Survey: Are Operating And Acquisition Costs Higher Or Lower For Digital Channels?

Are costs to run your eBusiness operations increasing or decreasing? Last year eBusiness professionals reported that on average they spent over $25 million annually to run their eBusiness channels. With the pace of innovation and investment in digital channels barreling forward, we expect that number to increase in 2011. The only way for us to know though is for you to help us. As part of our quarterly panel survey of eBusiness professionals, we have deployed a survey to get to the heart of the cost of running digital channels -- namely the Web and mobile -- and also to understand how the cost of customer acquisition varies by channel.  We'll publish the results in an upcoming research document. 

Because this will be the third year fielding this survey, we'll be able to provide year-over-year data when we publish the results to highlight the key areas in which eBusiness costs are rising and falling, with more emphasis on mobile in particular than before.

Please take our survey today. It should take about 15 minutes to complete, and you'll get to choose some free research as a thank you from us. As always we'll only publish aggregate results and will never list the names or companies of participants. It's Valentine's Day after all, please share some survey love!

How To Build A Customer-Centric Culture

Building a customer-centric culture is occupying the minds and activities of a lot of companies that I’m talking with lately. This is great, because culture is the difference between going through the motions of a script and internalizing a set of values that dictate actions beyond the script.

Let me give an example: I recently was on the phone with an incredibly chipper call center rep at a telecommunications company. He didn’t answer either of the two questions that I had, yet remained friendly throughout the call. As the call ended, he said: “We aim not just to meet your expectations, but exceed them. Have I done that for you today?” Not only was the question a setup that will skew results, but the asking of the question made it clear that the company hadn’t succeeded in infusing customer-centric DNA into at least this person. A more customer-centric response is what you typically get from Vanguard or Fidelity: “I’m sorry that I can’t answer your questions. Let me find someone who can. Would you like to hold or can I call you back?”

Don’t get me wrong: Company intentions are important. Before I get into the culture part, I always step back with clients and ask "what kind of culture?" Don Norman's story about Southwest Airlines, in which the company refused to give customers reserved seats, food, and baggage transfers is a great example. The company's primary value proposition to customers is low prices (along with on-time service that's fun). That sets the stage for the kind of culture the company sets out to create. It's not customer-centric at all costs. It's focused on what’s valuable to customers.

Read more

Consumer Privacy And Marketers: Let's Talk Terms

I recently read about a California ruling that prohibits most offline merchants from collecting ZIP codes for credit card transactions. According to the LA Times:

The high court determined that ZIP Codes were "personal identification information" that merchants can't demand from customers under a state consumer privacy law.”

One justice was more specific about the ruling, saying that the privacy law in question was intended to prohibit retailers from collecting and storing consumer information that wasn't necessary to the transaction.

The attorney who brought the law suit took the implications further saying that, “the decision would help protect consumers from credit card fraud and identity theft.”

So there are actually 2 issues here:

1)       The collection of non-essential data
AND
2)      Security problems that facilitate the use of the data for illegal purposes

The marketing and privacy discussion is full of complex issues being conflated in similar ways. Even terms like “consumer data” and “privacy” are so loaded that there are conversations between parties using the same words, but not talking about the same thing.

Most marketers are interested in data that gives them a better understanding of their audiences overall. Generally, we’re not talking about marketers collecting the kind of personal information on your credit report — complete address, bank accounts, etc. Most of you reading this post are well acquainted with this distinction, but are consumers? I suspect most aren’t.

Read more

The Data Digest: How Democratization Of Technology Empowers Employees

The democratization of technology has arrived. New IT servicing models like cloud combined with improved user experiences make it easier for non-technical employees to download and install technology services. This phenomenon will only accelerate as these workers bring high expectations into the workplace from their experience with cloud-based services like Facebook and universal providers that allow access from any device.

Forrester's Forrsights Workforce Employee Survey, Q3 2010 shows that the consumerization of the enterprise is not always driven by a lack of collaboration of the IT department, only 8% of business technology users feel that their IT department is either clueless or a hinder. But the majority take things into their own control because they feel that IT is either too busy or they are restricted by corporate policies:

Cloud-based personal and professional services will liberate the individual from device and place, and set the bar higher for workplace IT. Today already 47% of business technology users at North American and European companies report using one or more website(s) to do parts of their jobs that are not sanctioned by their IT department. We expect this number to grow to close to 60% in 2011 as frustrated workers work around IT to self-provision technology.

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. 

Read more

Calling European Interactive Design Agencies — Do You Want To Get Your Name In Front Of Forrester Clients?

"Where to get help for interactive design projects in Europe?" That's the question I want to answer for customer experience professionals in my next research. To do that, I'm inviting all interactive design agencies in Europe to help me. Would you like to be included in a report that will help Forrester clients with their interactive agency selection process? If the answer is yes, please complete this 15-minute survey at:

https://deploy.ztelligence.com/start/index.jsp?PIN=15ZN9YWFM8K4N.

The survey is designed to gather data from European firms that have significant experience in designing and developing digital experiences (web, mobile, etc.). Survey questions cover interactive agency size, practice areas, industry expertise, locations, and a range of costs for typical engagements. If you know any agencies that should be included in my report, please forward the survey link to them or show them this blog post.

If you have questions, please send me an email: jbrowne at forrester dot com.

[16/Feb/2011]: Some people asked to see the questions before going through the survey online. That's a fair request, so I've uploaded a PDF of the survey to this page:

http://community.forrester.com/message/11355

[16/Feb/2011]: The deadline for this survey is Feb 28, 2011. The sooner we receive your submissions the better.

[28/Feb/2011]: I'm extending the deadline for this survey to Mar 7, 2011.

Recognize When Technology Can Raise The Bar Of Customer Engagement

CMOs need to be orchestrating the brand experience across channels, departments, and the customer life cycle, but it can be hard to keep up with emerging technologies that can enable significant improvements in how your firm engages customers. To help you do this, I've started a series of reports for B2B CMOs and marketing leaders to highlight technologies that they should have on their radar over the next 12 to 18 months.

We select technologies that meet the following criteria: 1) The technology can improve how companies engage prospects and customers at one or more points in the customer life cycle; 2) it is easy for the business to implement; 3) enterprise-scale companies have started to use it; and 4) it does not have enough hype to be on everyone’s radar.

The first installment focuses on four emerging technologies:

  • Online content curation to build thought leadership and authority relationships.
  • Listening platforms to monitor brand sentiment and gain customer insight.
  • Brand advocate platforms to energize word of mouth (WOM).
  • Appointment scheduling applications to engage people ready to buy.

Learn more about what these are and why they are important by reading the new report, "Emerging Technologies B2B CMOs Should Watch In 2011." And let me know about other emerging technologies you'd like to see profiled in the future or about experiences with these platforms.

HP webOS TouchPad Tablet: In The Race, But Apple Still Leads The Pack

Today HP unveiled its new line of webOS phones and the HP TouchPad, the first of a family of tablets HP is planning to launch. Here's our take on the TouchPad product strategy:

  • Product: The TouchPad marries the best of HP and Palm with features like Beats audio, printer compatibility, and nifty applications of Palm's Touchstone technology. Just as important, they've chosen a 9.7-inch screen size to make it as easy as possible for developers to port over their apps from the iPad, which will help them build their app ecosystem quickly. The device is thicker than the iPad and lacks the cool aluminum casing, but it has features the iPad doesn't (yet) have, like a front camera and multiple ports. There's still room for future improvement, like jazzing up the black hardware with a Vivienne Tam design as HP has done with its netbooks and notebooks to give the TouchPad more personality--and of course, launching 3G and 4G, which they plan to do later this year.  
  • Place: In a Forrester survey in January of 4,000 US online consumers, the No. 1 place consumers said they'd prefer to buy a tablet was electronic stores like Best Buy--40% of consumers considering buying a tablet said they'd prefer this channel, compared with only 11% that said they'd prefer to buy from a mobile service provider like Verizon. Here, HP has a huge advantage over Android tablet-makers like Samsung who are primarily relying on carriers to make the sale. HP has a strong relationship with Best Buy and the Touchstone technology will play well on retail shelves; however, Apple still has a stronger play on distribution since it's not only in Best Buy, Target, etc. but also owns its own channel--the Apple Store is a laboratory for teaching consumers about the iPad (and how to buy content on it).
  • Price: An unknown. HP is not announcing price at this time.
Read more

What Will Upright The Nokia Ship For Developer Partners?

Co-authored by Zachary Reiss-Davis

There were two important pieces of Nokia news of interest to mobile platform developer partners leaked today. First, Nokia’s MeeGo platform, designed to replace Symbian, will likely be killed before ever reaching the market. Second, Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop purportedly sent a 1,300 word memo to all Nokia employees that includes key sections such as: “We poured gasoline on our own burning platform. I believe we have lacked accountability and leadership to align and direct the company through these disruptive times. We had a series of misses. We haven't been delivering innovation fast enough. We're not collaborating internally. Nokia, our platform is burning”; and “The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don't have a product that is close to their experience. Android came on the scene just over 2 years ago, and this week they took our leadership position in smartphone volumes. Unbelievable.”

This dovetails with what we predicted in a November 2010 report, “The Feeding Frenzy Over The Mobile Developer Channel,” in that it would not be the quality of the underlying platform software (Nokia has remained strong there), but the ease of development, viability of the platform, size of the market, and availability of distribution channels that would settle the mobile platform battle. In all of these factors, Nokia has been steadily falling behind its competitors, led by Apple (iOS), Google (Android), and Microsoft (Windows Phone). 

Read more

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.
Read more