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Straight Talk Technology

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While we're all familiar, and mostly grateful for, the convergence of communication, collaboration, and media consumption that has occurred around our smartphones, another significant convergence is occurring – of transactions, engagement, and insight from data. Powerful synergy is available from these three domains, which can only be fully realized when they jointly illuminate every point of interaction.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away we used to pick up the telephone or pen a letter to communicate; we used to read a report or a book to gain insight; and we filled in a form (paper or electronic) to transact. Each was a separate act, coordinated to generate a desired outcome for the parties involved. The cyber world was clearly separated from the physical by keyboard, screen, scanner, and printer.

Stepping forward a generation, the cyber world was sliced into neat functional boxes: we corresponded by email, stored documents on a file share, managed relationships in a CRM system, and transacted via a plethora of specialist systems, each with a unique user interface. The data streams sensing the physical and technology domains had grown from a trickle to a flood, but real-time insights were rarely available beyond technical operations teams.

Social media and the App heralded another era. The App forced us to converge our web information and transactions into a coherent user experience, and social media broke the paradigm of the institution being able to choose the communication medium. A fundamental shift from a systems-out focus to a customer-in focus was underway.

In parallel, we have become much more aware of the potential of the rich realms of data beyond the transactional to yield useful insights:

  • transactional – structured information residing primarily in databases, and unstructured, mainly documents, supporting the transaction

  • engagement – embedded in collaboration technologies, CRM, support (service and case management) tools, websites (web experience management), and social media

  • physical – data related to the environments in which the other two occurred – location (dynamic), interaction with the environment, and the electronic footprint (e.g., network data) generated by these.

In the past, insight was mostly drawn from each of the three data pools independently. Today, addressing a combination of data domains – blending the analysis tools and techniques native to each domain – yields far richer insight. Traditionally, staff went to specialist systems for analysis (e.g., business intelligence (BI), streaming analytics, or social media analysis tools). Today, analytic insight needs to be delivered within the business process, integrating learning and continual improvement into every transaction or decision.

To meet today's challenges, we need to flip the IT paradigm from starting with systems and data to putting the people at the center, bringing the task (which is embedded in relationship and engagement) into focus, and illuminating both with context-rich data insights.

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