I'm traveling to Atlanta next week. Today - Friday - I decided late in the day to book a hotel room finally.
I'm sitting at my desk. I'm figuring there will be some time on hold. I'm multi-tasking ... so I use my PC to do a quick search, find some nearby hotels and get a couple of phone numbers. I'll use my office phone with a headset and my hands will still be free to edit a document.
I start with brand A. I place the first call and talk to an idiotic IVR that puts me into a doom loop. I hang up. I call back and get a person. The person can't book a discounted rate so gives me another phone number to write down. I write it down. I throw it in the trash.
I shift to brand B. I place the call to the hotel. A man answers. He transfers me to an IVR asking for my home phone number. I don't understand. I hang up. I call back. The same man answers. I said, "I think there must have been a mistake. I thought you placed me on hold, but I got dropped into an IVR." Man replies, "oh no - that IS our reservation system." I reply, "you don't have people making reservations." He replies, "No - just the hotel reservation system - the IVR." I reply, "I don't make reservations with IVR's." I hang up. (Sorry - but it's insanely tedious - at least in this case ... my home phone number??? C'mon - they don't need that to book my room)
I pick up my phone and click on my "hotel icon" to open the app. Within 2 minutes, I've booked a hotel - all of my information stored - and spent $750.
The SF 49ers will soon have a new stadium in Santa Clara, CA. This May 30th article from the SF Examiner describes the new stadium as "entirely cashless and ticketless." The assumption is that "... the fans will be carrying around smartphones." "Software engineers are already building apps to order food, watch instant replays, listen to play-by-play and check bathroom lines from the seats."
As a mobile analyst, I love the concept. Has anyone every been to a conference though with thousands or tens of thousands or 68,500 people? How's your Internet connection?
I had the privilege of attending the 2nd annual Procter & Gamble (P&G)Signal P&G event in Cincinnati yesterday, May 30, 2013. The event was created to inspire P&G marketers to accelerate digital, social, and mobile marketing innovation while not losing focus on core brand building fundamentals. Marc Pritchard, P&G CMO, stated several times that “understanding our consumers is core to anything we do in digital.”
The event MC was John Battelle, CEO of Federated Media, who did an excellent job keeping the speakers moving and on point. Stan Joosten, innovation manager, global eBusiness, of P&G played a pivotal role in managing the overall event under Marc Pritchard’s sponsorship and leadership. There were nearly 500 P&G and outside guest attendees as well as many more via webcast.
It was a packed day with 20 speakers and excellent insights. Here are but a few quotes and insights from the day.
Marc Pritchard started the day off with key themes:
“Speed is absolutely essential to winning brand building at speed of digital.”
Main Signal P&G themes for P&G marketers to soak in included: “speed, teamwork, and innovation based on P&G-proven business models, with brands being most important.”
“P&G must innovate by being productively paranoid.” Pritchard based this mantra on the book Good to Great by Jim Collins.
Funny question. The answer seems so obvious, right? True that when it comes to tangible stuff with clear intrinsic attributes which are, well, easy to value. Gold goes for $1,390 as of 3:16 pm Eastern time today, and we all know why. It's a commodity, a scarce one at that, and gold here, same as gold where you are. Obvious.
But what about intangible stuff? How valuable is fame, how valuable is professional success, leadership, or maybe a strategy? Well, we also know that depends on who is doing the buying and why, which means that value is in the eye of the beholder, just like beauty. So putting a price on some things is tricky. How much were you looking to pay for that success? And maybe price is not really an issue when a strategy for turning around your $15b company is the goal and its your head if that strategy does not work in the next 18 months, so that will cost you $6m, few questions asked.
So why am I asking such a simple question?
In our research with business and IT executives we ask them simple questions, like what's valuable to them, and they are quite clear. And their answers tend toward the intangibles versus the tangibles. For example, when we ask, "What would you consider to be a valuable meeting with a vendor salesperson?" the number one reply is "The salesperson clearly shows they understand my business issues and can clearly articulate to me how to solve them." That's an intangible value forged in the cauldron of empathy, credibility, expertise, experience. Also obvious, but perhaps not so easy to deliver.
How many of you suffer from at least mild “cyberchondria"? Do you run to the computer to Google your latest ailments? Are you often convinced that the headache you have is the first sign of some terminal illness you’ve been reading about?
Well, Symcat takes a new approach to Internet-assisted self-diagnosis. It provides not only the symptoms but the probability of getting the disease, using CDC data to rank results by the likelihood of the different conditions. It then allows users to further filter results by typing in information such as their gender, the duration of their symptoms and medical history. No, that headache you’ve had all week is likely not spinal stenosis or even viral pharyngitis. But if you’ve had a fall or a blow to the head you might want to consider a concussion.
As Symcat puts it, they “use data to help you feel better.” Never underestimate the palliative effects of peace of mind.
I had the chance to ask Craig Monsen, MD, co-founder and CEO of Symcat, a few questions about how they got their start with the business and their innovation with open data.
What was the genesis of Symcat? Can you describe the "ah-ha" moment of determining the need for Symcat?
At some point after their companies find and fix the low-hanging fruit that creates problems for customers, customer experience leaders hit a wall. That wall is the outdated operational models upon which most companies were built. These models were conceived decades ago, based on the existing capabilities and constraints of the day, when the primary vehicle for value was tied up in the product/service itself. Within these operating models, firms have worked to optimize processes like marketing, sales, and distribution focused on getting to the transaction. Support has been a cost center so limited as much as possible. But this kind of operating model has critical problems. Here are a few that just scratch the surface:
Product lines obstruct customer needs that cross the company. Companies organized by product lines force customers to navigate different marketing messages, sales teams, billing systems, and websites and support organizations to get what they need, while internal staff waste effort and fail to create synergies that could deliver a bigger value proposition.
Channel strategies don’t account for information transparency. Like product lines, firms regularly treat channels as separate P&Ls. This artifact results in disjointed pricing, confusing return policies, botched hand-offs, and assorted other mishaps that undermine the customer experience. Moreover, it leaves little incentive for the fiefdoms to cooperate on behalf of the customer.
At Forrester’s North America CIO Forum two weeks ago, Frank Gillett, Chris Mines, and I presented a point--counterpoint debate on “The CIO’s World in 2020.” We debated and analyzed four key dynamics regarding IT and the CIO’s role in the future, and asked the 325 attendees to vote on the outcome they think is most likely to occur. The audience members’ votes were extremely telling:
80% believed that technology would still be differentiating. To set the stage for the audience vote, Frank argued that technology would be so commonplace and readily available via the cloud that a company’s ability to set itself apart via technology would be fleeting at best. I took the opposite side, saying that while much of today’s transaction-based systems will be nothing more than table stakes, systems of engagement-based systems and technologies around analytics and smart products would be central to a firm’s ability to set itself apart in the eyes of customers. The audience overwhelmingly agreed with our call that systems of engagement and other technologies would be differentiating.
85% agreed that most technology would be delivered via the public cloud. I kicked off this point by arguing that technology was too important not to be centrally designed, deployed, and managed by IT. Frank came at it stating that the velocity and variability of change required the use of public cloud-based services. The Forrester call was that companies will architect and deploy business solutions from a growing pool of external as-a-service resources, with IT playing the role of orchestrator.
Internet, search marketing, digital advertising, sales enablement, social media, video, online communities, mobile, predictive analytics, content curation . . . Is it even possible for the pace of change in marketing activity to continue to accelerate? According to top marketing leaders in business-to-business (B2B) marketing, absolutely. So get ready, folks, the rocket ride isn't over.
During the month of May, Forrester and the BMA collaborated to entice and persuade 117 CMOs and senior VPs at firms roughly split between companies with fewer than 5,000 employees and those with 5,000 or more — to respond to attitudinal questions about the pace of change, the role of marketing, evolving skill sets, and the degree of collaboration between marketing and peer functions.
I recently returned from attending the opening of Belatrix Software’s new office in Lima, Peru, where I was also able to meet with representatives of the Peruvian Association Of Software Producers (APESOFT), which aims to promote the software industry in Peru.
I was keen to travel to Peru to gain a better understanding of one of the fastest-growing Latin American economies, as well as to put this growth into the context of its technology industry. Peru was recently ranked fourth in Bloomberg’s list of the top 20 emerging markets, just behind China, South Korea, and Thailand but ahead of other prominent Latin American destinations such as Mexico and Brazil. It is rated as one of the most attractive Latin American markets for doing business.
Peru has one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America, and although GDP growth has recently slowed slightly, its forecast for the medium to long term is positive. Although by total size, it is dwarfed by Brazil (whose GDP is approximately 14 times larger than Peru’s), the IMF is expecting continued growth at approximately 6% in 2013 and 2014.
However, despite its fast-growing economy, Peru’s IT market is one of the smaller and more nascent Latin American markets. Forrester estimates that total Peruvian IT purchases in 2012 were $2.5 billion — compared with $23.4 billion in Mexico and $46.5 billion in Brazil.