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.
Are costs to run your eBusiness operations increasing or decreasing? Last year eBusiness professionals reported that on average they spent over $25 million annually to run their eBusiness channels. With the pace of innovation and investment in digital channels barreling forward, we expect that number to increase in 2011. The only way for us to know though is for you to help us. As part of our quarterly panel survey of eBusiness professionals, we have deployed a survey to get to the heart of the cost of running digital channels -- namely the Web and mobile -- and also to understand how the cost of customer acquisition varies by channel. We'll publish the results in an upcoming research document.
Because this will be the third year fielding this survey, we'll be able to provide year-over-year data when we publish the results to highlight the key areas in which eBusiness costs are rising and falling, with more emphasis on mobile in particular than before.
Please take our survey today. It should take about 15 minutes to complete, and you'll get to choose some free research as a thank you from us. As always we'll only publish aggregate results and will never list the names or companies of participants. It's Valentine's Day after all, please share some survey love!
I'm thrilled to be blogging from Forrester's 2010 Consumer Forum at the Hilton Chicago in downtown Chicago. We've got a crowd of 600+ folks on-site and are excited for another great event.
We've heard time and again that organizations need help responding to empowered consumers, and we're aiming to address that head on with our event this year.
During these two days on the main stage, our roster includes fantastic stories of firms that have empowered their customers and employees, such as Vail Resorts, Southwest Airlines, the NHL, ESPN, and Kellogg. Plus, Forrester's very own Charles Golvin, Josh Bernoff, and Ted Schadler will present keynotes. There's more! We're also running 20 track sessions and countless one-on-one meetings with 30+ analysts. We're packing in as much great content as we can to make this a fantastic event.
If you can’t attend, be sure to check out the highlights of the speeches and the Twitter stream below. And join us next year! We'll have an equally exciting lineup of speakers and content in 2011.
The eBusiness team at Forrester is excited to announce that we have launched The Forrester Community For eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals focused on the key business challenges that eBusiness professionals face every day. The community is a place for eBusiness professionals to exchange ideas, opinions, and real-world solutions with each other. Forrester analysts will also be part of the community, helping facilitate the discussions and sharing their views.
The community is open to all eBusiness professionals, whether you’re a Forrester client or not.
Here’s what you’ll find:
A simple platform on which you can pose your questions and get advice from peers who face the same business challenges.
Insight from our analysts, who weigh in frequently on the issues.
Fresh perspective from peers, who share their real-world success stories and best practices.
Content on the latest technologies and trends affecting your business — from Forrester and other thought leaders.
Social shopping -- and service -- has become a reality: The percent of US online consumers opting out of social media -- Inactives -- has fallen dramatically, from 52% in 2006 to just 17% in 2009 while all of the categories of social media usage have increased. In response, eBusiness executives are doing the best they can -- as fast as they can -- to experiment with social media and create solid strategies.
The challenge? Most social initiatives originate in interactive marketing departments with marketing goals like awareness and branding, while eBusiness executives must tie their efforts to increased sales and decreased service costs.
Social then tends to raise more questions than it answers: Who owns social? What is the role of eBusiness in setting the social strategy? How do we create a strategy that helps our online sales while coordinating with other departments? Our new report The Building Blocks For Social Success in eBusiness explores how some firms are dipping their toes in the water -- we call them “experimenting” eBusiness groups -- and how others are in the “directing and governing” phases with social -- owning not just the templates and process for social, but the execution as well, for their entire companies.
Where are you on the social spectrum? Does your company host a Facebook fan page? Do you offer customer ratings and reviews? Are your social efforts focused on increasing sales or increasing brand awareness? Is social integrated into your online sales experiences? I told you social raises more questions than answers! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the role that social can play in driving online sales.
No one that manages a P&L will ever look back at 2009 and say "what a fun year!" eBusiness executives are certainly glad to have 2009 behind them and report to us that 2010 is not as fraught with economic concerns. We just published the results of our most recent survey of 100 eBusiness and Channel Strategy executives and found that although overall budgets for eBusiness aren't increasing that dramatically, our respondents aren't feeling the heat to cut back like they were last year.
Even better, our survey respondents are increasing their budget for new innovation and technology. In 2010, the percentage of the online budget dedicated to new investment and innovation is expected to increase or significantly increase at 52% of firms. Hooray! It's a battle cry for all eBusiness execs to step up their games, and for senior executives in their firms to step up their commitment to and support of the channel. Spending (by our respondents) will focus on analytics and then ratings and review platforms.
Analytics have been a constant in our surveys, and ratings and reviews don't surprise us. Social media is hard for eBusiness execs to get their heads around because many social efforts clearly drive marketing objectives like brand engagement, but the impact on actual sales and conversion is fuzzier. Ratings and reviews are a clearer conversion tool for retailers in particular. My colleague Brad Strothkamp wrote a blog post though about the use of ratings and reviews in financial services, which is not nearly as black and white an issue.
Our new blog network has gone live! This is so exciting and will enhance the way that readers can interact with our analysts. Here’s what Cliff Condon, the project manager, has to say about it:
Hey everyone. Here it is – Forrester’s new blog network. We made some change to improve the experience for readers and to encourage more analysts to blog. Feel free to poke around and let me know what you think.
There are a few things I’d like to point out to you:
Are you attending Forrester's Consumer Forum 2009? Do you
live in the
Chicago area? Do you ever wonder who you are talking to on Twitter?
On October 26, the night before Forrester’s
Consumer Forum, Forrester will be hosting an Chicago Tweetup. Tweetups are low-key social
events where Twitterers can network and meet the people they tweet with. Anyone
can attend; it is an informal atmosphere that allows casual conversations.