Ah yes, the obligatory customer logo slide. As an analyst you get to see a lot of these. (Too many, perhaps.) Any more, these slides mean less and less.
What matters in the digital world -- what Forrester calls the "Age of the Customer" -- is not how many companies or organizations you serve, but how much they appreciate working with you -- and whether or not they are willing to tell others that they do.
In B2B marketing, sharing customer logos is one small way of validating that you are an effective supplier of products and services. References are another. So are referred business and a host of other marketing programs aimed at turning customer goodwill into testimonial gold. In this digital age, where information accessibility and service-oriented business models favor buyers, it is essential to market with and through your advocates because:
Social opens up a new world of advocacy opportunities. Most B2B marketers and technology suppliers point to social sharing as the primary driver in making advocate marketing more important and effective today.
A subscription-centered economy makes retention essential. B2B firms must continue to demonstrate value to customers long after the ink dries on the contract to retain their business. Keeping the relationship fresh and top of mind is a key way to do that.
Operationalizing advocate marketing scales outcomes. B2B marketers are investing in advocacy to expand reference programs and encompass other aspects of the customer relationship beyond sales support. For little investment, many are seeing bigger returns.
Oracle's co-CEOs Safra Catz and Mark Hurd had very positive remarks regarding Oracle's Q2 performance: total revenues of $9 billion exceeded guidance, SaaS and PaaS bookings growth of 75% with revenue of $487 million up 38%. Meanwhile on-premise software revenues (software license, updates, and support) were flat at $6.4 billion.
Currently Oracle's sales professionals are working feverishly in the final weeks of closing Q3 on February 29 to keep this momentum moving in the right revenue direction to meet Q3 and Q4 guidance expectations. Then comes the fourth quarter and EOY revenue execution where we expect 40% of Oracle's full year revenue to be booked. Here's what we're seeing in the marketplace and from our client interactions and consulting projects.
Cloud Fusion momentum fueled by spirited sales. We are absolutely seeing the SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS revenue and client momentum being reported in Oracle's Q2 earnings release. We are also experiencing the sales tactics being employed to drive this aggressive growth – based on lucrative sales commission incentives and selling cloud products “credits” to reduce on-premise cost and support fees. We're seeing the same highly competitive sales game from Salesforce and Workday, among others.
Play Oracle's sales game — or don't. Oracle's account teams are infamous for their siloed divide-and-conquer approach to selling applications, database, and hardware. We advise our clients to effectively manage Oracle's sales teams by executive escalation and staying focused on business issues to receive the value they are paying for.
Finovate came to London again this week and I was lucky enough to attend. Here are my thoughts from the two days:
This year’s big theme was robo-advice. Every Finovate seems to have an unofficial, accidental theme with a large group of start-ups clustered around the same disruption, like PFM, mobile payments, small business banking or digital wallets. This year it was robo-advice.
Robo advice is starting to look crowded. Each of the new digital investment managers has a distinct story. Scalable Capital offers a sophisticated quantitative, value-at-risk strategy. MeetInvest helps investors mimic the strategies of famous investors like Benjamin Graham or Peter Lynch.* Investify lets investors choose themes that feel right. DriveWealth offers fractional share investing to allow low-cost access to the US markets. SwipeStox makes it easy to follow other investors through an app. Capitali.se converts ideas into trading rules. Europe has many countries and investors are diverse. Even so, the market is starting to seem crowded. Clearly the cost of managing investment portfolios is falling, which should enable firms to break even with fewer assets under management, but the costs of regulatory compliance and marketing to achieve growth have not diminished. Investment performance will sort the unicorns from the donkeys.
Games of buzzword bingo and comparisons of on-stage role-play to 1980s’ pornography acting…today’s comments on Twitter prove that it takes guts to face the sometimes cruel Finovate crowd. But if you want to measure the current beat of banking, wealth management, insurance, and startup hearts, there’s no better place than Finovate. Here are a few reflections on Finovate Europe 2016:
Robo-advice is all the rage. Just when blockchain made it into a Dilbert cartoon, it disappeared from the Finovate stage. The only mention of cryptocurrencies was during Ledger’s presentation of its “hardware wallets for decentralised applications” (bitcoins, basically). This is not a bad thing; Forrester advice is to maintain a healthy level of scepticism. Finovate isn’t the place to prove blockchain’s purported capabilities. We’ve also moved away from personal finance management (fondly called PFM), mobile payments, digital wallets. If you want to be in vogue, you now need to pay attention to digitising investment strategies, biometric authentication and contextual engagement. Apart from the international-payments startup Valuto, this year’s Best of Show winners (Capitali.se, DriveWealth, SwipeStox, EyeVerify, IDscan) all fall under the first two themes.
Greetings! This is week three in my journey as a Forrester analyst serving you, B2B marketing professionals, after nearly as many decades as a practitioner like you. I'd like to start our conversation by sharing an idea I had the opportunity to explore during the interview process for this position.
It was a process I enjoyed tremendously by the way, because it allowed me to connect the dots between several trends I had observed in my most recent role, where I led marketing for a digital engagement platform vendor, and some recent research from Forrester, most notably the Death Of A (B2B) Salesman report that struck such a nerve in the Forrester client base and beyond.
One of the conclusions of that and other Forrester reports that resonated most with me is that B2B buyers now prefer do-it-yourself options for researching products and services prior to purchase. And it’s not even a close call! The survey conducted for the Death of a Salesman report showed that by a factor of three to one, B2B buyers want to self-educate rather than talk to sales representatives to learn about products and services.
Ironically, we B2B marketers have only ourselves to blame for this dramatic shift. By creating, publishing, and promoting a wealth of content to maximize the results from our SEO, PPC, and marketing automation campaigns, we’ve also made it possible (but not yet easy) for prospects to learn much of what they need to know prior to purchase. This has enabled more than half of all B2B buyers to now develop a set of selection criteria or finalize a list of potential vendors — based on digital content alone — without ever speaking to anyone at those organizations.
In the race to keep up with skyrocketing consumer expectations around omnichannel commerce experiences, many retailers moved quickly to roll out omnichannel fulfillment capabilities without fully understanding the incremental expense of operating these programs. Today, retail executives are beginning to shift their focus towards profitability: moving from implementing to optimizing their omnichannel fulfillment initiatives.
In our new report Build A Profitable Omnichannel Fulfillment Program, we asked a number of eBusiness leaders and industry experts to share the processes, tools, and best practices they used to assemble profitable omnichannel fulfillment programs. Our research indicates that retailers can optimize their omnichannel fulfillment capabilities by:
Enabling product visibility and order orchestration. Omnichannel fulfillment initiatives—think endless aisle, ship-from-store, click and collect—are completely dependent on the ability for customers, associates, and retail selling systems to be able to accurately pinpoint the location of every product across the enterprise. Further, having a robust distributed order management system (OMS) can help retailers reduce the cost of fulfilling orders by orchestrating across all stores and distribution centers.
I love Costa Coffee shops. Not only do they keep my caffeine levels sustained but their ambience always seems to get my creative juices flowing. Here’s one of my more recent ruminations: wouldn’t it be great if software companies always did the right thing for their customers?
Imagine this world for a moment:
● Software vendors only ever selling you what you need.
● Software vendors offering pricing and discounting that is always fair, logical, and transparent.
● Software vendor sales people who openly admit that a competitive product may actually be a better fit for their customer as opposed to trying to shoehorn in their own products at every opportunity.
Unfortunately that’s not the way the software world works — at least not for the mega vendors.
And speaking of mega vendors, Microsoft’s fiscal year wraps up at the end of June so I thought it would be timely to share with you some insight into what you might soon be facing. Here are five things that your Microsoft sales person doesn’t want you to know:
1. Enterprise Agreement price hikes: If you have an Enterprise Agreement (EA) renewal coming up then Microsoft will be expecting to dump a price hike on you of at least 10%. This is because your EA price-locked your Microsoft products when you signed it, and it has protected you from all the various product price rises that have occurred in the last three years. But when you renew your EA, all those lovely price rises catch up and form the basis of how your next EA is priced. Hence the hike.
Understanding agent attitudes toward their insurance carrier partners is crucial in earning independent agent loyalty—and driving sales. Why? Because despite predictions that direct-to-consumer insurance sales would doom the insurance agent, nearly 20 years after the advent of online insurance selling, millions of consumers and small businesses continue to rely on their local insurance agencies. Consider that when it comes to their agents, US consumers:
Buy from. Even after all that money direct insurers spend on TV ads, consumers are still buying from insurance agencies. In a survey of 10,000 online Americans, we found that 84% of home insurance buyers stated that they bought from an agent; 82% did the same for their car insurance, while 57% of life insurance buyers said that they did.
Trust in. When we asked in the same survey about attitudes toward financial services providers, more than 70% of life insurance buyers and about two-thirds of non-life insurance buyers we surveyed agreed with the statement “I completely trust my agent”. And that trust runs deep for some customers, especially for 25-34 year olds we surveyed.
Stick with. And after buying from an agent, consumers tend to stick with their them We asked US online adults how long they had been buying certain coverage from their agents. The average relationships with their auto, home, and life agencies were 12.9, 12.5, and 16.3 years Consumer steadfastness with an agent is often longer than that loyalty to a spouse: the average American marriage that ends in divorce lasts eight years. And no surprise, the tenure with direct insurers is much shorter than that with agent-centric insurers.
For many years, infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals have been dedicated to delivering services at lower costs and ever greater efficiency, but the business technology (BT) agenda requires innovation that delivers top-line growth.
The evolution and success of digital business models is leading I&O organizations to disrupt their traditional infrastructure models to pursue cloud strategies and new infrastructure architectures and mindsets that closely resemble cloud models.
Such a cloud-first strategy supports the business agenda for agility, rapid innovation, and delivery of solutions. This drives customer acquisition and retention and extends the focus beyond ad hoc projects to their complete technology stack. The transition to cloud-first mandates a transition for infrastructure delivery, management, and maintenance to support its delivery and consumption as a reusable software component. Such infrastructure can be virtual or physical and consumed as required, without lengthy build and deployment cycles.
Growing cloud maturity, the move of systems of record to the cloud (see my blog “Driving Systems of Records to the Cloud, your focus for 2016!)container growth, extensive automation, and availability of "infrastructure as code" change the roles within I&O, as far less traditional administration is needed. I&O must transition from investing in traditional administration to the design, selection, and management of the tooling it needs for composable infrastructure.
Super Bowl 50 is finally behind us. Forget the lackluster commercials — led by the silly puppy monkey baby— and the amazing technology feats that accompanied the NFL experience in downtown San Francisco. What was clear is that Americans are more obsessed with the national pastime of NFL football than ever. The leadup to Super Bowl 50 was like no other, with discussions of how the game has changed and the impact technology will have on the fan experience.
But the game is what most fans, me included, wanted to see. While it may not have been the most exciting Super Bowl of all time, one thing was clear almost from the start: Superstar and 2015 MVP Cam Newton couldn’t win the game on his own. Almost from the beginning, Denver prevailed — not because of the prowess of starting quarterback Peyton Manning, but rather because the Broncos had the right people in the right roles working together as a team to demolish the previously indestructible Carolina Panthers.
What lessons can CMOs learn from this year’s Super Bowl?
While this may surprise you, your marketing team isn’t much different from the teams in this year’s Super Bowl. You doubtless have superstars who go the extra mile to power the marketing engine and make it succeed. But ask yourself: Do I have the right role players to keep the marketing team humming? Do I know what role players I need and what to look for when hiring them?