The value of Customer Experience Networks

There is an interesting concept emerging on the market, named “Customer Experience Networks“.

This terminology is made of two parts that everyone understands – “Customer Experience” and “Network”. But what does the whole expression mean? Let’s spend a few minutes discussing the concept …

The backdrop is we leave in a world where digital technology has revolutionized the way we communicate, consume and buy. The interactions through mobile devices and other connected devices have been booming and this is not about to stop. Digital interactions have become the new norm and force now companies to differentiate by providing a unique experience to grow customer retention and wallet share.

But customer experience becomes rapidly poor if companies just limit their offering to their core services. There is a need to onboard partners into the experience to create additional value to the customers. A Customer Experience Network consists in creating more value and better experience to the customers by delivering new services made possible thanks to flexible and dynamic interactions with a large panel of business partners.

 

What does it imply to create a strong digital customer experience?

  1. Delivering mobile apps with a powerful User Interface (both nice, intuitive and consistent) and strong performance (no data latency and high availability).
  2. Regularly enriching the app with new services to capture new business moments and increase the wallet share.
  3. Collecting and analyzing customer data to adapt dynamically to their needs.
  4. Leveraging mobile messaging capabilities to keep customer attention and create stronger engagement.

Which tools are required by IT ?

  1. A mobile application development framework that accelerates the plumbing part and helps focus on the quality of the User Interface rather than the technical aspects.
  2. A strong API Management layer that allows to create new backend APIs easily and manage the different lifecycle stages of the APIs, while enforcing a strong security level.
  3. Cutting-edge analytics technology to measure the performance of the app and the backend systems but also the behavior of the app users.
  4. A solid MBaaS module that accelerates mobile backend development and offers push notification capabilities.
  5. An API-based integration platform that allows to connect efficiently to internal services but also with external partners to create additional services.
  6. Big data technology to harness the large volume of data coming from all digital interactions and customize the delivered experience

What challenges do IT face to deliver those Customer Experience Networks?

IT are under ever increasing pressure from the business while their resources remain limited. Building a Customer Experience Network is not a short term project but a journey IT organizations need to go along. This journey is paved with different important milestones that can be grouped into 3 categories:

  1. Adapt: engage discussions – internally and with partners – on customer experience networks and the business moments you want to capture and start adapting your organization to take this journey.
  2. Engage: focus on major interactions with key partners and start embedding a differentiating service within your app. Leverage this opportunity to keep adapting your organization and grow your learning curve.
  3. Scale: leverage your success and extend to new initiatives.

Exposing legacy services to digital channels and addressing the omnichannel experience are key topics but visionary IT and business Executives will go further down the road and explore new opportunities by investing in a new generation of integration platform enabling Customer Experience Networks.

 

What is a Business Moment and why you should care?

As companies start gaining stronger maturity in their digital transformation strategy, I think it’s time to think forward to what Gartner calls a “Business Moment”.

A Business Moment is a “transient opportunity, exploited dynamically”.

A transient opportunity means that this is only for a limited period of time. Consider for example a passenger stepping off the plane at the airport. This is transient opportunity as he will leave the airport shortly. There are a lot of uncovered opportunities there :

  • a taxi company can ping the passenger to offer a ride with a premium service or a coupon
  • a bank can inform the passenger on their closest ATM nearby
  • a food chain can offer a special welcome menu

Life period of a Business Moment

We can see that this Situational Awareness offers many great opportunities that need to be seized in a very short time period. Picture below shows how the value of a Business Moment diminishes over time. We can see that the Business Moment is worth nothing after a short time. If we take our previous example, there is no more value in the mentioned services once the person leaves the airport.

The 3 actors of a Business Moment

To participate to a Business Moment, companies need to think how they can exploit the connection of people, business and things in order to innovate for entirely new scenarios.

  • People: What are the scenarios which consumers or employees are involved in?
  • Business: What businesses – both the company and external business – are involved and how are they enabled with technology?
  • Things: Which technology can be leveraged to to generate the data needed to capture the Business Moment and provide a contextualized response?

How to exploit a Business Moment?

Exploiting these Business Moments requires first that you know about the context: how do I identify and reach out to travelers arriving at the airport?

There are in my opinion two ways of doing it:

  • either you have a partnership with the telecom provider and push a message once the person has just been roaming and is now localized as new in the area.
  • or you partner with a mobile app provider whose app is massively used by travelers – such as Uber – and own the customer relationship.

In both cases, your system will receive a notification and you will be able to process it in your system to correlate it with information in your CRM in order to issue the right offer.

As opposed to many, I believe companies don’t need complex event processing technologies to seize opportunities of business moments. Complex technology consisting in collecting tons of events will be owned in the future by just a very few, the ones owning the customer relationship when the Business Moment occurs.

The magic of the Business Moments is that no one can claim owning the customer relationship permanently. Once the traveler arrives at his hotel, the hotel will start owning the customer relationship thanks to the interactive TV in the room and the complimentary Wifi network. And once he will arrive at the office, his business calendar provider could own it in turn …

There are plenty of opportunities just there waiting, it’s just up to up to seize them first.

Those new payment methods that will make our credit cards obsolete

MasterCard announced early October the launch of its new innovative payment solution in 12 European countries. This service is provided by a mobile app called “Identity Check Mobile” and was initially launched in the United States last February. France is not part of those pilot countries in Europe and will have the service deployed progressively in 2017.

The principle is simple: you can pay with your fingerprints or … with a selfie. In order to make sure that the selfie is a not a previously taken photo, the app asks the user to blink while taking the photo and processing the facial recognition.


“People from around the world will be regularly using this authentication technology within five years”, said Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise security solutions at MasterCard. According to him, this biometric authentication is safer than typed passwords as many people reuse their same password or use “easy-to-guess” passwords.

MasterCard won’t stop here: they are currently working on other ways to authenticate purchases, including monitoring a customer’s heartbeat. Voice recognition and iris scans are also being explored.

All this is for sure some cool stuff but that was definitely not the primarily goal of such an invention. All those new modern payment technologies aim at simplifying the payment process and increase the customer retention when checking out their shopping basket online.

MasterCard is not alone on this biometrics payment market. HSBC recently announced that their account holders could soon use their voice and fingerprints to access their money.

Here are below a few examples of other alternative payment methods.

 Contact-less payments

Vis NFC Payment Ring

The big advantage of the Visa NFC payment ring is that this is not using any Smart Phone to work as it uses anonymous tokens to make payments.

visa_nfc_bracelet

 

Payment with Bitcoins

You surely heard of Bitcoin. But what you might not know is that Bitcoin allows businesses to take payments without incurring important transaction fees, especially when it comes to international payments. Customers buy Bitcoins on an online exchange, such as LocalBitcoins.com, and then send it to the vendor’s Bitcoin address. The Bitcoins are then instantly converted back into real currency.

bitcoin

 

Apple Pay

http://www.apple.com/apple-pay/

You can pay with it in stores through NFC technology and the Apple Touch-ID fingerprint authentication, in-apps with Apple Pay button and now on Web sites using Safari.

When you make a purchase, Apple Pay uses a device-specific number and unique transaction code, so that your card details are never shared by Apple.

apple-pay

 

Samsung Pay

http://www.samsung.com/us/samsung-pay/samsungpay

What about the future of cash ?

I personally don’t think cash will disappear due to the shadow economy that is more or less important according to countries. However, there will be for sure a major shift toward cash-less transactions.

future_of_money

 

Everything you need to know about Digital Platforms

Technology has revolutionized the go to market strategy of modern businesses. According to a recent Accenture report, “While it used to take Fortune 500 companies an average of 20 years to reach a billion-dollar valuation, today’s digital start-ups can get there in four years. Digital platforms are largely responsible for this shift.”

gafa_positioning

Large organizations have observed for several years helpless the fantastic growth of native digital giants (GAFA) and unicorns who have built their business model on a technology platform. They have now all understood the power of such as model and started to build their own Digital Platform that will become their new business model and accelerate the reach of new markets.

gafa_growth
Before giving a definition to what is a Digital Platform, let’s take a few examples:

  • Google search engine: “advertising” business model.
  • Social platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn – “advertising” business model.
  • Knowlegde platforms aka forums such as StackOverflow – “advertising” business model.
  • Application stores: Apple/Google Play – “digital good” business model.
  • Market places: Amazon market place, shopping engines: “ecommerce” business model.
  • Media platforms: Spotify, Deezer – “subscription” business model.
  • Affiliate platforms: Commision Junction … – “earn as you perform” business model.
  • Crowd-sourcing platforms: Uber, BlablaCar, AirBnB – “pay as you go” business model
  • Repository platforms: GitHub – “freemium” business model: you pay only if you don’t want to share your code with the community.
  • Infrastructure platforms (IaaS): AWS, Azure –  “pay as you go” business model
  • Classifieds platforms: real estate … – “advertising” business model
  • etc…

digital_platform_definition
How would you define a Digital Platform?
There are many definitions on the Web, either too complex or too simplistic, so let’s define a Digital Platform with its key attributes.

#1 It is a technology-enabled business model.

#2 It facilitates exchanges between multiple groups – for example end users and producers – who don’t necessarily know each other.

#3 It offers a value that is proportional to the size of the community. There are network effects. A Digital Platform is worth nothing without its community.

#4 It is a trust enabler : it must generate trust with clear general terms and conditions regarding the intellectual property and data ownership. It also helps consumers and providers to trust each other within the network thanks to scoring mechanisms.

#5 It has open connectivity : it shares data with 3rd party developers to create new services and extend the ecosystem. This is done with APIs and participates to the API economy.

#6 It can scale massively to address millions of consumers without performance degradation.

#7 It offers compelling user experience: easy to use, no trainig needs, self-service.

#8 It has innovative business models based on the immediate value.

What are the benefits of a Digital Platform?

  • Generate revenue
  • Reduce costs
  • Foster collaboration and innovation for new products and services
  • Gain speed to put products on the targeted markets.

What is the size of this market?
According to Accenture, the platform’s market total value is $4,3 trillion. This pays for 1,3 million direct employees and several millions indirectly employeed at partner companies that service or complement platforms.

Too hard to innovate? Go shopping!

It’s all about growth!

Without growth, companies become less competitive as their cost increase and they face the need to invest in human or technology resources to prepare the future. And for technology companies, this even a matter of survival.

Company growth is made of two distinct kinds of growth: internal growth and external growth.

Internal growth consists of generating more revenue out of the existing product portfolio. It demonstrates the ability of your company to grow by itself and the efficiency of your sales strategy and execution to be predictable and repeatable.

On the other hand, external growth is necessary when your existing market has reached maturity and there is a need to extend to adjacent markets. And this need gets stronger in ever changing economy such as the software market where it is extremely complex for tech vendors to keep up with all technology disruptions.

Growth Model

Large companies have difficulties to innovate

The larger companies get, the more difficult it is for them to innovate. Innovation is a state of mind that requires a lot of ingredients: entrepreneur mindset, thinking outside the box, disruptive market vision, strong technical expertise, good money to spend, personal commitment life-style. Innovation doesn’t rime with processes nor immediate performance and reporting.

As every rule has their exceptions, I’ve always been impressed by the capacity of Google to keep innovating despite their size. I think there are two main reasons that: first, they generate plenty of cash with Adwords – above $45 billion a year – and that gives them plenty of money to spend in innovation. Then, innovation teams are made of extremely talented people – Google Map was invented by a small team initially.  Last, every employee is encouraged to spend time imagining new projects outside of his daily mission and working with other colleagues with a large freedom of action.

But this is an exception, for most of the companies, innovating is very hard – impossible I would say – and keeping a pace of +30% yearly growth becomes more and more difficult as the products get older.

The BCG Growth-Share matrix

The BCG Matrix illustrates the need for “Cash Cows” to finance the future “Stars”. Those “Cash Cows” are meant to disappear with their market at some point and the raising “Stars” will become the future “Cash Cows” to finance innovation.

BCG Growth Share Matrix

 

Mergers and acquisitions to the rescue

As innovation is almost impossible in large companies, the external growth strategy consists in acquiring smaller companies that are still agile and have proven initial success. The best scenario would be to buy “Stars” but they are usually much too expensive and this limits the potential targets to the “Question Marks”. The objective then is to optimize the chance to turn those “Questions Marks” into “Stars”.

Which company to buy?

Before starting a formal approach leading to negotiations, there is a preparation work to be made on the product marketing side:

  • Which are the adjacent target markets we want to address?
  • Who are the companies visible in this area – in the analyst reports for example?
  • What is the brand awareness of those companies?
  • Whom do they sell to, who are the buyers?
  • What is their distribution model?
  • What is their pricing model?

Then, the marketing mix of every candidate company needs to be properly analyzed to optimize the chance to succeed in a future integration:

  • Product: will the target products be combined with your existing products or should they be sold separately?
  • Place: can you leverage the different distribution channels to cross-sell efficiently ?
  • Pricing: is the pricing similar to your existing pricing models
  • Promotion: is the marketing funnel similar to yours and addresses the same targets or is it a fully different promotion model?

Depending on the results of this analysis, you will find companies that make more sense to engage with than others.

4p_marketing_mix

 

How to turn an acquisition into a success?

Making an acquisition succeed is extremely hard. Actually, many fail leading to millions of dollars in loss & profits.

I think there are three major challenges when acquiring a new company:

  • the people integration: the acquired company has a specific culture that is most probably radically different to yours, people have their working habits and processes. Everything can get confused during integration and this often leads to many people leaving.
  • the sales enablement: how to train your existing sales teams on the new products? Which pricing strategy? Which influence on the bonus plan? Are the buyers the same or do sales teams need to sell to other buyers they are not used to talk to?
  • the technology: technology challenges are often under-estimated but they can be hard to overcome, especially if the products are meant to be integrated together.

It seems important to me that large companies establish formal written processes explaining the different steps to integrate a  new company successfully. Those processes should be drilled down into every department and monitored very closely at every acquisition.

Companies who have an efficient process in place to acquire and integrate new companies successfully will compensate largely their lack of internal innovation and keep growing significantly.

 

Les APIs facilitent la vie aux traders indépendants.

Avis aux férus de Bourse, connaissez-vous le « Scalping », cette stratégie de trading fondée sur des petits profits puisés lors de courtes périodes de temps, souvent inférieures à la minute ?

 

Le scalping, je ne connaissais cette activité que de loin, jusqu’à ce que je rencontre Erwan Huhardeaux à un club Digital Business. Erwan est un spécialiste du Web qui a lancé une activité de trading.

Mon métier de spécialiste de l’économie des APIs a très vite parlé à Erwan qui s’avère utiliser des APIs au quotidien dans son métier. Il nous révèle dans une interview en quoi les APIs ont facilité son métier de trader financier indépendant.

Stéphane Castellani: Erwan, peux-tu stp te présenter ?

Erwan Huhardeaux: Je suis trader financier indépendant depuis peu. Je viens de l’industrie du Web où j’ai passé 15 ans. J’y ai étudié et établi des business models pour des startups. J’ai notamment conseillé et vu naître le « media trading », cette activité consistant à acheter de manière optimale et en temps réel des espaces publicitaires sur différents réseaux de sites et à les revendre à des annonceurs.
Lors de l’apparition des outils de trading en ligne, j’ai été très vite attiré par la similitude avec le Media trading et la puissance de la communauté s’exprimant à travers les forums spécialisés. Ces outils gratuits m’ont permis de monter en compétence et d’agir comme un trader professionnel tout en restant indépendant. Je vis aujourd’hui en partie de cette activité.

 

Stéphane: Ton métier consiste à prendre de nombreuses positions pendant quelques dizaines de secondes avant de les vendre, comment effectues-tu l’ensemble de ces opérations ?
Erwan:
J’utilise la plateforme IG Market sur laquelle j’ai ouvert un compte qui me permet de passer mes ordres à travers l’interface Web du site.
Il me fallait initialement environ 20 secondes sur cette interface pour passer un ordre. Mes positions étant souvent plus courtes que cela, il m’a fallu chercher des moyens alternatifs pour accélérer le passage d’ordre. J’ai commencé à préparer mon carnet d’ordre à l’avance mais ce travail s’est vite avéré très fastidieux et source d’erreur. Et une erreur peut vite coûter cher en tant qu’indépendant car nous n’avons pas des gestionnaires de risque derrière nous pour nous éviter de stupides erreurs de saisie pouvant s’avérer coûteuses.

 

Stéphane: Comment as-tu réussi à fluidifier ce travail de passage d’ordre ?
Erwan:
Je me forme énormément et passe beaucoup de temps sur les forums spécialisés. J’apprécie beaucoup le forum de andlil.com, blog très suivi de Benoist Rousseau. J’y ai découvert une application, TakaScalper, proposée par un membre de la communauté que j’ai installée sur mon poste de trading. Cette application me permet de définir mes contrats puis d’effectuer très simplement des actions d’achat et de vente en un clic. “Control gauche”, je vends ; “control droit”, j’achète ; “barre d’espace”, je coupe tout … facile comme un jeu d’enfant et surtout plus d’erreur de saisie.
J’utilise également deux autres applications complémentaires, trouvées également sur le forum.

 

Stéphane: Ces applications sont-elles payantes ?
Erwan:
Non, c’est cela qui est formidable, ces applications sont développées et proposées gratuitement par des membres actifs de la communauté, eux-aussi traders. Elles s’appuient sur les APIs proposées par le site IG Market. Ils ont monté un portail API pour les développeurs (https://labs.ig.com/) qui permet d’avoir accès à leur catalogue d’API REST et de développer des applications innovantes. Une sandbox est disponible afin de pouvoir faire des tests (sans opération réelle) puis une fois que l’application est prête, il est facile de basculer sur l’environnement réel. Ma clef API, mon login et mon mot de passe sont saisies dans l’application, qui se charge d’appeler les APIs de la place de marché afin de passer mes ordres.
Il existe également une autre API qui permet d’avoir accès à l’ensemble de son activité à des fins de reporting.
La bonne nouvelle est que les traders utilisateurs de ces applications participent à l’amélioration du produit, voir même si besoin de l’API, à travers les forums, ce qui augmente l’expérience et la sastisfaction utilisateur.

 

Stéphane: Quels impacts ont l’utilisation de ces applications utilisant des APIs sur ton activité ?
Erwan:
Le premier gain est la sécurité, je suis plus rassuré de savoir que les erreurs de saisie sont ainsi évitées avec cette interface qui nous permet également de paramétrer des ordres stops pour limiter les pertes potentielles. Ensuite, le volume de transaction a fortement augmenté. Je suis ainsi passé de 30 opérations par jour à une centaine. Cela m’assure des revenus plus réguliers, sans avoir à faire de grands coups.

 

Merci à Erwan d’avoir partagé son expérience sur ce secteur peu connu du grand public. Nous constatons une nouvelle fois que la mise à disposition d’un portail API à destination de la communauté des développeurs apporte une véritable valeur économique. On comprend également bien à travers cet exemple pourquoi il est si important de bien protégérer ses APIs et de faire appel à des solutions spécialisées dans la gestion des API pour bien appréhender la problématique.

The top reasons you should consider opening your source code

Over the years, you might have spent a lot of money investing in new developments and Intellectual Property and you may wonder what you should ever consider opening your source code.

At first glance, if you’re living in a European country, your guts might even tell you not to do this: if I invest in new technology, why should I share it with everybody including my competitors? Won’t it be destroying value and jeopardizing my business?

If you feel so, the goal of this article is to give you a few reasons why you should reconsider your position.

Don’t fall in love with your code!

  • Unless you are working on highly innovative topics for defense, most of the code you need has already been developed somewhere else.
  • If this does not exist yet, 20 other people are probably currently working on it.
  • The development models have changed over the past years. The current paradigm is now assembly coding (Maven, Composer) rather than developing from scratch.
  • Collaborative coding is the new way to code with successful tools such as GitHub for code repository and the StackOverflow community for coding questions/answers.
  • Products have a much shorter life than pets.

code-lover

Don’t fall into the most common pitfalls!

  • A bad code is useless: it leads to too much maintenance and support
  • A good code is useless if nobody uses it
  • The larger the development team, the less the productivity
  • A high team turnover leads to delays and quality issues

waste_time

Get the best of your team!

  • Hire the best developers in town
  • Invest in processes and quality tools
  • Consider methods and organizations to deliver projects more rapidly
  • Create emulation and motivation in your team

How opening my source code can help me with this strategy?

You don’t necessarily need to have full open-source products to take profit of the open-source community. Simply consider the part of your code that is not a differentiator on the market.

By sharing parts of your code:

  • You leverage a community of heavy experts who share the same passion for solving technical problems. Your problems get solved quicker.
  • You have a window open to the world, you follow the new trends in software development faster than working in a closed environment. Your developers are not left behind.
  • Your development team feels part of a community much larger than their internal team. They will find there the emulation and rewarding they might not necessarily be able to get in their own company. Since rewarding is the most efficient driver for motivation, the productivity of your team will increase dramatically.
  • Hiring good developers is not an easy task and if you want to attract talents, being part of a community is crucial to develop awareness of your company.
  • Think of the PR and advertising budget spent by your company. By being part of communities, you communicate for free and develop a brand name in the developer community. Developers spend a lot of time in front of their computer, including social network and forums – eg. stackoverflow – they are great influencers.

github-logo

stackoverflow_logo

What about licensing?

  • Making code public doesn’t mean developers can do whatever they want in terms of usage. It is important to tell people how they can use the code. Whether you want it simple and permissive, you are concerned about patterns or you care about sharing improvements, you will find the answers you are looking for on the web site launched by GitHub Inc. to help companies choose their Open Source license (“choosealicense.com”).
  • As a thumb rule, it is always a matter of give and take: the more you give, the more you’ll receive.

chooselicense