Time to Optimize For The Era of Agile Commerce

Hard to believe, but it has been six months since our report “Welcome to the Era of Agile Commerce” has gone live on our site. Since that time I have had the opportunity to have countless conversations with eBusiness and multichannel leaders about what this new era of consumer connectivity, technology advancement and the changing relationships they now have with their customers. We’ve talked about how their technology strategy, organizational approach, business metrics, supply chain, and customer experience have been evolving and what they have been learning along the way. We’ve talked about strategies to drive business transformation. We have talked about how to get started. And we have talked about how difficult it can be to change the way companies work.

Just the other day I had a conversation with a senior eBusiness exec, and I thought she summed it up very well. She said, “The thing is, the customer is already there. No matter how much we want to think things are the same, they are not.”

Beehives as multichannel commerce. Why multichannel is so very very hard to execute todayIn my many talks on agile commerce I have used an analogy of beehives to talk about how companies organize around channels. For bees it really matters very little that there are many other hives nearby, as long as there is enough food for them develop enough honey to ensure the survivability of their hives*. And while employees of multichannel companies are not simple worker bees, and they think about doing right by the customer, at the end of the day they are set up to act in a similar fashion. They have numbers to hit, and those numbers are channel or product centric. They have things they can control and those are channel or product centric. They have decisions they make, and those are often constrained by channel or product domain.

Crossing this gulf is what we will be talking about at our Consumer Forum in Chicago October 27-28th as we elaborate on our theme: “Delivering Optimized Product Experiences Across Customer Touchpoints”. I hope to see you there. I am really looking forward to this event, and as I have had a chance to see the content come together, I think you should as well.

Special offer for blog readers: Register for Consumer Forum by visiting the website or calling +1 888.343.6786. Use the promo code CF11EBD and save $200 off the non-client rate. (Expires September 16th, 2011)

 

* Yes, this assumes an absence of parasites, etc. We can extend this metaphor in many ways I fear. And yes, I base much of my knowledge of bees from sipping mead with my beekeeping neighbor, so please be generous in your apiculture critiques. 

Comments

Crawl, walk, run

Brian,
Very interesting post. As I'm not an expert in bees, I'm going to use a different analogy: I'm looking at this from a "crawl, walk, run" perspective. Let's say the crawl phase has passed - companies are looking at the next phases - multi-channel (walk), multi-touchpoints (run).
Without the walking phase, can they jump one stage to running? Or should they learn to walk first and once they manage well their channels to then shift focus to touchpoints?
I'm thinking that channels are not easy to handle and they do exist & co-exist with the multi touchpoints that end-customers interact through.

Also, what differences do you see between B2B and B2C?
Thanks!

Great question

Delia, Thanks for the question. No doubt there is a progression here for most organizations, as they move through different phases. My upcoming keynote at the Forrester Consumer Forum will talk to the this point and will introduce out new eBusiness Maturity Model as well. However, companies that delay in progressing to agile commerce will risk being disrupted by competitors who are adapting fast. Thanks, Brian