Introducing The Forrester Readiness Index Report: eCommerce, 2016

Satish Meena

With the increasing significance of the online channel in retail, we need variables other than macroeconomic data or consumer market size to assess the readiness of a market for eCommerce. While there is no universal tool for selecting expansion opportunities, the Forrester Readiness Index (FRI) provides a holistic assessment of the eCommerce setting for each country.

Our recently publihsed Forrester Readiness Index For eCommerce, 2016 is a holistic assessment of the eCommerce setting to provide insights for global expansion needs. The eCommerce index signifies the level of opportunity in each of these countries over the next three to five years and measures the impact of technological and behavioral influences in conjunction with the revenue opportunity.

The FRI evaluates 25 quantitative variables in four areas — consumer, vendor, infrastructure, and online retail opportunities — in 55 countries across the globe. We selected each quantitative and qualitative indicator to measure the relative “readiness” of the platform in each country; these indicators reflect each country’s eCommerce environment and overall retail opportunity. 

Some of the key findings of the Index:

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Google Home Gives In To Ad Interruptions

James McQuivey

Today several users of Google Home -- Google's competitor to Amazon Echo with its Alexa intelligent agent -- reported that Google was inserting Beauty and the Beast movie promos into their conversations. Read The Verge's account of the details and see the tweet from user @brysonmeunier below:

It's surprising that Google is already testing this kind of interruption model for a couple of reasons. First, it's playing catch up to Amazon's much more mature intelligent speaker product and rocking the user boat with something so blatantly counter to the value of the category so soon feels foolhardy. That said, this will hardly cause a backlash so if it shows that Google is willing to test and refine its value proposition more rapidly than Amazon, that's not a terrible thing.

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Empathy Is Key To Engaging B2B Buyers

Laura Ramos

It’s no secret, company websites are a key implement in the B2B marketer’s toolbox.  B2B marketers rate websites as the second most effective demand management tactic for building awareness (behind events) in our 2016 Business Technographics marketing survey. B2B companies also expect more than half of their customers to buy online within three years.[i] These trends show just how important it is for marketers to get the website experience right – and to produce Web content that builds empathy to engage buyers.

So, is anyone doing this well today?  And, if so, what are they doing to make their content more engaging? In “Empathetic Content: The Key To Engaging B2B Buyers” we looked at 60 corporate websites across 12 different industries to figure this out. Sadly, we found most fail to deliver engaging, customer-focused content. Sadder still, not much has improved since we first undertook this exercise in 2014.

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The Top Emerging Technologies For Digital Predators

Nigel Fenwick

If you’ve been following my research, you know I like to divide the business world into three categories of company:

  • Digital Predators successfully use emerging digital technologies to gain market share and/or displace traditional incumbent companies (e.g., Amazon, Lyft, Priceline, Airbnb, Netflix).
  • Digital Transformers evolve a traditional business to take advantage of emerging technologies, creating new sources of value for customers and opening up new competitive strategies (e.g., Burberry, Nestlé, L’Oréal, Unilever, USAA, Ford, Delta).
  • Digital Dinosaurs struggle to leave behind their old business model. These companies are typically slow to change because they must defend large P&Ls, or they have a near monopoly position, or they simply don’t see the opportunity/threat (e.g., many retailers, taxi companies, manufacturing firms, legal firms, recruiters, construction firms).
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Is Facebook Listening? (And So What If They Are.)

Fatemeh Khatibloo

From time to time, an anecdote comes across our desks that, as researchers, we find hard to leave alone. A few months ago, one of these opportunities appeared, and we thought it might be interesting to lift the hood, and show you how we dig into tough research hypotheses and decide if and when to write about them. Here's what happened.

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Over a period of a few days this winter, we heard from one colleague, then another – 20 in all -- that conversations they'd had IRL ("in real life") seemingly resulted in ads and sponsored posts in Facebook. Given the state of "surveillance marketing," we weren't that surprised, until we read Facebook's T&Cs. There, the company explicitly stated that it wouldn't use data collected from a user's microphone for ad targeting. That's when we got curious.

First, we looked to the obvious: had our colleagues searched for the advertised item after having had the conversation? Had they checked into the same place as their friend, at the same time? Were they on the same network -- and thus sharing an IP address -- as someone who'd searched for the product or service? We rounded up the answers to these questions, and determined that "interest-by-proxy" was an unlikely cause.

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Okta Files to Go Public

Merritt Maxim

Yesterday, Okta filed its S-1 with the SEC, officially marking its intent to go public. This planned IPO had been rumored in early 2016, but less than optimal capital market conditions in 2016 likely contributed to the delay. The S-1 followed last week’s news that Okta acquired Stormpath, an identity API provider based in Silicon Valley, for an undisclosed amount.

The filing is not surprising but opens a window into the financial dynamics of the identity-as-a-service (IDaaS) market. After reviewing the S-1, three main themes stand out for me:

  1. IDaaS demand is very strong. Okta’s fiscal year ends on January 31, so full-year figures are not yet available for the period ending January 31, 2017. But comparing Okta’s revenue numbers for its 2015 fiscal year with its 2016 fiscal year shows an impressive 100% year-on-year growth. A big boost in service revenue also suggests that Okta is being deployed in larger, more complex environments that require more customization and services. Over the past 18 months, Forrester has had a steadily increasing number of IDaaS-related inquiries from enterprise clients looking to deliver identity and access management (IAM) capabilities to their employees via a SaaS subscription model. Okta’s revenue growth aligns with the strong growth in demand we see from our clients.
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Have You Ever Really Loved A Brand?

James McQuivey

I want to know who you love. I'm asking because love for a brand is actually a very hard thing to measure. At Forrester we've spent nearly a year trying to understand the emotional components of branding. Our colleagues in the customer experience (CX) team have years worth of data showing that emotion is the single most powerful driver of satisfaction with an experience. Designing to emotion, then, is a crucial method for success and my colleagues are all over it. 

On the brand side, marketers certainly agree that emotion matters. They have always believed that emotion matters. They just don't agree on how it matters. Or better said they don't have clarity on what emotion really is and so it becomes more difficult to pin down how that emotion applies to their brands -- is brand emotion different from CX-derived emotion? Do they relate to each other, act as influences on each other? It's hard to say for sure when your mental model of how emotion works is inadequate to the task of addressing the fast-moving emotions of today's empowered consumer. 

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Beware the Word "Alignment"

James McQuivey

Another Friday lesson on corporate-speak. Last week I shared how wrong it is to be "right?" and I hope you are secretly forwarding that note to every offender in your organization. Today, I'm here to save you from the equally egregious word "alignment." A seemingly simple word, one that baas like a gentle lamb on a hilly, green pasture. Except this lamb is sheep in the most despicable of wolves' clothing. To be aligned with something literally means to be arranged in a straight line. When someone invites you to be aligned with them, they think they are saying, "let's be on the same side," "let's have a shared perspective," or "let's not seem like we're in disagreement here." All of those meanings sound good -- we are teammates, we collaborate, we know how to work across silos! But none of them are what people really mean when, in an interdepartmental meeting someone says, "We need to make sure that we're in alignment on this."

What they truly mean is, "I've listened to you blather on long enough. You are wrong and I am right and you need to start pretending that you agree with me or we're going to have real problems here."

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DevOps has reached critical mass, CIOs need to get on board

Elinor Klavens

DevOps is one of the most powerful weapons that CIOs have in their arsenal. DevOps unites the entire enterprise in delivering business transformation with superior customer experience. Companies like Target, Capital One, Walmart, ING, Nordstrom, Netflix and JetBlue are already reaping the benefits. In order to unlock the promise of DevOps, CIOs must lead the call for cultural change.

As any leader knows, changing institutionalized behavior is the toughest of all management challenges and CIOs are understandably skeptical of new trends.  Despite this, CIOs must recognize when a trend becomes an imperative for survival. DevOps has become this imperative, and CIOs must act now. CIOs who embrace the DevOps challenge must first fostera culture of collaboration and learning, then enable their people with the right tools to drive holistic life-cycle automation. Those who meet this challenge won't just beat their competitors — they will decimate them. 

CIOs must replace traditional linear thinking with Agile thinking.

 
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Customer Success Should Be A Team Sport

Kate Leggett

Customers hold the power in their relationships with businesses. Today, it's not enough for businesses to deliver products. Customers expect them to deliver outcomes and success.

To do this, businesses must understand who the customer is, what their pain points are in achieving their business goals, and must help them choose the right products to meet their goals. The relationship does not stop there. Businesses must ensure that a new customer is properly onboarded, and is realizing ongoing value from their purchase. Forrester data backs these statements up. 68% want vendors who “understand my business, my problems – and help me solve them.”

This is the mission of customer success teams. They actively manage customers post-purchase, to ensure their ongoing success, with the end goal of reducing churn, increasing customer lifetime value and advocacy - the latter of which influences new sales.

Most businesses pursue this mission by standing up customer success organizations. They use a health score  — comprised of financial data, CRM data, product usage data, support cases, customer feedback  — to track their customers. However, most company employees interacting with customers don’t have this visibility into a customer’s health which can impact overall relationships.

Totango, a vendor of customer success solutions, has a very different view of customer success. Sure customer success teams manage overall customer relationships. However, Totango believes that everyone interacting with customers must have access to customer data and their health in order to better engage with them. Employees must also be able easily, with little friction, access this information from within the context of their application.

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