I’ve been invited to present at several partner conferences this year on the topic of how channel partners should transform their businesses, specifically in light of declining discount margins and digital transformation. Yes, you heard me right – declining discount margins. It’s not happening across the board, but the general trend in the tech industry for the past couple of years is that vendors are reducing the discounts they are offering to partners (but some are rolling out programs that can boost partners’ profitability in other ways).
To more than compensate for shrinking discount margins, I posted last year that there is a new wide world of value-added services opportunities for channel partners – particularly “away from the box” value-added services (as opposed to “close to the box” services involving installation and configuration), driven largely by the upsurge of line-of-business buyers: planning, adoption services, change management, risk management, multi-vendor management, and benchmarking, to name a few. For example, we just interviewed a Google partner who is seeing significant growth with its customer success program.
I’ll be brief, because I know you’re busy. If you’re a customer-obsessed marketer, you should plan to attend Forrester’s annual Forum designed just for you – MARKETING 2016. Join us and 600+ marketing leaders in New York City on April 26-27 as we dive deep into the issues that matter most to you. Our agenda this year is comprised of five sections:
1. Thriving In The Post-Digital Age: Led by our own VP/Principal Analyst Shar VanBoskirk, hear our latest research on what it takes to succeed as a marketing leader in a world where digital embeds in everything.
2. Customer Understanding: Sick of all the noise about big data? Join VP and Research Director Srividya Sridharan as she uncovers how to move from data, to insights, to business action.
3. Contextual Engagement: Principal Analyst Rusty Warner will be joined onstage by eBay and J&J as they discuss best practices in using situational context to drive deeper customer engagement.
4. The Leadership Question: Forrester’s Michelle Moorehead will moderate a superstar panel on the changing leadership role for CMOs.
5. The Power Of Trust: Principal Analyst Fatemeh Khatibloo will discuss how your ability to manage consumer privacy will be a key differentiator in building trust.
If you like horror shows, forget The Walking Dead and check out global markets: In 2016, US stocks got off to their worst start ever. Oil prices are in the toilet — taking oil company stocks with them — and neither looks to fully recover any time soon. Of course, both of these Nightmares on Wall Street might pale in comparison to what a Brexit could do to volatility in foreign exchange rates (and therefore your profit and loss).
Companies that obsess over these developments might be tempted to panic and cut spending on customer experience improvement programs, despite the fact that many firms are sitting on piles of cash. But cutting CX budgets is a terrible idea because CX is the greatest potential source of competitive advantage — especially in times of high market volatility. For example:
There has been quite a response to my comment in the last blog on planning a technology-focused track at our October B2B Marketing Forum. Thanks for your inputs. I am glad you are looking forward to it. I have the luxury of being able to invite many different experts to the Forum, not just the B2B Marketing analysts; so that track in Miami will focus on how to deal with the current marketing-technology offerings as an enterprise: how to architect, compare and procure, and manage the business case – through the full life cycle.
I’ve recently enjoyed Ajay Agarwal’s article in TechCrunch “Marketing Tech’s Bumpy Road”. Ajay talks about the trends from the investor point of view of course; but his comparison of B2C being weighted 10:1 in marketing and sales resources compared to B2B being the other way around is succinct -- that is why sales enablement is so important in our B2B Marketing research portfolio. But that ratio of 1:10 will swing more and more across to marketing each year of the Age of the Customer, as empowered buyers engage with suppliers digitally and redefine their expectations of face to face meetings. Andy Hoar is just starting his new survey of business buyers, a project he does with eRetailer each year, so expect to see us updating our sales archetypes forecast, as reported here by Mary Shea, later this year.
Customers use digital experiences to help satisfy their needs every day. Digital tools expand our experiences and change our lives at home and at work. Digital is now intertwined into the fabric of our lives at work and at home. We expect digital tools to add value to us no matter what we’re doing. Some 89% of executives believe digital will disrupt their business in the next twelve months.
To keep up with the rapidly evolving digital expectations of customers, businesses must not just develop a digital strategy but also become a digital business. This means more than building a few bolt-on mobile apps. It’s a fundamental rethink of your business model within a dynamic digital ecosystem that impacts every aspect of your business.
Transforming into a digital business is complex enough. But the rapid evolution of digital products and services makes it even more challenging for business leaders to navigate the landscape of digital business. Slow innovation cycles jeopardize the survival of traditional firms, and winning businesses will move toward an ecosystem business model. Digital businesses need to embrace digital ecosystems that support the continuous exchange of information and data to create value.
To master digital business, business leaders must minimize the complexity of digital ecosystems and learn to create value within such ecosystems. Digital ecosystems drive faster innovation, more efficient production, and more agile go-to-market activities, because:
We have all this valuable data about our customers, but we need to make better use of it.
This is the most common theme I hear on inquiry calls, at conferences, and in advisory sessions. At this point, companies are fully aware that their data contains enormous value. In fact, I like to think that data has a potential value much like the concept of potential energy in physics. In physics, the conversion of potential energy to kinetic energy requires force. In business, customer analytics is the Force that unlocks the hidden value in your customer data.
Because customer analytics often relies on advanced machine learning algorithms, it used to be the domain of statisticians who could write code in R or Python. Today, thanks to the 11 customer analytics solution providers in The Forrester Wave™: Customer Analytics Solutions, Q1 2016, customer insights professionals are applying these techniques to their data to address key business objectives. This report, which is only available to Forrester clients, evaluates the customer analytics solutions of Adobe, AgilOne, Angoss, Alteryx, FICO, IBM, Manthan, Pitney Bowes, SAP, SAS, and Teradata.
Everybody is telling us this: Today's modern B2B buyer is soooo empowered! Well, that’s because they can use digital and mobile channels to get access to competitive, pricing, reference and other information they need. Not only that, they even prefer to transact anywhere, anytime, and anyhow they want. So, the pressure is on for sales people to raise their game. Those who can only communicate in terms of product and service capabilities will see their messages fall flat.
Go-to-market leaders that fail to empower their sellers will see their selling organizations commoditized by those that do and their businesses surpassed by disrupters. While change is clearly afoot - I can’t think of a more exciting time to be in Sales! B2B sellers who embrace change, who are adroit at leveraging new technologies to support more contextual engagements, and who seek out less cluttered channels such as social - will not only remain relevant but will be wildly successful!
To hear and see more, watch the below Animated Interview And Podcast with Chad Quinn, President and Founder of Ecosystems.
After experiencing some of the most exhausting days in the life of a “mobile” analyst, I am back from Barcelona. Here are my key takeaways from the 2016 event.
MWC 2016's "Mobile Is Everything" theme summarizes two ideas: the disruptive power of ubiquitous mobile devices and their ability to connect things and objects in our surrounding environment. This year, innovation and key announcements did not so much come from new flagship smartphone manufacturers but instead focused on solutions that enable mobile devices to activate adjacent technologies — like VR, 360-degree cameras, 5G, and the IoT — to build the next generation of connected experiences. Let's cut through the hype to look at what the headlines really mean for B2C marketers:
VR is really still hype. Samsung massively surfed on the VR "wow" effect and heavily promoted its Gear VR headset while Facebook's CEO insisted that VR is the next-generation platfrom and will shape the future of social. After the distribution of five million of Google's Cardboard VR Viewers since June 2014, the buzz will continue with Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR (to be launched mid-March at the Game Developer Conference), creating awareness for digitally immersive experiences. But reach will be extremely limited, as the technology will only attract a niche set of users — especially gamers — in the first two years. However, marketers at retail, automotive, travel, or luxury real-estate companies with a digital innovation agenda should keep an eye for signs of VR adoption beyond the "techno-few."
Use mobile to unlock IoT consumer experiences. IoT remains first and foremost a B2B and industrial play. However, B2C marketers can combine mobile and IoT to activate new brand experiences.
Is customer-facing breach notification and response a part of your incident response plan? If should be! This is the part where you notify people that their information has been compromised, communicate to employees and the public about what happened and set the tone for recovery. It's more art than science, with different factors that influence what and how you do the notification and response. Unfortunately, many firms treat breach notification as an afterthought or only as a compliance obligation, missing out on an opportunity to reassure and make things right with their customers at a critical time when a breach has damaged customer trust.
At RSA Conference last week, I moderated a panel discussion with three industry experts (Bo Holland of AllClear ID, Lisa Sotto of Hunton & Williams, and Matt Prevost of Chubb) who offered their insights into the what to do, how to do it, and how to pay for it and offset the risk as it relates to breach notification and response. Highlights from the discussion:
When I read articles like today's WSJ article on mutual funds exiting high tech startups and triangulate the content with Forrester client interactions over the last 12 to 18 months (and some rumors) I am now becoming convinced that there will be some Business Intelligence (BI) and analytics vendor shake ups in 2016. Even though according to our research enterprises are still only leveraging 20%-40% of their entire universe of data for insights and decisions, and 50%-80% of all BI/analytics apps are still done in spreadsheets, the market is over saturated with vendors. Just take a look at the 50+ vendors we track in our BI Vendor Landscape. IMHO we are nearing a saturating point where the buy side of the market cannot sustain so many sellers. Indeed we are already seeing a trend where large enterprises, which a couple of years ago had 10+ different BI platforms, today usually only deploy somewhere between 3 and 5. And, in case you missed it, we already saw what is surely to be a much bigger trend of BI/analytics M&A - SAP acquiring mobile BI vendor Roambi. Start hedging your BI vendor bets!