri integration don’t work. Cook also mentioned that when he relaxes in the evening, he asks Siri to adjust the lighting and turn on the fireplace. And upon leaving the house, Cooks says by simply tapping on his iPhone, the lights turn off, the thermostat turns down and the doors lock.

Using HomeKit to turn down the thermostat, a common device is the Ecobee3 second-generation model, ~$250. When it comes to door locks, you could consider the $215 Schlage Sense and $230 Kwikset Premis. These both have numeric keypad entry. The $230 August Smart Lock integrates with many existing door locks and makes for simpler installation. When Cook talks about the simple tap” on his iPhone, in “Apple language” he is creating a “Scene” with the Home app in iOS 10.

What is a “scene?” An example is when Cook says his “Hey Siri, good morning” greeting, it turns on the lights and a smart plug to brew coffee. How does that work? You’d open the Home app in iOS 10, tap the plus button in the top right, and simply choose “Add Scene.” Then you’d create a custom scene name and choose which accessories are powered on or off. For more on this, check out the AppleInsider.

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 10.18.48 AM Source: AppleInsider

Amazon’s Echo, Tap and Dot and Amazon Prime Services

Amazon’s Echo offers tiered-speaker in three heights – large, medium and small. Using Alexa, Echo is your personal, cloud-based assistant. Alexa has finely tuned automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language understanding (NLU) engines that recognize and respond to voice requests to add intelligent voice control to any connected product that has a microphone and speaker. In addition to Echo, Amazon offers Amazon Tap and Amazon Dot (which has been updated.)

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 10.21.00 AM                                     Echo                      Tap                      Dot

Source: Pocket-link

Echo

Why is Amazon considered by some to be at the helm of the smart home arena? Not only is Amazon cleverly locking customers into its wider Prime ecosystem, but Alexa adds additional value. It’s easy to set-up, on average about a minute or so. You just plug Echo it into a wall outlet using the included power adapter, wait for the spinning light ring on top to go from blue to orange and then Alexa will greet you. Amazon Echo is great if you just want to have a stationary speaker that doubles as an always-on personal assistant. It provides room-filling audio that’s good for casual listening. When it’s connected to Wi-Fi, you can ask it all sorts of questions and control your devices.

Echo works with devices such as lights, switches, thermostats, and more from WeMo, Philips Hue, SmartThings, Insteon, Nest, ecobee, and Wink. Here’s where you can learn about how to set-up your smart home devices. Some products that work directly with Alexa and other smart home ecosystems require a compatible hub. If you are still confused, you can book an appointment with an Alexa expert. It’s free and you get:

  • Personalized smart home solution recommendations from a trained Amazon employee 
  • Home WiFi assessment to identify and troubleshoot any issues 
  • In-home demo of popular smart home products 
  • Appointment typically lasts 45 minutes 
  • But installation, troubleshooting, and setup of devices not included.

Tap

Amazon Tap provides a similar sound experience, but uses a charging cradle in order to be portable (there’s no cord.) Because it’s not always plugged into power, always-on Alexa isn’t available though. You have to push a mic button to access the service. Tap is great if you’re going to the beach or are always on the go.

Dot

Amazon Dot is basically the top section of Amazon Echo. Dot supports always-on Alexa, connects to the cloud to stream music, controls your smart home devices, and does all the same stuff as Echo. The main difference between Dot and Echo is that the full-size speaker is gone. Instead, customers would hook Dot up to their own audio setup (via out jack or Bluetooth), so they can use Alexa with their existing speakers. That tiny speaker doesn’t output much audio; it’s only for Alexa voice feedback (which requires Wi-Fi.)

Amazon Prime and Alexa

Amazon’s Echo products are designed to be an access point to the Amazon Prime network. The monetization strategy is not really on the hardware of the Echo devices. Instead it’s really focusing on connecting users directly to the Prime network without having to go through an iPhone or Google search engine. And Alexa is the brain behind Echo. It’s smart because the more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences. And because Echo is always connected, updates are delivered automatically.

What can Alexa do? Alexa has skills. While I’ve given a list, you will find over 4,000 here. Alexa can help you find things on yelp, give you movie showtimes, order a pizza from Domino’s, request a song from Spotify or Pandora, request a ride from Lyft, open your garage with Garageio, provide Samsung SmartThings support, play Jeopardy, update your Google Calendar, read you Audible audiobooks, convert text-to-speech for Kindle eBooks…

Alexa gives you a guide on great things to do in some of your favorite cities like New York, London, Boston, act as a travel guide, be your vacation rental virtual concierge, give you the next arrival for the route and stop you specify in a city like San Francisco, tells you door buster hours and sale hours for Black Friday for major retailers like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Old Navy, Staples, Bed Bath and Beyond, Costco, Gamestop, Home Depot, Lowe’s…

Alexa gives you interesting relevant health and nutrition information, ask beer snob to look up a specific beer, get information like a price, rating, location, or a short description from a Wine Sommelier, quickly review your task lists, find out what is due, and add tasks, give you an inspiration quote or provide a mediation…

Alexa also gives you based on the weather of the location you request it will recommend what to wear so that you don’t feel too cold or too hot, switch on the lamp before getting out of bed, turn on the fan or space heater while reading in your favorite chair, or dim the lights from the couch to watch a movie and order the right products that work with Alexa.

With the free Alexa App on Fire OS, Android, iOS, and desktop browsers, you can easily set-up and manage your Echo. With the app, you can view shopping and to-do lists while on the go as well as control your timers and set custom tones for your alarms…

Google’s Home

Google Home is a voice-activated speaker powered by the Google Assistant. Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. It’s your own Google, always ready to help. Just start with, “Ok Google.”

The Google Home is centered on targeting users with ads. Google is one of the largest companies in the world to rely on ads as its primary stream of revenue. They garnered $79.4 billion from its AdSense division on its earnings, with the overwhelming majority of the Alphabet parent’s total revenue. While Alphabet bought the device makers Nest and Dropcam, Google Home doesn’t have the built-in user base that Apple has with iPhone.

What does Google Home do? A simple voice request triggers Google Home to play music, podcasts or radio from services like Google Play Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, Pandora and TuneIn. Thanks to Google’s rich history in search, Google Home is ready for your questions. Get real-time answers including the latest on weather, traffic, finance, sports, local businesses – you can enjoy entertainment, manage tasks, plan your day, control your home, get information like nutrition information for ingredients or food or ask about current individual stock prices or current points of an index, like the NASDAQ or ask for scores, live updates, or next game date, location and time for your favorite sports teams.

Their compatible smart home partners include nest, Phillips, IFTTT, WEMO, Honeywell and SmartThings. Streaming devices include: Google Chromecast, VIZIO, TOSHIBA, PHILLIPS, Sony, Bang and Olufsen, BO & Play, Grundig, polk, RUAMFELD. You can watch videos and photos on youtube, NETFLIX, and Google Photos.

If you want to learn more about how to use Google Home, click here. Essentially there are three main steps:

  1. Plug power cable into your Google Home device
  2. Plug the cable into a wall socket
  3. Download and run the Google Home app on a phone or tablet.

The newly-designed Google Home app is your one-stop destination to discover all of Google Home’s content and features. DayDream is Google’s VR headset and controller that lets you explore new worlds, kick back in your personal VR cinema, and play games that put you at the center of action. When your phone’s screen becomes your big screen, you can get fully immersed in your favorite shows, movies, VR videos…

It will be interesting to see who wins in the smart home race! What’s your choice? And why?

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP, Program Executive, Salesforce ITC

 

 

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Digital Disruption is Gonna Get You Unless You Prepare Your Brand Now

Disruption surrounds the marketplace. As companies face disruption in their industry, the race to stay ahead of or beat the competition is quickening. Software is one of the ways companies competitively automate, manage and analyze business processes, data and content and scale operations. And to successfully compete in this increasingly digital world, enterprises need to transform slow, error-prone operations from manual, analog processes to automated digital workflows and document generation.

However, as various departments in companies buy software applications, often the lines of business are choosing the best of breed solutions and platforms which don’t necessarily easily integrate with each other or the main IT systems. This results in companies having many separate software systems. With people distributed over large geographies, it can be difficult to coordinate work across the business and thus defend against competitors.

While obtaining the right software for each department and use case is important, this often leaves the organization without a way to easily connect the work flows across departments and lines of business to get the return on investment. What is the key to winning the digital transformation race? A digital business process flow platform.

Businesses that drive process efficiency and effectiveness across desperate software solutions and across every aspect of their business will be uniquely qualified to position themselves to exceed and excel. To do this, companies need a platform to digitally integrate, sync and create sophisticated business processes independent of the variety of different software solutions throughout the various departments in a company.

The issue is however, not just to connect SaaS applications, but to also provide process automation to make sure the processes from each of those applications work together well. Without a digital workflow and content automation (WCA) platform and corresponding analytics, it can be very difficult to make sure the investments the organization has made in separate software solutions are actually returning the investment. Nintex does just that.

Competitive Positioning

Nintex’s key differentiator is they offer a digital transformation platform comprised of Nintex Workflow Cloud and Nintex Hawkeye. The host of Nintex’s digital SaaS connectors allows clients to rapidly build and deploy a digital workflow and content automation (WCA) and cloud transformation platform without having to write code. The business result is the ability to acquire customers faster, increase the pace of innovation, as well as control and manage expenses. The platform allows organizations to automate their business processes quickly and easily. And the drag and drop interface encourages quicker adoption of the Nintex solution. Importantly, any workflow automated with Nintex Workflow can be deployed to native mobile platforms (Android, iOS and Windows) in a rapid and simple manner.

The Nintex platform automates processes on and between enterprise content management systems and collaboration platforms, connecting on-premises, cloud workflows and mobile users. Two hundred of the Fortune 500 companies use Nintex, including more than 7,000 public and private organizations in 90 countries, running millions of workflows daily.

For companies that are not ready to move everything to the cloud, Nintex also allows companies to create workflows that stretch across both cloud-based and on-premises systems and services, to distribute work to multiple sites for multiple purposes and move data and workflows to the cloud when they are ready.

Nintex’s overall power is as a Digital Business Platform (DBP). Nintex combines powerful Workflow and Content Automation (WCA) capabilities in one platform. (Editor’s Note: WCA is an emerging technology category that consolidates the legacy technology markets of Business Process Management (BPM) and Customer Communications Management (CCM).) Nintex offers advanced WCA for its easy-to-use workflow and document generation capabilities and workflow analytics (workflow process intelligence).

Target Markets and Industry Vertical Solutions

Target markets include Communications and Media, Education, Financial Services, Government, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Legal, Manufacturing, Professionals Services, Retail Services and Technology industries. Nintex solutions are designed for a range of lines of business within organizations, including Sales and Marketing, Finance, Human Resources, IT and Administration, Customer Service, Field Service and Safety.

High-payback document processes that are faster to implement with a system like Nintex include those in Table 1, customer-facing processes as well as back-office processes (see Table 2a and 2b.) What’s important to note is that the implementation timeframe and costs are fractions of a traditional enterprise-level IT system and instead of using a single, formal, top-down development effort, they are evolved with rapid iterations. This takes a page out of the lean-process, design-thinking community, where rapid iterations and pivoting is key to success and gives large organizations not used to the start-up mentality the edge to be more competitive, quicker.

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Customer References

In speaking to Nintex customers our research found that many of the gains came from having an easy way to process and execute their digital transformations. This might include moving to the cloud, reducing the number and complexity of workflows like creating and approving a press release, signing and approving contracts, reducing resources and reassigning them to more important jobs as well as reducing the number of software applications used by the company.

The savings in time for enhanced workflows advanced the company’s position in the marketplace, allowed them to get to market faster and beat the competition. In addition, IT departments were able to be more focused on the needs of the business versus being taxed with the maintenance of many separate software applications. These typical IT responsibilities took IT’s time and focus away from the direct needs of the business. By implementing Nintex, the relationship between the lines of business and IT were greatly improved. With the ever changing dynamics in IT, the IT department needs to be highly agile and flexible in the solutions they provide for the business. Nintex provides IT with what they need to deliver to the business. This makes IT more relevant than ever, which is especially key when many lines of business are buying their own software. Now, more than ever, IT can play a key role in the success of the business.

Are you looking to digitally transform your business? Have you determined which processes are slowing the digital transformation of your business? And do you have a solution to take those manual, error-prone processes and digitally enable them? This report will help you in choosing a vendor that can help you with just that.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, www.ConstellationR.com

Covering customer and employee applications that empower digital workplaces

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What’s a Key Part of a Digital Transformation? Digital Workflow

As companies take on digital transformation for real, they need to consider the people (their skills and backgrounds), the processes (has the brand made them digital or they still doing things on spreadsheets?) and the technology (to enable the company to be more digitally oriented.)

That all sounds easy, but it is only if a company uses a digital business platform that enables an advanced,  easy-to-use workflow and document / content generation and automation capability; Workflow and Content Automation (WCA) capabilities that improve the way people work digitally. This type of software needs to enable point and click workflow automation to handle everything from basic business functions to company-wide processes with a few clicks.

But in addition to WCA, the digital business platform also needs to have analytics. Why? Because the business will want to monitor the workflows and determine which ones are working well and which processes still need improving. (Most of the time companies don’t look to see if a process they have implemented is effective or efficient.) For example, let’s say you wanted to see how well your expense claims process was working. In the figure below, Nintex Hawkeye is used for expense claim processing;  to look claims  submitted and service level agreement infringements data to sharing among the management to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the expense claim process.

Dashboard for Expense Claims Submitted

Dashboard for Expense Claims Submitted

Not only can a company automate a workflow digitally, but they can also monitor, capture and share the process performance for expense claims. The company can see number of claims submitted (677), the amount of expense claims submitted ($1.41M), the average expense claim amount submitted ($2.08K) and what the SLAs infringements were (1996). They can also see how the average expense claim is rising in cost each year (bar chart) and the departments who are submitting the expense reports (the circle graphic.) In this one simple example, a company can take what used to be a manual or somewhat manual process and make it completely digital as well as provide analytics around how well the process is working.

Nintex’s intuitive user interface eliminates the need for complicated coding and training for the lines of business, system integrators, and IT departments as they pursue digital transformation. In addition, the workflow analytics allow companies to more effectively optimize workflows across organizations, be more productive and intelligent, correct ineffective or inefficient workflows, and thus increase revenue as well as decrease costs.

In evaluating the value of digital transformation software, it is important to look at departments that drive revenue and affect customers. High return on investment (ROI) use cases are processes that involve content (documents, forms, records, etc.) for which requests for further automation and process improvement may take a long time for IT to accommodate. (IT has a lot on their plate and what seems to the business as a simple change, could take IT much longer without a digital business platform.)

To successfully compete in this increasingly digital world, enterprises need to transform their slow, error-prone operations from manual, analog processes to automated digital workflows and document generation. As companies consider their journey to a digital workplace, they will need to consider how they are going to transform all their processes that were once done on paper or in spreadsheets, to a fully digital process. A digital business platform is a great place to start. For more on this report, please click here.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, www.ConstellationR.com

Covering-customer and employee-facing applications that make employee and customer experiences better

 

 

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AMAZON: Virtual ‘Dash’ Buttons for One-click Buying From the Homepage

How could it be easier to order from Amazon? Amazon just launched One-Click buying by adding dash buttons to its homepage and mobile applications. The dash buttons help Amazon Prime customers order their most frequently used items more easily. Amazon Dash buttons allow for quick reorders without hassle.

So what’s new? The original dash buttons were  physical, Wi-Fi connected buttons  users place around their home. When they realize they are running out of something like dish soap, they can place an order on the Dash button by tapping on the button. So what’s new is Dash buttons are now virtual Amazon Dash buttons that allow one-click purchases on it’s homepage.

The digital Dash buttons are for products such as groceries, pet supplies, diapers… with reorders one click away. Now Dash users don’t have to clutter their homes with actual buttons. To use the Dash buttons, a shopper can go to the Amazon site and select the option to “Add to your Dash buttons.” Perhaps these Dash buttons may even lead to more impulsive shopping.

Amazon Prime Dash Buttons

You just click on “Your Dash buttons”, see the figure above, and then buttons for things you’ve ordered before pop up.

Dash buttons

Here’s more about on how the buttons work to the video from Amazon: https://youtu.be/w1lrQgXa6pY

Amazon knows a lot about its customer’s shopping history and preferences so it has a good idea on which items to display.

Amazon is betting seeing a favorite item on the homepage will prompt users to buy it. This is an interesting innovation in e-commerce. Will it make shoppers order more? That’s the big question at hand. Only time will tell.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, Constellation Research

VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Customer-Facing Applications

 

 

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Has The Age of George Jetson IoT Time Come? Alex Was the Star of CES

Alexa Voice Service (AVS) is the software that allows owners to control compatible devices with their voice. From the various  reports it was estimated there were 700–1,100 Alexa-controllable products at CES. And the Amazon / Alexa logo was everywhere at CES.

Is the Age of George Jetson here? In a smart home, everything from the the HVAC to the TV to window shades can be controlled. However it’s not easy to really have a whole house of Artificial Intelligence (AI) controlled devices. Why? Many of the IoT-enabled devices don’t talk to other devices if they are made by different manufacturers. Opps! The IoT world awaits THE killer app, like Apple Homekit or Google Home. We are still waiting for them to provide all encompassing, unified smart “home.”

The Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker controlled with your voice. It connects to the Alexa Voice Service to provide information, news, play music, report on sports scores, deliver weather reports… The uses for AVS and Alexa are limited only by your imagination.

When something is connected to Alexa, the device instantly becomes pseudo-interoperable. Interoperable technology is not an evolutionarily stable strategy for most IoT manufacturers. Interoperability is the ability of different information technology systems and software applications to communicate, exchange data, and use the information that has been exchanged to do something.

What CES showed us is that voice control seems to be the unifying app for IoT. And Alexa is the biggest name in voice control. Smart devices are generally controlled with apps. If there is an app to control the smart device, the app allows AVS to directly control the smart device. So you could say, “Alexa, tell Crestron I’d like to turn the lights on in the bedroom” (for your Crestron) or “Alexa, I would like to turn the heat on the downstairs thermostat to 70 degrees” (for your Iris Smart Home System). It’s easy to see the value of voice control in so many ordinary situations. What’s interesting about AVS is that even though Crestron and Iris have nothing to do with one another, you can control them both with your voice.

Alexa has finely tuned automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language understanding (NLU) engines that recognize and respond to voice requests instantly. Alexa is always getting smarter with new capabilities and services through machine learning, regular API updates, feature launches, and custom skills from the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK.) The AVS API  is a programming language agnostic service that makes it easy to integrate Alexa into your devices, services, and applications. And it’s free.

And you can create meaningful user experiences for an endless variety of use cases with Alexa Voice Service (AVS); Amazon’s intelligent voice recognition and natural language understanding service. AVS includes a full range of features, including smart home control, streaming music content, news, timers… and can be added to any connected device that has a microphone and speaker.

But while Alexa has a head start, Google Home, an Echo competitor, is very likely to quickly catch up. Google Home though, works with a completely different set of protocols and has different “awake” words. These are command words that make it pay attention and carry out the request. It seems that we may need to learn to speak to different systems in different ways – perhaps we’ll need lessons in Alexa speak and Google speak as well as and Siri and Cortana speak!

So is the Age of George Jetson here yet? Sort of. What will be interesting is to see if there is a start-up that will pull all of this together so that us regular humans don’t need to become AI experts to connect and use the technology.

Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering customer-facing applications

 

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Women In Technology: Study Show Whether It Has Improved in 2016

Using data from NCWITAnita Borg Institute and Deloitte, the report evaluates whether there have been any improvements for women in tech in 2016 and what this means going forward. They also look at the context behind the numbers, examining the opportunities for women in education, employment and running startups.

In 2013, The Muse, in association with Women in Tech, published a report reflecting the huge potential of female entrepreneurs and employees. For example, Fortune 500 companies with at least 3 female directors have on average 53% higher returns on equity, sales and invested capital. This special report gives tangible recommendations that companies can implement to create a positive working environment for women and men to thrive in.

Here’s a sample of the findings of the current report in 2016:

  • There has been a 21% increase in undergraduate women studying computer science, but at the current rate, the US will only be able to fill 29% of computing jobs by 2020.
  • There is a 50% attrition rate amongst women in tech, from entry-level to executive, mainly due to poor work-life integration and environment.
  • In Silicon Valley alone, men are 2.7x more likely to be in a leadership position than women, who are much likelier to get “stalled” in the workplace.
  • Industries outside of technology have employed more women software engineers than the tech industry have.
  • Amongst startups, 38% of new businesses are started by women, but only between 2-6% of those founders receive venture capital.

women-in-technology-2016

Having been the only American female in my Ph. D. program in engineering, it certainly is encouraging to see more women in the tech business. Both men and women bring unique and special qualities to the workplace. I look forward to the future and helping to affect change in a positive way.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, www.Constellationr.com

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Amazon Go – A Retailer Using AI, ML and Vision Technology

The idea of Amazon Go is to weave into the shopping experience the capabilities of deep learning algorithms, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and sensor vision. A practical application of AI and ML is Amazon Go via advanced shopping experiences. The ability to walk into a store, grab what you want and walk out, never having to wait in-line: no checkout lanes, no registers. For many customers, especially after work when they are tired and just want to get home or during the holidays could be a much better customer experience.

So how does this work? A customer opens up the Amazon Go app on their smart phone and scans their personalized bar code as they walk into a store. The phone goes into your pocket or purse and the customer begins their shopping. As the customer picks up a product, it’s added to their total. If a customer decides they don’t want an item, replacing back on the shelf removes it from their total.  Amazon Go calls it “just walk out technology” for the modern shopper. Once you are done shopping and leave the store, the total is calculated and charged to the customer’s amazon.com card.

From the customer’s point of view, while on-line shopping has increased, some customers still like the idea of going to a store and touching / seeing the merchandise. To help ensure that brick and mortar stores don’t turn into showrooms (where customers go to look at merchandise and then search on their phones for a better online deal (from that or other retailers) and buy it online while standing in their store, technologies like Amazon Go provide convenience. Perhaps the thought and the hope is that the convenience will be more important than searching for a cheaper price and buying it online.

Showrooming can be very frustrating for brick and mortar stores and put some of them out of business. It’s interesting that the online and offline shopping worlds are colliding. Fresh goods have a short shelf-life and often thought of as poor candidates for online shopping because of their perishable nature. However, it’s a high margin area that Amazon wants to tackle by using brick and mortar stores and the convenience of shop and go. Younger generals don’t have the tolerance for standing in line.

The future of shopping is just getting more and more interesting as the new technologies get implemented.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, www.Constellationr.com

Covering Customer-Facing Applications

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