Microsoft’s New Personal Digital Assistant Signals The Start Of Something Bigger

Clement Teo

When Clippy, Microsoft’s paper-clip assistant, disappeared in 1998, it was hardly missed; it was both annoying and offered little value to users. Zip forward 16 years: Microsoft has just introduced Cortana, a new personal digital assistant that the firm will launch on Windows Phone in the coming months. Powered by Bing, and about two years in the making, Cortana will be important if Microsoft gets it right. Here’s why it’s an exciting development:

  • Mobile-first is a growing enterprise strategy. The whole idea of creating a mobile-first enterprise strategy has taken root in many enterprises, as they recognize that users now expect any information or service they desire to be available to them, in context and at their moment of need. Users are cognitively and behaviorally ready to embrace wearable technology as an extension of mobility — and to weave it into their business processes. My colleague JP Gownder shares his views on wearables here.
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Nokia's New Lumia Windows 8.1 Phones: WIM For eBusiness Professionals

Julie Ask

I had the opportunity to attend Nokia's event in San Francisco yesterday. Stephen Elop (EVP Devices & Services), Jo Harlow, Vesa Jutila and Valerie Buckingham among other executives answered questions. See the press event here. High level take away: they released a series of colorful, large & bright screened devices with INSANE camera capabilities at a wide range of price points.

Their Achilles heal is still apps - or lack thereof. They've made progress. They have 245,000 apps today (compared to Apple's 1M plus) and they are adding 500/day. They are doing well with the 100 most popular apps (think eBay, Facebook, Instagram, etc.). 

Here are a few things that matter to you:

1) More and more consumers will buy these phones. Nokia phones - despite the lack of apps - will become increasingly difficult for consumers to ignore. They have large screens. They are finger-friendly with large icons. They are "glance friendly" - with live content on the homescreen page. They have INSANE photo/video capabilities that can make any of us look like professionals. They are price competitive. I had total phone envy yesterday as I sat there with my small-screened phone. 

2) Your larger competitors will start to build native apps for the Windows family of phones. Many of your focus on iOS and Android today.  (See research) Watch your traffic and device adoption among your customer base. It may not be time yet, but you shouldn't ignore them flat out. 

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Four Takeaways From An Evening Of Omnichannel Retail In New York

Zia Daniell Wigder

Last night we held an event here in New York in which VP & Principal Analyst Peter Sheldon presented some of his recent research on the new omnichannel imperative.  He talked through the state of omnichannel retail today, why omnichannel is now essential for retailers and which changes retailers must make in order to drive their omnichannel initiatives forward. A few takeaways from the event:

Online sales and web-influenced sales now represent the majority of all retail transactions in the US.  This year’s $3 trillion US retail market is dominated by a combination of online transactions and offline transactions influenced by online research (our colleague, Sucharita Mulpuru, documents this trend in our cross-channel retail forecast). Peter pointed out that high-value purchases tend to be the most heavily researched, with some categories like cars seeing extraordinarily high levels of online research prior to purchase.

Retailers are thinking creatively about in-store pickup. Today’s in-store pickup initiatives vary greatly in terms of execution: Not every retailer has determined it’s best to place in-store pickup areas in the back of stores, forcing consumers to walk past a variety of potentially tempting products en route to the pickup area. In Canada, for example, Future Shop (a division of Best Buy Canada) offers items for pickup within 20 minutes of the order being placed online and provides a separate pickup area just inside or outside the front of retail stores. Consumers don’t spend precious time waiting for pickup and navigating to hidden-away pickup areas – instead, the idea is to provide them with time to shop after collecting their purchase.

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Bharti Airtel Finally Says “Yes” To IBM — But With Caveats

Manish Bahl

All the speculations on whether IBM will get a renewal of its landmark contract with Bharti Airtel, largest telecom operator in India, have finally come to an end. Yesterday, IBM announced that Bharti Airtel has extended the agreement to manage latter’s infrastructure and application services over the next five years. The key highlights:

  • Although the deal value was not disclosed, Forrester estimates it at between $600 million and $700 million spread across five years.
  • The tenure of the contract has been reduced from 10 years to five.
  • Bharti Airtel plans to build in-house tech capabilities and expand its partner ecosystem as part of its new IT vision.
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Do People Complain More On Twitter Or On Facebook?

Nate Elliott

In researching our recent report on Google Plus, I asked social listening and intelligence provider Converseon for some help. They agreed to review more than 2,500 direct user interactions with 20 leading brands on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. (They tracked only direct user interactions, meaning posts directly onto brands' Facebook or Google Plus pages, comments on brands' Facebook or Google Plus posts, and @mentions of brands on Twitter. The brands were selected from among Interbrand's list of top global brands.) The goal? To determine whether those user interactions were mostly positive or mostly negative and to see whether the sentiment of user interactions varied by site.

In the end, that research didn't make it into the final report — but I thought you might like to see the data anyway, and the folks at Converseon agreed to let me share the results.

We expected there might be big differences in the tone of users' interactions with brands on each site. But it turns out about one-half of user interaction on each site was positive. And as for the question in the title of this blog post ("Do people complain more on Twitter or on Facebook?") — exactly one-fifth of user interaction on both Facebook and Twitter was negative.

Sentiment of user interactions with brands on Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter

Thanks again to Converseon for pulling this data and allowing us to share it here.

Retailers Have Beacon Fever

Adam Silverman

There is no hotter topic in retail today than beacons. These small objects which transmit location information to smartphones based on Bluetooth Low Energy have transformed our retail imagination, conjuring up visions of continuous offers being showered onto customers as they walk the aisles of their favorite grocery store.  The reality is more subdued.  We are still very early in the development of location strategies that leverage beacons and the iBeacon protocol, and retailers need to solve for a variety of challenges such as customer privacy, beacon maintenance, connectivity, and campaign management.

In a recent report titled “The Emergence of Beacons In Retail”, my team digs into this emerging location technology and tackles important topics, including:

  • Beacons require the right combination of hardware and software.  BLE is required as beacons leverage the Bluetooth hardware found on most new smartphones. A mobile app is also required to interface with the beacons, transmitting the location information provided by the beacon to a server, and then receiving the appropriate content back from the server to display on the customer’s mobile device.
  • Beacons enable rich experiences beyond offers.  We all enjoy saving money, and pushing offers to us via beacons will be a popular use case. However it is possible to offer a deeper level of engagement. Based on location, retailers can allow the ability to unlock dressing rooms, authenticate a mobile payment, or provide enhanced service such as preparing your favorite latte as you enter your local coffee shop.
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Large Chinese Enterprise Targets Improved Agility

Gene Cao

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) in China face a quickly changing competitive landscape — one that their existing technology strategies can’t keep up with. To address this challenge, organizations are migrating from earlier-generation BI architectures, technologies, and organizational structures to new models and approaches. My “Chinese State-Owned Enterprise Targets Improved Agility” report, scheduled to appear later this month, describes the experience of a typical large Chinese SOE, the China National Cereals, Oils, and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO), which leveraged a BI-led program to jump-start the transformation of its technology management capabilities.

COFCO is China’s largest supplier of agricultural and food products and services, including oils, rice, wine, tea, and various other products, and is expanding into real estate, shopping centers, and other industries. COFCO is a large B2B trader with many technology stakeholders, and its headquarters couldn’t quickly collect or analyze data from branches or business units, delaying the company’s response to and decisions about market changes. Major obstacles included siloed operations centers and business units; inconsistent data management rules that complicated centralized data governance; and other process and people challenges.

To address these issues, COFCO decided to redefine the position of technology management in the organization and review its technology agenda and planning. It evaluated and selected BI as the most compelling project to deliver quick business outcomes that would convince business executives to further invest in the transformation. Best practices that COFCO implemented include:

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You Have A Mobile Banking Strategy: Now What? (Discussion Of The Obstacles To Mobile Banking Execution Success)

Peter Wannemacher

For digital teams at banks and credit unions, building a mobile strategy to win, serve, and retain customers is a major undertaking. But even after executive leaders approve a mobile strategy — after the congratulations, confetti, and champagne fade away — digital teams at banks face the challenge of executing on that strategy. The latest chapter in Forrester's Mobile Banking Strategy Playbook outlines how digital business leaders at banks can meet customer needs and business objectives with a mobile banking road map

Our report lays out many commonly-encountered obstacles to mobile banking execution success and how digital teams can overcome these obstacles. Here are a few of the areas the report looks at:

  • Overly ambiguous — or nonexistent — business goals. Clearly articulated business goals should be part of a bank's mobile strategy. But a successful road map also lays out the business objectives and records specific goals for each initiative. As one eBusiness executive at a bank told us, "We literally have a section we call 'What's in it for us?' and we use sticky notes to write out what we think we can gain from each action."
  • Legacy systems and back-end integration. Technology may well be the largest obstacle to executing a mobile banking strategy — especially for larger, traditional banks. As such, successful mobile road maps need to outline how initiatives will plug into existing or soon-to-come platforms and systems.
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Q&A With Jeannine Rossignol, Vice President, Marketing Services, Xerox

Melissa Parrish

Marketers have paid lip service to customer-centric marketing for a long time. But consumers and business buyers have flipped the conversation from "Oh, they think they know me" to "They better know me, or I'll find someone who does." For brands to be truly competitive in the Age of the Customer, companies must become customer obsessed – or risk losing market share to the competition. 

At Forrester’s Forum For Marketing Leaders next week, Forrester analysts and industry speakers will address why marketers must go 'beyond the campaign', to deliver real-time customer value. We'll hear from Jeannine Rossignol, Vice President of Marketing Services at Xerox, who will discuss Xerox’s Get Optimistic initiative. Designed to engage buyers by talking about what they care about (hint: it’s not your brand!), the initiative feeds self-interest with highly relevant, customer-centric content.

In the run-up to Forum, I posed a few questions to Jeannine. Here's a sneak peak of what's to come next week.

Q: B2B marketers aren't typically known for being customer-centric. What was the biggest barrier you faced as you attempted to pivot?

Barriers are just opportunities in disguise (I am an optimist, after all). How you view them can make all the difference in whether you can overcome them or not. Businesses today face unprecedented choice on a daily basis – and to stand out among their options, we can’t just say we’re customer-centric; we have to make them believe it. And for most of us that requires a complete mindset change.

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I Created A Message Framework On The Way To The Sales Enablement Forum

Peter O'Neill

Peter O'Neill here, now back in my home office after our successful  Sales Enablement Forum in Scottsdale, Arizona.  First, I must be totally honest with you, and selfish, my absolute highlight at the event was the day before when eight clients played golf with us on the famous TPC Stadium Course, which was where our event hotel was situated.

But the event itself was also quite spectacular for me.  I led a breakout track where we focused on how to create the right message for the target buyers you have in mind with your marketing and sales efforts. I had a great keynote speaker in Eduardo Conrado, from Motorola Solutions and I had my illustrious analyst-colleagues Laura Ramos and Sheryl Pattek as further guest speakers in the track to present other best practice examples.

Laura and Sheryl had also helped me to prepare for my own presentation which revolved around proposing a Message Framework and was based on the following agenda:

Ø  Buyer Expectations Are Different In The Age Of The Customer 

Ø  You Need One Consistent Message In Marketing Content And Sales Conversations

Ø  Your Message Must Stick In All The Right Places At The Right Times

Ø  So Pour The Message Into A Content Portfolio

Ø  Use Forrester’s Message Framework To Tune Or Rebuild Your Portfolio.

 

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