Another year of mergers, acquisitions, business bankruptcies and industry consolidation rolls into the annals of history.
In 2017, the cloud turf got bigger and more intense with Microsoft, Google and Alibaba becoming major challengers to Amazon. This amid outages involving the likes of Amazon and Microsoft, bringing focus on the reliability of public clouds and drawing businesses to hybrid clouds.
Amazon made big strides with its Echo smart speakers, vying with Google Home. This was driven by household users even as robots are expected to make deep inroads into the home.
The merger of CSC and HP Enterprise to become DXC Technology brought about a significant change to the service industry. Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, my employer, completed the acquisition of Interactive Intelligence to extend its sway over the Customer Experience (CX) space.
Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots for Self-Service + Assisted Service
Interestingly, the year saw Amazon enter the CX domain with a basic Voice-only cloud contact centre offering, hardly a challenge to those with a 100% sector focus, delivering natively omnichannel solutions.
The innocuous entry, though, demonstrates the growing importance of the contact centre infrastructure in enabling positive customer experiences even as Artificial Intelligence-centric Virtual Assistants / Chatbots are placing focus on a combination of self-service and assisted service.
Bitcoin Scales Phenomenal Heights
The world also saw the Bitcoin mania scale phenomenal heights, with a mind-blowing 1000% surge in 2017. Some clairvoyant investors thus had a rich harvest, becoming easy millionaires, a small list that includes teens with a vision. One of them saw a $5000 investment in 2013 reach a value of more than a million dollars in 2017.
It has produced billionaires too – like the Winklevoss Twins who used their payout from Facebook four years ago on the Bitcoin. Their investment was $11 million and in 2017 its value had shot up to more than a billion dollars.
New cryptocurrencies such as the Ripple are also making waves in the market.
Running Down the Bitcoin
Financial institutions and market analysts that missed the race are going all out to run down bitcoins, betraying an inability to digest their lack of vision. Morgan Stanley, for instance, even had no qualms saying that the bitcoin’s value is zero.
A flashback to 2014 brings up Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates being upbeat about bitcoins. “Bitcoin is better than currency in that you don’t have to be physically in the same place and, of course, for large transactions, currency can get pretty inconvenient,” he was quoted as saying in an interview to Bloomberg.
Deep into philanthropy, Mr Gates also tempered his enthusiasm with some cautions that has stopped his foundation from using bitcoins. The main reason, according to him, is that “the poor shouldn’t have a currency whose value goes up and down a lot compared to their local currency.” He remains excited about the blockchain technology that powers the Bitcoin.
But then number crunching, Excel wizardry, generation of reports tuned to catch their fancy and tactical analysis leading to outcomes that toss out expectations are some of the attributes that sit with the likes of Morgan Stanley!
To them, the future is imaginary, dotted by what they like to see and hear, not what market trends lead to. Thought leadership? What is that??
Analysts and the Sales Community
That’s typical of the analyst community – missing the big picture, failing to see what will go on a mind-blowing surge, as it happened with the bitcoin, and then scrambling to recover lost ground with fake projections. No real vision, no real strategy!
Sales personnel also take a walk along the same oft-beaten, pitfall-ridden path – all the while imagining mere numbers-based analysis, some cliched marketing and relationships with decision-makers will help clinch deals.
Some will work and most will fail. What is lost is the opportunity for a multi-pronged attack with well-defined win themes.
In market analysts, they have good company!
G Joslin Vethakumar