Happy 2017! Settling in to the New Year often renews hope and excitement for the future, and rekindles anticipation for the brands, products, and experiences on the horizon. This year, it’s hard to think about imminent innovations without considering a modern imperative that is rapidly moving to the forefront of conversation: customer empathy.
We are barely three weeks into 2017 and already the cry for customer empathy – and brands’ responses to it – are popping up frequently. At the Consumer Electronics Show, the “insanely cute” Kuri personal robot stole consumers’ hearts, and took the notion of “tech love” to a whole other level. The progression of Artificial Intelligence is sparking public debate about the role of compassion in human connection. And people find themselves seeking meaning, purpose, and understanding over happiness.
The need for empathy affects how customers evaluate brands too: Consumers increasingly prefer companies that resonate with shoppers’ personal values. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® social listening data shows that consumer buzz about company values is on the rise:
These days it seems like you can't open a newspaper (ok, web browser) without coming across an article on artificial intelligence. Well publicized breakthroughs like Google AlphaGo's unprecedented victories over human Go champions have heralded the promise of a new golden age for AI. Add to that the personification of personal assistants in Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa coupled with Salesforce's “resurrection” of Albert Einstein and the rampant proliferation of AI-related startups - and the AI buzz becomes more of a cacophonous clamor.
To put it mildly, this is confusing for businesses, who are trying to determine what is real and what is mere snake oil. Will AI achieve its transformational promise, or will it join the trash heap of over-hyped technologies?
Forrester believes AI will significantly disrupt the way organizations win, serve, and retain customers... eventually. To do this, it will take massive amounts of data to train artificially intelligent systems to perform their jobs well enough to replace their human counterparts.
(A data centre in Hamina, Finland. Source: Google)
Not long ago, European customers of the global public cloud vendors relied upon a single data centre ‘region’ for all their cloud computing needs. From Lisbon to Lviv, Kiruna to Kalamata, customers of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure sent everything to Ireland, and customers of the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) sent everything to Belgium. And, mostly, public cloud’s early adopters in Europe just got on with it.
For the majority of public cloud workloads, storing and processing data somewhere in the European Economic Area (EEA) really was — and is — good enough. Network latency was mostly low enough not to be a problem, and European regulations covered the main use cases well enough to appease all but the most cautious lawyers.
But connections can always be faster, and there are still use cases in regulated industries and government where keeping personal data inside specific geographic borders is either essential or encouraged. And, more and more often these days, customers just seem to feel happier when their data doesn’t leave the country. Mostly, no law requires it, and no regulation recommends it. But it’s still happening. We should all be pushing back against this odd trend towards data balkanisation, much harder than we are.
If you are like other CX pros, at some point in your CX career you’ll encounter the “money question.” Your CEO will ask you: “What's an improvement in our customers’ experience worth in dollars and cents?” And it’s likely that you won’t have a (good enough) answer. I say that because I know that 50% of CX pros we surveyed have not modeled how CX quality influences customer behavior.
We know great CX drives revenue. But to make the case, you need a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding. So we used data from our Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) and modeled the revenue impact of improving CX. To do that, we asked three questions:
What is a customer’s loyalty (retention, enrichment and advocacy) worth in revenue dollars?
Is there a relationship between CX quality and loyalty-based revenue?
How does the relationship between CX and revenue potential differ by industry?
Between February 27 and March 2, 2017, Mobile World Congress (MWC) will once again take place in Barcelona. Last year, over 100,000 attendees visited the event in search of new insights about “everything mobile.” This year’s MWC theme is "The Next Element" and aims to underline how elemental mobile has become in our everyday lives. I would go further, as I believe that mobility is increasingly treated as a key enabler of the wider digital transformation process. From an enterprise perspective, I expect that during MWC 2017:
Process-mobilization debates will gradually replace technology discussions. I expect a little less hype around the features and functions of shiny mobile devices and network components this year. I hope that there will be more of a debate about how mobility can enhance business processes and change business models. Events like Web Summit host more advanced debates about the impact of smart devices on accelerating the business platform economy. MWC 2017 visitors should look for relevant case studies from the likes of GE Digital that underline how these business platforms can support positive business outcomes.
Brand equity is a precious thing. It takes years to build and can be damaged in a heartbeat by unforeseen events, like product breakdown, and ill-considered marketing strategy. Smart marketers exercise control over how, where, and when their product or service is seen in order to safeguard their brand investment.
The tools and partnerships that marketers must rely on to buy media and execute programmatically preclude the kind of control that marketers expect and exercise in other channels. The result is that they cannot get a comprehensive list of sites where their ads appear. While they can require white- and black lists, without the final recap they have no way to determine whether or not their requirements were met.
What’s more, marketers can no longer assume that their ad placements within walled gardens won’t be compromised. The challenge of determining what is and isn’t valid content continues.
In the past few months, several major brands have conceded that, unbeknownst to them, their ads have appeared on inappropriate sites. They learned of these placements not from their programmatic partners, but from discontented customers, which is a marketer’s worst nightmare.
This is not a situation that can be changed overnight. It’s a challenge that marketers must lay down to themselves and their programmatic partners in order to protect the brand equity they have so thoughtfully built over time.
I've always dismissed efforts to size the 'content marketing market'. The definition of content marketing's very squirrelly, meaning:
a) if you size it including A, B, and C, then people will invariably say it should also include D, E, and F (but not B, or C), and
b) if you ask marketers to give you a number, then you're at the mercy of however each marketer defines it (combining apples and oranges).
Last year, when setting up our big annual survey of marketing leaders, we sidestepped the definition mine-fields by asking marketers to tell us how much of their budgets would go to content creation. Taking that data and applying some approximations (% of revenue going to marketing budget and total domestic industrial revenues) gets you to my headline figure: $10 billion spent on content (all of it, not just 'pull content', 'media content', or whatever content ghetto you want to define) in the US in 2016. Considering US GDP is about one-quarter of global GDP, that brings us to a ballpark figure of $40 billion annually in global marketing content spend in 2016.
The figure's admittedly a ballpark estimate, but at least it describes clearly what it contains (marketing content), and it's pleasingly well lower than other, more hyperbolic estimates for content marketing that I've seen bandied about.
In the lead-up to Mount Vesuvius’ catastrophic eruption — as foreshocks became more frequent and the air grew tainted — the citizens of Pompeii gossiped about a celestial force set to punish them for their sins. Around 2,000 years later, and there’s the same apocalyptic mood around Amazon’s looming impact on retail in Australia.
But while Amazon’s eventual launch will certainly disrupt incumbents, don’t overlook the impact of another silent assassin: Kmart.
This is no coincidence. Forrester has confirmed the link between customer experience improvement and revenue growth. It leads to customers who spend more, recommend you to others more, and stick with you. But what is really surprising is the hypnotic way Kmart achieved this.
My colleagues Melissa Parrish, Richard Joyce, Susan Bidel and I spent a lot of time since the US Presidential election researching the effect of the so-called “fake news” epidemic. Why is this so prominent, and why now? The truth is this 2016 election cycle shed an enormous spotlight on a nagging problem for advertisers that existed long before the era of WikiLeaks, PizzaGate, and Breitbart News Network.
Today we revealed a new report that assesses the challenge ahead for advertisers, outlines the risks to brands, and provides a prescription for how to protect the ever-increasing budgets that continue to funnel into programmatic advertising. For the details, read the full report (client access only): Fake News: More Proof That Advertisers Must Choose Quality Over Quantity.
Here’s a quick summary:
Don’t confuse satire or opinion with fabrication. Understand the difference between what is blatantly fabricated with ill intent vs. satirical (e.g. The Onion) or opinion-based publications. The risk to your brand differs across this spectrum, and so must your mitigation tactics.
In a previous blog, I outlined how context matters, and specifically how the industry context in which you are doing business matters to the strategic decisions you make. But there are also commonalities across industries. Some business challenges plague multiple industries such as how to improve customer experience, retain loyal customers, and improve sales whether in the retail or hospitality sector, or how to get the inputs you need to make your products and to get your products to market in a timely manner in the manufacturing or pharmaceutical sectors. And, everyone these days is increasingly concerned about fraud, risk and security.