Trends in Customer Experience at TIBCO TUCON 2012




I have attended several enterprise software events in recent months that discussed trends and changes in IT, with big data, mobile computing, social collaboration, and cloud computing at the top of the list. For instance, at its recent SAP Retail Forum North America, SAP announced the availability of a retailing solution built on SAP NetWeaver Cloud (part of the SAP HANA Cloud platform) that effectively combines these trends.

How these current IT trends are converging was also highlighted at the keynote presentations session on the first day of the recently held TUCON 2012 conference, titled “Everything is Different.”

The day started with TIBCO’s CEO, Vivek Ranadivé, talking about the following forces driving the change:

  • a massive explosion of data

  • the emergence of mobility, whereby today ordinary people have more computing power in their pockets than NASA had in 1969 (when they sent men to the moon)

  • the emergence of comprehensive computing platforms

  • the rise of Asia (he referenced the blockbuster “Gangnam Style” Korean rap YouTube video)

  • math currently trumping science (e.g., via the detection and exploitation of patterns)


The biggest goal of big data is to find hidden patterns and answers in existing data via an easy user experience. In some ways, big data is not necessarily a new phenomenon, since there has been a vast amount of data within enterprises for many years. What has changed, though, is that we now have the appropriate tools to deal with it, both in place (static data) and in motion (fast-changing data), and to find the patterns hiding within it through cleansing and transformation.

There is a sports analogy saying that a game can be judged not solely by the final score, but rather by all of the events that happened to come together to bring about the entire game’s outcome. By the same token, it is no longer sufficient to just measure outcomes in business transactions—one must monitor patterns in the event streams and combine that knowledge with historical data to make the best possible decisions about what is happening right now. The ability to harness these forces and produce extreme value is a competitive differentiator, a method that is working well for companies like Apple and Amazon.

At the TIBCO TUCON conference, Raj Verma, TIBCO’s chief marketing officer (CMO), followed Ranadivé by continuing the message of how fast things are changing with some pointed stats: more iPhones were sold over the past few days than babies were born worldwide, while Amazon had added more computing capacity the previous night than the company had had in total in 2001. Verma reminded us of TIBCO’s concept of the “two-second advantage”—the right information right (two seconds) before an event is worth infinitely more than any amount of information after the event. In other words, if companies are going to exploit the massive amounts of data being generated today in order to produce better value, they must strive to be Event-Enabled Enterprises (E3—TIBCO’s trademark concept), responding to events in an informed manner rather than just measuring outcomes after the fact.

Matt Quinn, TIBCO’s chief technical officer (CTO), continued the aforementioned idea of turning customers into fans and solidifying customer loyalty. To do this, he introduced TIBCO’s “billion dollar backend” with the following high-level platform components: automation, event processing, analytics, cloud, and social collaboration. Then, he introduced a series of speakers on the subject of customer experience management. Loyalty Lab, which TIBCO acquired in 2010, is the vendor’s platform and suite of services for loyalty management. The demo showed some examples about analyzing events and data in real time, and providing “audience of one” services and offerings.

Traditionally, loyalty programs were transaction-based, but today’s loyalty programs are much more about providing a more holistic contextual view of the customer. This can include not just events that happen in a company’s own systems, but also external social media information, such as listening to customers’ tweets and sentiment. A customer, Rick Welts of the Golden State Warriors (Ranadivé is the team’s part owner; ironically, the NBA team plays at the stadium that is named for TIBCO’s foe Oracle), talked about using the company’s mobile app for a variety of customer (fan) service initiatives, from offering on-site seat upgrades to the ability to order food and drinks directly from one’s seat in the stadium.

It all adds up to a high-touch customer experience

Quinn referred to this combination of event processing and analytics as closing the loop between data in motion and static data. TIBCO provides a number of products that combine to handle big data: not just TIBCO BusinessEvents for complex event processing (CEP), but also ActiveSpaces (the in-memory data grid) to enable real-time processing and Spotfire for the visual analysis of big data (via integration with Apache Hadoop, if necessary).

The ability to connect, understand, anticipate (via predictive analytics), and act on big data is where SAP HANA and TIBCO Spotfire should excel. Once the relevant metrics and visualization widgets are built, HANA and Spotfire can be great platforms for this type of challenge. Spotfire started with targeted metrics and visualization capabilities. Over time, I would expect SAP, Oracle, IBM, SAS, and Microsoft to have similar if not necessarily better solutions. The personalized messages are already part of the former Escalate (Blue Martini) suite, now RedPrairie’s Commerce Suite. RedPrairie is not currently offering in-memory big data capabilities, but it is likely that it will have to observe the aforementioned IT trends in the medium term at the latest.

TEC blog post: TIBCO Spotfire 5 Brings the Power of Discovery to Big Data (Sept 2012)
 
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