Reviewing online functionality for a selection of key European online only retailers, I am struck by a shift. With the basics of purchasing and navigation nailed down, the devil is now in the detail of implementing online functionality for apparel retailers – particularly those that are online only. Now we are seeing both subtle and overt efforts to improve merchandising and remote clienteling online proactive live chat, 2D size guides, personal shopping style guides and ‘compete the outfit’ suggestions on product pages.
To get to the next level of best practice and differentiation online apparel retailers need to keep refining their website functionality in order to succeed in a competitive and increasingly crowded category. Empowered customers are using multiple devices to shop online helping to drive forecasted online retail sales growth of 12% in Europe (2013 to 2018). To secure their chunk of this growth, online apparel retailers need to constantly evaluate, test and implement new and improved functionality to support merchandising and drive consumers through the path to purchase.
The business has an insatiable appetite for data and insights. Even in the age of big data, the number one issue of business stakeholders and analysts is getting access to the data. If access is achieved, the next step is "wrangling" the data into a usable data set for analysis. The term "wrangling" itself creates a nervous twitch, unless you enjoy the rodeo. But, the goal of the business isn't to be an adrenalin junky. The goal is to get insight that helps them smartly navigate through increasingly complex business landscapes and customer interactions. Those that get this have introduced a softer term, "blending." Another term dreamed up by data vendor marketers to avoid the dreaded conversation of data integration and data governance.
The reality is that you can't market message your way out of the fundamental problem that big data is creating data swamps even in the best intentioned efforts. (This is the reality of big data's first principle of a schema-less data.) Data governance for big data is primarily relegated to cataloging data and its lineage which serve the data management team but creates a new kind of nightmare for analysts and data scientist - working with a card catalog that will rival the Library of Congress. Dropping a self-service business intelligence tool or advanced analytic solution doesn't solve the problem of familiarizing the analyst with the data. Analysts will still spend up to 80% of their time just trying to create the data set to draw insights.
I remember the first time I attended 3GSM in Cannes: It was primarily a B2B telecoms trade show and centered on DVB-H, WiMAX, and other technology-centric acronyms. Fast-forward 11 years, and Mobile World Congress (MWC) will be the center of the business world for a couple of days (March 2 to 5). Some things don’t change: We will continue to hear too much about technology. Simply ignore the hype, especially around 5G; it will have no impact at all on your marketing strategy for the next five years!
However, the list of keynote speakers is a good indication of what MWC has become: a priority event for leaders willing to transform their businesses. The CEOs of Facebook, Renault-Nissan, SAP, MasterCard, and BBVA will be speaking, and more than 4,500 CEOs will be among the 85,000 attendees (only 25% of which are from operators). It is fascinating to see how mobile has changed the world in the past 10 years — not just in the way that we live and communicate but also in terms of disrupting every business. I strongly believe that mobile will have a bigger impact than the PC or Web revolutions. Why?
First, mobile is the fastest and most ubiquitous technology ever to spread globally. People in Asia and Africa are skipping the PC Internet and going direct to mobile phones; they’re the ultimate convergent device and often the only way to reach people in rural areas. As Andreessen Horowitz's Benedict Evans put it, mobile is “eating the world”. It has already cannibalized several markets, such as cameras, video recorders, and GPS, and is now disrupting entire industries, changing the game for payments, health, and education, especially in emerging countries. Second, mobile is the bridge to the physical world. It is not just another “subdigital” channel. This alone has a huge impact on business models. Last, mobile is a catalyst for business transformation.
We are now only a few weeks away from Mobile World Congress, historically the pre-eminent event of the mobile industry and now one of the largest global events across all industries. Last year’s even attracted almost 90,000 attendees from over 200 countries. The event draws representatives from mobile operators, device manufacturers, technology providers, vendors, content owners and governments from across the world. Executives from all industries pay attention to products demonstrated and announcements made. While “mobile” remains in the event title, last year’s event marked a changing of the guard: The large presence of car manufacturers and the buzz around Facebook reflected that shift away from the event’s telecom roots. This year that shift will be even more pronounced as the reign of mobility gives way to the new rule of connectivity. Yes, we are mobile but the key is that while we are roaming the halls at work or the streets of a foreign city, we remain connected to the people and things we want and need to interact with.
Apache Spark is an open source cluster computing platform designed to process big data as efficiently as possible. Sound familiar? That's what Hadoop is designed to do. However, these are distinctly different, but complementary, platforms. Hadoop is designed to process large volumes of data that lives in an Hadoop distributed file system (HDFS). Spark is also designed to process large volumes of data, but much more efficiently than MapReduce, in part, by caching data in-memory. But, to say that Spark is just an in-memory data processing platform is a gross oversimplification and a common misconception. It also has a unique development framework that simplifies the development and efficiency of data processing jobs. You'll often hear Hadoop and Spark mentioned in the same breath. That's because, although they are independent platforms in their own right, they have an evolving, symbiotic relationship. Application development and delivery professionals (AD&D) must understand the key differences and synergies between this next-generation cluster-computing power couple to make informed decisions about their big data strategy and investments. Forrester clients can read the full report explaining the difference and synergies here: Apache Spark Is Powerful And Promising
I have been working on evaluating a range of vendors for the CRM Wave which will be published in March. What I am seeing is that core CRM capabilities are very, very commoditized. Just about every vendor can check the box on core SFA and marketing automation features. There's a bit more difference if you look at customer service capabilities over social, digital and self service channels but all evaluated vendors handle core case management adequately. So what does this mean to the buyer who is looking for a CRM?
Choose a solution that is right-sized for your business. Some CRM vendors target the complex, global enterprise. These solutions are typically heavyweight and replete with features that are often customized to meet specific business requirements. Other CRM vendors target small to midsize organizations with a breath, but not necessarily a depth of capabilties. For smaller organizations too many features are often an overkill for organizations with lightweight needs, so make sure you understand the target user of the CRMs under evaluation.
You are running from the office to your car to pick up the kids and while you are at it you think "OMG! Valentine's day is coming, I forgot to order the flowers for my wife." You pull out your mobile phone and stop on the side of the road to log on to your favorite Valentine's specialty retailer - leveraging a mix of digital retailers which sell flowers (or candy or other items) and you want to order something. Unfortunately, your favorite retailer is slow and the kids start complaining in the back seat and you must drive on. Too late! You are going to break hearts (ok maybe that is a bit too much) but certainly some of the retail vendors will experience a "break" in revenue. If you are working for a retail vendor, Mobile Application Performance Management matters - not just on Valentine's day.
See our recent report titled "Brief: Shopping Guide On Mobile Application Performance Management Solutions" so that you can get prepared. Don't wait until Easter.
There's never been a question on the advantages of open source software. Crowdsourcing, vendor independence, ability to see and in some cases control the source code, and lower costs are just a few benefits of open source software (OSS) and business model. Linux and Apache Hadoop are prime examples of successful OSS projects. It's a different story, however, when it comes to OSS BI. For years, OSS BI vendors struggled with growth because of:
The developer-centric nature of open source projects. The target audience for open source projects is developers, which means deals are mostly sealed by technology management. The industry, on the other hand, has gravitated toward business decision-makers within organizations over the last several years. However, business users are less interested in the opportunities that a collaborative open source community offers, and more concerned about ease of use and quick setup. Indeed, Forrester's research constantly finds evidence correlating business ownership as one of the key success factors for effective BI initiatives.
Do you understand your company's vision for the customer experience (CX) it wants to deliver? How many of your colleagues do? If you're a CX professional, how many colleagues have you shared your company's vision with?
My guess is not many, and I confess, it's not really a guess — I have data that shows few CX pros regularly share their CX visions/strategies with all employees, and even fewer do so in a consistent way.
And that’s a shame, because great customer experiences are built on solid strategies executed by people sharing a common vision. In other words, a CX strategy must see light to be actionable. Only then can it direct the activities and decision-making of managers and employees. In my recent research, I found successful strategy communication requires a four-phase approach:
Inspire a sense of purpose. Spare the 50-page strategy manifestos and instead share a simple illustration, video, or set of promises that captures the essence of the CX vision and draws employees in. UK airline easyJet created a one-page customer charter that described the new easyJet flying promise to customers in plain language. Its CX team developed icons to represent each of the five promises and then enlisted its customer champions to act out life-size versions of the icons for photos and video, which it plans to share internally and externally.