B2B Demand Management Still Suffers From The Great Divide, But That Will Change

I have to admit it; last year, I predicted that 2011 would be the year B2B marketing leaders get the cooperation from their sales leadership counterparts to align marketing and sales around the new buyer journey and finally create a single, integrated, end-to-end, brilliantly shining, awe-inspiring, world-hunger-solving, lead-to-revenue process. 

I likened the chasm that exists between marketing and sales to the similar dysfunction that plagues Washington D.C. — Democrats and Republicans with deeply-rooted differences, who stand their ground, point fingers across the aisle, and blame the other side for everything that's wrong with our country. (Notice that I give both parties equal blame for the dysfunction.)

Well, now that we're in an election year, nothing seems to have improved, and the polarization seems to have intensified. The ability of B2B marketing and sales teams to work together to create demand is still, well . . . politically challenged.

There are lots of reasons for this. In fact, my friend and fellow demand-generation expert Adam Needles (@abneedles) just blogged this morning about our inability to manage demand as an operational process. He said:

"Clearly modern B2B demand generation is failing. And all of the great messaging and creative, smart tradeshow sponsorships, and new technology investments that we throw at the problem cannot help if we are unable make a critical leap. We must be able to manage demand as an operational process."

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Learning From Digital Innovation At Commonwealth Bank Of Australia

There are a number of firms that we watch closely at Forrester because they stand out for sustained innovation. Behind the technology giants like Google and Apple, there are a number of established firms that are using technology to adapt rapidly and successfully to changing customer behaviour and needs. One of them is Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Over the past four to five years CommBank has introduced a series of digital innovations to serve its customers better including:

  • Finest Online. In the course of its "Finest Online" project from 2007 to 2009, Commonwealth Bank of Australia redesigned its NetBank Internet banking service with the objectives of building an excellent customer experience and driving online sales. The bank implemented new content and functionality to support the customer journey and integrated new secure site sales processes with in-person channels and the bank's multichannel customer relationship management (CRM) system. The two-year, cross-organizational project boosted online sales, increased customer satisfaction, and improved the bank's image. (Forrester clients can read our case study.)
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Thoughts From My Pilgrimage To Mobile's Mecca

Once again, I've just spent a couple of days in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress (MWC). Year after year, the show is opening up to non-telecom players and going beyond mobile. Think about the rise of personal cloud-based services delivering consumer experiences across devices, Sony's marketing efforts to promote seamless entertainment across different screens, or the emergence of the "phablets" acronym (devices in between a phone and a tablet, such as Asus Padfone or LG Vu).  

While it is difficult to summarize all the news and announcements, here are some thoughts on MWC 2012:

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Announcing Forrester’s Global Commerce Service Providers Wave Report

After many months of analysis and hard work, we are very pleased to have published the Global Commerce Services Provider Wave report late last week. As I wrote about recently, selecting the right services firm can make or break your project, and therefore your business. As commerce programs that reach across customer touchpoints get more complex and risky, the process of selecting a services provider has become increasingly critical to businesses' success or failure. Yesterday's relatively simple eCommerce projects have become today's customer experience, business, and technology transformation programs. To help clients find a consulting and implementation partner my colleague Peter Sheldon and I looked at offerings from the top twelve services firms supporting clients in implementing commerce platforms, order management systems, and related commerce technologies.

What we evaluated in each firm:

  • Channel strategy. In the era of agile commerce, clients need support integrating the customer experience, evolving business processes, optimizing organizational design, and implementing technology across digitally enabled customer touchpoints
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Is It Time For Customer Decision Management?

The essential shape of the enterprise marketing landscape hasn’t changed much over the years. In last week’s Revisiting The Enterprise Marketing Software Landscape, I dissect technologies into the four basic categories of marketing management, brand management, relationship marketing, and interactive marketing. Consumers are rapidly changing behaviors, and marketing as a practice is evolving dramatically, but the technologies that marketers buy continue to come in essentially the same containers.

Notice, however, all of the decision management systems employed across the marketing landscape. From interaction management to online testing to recommendations to contact optimization, marketers are using automated systems to make an increasing number of customer-facing decisions. Viewed from the perspective of those decisions, the landscape of marketing technologies is shifting under our feet.

So is it time for a new take – say, customer decision management (CDM) – on marketing technology?

Why Do We Need Customer Decision Management?

Given that we’re already awash in marketing technology, do we need another three-letter acronym? Yes, because customers are:

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Customer Intelligence Teams Need Analytics "Translators"

Any big data or analytics conversation would be remiss without the mention of "data scientists." Much has been written about data scientists– who they are, who they should be, and where to find them. My colleague James Kobielus wrote an interesting series of blog posts about the skills required to become a data scientist.

From a customer intelligence (CI) perspective, we outlined four segments of CI professionals — marketing practitioners, marketing technologists, marketing scientists, and customer strategists. Of these, marketing scientists typically orchestrate the customer and marketing analytics function. They manage the reporting, analysis, and predictive modeling processes using marketing and customer data.

In a CI context, we find that the role of the marketing scientist has evolved from being a pure data analyst drowning in data analysis to that of an analytics translator — someone who is equally comfortable with building advanced predictive models and also adept at embedding the output of the models into customer-facing processes. What type of marketing scientist does your analytics team have?

We recently published a report on why "Customer Intelligence Needs A New Breed Of Marketing Scientist" (accessible to Forrester clients). In the report, we highlight ways to develop analytics translators across the staffing cycle — starting from attracting the right talent, nurturing the relevant skills, training with new skills, and incenting them based on business impact.

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Which Market Leads In Online Retail Sales: UK or US?

We recently ran a poll on Forrester's Facebook page: “Which market do you think has a higher percentage of sales coming from online channels — US or UK?"

While most respondents thought the US leads in online retail sales, the answer is actually the UK. Per Forrester's ForecastView latest estimates from the Forrester Research Online Retail Forecast, 2011 To 2016 (US) & (Western Europe), online retail sales in the US will top $200 billion, representing close to 7% of total retail sales of $3 trillion in 2011. Online retail sales in the UK will be £30.2 billion, representing 10% of total retail sales of £297 billion (per the Economist Intelligent Unit- EIU) in 2011.

The UK continues to have larger online channel share because:

  • The online buying population as a percentage of total population is higher in the UK.
  • UK online buyers’ average spend levels are slightly higher than those of US online buyers.
  • The UK population is more deal-sensitive and more prone to buying online.
  • Thanks to Tesco, online food (grocery) sales are a large contributor to online retail sales in the UK.

And? Did you guess right?

US Online Retail Hits $200B

eCommerce sales continue to grow rapidly, having topped $200 billion in 2011. As web shopping has been on an upward trajectory for over a decade now, these figures should shock few. We expect online sales will grow from 7% of overall retail sales to close to 9% by 2016. Key drivers of this growth include:

  • Aggressive deals, particularly during Q4. During key time periods in the last holiday season (e.g., Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday), more than 70% of online holiday buyers (in a joint survey with Bizrate Insights) say that they purchased online instead of in stores because deals online were better.

  • Innovative new business models. Among the most rapidly growing business models of the last decade were the flash sales sites, companies like Gilt Groupe and Woot. An earlier study that Forrester conducted with online shoppers showed that the majority of consumers said they spend less at traditional retailers after shopping at these daily deals sites.

  • More online loyalty programs. While over the years physical stores and brands have managed to capture greater shopper data with loyalty programs and private label credit card programs, online retailers such as Amazon.com have essentially created loyalty programs of their own with shipping clubs.  In fact, during the holiday season in 2010, 9% of online buyers said they belonged to such a program, while in 2011 12% of online shoppers affirmed the same (again, a joint survey with Bizrate Insights).

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Online Retail Goes From Strength To Strength Across Europe

Concerns over crumbling economies, the collapse of the euro, and enforced austerity measures can’t have escaped your attention if you live in Europe. It’s easy to believe that consumers aren’t spending, that business growth is almost impossible and as retail giants like Tesco post gloomy results, hard times are ahead.

But the news is considerably more positive for eBusiness professionals.

The European Commission has high hopes for online growth. Its “Single Digital Market” strategy aims to double online sales by 2015. While its initiative may have some positive impact, it’s simply too short a timescale for such a radical shift.

That said, online retail in Europe is on a firm growth trajectory. Online retail sales will continue to outperform overall retail sales figures in terms of percentage growth for many years to come in Europe. In times of austerity, more and more shoppers are turning to the web to find deals and offers and to save money.  As the web becomes an increasingly mainstream part of the lives of many Europeans, eBusiness professionals must adapt their strategies to accommodate consumers who are finding information about products and services and increasingly transacting across multiple touchpoints

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Share Your Experience With Product Innovation!

Are you a product strategy professional? Are you involved in product innovation at your company? Are you aware of how your company approaches the product innovation process? If so, I'd like to take this opportunity to invite you to participate in a brief Forrester survey, available here: http://forr.com/ProdInnovation

The survey has three main sections: 1) how your company approaches product innovation in general; 2) whether/how your company embraces the principles of open innovation; and 3) whether/how your company embraces social media/technology/platforms and leverages those tools in the product development process (e.g., co-creation).

The survey should take approximately 10 minutes and will be open at least through the end of this week. As a thank-you for your time, participants will receive a piece of research based on the findings of the survey. Toward the end of the survey, we ask for contact information if you are interested in scheduling a follow-up interview about the product innovation process at your company. Please consider saying yes! I'd love to hear about your success stories as well as more detail around the challenges you face in the product innovation process.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. Stay tuned — we'll share some results of the survey on this blog as well.