Facebook's steely revenue march is fueled by mobile ads: 62% of Facebook's Q2 2014 advertising revenue came from mobile ads, up from 41% just a year ago. This ad revenue may still just be a paper castle waiting to fall -- my colleage Nate Elliott's analysis that Facebook is still failing marketers suggests that. But right now over a billion people around the world -- 81% of its entire member base -- access Facebook on mobile devices every month, twice as many as did just two years ago (see Figure 1). And they are seeing ads.
I see three important conclusions stemming from Facebook's results:
The mobile mind shift is hitting critical mass around the world. People increasingly engage with people, information, and services on their mobile devices first. Forrester forecasts that 2.4 billion will have smartphones by 2017, twice the number as in 2012. So if your customer isn't mobile today, they will be soon -- across every generation. Firms must serve their increasingly impatient mobile customers with great mobile experiences. It's what our book, The Mobile Mind Shift, is about. Facebook is both driving and benefiting from the mobile mind shift as it delivers ever-more services on the devices people crave.
Videoconferencing infrastructure connects videoconferencing endpoints — the conference-room-based systems, desktop clients, and mobile apps people use to join meetings. By prioritizing solutions that make the technology available to all employees with a simplified guest access model for partners and customers, organizations can make the case that video enhances collaboration and improves business outcomes.
Our Wave evaluation of videoconferencing infrastructure and cloud services vendors includes the 10 most significant OEMs: Acano, AGT, Avaya, Blue Jeans Network, Cisco Systems, Lifesize, Pexip, Polycom, Videxio, and Vidyo. The vast majority of systems integrators, telcos, and conferencing specialists with video offerings actually resell, white-label, or stand up their own services based on these evaluated vendors' products.
A key tenet of the evaluation was to include BOTH vendors that sell infrastructure and vendors that focus only on the cloud. It’s important to compare both camps because large enterprises want to know which vendors can help them extend or replace their existing investments in infrastructure on premises. A key finding from our research is that there are indeed many large enterprises logging 1 million minutes or more of videoconferencing from cloud services per month, and some replacing their large deployments of infrastructure with cloud services entirely. Alternatively, some are setting up their own "private cloud" environments with virtualized infrastructure.
Cross-channel sales -- also known as web-influenced sales or transactions that touch a digital medium, but are not completed on the Internet -- are now more than four times larger than online sales alone and will reach $1.8 trillion by 2018. This is according to Forrester's just released five-year US cross-channel retail sales forecast. Offline sales -- primarily web-influenced offline sales -- will comprise nearly 75% of the $475 billion in US retail growth anticipated between 2014 and 2018. This growth in cross-channel sales can be attributed to US online consumers increasingly using their phones in retail stores to research products online. Retailers would be wise to see this growing trend as the new normal; if this is the first you’ve heard about your customers’ in-store mobile behavior, you’re already late to the game.
Despite frequent in-store research on the mobile device, the number of actual mobile transactions remains low. Consumers are more interested in using their phone in the “pre-shop” phase, be it searching for a product’s location, comparing prices, or checking online inventory. Many retailers, such as Target, have found it worthwhile to invest more in mobile services that meet customers’ needs in their pre-shop context rather than at the point of sale. Target has helped customers find specific items in its stores via its mobile app: A customer can create a shopping list within the app, which then maps that list onto the floor map of the customer’s Target store location, guiding them through the aisles from one item to the next.
I showed up at a business meeting in Singapore today and each member of the company within the meeting was wearing a Jawbone. I thought, "Wow, that's unusual ... and statistically very unlikely." Turns out, the company gave the devices to the employees. And ... added some teeth to the program. Approximately one week's compensation each month is linked to the employee's BMI. The formula is a bit more complicated than that, but that is the general idea.
This offers one powerful example of the new business models that mobile enables. (See my research report from this winter that outlines the possiblities.)
Despite the links between wellness and productivity at work, there are many reasons why this model wouldn't fly in the US - at least at a public company. Studies show that healthy employees are more productive, have higher energy levels, etc. However, there are always nuances, pre-existing conditions and laws in the US that protect employees from employers increasing or decreasing compensation based on their perceived health. Genetics come into play. Healthy - fresh, organic, slow cooked, local - foods can be expensive and beyond the research of the average family in the US.
Insurance companies in the US are piloting programs to reward members for good behavior (e.g., exercise, eating healthy foods, sleeping well). Rewarding members with discounts on premiums or vouchers for goods is very different though that linking compensation to an employee's BMI.
I had the opportunity and privilege to get an early look at the new Amazon Fire phone. It delights in many ways, but I’ll focus on the shopping experience enabled through Firefly.
For those who may not remember, Amazon put a dedicated physical button on the left hand side of the phone that launches directly into image recognition. If the image is recognized, then a web-based mCommerce experience launches. The user can then buy the product or it on a wish list, among other things. From there, the experience is more ‘traditional Amazon.’ The ‘new’ is the image, email, URL, etc. recognition.
Why is selling mobile phones important for Amazon? mCommerce in the US alone will add up to nearly $100M by the end of 2014. The new battleground for retailers is in the mobile moment – the point in time and space when a consumer pulls out her phone to get something she needs immediately and in context. Amazon’s FireFly service facilitates two core types of mobile sales moments:
Impulse Sales Moments – these are often flash sales (e.g., WTSO.com, SteepAndCheap, etc.) or spontaneous purchases (e.g., Groupon). The opportunity for Amazon here is in minimizing the friction between consumers seeing something they want, and enabling them to buy it before they forget about it, or find it later in a store nearby.
Replenishment Sales Moments – the phone (or something like an Amazon Dash) is with me when I realize a shampoo bottle or milk is empty or I need more toothpaste.
My latest report, How PURE Insurance Built A Customer-Obsessed Business, is a case study of a company using its customer-obsessed business model to stand out in the insurance industry. Since its start in 2006, PURE has grown more than 40% each year, and has one of the highest net promoter scores in any industry.
Entering the crowded, competitive insurance industry was no easy task. PURE knew it would need to stand out. That’s why the founders decided to go with a member-owned business model (called a Reciprocal Exchange) that would help differentiate the insurer from other insurance companies owned by shareholders. For PURE, owners as members means alignment between business and customer goals. The company deepens and reinforces this commitment in several ways:
Targets A Select Group Of Customers. In addition to creating a member-owned business model, the founders of PURE also focused on a market niche with a distinct and attractive profile. The insurer targets responsible, high-net-worth customers. For its homeowners insurance policies, for example, the homes of potential policyholders must have a reconstruction cost of at least $1 million. The company selected this segment because high-net-worth customers represented a favorable risk profile. This, coupled with the fact that the niche lacked significant competition, created an opportunity for PURE to offer highly competitive premiums and still be profitable.
These are exciting times for me, Peter O’Neill, as I ramp up my new position here at Forrester. I must say, my Research Director predecessor was very visionary to use the sales enablement (SE) term at all over three years ago - the first thing I’ve learned is that our sales enablement clients are hardly ever called that . As Scott Santucci writes in his new report: Clarity Is Key To Sales Enablement Success, “The number of sales enablement positions and interest in the topic have exploded over the past five years, yet many questions remain about what it is or which organization should own it “. Even at the SE Forum this March, only 25% of the attendees had SE in their job title - other job titles that appear in the attendees list include various marketing positions, strategic roles such as CEO, CIO or chief strategy officer, and even sales management themselves. Ultimately, we are helping all business people involved in enabling their client-facing employees to have valuable conversations with various sets of customer stakeholders. I am sure that the attendee list at next year’s Forum will also be mixed: it is early days but I suggest you block your calendar now. Colleague Mark Lindwall has just published the first of several reports on the topic of sales force development which will includes hiring, training
I’ll be curious to hear if there is a business strategy update, but I don’t think we’ll have more insights on what “unbundling the big blue app” really means. I think one possible option is that social data and contextual identity will be the layer on top of Facebook’s new social conglomerate.
I personally will be looking more specifically for an update on mobile app installs. There's no doubt that Facebook has disrupted the app marketing space by becoming a key player in app discovery — which is the key driver behind its mobile ad revenues.
A growing and significant part of this business comes from direct marketers looking to drive app installs, primarily from gaming and other businesses that are increasingly dependent on mobile, such as travel and retail companies. These players know the lifetime value of their apps and have calculated how much they can spend to drive each app download and still have a positive return on investment (ROI). But marketers in more-traditional businesses or who are pursuing other marketing goals should pay close attention to the unique attributes of their mobile social users and optimize their social strategies to engage them.
We recently published our digital experience delivery platform wave (you can find the blog post and accompanying report here). These platforms have emerged to help solve customer needs around integration between digital experience technologies and data management.
Over the past year, many agencies and systems integrators (SI) have also gotten on the digital experience platform bandwagon. These partners have been white labeling and directly licensing/selling digital experience platforms-as-a-service (PaaS). These solutions are typically built on the backbone of proprietary web content management (WCM) and eCommerce solutions (usually Adobe’s toolsets, though we found some notable exceptions built on Oracle and SDL), and are meant to provide an “as a service” model to delivering multichannel content- and commerce- driven experiences. Many, many services firms from both agency and systems integrators backgrounds have started to promote these solutions including well-known names like: SapientNitro, Publicis Groupe, Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant, Deloitte, and Capgemini.