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Editor's note: In their new book "Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, Transform Your Business," Forrester Research analysts Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler describe "highly empowered resourceful operatives," or HEROes, who are reinventing how some organizations do business. In this two-part excerpt, they describe how companies can support HEROes to improve information flow and collaboration-which are, of course, crucial elements in BPM projects. Part I covered human-centric initiatives. Here, in Part II, they discuss five "anchor technologies" and the role of cloud services.

Research and implement anchor technologies

HERO projects require a new set of core technologies that many IT shops have yet to master. We have identified five anchor technologies that power many HERO projects:

1. Business analytics: Deploy business analytics to make sense of all the new customer data. The massive amount of data coming in via Twitter, customer communities, video views and mobile Web site traffic is just so much clutter if it isn't measured and analyzed to find the meaning behind the clicks. This requires a new set of business intelligence and data-quality tools.

2. Mobile technologies: Master mobile technologies to build mobile applications. But which ones? To reach the vast and growing diversity of smart phones, IT must make a bet on a mobile technology. Five different mobile operating systems compete for dominance, which makes building a native mobile application for all phones an impossible task for most companies. Currently, iPhone apps are setting the pace, but a big battle is shaping up between Adobe's Flash technology and an emerging standard called HTML5 for mobile applications that will run on most or all smart phones.

3. Social technology: Choose social technology platforms to support customer and employee communities. Building communities takes an application or service. The market for customer communities is developing rapidly, with more than 50 competing solutions. IT should take the lead on sussing out and testing the solutions for internal and external communities.

4. Cloud APIs: Build cloud application programming interfaces (APIs) to link internal security and data systems to cloud services. For example, Ross Inglis at Thomson Reuters needed a way to get data out to the new independent financial-advisor channel and his IT team provided the APIs to do it. Interface technology is changing rapidly as a new set of tools called RESTful APIs are replacing older-style Web-service interfaces.


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