One of the toughest parts of being an analyst is figuring
out not WHAT will happen but WHEN it will happen.Back in May of 2007 I wrote a short report
that described Forrester’s take on Microsoft’s acquisition of Avenue A │ Razorfish. In that report I
predicted that the Web site design part of the business would be spun off,
“possibly just called ‘Razorfish,’” and that acquirers would flock to snap up
that part of the firm.
To be open, I was beginning to think I’d been wrong.But then yesterday, FT.com broke the news
that Microsoft appointed Morgan Stanley to find a buyer for the design part of
the agency, which dropped the “Avenue A” part of its name and is now called
The news that Joost is scaling back its plans for world domination to focus on developing white label services is not a surprise. But it is a marker of sorts, given that back in the day Joost was a poster boy for a new kind of mid-form online video destination that would flourish in the perceived gap between YouTube, with its skateboarding cats and ad-unfriendly farting fratboys, and the old media dinosaurs wedded to distributing their prized content on TV.Sadly, the game moved on.
So what lessons can be learnt from Joost’s experience? First of all, it took the wrong decision by asking users to download client software. As iPlayer discovered in 2008, users want streaming: it turned out the appeal of YouTube wasn’t just the content, it was the instant click and play experience. Joost changed to a streaming model – eventually - but too late to engage the audiences who had already discovered iPlayer and Hulu.
The media business is still about content, and those who have spent millions of dollars creating and acquiring it are not inclined to let someone else distribute it online. The likes of ABC, NBC/Fox and the BBC (as well as smaller brands) built their own online video platforms to deliver content direct to consumers. At the other end of the spectrum, YouTube started to clean up its act while experimenting with longer-form content. Joost got squeezed out.
This past Monday at Forrester's Customer Experience Forum, I was listening to Wayne Peacock of USAA and I found myself wishing that he could be a part of the healthcare reform debate. Wayne was talking about how USAA weathered the trials an tribulations of 2008 -- fires in California, Hurricane Ike, and the collapse of the US financial infrastructure, just to name a few. All of which left USAA significantly "over plan."
I couldn't help thinking about the parallels to the health plan and healthcare industries. Where property and casualty gets hurricanes and fires, we get swine flu. And while the financial crisis is universal (in healthcare we feel it as layoffs, loss of insurance coverage, and consumers cutting back on preventive care), we also have systemic issues like the obesity epidemic and lifestyle-related health issues.
I often get asked by brands: "How should we organize our company for social media?" or "Which roles do we need", or "Which department is in charge". So for our latest report (clients can access all the details) answers just that, it has data and graphs about spending, brand maturity in the social space, which department 'owns' the program, and how companies are organizing.
Companies organize in three distinct models
For this post, let's focus in on how companies are organizing. There are three basic models that I've observed and surveyed brands:
The Tire (Distributed): Where each business unit or group may create its own social media programs without a centralized approach. We call this approach the “tire,” as it originates at the edges of the company.
The Tower (Centralized): We refer to this centralization as the “tower” — a standalone group within a company that’s responsible for social media programs, often within corporate marketing or corporate communicaitons.
The Hub and Spoke (Cross Functional): Like the hub on a bicycle wheel, a cross-functional group that represents multiple stakeholders across the company assembles in the middle of the organization. The hub facilitates resource sharing and cross-functional communications (via the “spokes” in the wheel) to those at the edge of the organization (or the “tire”)
Hi all.My name is Will Chu and I serve customer experience professionals.Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about green technologies, from those addressing current issues like renewable energy sources to ones preparing for the imminent post-global warming apocalypse.If the latter is anything like Dennis Quaid’s plight in "The Day After Tomorrow," you may want to invest in a WaterPod – a sustainable, navigable double-domed island that will get you through the toughest of ecological meltdowns.
How did you like our Customer Experience Forum? Did you come participate in person at the event in New York? Or did you see some of the presentations that we offered as a live stream?
On my way home from New York, I met a friend at LaGuardia airport for a coffee and I enthused about the event to him. He leant forward as if to let me in on a secret: "There's a company that I deal with, that always delivers an excellent customer experience - and you've probably never heard of it."
He proceeded to tell me that three generations of his family rely on USAA for all their financial needs. Boy, was he surprised when I told him who I'd been speaking with earlier... :
Customer service has become an integral part of product strategy, and, as such, it should now be a primary concern of consumer product strategy professionals. Customer service has also grown more complex: Consumers used to simply bring the product back to the store from which they purchased it or call a toll-free number to obtain service. More customer service options now exist, including email, IVR, and online chat. Moving customer service online is a double-edged sword — it's expensive to provide effective online solutions, yet the more customers move to them, the lower the costs. We apply our Convenience Quotient methodology to various forms of customer service and find that nothing beats having a live person on a phone line available for troubleshooting. Other methods offer their own mixes of benefits and barriers to consumers. Consumer product strategists should think of customer service, in whatever guise, as a critical product attribute and weave their choice of interaction directly into their overall product strategies. I evaluated a variety of channels by which customer service issues can be resolved, as well as some indirect alternatives such as leaving the issue unresolved ("do nothing") or buying a new product or churning to a different service rather than working with the company toward resolution. Here's a "sneak peek" at how the results came out:
On the regulatory front, another ominous sign for the financial services industry, with likely impact on e-Business strategists. President Obama today proposed a massive overhaul of the nation’s fiancial system, as an essential regulatory cornerstone for the future and to ensure that the factors underpinning the economic crisis are not repeated.
I spoke with Scribd.com yesterday about their partnership with Simon & Schuster to sell 5,000 eBooks in the recently launched Scribd Store, as well as their future plans for where they're taking the business. There are great articles in BusinessWeek and the WSJ on the Scribd/Simon & Schuster deal, so I won't repeat what they cover, but I'll add a few of my own thoughts.
Scribd is tapping into unaddressed needs in the eBook/eContent market by:
Expanding content beyond books. Scribd content runs the gamut of reading material, including things like sheet music, resumes, and recipes in addition to more conventional long-form books, both professional and user-generated. There isn't anything else quite like it on the Web, and nothing like it in an eReader device environment.(Currently, you can download Scribd content into PDF format and sideload them into your Sony Reader, but they don't yet have more streamlined device integration.)
Enabling social interaction around reading. One of the major shortfalls of Amazon's Kindle and Sony's Reader is that they don't support the social behavior that accompanies reading books, like recommending books to others and buying books for a friend. Scribd doesn't take sharing this far, and it isn't yet integrated into any eBook/eReader devices, but at least on the Web it has introduced a social norm around sharing content that eReading has lacked so far.
Good play by Amazon. There is a lot of buzz around mCommerce right now - what is it? what does it mean? how fast will "it" grow? what role will it play in the multi-channel retail experience?
One of the top reasons consumers give for buying in a physical location after conducting research online is immediacy - can get it/buy it now. On a cell phone in a physical location, comparison pricing has the potential to either finalize the deal (if the store does indeed have the lowest price) or take the customer out the door - either to another store or online.
SnapTell - already popular with cell phone users - adds to Amazon's growing portfolio of mobile services (which I find impressive already) - and is a bit of a defensive move. I think they may yet bring a few people back to online (or one of their retail partners) with this service.