Why Didn't Someone Else Buy Goodreads Before Amazon?

After traveling 5,000 miles in three days to speak about digital disruption (I know, it's odd that my physical body has to go somewhere to talk about being more digitally disruptive), I fell asleep on a train yesterday and missed one of the most noteworthy events of the week: Amazon acquired Goodreads.

Full disclosure on this one up front: Amazon published my recent book, Digital Disruption. At the same time, I am a Goodreads member for more than five years; in fact, if you have read any of the most-liked reviews of the Twilight books on Amazon, chances are good you've read mine. That is to say that I am not exactly neutral on this one. But I'll do my best to be objective in answering all the anger being expressed on Twitter and in the trades when I point out that Goodreads was not saving itself for Amazon like some virginal tribute. It has been sitting there, all along, waiting for the right offer to come along. That's how venture capital works, people.

That's not to dismiss altogether the reactions I'm seeing, which range from Amazon wants to own the whole world (and to be fair, maybe it does) to How could Goodreads do this to us. But among all the hurt feelings and handwringing about the fall of publishing and the eventual reign of cohabitating cats and dogs (oh, I do hope you get that reference), I have an important question to ask, one that I am stealing from author Nick Harkaway (@Harkaway) who wrote this on Twitter the morning after:

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APPLE + WIFISLAM = GAME ON FOR INDOOR LOCATION

Apple’s acquisition of WiFiSLAM made a few headlines earlier this week, but it’s been largely been ignored by the popular press. Just a small start-up acquisition, right? Wrong. Apple’s acquisition of WiFiSLAM is a game changer in two ways. First, it fills a critical gap in Apple’s location and mapping offering, better positioning it to take on Google and Nokia’s extensive indoor location offerings. And, as I wrote last fall, Apple’s focus on maps and location is part of a larger strategic battle taking place.

Second, the acquisition is poised to act as a catalyst – as Apple’s entry into emerging markets so often does – that will ignite a new wave of innovative apps and solutions based on indoor location. To get a better understanding of what indoor location brings to the table, one only has to look at what is taking place in the retail industry, one of the first major industries to embrace indoor location technology. Already, retailers are using indoor location technology to:

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The Data Digest: The Best Things In Life Are Free (Apps)

I recently completed James L. McQuivey's Digital Disruption, which is well worth the read if you have not yet gotten your hands on a copy. The book analyzes factors that allow for the emergence of digital disruptors — individuals who are pushing the envelope of product efficiency by harnessing available digital capabilities. In the book, James mentions that most digital disruptors are under age 35 because these individuals were “the first to grow up in a consumer economy where free things were not simply promotional tools . . . [they] internalized the idea of free from the consumer side, which led to the kinds of rapid digital adoption curves that run through the body of digital disruption like arterial supply lines.”

This is an intriguing point because it hints at young consumers’ evolving expectations of free tools and content. For the upcoming generation, the capacity for digital productivity and entertainment free of charge is less of a privilege and more of a norm. Today, consumers can get what they want quickly and cheaply; therefore, they expect that their needs will be met faster and more frequently than ever before.

This idea is particularly relevant when it comes to mobile interaction. The overwhelming majority of consumers say they only access mobile application content for free. Analysis of Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data reflects this sentiment: While some consumers state they may pay a one-time download fee for gaming or music apps, most would exclusively choose free media:

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Announcing Forrester's Outside In Awards

We are pleased to announce that the nomination period has opened for a new Forrester award program: The Outside In Awards!

Forrester’s Outside In Awards are inspired by our recent book on customer experience, Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business. They recognize organizations that excel at the practices needed for planning, creating, and managing a great customer experience. The awards will be presented on June 25th at Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East in New York City.

There are six award categories for the Outside In Awards:

  • Best customer experience strategy.
  • Best customer understanding program.
  • Best customer experience design.
  • Best customer experience measurement program.
  • Best customer experience governance program.
  • Most customer-centric culture.

You can find all of the information you need on our Outside In Awards home page. The 2013 nomination forms are all available there, and nominations are due by 5:00 p.m. ET on May 3rd. You can also review this year's timeline, get answers to FAQs, and check out information about past customer experience award winners.

Good luck to all!

TV Advertising Goes Cross-Channel: Threat or Opportunity?

I just wrapped up my report on the future of television: “Digital Disruption Rattles the TV Ad Market.” And, while I was interviewing and exchanging views with advertisers and senior TV industry executives, a clear and surprising find emerged…

I wasn’t surprised to hear visions of dynamically targeted ads to deliver the right message to the right household. Neither was I surprised by the dream of synching messaging on the living room screen to the screen in people’s hands. Nor was I surprised that many in the industry still want to shoehorn these new ad opportunities into the old Nielsen rating model of the TV ad market.

What surprised me was the general optimistic outlook that these new developments will bring even more dollars to the TV ad market.

For decades, talk of the impact of cable television, VCRs, DVRs, online advertising, etc. has usually predicted the end of TV’s reign as marketing’s most powerful medium. New technologies would sap advertising effectiveness and splinter the audience. New advertising opportunities would be more engaging and measureable than the soft branding of TV.

But the fact is, the opposite happened: TV is stronger and more important than ever. Even as prime time TV audiences have shrunk, fragmenting across hundreds of channels on the cable spectrum, the rest of the media landscape has fragmented and faded even faster.

But perhaps I should amend my statement that TV is more important than ever: something like “video entertainment content originally created to be broadcast on television networks is stronger and more important than ever.” As these programs find new audiences, on new devices, at new times in viewers’ lives, it creates opportunities for video advertising to draw more dollars and more advertisers to it.

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Business-To-Business Companies: What’s Your Reason For Ignoring Business-to-Consumer Customer Experience Practices?

It disappoints me when customer experience (CX) professionals at business-to-business (B2B) companies won’t even consider CX practices from business-to-consumer (B2C) companies.

Sure, B2B firms can learn a lot from other B2B firms: Cisco has an amazing voice of the customer program, Boeing does great work conducting field studies of its customers, and Adobe has a notable CX governance practice. But unless B2B customer experience practitioners want to run the CX race with one foot in a bucket, they should also learn strategy from Holiday Inn and Burberry, customer understanding from Vanguard and Virgin Mobile Australia, and design practices from Fidelity and the Spanish bank BBVA — the list of relevant B2C case studies goes on and on.

There are two reasons why B2B companies should take this advice to heart. First, no industry has anything close to a monopoly on best practices. So unless companies cast a wide net, they’re cutting themselves off from lessons that could give them an edge over their navel-gazing competitors. Secondly, every customer that B2B companies serve is not only a businessperson but also a consumer, one who has his or her expectations set by daily interactions with Amazon, Apple, Starbucks, and Zappos. And those B2B customers no longer lower their expectations when they go to work — especially because work now gets interspersed with their personal lives.

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Identify The Right Social Platform For Your Marketing Efforts In China

Greetings from Beijing! Allow me to introduce myself — my name is Xiaofeng Wang, and I’m a new analyst at Forrester, having just joined in November 2012. My coverage focuses on digital marketing, and, specifically, how marketers should harness the power of social media in China.

After working at Sina Weibo (a major Chinese social media platform) for around three years, I joined Forrester with a lot on my mind regarding social media in China. A highly fragmented platform landscape, the lightning-speed evolution of technology, and marketers’ struggle to identify the right platform to engage audiences effectively all weighed heavily as I set out to write my first report. I’m pleased to announce the outcome of my analysis, entitled “Winning Social Media Marketing In China,” is now live on our website. 

In the report, we divide the development of Chinese social media into three different dynasties: the Kaixin001/Renren dynasty, the Weibo dynasty, and the WeChat dynasty. Each social dynasty is defined by different features, which are the key reasons behind their adoption. For example, anonymity and casual connections contributed to the initial boom of Weibo, while WeChat is increasingly attracting privacy-conscious users. By tracing the rise and fall of a handful of social giants, the report helps marketers understand what features matter the most to Chinese consumers and the marketers who want to target and engage them.

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How To Build A World-Class Mobile Banking Strategy

Mobile has gotten a lot of attention at banks recently. In fact, other teams in a firm’s organization are starting to feel like Jan Brady, the voices in their heads chanting “Mobile Mobile Mobile!”

But there’s good reason for the increased focus on mobile banking efforts: mobile is the most important strategic change in retail banking in over a decade. It is shifting your customers’ behavior, raising customers’ expectations, and opening up new opportunities for banks, their competitors, and new disruptors.

So how can strategists at banks assess the current and future state of the mobile banking market? How can they plan their own mobile banking roadmap? What do they need to successfully execute these plans? And how will they continue to improve and enhance their mobile offerings going forward?

Forrester’s new Mobile Banking Strategy Playbook seeks to answer all of these questions, drawing on mountains of research and deep dives into data in order to give eBusiness teams at banks a complete framework for building and maintaining a world-class mobile banking strategy. The playbook will include 12 chapters (plus an Executive Summary) that cover different aspects of mobile banking – and many of those chapters are already live. These chapters outline how to develop a successful mobile banking strategy. Specifically, we recommend that mobile strategists at banks:

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“Letter From Germany” — Lead Management Reaches Its First Summit

Peter O’Neill here and welcome to another “Letter from Germany” post where I highlight something important for you about B2B marketing in Germany.  Last week I attended the first Lead Management Summit in Munich, an event organized by the business media publisher Vogel Business Media together with DemandGen AG, the European arm of that worldwide consulting group.  More than 150 attendees were treated to an agenda jam-packed full of user experience stories enriched by each speaker with their own set of useful anecdotes. Two highlights for me were:

Thomas Dueker, AEB GmbH (supply chain logistics software vendor). In discussing how he optimized their lead management process, Thomas also said he didn’t like to use the word “lead” too much. He remarked that he sees it as “too American, too much about selling, too quickly.” Remember my note in a previous blog about differing expectations in European marketers?  His system identifies “marketable and relevant contacts” and feeds them “quality content with minimum sales messaging.”

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Lead-To-Revenue Management Fosters Marketing/Sales Alignment

I’ve been having a lot of conversations, recently, about sales and marketing alignment. (Well, honestly, who working in B2B marketing hasn’t?)  In Forrester’s most recent Marketing Organization and Investment Survey, we asked the respondents (522 B2B marketing execs from companies with more than 100 employees) about the quality of collaboration between sales and marketing.  Fifty-seven percent of marketing execs reported weak or mixed collaboration with sales when "defining lead qualification criteria" and "administering leads and lead pipelines." Those numbers underscore the much-storied rift between marketing and our colleagues in sales.

For a while I have been saying that a managed lead-to-revenue process will catalyze a new collaborative relationship between sales and marketing.  It makes sense to the point of being incandescently obvious; calibrating sales and marketing around a shared revenue goal is the basis for true alignment.   But, until there is proof, it’s a hypothesis.  And, now there’s proof.

In our study, we found that companies who have implemented a marketing automation solution (a proxy for a more managed process) reported significantly higher levels of collaboration between sales and marketing, across a number of different dimensions.

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