The Co-operative Bank Tops Our UK Bank Content & Functionality Benchmark

One of the most common questions banking eBusiness executives ask Forrester analysts is: "What do you think of my Web site?".  That's always a tough question to answer because what I think of a Web site depends on who I am and what I'm trying to use it for. To help UK bank eBusiness executives answer that question, my colleague Vanessa Niemeyer has just published a benchmark of the sales content and functionality on the Web sites of 10 of the UK's biggest banking brands, from the perspective of a typical customer trying to switch current account provider.

Some background: UK Net users are among the most likely anywhere in the world to use the Net to research and buy financial products. According to our Consumer Technographics® surveys,  almost 60% of UK Net users have researched a financial product online in the past 12 months, more than in any other European country. Two out of five UK Net users have applied for a financial product online in the past year, which is double the Western European average. So you might think that UK bank Web sites are all highly effective sales sites.

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Help My Interactive Marketing Colleagues Benchmark "Social Maturity"

My colleagues who serve Interactive Marketing professionals are working on a study to benchmark social media maturity in organizations, the results of which will be a killer report that will allow you to map yourself against your peers. This is not limited to the marketing world we are benchmarking the entire organization. Our goal is to answer these key questions:

  • How do you define “social maturity,” and why is it important to get there?
  • Which companies are ahead of the curve in implementing social technologies for both external use (i.e., for customers/consumers) and/or internal use (i.e., for employees/partners)?
  • What have been the biggest drivers of success?
  • What are the biggest challenges?
  • What steps do most organizations need to take and why?

Here’s how you can help:

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E3 Notes: Gaming Isn't Just About Gaming Anymore

The future is here, folks, and the gaming industry is the first to get us there. Today I leave E3, the gaming industry's biggest US convention. When all is said and done, roughly 45,000 people will have come through LA's convention center -- most of them as nerdy as you're imagining right now -- to play the newest games, demo the latest hardware, and collectively drool over hyper-realistic zombies, aliens, robots, and other baddies game designers have placed in our digital sights.

At this E3 we have witnessed more advances in living room technology than the cable, consumer electronics, or the computer industry (yes, that includes Apple) have managed to pull off in many years of trying. Let me summarize:

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Market Researchers: Help Us Benchmark “Social Maturity”

We are starting a Forrester-wide research project to benchmark the use of social technologies across enterprise organizations, and I want market researchers to be a part of this! Why is this project important? Well, we cover social technologies from a wide range of perspectives — from roles in marketing to IT to technology professionals. Not surprisingly, we find each of these roles differs in its general level of usage of or familiarity with social technologies but that most companies are experiencing pockets of success. However, few, if any, are successfully implementing a social strategy across the board. In fact, full maturity in this space could take years, but there are clear differences in how some ahead-of-the-curve companies are using social technologies for business results.

Up to this point, it has been clearly established by many people (including us many times over) that social technologies are transformative tools that are changing the way companies do business. So with this social maturity effort, we’re not talking as much about the opportunity that social presents, but rather we are trying to determine the current reality of practitioners. It’s also clear that many companies have made tremendous strides in planning and organizing for the use of social technologies. However, the one question we consistently get is, “Where is my organization compared with others in the use of social media?” We want to benchmark these companies — as well as the roles within them — to see if we can answer questions like:

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Thoughts on IBM and Coremetrics

It's a funny thing, I was sitting in my office on Monday trying to decide what to blog about next, and as if on cue we had very exciting news yesterday in the Web Analytics business.  IBM announced its agreement to acquire Coremetrics.  So ended the deliberations on blog topics.

You can read the official press release from IBM here and the Coremetrics blog post here.  The deal is subject to standard regulatory approvals in the US and Europe prior to closing.  IBM has substantial experience in M&A, acquiring 90 companies since 1999 (source: Wikipedia), therefore I would expect that this deal will proceed with a high degree of precision to a successful conclusion. It is also interesting to note that this is not IBM's first go at Web Analytics, which ended in 2006 when they divested Surfaid to Coremetrics...so in as sense we're going full circle with this transaction.

I benefit from fortuitous scheduling, as I had already planned to have dinner last night with John Squire, Chief Strategy Officer at Coremetrics.  Timing, as they say, is everything. (By the way, if you are ever in the mood for an excellent pastrami sandwich and/or Belgian beer - on tap no less - I highly recommend Refuge in San Carlos, California)

Coremetrics will operate as a unit of IBM's application and integration middleware division, which is a common approach by IBM as shown by previous acquisitions such as ILOG. New business sales will shift over to IBM's core sales groups, but account management will remain within the Coremetrics team in an effort to make the transition seamless for current clients.

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Help Us Benchmark "Social Maturity"

We recently embarked on a Forrester-wide research project to benchmark the use of social technologies across enterprise organizations. Why is this important? Well, as you may know, we cover social technologies from a wide range of perspectives — from roles in marketing to IT to technology professionals. We find each of these roles differs in its general “social maturity” and that most companies are experiencing pockets of success, but few, if any, are successfully implementing it across the board. In fact, full maturity in this space could take years, but there are clear differences in how some ahead-of-the-curve companies are using social technologies for business results. In fact, at this point it has been clearly established by many people (including us many times over) that social technologies as transformative tools that are changing the way companies do business. So we’re not talking as much about the opportunity social presents, but rather we are trying to determine the current reality of practitioners. It’s also clear that many companies have made tremendous strides in planning and organizing for the use of social technologies. However, the one question we consistently get is: “where is my organization compared to others in the use of social media?” We want to benchmark these companies to see if we can answer questions like:

  • How do you define “social maturity” and why is it important to get there?
  • Which companies are ahead of the curve in implementing social technologies for both external use (i.e., for customers/consumers) and/or internal use (i.e., for employees/partners)?
  • What have been the biggest drivers of success?
  • What are the biggest challenges?
  • What steps do most organizations need to take and why?

Here’s how you can help:

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Entries For Forrester's Voice Of The Customer Awards 2010 — Wow!

We just finished judging the entries for Forrester's Voice of the Customer Awards 2010. Announcing the winners will have to wait until we’re onstage at the Customer Experience Forum in New York on June 29. But there is something I want to announce right now: I am really impressed by the entries! :-)

Because I was also a judge last year, I couldn’t help but notice some big changes from last year. Here they are in no particular order:

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Good Forecasts Deliver More Than Just Numbers

“What market research is about is adding value to the business.” This line got me a job once. It’s a perspective easily lost in the myriad complications of conducting market research but a value researchers must hold dear. The context in which I obtained that job was customer satisfaction research. I was asked how I might handle the presentation of survey results in a sensitive situation where the audience would be hostile about the results. My response was that companies don’t survey clients because they want a page full of numbers. Companies survey clients because they want to learn how to serve them better — with the end result being increased sales. My presentation wouldn’t be about customer satisfaction scores; it would be about increasing sales.

 This is also a central theme for ForecastView. We have to remember, at the end of the day, that research and researchers are investments that companies make with shareholder money and that the end goal is a positive return on those investments. This applies to forecasts, as well. But this isn’t always easy because forecasts don’t always show steeply upward-sloping curves for all of the products our clients make.

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Back From Italy

I spent some time last week in Italy, where I regularly visit clients to discuss mobile opportunities.

I always try to spend a few hours visiting operators' shops and getting hold of some brochures. The ones below from Telecom Italia are very typical of a certain type of Italian ad...

Beyond this, however Italy is a very interesting market to study. It is wrongly perceived as leading in Europe because of its huge penetration rate — more than 140% — which doesn’t mean much, per se. Put simply, it links to the high ratio of prepay phones and to the multi-SIM phenomenon, in which Italian consumers take advantage of the most attractive tariffs. For example, handset subsidies are not common and were introduced by Tre (greenfield operator Hutchison Whampoa), the operator with the highest postpay market share.

However, Italian consumers are starting to demonstrate sophisticated mobile usage. An example: At the end of 2009, 15% of Italian online users accessed the mobile Internet on a weekly basis and more than 10% were interested in receiving contextualized mobile coupons. I see numerous examples of mobile innovation, and many companies (from media groups to banks) are starting to integrate mobile into their corporate strategies. I am, however, surprised by the lack of a cohesive and consistent approach. Few companies have a clear understanding of how their own customers use mobile services and what their attitudes toward mobile are. That's the first step in assessing mobile opportunities. For example, does it make sense to launch an Android application if you don't know how many of your customers own an Android device? Few companies have defined clear and measurable objectives or have a vision of how they want to integrate mobile as part of a multichannel and multimedia approach moving forward.

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Does Proof Exist That Social Marketing Makes Money?

The following post is from my colleague and our CMO Group Advisor, Erin Streeter. I thought this topic was critical to our community of marketing leaders. If you have any questions for us, please comment below, reach out to me, or contact Erin at estreeter@forrester.com.

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As the Senior Advisor for Forrester’s CMO Group, an executive peer networking organization, I field strategy questions from senior marketers on a daily basis. And while I’m constantly getting questions about social media (“How do we get started?”, “What is its place in our marketing mix?”, “Can we even play given our regulated industry?”), one CMO Group Member recently asked a very straightforward, but extremely challenging, question: “What proof does Forrester have that social media adds to the revenue stream?”

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