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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Atlassian acquires Trello for $425M: Will It Remain Free?

As most acquisitions start out with the “ideal” that the product will remain pristine and nothing will change – it will be interesting to see if the acquisition of Trello by Atlassian will be the norm or the exception. From a business point of view Atlassian paid $425M, so they will want their investment to pay off.

What’s interesting in today’s world is that instead of putting a bunch of developers in a room to develop new software, companies like Atlassian, instead buy a company. This is truly an emerging strategy in product development and one that makes sense with respect to acquiring best of breed. We hope that Atlassian will keep its word and Trello will remain free. Proof is always in the pudding.

Often the story during the press release phase is that “The original folks are going to run it, not the new company!” “Things will stay the same.”

WhatsApp and Waze are both pretty good examples of high profile acquisitions. It’s generally unlikely that it will be the executive team from any start-up that ends up sticking around past whatever agreement they signed with buyer. There’s generally some “golden seatbelt” that requires the start-ups executives to stay for a particular period of time. And once that time is up, its not unpredictable that they leave that because they are “start-up” personalities – meaning they like the start-up phase and not so much the growth and maintenance or innovation phase of a company because their jobs will change and hence their interest.

It really takes four types of entrepreneurs/management to make a start-up successful. First the the start-up folks who like the beginning, ideas flowing, do a lot with a little, the adrenal of “can we do this?”

Second, to have a company grow, it takes people who are really good at R&D and growth strategies, which different often greatly from start-up strategies and tactics.

And third, there are the maintenance executives who are really good a making a company run like a well oiled machine; again very different type of personality traits are required for this.

The fourth stage is now required (it had not been as much a part of management theory in the past. But with technology changing so rapidly, innovation to stay relevant and on top requires people to look outside their comfort zone and understand what’s coming next and how can they innovate and transform their company.) Otherwise the company becomes a dinosaur and dies. We’ve seen plenty of that happening to the likes of Tower Records, Circuit City, etc..

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-2-41-03-pm

We all have our beloved start-ups. And many of us have been part of start-ups. What’s true is that we all hope nothing will change. What is also true is that it takes a lot of effort to go beyond the start-up phase into the growth, maintenance and innovation phases. People get tired; they want their initial investment to pay off; and they truly like doing what they do best. And it may not be the other phases of what a company goes through. It’s not fair to ask people, however idealistic it is, to do things they don’t enjoy or are not good at.

Will Trello stay the same? Or will it change as many other acquisitions have, as they got bought or swolled up, and give into the reality of the phases of what it takes for an initial idea to grow into a company? Only time will tell.

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

Covering customer-facing applications and innovation

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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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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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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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Constellation ShortList™ for Field Service Management

Constellation has announced the Constellation ShortList vendors in Field Service Management which provides the best capabilities to help employees serve customers. Field customer service occurs when resources or services are deployed onsite at a client. Field service management software enables companies to be flexible and nimble when providing service. These offerings are great at detecting problems before having to send someone to repair or fix a customer’s issue. In the event they must send someone, they can communicate in real-time with customers, provide on-site information about products and repair issues while offering relevant and timely service.

These offerings help companies improve their operational efficiencies by optimizing work-order routing and technician scheduling, which results in quicker resolution of issues. Analytics used in field services often optimize when services are deployed and how assets are tied to deployment of resources. They have advanced scheduling systems that let the customer know when the technician or field-service employee will arrive within a reasonable window of time. Helping provide an excellent customer experience is the most important aspect of field service management solutions.

The Constellation ShortList presents vendors in different categories of the market relevant to early adopters. In addition, products included in this document meet the threshold criteria for this category as determined by Constellation Research.  This Constellation ShortList of vendors for a market category is compiled through conversations with early adopter clients, independent analysis, and briefings with vendors and partners.

Constellation considers the following criteria for these solutions:

  • Good diagnostics prior to rolling out the truck
  • Resource management
  • Case management
  • Communication with the customer on the status of the technician’s arrival
  • Scheduling
  • Resource allocation
  • Inventory optimization
  • Mobile enablement.

Constellation evaluates over 25 solutions categorized in this market. This Constellation ShortList is determined by client inquiries, partner conversations, vendor selection projects, market share and internal research. These are the best-of-breed vendors that provide applications and services without bundling into another platform:

  • IFS
  • Oracle Field Service Cloud (formerly TOA Technologies)
  •  ServiceMax
  • ClickSoftware
  • PTC
  • SAP
  • Vertical Solutions.

For more information on the short lists, please see the Constellation Research site.

@Drnatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, Covering Customer-Facing Applications

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