What's In Store At Forrester's Marketing Forum

Is it really almost March? Hard to believe, sitting from my desk in Boston, where we are still thawing out from a heavy winter. But, my Outlook calendar shows that Forrester’s Marketing Forum 2011 is only six weeks away, and I am setting my sights on getting a sneak peek of spring in San Francisco this April!

This year’s event theme focuses on innovating into the next digital decade, which will be marked by new, proprietary digital platforms (such as iPad apps, connected TVs, and walled gardens like Facebook) that will drive even more channels for customer engagement. We call this phenomenon the Splinternet, and it means that behavior and expectations around how people access relevant content and interact with companies is changing yet again, and departments that are tasked with understanding and engaging consumers across channels must change too. Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday when we came to terms with this thing called the online channel?

For market insights (MI) professionals, this shift into a more fragmented and digital world only increases the urgency to adapt organizationally and methodologically in order to bring consumer knowledge into the center of how companies make both tactical and strategic decisions. To this end, we’ve lined up a thought-provoking track of sessions specifically for MI professionals, outlining the future of this role, the ways in which companies are using new methods to reach key consumer groups, and how to provide insights that will support your marketing organization throughout a product or marketing lifecycle.

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The Online Marketing Suite Redux

I am pleased to announce that my newest report, Revisiting the Online Marketing Suite, was published this week.

My colleague and Customer Intelligence Practice Leader at Forrester, Suresh Vittal, was the first to define the online marketing suite in 2007. At the time, the online marketing was highly aspirational; Suresh's work was a call to action for marketers and vendors. If we look back at the original report, the online marketing suite descriptive graphic (figure 2 in the report) is particularly prescient because it included a section for "future network partners" to build upon existing capabilities.  We have the benefit of hindsight, but this consideration would be critical as nascent channels such as social and mobile exploded in the ensuing years.

We are excited to reinstate this line of resarch. Unfortunately, in the time since the original report the online marketing suite has been slow to hit the tipping point. Many factors are responsible -- such as the economy, technical challenges, and marketers' struggles to cope with the constantly moving targets of channels and customer demands. Nevertheless, during this period we've seen unprecedented innovation in marketing, technology, and consumer sophistication. It felt like the timing is right to take a new look at the online marketing suite to factor in the marketing ecosystem as of 2011. If anything, these changes -- and challenges -- drive the need for the online marketing suite more than ever. It has never been more important to coordinate content, execution, and analytics to support customer interactions. 

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Our Take: Omnicom Group Acquires Communispace

After months of speculation, Omnicom Group officially announced today that it acquired Communispace. This announcement came on the heels of Omnicom’s Friday announcement of the acquisition of The Modellers, a research firm specializing in advanced analytics and predictive modeling. Acquired through the firm's Diversified Agency Services (DAS) group, these two companies will sit among the likes of other niche market research firms such as M/A/R/C Research and Hall & Partners brand and communication research. This announcement is significant because in the context of the MR industry it:

  • Confirms the importance and value of client relationships. Communispace is the 800-pound gorilla of market research online communities (MROCs), and it has built a strong business by being an innovator around how to use communities, paired with stellar client services. It is especially adept at catering to large brands with significant research budgets and deep partnerships with vendors. While financial terms were not disclosed, my bet is that Communispace was able to garner a price tag well above the more than $40 million in revenue it was on track to bring in for 2010. This reflects the value of the team and the client relationships it brings on board.
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From Market Research To Market Insights

As this is my first blog post, let me begin with a quick introduction. I’m Richard Evensen, the new senior analyst with the Market Insights (MI) group at Forrester. I’ve been working in market and media research for over 15 years. During this time, I’ve done M&A and joint venture assessments, multi-lingual media analyses, competitive intelligence, customer research, and complex market/financial modeling.

I’m happy to be part of the amazing brain trust at Forrester and will be supporting MI professionals with research and guidance on customer satisfaction (CSAT), competitive intelligence, emerging markets, and research best practices.

Over the past several decades, I’ve experienced significant changes in our profession. For better or worse, we’re nowhere near our steady state. Dimensions that have changed, and will continue to change, are:

  • Breadth. MI professionals cover an increasingly broad portfolio of responsibilities, providing insights across: industries, segments, geographies, product/service lifecycle stages, customers and competitors, and, now, real and virtual worlds. With high growth in emerging and online markets, competition increasing, and customers becoming more connected and savvy, MI professionals need to have very long arms and research reach.
  • Depth. Our industry has moved from providing data to research to insights. Increasingly, MI professionals’ clients want actionable recommendations, which require a strong working knowledge of multiple business areas. As these demands grow, MI professionals need to move up the value chain.
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A New Resource For Customer Intelligence Discussion

My role at Forrester is to help Customer Intelligence professionals better understand the constantly shifting nature of social media and the ways it informs customer marketing and business strategies. With that in mind, I'm excited to announce that today we're bringing a little more social media to you, with our new Forrester Community For Customer Intelligence Professionals -- a place to discuss the business challenges CI professionals face every day.

The Forrester Community For Customer Intelligence Professionals will serve as a resource for connecting with peers and Forrester analysts, sharing stories, asking and answering questions, and discussing the topics most interesting to you. This online community is open to all CI professionals, so feel free to pass the link along to your colleagues. During the past year at Forrester, we've trialed other role communities with great success and look forward to helping The Forrester Community For Customer Intelligence Professionals grow in the coming months.

In The Forrester Community For Customer Intelligence Professionals, you will find:

  • A simple platform on which you can pose your questions and get advice from peers who face the same business challenges.
  • Insight from our analysts, who weigh in frequently on the issues. 
  • Fresh perspectives from peers, who share their real-world success stories and best practices.
  • Content on the latest technologies and trends affecting your business -- from Forrester and other thought leaders.
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