The Contexts Around Which You Build Your B2B Community

CLICK: A design framework for online communities: Context, Linkages, Identity, Conversations, Knowledge Assets

As a part of our research on building B2B communities, I recently did a whiteboard exercise with Kim Celestre and we attempted to categorize all of the different types, or Contexts, of B2B communities. The Context in which your audience wants to engage with your community is the first stage of our new CLICK design framework for building B2B communities, followed by Linkages, Knowledge assets, Identity, and Conversations; the model is outlined in the graphic on the right.  (If you’re a client of ours, check out the full report).

Your community context — defined as the circumstances and settings that determine how you and other community members interact — should be the first design point for a new community. All other decisions, including both if it should be on your own domain or part of a larger social network and the choice of technology platform, will follow.

Please take a look at these dozen different contexts and let me know what you think.  I’ve grouped them along one of the axis of our community strategy matrix; whether or not your brand is central to the community.  I’m especially interested in any contexts you think I’ve left out or that don’t fit. 

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Announcing Forrester’s 2012 B2C Commerce Suites Wave

After many, many months of analysis and hard work, we are very pleased to have published the 2012 edition of the B2C Commerce Suites report – or the artist formerly known as the “eCommerce Platform Wave”. Some high-level conclusions:

  • Investment in commerce technology & platforms remains strong. Fifty-six percent of businesses are increasing their investments in commerce technology, with 18% increasing it more than 20% in 2012 from 2011. A whopping 46% percent of companies are considering a change in their commerce platform in the next two years.
  • Interest in cross-touchpoint solutions is on the rise. The way we now need to think of eBusiness technology has fundamentally changed. No longer are businesses selecting a set of solutions and technologies to launch a site; they are now selecting technologies that can support marketing, shopping, buying, and service capabilities across a multitude of customer touchpoints. To accomplish this, today’s solutions must enable consistent core platform capabilities to manage products, orders, and customer data, integrating consistently with enterprise systems. At the same time, solutions must be open and flexible to power websites, mobile sites, applications, call center interfaces, and in-store options. This represents a significant evolution from the requirements that these solutions have needed to support in the past.
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You Asked, We Answered! Questions From Webinars About Our New Book, Outside In — Part 1

On September 19, my co-author Kerry Bodine and I delivered two webinars outlining the concepts in our new book, Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business.

We received so many questions that we couldn’t answer them all during the webinars. So we split them up, and we’re answering them (in brief) in two blog posts. Here is Part 1. You can see Part 2 from Kerry here.

How many full-time employees are needed to build and maintain systematic customer experience processes?

Becoming systematic about customer experience isn’t about adding people to your company. It’s about changing the activities that the people you have today perform. Instead of proposing projects with no consideration for how those projects will affect customer experience, for example, add a mandatory customer experience impact assessment — as companies like FedEx, Fidelity, and Bank of Montreal do.

Are there benchmarks for measurement? Can you please provide some guidance for what a “good” customer experience is?

If you want to drive business benefits like increased sales and positive word of mouth, create a customer experience measurement framework and then start by benchmarking against yourself.

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Mapplegate: A Brief Take On Apple Vs. Google Maps

Consumers are up in arms about the "map fail" of the new iOS maps app, collectively blogging screenshots of maps that fall short (http://theamazingios6maps.tumblr.com/). Why is this such a big deal?

Maps are strategic IP because they capture consumers' intent of where they want to go, which creates the opportunity to intervene and shape consumers' paths. Apple doesn't want Google to have that data on its users and doesn't want to give Google the opportunity to serve location-based guidance. The problem is that maps are difficult to build -- Nokia and Google (the two main map providers) have been building their map IP for years. Nokia maps, for example, are on nine of 10 in-car GPS systems, each of which acts as a probe that continuously improves Nokia's maps. Apple can't catch up overnight, and it seems as if Apple was premature in pulling the plug on Google Maps -- it has produced a consumer backlash, at least among early adopters.

Consumers who claim they won't download iOS 6 are overreacting -- Google is planning to release its maps application in the App Store, and consumers can just download that app if they prefer. But if it turns out to be the case that consumers don't update their OS, Apple has a serious problem. Apple takes pride in avoiding the fragmentation that Android (and Windows) have, where consumers run different versions of the OS, which creates security gaps and problems for ISVs (app developers) creating software for those platforms. I think Mapplegate will pass, but it shows a crack in Apple's seamless veneer. When other companies launch half-baked software, they get away with calling them "beta," but consumers and journalists seem to expect perfection from Apple. But like any company attempting to innovate in this highly competitive consumer tech market, Apple is not infallible -- there's a map for that.

Mobile Banking And Payment Innovation In France

Myriam Da CostaThis is a guest post from Myriam Da Costa, a researcher serving eBusiness & Channel Strategy professionals.

France has been quick to embrace mobile banking. Banks like BNP Paribas and Société Générale were among the pioneers of mobile banking in Europe and since 2009, all of the big French banks have launched iPhone mobile banking apps, so most French banks now offer several forms of mobile banking. The first wave of mobile banking was about getting the basics down and offering customers functionality like balances, transaction histories and SMS alerts. The second wave now focuses on money transfers and payments.

As we wrote in our report on The State Of Mobile Banking In Europe 2012, mobile banking is the foundation for mobile payments. France's banks and mobile operators are moving fast to seize the opportunity. In the past two years there has been a wave of new mobile payment initiatives in France: Buyster, Cityzi, Kwixo, Kix and S-money.

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To Survive In The Post-PC World, Device Manufacturers Need To Get Tough

While Google and Microsoft downplay the significance of their Nexus 7 and Surface tablets, the message to their device manufacturers is abundantly clear: If you’re not building devices that surpass what we can do ourselves, you’re not adding value. Their intent in sending this message is to push device manufacturers to abandon their race-to-the-bottom strategy that emphasize low prices and incremental improvements over new product innovation. 

As I discuss in my new report, Humdrum Hardware: Why Google And Microsoft Are Goading Their Partners To Innovate, this strategy worked well in the Windows PC era, when there were no other viable ecosystems to draw consumers away and device manufacturers competed primarily on price, but they are no longer relevant in today’s post-PC world, where multiple ecosystems (Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft) compete against one another. To survive in the post-PC era, device manufacturers must get tough:

  • Pick sides in the platform wars. Device manufacturers need to concentrate their resources and commit to a single platform if they expect to develop compelling and innovative products that can compete against Apple.
  • Start playing hardball with Google and Microsoft. When Nokia went all-in on Microsoft, Nokia demanded special benefits, support, and concessions in exchange for platform-exclusive innovations. Other device manufacturers should replicate this model.
  • Push Google and Microsoft to adopt a co-opetition-based ecosystem model. In order to compete effectively against the vertically integrated ecosystems of Amazon and Apple, Google and Microsoft need to coordinate and optimize the innovation efforts of device manufacturers. 
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Burberry's Digitally Enabled Store Is Seductive, But Is It Really "Agile Commerce"?

There are a few firms that I regularly point to as agile commerce exemplars, and one of them is Burberry.

This always makes me smile because being from the north of England and growing up in a  culture dominated by shipbuilding and football (and Newcastle Brown Ale), Burberry has long been the iconic garb of the “chav.” Since many of the people who read this blog aren’t from the UK, a quick cultural diversion is probably needed here. But don’t worry - it's relevant to the Burberry story. Honest.

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Preparing For The Groundswell

Today, my colleagues and I are meeting to review the 2012 entries to the Forrester Groundswell Awards. As always, we’ve got some fantastic submissions this year – which you can see on our awards site – and I’m excited I’ll have a chance to recognize the winners at our upcoming Forrester eBusiness Forum.

In the process of reviewing this year’s entries, I can’t help but think back to some of the great winners we’ve recognized in past years. In particular, one I still talk about all the time is RadioShack’s winning entry in the 2011 "Energizing" category.

The campaign for RadioShack had three components:

1.       A promoted Twitter trend for #UNeedANewPhone. Those who tweeted saw offers for the new iPhone if they'd engaged with related content on Twitter.

2.       A campaign called Holiday Heroes, connected with the hashtag #IfIHadSuperPowers. If users tweeted a picture along with this hashtag, RadioShack’s artists would draw a superhero costume over the photo.

3.       A partnership with foursquare. RadioShack created a Holiday Hero badge. To earn the badge, which held exclusive discounts and offers, consumers had to check in at two of three Holiday Hero hotspots.

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Digital Disruption Will Tear Down And Rebuild Every Product In Every Industry

 

Digital disruption is forcing business leaders in every industry to rethink their strategy. Music, media, and publishing have been turned upside down. Now, non-digital products and services — from airlines to automobiles — must consider new competitors, new economics, and new customer relationships. For example, game-changing, disruptive mobile experiences and apps on platforms like Amazon.com, Apple, eBay, and Google give those firms control of consumer mobile devices and platforms, allowing them to both "tax" sales and hijack payments as well as threatening to further strangle already-squeezed margins for eBusiness professionals.

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Hire The Will, Train The Skill

If you scroll down, you’ll see a link to part two of my appearance on Jim Blasingame’s talk show, The Small Business Advocate. Among other things, in this segment, we talked about one of the keys to customer experience success: hiring the right employees.  

Hiring is one of the tools for creating a customer-centric culture that my co-author Kerry Bodine and I describe in our new book, Outside In. Although hiring is fundamental, it’s something that many hiring managers get wrong. That’s because they’re still looking primarily at what their candidates know — their job skills — and not focusing enough attention on to who their candidates are

Here’s why that’s a problem. You can teach people how to perform tasks, whether it’s stocking shelves or doing the books. And you can teach them enough about your products and services to be able to help your customers. But if they’re people who don’t want to help customers, you’re not going to teach them to be different people.

Are there really that many people out there who just don’t want to help customers? Yes. That’s a lesson Kevin Peters, the president of Office Depot North America, learned several years ago.

Kevin asked all 22,500 store associates to take a personality assessment test designed to evaluate employees’ skills, behaviors, and aptitudes as they related to serving customers. To his surprise and disappointment, a significant percentage agreed with statements like, “If the job requires me to interface with customers, I’d rather not do the job.”

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