Join Us At The eBusiness Forum In Chicago, November 5th and 6th, 2013!

To the delight of many tired parents, it's back to school season. It's also the perfect time to plan out your fall calendar, and we're hoping that you will join us in Chicago in November for our eBusiness Forum

The theme of our event is "Leading The Digital Business Revolution." We chose this theme because our clients tell us that they're looking to take their digital sales and selling strategies to the next level. As titles like Chief Digital Officer (CDO) emerge, eBusiness professionals and their other digital counterparts are eager to determine the right digital strategy for their firms and, more importantly, determine how to infuse digital skills throughout their organizations. They know that to engage with customers and thwart the competition, they must become powerhouses at digital business.

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So You Want To Be A Chief Digital Officer?

During my sullen teenage years my father invented a nonsensical, rhetorical question to proffer when conversation ran dry. During particularly quiet moments he’d ask, “So you want to be a movie star?” No, I did not want to be a movie star, but I’d play along and invent similarly nonsensical answers: “Yes, but my agent won’t return my calls,” or “Yes, but Molly Ringwald keeps getting all of my parts” and so on. He still asks to this day and so in this New Year I will ask all of you a related but non-rhetorical question: So you want to be a Chief Digital Officer (CDO)?

Many Forrester analysts and others have taken note of the rise of and need for this position to oversee digital business. Indeed, the rapid and colossal impact of digital disruption is overhauling products, inverting category economics, and redefining customer relationships, requiring new focus and leadership. Where will these CDOs come from? Firms will promote Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) from business units and departments that face the most disruption. In firms that sell products and services directly to customers, we believe that eBusiness and channel strategy professionals are well positioned for a Darwinian rise into the CDO ranks. It’s already happening in firms like Finish Line, Dollar Thrifty Automotive, and MetLife. Many executives in your company see themselves on a similar path — interactive marketers, enterprise architects, and even some CIOs. eBusiness and Channel Strategy Professionals looking to advance their careers must:

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Are you spending enough on eBusiness?

Ever wonder if you're spending enough on your eBusiness efforts compared with your peers? We've been benchmarking key metrics like team size, channel responsibilities, and spending for four years and this week we’ve launched our quarterly eBusiness and Channel Strategy Panel Survey to keep adding to that rich data.

We have designed the survey to help eBusiness and Channel Strategy Professionals determine the size of companies' eBusiness budgets, the size of their technology investments, and how these numbers compare with overall firm spending.  Additionally, it will shed light on the key roles and responsibilities eBusiness executives are playing, what channels firms focusing on, and where future investment priorities lie. 

Here are the details:

  • The survey takes less than 20 minutes to complete.
  • Responses will be kept strictly confidential and published only in an aggregated and anonymous manner.
  • Respondents will receive a free copy of the survey results and a free Forrester report.

Here's the link to the survey again. Thanks for participating!

Q&A with Bert DuMars, VP, Digital Marketing & Ecommerce, Newell Rubbermaid

I had the chance to catch up with Bert DuMars, VP of Digital Marketing & eCommerce at Newell Rubbermaid, in advance of his keynote later this month at the eBusiness Forum. I spoke with Bert about the impact of digital channels on the overall shopping experience, and how Newell Rubbermaid is charting a course for profitable eCommerce growth. Here are some of his thoughts.

Q: What digital initiative have you undertaken in the past 12 months that you're most excited about?

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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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Making eBusiness Outside In

Today Forrester released its new book Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business. At the crux of the book is a powerful message for all firms and in particular for eBusiness professionals: We are in the age of the customer. The only way to create sustainable competitive advantage is by being customer obsessed. In the book authors Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine outline how companies can save billions, gain loyalty, and profit from customer experience excellence.

The message and methodologies in the book are essential for eBusiness professionals, who orchestrate the digital experience across touchpoints for customers in many firms. We're seeing eBusiness professionals putting customers at the center of their businesses by shifting from outdated strategies to agile commerce principles. eBusiness professionals are turning agile commerce into a reality by:

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Seizing Opportunity From Digital Disruption

I recently wrote a post about "eBusiness professionals edging closer and closer to the C-Suite. It's happening across many organizations and has a lot of implications -- from eBusiness pros needing to understand stores and branches better to more critically eyeing partnerships and competitors that can help or inhibit growth. No conversation about partnerships or digital disruption would be complete without a discussion of the tech titans and the platforms driving key trends like social and mobile. Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple... every eBusiness professional we speak with has to have a strategy for working with at least one, if not all, of these firms. The language we hear from folks about these relationships is colorful, including "Deal with the devil," "frenemy," "necessary evil," and so on. Everyone has something to say about digital disruption and how to best harness it, so we decided to put those people on our stage at our upcoming eBusiness Forum and let them have at it!  

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Moving eBusiness Into The C-Suite (Or Close To It)

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.  

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Benchmark Your eBusiness Strategy And Results

I'm so excited to announce that today we have launched Forrester's new free eBusiness benchmarking tool. With the tool you can compare your key performance metrics against your peers'. Plug in the answers to a few questions about your eBusiness budget and metrics and our tool will instantly compare your answers to similar size companies for five key benchmarks:

  1. The size of your annual eBusiness budget 
  2. The number of staff dedicated to your online division
  3. The percent of overall sales that occur online
  4. The size of your eBusiness team
  5. The percent of customer service interactions that occur online

The tool will not only show side-by-side results, it'll also produce a nifty PDF for you to print out and show to your colleagues. But wait there's more! We have a suite of research that helps our clients act on results, outlining how to improve those five key metrics to keep up with competitors and align with best practices. We've summarized all of our advice on how to use the benchmark tool and to improve results in an accompanying report called "Benchmark Your eBusiness Strategy And Results" (sound familiar?) and I encourage you to read it. 

We also have a whole body of research that we think help turbo charge your eBusiness results.

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Get Customer Obsessed Or Perish: Welcome To The Age Of The Customer

Today Forrester released a piece of must-read research for every organization that markets and sells to customers. In Josh Bernoff's report "Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer," he illustrates how customer-led disruption forces firms to throw away old models of competitive differentiation. Competitive barriers like manufacturing strength, distribution power, and information mastery won't save anyone. The report concludes that the only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge of and engagement with customers. In the age of the customer, firms must become customer obsessed.

eBusiness and channel strategy professionals are no strangers to customer-led disruption. Many firms' web strategies are just now finally catching up to the sneak attack of Amazon.com and E-Trade, if they survived at all. What happened in the early '90s will continue to happen again and again. In a companion document that I also released today, I argue that to survive, eBusiness and channel strategy professionals must embrace the principles of agile commerce -- optimizing people, processes, and technology to serve customers across all touchpoints. Specifically, eBusiness and channel strategy professionals must shift from:

  • Customer acquisition to retention.
  • Siloed channels to touchpoints.
  • Reactive to actionable use of customer data.

I encourage you and everyone in your organzation to read this critical document about surviving and thriving in the age of the customer.