Our View On What Matters In European Retail Banking eBusiness & Channel Strategy

The past five years have been awful for most European retail banks. The financial crisis, and the resulting recessions in most of Europe's economies, nearly destroyed some banks and crushed the profitability of many of the remainder. Worse than that, it was a problem that was partly or largely of (some) banks' own making. Banks are being forced to shrink their balance sheets, sell off non-core businesses and cut costs (i.e. fire employees) just to survive. And Europe's ongoing financial crises are far from over as banks' fortunes are closely entwined with those of their indebted governments.

There's one small silver lining among these dark clouds. Over the past 15 years, eBusiness has evolved from providing an electronic brochure to become a fundamental strategic function within retail banks. One of the effects of the financial crisis has been to force most European banks to focus on how to generate profits in their core retail banking operations by serving customers efficiently. Digital banking is a big part of the answer. So, despite the bleak economic outlook, most retail banking boards know that they must continue investing in digital channels. Digital strategy is an increasingly important component in overall strategy.

I'm still surprised when I find heads of eBusiness who remain marginalized within their firms, reporting into IT or marketing rather than a centralized distribution channels function alongside branches. The leading banks no longer make that mistake. That has greatly increased the power and influence of digital banking executives, but also their responsibility for the overall success of their businesses.

Here's our view of the top five priorities for eBusiness and channel strategy executives at European retail banks:

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What’s A Story Without The Illustration?

The analogy I always use to talk about qualitative research is that it’s the illustration to the quantitative story. What my own analogy assumes is that qualitative data on its own is an illustration. However, it’s really up to the analyst to bring this data to life.

Creating a visual story to display your qualitative data is an equally important part of the research process as the analysis phase, and something that is often rushed and not executed well. In my last blog post, I highlighted the fact that qualitative research is not just “quotes on a page.” You are doing yourself and your respondents a disservice if you rely solely on quotes and text to tell your story. Here are my tips to create an engaging report:

  1. Kill your data darlings. My colleague Reineke Reitsma posted about this last month, and I couldn’t agree more. Don’t go overboard with numbers. Especially in qualitative research, too many graphics or percentages only distract from the story. Pick a few data points that strongly highlight your qualitative story, and challenge yourself to display them without using graphs and pie charts (i.e., via infographics.)
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Q&A with Clive Roach, Social Media Strategist at Philips Healthcare

Adopting a social mindset requires a change in culture. Tough to accomplish. Now layer on top the added complexities of a B2B sales cycle, strict industry regulations, and dozens of regional markets. Welcome to the world of Clive Roach, Social Media Strategist at Philips Healthcare and keynote at our upcoming Forrester Interactive Marketing summit in London on May 23. Clive has managed through these complexities to create successful B2B influence marketing programs in customer communities like Philips NetForum and public communities like LinkedIn. I recently caught up with Clive to learn more about how he did it. I hope to see you in London where Clive will share the full story!

 CO: What’s unique about nurturing influencers in a B2B environment?

CR: Building relationships is the key aspect of nurturing influencers in a B2B environment. In many B2B industries the sales cycle can be quite long, and much longer than in B2C situations. It is important to work towards long lasting relationships, where you can learn about the needs and interests of the influencers that you have identified and that you supply them with information and continue to have dialogue that is useful to them. In that way both parties have a win-win outcome. It is also possible to find out the channels within which they are most effective.
 
CO: You gained the buy-in of Philips board on your social media strategy proposal. What tips would you give to others to gain the support of the C-suite?
 
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The Leading Vendors Behind Social Intelligence

Social media is too big, too fast, too messy, and too important to manage without the assistance of technology vendors. With its growing significance, more and more companies want to use the data social media creates to inform their strategies. Companies want social intelligence, but they need help getting there.

That's why I'm eager to announce that after almost two years since the last report, we're releasing a new market evaluation that will help companies understand their vendor options for social intelligence. Today we published The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Listening Platforms, Q2 2012 along with an updated market overview, The Enterprise Listening Platform Landscape. These reports are the culmination of more than fifty vendor briefings, hundreds of client calls, two end user reference surveys with hundreds of respondents, two weeks of hands-on lab sessions, and too many hours of writing and fact-checking to count. 

The reports are now available for client access, but here are a few key takeaways for everyone:

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How Unilever, Philips Healthcare, And Jermaine Dupri Master Digital Engagement

In 2007, Forrester published our first report on engagement. We defined it as "the level of involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence that an individual has with a brand over time." Fast forward five years: marketers still prioritize engagement in both principle and practice. Why? Two reasons, really. First, it's the right aspiration. When a brand gets it right and earns a place in the ongoing dialogue, its customers become its fiercest advocates and a kind of outsourced marketing department. Second, it's hard to do. Today, we're talking about ongoing interactions that somehow manage to stay authentic and personal despite the explosion of devices and customer touchpoints. So, as marketers, I believe that we prioritize engagement because we enjoy the challenge (Solving it makes victory all the sweeter!).

On May 23 in London, I'm hosting our inaugural Interactive Marketing Summit on the topic of Mastering Digital Engagement. Our external keynotes include Debbie Weinstein, Senior Director of Global Media Innovation at Unilever; Clive Roach, Social Media Strategist at Philips Healthcare; and Jermaine Dupri, Grammy-award winning producer, CEO of So So Def Recordings, hip-hop artist, and songwriter. I'm a bit in awe of their fabulousness. You can expect our keynotes to address key points such as:

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Your Business Tech Buyers Are More Social Than Ever

 I am writing this blog from a country club in beautiful (albeit rainy) Virginia. It seems like yesterday when I was in warm LA for the Forrester Marketing Leadership Forum. What a difference a week makes! Our sales enablement and tech marketing teams have a 3-day offsite here to dive very deep into our clients' problems and how Forrester can help solve them. In order to tackle these problems, we must start with the critical step of understanding everything we can about our customers. For example, Forrester has surveyed business technology buyers over the past 4 years to gather data on their on line behaviors. This data is commonly known as  Forrester's Social Technographics™ ladder. This intelligence is priceless to our Forrester clients, who more often than not are skeptical with regards to B2B buyers' use of social media. There is a general perception that social media primarily applies to consumers, not B2B buyers. Well, if you still don't believe that B2B tech buyers use social for work purposes, think again! I created an infographic to show that B2B buyers continue to engage online for work purposes and in more ways than you may think. They are commenting on your products, creating video, writing blogs, and posting status updates. And this just scratches the surface!

 
 
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Have Your Say About The State Of Australian Online Retail

It's that time of the year again — when we ask you to complete our survey of Australian online retail professionals.

What do we want? A few minutes of your time spent completing this survey. It asks a few simple questions about how you're approaching the challenges that face Australian online retail professionals. All information is kept confidential.

What do you get? The warm fuzzy feeling that comes from advancing the state of knowledge. Plus you go into the draw to win two free tickets to the Online Retail Expo & Exhibition. Plus you can have the final anonymous survey results at the end of the research process.

What happens next? I use the survey results to create research reports about the state of Australian online retailer. (You may have seen my earlier Australian survey-based reports covering everything from the business performance of online and multichannel businesses to their use of technology to their approach to marketing, merchandising and customer service.) Then I present the research at Online Retail Expo & Exhibition. And after we publish the research to our subscribers, we release the raw, anonymous survey results to anyone who helped make this all possible by partaking in the survey.

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IBM Sells POS Business To Toshiba: What It Means

IBM announced today that it is selling its $1.15B Retail Store Solutions (RSS) business delivering and supporting retail point-of-service (POS) terminals to Toshiba for a reported $850 million. IBM will continue to have a nearly 20% stake in the new company formed by the deal, with plans of divesting that over the next three years. With retail being such a core vertical market for IBM, the deal begs some questions.

Why would IBM sell such a significant business in a core vertical market?

  •  Channel-centric solutions are on the endangered species list. While I do not expect to see a bunch of stories out of Eugene, Oregon about protests over the environment for retail POS systems,* the market for POS systems has changed dramatically over the last few years. Retail store systems have become a maintenance business with little growth. Retailers are closing stores, distressed commercial retail real estate is everywhere but the top luxury malls and downtown cores, and there is very little incentive for retailers to upgrade or replace retail systems today, in part because . . .
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Intelligent Dialogs: Julie Bernard, VP Customer Centricity And Database Marketing

I caught up today with Julie Bernard in advance of her presentation at tomorrow's Marketing Leadership and Customer Intelligence Forums. Julie's keynote focuses on "Putting The Customer At The Center Of The Business." I had the opportunity to ask her what that means for Macy's. Here's what Julie had to say:

Q: What does it mean for Macy’s when you talk about “putting the customer at the center of the business”? 

A: At Macy’s, this means that the customer has a seat at the table. As all of us in retail know, the customer is queen/king and as such, focusing on delivering against her needs and wants is of paramount importance. When we start a meeting, we ask ourselves “What decision do we have to make today and how will this decision positively impact the customer in terms of relevant product offerings, great value, and fulfilling shopping experiences wherever she chooses to shop with us?” Then, at the close of the meeting, before we all leave that table, we revisit our decisions and action plans to ensure that we have taken the customer’s perspective into account. When we make customer oriented decisions and take action against customer needs, those actions deliver against sales and profit goals. 

 Q: What do you see as the greatest opportunity for retailers as it relates to customer centricity? 

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My Next “Letter From Germany” – Happy Birthday SAP & Time To Automate Marketing

 

Those of you who know me (Peter O’Neill) know that I’ve lived in Germany for 30 years. So, I am posting a regular blog – probably bimonthly – where I highlight something important for you that has or is about to happen in Germany.  We’ll start with a history lesson. In 1972, the last Apollo moon mission was launched, Germany won the European Championship (soccer), and five consultants and developers left IBM Germany to start their own company called Systemanalyse und Programmentwicklung GbR. They wrote  financial accounting software for the local Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) factory, which incorporated the then-revolutionary idea of using terminals and keyboards for data entry and reporting instead of the more common punch-hole cards. This made their software appear to work in “real time,” so they called it R/1. Now, 40 eventful years later, SAP is undoubtedly one of the most important technology vendors in the industry and still doing very well, thank you.

So, happy birthday SAP!  As someone who was part of the early HP team that partnered with you to market R/3 on HP-UX back in the 1980s, and now work with numerous SAP marketing professionals in my current capacity, I enjoy the success you are having.

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