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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Oracle Service Cloud Announces New Releases

Oracle Service Cloud announces new releases for enhanced functionality in Web Customer Service, Contact Center including the Agent Browser User Interface, Knowledge Advanced, Policy Automation, and the Oracle Service Cloud Platform. Included in he release is a new Internet of Things (IoT) Accelerator, which provides a bi-directional integration with Oracle IoT Cloud.

The integration helps customers seamlessly interface with IoT technology so that service events and alerts received from smart devices can be consumed, as well as appropriate action taken by agents, within the Oracle Service Cloud desktop. Field Service seems to be an area where IoT can easily provide true use cases that can quickly garner ROI. It will be interesting to see how vendors incorporate IoT in the customer experience. The Internet of Things (IoT) accelerator will allow internet enabled devices connectivity to Oracle Service Cloud. Accelerators are a collection of sample code, sample workflows, and best practices, documentation, and design guidance to assist customers with seamless updates or integrations with Oracle Service Cloud.Oracle Service Cloud Releases

Oracle Service Cloud also provided a sneak preview of Live Chat. What is the capability really about? Sneak preview allows chat agents to see what a customer is typing before they hit submit. Sneak Preview is designed to enhance agent productivity and bring value to the contact center by decreasing handle times. By allowing the agent to see what the customer is typing ahead of time they can begin to formulate an answer faster, which results in faster responses, and faster conversations. And Live Chat is now a fully supported channel; contacts are automatically matched and the contact and chat workspaces are integrated.

In addition, the release includes analytics performance enhancements with caching for frequent reporting and better notifications for report authors. Modern gauges are added to create much more intuitive and modern reports, allowing users to interpret data quicker, as well as new rendering options, to remove unnecessary components in reports, crisper rendering of charts, and a new modern layout theme. In addition, there is a new dashboard concept—specifically designed for that 5-second-glance overview for busy customer service leaders.

These at-a-glance infolets are available out-of-the-box and contain a number of single metric charts with real-time key performance indicators like open incidents by severity, SLA, First Contact Resolution, new incidents by channel, and so forth. Contact Center Directors can also schedule and send the infolet dashboard by email to key stakeholders at regular intervals. This is key as the more senior stakeholders are more involved, the more they begin to realize the importance of customer experience and customer service to the overall health, stability and revenue generation capabilities of their company.

In addition, the the agent browser UI has gone through a significant performance enhancement to support high interactivity and now supports a much broader range of analytics capabilities. The agent browser user interface is now a single version, meaning it is compatible with versions of Oracle Service Cloud all the way back to May 2015 and upgrades will now happen with zero downtime.  The UI theme has been updated for consistency across all Oracle Cloud portfolio applications. Knowledge authors can now use the Agent Browser User Interface to author and edit knowledge articles with a new HTML editor with HTML5 support.

As the race to provide the best customer experience continues, brands must choose between more single point solutions vs large system platforms. It will be interesting to see the choices of brands and how the customer experience evolves to meet the brand promise.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Customer-Facing Applications that Drive Awesome Customer Experiences

www.constellationr.com

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Genesys & Interactive Intelligence Acquisition Is Complete

Genesys has completed the acquisition of Interactive Intelligence. Why acquire Interactive Intelligence? The idea is that the addition of Interactive Intelligence will enable Genesys to accelerate its mission of powering the best customer experiences in more industries and more countries – over any channel in the cloud and on premises. The acquisition also means that Genesys now has over 10,000 customers in more than 100 countries supporting over 25 billion customer interactions per year. Genesys will continue to offer support and invest in best-in-class solutions, including PureCloud®, Communications as a Service℠ (CaaS) and Customer Interaction Center™ (CIC), in addition to our core Genesys products.

In terms of how the company is run, Paul Segre will continue to serve as CEO, providing leadership that best supports the needs of customers, partners and employees. Genesys will maintain its headquarters in Daly City, as well as key offices in Indianapolis, Indiana and Durham, North Carolina.

This acquisition is one of many that are being seen in the customer service and customer experience world. It gives Genesys a larger customer base and integrates many of the features and functions Interactive Intelligence brought to the table. As customer experience becomes one of the most important differentiators in a brand’s overall experience, choosing the right vendor to deliver on complex customer service and customer experience interactions will be key. While there are vendors that are part of a larger marketing, sales and service suite, there are other vendors who remain focused on the customer service marketplace. Time will tell how organizations see the need to go with solutions that service part of an organization vs having the capability to connect to the back office as well as other lines of business.

Below is a snapshot of Genesys’s capabilities:

Overview of Genesys

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

www.constellationr.com

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Jacada Announces Private Equity Investment

Jacada Ltd. (OTCQB: JCDAF), a global provider of customer experience technology designed to simplify the interaction between businesses and their customers, announces that Israel Growth Partners (IGP), a Private Equity investment. Jacada’s visual IVR is a key asset to their capabilities has other digital transformation solutions aiming to reduce the cost to serve customers while driving a seamless customer journey. The visual IVR transforms the typical “press 1 for….” Press 2 for…” type of IVR and instead uses a touch interface. Companies looking toward digital transformation of the customer experience are using the visual IVR as a cornerstone of their digital transformation. This investment should be helpful in Jacada’s future growth.

Jacada Visual IVR@Drnatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Digital Customer Experience Transformation in Customer-facing Application

Constellationr.com

 

 

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Video Advertising: Key to Getting Customers Attention As Ad Blocking is Increasing

Searches for Influencer Marketing have grown 5x in 2015 according to a study from Google Trends from January 2016. Nearly 40% of Millennials are using ad block applications and their use is growing fast according to a study by PageFair & Adobe. So how does a company get their target customer’s attention? And with content marketing a #1 priority for most CMOs as more and more sales are decided upon before even talking to a sales person. And sometimes a salesperson is never contacted, so getting the customer’s undivided attention has never been so important. Perhaps the answer is video marketing. Video consumption has exploded across all devices and is one of the fastest growing advertising category.

Adobe, a the leader in video content creation and delivery, announced it’s acquisition of TubeMogul which will enable brands to capitalize on the huge shift to online video. The acquisition of TubeMogul  strengthens Adobe’s leadership in digital marketing and advertising technology. The addition of TubeMogul will enable Adobe’s customers to maximize their video advertising investments across desktop, mobile, streaming devices and TV. TubeMogul’s video advertising platform. In addition, this allows their customers to build upon their capabilities in search, display and social advertising planning and delivery using Adobe Media Optimizer with Adobe Marketing Cloud. This combination will give customers access to first-party data and measurement capabilities from Adobe Audience Manager (Adobe’s data management platform) and by using Adobe Analytics.

Why is video advertising so important? Brad Rencher, executive vice president and general manager, digital marketing, Adobe gave this statement, “Whether it’s episodic TV, indie films or Hollywood blockbusters, video consumption is exploding across every device and brands are following those eyeballs.” Adobe feels the acquisition of TubeMogul, will give customers a ‘one-stop shop’ for video advertising, providing even more strategic value for the use of the Adobe Marketing Cloud.

TubeMogul is a video demand-side platform (DSP) leader. Brett Wilson, CEO and co-founder, TubeMogul said, “The combination of Adobe Marketing Cloud with TubeMogul’s software creates a uniquely comprehensive platform that will help marketers always know what’s working — and act on it.” And what’s key is measurement – to know what is working and not working, and obviously do more of what is getting a result.

There are so many choices for Marketers today, as far as software and it is only getting more confusing with all the choices. When a software company can show you how to get results, you know you are going in the right direction. Education and learning to use all the features and functions of what the various software platforms provide is of growing concern for most companies to obtain the highest ROI possible for the investment they have made.

It’s key that Marketers are clear on what their strategy, goals, objectives and tactics are and have a strong measurement program to be able to show that the software purchase enhanced the brands ability to drive more awareness, increase customer acquisition and turn more leads into sales. And with ad blocking increasing, there’s got to be another way to get customer’s attention. Video seems to be a prime candidate. This is just one example of how early adopters and innovators are taking hold of the market place and making their competition irrelevant. And like the BlueOcean authors said, that’s the key to financial success in today’s marketplace. Cross the chasm, join the digital transformation and digital disruption evolution or expect to be disrupted. Disrupt or be disrupted. Those are the choices to being innovative leaders and using design thinking to transform your business revenue model.

@DrNatalie, VP and Principal Analyst, www.ConstellationResearch.com

Covering Customer-facing Applications to Create Great Customer Experiences

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Congratulations to the Constellation Super Nova Award Winners in Customer Experience!

The reason we at Constellation Research created the SuperNova Awards is because we know advancing the adoption of disruptive technology is not easy. Technology adoption faces resistance from budget constraints, hurdles to adoption, and myopia. All the finalists here today have successfully implemented technologies that will lead their organizations into the future. These people have vision. These people are leaders. These people understand the value of disruptive technology. All of the SuperNova Award applications are on the Constellation website.

Today’s customer demands a personalized experience during every stage of the buying process. Customers demand to be treated like royalty before, during, and after purchase. Customers want this same level of service across social, mobile, and analog channelsFinalists in the Next Generation Customer Experience category understand today’s demanding customers. They have implemented technologies and programs to boost brand loyalty and customer engagement. The finalists for Next Generation Customer Experience:

  • Amihai Zeltzer from Stanley Healthcare
  • Martin Marcinczyk from Comcast
  • Murray Swartzberg from the ATP World Tour
  • Roshan Koonja from Constance Hotels and Resorts
  • Scott Strickland and Jim Flatt from Denon + Marantz Electronics.

And the winner of the SuperNova Award for Next Generation Customer Experience is…. Murray Swartzberg from the ATP World Tour! Murray and his team won the SuperNova Award for enhancing the tennis experience for fans and players.  The ATP partnered with Infosys to produce Game-Stats that are based on the real-time in-memory paradigm aligned with IIP Tooling & Apache Spark. The project revolutionized how tennis analysts and fans receive statistics about professional tennis players

Make sure to apply next year!

Congratulations to all the executives and their teams who are truly making a difference in creating great customer experiences.

@DrNatalie, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, Covering customer-facing applications that deliver excellent customer service and customer experience!

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