5 Questions With… Michael Barnes of Forrester Research

Michael Barnes is a Vice President and Research Director at Forrester, a global advisory firm that helps executives make smart technology decisions. Originally from Boston, he’s been working in the Asia-Pacific region for the past 10+ years.

Question 1: How do you define ‘digital strategy’?

Digital strategy is a systematic approach to understanding and embracing technology to serve and delight increasingly powerful customers and fuel disruption, not only across industries but within your own organization.

Question 2: What are the three most significant digital trends that will define 2015?

1. Companies are adding the capabilities and expertise to access and actually harness the data/information available through all phases of the customer lifecycle. This means far closer collaboration between IT and marketing to define analytics objectives, priorities and requirements.

2. The focus on customer experience, and in particular an understanding of how to better engage and serve technology enabled customers across multiple touchpoints, is moving beyond marketing to impact all phases of the organization (R&D, manufacturing, distribution).

3. Even among conservative organizations or those in highly regulated industries, cloud-first approaches are becoming the norm for serving customers in their moment of need, particularly for mobile initiatives.

Question 3: What kind of mobile device(s) do you have, and what are your three favorite apps?

– Macbook Air is my primary device when travelling, and I use iPhone 6 for everything else.

– In terms of apps:

  • Google Drive (and other cloud storage apps) have had a massive impact on my productivity and content creation. But for most of us, they are totally taken for granted almost immediately upon first usage – one of the clearest signs of success.
  • WhatsApp is the easiest way for me to communicate wherever I happen to be in the world.
  • iFerries since I commute by ferry from Manly to Sydney daily and schedules and updates at my fingertips are essential.
  • As a fourth, I’d add ESPN mobile app, so I can get my daily fix of US sports coverage from Australia.

Question 4: What do you think of the emergence of the Chief Digital Officer role?

Organizations are quickly learning that their digital strategy and business strategy are one in the same. But acting on this knowledge isn’t easy. Naming a chief digital officer can act as a catalyst. But moving forward, all successful C-level decision makers will view their roles and responsibilities through a digital lens, and the entire C-suite must master digital skills to succeed.

Question 5: What advice do you have for aspiring digital professionals?

Don’t ever forget: it’s not all digital. Successful companies excel at seamlessly integrating the physical and the digital to deliver a rich customer experience that appeals to emotions as well as rational drivers like convenience, efficiency and price. Successful digital pros should not over-emphasize technology or technical capabilities but should instead view technology disruption through the lens of well-rounded business expertise and insight.

Editor’s note: For nearly two decades, Michael has been a highly regarded analyst on the SaaS and Cloud marketplaces. He’s a trusted resource for senior managers at Global 5000 companies around the world for his objective points-of-view and insightful analysis.  He’s also a Ducati enthusiast and proud resident of Sydney, Australia. Follow him on Twitter (@mb_analyst) or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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