If companies are to thrive in this digital age — where buyers, empowered by technology, are in control — what should B2B marketing leadership do to evolve and survive the current pace of change?
Evolution is one of those great marketing clichés. The progression of man from ape to Homo sapien in five simple steps is one of those popular images most of us are guilty of using at one point to illustrate progressive change. But cliché also implies recognizable. Ask anyone to describe Charles Darwin's theory in one short sentence, and you will hear, "Well, it's about the survival of the fittest."
It's interesting to note, on the 154th anniversary month of the first publication of On the Origin of Species, that this description doesn't quite go far enough. What Darwin said was, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." (Image source: Wikipedia shows the only image in the original publication of On the Origin of Species — Darwin's handwritten diagram showing how characteristics diverge over time.)
Listen up, B2B marketing leadership, this means you.
After a couple less-than-home-runs in the cloud game, it looks like CenturyLink might just have a real contender. The US midwestern telecommunications leader pulled the trigger on yet another acquisition this morning - Tier 3, a legitimate cloud platform provider. The real question is whether this is the latest in a long string of acquisitions that have failed to hit the mark, or a sign that they finally got it right.
CenturyLink is a Lego company built through a string of acquisitions all bolted together. It rolled up several telecom players to get to its current size and presence in that market. And it has bought now three cloud companies.
How much stuff do you own? The answer for most people ranges from a few changes of clothing to a large house full of possessions – your material self. It turns out that most of us also have a digital self – the information and items we create or that others collect about us. It is your footprint, your impact on the digital world. Without a digital self, you don’t exist in the world of computers and the Internet.
The era of Internet has spawned riotous new forms of business disruption as cheap tools and services combined with Internet reach and social media have empowered anyone on the planet to compete with the largest, most established businesses. James McQuivey’s reports and book on digital disruption highlight the fast rise of new hardware devices such as Microsoft’s Kinect and Apple’s iPad, and the fast mainstreaming of new Internet services such as Dropbox, Twitter, and Facebook. Companies in the business of retail, books, movies, and music have been toppled or transformed, with more to come.
A weak global economic recovery and unstable domestic spending slowed economic and tech industry growth in China in 2013, affecting export-oriented economies in Asia Pacific. Combined with ongoing structural problems in India and dwindling foreign direct investment in ASEAN, IT spending growth slowed across the region in 2013. Japan was the only exception; IT spending growth there was faster than expected. Forrester expects overall IT spending growth in Asia Pacific to remain at 4% in 2014. In particular:
Japan’s IT purchasing growth will slow as stimulus effects fade. Government reforms and stimulus packages have had a positive effect on the macroeconomic environment. But those will wane in 2014; we expect Japan’s IT spending growth to slow to around 2% next year, propped up by large application modernization projects in banking, professional services, and retail.
Chinese growth will mostly benefit local vendors. Forrester estimates that China’s IT purchases will grow by 8% in 2014. Local vendors have recently strengthened their capabilities, primarily in the hardware space, while multinational vendors face challenges meeting Chinese government security requirements. As a result, we expect most of China’s 2014 growth to benefit local vendors; foreign vendors face dwindling market shares.
Australia/New Zealand’s shift to systems of engagement will continue its fast pace. Slowing economic growth in 2013 led to an acceleration of the move from capex to opex IT models in ANZ, driven by the need for improved agility in systems of engagement projects. The transformation of systems of record leveraging virtualization and automation approaches has started to erode a lot of the value of the overall IT market. So while the overall ANZ economy should improve, we don’t expect IT spending growth to exceed 3% in 2014.
What's happening (that's important) in the world of content marketing? This is your fortnightly round-up of the best of the best stuff online for marketers who think about content; for the previous "Fortnights", go to the bottom of the post. (And for more information about what the Content Marketing Fortnight is, see my intro from the first one. Get this curated newsletter in your inbox every other week? Send me a mail.)
Stealing content is in fact a crime
Blogger Mark Schaefer caught Verizon brazenly stealing his content (reprinting in full with no attribution, compensation or permission). It’s one of only instances of content theft he’s seen. Go ahead and curate content, but – by all means – attribute the source and don’t plagiarize it.
Content distribution space gets reaffirmation
OneSpot announced a recent $5+ million funding round to fund its mission to help businesses with a real, and common, problem: Getting their content in front of prospective customers. This is just the latest harbinger of a growing market for content distribution. Watch this space.
Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) continues to garner interest from services buyers. Earlier this year, I wrote a report called “A New Dawn For Tech Services In Central And Eastern Europe” that highlighted how the region will become increasingly attractive to companies, as the skills and capabilities to be found there will be ever more important for the next generation of technology engagements. Such engagements will focus on developing software that will empower customers, partners, and employees with context-rich apps, helping them take action in their moment of need — what Forrester calls "systems of engagement."
Six months ago, Luxoft, one of the key providers in the region, announced its IPO. Last week, it released its first half-year results, and so it seemed an opportune time to reflect on both the region and the progress made by Luxoft so far. The highlights of Luxoft’s results are:
Revenues of $181.4 million for six months to September 30, 2013 (up 25% year-over-year).
Second-quarter revenues of $97.7 million compared with $74.1 million for the same period a year earlier.
Increased guidance for fiscal year 2014 to $384 million.
Digitally empowered customers are forcing firms to redefine their engagement model to survive in the age of the customer. Data from Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets And Priorities Survey, Q4 2013, indicates that Indian CIOs’ top business priority is to address the rising expectations of customers and improve customer satisfaction; 87% of them told us that it is a high or critical priority.
Indian business leaders’ attitudes are changing; increasingly, they view IT as a means to better engage digitally enabled constituents, and this is fueling a fundamental shift in the way firms interact with customers. Business leaders expect their CIOs to contribute to business growth by winning and retaining customers. But targeting the customer experience requires IT organizations to radically shift focus. CIOs must alter governance processes, job descriptions, IT performance metrics, and even the culture of the technology management organization.
Forrester recently published Technology Management In The Age Of The Customer, which highlights how empowered customers are disrupting every industry and CIOs need to adapt tech management to these rapid changes. To meet this objective, CIOs must broaden their tech management priorities and carry two agendas:
Managing infrastructure management and internal operations, which we call “IT.”
I am very excited to announce my newest report on marketing innovation just published Friday, November 15, 2013: "Build A Marketing Innovation Engine And Team To Power Growth " (subscription required or fee for non-Forrester clients). The latest report in my series on marketing innovation focuses specifically on the talent required to successfully innovate. It also delivers a lean process that unencumbers this talent from the bureaucracy that typically slows it down. Here is a brief report summary.
Top CMOs are partnering with their CIO counterparts to integrate new technologies into their customer engagement, commercial, and brand building efforts as consumers rapidly adopt new behaviors and expectations in the age of the customer. Companies like Comcast, Ford Motor, and Chick-fil-A have created more streamlined innovation processes to navigate internal bureaucracies and politics, ideate, develop, and launch new marketing efforts faster in order to keep up. This report will provide 1) a model for continuous evaluation and selection of cutting-edge marketing innovations, and 2) information about the leadership and talent capabilities you will need to execute on these programs.
In addition, the report also includes valuable insights from Aetna and Wells Fargo on how to develop marketing innovation programs that have an impact on the business. Here are some of the key takeaways:
Infrastruture & operations professionals should start following trends in the wearable computing market in earnest. While it's easy to deride wearables as riding a wave of hype -- and most categories of wearables enjoy more publicity than sales at this point -- wearables aren't just a consumer or bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. Numerous vendors have taken a serious approach to developing and launching products for the enterprise wearable market, and some of these devices offer comapanies a real opportunity to generate business value.
I've just posted my new ComputerWorld column with an analysis of these trends. Please read the entire article here.
J. P. Gownder is a Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. Follow him on Twitter at @jgownder.
As we move to what Forrester calls ‘The Age Of The Customer,’ enterprises will need to reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers, we are seeing a notable shift in what the business expects from IT. IT requirements are increasingly being influenced by the business leader who wants technology to not just enable efficiencies but to also provide an edge over competition by helping to develop things like new marketing and sales channels, and applications that provide greater insights on buyer behavior and what influences them.
By 2020, we anticipate that evolving customer expectations will open up tremendous opportunities for businesses, but at the same time, they will evolve so rapidly that businesses that are unable to keep pace will face the threat of extinction. Therefore, the need of the hour is for speed. Getting software products and services to market quickly, cutting product development costs, while continuing to maintain high standards for flexibility, nimbleness, and time-to-market – this is leading to a tremendous increase in interest around Agile development.
Many organizations have already adopted Agile to some extent within their organizations. According to Forrester’s Forrsights Developer Survey Q1, 2013, 19% of developers stated they use Agile (Kanban, Scrum, TDD, XP). However, most of these initiatives are primarily in-house – Forrester’s Agile Survey Q3 2013 showed that the majority of organizations continue to use Agile more widely in-house, than with systems integrators.