After years of fighting for a voice in the organization, eBusiness leaders are finding themselves in the spotlight. Some all-stars command total compensation packages of more than $1 million and others -- like this example from retailer FinishLine -- step into new roles like Chief Digital Officer. We believe that in the next few years many eBusiness professionals will graduate to titles like VP of Digital Strategy and VP of Multichannel Strategy, reporting directly into CEOs or to VPs of Distribution/Channels.
What's driving the graduation of eBusiness out of the halls of IT and marketing and into the C-Suite? Two words -- mobile and multichannel. This is about so much more than apps and in-store inventory lookup. Mobile is finally enabling many of the multichannel programs that eBusiness professionals have evangelized for years. Some eBusiness teams were already serving as digital centers of excellence for business units and product lines and taking ownership of mobile strategies: In a survey of eBusiness professionals, the majority -- more than 70% -- reported that they have responsibility for the mobile channel. But suddenly, all eyes are on eBusiness teams to develop the firms' digital strategies for what were traditionally considered offline channels as well.
Last week, a few Forresterites and special guests took a break from the end of quarter crunch to participate in a panel event in our beautiful San Francisco office. The theme of our panel was "The Top 5 Social Media Trends You Should Care About." Our audience included tech marketers (mostly from Silicon Valley). We had a great mix of companies in the audience, which included both large enterprises and small startups. I moderated a great panel of local Bay Area thought leaders, including:
Jeanette Gibson @JeanetteG Senior Director, Social and Digital Marketing, Cisco
Dan Ziman @LostInTheFlog VP Corporate Marketing, Lithium Technologies
David Hurwitz @Serena_Software, SVP of Worldwide Marketing, Serena Software
I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s the time of year and the fact that my upcoming holiday makes me a bit introspective. Maybe it’s the weather, as it’s been a horrendous summer so far in the Netherlands. Or maybe it’s just me, being inundated with tweets, blog post, articles, white papers, vendor briefings, etc., about market research. Whatever the reason, the outcome is the same: I’m currently struggling a bit with the pervasive authoritative voice in the industry. Don’t get me wrong; I’m well aware that I’m as guilty as everyone else. But we all seem so certain about what’s going on in research, what needs to happen, what’s wrong, and what’s right; about who’s in and who’s out. I feel we’re losing an important skill that distinguishes good market researchers from great ones: the ability to doubt.
With market research, there is no absolute truth. Research is about interpretation of results, placing numbers into context, finding the story behind the numbers. Any data set can have multiple stories; it’s the market researcher who uncovers and shares the story that he or she believes to be most powerful for the business. In the end, however, it’s just one perception of the truth. Great researchers know this, and they always challenge themselves, trying to pick holes in their story, finding examples that prove the opposite. The problem with today’s business environment is that it doesn’t leave much room for doubt or uncertainty. In fact, doubt and uncertainty are seen as weaknesses. So, what do we do? We cover up and only show our best side.
The poorly kept secret that is the Google Nexus 7 tablet was just announced amid much developer applause and excitement. The device is everything it was rumored to be and the specs — something that only developers care about, of course — were impressive, including the 12 core GPU that will make the Nexus 7 a gaming haven. True, it's just another in a long line of tablets, albeit a $199 one that competes directly with Amazon's Kindle Fire and undercuts the secondary market for the iPad.
But as a competitor to the iPad, Nexus 7 isn't worth the digital ink I'm consuming right now.
But Google isn't just selling a device. Instead, the company wants to create a content platform strategy that ties together all of its ragtag content and app experiences into a single customer relationship. Because the power of the platform is the only power that will matter (see my recent post for more information on platform power). It's unfortunate that consumers barely know what Google Play is because it was originally called Android Market, but the shift to the Google Play name a few months back and the debut of a device that is, according to its designers, "made for Google Play," show that Google understands what will matter in the future. Not connections, not devices. But experiences. The newly announced Nexus 7, as a device, is from its inception subservient to the experiences — some of them truly awesome — that Google's Play platform can provide through it.
We just announced the winners of Forrester’s 2012 Voice Of The Customer Awards (VoC) at our Customer Experience Forum this afternoon. We received roughly 40 nominations, and yet again, we were incredibly impressed with the breadth and depth of the submissions. We broadened our scope, too: For the first time, we accepted nominations from around the world.
To evaluate the submissions, each of our three judges graded each nomination based on five criteria: clarity of approach, impact on customers’ experiences, impact on business performance, degree of innovation, and lessons provided for other firms. The nominees with the 10 best scores were named finalists. The top three scorers were named winners.
As promised, here is Peter O’Neill with my thirdregular blog where I highlight something important for you that has or is about to happen in Germany. My colleague Andrew Bartels has just published his European ICT Market 2012 to 2013 report so I’ll take the chance to augment his prognosis on the German ICT market by adding some local color. Andy’s report is, as usual, excellent reading, runs to more than 40 pages, and is based upon our own buyer intention surveys plus government and vendor reports. Germany is the largest ICT market in Europe, estimated by Andy at 86.6 billion € for 2012. This puts Germany at 18% of the total Western and Central European number and 14% of the Europe, Middle East, and Africa total (EMEA) — a much more common regional division for tech vendors.
Andy reports that the German tech market is growing at 1.6% in 2012, which is in the more positive league of European markets together with the Nordics, Central Europe, Switzerland, and Austria — many other country markets are shrinking or “experiencing negative growth” as some people like to say.
Today at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum in NYC, I’ll be running a workshop to introduce our clients to design thinking. What is design thinking? It’s an approach and a process that you can use to improve and innovate customer interactions across all of your digital and physical touchpoints.
To understand what that really means, it would probably help to know a little about what we’ll be doing in the workshop. Teams of two will start out by interviewing each other about a recent gift giving experience. Through questions like, “How did you come up with the idea for the gift?” and “What was difficult about finding and giving this gift?” they’ll try to uncover each other’s motivations, needs, and emotional drivers. Immediately after, they’ll synthesize their individual learnings and focus on a particular challenge that they want to take on — a gift-giving problem that they want to solve for the other person.
Then they’ll sketch out at least five different ways that they could address that problem and get feedback from their partner (and target customer) about those ideas. After they refine their solution, they’ll prototype it using large sheets of paper, sticky notes, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, colored markers, and other craft supplies. This may sound like playtime — and it will be fun — but it’s also a serious and highly effective way to make their ideas tangible and testable. And testing is exactly what will come next. The partners will share their solutions with each other and get feedback about what worked well and, perhaps more importantly, what could be improved.
For the past decade, the number of customers using the Web to manage their bank accounts and policies and to research and buy financial products has grown steadily. For many customers, the Web has already replaced bank branches, financial advisors, and insurance agents as the heart of their relationship with their financial providers. For example, in the Netherlands and Sweden, less than one in 10 consumers go into a branch on a monthly basis — they do most of their banking activities online or, increasingly, on mobile phones..
But this doesn’t mean that these consumers don’t need support. Forrester’s European Technographics® Financial Services Online Survey, Q4 2011 shows that although uptake of money management tools is still low in Europe, already one-third of online Europeans are interested in tools that will give them more insight into their spending.
It’s amazing to me how many times the telecommunications industry came up as we did the research for our new book, Outside In. From wireless service providers to cable companies, whether in the US, Germany, or Australia, it became clear that customer experience is the battleground of the immediate future for the companies that bring us our voice, data, and entertainment content.
That’s why I’m so excited to bring Phil Bienert to the stage of our Customer Experience Forum 2012 East next week. Phil is a longtime customer experience advocate and expert, whom we first met when he worked at Volvo. He’s always been a clear thinker and visionary when it comes to digital experiences, and he’s now bringing that thinking and vision to AT&T.
In advance of his speech, we put some questions to Phil about what AT&T is trying to do and how it’s planning to do it. Some of his answers will surprise you. Enjoy!
How would you describe the experience that you want AT&T customers to have?
Effortless. Customers interact with AT&T across many touchpoints — online, mobile apps, our call centers, and more than 2,300 retail stores — and it’s essential that we make all of these interactions seamless, within touchpoints and across touchpoints, each and every time. We want to make it easy for customers to do business with us, however they prefer to contact us, and to get their question taken care of the first time.