What Really Counts As Digital Disruption?

I'll be first to agree that "disruption" is an overused word. I hear it all the time -- companies pitching me their new business idea describe how they're going to disrupt this or disrupt that. And here at CES 2013, I see and hear the word disruption everywhere I turn. Sometimes these companies really mean disruption. But often, they just mean that they're going to use technology to compete aggressively. Instead of simply saying "compete," they invoke the moral authority of Clayton Christensen and say they intend to "disrupt" the rest of the competitive field. 

My concern with the overuse of the word disruption is not just that it waters down the power of the ideas behind disruption. It's that a muddy understanding of disruption will stop us from comprehending just how powerful digital disruption will be. Because the addition of digital to the word disruption does not merely enhance it, it accelerates it, making digital disruption orders of magnitude more powerful, a case I made in late 2011 and a case that has only strengthened since. 

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CMOs, Are You Ready For 2013?

I only just recently started watching Mad Men — a shock to many of my marketing peers and to regular folks who now think I’ve been living under a rock for the past five-plus years. I’ll save my thoughts on the show for another time, but what strikes me at least once during each episode is how much everything (tactics) and nothing (strategy) have changed. Similar fundamental challenges weigh on Sterling Cooper’s clients’ minds and on our CMO clients’ minds today: How do we connect with our consumers in a way that differentiates us from the competition? While Don Draper was limited to print and TV, thanks to digital platforms and tools, today’s CMOs have an almost-infinite number of options with which to build relationships with consumers.

2013 is the year that digital takes on a much more significant role in marketing and business strategies at business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations, and CMOs will be responsible for shepherding the change. 2013 is the year that CMOs will leverage digital tools to drive innovation of new compelling brand experiences — not as add-ons or enhancements but as integral elements of the brand’s messages, actions, and products that will differentiate your offering.

B2C CMOs, your 2013 resolutions should be to:

  • Embrace digital disruption. Digital disruption has remarkable strength. It's able to bulldoze traditional sources of competitive advantage faster, with greater power, at less cost than any force that came before it — and no business is immune. CMOs must make a strategic commitment to innovation and stop thinking about digital as another media channel. Digital is everywhere and should elevate marketing and business priorities for consumer benefit.
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Perpetual Connectivity Will Change How We Experience The World

Devices are proliferating, and we’ve all seen the data to prove it: More than half of US consumers now own smartphones, and nearly 20% own a tablet. And it’s not just device ownership that’s increasing. As we’ve been talking about for the past year, people are now connected to each other, to places, to things, and to brands more often and from more locations than ever before. If you're at CES this week, you're going to see even more devices, gadgets, and digital appropriations of formerly analogue tasks that will all help push this evolution along even faster. Whether it's thanks to the FitBit Flex, one of Samsung's new smart TVs, or simply reliable mobile apps, people are becoming perpetually connected. And that evolution is changing more than just the frequency with which we turn to devices: It’s changing how we perceive the concept of connectivity.

Increasingly, going online isn’t something we do. It's something we are. Instant access to information and services isn’t just convenient — it’s how we live our lives. And it’s changing our desires, our needs, our demands, and our expectations. It’s changing how we experience the world.

As more and more of us become perpetually connected and the level of our connectedness deepens, these changes will come more rapidly and be more transformational so that soon people will:

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SE Forum 2013

This is the Don't Miss The Forum edition of my running effort to connect you to all the value, ideas, analysts, and happenings from my team at Forrester. As we ring in 2013, I want to share the key date above all others in Q1 you won't want to miss.

That is our once-a-year major forum on March 4th-5th in Scottsdale, Arizona. The theme, "Accelerating Revenue In A Changed Economy". You can explore the agenda, speakers, theme, and register to attend at this link.

I am often asked about that theme and what we will focus on at the event.  So here are those answers.

The theme reflects a simple reality we see across B2B businesses and the leaders we support.  These companies are experiencing a gap between their strategic goals and in-the-trenches execution. Be that rolling out a new product and services capability, entering a new segment, or expanding in existing accounts.  And it's not getting easier given the do-more-with-less reset of the economy. What does that fee like?  The executive sposnsors of major programs at your prospects, to whom you aspire to sell, bring a "how can you help me and my busienss succeed" lens to their side of the conversation. When they don't hear that, they disengage. Making the shift from pushing products to solving problems is at the core of the change your buyers seek today.   

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Marketing Mondays: January 7th, 2013

This is the Don't Miss The Forum edition of my running effort to connect you to all the value, ideas, analysts, and happenings from my team at Forrester.  As we ring in 2013, I want to share the key date above all others in Q1 you won't want to miss.

That is our once-a-year major forum on March 4th-5th in Scottsdale, Arizona. The theme, "Accelerating Revenue In A Changed Economy".  You can explore the agenda, speakers, theme, and register to attend at this link.

I am often asked about that theme and what we will focus on at the event.  So here are those answers.

The theme reflects a simple reality we see across B2B businesses and the leaders we support. These companies are experiencing a gap between their strategic goals and in-the-trenches execution. Be that rolling out a new product and services capability, entering a new segment, or expanding in existing accounts. And it's not getting easier given the do-more-with-less reset of the economy. What does that feel like?  The executive sposnsors of major programs at your prospects, to whom you aspire to sell, bring a "how can you help me and my busienss succeed" lens to their side of the conversation. When they don't hear that, they disengage. Making the shift from pushing products to solving problems is at the core of the change your buyers seek today.   

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Why CES Matters More Than Ever: Computing Diffusion Makes New Bedfellows

Today, more than 3,000 vendors and somewhere in the ballpark of 140,000 attendees descend on Las Vegas to attend CES 2013. Continuing the trend of the past several years, this year traditional consumer electronics (CE) manufacturers are noticeably absent or scaled back in their presence. Microsoft has ditched its keynote and its million-dollar booth, preferring to hold low-key meetings in a hotel far from the convention center. HP, Dell, RIM, and other tech titans of the past are similarly absent from the show floor. But rather than see this withdrawal as a sign that CES is on the decline, I see it as a sign that CES matters more than ever — to everyone except the CE giants of the past.

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CI Team Changes

As we kick off 2013 in earnest, I wanted to take the opportunity to update you on several changes to the CI team at Forrester. As many of you know, we’ve seen tremendous growth over the past few years since we introduced the role. However, we’re experiencing some change, and it felt like an appropriate time of year to provide a broader update. 

First of all, I’m sad to announce a couple of departures. Suresh Vittal and Zach Hofer-Shall left Forrester on Monday, December 31st. Suresh was both a fantastic analyst and most recently a fantastic practice leader. Unfortunately, his expertise was noticed by the entire industry, and he got scooped away by an incredible opportunity. Zach has built our coverage of what was originally listening platforms and later social intelligence since his tenure as a researcher. In a similar vein, his expertise was noticed, and he’ll be applying his knowledge to great effect in his new role.
 
Carl Doty, formerly the practice leader of our consumer product strategy role, has switched roles effective January 1, 2013, to take over the CI practice. As some of you will recall, this is a homecoming for Carl — he was our research director who led the creation of the CI practice, leaving behind our old direct marketing focus and moniker. Carl is based out of the Cambridge office.
 
We’ve had a few other additions to the team lately and have shifted some coverage areas to compensate for Zach’s departure, so to help you keep track, here’s an update on the current CI team:
  • Allison Smith: Cambridge-based researcher focused on social intelligence under Joe Stanhope’s tutelage.
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66 Million US Households Will Access The Internet Via Game Consoles, Blu-ray Players, Or Connected HDTVs By 2017

Ten years ago, the most common way to connect to the Internet at home was via a PC or a laptop. Now, connectivity at home is increasingly being supplemented by tablets, smartphones, and other media devices, although PCs/laptops still dominate. Consumer electronics device manufacturers cashing in on this shift are offering Internet-ready capabilities in many of their devices. Although the notion of “connected devices” can be quite broad, we focused specifically on game consoles, Blu-ray players, and high-definition (HD) TVs in our recently published Forrester Research Connected Devices Forecast, 2012 To 2017 (US). Here is a brief commentary on each of these device segments:

  • Game consoles: In 2012, the game console manufacturers experienced declining sales. Unlike in the past, when the introduction of a new console generally saw significant uptake in sales, Nintendo’s Wii U (launched in Q4 2012) is not expected to hit the peak sales of the original Wii. We believe that this trend will be seen more broadly in the game console industry. This is largely (though not exclusively) driven by the availability of low-cost/"freemium" titles on smartphones and tablets, which fulfill the gaming needs of the casual gamer — and have a negative impact on the console market. However, we still expect the console market to see moderate growth. By 2017, the majority of consoles will be “connected” to an IP connection because consoles are multi-purpose and allow users to do many activities online such as rent/buy movies and TV shows, purchase games, watch streaming videos, and listen to streaming music.
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Forrester’s 2013 Customer Experience Predictions

Over the past two years, consumer technology adoption and market forces have catapulted the field of customer experience into strategic stature. In 2012, this shift manifested itself privately through sweeping organizational changes at companies in nearly every industry — and shined publicly through professional organizations, the media, and even the courts.

However, it will be years before customer experience is embedded to the same degree as mature business disciplines like finance, human resources, and information technology. While many firms have been working diligently to improve their customer experience for years, still others remain woefully in the dark about the business value it can bring. The net result is that in 2013 — and for several years to come — the customer experience industry will be characterized by efforts that range wildly from systematic change initiatives to desperate shortcuts.

In our latest report, Ron Rogowski and I outline the changes that customer experience professionals can expect in 2013 and highlight the pitfalls that companies need to avoid during the upcoming year. For example:

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The Data Digest: Technology And New Year's Resolutions

At this time of the year, many people make resolutions — and many of these are health-related: quit smoking, exercise more, or eat healthier. As anyone who has ever made one of these resolutions knows, it's really hard to make a change. But there’s plenty of technology out there that can help track your progress and give you a bit of support.

Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that about one-third of US online smartphone owners use their phone for healthcare-related activities, ranging from tracking what they eat to text alerts about medication:

However, using technology to track your health hasn’t reached the mainstream yet. In fact, many consumers don’t consider this to be very appealing. Recently, my colleague Lindsey Colella hosted a project in Forrester’s market research online community to better understand the relationship between technology and health. In her report 'Digital Health Management Needs A Makeover To Broaden Its Consumer Appeal', she shows that the average consumer is skeptical about health-tracking technologies. Our respondents believe that using technology to track your health is either for people with a chronic disease or people who are obsessed with their health. Most of them prefer to rely on their doctor for guidance instead.

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