Never having been an analyst that thinks he knows it all, I periodically attend external conferences as a mere delegate (no speech) to learn something new and network. I was at last week’s conference of the Association of Professional Sales (APS) in London with over 400 other marketers, sales enablement professionals, sales training companies and even sales executives to discuss
“The New Era Of Differentiation”.
What you sell is not enough but how you sell it is everything: What you say, what you do, what you offer and who you hire into sales.
The APS was formed two years ago by enterprise sales executives at EMC, EY, SAP, Wipro, WorldPay, and Royal Mail, and now has well over 1000 members. Its objective is to raise awareness of sales as a profession (one speaker opined that hairdressers and butchers are more appreciated than salespeople) – by providing accreditations, training, certifications and codes of conduct. The word “profession” is usually attributed to occupations like lawyers or doctors in the English language so these aspirations are high.
One of the sponsoring partners for this initiative is Corporate Visions Inc. – kudos to Tim Riesterer, their Chief Strategy Officer in recognizing the potential of the Association. Tim was a keynote speaker and, as usual, he presented eloquently about effective sales conversations. Neil Rackham, most famous for the now 30-year old book “Spin Selling” is also involved in the APS and he spoke too; as did leaders from Royal Mail, IBM, EY, CPM, Wipro, SAP, EMC, Clarify, F5 Networks, and Ciena. The other sponsor of the event was LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
Okay, you’ve read countless opinion pieces on the blockbuster deal where Microsoft paid a notable (nearly 9x) premium for LinkedIn. One could argue that it’s about time someone snatched up LinkedIn…that was my initial reaction, and perhaps yours too. But why Microsoft, and why now? Well, it should be obvious that this is a B2B play. In fact, our own Melissa Parrish eloquently outlined the minimal relevance to B2C firms in her blog post yesterday.
However, this morning, Melissa and several other colleagues here at Forrester published our quick take on what this deal really means. It breaks down to 3 fundamental things:
Data. As today's marketing tech goes, Microsoft lags significantly in two areas: customer identity management and proprietary data assets. LinkedIn solves that problem by integrating 433 million LinkedIn profiles. Microsoft will get its hands on data about how those individuals use products like Office 365, email, and Skype.
CRM. Microsoft is clearly firing a shot across the bow of Salesforce. In the CRM space, Dynamics has some traction in the enterprise, but it has traditionally been an alternative for small and medium-size businesses requiring more accessible price points than Salesforce commands.
The second the story broke about Microsoft’s $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, everybody you can think of who has any kind of an opinion about either company, social media, business productivity, enterprise software, the stock market, data and mergers & acquisitions in general has weighed in on the deal’s implications for their areas of expertise. Ordinarily this would inspire some serious eye-rolling in me, but in this case it’s warranted because Microsoft has its hands in so many businesses and enterprise applications, and LinkedIn has so much consumer activity and data that many people-- talking heads or otherwise-- have a relevant take. Speaking of which, Forrester clients should keep an eye on our website tomorrow morning for first-take analysis from all sides of our research org. Spoiler alert: The implication for social selling and business productivity are potentially massive.
In Isaiah Berlin's most popular essay, “The Hedgehog and the Fox,” the famous Latvian-British social and political theorist quoted a fragment of ancient Greek: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Since its publication in 1953, this concept has become an intellectual parlor game (something Berlin said himself) that those with a binary view of the universe have used to divide writers, politicians (Kennedy: fox; Nixon: hedgehog), and executives into two neat categories.
What’s forgotten is that Berlin used this ancient aphorism as a way to evaluate Leo Tolstoy. His conclusion? Tolstoy was actually a fox, despite many declarations that would indicate Tolstoy wanted to be a hedgehog. In short, Tolstoy was both — a fox by inclination, but a hedgehog by choice.
B2B marketers want sellers to know lots of things, and they use third-party data providers as part of that desire. At a recent Forrester event, I asked a marketer from a large financial services firm how may data providers they used; she casually replied: “77.” Seventy-seven separate data providers! If only a fraction of this data is provided to sellers, they must feel overwhelmed.
The consultative seller needs both the characteristics of the fox – knowing many things about the buyers, their companies, competition, and industry – and the hedgehog – knowing the one big thing (or maybe a few) that will lead to a sale.
Yesterday, the ANA released the findings from an eight month research study into the issue of transparency within the media agency industry. The findings are damning, but not surprising for those who have been following this issue. The phrase in the report that caught my eye was this: “evidence of a fundamental disconnect in the advertising industry regarding the basic nature of the advertiser-agency relationship.”
In other words, it’s the advertising-agency relationship that stinks.
Look past the rebates, the free cash disguised as “research and consulting” and the media mark ups and what you’ll see is the advertiser-agency relationship that has been under strain for years has finally completely collapsed. Three factors have driven the industry to this point:
Agency success metrics tied to an outdated approach. Clients expect high impression levels, high click volume – all at a low cost. This doesn’t allow a lot of room for media agencies to show additional value beyond scale and efficiency. The result is that agencies continue to look for opportunities to drive more impressions and lower CPMs without any accountability for real business and revenue impact.
Lead-to-revenue management automation player Marketo has certainly been in the news recently. First, in May, it held its annual Marketing Nation Summit in Las Vegas and announced plans to provide a marketing automation system, powered by a new architecture, which will enable marketers to engineer a great customer experience across the entire customer life cycle.
Clearly, this was a financially ambitious plan, reviving age-old speculation about a potential acquisition of the vendor. Candidate Marketo suitors included SAP, which has a glaring marketing automation hole in its portfolio as enterprises increasingly compete on customer experience, not operational excellence; Microsoft, which has a large base of CRM customers ready for the "prequel" of marketing automation; and even Google, which could boost its reach with midmarket business customers and enhance its overall cloud software and infrastructure business.
But Principal Analyst Lori Wizdo provided another point of view, saying: “Executing on that ambitious vision would take some investment. A private equity investment could provide the equity and the sight screen to enable that steep investment.”
Computing at the edge of the mobile network will frame your IoT-enabled customer experiences in the age of the customer. As products and services based on the internet of things (IoT) continue to thrive, so does the reliance on the underlying network infrastructures to drive business success. Most IoT assets will be connected via mobile infrastructure, and cloud services are central to many IoT initiatives to deliver real-time and context-based services.
However, data transmission costs and the latency limitations of mobile connectivity pose challenges to many of these IoT installations that rely on cloud computing. Mobile edge computing (MEC) is an important technology that enables businesses to deliver real-time and context-based mobile moments to users of IoT solutions, while managing the cost base for mobile infrastructure.
Cloud and IoT solutions are increasingly intertwined and improve IoT experiences. IoT solutions gain functionality through cloud services, which in turn open access to third-party expertise and up-to-date information.
Mobile connectivity can create challenges for cloud-enabled IoT environments. Latency affects user experiences, so poor mobile connectivity can limit cloud computing deployments in the IoT context.
MEC provides real-time network and context information, including location. MEC gives application developers and business leaders access to cloud computing capabilities and a cloud service environment that’s closer to their actual users.
Forrester’s Digital Transformation Europe 2016 Forum in London starts today, and our first industry speaker will be Blake Cahill, Head of Digital, at Royal Philips. Over the past 20 years, Blake has led a series of marketing, creative, client management, product innovation, and thought leadership projects for both Fortune 500 organizations and digital start-ups. At Philips, Blake is helping to lead the Dutch company’s international rebranding and expansion into new technologies and markets. In his presentation, he will talk about the role of digital marketing in the transformation of Philips into a global digital business, and in entering the Chinese market, providing key best practices and lessons learnt.
As I prepared for my role as Forum co-chair, together with Benjamin Ensor, I spoke to Blake about his views on the age of the customer and the impact of digital on companies like Royal Philips. Here is what Blake shared with me, and I hope you will enjoy his answers as much as I did. If you would like to attend Blake's presentation in person, there is still time to register!
Q. How is digital transforming Philips' business and, as a digital marketer, how are you collaborating with and/or advising your peers in other parts of the business on the transformation?
Business decision-makers take note: location-based context is critical for the future of application experiences and customer engagement. Understanding the location of customers and assets lets companies get closer to their customers and assets to drive better decisions (just to name a few: choosing the a site for a brick-and-mortar location, picking what offer to send to a customer, guiding passengers through airports, deciding where to focus your next marketing campaign, or pushing a greeting and sign-in to a patient as soon as she enters a hospital). The flood of spatial data generated by ubiquitous mobile and proliferating IoT devices offers developers new opportunities for user engagement, but choosing the right tools and services to ingest, analyze, and act upon this information can be vexing.
From comprehensive spatial analysis systems to decomposed location services solving specific problems, the landscape of spatial analysis vendors and offerings can be overwhelming and confusing. In our new report, Vendor Landscape: Spatial Analysis And Location Intelligence, Q2 2016, Forrester breaks down the market into six cohorts to help application developers, analysts, and business decision-makers choose the right technologies for their enterprise. Check out the full report at Forrester.com for more details and to view capabilities of dozens of vendors in these cohorts: