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First iOS Apps from Apple-IBM venture

Around Q2 last year Apple and IBM announced their joint venture. At the time, I sw it as IBM ensuring everything works with iOS.   CNET’s latest article highlights some of the first fruits and it’s a little different than expected.  They focused on developing industry specific apps focused on productivity within the digital channel.  I can’t say as I disagree with it.

Plan Flight, for instance, is designed for pilots to manage their in-flight activities to help airlines save costs, while Passenger+ is intended to help flight crews offer personalized services to passengers in-flight. Another, called Retention, targets the insurance industry to help agents keep top customers in the fold. The government-focused apps focus on helping caseworkers and on crime prevention.

Business Wire also has a list of the apps: (They also go into much more detail on support, strategy, etc. Worth reading everything.)

  • Plan Flight (Travel and Transportation) addresses the major expense of all airlines—fuel—permitting pilots to view flight schedules, flight plans, and crew manifests ahead of time, report issues in-flight to ground crews, and make more informed decisions about discretionary fuel.
  • Passenger+ (Travel and Transportation) empowers flight crews to offer an unmatched level of personalized services to passengers in-flight—including special offers, re-booking, and baggage information.
  • Advise & Grow (Banking and Financial Markets) puts bankers on premise with their small business clients, with secure authorization to access client profiles and competitive analyses, gather analytics-driven insights to make personalized recommendations, and complete secure transactions.
  • Trusted Advice (Banking and Financial Markets) allows advisors to access and manage client portfolios, gain insight from powerful predictive analytics—in the client’s kitchen or at the local coffee shop, rather than the advisor’s office—with full ability to test recommendations with sophisticated modeling tools all the way to complete, secure transactions.
  • Retention (Insurance) empowers agents with access to customers’ profiles and history, including an analytics-driven retention risk score as well as smart alerts, reminders, and recommendations on next best steps and facilitation of key transactions like collection of e-signatures and premiums.
  • Case Advice (Government) addresses the issue of workload and support among caseworkers who are making critical decisions, one family or situation at a time, on the go. The solution adjusts case priorities based on real-time analytics-driven insights, and assesses risk based on predictive analysis.
    Incident Aware (Government) converts an iPhone into a vital crime prevention asset, presenting law enforcement officers with real-time access to maps and video-feeds of incident locations; information about victim status, escalation risk, and crime history; and improved ability to call for back-up and supporting services.
  • Sales Assist (Retail) enables associates to connect with customer profiles, make suggestions based on previous purchases and current selections, check inventory, locate items in-store, and ship out-of-store items.
  • Pick & Pack (Retail) combines proximity-based technology with back-end inventory systems for transformed order fulfillment.
  • Expert Tech (Telecommunications) taps into native iOS capabilities including FaceTime® for easy access to expertise and location services for route optimization to deliver superior on-site service, more effective issue resolution and productivity as well as improved customer satisfaction.

Successful Partner Communities with Salesforce

Zero Motorcycles needed a way to consolidate multiple partner-facing systems into a simplified user interface, track sales and monitor participation programs and automate workflows. As we’ve seen from other customers, partners had to login to multiple systems. Using Community Cloud, Zero was able to provide one interface for the partners to login into and get information and process leads and improve sales.

Zero’s original model was B2C, thinking that consumers would order electric motorcycles on the net. But that didn’t work out and Zero found out they needed dealerships to provide test rides and provide customer engagement. Read the rest of this post »

IBM Digital Experience Conf: IBM Web Content Manager Patterns

Eric Morentin and Nick Baldwin spoke about WCM Patterns that should be used in content management development in IBM Digital Experience.  Patterns of course are a “canned” way or even best practice for implementing solutions.  There are four themes of patterns they talked about:

  1. Better content / component model
    • There are different types of content and Content Manager build a content page by pulling various types of content.  Types can include things like slide shows, lists, blocks, highlights, teasers, etc.
    • A good first pattern is the List Content Component. Use a WCM Component to build the list.  The end user only has to select what list to display and perhaps customize the query to define the list.  Within content manager, lists are composed of Navigators and Presentations.  The navigator component is the query tool to select items for the list and the presentation component is how you display the results.
    • In general, then a good content/component model will let you create special purpose components  and then combine them into business level tools that the content authors can easily incorporate onto a page. Special purpose components such as lists, blocks, carousel are higher-level components than what come out of the box with WCM, but are built-up using those out of the box components.
    • A slideshow content component would consist of the same List Content Component pattern, but adds a Javascript plugin component to control the display of the slide show.
  2. More reuse
    • Build a library of standard components that can be reused.  In IBM’s Content Template Catalog, they have many reusable components built on component elements like field design, fragments, inline editing controls, etc.
    • You could have reusable component headers, designs and footers that get referenced by the higher-level components like the Slideshow mentioned above.
    • As an example, in the header, you could have common tools like the inline edit code.  This same header can then be used on all your components so you can manage or change the inline edit code in one place.
    • There are also good patterns and tools available like SASS – Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets to help you with creating reusable CSS.
  3. Better site model
    • Sites connect pages and content.  Pages provide the navigation model in portal.
    • The Page Content Structure pattern shows how you structure a site.  The content site contains just content.  There is a content item created for each “component”.  Teasers live in their site.  All these sites can roll into a common site based on the page.
    • This results in a lot of site areas.
  4. Split content, design, navigation, configuration and code or separation of concerns.
    • The component model pattern helps with this concept.
    • You should split design libraries from content libraries.
    • They suggest a Design library, a Content Library and a Process Library.  The process library and design libraries can be referenced from the various sites.

Other best practices/patterns:

  • Workflows can also benefit from good patterns.  One pattern is to use custom workflow actions to perform dynamic tasks such as picking the appropriate approvers based on an author’s business unit.
  • For Access Control, don’t explicitly define all access rights; instead use inheritance whenever possible. In 8.5, reviewer and draft creator (replacing Approver) can be inherited. Explicit access control also impacts performance.
  • Don’t have content items with 40+ fields.  Look for the ability to use custom fields to merge

Common Pitfalls

  • In place edits in non-projects – consider using a plugin to hide in line editing if no project is selected.
  • Multi Language – enable this upfront rather than wait.  Even with just two languages, use the MLS plug-in

Eric and Nick used the IBM Content Template Catalog as examples of patterns that you can implement.  They made the point over and over again that CTC is set of examples, so there are probably more components in there than you may actually every need.  You should take the ideas in CTC and make your own components based on the patterns. You should not really expect to install and use CTC right out of the box.

 

IBM Digital Experience Conf 2014: Stephen Power’s View

Forrester’s Stephen Power spoke about transforming digital strategy. Stephen is Vice President at Forrester and covers the Digital Experience market.  He started by talking about the age of the customer and how we got to this point (customer centricity per Gary Dolsen).  Preceding the age of the customer was Age of Manufacturing, Age of Distribution and the Age of iInformation.  Starting in 2010, he suggests that the Age of Customer started.

IBM Digital Experience Conf 2014: Stephen Power's ViewComplexity is increasing in the Age of the Customer because of the multi-channel requirements increasing and shifting rapidly.

Business Technology is the term he uses instead of Information Technology because the focus is on business results rather than just information.  He predicts that budgets for business technology will surpass information technology in 2016.

With this shift to BT, digital experiences must adapt.  Here are three points he talked about with regards to digital experience transformation:

  1. Focus on the customer lifecycle, not just customer acquisition.  Switching costs for customers are lower in the digital world so they are more willing to move if they are not taken care of during their lifecycle with you. Ree
  2. Reexamine the technologies and investments for the new digital experiences.  You may end up with overlapping technologies and have to rationalize which ones to keep and which to retire.
  3. Don’t just manage your data – leverage it. Use demographics, historical and situational data to contextualize your experience. Predictive analytics is a key future capability.

Transforming your digital strategy is not about perfection, its about progression.  As you build out new strategies, keep in mind the need to be flexible because the Age of Customer is just beginning.  There will be a lot of changes as the market responds, adapts and changes to customers.

 

IBM Digital Experience Conference 2014: Opening with Gary Dolsen

IBM’s Digital Experience Conference got underway today in Anaheim.  For those that have followed IBM WebSphere Portal in the past, Digital Experience is a really set of individual point products that include WebSphere Portal, Web Content Manager, Forms, etc.

If you have really, really followed IBM’s portal you will probably know Larry Bowden as the long-time leader and builder of the IBM WebSphere Portal brand.  Larry has recently retired from IBM and Gary Dolsen has taken over the reigns for Digital Experience.  Gary has also been a long-time leader at IBM, so the transition from Larry to Gary should be seamless.

Gary started off by talking about “Reach” and “Engage” as two themes for where we are now with digital experiences.  You have to reach out to your consumers, employees and partners.  Once you reach those people, you have to engage with them through multiple channels and rich experiences.

He continued by talking imperatives over the next three years: Customer Centricity and Flexibility.  For Customer Centricity we need to understand customers and make them the center of your decision making.  People make emotional decisions, so our digital experiences have to evoke emotions.  Mobile is now a key component of centricity because 90% of consumers are using mulitple mobile devices.

For Flexibility, Gary mentioned that the half life of the Fortune 500 list is now 12 years.  So in 12 years, 50% of the Fortune 500 will no longer be on that list.  You can only imagine the flexibility required to stay on target in the fast paced environment.

 

Now You Can Buy Bus Tickets With An App

You can file this under slightly self-serving.  Android Police has a short article on the Bolt Bus app (also available on iOS). It’s highly rated and fairly useful.  Why self-serving you ask?  Well, Perficient developed it for the client.  My twin brother Tim Porter was the manager of that project.

Customers can now get their confirmation number and board a bus without having to get their hands on a computer beforehand. The app contains the features found on the website, including searching, booking, and managing rewards.

BoltBus offers riders leather seats, power outlets, Wi-Fi, and other amenities. It currently only services areas in the Northeast and along the West Coast, including Canada. Those of you living in such places can check out the app via the widget below.

boltbus

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Posted in Mobile

Google: Reasons Why Nobody Uses Your App, Your Site, Your…

I came across the article Google: Reasons Why Nobody Uses Your App in my favorite iPhone app Zite.  The article is about a presentation given by Tomer Sharon, a user researcher at Google, at Google’s I/O Conference. I embedded the video here for you to view.

Tomer identifies reasons why nobody uses your app.  I want to extend this to your web site, your portal, or whatever because these six reasons apply beyond an app.

I’ll summarize the reasons below, but there were two reasons that really caught my attention because they are spot on with my experience consulting with many, many companies over the past 18 years.

The first reason that caught my eye was “You didn’t test your riskiest assumption.”  Many times clients look to companies like Perficient to reduce risks in their projects.  We have deep expertise in a product they want to implement or build upon.  But we don’t always have expertise in the exact problem that is the riskiest.  When we don’t have that expertise, our value can be in how we approach the problem and how we draw on experience in similar areas.  However too often, clients don’t want to test their riskiest assumptions first, but instead, want to dive headlong into a large project.  Part of the reason is because they they can only get funding one time – so lets ask for the most we can get and then start moving.  Another reason for this is that spending on these kinds of projects – experimentations, proof of concepts (POC), etc – are viewed as wasting money.  But getting a solution to the trickiest part of your project early on is absolutely critical to overall success.

The second reason that caught my attention was “You listened to users instead of watching them.”  Companies have spent boat loads of money gathering requirements by asking users what they want in a system.  Users are more than willing to talk about what they would do with a new system.  But too often what a user says they will do doesn’t match what they really will do.  In the video, Tomar talks about a UK Research Project where the researchers asked people whether they washed their hands after using the restroom.  99% said of course they did.  When the researchers put equipment into the restroom to monitor hand washing, surprise, surprise, less than 80% actually washed their hands.  So when building systems, it is important to get something built quickly – a prototype or POC – and observe how people actually use the system.

Here are the reasons why people don’t use your app, your web site, or whatever. I encourage you to watch the video to get all the details.

  1. You didn’t understand the problem your were solving
  2. You asked your friends (or co-workers) what they thought
  3. You listened to users instead of watching them
  4. You didn’t test your riskiest assumption(s)
  5. You had a “Bob the Builder” mentality

Let me know what you think or if you have other advice.

 

Upcoming Webinar: Going Mobile with Your Liferay Portal

Next week, on June 12 at 1 pm CDT, I will be presenting a free webinar on Going Mobile with Liferay Portal.  Below is a description of the webinar and a link to register.  If you have Liferay Portal or are considering it, you will want to see what are your options for making sure that your mobile experience is a pleasant one.

Going Mobile with Your Liferay Portal

Mobile technology is expanding, and many marketing and IT organizations are working to catch up with their customers’ mobile demands. Customers expect to download your app, login, submit their order, deposit a check or even schedule their yoga sessions — all while picking their kids up after school or relaxing in the evenings.

The consumer-driven nature of mobile leaves many companies struggling to develop, enhance and provide the functionality needed to compete in today’s environment. Liferay Portal is one of the most aggressive open source portals available.

In this webinar, we will:

  • Review top mobile developments
  • Demonstrate why Liferay is a good open source option for portal development
  • Identify the options available to bring your Liferay portal to life on mobile devices
  • Review best practices for creating, supporting and deploying a full-mobile strategy

Click this link to register: Going Mobile with Your Liferay Portal

 

Cool Mobile Infographic

Thanks to the Marketing Tech Blog for a reference to a cool “Future of Mobile” info graphic by Three. It’s UK focused but still a nice summary of mobile.  I especially like the internet use via mobile devices now and in 2025.  Click to get to the entire info graphic.

MobileGrowth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Mobile

What’s The Difference Between Beacons and Geofencing

Thanks for John Spyers for pointing this out to me.  I’ve heard a lot lately about the “contextual” experience.  By that I mean, an up to the minute completely personalized experience based on more than just what a company knows about you.  Now you can take into account all of the usual items like how good a customer they are, do they have a shipment on the way, and did they just call customer service.  You can add to that things like, where are they and do they have a reservation.  Where are they depends on mobile technology usually.  iOS engineer Andrew Frederick answers the question on the difference between beacons and geofencing.

 

Here’s the really short version:

Geofencing – use of GPS to determine where you are. It’s useful and can pinpoint you pretty well but can be really tough on battery life

Beacons – use of low power bluetooth and a small “beacon” at a particular location. When you come within 50 feet of that beacon signal, your phone can react to it.