Serendipitously, IBM this week released its global study of 4,183 CxOs from around the world. The title? The Customer-activated Enterprise. The study carries irrefutable evidence that we already live in the age of the customer, which we define as "a 20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers." Here's my analysis of IBM's data:
First, CxOs see customers are a critical influence on their company's strategic vision and business strategy. Over half of global CxOs place customers ahead of all other influencers except the C-Suite itself as a strategic influence on the firm. And they don't mean the company's perception of what customers need. They mean customers themselves: eighty-two percent of CEOs believe they include customers in defining new products and services today. That's a ubiquitous desire, folks: CEOs want customers themselves to define the firm's new products and services.
Rumors have been swirling for a couple of months that Beijing-based Lenovo might purchase New Tapei, Taiwan-based HTC Corporation. Following Google’s acquisition of Motorola and Microsoft’s purchase of (most of) Nokia, the move could make sense, given Lenovo’s stated strategy of becoming a “PC-Plus” company with a new focus on mobility.
As I predictedrecently, there will be a forthcoming wave of industry consolidation. But what we mean by “the industry” is itself changing. My colleague Frank Gillett has been tracking this evolution for some time, having asserted in 2012 that the analytically sound way to look at operating systems combined mobile and PC OSes. There’s no separation, effectively, between PC and mobile hardware vendors. It’s one industry now.
Although an event that takes place in the offline world may be finite, it lives on in the online world. When a single incident becomes part of the Web, which is buzzing with real-time updates, critiques, and responses, the event takes shape, is assigned value, and is made into something significant. As a recent New York Times blogger put it, “the way we share, watch, read and otherwise consume content doesn’t happen on a linear timeline . . . the Web is always churning.” Sometimes, the aftermath of an event conveys more than the event itself.
Watching Apple announce the iPhone 5S and 5C last month was enlightening, but more revealing was tracking the fluctuating online consumer sentiment and response days later. Using Forrester’s NetBase social listening data, we measured the proliferating online discussion related to the Apple iPhone and recognized an immediate trend of negative commentary. Our data shows that while the amount of online conversation grew across a host of public websites, the positive sentiment regarding Apple iPhones plummeted, as the audience's brand perception became more negative.
Good customer service is the result of the right attention to strategy, business processes, technology, and people management. This seven-post series focuses on customer service technology and explains the what, why, how, and when technology questions.
Part 1 reviewed the customer service technology ecosystem.
Part 2 reviewed the challenges caused by the complexity of this technology ecosystem.
Part 3 reviewed the tactical outcomes of poor customer service.
Part 4 focused on the ways that the customer service technology ecosystem is changing.
Part 5 categorized technologies based on their ecosystem maturity.
Part 6 focused on what this analysis means to customer service managers.
In this final post, I will focus on where do you go from here, now that we know what the core customer service technologies are, how mature they are, and what their business value is. I recommend a three-step process:
Recently I have invested a fair amount of time with CMOs and agency executives, working through the challenges that marketing faces, especially as shiny new objects like social and mobile develop some patina and digital gets categorized as a mature channel. In a past post on Forbes I called the era we now live in a “post-digital” world for marketers, because the strategies that matter most are those that don’t start with the channel (i.e. mobile-first or digital-first). Marketers need to put themselves in their customers’ seat and define the marketing activities they take on from a customer-first perspective.
Two years ago, Josh Bernoff and I answered the question of where competitive success would come from in the future. In that research, we defined the era we now live in, the age of the customer (see report, client access required). We just updated that report. Since we expect that era to continue for the next 20 years, you need to know what has changed. The age of the customer is defined by a number of undeniable trends:
Customers are empowered. From multitab browsers to mobile devices, most people hold the power of information in their hands. How often do you hear from agencies, reporters, and your own customers reinforcing that message?
We are now in the age of the customer, with buyers using technology to gain control over institutions. That power flows from customers’ newfound ability to seamlessly price, critique, and direct their purchases.
What does this mean? At the risk of being overly dramatic, the future belongs to customer-obsessed enterprises.
All of this holds many implications for your company — especially around marketing — and in future posts I will explore those dynamics. But one question intrigues me at the moment: What will the age of the customer mean for the techies in your company?
Technology is essential in any managed security operations center. Technology has come a long way to create an active defense of the enterprise. There are vendors that offer solutions for log management, web application defense, firewall, incident event correlation, and many others. In order to understand the size of the security technology market, Forrester and the MSP Alliance are partnering in a survey to look at the managed security functions and the technology MSSPs use to deliver their services. If you are an MSSP or an end user of these technologies, you can complete this survey at:
We get a lot of calls from EA leaders that find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place: They need a tool to help them through a specific initiative such as application rationalization or transformation management, but don’t have the time, maturity, approach, and financial justification for the EA management suite (EAMS) that would get the job done. As I mention in my recent report, "Select A Right-Fit Toolset For EA," this uncertainty and urgency has fueled the proliferation of new vendors addressing specific challenges. What I did not mention is that these new choices don’t just signal more competition in the usual market - they actually signal a new market entirely. One that is probably bigger than many might first think.
I’m referring to the mid-market. Not just in the obvious sense of smaller, less mature EA practices, but also including the myriad situations where the initiative is being carried out by a role that has no idea that they’re acting as an “EA,” or by consultants hired to get the job done and get out. There’s a big market out there of temporary EA “initiatives” (as opposed to permanent EA groups or practices) and consultants that would leverage a tool if it were cheap enough, easy enough, and straight-forward enough for these short-term use cases.
Even doughnuts have gone digital. Between offering mobile alerts for hot doughnuts and interacting with evangelists on Twitter, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts has set out to integrate digital programs into its customer interactions and relationships – while still staying true to the 76-year-old global company’s core brand DNA. In the run-up to Forrester’s Forum For eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals in Chicago on November 5-6, Dwayne Chambers, Chief Marketing Officer at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, was kind enough to answer some questions that we posed to him.
I hope you enjoy his responses as much as I do, and I look forward to seeing many of you in Chicago!
Q. When did your company first start getting serious about digital business?
The Krispy Kreme brand was built on word-of-mouth marketing. We are fortunate that digital/social/interactive is today’s “word-of-mouth.” Things have really taken off over the past three years.
Q. What steps has your company taken to infuse digital business and skills throughout your business?