Social Media: Hype or a Financial Services Reality?

 

No topic has straddled the chasm of hype versus ROI as social media. The last few years have been a never-ending array of stories around successes using social media as well as pundits questing the validity and value of the social area. The financial services industry is increasingly playing a role in the social space, and the last two years have also provided clarity to the value of the social channel.

Like other industries, the majority of the efforts in the social space in financial services space were initially focused on the marketing area. The last two years have resulted at least four areas that show promise for social outside of pure marketing including:

  • Product development and innovation. Who better to ask about new product development or product enhancements than existing customers who own and use the product? Firms such as Chase tap social communities to drive product innovation that starts with the customer are using social very effectively
  • Community support. While financial decisions may be a personal activity, the path to these decisions is often steeped in social with segments like investors or small business looking to one another for peer comparisons and best practice sharing. American Express, TradeKing, and most recently E*Trade are using closed communities to drive service utilization and segment engagement by getting customer to interact with each other in the social space.
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Oracle Buys Endeca: What it means

 

The eCommerce technology landscape continues to be reshaped in 2011. This morning the music stopped, and Endeca was sitting in the laps of Oracle, as they announced it has acquired the search, CXM, and BI* solution provider. This acquisition is a strong signal of Oracle’s focus on commerce and is a key piece in a larger puzzle.

Why did Oracle buy Endeca?

·         CXM. When Oracle bought Fatwire they cited the emerging CXM trend. But there was one problem, what was going to pull that all together with a strong, well-attributed, rich index of content, customer, and transactional data? Question answered as Endeca will fit in very nicely as a complement to ATG, Seibel, and Fatwire as a CXM solution to drive personalized, dynamic, contextual experiences across consumer/client touchpoints.

·         B2B. Endeca may be known as a search and guided navigation solution for B2C commerce sites, but it has a particularly strong value proposition for B2B companies with large complex product assortments – such as manufacturers and distributors across many industries. This acquisition will strengthen Oracle’s value proposition in B2B opportunities. Some may argue that search has been largely commoditized by Solr, but in these applications that is not yet the case. (That is evidenced by the combined success hybris and Endeca were enjoying together up to this point.) This acquisition will strengthen the Siebel, Oracle ERP, and ATG B2B offerings all together.

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Executive Q&A with Patty Gaumond, VP of Enterprise Internet Solutions

Patty Gaumond is one of our featured keynote speakers at Forrester's Consumer Forum next week in Chicago. As Vice President of Enterprise Internet Solutions at State Farm Insurance, Patty is responsible for creating the digital experience for consumers, including online, social, and mobile capabilities, and the associate-facing intranet. This includes the launch of the firm's cutting edge Pocket Agent iPhone application back in 2009.  

At our forum, Patty will elaborate on how the firm, in a traditionally non-digital product category, is creating new digital product experiences to engage their customers beyond just the claims experience. I'm very eager to hear her presentation, and to understand more about State Farm's overall efforts to create an ongoing, interactive, and digital relationship with their customers.

In the meantime, I do want to share with you some of Patty's thoughts in response to some questions we asked her about the firm's digital transformation, their use of emerging touchpoints such as mobile and tablets, the services they are offering, and how they are managing this change. I hope to see you in Chicago next week. Patty is on the main stage at 10:25 a.m. on Oct. 28th!

How would you describe State Farms’ digital transformation?

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Consumer Forum 2011: Preview of Forrester keynotes

Late last night, James McQuivey and Brian Walker performed dry runs of their upcoming keynotes for Forrester's Consumer Forum 2011 (#FCF11). I'm so excited for all of you to see these presentations and to hear the key concepts and advice both will share in Chicago Oct. 27-28!

James will prove to you why digital disruption is accelerating, how to assess your company's susceptibility to digital disruption, and what you need to do to go on the offensive to become a disruptor; building the total product experiences your customers expect in the age of the customer. I encourage you to watch this quick video of James previewing the main themes and content for his speech (4 minutes).

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Executive Q&A with Sona Chawla, President e-Commerce, Walgreens

I'm thrilled that Sona Chawla will be a keynote speaker at Forrester's Consumer Forum in just over three weeks! As the President of e-Commerce, Sona oversees operations and leads the team responsible for building the sales, service and customer experience of Walgreens.com and drugstore.com (acquired in June 2011). This includes driving store traffic through the Web, growing online profitability, and the development of new product and service offerings via emerging digital touchpoints such as mobile.

Earlier today, Sona provided me with a sneak peek of her upcoming presentation for our forum "110 Years Of Agility: Continuing Our Evolution To Meet Customer Demands" and all I can say is that it's not to be missed! I don't want to reveal too much and spoil it, but Sona will touch on the dynamic forces at play within healthcare and retail that are driving Walgreens' digital transformation, the framework they are utilizing to enable that transformation, and finally what Walgreens sees for the future. And of course throughout the discussion Sona will have key lessons learned and advice for firms across industries going through similar transformations.

I do however want to share with you Sona's responses to some questions we asked her in advance of the event. Her thoughts demonstrate the growing importance (and let's not forget the financial benefits) of serving customers across touchpoints with innovative, digital products and services.

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Online Retail In Germany -- Isn't It Time For A Multichannel Approach?

 

Following on from my European eCommerce overview a couple of months ago, I’m continuing to build a deeper view of how the online retail markets are evolving in the major European markets. 

This month I turn to Germany, the second-largest online retail market in Europe, and one with a number of interesting characteristics. When we compare Germany to other European markets we see that:

·         eBay and Amazon.de are hugely influential. While eBay and Amazon see strong sales in Germany, their influence extends beyond their direct sales as many German web shoppers turn to these sites ahead of search engines to research products. Major retailers such as Conrad are trying to leverage this consumer behavior.

·         Consumer electronics is hotly contested. We looked at Redcoon.de in some detail in our recent Website Functionality Benchmark of European Consumer Electronics Retailers, but with consumer electronics  the number one online category in Germany, other specialist retailers such as ComputerUniverse are looking at new ways of influencing online shoppers with rich product information and ratings and reviews.

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