Today both Jive and Salesforce announced updates to their customer community offerings. Although their updates do not include any ground-breaking innovations (where is McKayla Maroney when you need her?), I find it interesting that Jive and Salesforce have significantly dialed up their marketing efforts for their external-facing community solutions. Historically, both vendors have primarily focused on their internal enterprise community tools and seemed to be on a gradual trajectory to building out their external customer-facing community products. Today's announcements reflect my position that customer communities are becoming the tour de force of social marketing strategies. Brands will increasingly seek out the best of breed social depth tools and/or enterprise community platforms that facilitate digital interactions with their prospects and customers--- on their owned web properties. In response to this demand, Jive, Salesforce and other vendors are dialing up their customer community features.
It’s with great pleasure that I announce the agenda for Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals in Anaheim, CA, on November 6 & 7. We’re mixing things up this year — new formats for speakers, new hands-on, activity-based workshops in addition to track sessions, and a stellar gallery of guest speakers. And we’ve wrapped all of this up with an overarching theme: “Why Good Is Not Good Enough.”
We picked this theme because our Customer Experience Index (CXi) told us to. Seriously. Check this out: According to the latest CXi, the number of brands scoring in the “very poor” category is down to one out of 175. What’s more, only a handful of brands — 10% — are in the “poor” category. Together, these findings show that as customer experience improvement efforts gained momentum over the past year or so, the number of truly awful experiences declined, dramatically. That’s reassuring. Kudos to all the businesses out there that screw up less!
Now for the sobering news: Only 11% of brands in the CXi made it into the “excellent” category.
What that means of course is that most brands are clustering in the middle of the curve — they’re not awful in the eyes of their customers, but they’re not remarkable either. Translation: A merely good customer experience is no longer good enough if you want to deliver a differentiated experience and reap incremental sales, positive word of mouth, and better customer retention. You’re gonna have to raise your game.
Vacation is a good time to read things that you can never get to while working. My list is quite long but I scanned it and took a copy of “The ZERO Marginal Cost Society” by Jeremy Rifkin to the beach. Now Forrester has a lot of focus on digital disruption, helping enterprises avoid being disrupted by new digitally based business models. We write about business agility, how to drive better customer experiences through mobile, social, and cloud. But we pretty much stop at what disruption means to an enterprise, as these are our clients.
Jeremy Rifkin takes the digital disruption concept to its ultimate end state, and projects the effect on the entire economic system. He paints a somewhat murky but thought provoking picture of where this all leads. The basic idea? Digital alternatives, fueled by the Internet of things, big data, the sharing economy, 3D printing, AI and analytics, will drive the marginal cost of producing a product or service to near 0 and this disrupts the entire capitalist system. Established companies can't generate profit, emerging companies can only maintain temporary advantage, and people don’t have “real jobs” anymore. They ride the wave that he calls “the democratization of innovation” that works outside of traditional business and government.
In his excellent book, The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande makes a compelling case for the power of simple checklists to avoid issues and mistakes during the decisioning process. Gawande's thesis is essentially this: A consistently applied, step-by-step checklist can be enormously valuable for a range of professionals from doctors to software designers to executives at major companies.
Add to this group the lowly mobile banking strategist.
Depending on the viewpoint of your favorite economist, the recession may be over. But retail growth is far from buoyant in many markets. The UK retail sector shows healthy signs of recovery, while US consumers seem be less confident. There are numerable success stories; John Lewis passed the £1bn online revenue mark this year, while Macys is in its fifth year of double-digit online growth, in spite of a slightly shaky offline performance. But as an eBusiness leader, no matter what your local market conditions, I’m willing to bet one thing.
Your growth targets haven’t gone down.
For many years, growing online revenues has been a core strategy for most B2C firms, and many B2B firms are also riding the eCommerce wave. But as markets become crowded and competition becomes tighter, globalization is an increasingly attractive option for eBusiness professionals. With southern European markets seeing online growth rates in the high teens and even bigger opportunities like Russia and China on the global horizon, it’s no surprise that an international strategy is high on the agenda for many eBusiness leaders.
Right before school started last year I bought my son a new Dell laptop, a Windows 8 machine with a touchscreen. He loves it.
Fast forward to a month ago when our family rented a vacation house. My son brought his laptop along so he could play DVDs on it – online gaming was right out because we had purposefully rented a house with no Internet connection so we could unplug from work.
The first time my son tried to log on he found that Windows did not want to accept his password because he was not online. I’m going to skip the lengthy explanation of why this is not supposed to happen, why it happened anyway, all the things we tried to do to fix the problem ourselves, etc. (Maybe they’ll end up in a different post – who knows?)
Suffice it to say that since the laptop was still under warranty, and the problem seemed simple enough, I decide to call Dell. I assumed they’d encountered this situation a million times and could tell me a fix in their sleep. Well, I was wrong. After talking to five different people (could have been four, could have been six, I lost count after a while) I realized that I had made a mistake and hung up on the hold music.
Since I hate to let an interesting customer experience go to waste, though, I’d like to offer some hopefully helpful advice to the Dell customer service people – because, in fact, we do like that machine we bought from them and would love them to be around for our next laptop purchase. With that in mind, here are my top suggestions for the people who tried to help me as well as anyone else who runs a customer service operation.
In a previous blog entry, I argued that everyone needs to digitize their business, but not every business knows what to do. Transforming into a digital businesses, especially if you’re a traditional enterprise, is hard work. However, we believe that Asia Pacific is already primed for digital disruption.
In my report, The State Of Digital Business In Asia Pacific In 2014, we found that, while the highest-profile digital business pioneers are headquartered in North America, market demand in Asia Pacific is more conducive to long-term digital disruption. Asia Pacific has five times as many Internet users and smartphone subscribers as the US and almost as much online retail spending as the US and Europe combined. You just need to look at regional powerhouses like Alibaba.com and Commonwealth Bank of Australia and their multibillion-dollar businesses to grasp the rewards of digital business success in Asia Pacific.
However, knowing what these firms have accomplished is insufficient; knowing how to get there is more critical. You should:
Forrester surveys in China show that business data and analytics are increasing as the No. 1 technology priority for Chinese businesses; 55% of technology decision-makers in the country plan to use data and analytics to improve business decisions and outcomes in 2014, up from 43% in 2013. Chinese digital marketers are looking for powerful tools to better understand customer behavior, especially regarding customer acquisition. Businesses in industries like banking and financial services, telecommunications, and retail understand that data and analytics are critical for enabling business transformation — but they have struggled with a lack of data and analytics tools in the market.
The supply side of the Chinese customer analytics market is fragmented and includes a confusing mix of global and local providers. Most customer analytics solution providers started doing business in China in the early 2000s, when the country became much more open to foreign capital. Companies like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola introduced new marketing concepts and became the first to use customer analytics solutions in China. To serve these global companies, leading analytics vendors like FICO, IBM, Oracle, and SAS successfully built up their analytics businesses and extended them into local Chinese markets. Increasing demand for analytics also compelled local vendors like Alibaba and Baidu to start providing customer analytics solutions in China. My latest report, “The Customer Analytics Market in China,” profiles these customer analytics providers in four categories to ease your decision-making on vendor selection.
Too many wearables today have screens that look like miniaturized smartphones.
Just as smartphones shouldn’t be PC screens shrunk down to a 4-5” screen, smartwatches shouldn’t look like smartphones shrunk to 1”. Nor is it a matter of responsive web design (RWD), which resizes web content to fit the screen.
Samsung's Gear 2 looks like a tiny smartphone screen.
Instead, it’s a different type of design philosophy – one with DNA in the mobile revolution, and then extending mobile thinking even further.
Let’s start with the concept of mobile moments. As my colleagues write in The Mobile Mind Shift, mobile moments are those points in time and space when someone pulls out a mobile device to get what he or she wants immediately, in context. In the case of wearables, the wearer often won’t need to pull out a device – it’s affixed to her wrist, clothing, or eyeglasses. But she might need to lift her wrist, as a visitor to Disney World must do with MagicBand.
Now we’re getting closer to what wearables should be. But there are additional dimensions to wearables that obviate the need for pixel-dense screens:
I am just back from the first ever Cognitive Computing Forum organized by DATAVERSITY in San Jose, California. I am not new to artificial intelligence (AI), and was a software developer in the early days of AI when I was just out of university. Back then, if you worked in AI, you would be called a SW Knowledge Engineer, and you would use symbolic programming (LISP) and first order logic programming (Prolog) or predicate calculus (MRS) to develop “intelligent” programs. Lot’s of research was done on knowledge representation and tools to support knowledge based engineers in developing applications that by nature required heuristic problem solving. Heuristics are necessary when problems are undefined, non-linear and complex. Deciding which financial product you should buy based on your risk tolerance, amount you are willing to invest, and personal objectives is a typical problem we used to solve with AI.
Fast forward 25 years, and AI is back, has a new name, it is now called cognitive computing. An old friend of mine, who’s never left the field, says, “AI has never really gone away, but has undergone some major fundamental changes.” Perhaps it never really went away from labs, research and very nich business areas. The change, however, is heavily about the context: hardware and software scale related constraints are gone, and there’s tons of data/knowledge digitally available (ironically AI missed big data 25 years ago!). But this is not what I want to focus on.