Three Billion Smartphone Customers Are Ready. Now Go Make Them Successful.

Ted Schadler

If I hear one more story about "the next big thing" only to find it's a niche product like a skateboard or a toy like a consumer drone or a convenience tool like a smartwatch or a fancy way to open a door or detect smoke, I think I'll puke. The last big product innovation was smartphones. And it was a doozy. Most people don't really need another gadget. They need the game-changing gadget they have to do more.

I believe we are still at the beginning the biggest technology-fueled shift we've every seen, the mobile mind shift. A smartphone in the hands over three billion people is a game-changer. But only if we embrace it as a platform to deliver everything someone needs in the mobile moments of their day.

On your smartphone today:

  • Can you always get a great Internet connection . . . you can afford?
  • Can you manage every aspect of your complex digital life?
  • Can you vote?
  • Can you schedule a doctor appointment, renew your dog license, apply for a mortgage, replenish your cupboard, or do your job?
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The US Holiday Shopping Season 2015 Sets New Online Records And Rebrands Black Friday

Kristopher Arcand

With the winter shopping holidays now behind us, Forrester is wrapping up its annual qualitative exploration of US consumers’ perceptions of the holiday season, both for their own behavior as well as what they observed across retailers. The retail industry has seen an increase in consumer spending compared to last year — possibly due to savings from lower gas prices. Overall, we saw that consumers felt less compelled to go out and buy gifts on Black Friday itself, but they still love a good bargain. Some other insights we gathered:

  • Black Friday sales effectively crossed over from in-store to online. While in-store shopping dropped on Black Friday, online shopping sales rose, resulting in an overall increase in sales. Consumers were quite conscious of the fact that online deals appeared even before the Thanksgiving holiday (and therefore before Black Friday). This year, these sales also carried the “Black Friday” label — traditionally an in-store-specific event. By re-associating Black Friday with deals first and foremost, this could restore positive sentiment and downplay what has otherwise become a stressful shopping event.
  • Targeted outreach drives online sales — but retailers shouldn’t overdo it. A smaller number of targeted deals and offers will help reduce the overall volume of email that consumers receive. This will in turn minimize the chances of consumer recipients being overwhelmed by holiday communications.
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Best Practices For Managing CX Via B2B Partner Networks

Ryan Hart

While much of the glitz and glam around customer experience has orbited around B2C organizations, Forrester believes that the imperative shift toward customer experience and subsequently, customer centricity, is creeping into the B2B space – sooner than we might expect.

Recognizably, there are inherent challenges in distributing through channel partners, not the least of which is a lack of direct contact with end customers and the complexity of trying to manage experiences that cannot ultimately be controlled. All of which pose sizable obstacles to CX professionals in such organizations. My most recent report describes six principles and examples that companies selling via channel partners should consider to better manage their prescribed end user experiences so as to align with the company’s CX strategy.

Here are several of the key collaborative principles that can help B2B companies foster better partner alignment:

·         Apply B2C tools to understand your partners.  More and more firms are creating B2B personas from stakeholder maps, co-creating customer journey and empathy maps with their channel partners, and implementing voice of the partner (VoP) programs to capture CX sentiment from their intermediaries.

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Only Sophisticated And Innovative P2P Lending Platforms Will Survive In China

Zhi-Ying Ng

China is now the largest P2P lending market in the world. In just the first half of 2015, people exchanged RMB 300 billion ($47 billion) on more than 2,000 P2P lending platforms. As P2P lending in China reaches a tipping point, we expect many platforms to fail, and only sophisticated and innovative platforms will survive and thrive.

The “Q&A: Peer-To-Peer Lending Platforms In China” report takes an in-depth look at P2P lending platforms in China,  including the main players, key differences between Chinese P2P lending platforms and those in the UK and US, the problems that Chinese P2P lending marketplaces address, challenges P2P lending platforms face, as well as best practices in the P2P lending industry.

While the potential for P2P lending in China is huge, the challenges that lie ahead for these companies are significant. To succeed, P2P lending companies must overcome barriers related to the external environment that they operate in and the operational obstacles that their platform face such as:

  • Fraud. Widespread fraud and embezzlement in P2P lending tarnishes the entire industry, damaging well-run marketplaces as well as the immediate victims of fraud. Many of China's P2P lending platforms are not transparent, failing to disclose their revenues, expenses or fund allocation.
  • Regulation. In late December last year, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) published new draft rules calling for closer supervision of the P2P lending sector. Some of these regulations include establishing a third-party depository of customer funds, requiring P2P lending platforms to improve disclosure, and prohibiting platforms from building capital pools.
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Just published -- The Forrester Wave: Customer Loyalty Solutions For Large And Midsize Organizations, Q1 2016

Emily Collins

I recently wrapped up my third evaluation of customer loyalty vendors, and the market has evolved slightly since 2013. First, the lines between loyalty technology and services are fading: vendors that were traditionally considered service providers continue to productize and improve their technology platforms, and pure-play loyalty technology platform providers are shoring up their professional services offerings. Second, on the user side, I talk to clients who are looking for more holistic solutions and including a combination of service providers, agencies, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology platforms in the same request for proposal (RFP).

Given the hybridization of the market and evolving customer demands, we took a slightly different approach and conducted two evaluations of end-to-end loyalty solutions: one for large organizations including Aimia, Bond Brand Loyalty (formerly Maritz Loyalty Marketing), Brierley+Partners, Comarch, Epsilon, ICF Olson 1to1, Kobie Marketing, and TIBCO Software; and one for midsize organizations including 500friends, a Merkle company; Aimia; Clutch; CrowdTwist; DataCandy; Deluxe Corporation; and Inte Q Global.

What did we learn?

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Why 2016 Will Be The Year Of Digital Signage And Displays

JP Gownder

I've just published a major new report, The Digital Signage And Display Opportunity in 2016. I'll also be holding a webinar on this topic on Tuesday, January 26th, 1-2pm ET USA; it's entitled Screening the World: How Digital Signage, Displays, and Magic Mirrors Drive Business Value. Please register for my webinar here.

Since Forrester was founded in 1983, we've never had a coverage area on digital signage  ΜΆ  until now. Why? In the age of the customer, digital signage and related display technologies are growing rapidly, because:

  • It's now a dynamic, disruptive, interesting technology. Once just a simple, unidirectional, broadcasting mechanism, digital signage now offers an array of new technology features like interactivity, facial recognition, and magic mirrors, and others that can drive valuable business scenarios across any vertical. Digital signage also interacts increasingly with mobility, as more installations allow customers to take what they see on the sign with them on their own smartphones.

  • Regulatory and business requirements drive adoption. The FDA ruled that all QSRs must provide nutritional information on all food and beverages by December 1, 2016. Digital signage solution providers report QSRs as one of the fastest-growing segments of the digital signage market as a result of this ruling to help package nutritional information with dynamic menus. 

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Are providers adapting to managed services for the megaclouds in 2016?

Robert Stroud

“Enterprise-Cloud”, reality or marketing term?

First we need to define what we mean by “enterprise cloud”. For this definition, the minimal criteria set includes: robust security, reliable performance, disaster recovery, growing set of services, constantly investing and a great and growing ecosystem of partners.  Based on this definition (along with the tremendous growth in public cloud), then all of the public cloud leaders are indeed “Enterprise-class”. In short, the term "Enterprise-class" is fundamentally a term targeted to allay the cloud fears of enterprise technology managers.

Providers are adapting to offer managed services for the megaclouds.

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The Data Digest: A Happy New Year!

Anjali Lai

The market research industry is built on a fundamental assumption: that any enterprise, product, team, or person can be better than it is today. Researchers mine insights because we are constantly seeking opportunities for greater success and are eager to illuminate the path forward. But researchers aren’t the only ones doing this; although it’s our profession, people around the world share this drive for improvement. These sentiments are at their peak today on New Year’s Eve as we reflect on the highs and lows of the year behind us and resolve to do something better in the year ahead.

Seeking improvement is part of human nature, but in some cases, it’s demanded of us. In the business world, companies that set higher standards also set new consumer expectations and secure customer loyalty. For instance, our Consumer Technographics® data shows that Amazon offers one of the most loved customer experiences across the globe because it provides an unparalleled sense of emotional satisfaction: 

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2015 Ten List

Here's my list of the ten things that captured my imagination in 2015. These are my personal views -- not derived from Forrester's research or data. Inevitably, the list starts with Apple...

1) The Apple Watch.  Not bad, not great, a solid "Meh." A pain to keep charged, fussy interface, borderline value. I don't like other people wearing what I am wearing.

2) The new iTunes. A miss-guided hash amalgamating Beats, Radio, streaming, and library. A boat/car that leaks on the water and creaks on the road. Prima facie evidence of the company's difficulty reaching zen simplicity in the post-Steve era. 

3) The 6 Plus iPhone. Best phone I've ever owned. No, it's not too big, and yes, it will fit in your pocket.

4) Apple Photos. Fantastic, simple, easy, transparent. As good as iTunes is bad. 

5) The book Mindset This volume has been around for years, but I finally read it after too many people I trust kept referencing it. Carol Dweck describes what it will take to be successful in the future -- a "learning mindset" versus a "fixed mindset." I bought it for all of my kids for Christmas. A lot of CIOs (you know who you are) should also read it.

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Age Of The Customer Drives Investment In Business Intelligence Tools

In the age of the customer, customer-obsessed firms serious about personalizing customer experience invest in business intelligence (BI) and analytics tools.  Companies collect more and more data on their clients today. BI software is increasingly important to extract information from the raw data, revealing insights. Analytics software tools go beyond traditional reporting and analysis to anticipate customer behavior and provide real-time insights.

In our recently published Business Intelligence And Analytics Software Forecast (Global), 2015 to 2020, we take a more in-depth look at the market’s growth potential. We expect the global BI and analytics software market to grow at a 12% CAGR over the 2015 to 2020 period.

The traditional BI market has matured, but still offers a significant growth opportunity. While business intelligence software is not a new product, Forrester projects robust growth for the solution. As we move into the Internet of Things era, an exponential increase in the number of connected devices will drive demand for BI software tools to understand the information. We expect the BI software market to grow at a 9% CAGR over the forecast period.

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