I have a huge German Shepherd that ranks only slightly behind my human children when it comes to being spoiled and how much attention he gets. I’ve been working on training him for nearly a year now, and he amazes me with how intelligent he is. He knows all the basics: sit, stay, here, lay down, etc. But he also picked up detecting scents very quickly and is learning to detect things with his nose that I can’t even see with my eyes. And he does all of these things faster than most kids learn to break the Netflix password.
The other day, working with him on his training points, I thought to myself, “Woah, my dog speaks human.” Not just English either. He speaks German (that’s the language he's trained in), and he totally understands it. I realized the problem is that I don't speak “Dog.” My dog knows about 30 human words, and they are words in a language his master has no business trying to pronounce, mind you. But he knows what those words mean, and he gets the tasking or request down every time they're uttered. He could look at me for an hour and bark, growl, howl, yip, or yelp constantly, and he could be telling me the cure for cancer and I wouldn’t know it.
OK that’s interesting, but what does it have to do with better communication among techies?
At last October’s B2B Marketing Forum,Ryan Skinner, senior analyst at Forrester, delivered one of the more resounding messages — and gave us a serious wake-up call on our content marketing work to date. He told us, “Too much, not enough quality.” And our greatest quality issue is in our content distribution strategies.
This is indeed a serious challenge for B2B marketing organizations, which spend an average of 12% of their budgets on content marketing. We dedicate three times as much headcount to this as our cousins in consumer marketing. But Forrester’s recent survey of technology buyers revealed that 60% of these buyers believe that content that vendors provide is “useless.”
That’s a wastage of$4.3 million for a business with, say, $1 billion in revenues!
Now when they say “useless,” they don’t mean badly written. The content’s useless because it is usually the wrong information that gets delivered at the wrong time and probably to the wrong person.
What do you do if you have so many resources and so much waste? Well, consider a process improvement program such as outsourcing or even automation. No, not automatically generated content (though we do talk about the emergence of content intelligence and intelligent agent tools in the recent Forrester report “The Top Emerging Technologies For B2B Marketers”), I am thinking here of how to improve your content management and dissemination.
Delivering exceptional customer experiences and product for your business take speed and flexibility. More than ever before, speed and flexibility are required from every part of your organization, business and IT alike. DevOps provides your business leaders, enterprise architects, developers and I&O leaders a philosophy to achieve, not only the velocity that customers desire but also drive innovation and enforces quality. One example is ING. The company is undergoing a major digital transformation in which DevOps is a primary driver supporting their transformation. ING CIO Ron van Kemenade has initiated DevOps as the vehicle to aggressively support ING’s evolving customer needs. At ING, technology is the beating heart of the bank.[i]
DevOps requires a transition from technical silos to product centered teams
Effective DevOps will require the tearing down of the technology based silos within an organization. Instead, teams need to focus on the products (or service) delivered and be empowered to own the complete lifecycle. Key performance metrics such as such as availability, the number of features added are used to measure the speed and quality of how these product centered teams work. In some organizations, the team may even own support of the designed and delivered services. This integrated product team is a fusion of developers, infrastructure & operations, quality assurance, and release managers into a single team that works on the entire pipeline, from commit to deployment. Existing centers of excellence such as DBA’s or security teams will remain and support the DevOps team; in some cases, they might even be allocated to the team for a particular duration. [ii]
Deconstruct silos of automation and replace with full pipeline automation
Customer service departments in all industries are increasing their use of chatbots, and we will see usage rise even higher in the next year as companies continue to pilot or launch their own versions of the rule-based digital assistant. What are chatbots? Forrester defines them as autonomous applications that help users complete tasks through conversation.
While Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data reveals that 60% of US online adults already use online messaging, voice, or video chat services, there are challenges to widespread adoption. We reached out to our ConsumerVoices Market Research Online Community members to better understand consumer impressions of chatbots and found that our respondents had a difficult time identifying clear benefits to interacting with them. Many prefer to communicate with a representative who can show real empathy, address more complex needs, and offer them assurance.
Earlier this month, I attended the Qual360 2017 conference in Washington, D.C., where chatbots were a hot topic in both qualitative research and customer experience. Speakers highlighted the opportunity of chatbots while warning about their shortcomings. For example:
I am pleased to announce that the new Forrester Wave™: Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service Providers, Q2 2017 for infrastructure and operations professionals is now live! This Wave evaluation uncovered a market in which four providers — Sungard Availability Services, Bluelock, IBM, and iland — all emerged as Leaders, although their strengths differ. Another five providers — HPE Enterprise Services (now DXC Technology), Recovery Point, Plan B, Daisy, and TierPoint — are Strong Performers. NTT Communications is a Contender.
To evaluate these vendors, we developed a comprehensive set of criteria in three high-level buckets: current offering, strategy, and market presence. The criteria and their weightings are based on past research and user inquiries. In addition to typical user demands, this Forrester Wave™ evaluation also has a few thought-provoking criteria such as the provider’s capability to deliver security services, real-time views through a readiness score, automated change management, and orchestration-led enterprise application recovery.
In the realm of multichannel customer communications, email is still king. It’s the easiest to send, it’s inexpensive and it’s the channel on which most marketers rely to connect with all kinds of customers. Email marketing is ingrained and inexpensive, but as a result, many marketers abuse it, defaulting to a routine batch-and-blast approach. In 2015 alone, U.S. online users received 3.7 trillion emails. Today’s email practices fail loyal customers because they treat everyone the same way and struggle to deliver basic relevance.
Over-emailing is a persistent problem, and marketers face cultural inertia trying to get over the notion that if they email enough, the customer will eventually take action. One incremental email for a thousand customers may only cost you a single dollar, but the emotional value given up from an annoyed customer will cost you in future purchases and in investment needed to rebuild a loyal customer relationship from scratch. In essence, the long-term investment in building a relationship with loyal customers is compromised because of a short-sighted push for conversion.
Marketers can’t afford to alienate loyal customers. After all, those customers are the ones who want to engage with you in the first place. According to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics data, 58% of loyalty program members subscribe to a brand’s email list, compared with just 28% of consumers overall. It’s time for a reboot.
Much ink has been spilled over United Airlines' latest public incident and social media's role in rapidly spreading video of a passenger being dragged off an airplane. Today's consumers are more polarized than ever and increasingly expressing their opinions and showing their own values in the way they spend their money. Brands worry about making missteps on social media and falling out of favor, prompting them to ask: "How can my brand respond to a social crisis?" In reality, the question they should be asking is: "How can my brand plan for any social crisis so that when it hits, our response is clear and automatic?"
Navigating today's social environment requires returning to crisis management basics. Brands with established and rehearsed crisis management plans — no matter the channel — will rise above the fray. In our latest Forrester report, "Social Crisis Management: Get Back To Basics," we discuss social crisis management 101:
Let your brand pillars be your guide. Your brand's values should be the foundation for how your brand behaves in all situations, including on social media. Sure, brand values can be malleable but they should be strong enough to prepare you for worst-case scenarios.
Document your tolerance for brand risk. Companies must also have a stated and widely-known policy for brand risk, such as a willingness to take chances with brand reputation or a threshold for negative publicity.
The ever-dependable Barb Darrow at Fortune reported late last week that the OpenStack Innovation Center (OSIC) is to shut down. Cue wailing, gnashing of teeth, and portents of doom. But this may not be quite so bad as it appears, because the OpenStack Innovation Center isn’t nearly so critical to the open source cloud computing project as its name might imply.
You see, the OpenStack Innovation Center isn’t an initiative of the OpenStack Foundation. Despite the name, it was only a joint initiative of two contributors to the OpenStack project - Intel and (OpenStack co-founder) Rackspace. They set up some clusters, for developers to test code. And they did some work to make OpenStack more enterprise-ready. Both efforts were useful, for sure. But both of these things were already happening in plenty of other places.
To call this useful but far-from-unique contribution the OpenStack Innovation Center seemed - to me - unwise. It almost - to me - smacked of hubris. It was a bit silly. It was another example of marketing spin far exceeding any discernible reality on the ground.
Now? It seems an own-goal that the Foundation and its backers might so easily have side-stepped.
Forrester predicts that the future of mobile wallets will go far beyond mobile payments. In the West, this vision is still a work in progress. However, Chinese digital juggernauts Alipay and WeChat have morphed their mobile wallets into rich customer engagement platforms. My latest report, “Engage Customers With Mobile Wallet Marketing,” tells what global players can learn from Asia’s digital leaders.
Alipay and WeChat show marketers the future of mobile wallets. While mainstream Western mobile wallets primarily focus on payments, pioneer mobile wallets in China have taken aggressive steps and become powerful customer engagement tools with innovative features — such as WeChat’s social gifting and Alipay’s augmented reality (AR) coupons and red packets. Their mobile wallet innovations span the customer life cycle (see figure).
The mobile wallet of the future is closer than you think. Market-entry obstacles like different business cultures, consumer behaviors, and regulations make it unlikely that Alipay and WeChat will operate directly in other markets beyond targeting Chinese travelers. However, the successful marketing use cases developed on Alipay and WeChat Wallet will inspire third-party players like Apple and PayPal to morph their mobile wallets into more powerful customer engagement platforms. In the next few years, we expect to see that:
Emerging mobile wallets will develop features like Alipay and WeChat. We expect mobile wallet innovations to happen more quickly in emerging markets with less legacy and competition. Paytm in India is a good example.