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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The Next Step In Web CMS Evolution

Mark Grannan

Today, we publish the Forrester Wave™: Web Content Management Systems, Q1 2017 after three months of research and another month of writing and editing. Today, we can step back and begin to help our clients leverage this research to shape their digital experience strategy. But first, a special thank you to my colleagues Danielle Geoffroy, Allison Cazalet, Stephen Powers, and Ted Schadler for their invaluable contributions. Also, thank you to the 15 vendors -- Acquia, Adobe, Crownpeak, Episerver, e-Spirit, Hippo (BloomReach), IBM, Jahia, Magnolia, OpenText (TeamSite), OpenText (WEM), Oracle, Progress Software, SDL, and Sitecore -- and their client references who made this research possible.

So where to start? At the highest level, we’re witnessing a step-function along our evolutionary journey thanks to digital. Digital disrupts communication, community, privacy, convenience, products, and services because always-on connections change our demand cycles. Those enterprise organizations who don’t evolve are being disrupted. My colleagues on customer experience research team have shown this correlation of revenue being tied to customer experience, across industries and geographies (link). Additionally, we’re starting to understand how digital maturity stages correlate to technology priorites such as Web CMS with Forrester's Digital Maturity Model (link):

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NRF 2017 highlights the need for operations to support customer experience

Phoenix Zhang

This is the first National Retail Federation Expo I’ve attended, and I must say it exceeded all of my expectations and reshaped my view of retail. Over three days in New York, I met with more than 30 vendors and had many wonderful discussions about the changes revolutionizing store operations, hardware and software developments, front-end and back-end integration, and retail analytics. HPE generated a lot of buzz on the floor with demos of its machine-learning algorithm in reducing and preventing store inventory shrinkage. And Checkpoint showed me their new RFID tunnels that promised an impressive 99.9% accuracy[i].  As a supply chain and logistics management professional, I look at these latest developments from a different angle. My top three key takeaways:

  • Digital store operations have huge implications for planning and fulfillment. I was amazed to see how much technology has been developed to improve store operational efficiency and customer experience, such as Theatro’s voice-controlled wearable. But the hidden benefits of all this for supply chain managers are still under-explored. Take the latest in-store RFID application from Tyco Retail Solutions: Stores are primarily using it inside fitting rooms to track what items customers have bought or left behind. The same application and the data it captures could give retailers and their upstream suppliers unprecedented insights into what items are most or least popular and how fast they are selling, allowing far more accurate and deliberate replenishment and inventory.
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Your Mobile Website Sucks

Ted Schadler

This is part two in a series on Reinventing the Web to Win the Mobile Moment. Here's part one, a Drunk History Of Mobile Strategy.

For 20 years we have optimized the web as a big billboard broadcasting everything about a company. Marketing owns the public site, and cares more about acquisition than utility. Product teams own the private sites and are faced with an ever-escalating array of digital touchpoints. Is it any wonder firms, aided by their digital agency and web content management software, have built one-size-fits-all reponsive websites and punted on the responsiblity to make them great?

"Why can't they all just use our app," I hear you say. Alas, few customers and even fewer prospects will use your app. But they will visit your website on their phones, particularly when they search or link their way to it. Sadly, when they arrive, their experience — even on your new responsive site — is awful. Why?

  • Your one-size-fits-all responsive retrofit isn't mobile-first . . . While responsive web design solves a litany of problems — including making your site visible on Google Search — it doesn't magically deliver desktop conversion results. REI told us, "When we went to responsive web design, we celebrated for a minute. Then we asked, ‘Is our responsive website enough?'"
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Digital Customer Experience ROI: (How To) Show Me The Money

Ted Schadler

Forrester's clients frequently ask us how to build the business case for customer journey mapping, particularly for digital experiences and digital products. We have proven that better customer experiences drive revenue in industries with low switching costs. But what about investments in customer journey mapping?

Now that I've taken on Forrester's digital business and transformation playbook, I've been thinking a lot about the benefits of journey mapping, which I believe is the front end to any transformation initiative. I don't have a wealth of evidence yet to justify your investments in journey mapping (though my CX colleagues have a lot more to share for Forrester clients). But I have been developing a framework to measure the impact of better customer experiences. These metrics range from hard to squishy:

  • Higher satisfaction drives repeat business, hence higher customer lifetime value. This is a hard metric, particularly if you are using journey mapping to improve an existing touchpoint. A major online retailer told us that they prioritize digital investments (in, for example, a better mobile web experience) based on two metrics: revenue and satisfaction. Their business model succeeds or fails based on repeat business, so they build, measure, and continuously optimize the best digital engagement possible. Repeat business is something you can measure. Next, bracket the business improvement through better customer understanding with a best-case and worst-case analysis. Start by correlating customer satisfaction studies with touchpoint use and experience quality.
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Customer Obsession Will Remake App-Development Tools

John R. Rymer
Application-development leaders shifting to modern techniques are like acrobats performing above a flimsy net. The tools and technologies they need to support the planning, execution, and evaluation of customer-focused applications just aren't widely available yet. The biggest gaps are in portfolio management, test-and-learn development environments, and digital application platforms. This report provides an overview of the tools and technologies application-development leaders need. 
 
Our key findings: 
 
  1. Organizing Principles For Tools: Composition, Collaboration, Continuous Delivery. An emphasis on composition, collaboration, and continuous delivery makes modern application development different from prior eras. Tools and technologies must support with equal facility apps, projects, and assets living in public clouds and private data centers. They must also foster contextual collaboration in near real time to enable rapid, continuous delivery.
  2. Tools Reflect The Needs Of Cross-Skilled "Two-Pizza” Teams. Tools for modern application development and delivery reflect the convergence of roles across the old boundaries between product management, design, development, QA, and operations. Not all market-leading products act on this reality; they still address siloed roles as before. Thus, application-development teams will look to new tools — even command-line editors — and open source projects to improve project flow.
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