This Valentine’s Day, Pause and Appreciate Flower Logistics...

Phoenix Zhang

Over the past few days, Boston has been slammed by multiple snow storms.  This causes challenges for my pending flight to San Jose, but another deadline looms:  some roses might not be able to make it to Boston on time for Valentine's Day. Only someone deeply concerned with Supply Chain and Logistics worries about delivery time on Valentine’s Day. But perhaps we all should:  it could very easily shape whether you get a kiss or the cold shoulder for Valentine’s Day tomorrow.

According to IPSOS floral tracking study, cut, fresh flowers take center stage for three holidays:  Christmas, Mother's Day and Valentine's Day[i].  The US imported 976 million cut flower stems in advance of Valentine’s Day last year, between January 1 and February 14.[ii] You might guess these flowers are from the Netherlands. However, the Netherlands supplied only 2% of all imported volume. Seventy-one percent of Valentine's Day flowers came from Colombia alone and 19% from Ecuador. 

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Top Trends For CRM In 2017 - It's All About Differentiated (Digital) Experiences

Kate Leggett

We’re firmly in the age of the customer, where customers - not executives - decide how customer-centric their companies are. And while good customer experiences can help control costs, executives are more interested in their potential to fuel sustainable top-line growth.

Forrester defines CRM as:

The business processes and supporting technologies that support the key activities of targeting, acquiring, retaining, understanding, and collaborating with customers.

CRM is the foundational building block of a company's customer experience strategy to win, serve, and retain customers. It enables new business strategies, integrates to many technologies and is constantly rejuvenated by new trends. Here are 4 of the 10 trends that we see in CRM in 2017.

Customers want to easily connect with, interact with, make purchases from, or get service from a company.  For example, 72% of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing that a company can do to provide them with good service. Companies must offer customers ways to easily engage with them to foster an ongoing omnichannel dialogue and relationship that strengthen loyalty and retention. And they will reap the rewards: Omnichannel customers are more active, spend more, and are less expensive to support than single-channel customers.

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Forrester’s First CPQ Wave Addresses The Tech Needs Of The Empowered Buyer

John Bruno

If you’re in a B2B environment, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the changing behaviors of your customers in recent years. As a result, technologies have shifted their focus to get closer to the customer and I'm not talking about just CRM or SFA. With a flurry of acquisitions and new entrants to the CPQ market popping up regularly, we decided to tighten the aperture and evaluate the top 11 CPQ vendors in The Forrester Wave™: Configure-Price-Quote Solutions, Q1 2017. These vendors do the most to address the rising, empowered B2B buyer. Below are some of the key findings from the report:

  • Customer and buyer experiences become a priority. CPQ is not about engineers. It’s not even about sellers anymore. CPQ is about the customer, and in this case that means both the end buyer of your products and the customers of your technology (indirect channels selling on your behalf) expect easy and effective interactions. CPQ is now a key enabler to delivering a high quality customer experience.

  • CPQ has no channel limitations. CPQ is not, I repeat, is not a back office solution anymore. It’s long addressed the needs of front line sales reps, and now it extends its functionality to all available channels. This means companies can extend the same business rules and logic to indirect channels (i.e. partners, dealers, distributors, etc.), customer service reps, eCommerce sites, and even emerging channels like IoT devices.

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Turn Supply chain analytics to your Moneyball

Phoenix Zhang

I watched Moneyball over the weekend for the first time, and I really enjoyed it. As a nerd, I love all movies that demonstrate the power of mathematics and analytics (On top of that, Brad Pitt did a fine job).

But while everyone loves the of using statistical insight to overturn old ideas and revolutionize baseball, but why are supply chain managers reluctant to apply similar winning concepts? According to a Forrester Business Technographics Survey, only 27% of supply chain management professionals and 22% of logistics and distribution professionals are using or plan to use big data analytics or plan to. At Forrester, I frequently discuss supply chain analytics with clients and how to leverage supply chain insights to drive business growth or improve operation efficiency. Everyone knows analytics is important, but there are still plenty of myths related to what to measure, what tools to use, and what types of analytics to apply. I’d like to briefly summarize my thoughts on these three topics:

  • Focus on a few key measurements that matters the most. Don’t go down the rabbit hole of measuring everything in multiple ways. It wastes time and effort — and most importantly, it causes confusion. Define a few key performance indicators (KPIs) that accurately measure your top business priorities and stick to them. Your KPI could be perfect order percentage, on-time delivery, or perhaps percentage on base. Data will never be perfectly clean, but you need meaningful analytics, so clean it up as much as you can and establish an ongoing master program for data maintenance.
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AI Makers Will Squelch Free Speech

Mike Gualtieri

Artificial intelligence (AI) is real, albiet maturing slowly. You experience it when you talk to Alexa, when you see a creepily-targeted online ad, and when Netxflix turns you on toArtificial Intelligence Stranger Things. Oh yea, and that self-driving car over there is AI super-powered! AI is indeed cool, but many are scared about how it ultimatley may impact society. Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and even the Woz warned that "...artificial intelligence can potentially be more dangerous than nuclear war." In a nutshell, they are concerned about AI that may evolve to outsmart humans and kill people - a valid concern. But, I have another more terrifying concern that would likely be an insidious precursor to runaway, killer AI.

Billionaires And Tech Giants Will Censor AI

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The Unicorn Explosion Continues

Ted Schadler

Last Spring, we predicted that we'd see carnage among tech unicorns, particularly in consumer markets. (How many food service companies and "Uber for X" companies do we really need?) We didn't (nor would we), however, predict when the carnage would come.

(Timing markets has never been in my golden gut; anticipating technology relevance is. Watches and body cameras, for example, will never be mainstream, nor will drones or curved TVs. Ping me and I'll explain why. Or do this cosmo quiz to make your own prediction for consumer technology.)

As reported (and powerfully visualized by CB Insights), Unicorns are crowding the market. Look at the density of Unicorn logos starting in February 2014, three short years ago. It's astounding. Why this proliferation? Why now? Why so dramatic?

 

I believe three things have created and propped up the Unicorn valuations of tech startups:

  1. If you're an investor, there's no place better to put your cash. The returns on real assets are small. The returns on exuberance (like big fancy new houses) can be large. So investors have lots of cash to place bets on startups that might just pop.)
  2. The recent election, with a hoped-for impact of deregulation and infrastructure spending, left the market energized about the potential for growth. The market's up. So the potential for healthy exits and IPOs (even ones without a clear revenue growth model such as Snap's) is up.
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Top Trends For Customer Service In 2017: Operations Become Smarter And More Strategic

Kate Leggett

In today's world, customers decide how customer-centric a company is. Good customer service should capture the fundamentals of a great experience: ease, effectiveness, and emotion

Looking ahead, Forrester sees 10 trends for 2017 that customer service professionals should take into account as they move the needle on the quality of service that they deliver: Here are six of them:

Customer service organizations address a smaller volume of simple voice-based customer contacts as they mature their self-service, automated engagement, and digital operations.

  • Trend No. 1: Companies extend and enhance self-service. Customers of all ages are moving away from using the phone to using self-service — web and mobile self-service, communities, virtual agents, automated chat dialogs, or chatbots — as a first point of contact with a company Dimension Data reports growth in every digital channel and a 12% decrease in phone volume. In 2017: Customer service will continue to invest in structured knowledge management and leverage communities to extend the reach of curated content. Service will become more ubiquitous, via speech interfaces, devices with embedded knowledge, and wearables for service technicians.
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Reinvent the Web to Win the Mobile Moment

Ted Schadler

Last time, we talked about how your mobile website sucks. You and your agency partners took a valiant swing at fixing it using responsive web design techniques. But most of you did that without asking a critical question:

What are my customers trying to get done on their phones?

So you created one-size-fits-all responsive retrofits rather than reinventing your website for the way we live now -- on our phones. That's not enough because:

  • Not everyone will use your app. Sorry. We hoped they would. They won't.
  • Your website is or will be majority mobile. Walmart had 70% of web traffic from phones. You need to deliver a mobile-perfect solution.
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Findings From The Forrester CRM Wave For Midsize Organizations

Kate Leggett

We included 11 vendors in the CRM Forrester Wave™ for midsize organizations. These 11 vendors reported a total of about 200,000 midsize customers. Compared to CRM vendors tackling the enterprise space, these vendors typically offer more streamlined - and sometimes simpler - capabilities. We saw some similar - and some strikingly different trends in this market segment. Midmarket customer demand:

  • Great user experiences that are affordable. These two factors are paramount for midsize organizations who don’t have large budgets, yet require the power of CRM. CRM must also be simple: simple to learn, simple use, simple to configure.
  • Single platform. Midsize organizations do not have the breadth and depth of IT and administrator resources that enterprise organizations have. They expect unified business and administrator tooling for their CRM. 
  • Cloud CRM. Midmarket organizations demand cloud as their primary deployment model. We expect that newer cloud solutions will replace most on-premises installations in the next five years.
  • Prescriptive advice over raw analytics. Midsize organizations manage large volumes of data. CRM users - whether in sales, marketing or customer service - all struggle to take the right next best step for the customer - for example to pinpoint optimal offers, discount levels, product bundles, and next conversation for better customer outcomes. Midsize organizations are increasingly using prepackaged analytics within CRM to prescribe advice in the flow of their work. 
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Mobile Experiences Just Got Better

Michael Facemire

Oh, hello friends, it's been too long! But I couldn't let today's news stay this far under the radar. With a relatively small announcement on its blog, Google announced that the first Instant Apps have gone live! As a reminder, Instant Apps are Android apps that are internally compartmentalized into individual views (atoms) that your users can interact with from web search results. For instance, if a customer only needs to find the nearest bank ATM, they shouldn't need to download your app (and use precious device storage) to do that -- now they simply interact with the appropriate screen within the existing app delivered via the web! This immediately changes how companies deliver mobile experiences. Why?  Because it knocks down 3 major stumbling blocks of mobile experience development:

  • App discovery is hard. Users find content with web search engines. Instant Apps brings that same power to finding app experiences. Getting people into an app store is hard. Finding your app once there is hard (Our recent data shows that only 26% of smartphone users find new apps through app store searches). Ensuring their device has enough free space, and that no angry reviews scare them off is hard. Deep linking was a bandaid for some of these ills, but Instant Apps will solve them all by delivering a complete native experience as the result of a web search.
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