As The (Blockchain) World Turns: Part 1

A couple of announcements in particular this week served as a reminder that enterprises and vendors alike remain committed to leveraging distributed ledger technology (DLT). Proving the naysayers wrong, TradeLens (the IBM/Maersk global supply chain initiative) welcomed on board two further ocean carriers — CMA CGM and MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company; this puts nearly half the world’s ocean container cargo within reach of TradeLens, which in turn will have a pull-through effect on other ecosystem participants. Fewer people may have noticed another announcement involving the same three firms: Maersk invested in Traxens, a provider of smart container solutions, in which CMA CGM and MSC were already investors. Creating scale along these lines is a key element of success that you need to understand as you look for blockchain to take root in your industry.

As The (Blockchain) World Turns: Part 2

It wouldn’t be a blockchain without vendors. And on the vendor side, the most significant recent development was the introduction of Salesforce’s blockchain initiative at TrailheaDX; it confirms that enterprises are looking for new ways to support multiparty processes around shared, trusted data. Through providing an interface that abstracts away from the technical complexity of the underlying blockchain framework, Salesforce is making those capabilities more easily accessible, allowing companies to focus on what matters most: the business side of a blockchain network. The software — which is based on Hyperledger Sawtooth — is still at an early stage, but in working with customers and real use cases, Salesforce helps make sure that the platform reflects enterprise requirements right from the start.

The Crazy, Hazy, Lazy IPO Machine

No, we don’t provide investment advice here at Forrester, but c’mon: Investment bankers haven’t been this giddy — nor investors this deluded — since 2000. Remember when the NASDAQ index broke 5,000 in March 2000? Well, it didn’t reach that lofty level again until 2016 and, in inflation-adjusted dollars, not until 2018. Well, we’re back in that crazy (I mean, really?), hazy (only the smart money knows for sure, and they ain’t talking), lazy (as in, retail investors are dumb money) zone. To cite our favorite value investor, Benjamin Graham, in the short run, the market is like a voting machine — tallying up which firms are popular and unpopular. In the IPO market of the last few years, with Snap, Uber, Slack, and Beyond Meat going out, we think that’s what we are seeing. But he goes on to say that in the long run, the market is like a weighing machine — assessing the substance of a company. We’re ready for some more substance.

Amazon On The Hunt: Why Marketers Should Care About Who “Owns” Their Ad Server

Ad servers . . . sounds boring, right? On its face, it is. Ad servers are the pipes of digital advertising, placing content and ad creatives into empty slots on publishers’ pages and keeping track of how many times they did it. But they also sit in a very strategic position: The ad server touches every ad impression, delivers creatives, and assigns conversion credit, making it a source of decisions and truth. So when Bloomberg reported that Amazon was contemplating buying one (which is now official!) from faltering adtech company Sizmek, we sat up and took note. Here’s why: For the commerce giant, it makes sense, bringing it advertising tech and know-how, deepening its data footprint, and taking its ad offering a step closer to that of its archrival Google (which dominates the ad serving space today). But therein lies the rub: Marketers already find themselves under the thumb of the walled gardens — including Google, Facebook and, increasingly, Amazon — and this acquisition could mean little more than one fewer independent option for them to choose from.

Royal Caribbean’s New Innovation Lab Is Taking Cruise CX To A Totally New Level

Led by its head innovator, Joey Hasty, Royal Caribbean is tapping emerging technologies and cloud services to dramatically enrich customer experiences. One example is on its ship, Quantum of the Seas, and its Bionic Bar, where it has deployed a robotic bartender that can craft a nearly endless selection of cocktails. It has also added a innovative customer adventure called the Sky Pad bungee trampoline on board its Mariner of the Seas ship. This digital adventure lets customers “jump” from planet to planet via virtual reality headsets. And the company has added artificial intelligence to its cameras and other sensor equipment on board to track all guests and their desires and needs to ensure that they get optimal experiences throughout each day. Last, they are testing an innovation called VR dining, which taps into the science of nerve centers in the brain to create visuals that enhance the taste of your food. Their forward-looking innovation efforts very much align to Forrester’s tech-driven innovation model, through which companies such as Royal Carribean tap technology to craft disruptive net-new customer values and ensure future market leadership.