Big Brother? Or Big Mother? Depends If You Get It Right ...

What am I even talking about? Think about how you use your mobile phone. Do you contact your closest friends? Do you shout and swear at your local telecom provider's IVR because your new home Internet service isn't working as advertised? Do you shop? Bank? Read books? As a result, your phone knows if you are happy or sad. Your phone knows where you live, how fast you drive and where you spend money. Creepy? Maybe if your phone tells you your wife isn't going to like that shirt you are buying. Less creepy if your phone knows you are a Starbucks addict and they are giving away free coffee today. What defines creepy to some extent lies in how much value you perceive in a service. We call this context - what an individual's situation, preference and attitudes are. How you use it will define how creepy it can be.

Your phone will know more and more about you based on some technology that will be in the phone that can sense what you are doing or your feelings, for example. Your phone will also understand your preferences based on how you use the phone. We wrote a lot about this in 2011 - re what is means to you as an eBusiness professional. (See report)

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Forrester’s 2012 Customer Experience Predictions

2011 was a pivotal year for the field of customer experience. A major increase in the number and types of consumer technologies had a wide-ranging impact on daily life: People controlled their TVs with tablets, asked their phones questions, and played video games without using physical controllers. The extensive reach of these changes — and the screaming pace at which they happened — triggered a corporate awakening to the value of great customer interactions.

Brisk consumer technology adoption may have been the ultimate driver of many customer experience initiatives in 2011. But an increasingly competitive industry landscape, the ever-increasing power of consumers, and a slippery economy will be the major drivers of customer experience efforts in 2012.

In our latest report, Ron Rogowski and I outline what these market drivers mean for customer experience professionals in the year ahead — and what they’ll need to do to keep up. The report includes predictions for how organizations will change the way they work, what types of interactions they’ll focus on, and the resulting implications for customer experience vendors. For example:

  • C-level execs will officially name customer experience as a top strategic priority. Toward the end of 2011, we started hearing of more companies in which the CEO or board of directors decreed customer experience to be a top strategic priority. For example, the chief information officers at several large telecom companies recently told us that, for the first time ever, customer experience was one of their top concerns. We expect this trend to accelerate in 2012, much to the delight of customer experience professionals who have been clamoring for executive support for years.
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CES 2012 Preview: Tablets, Ultrabooks, And Wearables

It's that time of year again! Next week I'm headed to Las Vegas for CES 2012, along with 140,000 other people (bring your hand sanitizer!). Here's what I'll be looking for among the masses of gadgets:

  • Tablets: Ice Cream Sandwich, Windows 8, and all the rest. Last year, there were more than 80 tablets that debuted at CES. This year, I expect the field to be whittled down some, but there will be plenty of CE manufacturers strutting their stuff. Look for new Android 4.0 tablets from Motorola, Toshiba, Acer, and others. Will they sell better than last year? I don't expect to see any barn-burners, but there's reason to be optimistic: The percentage of US tablet shoppers who say they prefer Android as the operating system on that tablet doubled from 9% to 18% between January and September 2011. Meanwhile, the percentage of tablet shoppers who say they prefer Windows decreased from 46% to 25% — still more than those who prefer Android. We'll be looking for the dazzling Windows 8 demos at the Microsoft booth and elsewhere. In addition, we'll be looking at how smaller companies are using Android as an enabling platform but building their own curated experience on top. For example, I'm meeting with Jean-Yves Hepp to check out the Qooq, an Android-based tablet optimized for cooking and kitchen use that's selling well in France.
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The Data Digest: Understanding The Changing Needs Of Online Consumers In Asia Pacific

Recently, my colleague Olesia Klevchuk published a report about the behaviors of consumers in India, China, Japan, South Korea, and Australia, called 'Understanding The Changing Needs Of Online Consumers In Asia Pacific'. Forrester has been tracking consumer online behavior in Asia Pacific for six years now. In 2011, we polled Asia Pacific consumers in two separate surveys to find out about their use of the Internet for media, entertainment, shopping, communications, and social computing.

This year's Asia Pacific data shows continuous growth in the amount of time consumers spend with online media, including widespread adoption of social activities, as well as growing importance of the mobile phone. For consumers in Asia Pacific, PCs at home and high-speed Internet connections are becoming the norm.

In metropolitan China and Japan, at least nine in 10 adults have access to a computer at home, and almost eight in 10 are already online. In metropolitan India, the numbers are much lower, with only 27% regularly going online. But India is a populous country, and there are currently around 100 million online users, which puts it in third place after China and the US.

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2012 Super Bowl Heralds Change In Video And TV Marketing Strategy

NBC recently announced that it would be streaming its coverage of the 2012 NFL Super Bowl online. NBC has streamed big events before (2010 Olympics, Sunday Night Football), but the big difference here is that it is selling video ads that will run exclusively on the online stream independently of the TV broadcast. This is a huge step for NBC as an ad seller since it is recognizing its untapped online audience and attempting to monetize it. Although the Super Bowl streams (restricted to the US only) are expected to greatly pale in comparison to linear TV viewership, Forrester expects the streaming audience of the Super Bowl to grow dramatically in years to come.

2011 has seen some major change in advertising. Although TV is still king, there’s no denying that online video, across a wide variety of devices, is experiencing strong growth. TV advertisers must now contend with smartphones, computers, and tablets as alternative sources of premium video content for engaging viewers with targeted ads. 

As media fragmentation increases, marketers will need to rethink their strategies and start to look at online video and TV as two sides of the same coin. In our latest report, “Why Marketers Must Integrate TV And Video Strategies” (subscription required), we make the case that marketers will merge their online video and TV advertising teams to more efficiently reach their audience across whatever screen they happen to be watching. Next month, our VP Practice Leader, David Cooperstein, will be speaking at the ANA TV & Everything Video Forum in New York about how marketers’ attitudes and strategies are shifting in the face of this new media convergence.

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Potential Nook Spinoff: Unlocking Value But At What Cost?

In a press release today, Barnes & Noble announced its intention to explore a potential separation of its successful Nook business in order to "unlock that value" and build upon its rapid growth (the Nook business will have an estimated $1.5 billion in revenue this year, according to the company). As PaidContent.org notes, international expansion could be a key motivation for the move.

I have been impressed with how Barnes & Noble has managed its Nook business thus far and I imagine that they have good reasons for exploring this separation. Nook has grown rapidly, but continued growth and international expansion will take sustained investment that B&N shareholders may not have the patience for. However, the Nook business has benefitted from synergy with Barnes & Noble in two key areas: 1) Barnes & Noble's channel (retail stores) and 2) Barnes & Noble's publisher relationships. It's not clear how a separate Nook business would function without the benefit of Barnes & Noble's retail stores and publisher relationships.

Nook has fueled Barnes & Noble's growth: What will be the value of Barnes & Noble without the Nook business? Where will the growth come from?

A key model for Barnes & Noble to consider is that of News Corp. and The Daily. News Corp. owns The Daily but it's managed independently, with its own P&L. The best scenario for B&N may be to pursue a similar structure, giving Nook the independence to grow and attract new investment but maintaining the synergy between Nook and B&N's retail stores.

Three Things VoC Leaders Need To Pursue In 2012

Last year was an exciting one for the voice of the customer (VoC) world. We saw significant advancements in a number of key areas, including process, culture, and technology. Ultimately, these moves led to better experiences for customers and better financials for companies.

To continue this momentum in the year ahead, VoC practitioners and their vendor partners need to pursue three things:

  • Deeper insight into the customer journey. Many VoC programs already do a good job of monitoring customers’ experiences at specific moments of truth and making operational changes accordingly. That’s valuable, but it doesn’t address the actual customer experience (CX), which exists across touchpoints over time. In 2012, firms need to start examining and optimizing entire customer journeys, not just individual interactions. This will help uncover interdependencies between touchpoints and enable firms to create smoother handoffs. It will also be hard to do, especially for companies that can’t currently tell which customers have provided feedback.
  • Deeper penetration into the CX ecosystem. Every employee in a company impacts the CX, whether directly or indirectly. Partners and vendors also play important roles. However, today’s VoC programs focus mainly on driving change among frontline employees and generating small numbers of systemic improvement projects. In 2012, VoC leaders need to increase their day-to-day influence among employees at multiple tiers, including in the back office as well as among third parties. How? By empowering these players with the insight they need to understand and actively manage their CX performance. This will require better insight into each player’s goals and processes.
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Global Social Technographics Update 2011: US And EU Mature, Emerging Markets Show Lots Of Activity

Last month George Colony, CEO of Forrester, talked about a “Social Thunderstorm” at the LeWeb conference in Paris. He argued that social is running out of hours and running out of people. What does that mean? Well, the second one is easy: The vast majority of consumers around the world who have access to a computer use social media. And the first one? George goes on to say that Americans are spending more time on social media than volunteering, praying, talking on the phone, emailing, or even exercising.

With so many people spending so much time on social media, it is crucial for companies to understand how their customers use social media. We just released our newest report, Social Media Adoption In 2011, which reveals the latest trends.

The report illustrates how consumers are using social media by applying our Social Technographics® global classification system. The graphic below illustrates this framework. We classify consumers into seven groups based on online activities, and consumers can fall into several different groups. Only Inactives are an exclusive group.

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Co-Creating Value At Disney World

Happy 2012 to everyone!

I wanted to share a blog by an acquaintance of mine, David Deal, VP of Marketing at iCrossing. A few days ago, he posted about a new co-creative experience in Epcot at Disney World, wherein you the guest develop a virtual thrill ride, then board a contraption that simulates that ride. It's similar to the old Body Wars and Star Tours rides at Epcot and Hollywood Studios, respectively, but this time YOU create the ride, and YOU experience the creation -- including twists, dives and loops. Yeah, that's right: loops.

The thing is, you have to follow the principles of engineering in order for your virtual ride to work. Remember, this is Epcot, not Universal, so there's an educational component here. The introduction to the experience educates the guest about the physics involved with engineering a ride like this. While creating your ride, the program prompts you to make corrections where necessary to allow your car to finish all those twists and loops you've created. Raytheon sponsors the experience, presumably to show kids how awesome and fun science and mathematics are.

Pretty cool, right? I remember taking the Star Tours ride a loooooong time ago, and hearing about how the engineers had to be very very careful to align the motions of the pod with the visuals on the screen to (a) make it look real; and (b) keep people from getting (too) sick. Technology has accelerated to the point where hundreds of these experiences are now created each day (no word on how common motion-sickness accidents are).

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The Forrester SSP Wave Is Now Live

Forrester clients can see the research here.

It’s been a couple years since SSPs (and their buy-side cousin DSPs) were truly the rage in ad tech investor circles; nonetheless, they remain more relevant for their clients than ever as monetizing indirectly sold inventory continues to challenge digital publishers. The 6 vendors we reviewed – Admeld, AppNexus, Doubleclick ADX, Pubmatic, Right Media, and Rubicon Project – are by no means new to this game. Still, we were astonished at how quickly these vendors and enhancing and expanding their product offerings – even over the course of the Wave process. With that in mind, here a couple of key observations on the SSP landscape that will lend some useful context for the report:

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