Since this is my first post here, let me begin with an introduction: I've worked at JupiterResearch — now a division of Forrester — for almost six years, first in New York, then in London, and now Berlin. During that time my research has focused primarily on video and rich media advertising, social marketing, and search marketing. I joined Forrester via their acquisition of Jupiter in July 2008, and I'm excited to announce that starting in January I'll be working as a Forrester Principal Analyst serving Interactive Marketers, and that I'll be based out of Vancouver.
Forrester recently released our 2008 Customer Experience Index, a ranking of 114 companies by consumers who responded to an online survey asking how useful, easy to work with and enjoyable the various companies were. Get this, six of the top eight were retailers. The top retailer on the list? Barnes & Noble. So, what does this mean for retailers?
1. A great customer experience is a must-have in brutally-competitive, margin-thin industries that comprise most of the retail landscape. It is not an option. Not surprisingly, the ten worst performers in the index were TV, wireless and web service providers and health insurance companies--regulated industries that give consumers no choice but to interact with them.
In my coverage of business continuity and disaster recovery, I talk to both IT infrastructure and operations professionals as well as IT security professionals and I've found that the term "data protection" means something different to each. This comes as no surprise and I think for a long time it didn't really matter because IT operations and security professionals operated in independent silos. But as silos break down and "data protection" is a shared responsibility across the organization, it's important to be specific and to understand who is responsible for what.
If you want to understand the financial meltdown, read Niall Ferguson's article in Vanity Fair: "Wall Street Lays Another Egg." It logically lays out the causation of the disaster, complete with historical backdrop.
If you're busy, here's my instant summary:
Factor One: Real estate
The belief, going back to Roosevelt, and most recently promulgated by G.W. Bush, that all citizens should own a home.
Factor Two: Converting mortgages into securities
Wall Street bundled mortgages into securities, supposedly attenuating risk, but actually making it hard to ultimately assess the value of the loans.
Factor Three: Subprime mortgages
The securitization of mortgages theoretically made it possible to take on riskier loans (subprime mortgages), as long as they were bundled with better risk loans. This strategy worked as long as real estate prices kept rising and interest rates remained low.
It’s always the short questions that make my job interesting. Like this one.
Gil, do you think companies will cut back on Enterprise Web 2.0 in light of the economy?
First reaction--it depends. I’m an analyst, that’s always our first answer. But what does it depend on? What are all the factors at play and how will this impact your decisions? So, here’s my read of the Enterprise Web 2.0 trends based on many conversations with my clients and vendors. I will focus specifically on wiki and social networking tools used to improve internal collaboration and knowledge sharing. These are gaining momentum and acceptance within the enterprise. (See my TechRadar report for the details on what Forrester sees in scope for Enterprise Web 2.0.)
There will be a slowdown of IT-driven collaboration projects in 2009. But there will be increased interest in business-driven collaboration projects. Why? There is a technology populist movement, and has been for a while. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) typically operate with little IT support and rely upon vendors for collaboration services – nothing new here. But we find that business units in enterprises, especially those in companies with politically weak IT departments, are increasingly behaving like SMBs, and they are going out and provisioning technology on their own. This is a form of institutional Tech Populism.
Vodafone announced thisweek a recommended cash offer to acquire Wayfinder Systems AB. This is not a done deal yet but my first take is:
- Wayfinder like other software vendors really pioneered the market for navigation on mobile phones. Initially, the Swedish company (at that time named Itinerary systems) started in as a R&D project in the mobile phone division of Ericsson in the 90s! It is thus no surprise that Wayfinder recently announced an intensification of its global collaboration on GPS handsets with Sony Ericsson, one of its main clients. Back in July 2007, the company acquired Finnish application provider Navicore.
- According to its interim report (ending September 30th 2008), Wayfinder wanted to focus on a small number of global partners and to planned to reduce costs by 30% in 2009. The company reported close to 2,5M activated user accounts but only 294,000 paying users, who had activated a paid for application in the past 18 months. Vodafone's offering value Wayfinder at around €23M. I am not a financial analyst so I won't comment the cash offer in detail but from an industry perspective, it seems to me:
* this is a small amount of money for a global operator like Vodafone
Following the publication of this article in Moconews, I had a call with Greg Ballard, CEO of mobile gaming company GLU.
Glu is adamant that despite a smaller size than EA Mobile or Gameloft, the company is very well placed in porting games on the balkanized mobile handset market. He righlty pointed out that if smaller in revenues, Glu has a scalable business and claimed to be ahead of its competitors in some regions of the world (n2 after EA in the US and after Gameloft in Latam, n1 in China and Australia). He also made the point that Tetris still represents a significant chunk of EA revenues. Looking back at the Jamdat acquisition in December 2005, I have no other choice than to agree.
So, let me precise that my comment "the larger companies have economies of scales that their smaller rival doesn’t" mainly addresses the smaller players in the mobile gaming industry. Despite consolidation that took place over the last few years, this market is still very fragmented. Also, it is fair to point out that Gameloft's developer/production/porting teams represent close to 90% of the workforce (and thousands of employees). But I am not a financial analyst so I can't really make a call here.
eApple recently released its top downloaded applications on the AppStore since launch in July 08. No mention of the split here between apps downloaded on the iPhone and on the iPod touch.
Top 10 Free Downloads (Overall). My comments in italic
1-Pandora Radio (music, 2 million iPhone subs who spend 90 minutes listening on average) 2-Facebook (social networking) 3-Tap Tap Revenge (game) 4-Shazam (music) 5-Labyrinth Lite Edition (game) 6-Remote (entertaining app) 7-Google Earth (only launched 2 months ago!) 8-Lightsaber Unleashed (cool and fun app, close to a game for Dark Vador fans...) 9-AIM (highlights the strength of AOL Instant Messaging in the US vs Europe) 10-Urbanspoon
Can we please put a moratorium on all the gloomy news? Duke just released a study of CFOs where the key finding is that we're in for at least another 12 months of stagnation. Will someone acknowledge that there is a glimmer of hope in, of all places, at least one part of the retail world which according to conventional wisdom, should just be getting pummeled? I've been maintaining that eCommerce is insulated from the worst of it because there continues to be channel shift because it's just easier to shop online and perhaps most compelling, it's a channel where consumers can easily find the best price for anything they want to buy. I have two sets of datapoints to support this. The first is the Chase Paymentech Pulse Index which captures actual transactions from 25 of the top web merchants. Through Tuesday, December 9, the last 33 days of online shopping have actually been great. In fact, consumers have, when measured on a YOY calendar basis, spent 15% more this year than last year. This is remarkable given that Thanksgiving fell later in November this year and we've had fewer days to build upon the momentum that Black Friday always creates.
If you haven’t yet heard the latest news on the American political scene, let me fill you in: Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and soliciting bribery. Among the alleged offenses is that the Governor planned to sell the Senate seat of President-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder, or, if no offers met his expectations, to take the seat for himself for personal gain. One is reminded of the remark, often attributed (perhaps incorrectly) to Mark Twain, that the United States has “the best politicians money can buy.”