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Predictions For Business Analytics In 2011

Forrester's plans for covering self-service, pervasive, social, scalable, cloud and real-time analytics in the coming year.

I love reporters. As someone with an M.A. in journalism who then evolved into an analyst, I recognize that both professions occupy approximately the same tier in the industry food chain.

In fact, many IT industry analysts were trade-press reporters at one point in their careers, and it's not uncommon for analysts to go back into media institutions later on.When longtime IT reporters call me up to get my thoughts, I'm just as interested in their take on what's important. Computerworld's Jaikumar Vijayan recently published an excellent article with my predictions, plus those of another analyst, on the year ahead in analytics.

To the jaded reader, these sorts of year-end look-ahead articles may feel like perfunctory rehashes of stuff we've been telling them for quite some time, perhaps with a trendy new buzzword thrown in to keep it remotely glance-worthy.

I try not to repeat myself too much. Rather than regurgitate statements I've made in interviews, I'll highlight how I'm addressing in our 2011 Forrester research agenda the following business-analytics trends: self service, pervasive, social, scalable, cloud, and real-time:

Self-service analytics: Multichannel customer relationship management (CRM) is a huge focus for us at Forrester. In customer-facing business processes, the self-service portal channel is key to delivering personalized service, speeding transactions, and enhancing the customer experience. Self-service analytics, delivered through the portal, can help your customers evaluate the various options available to them and also compare your offerings against those of the competition.

Likewise, self-service business intelligence (BI) can help your staff quickly drill down on issues relevant to customer satisfaction and identify the "next best offer" in each customer interaction.

In 2011, I will collaborate with Kate Leggett on reports that discuss the role of next-best offer technologies, including self-service analytics, in enterprise multichannel customer service initiatives. We will publish CRM "next best offer" reports that outline the vision, case studies, commercial offerings, and ROI.

Pervasive analytics: You can't optimize customer relationships if you don't make analytics pervasive across all channels, touchpoints, transactions, and business processes. In 2011, Forrester will publish reports that provide a business case, architecture, and guidelines for enterprises that are looking to embed predictive analytics in all business processes, both customer-facing and back-office.

In this context, Forrester will broaden the focus from CRM's "next best offer" toward the emerging business-process paradigm of "next best action everywhere." We will provide a maturity model and checklist to help business process management (BPM) professionals evolve their current environments and integrate investments in business rules engines and advanced analytics.

Social analytics: Traditional BPM resembles top-down social engineering -- in other words, process reengineering opportunities are traditionally identified by management, processes are changed and automated by technologists, and new processes pushed onto employees and customers. In 2011 and beyond, Forrester sees BPM evolving rapidly toward a more social architecture to support routing, approval, and exception handling.

In collaboration with our BPM analyst, Clay Richardson, I will publish a report on social process guidance, an emerging approach that leverages social networking and inline analytics to improve ad-hoc exception handling. In this context we will discuss how real-time "crowdsourced" advice can supplement the guided analytics that next-generation BI tools can supply to someone who is stuck and doesn't know exactly what to do to address a customer issue or remove a bottleneck from a stalled back-office process.

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