2014 was a year of massive eCommerce investment in India. Flipkart raised $1 billion; Amazon announced it would invest $2 billion in its Indian subsidiary; and Snapdeal raised $234 million from private equity firms and an undisclosed additional sum from private investors. These three players are spending approximately 2 billion rupees ($33 million) this season on marketing — and a lot more on improving last-mile delivery and adding fulfillment centers to get a bigger piece of the sales pie.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been on the other side of the planet, spending a few days each in four very different cities: Sydney, Singapore, Beijing, and Shanghai. While Sydney was much like I remembered it — an exotic version of San Francisco but with better weather — the Singapore skyline had changed drastically and now appears to be a science-fiction version of the seaport I remembered. (If you think I’m kidding, just do a search on “Marina Bay Sands Hotel.”)
In contrast to Sydney and Singapore, I hadn’t been to either Beijing or Shanghai before. I was blown away by how vibrant those cities are and how much prosperity is on display: If the Chinese economy is truly slowing down, you wouldn’t know it from all the luxury cars on the road.
Despite all the diversity I saw on my trip, for me, there was one constant across all four cities: the high level of interest in customer experience.
In Sydney, I gave talks about customer experience to three different groups of 20 to 40 people each. Even though the attendees came from very diverse companies — like insurers, quick-serve restaurants, technology vendors, and giant professional services firms — all three groups asked questions that showed this wasn’t their first CX rodeo.
I also gave a speech to the digital team at a major bank, and as a bonus, I got to see the company’s chief experience officer give a talk. Frankly, there are a lot of US and European banks that could learn from that large, enthusiastic, clued-in group.
My time in Singapore started out with a customer experience ecosystem mapping workshop for around 35 people. This was also a diverse group, with varying levels of customer experience expertise, even among attendees from the same company. They all picked up on the concepts, though, and generated an impressive amount of insight.
Information workers in India are increasingly using their personal devices, applications, and web services to accomplish both personal and work-related activities. Results from Forrester’s Forrsights Workforce Employee Survey, Q4 2012 indicate that at least 85% of employees use phone/tablet applications and web-based services for both purposes which is putting corporate information security under serious threat.
My interactions with numerous infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals from large enterprises in India over the past six months have revealed that there is a high degree of awareness of the need to develop a bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) policy. However, actual implementations aren’t yet common, as I&O professionals are unable to address management’s three key concerns. These are, in order of priority:
How can we ensure that information on employee-owned hardware and software is secure?
Forrester's global analysts have written some great pieces on gamification. In general terms, this research is is just as applicable to the SE Asian markets. However, there are some specific differences within the region that should also be considered. The most important thing to remember is that, while the general principles of gamification definitely hold true within the region, there are still some specific differences that should also be taken into account.
First and foremost, we definitely see the same problems in APAC where a lack of clarity on the desired behaviour encourages game play - for games sake. This is probably the worst outcome of all for gamification initiatives, regardless of where they're deployed. If there's no clear desired behaviour change identified, there's absolutely no valid reason to introduce gamification. The real challenge though is ensuring that the right strategy is selected to achieve the right objectives.
Historically, consumers in Asia Pacific have done far more activities on their mobile phones than in other regions. With the increasing availability of affordable smartphones in the region, mobile phones are now the No. 1 device for consuming media for many consumers in Asia Pacific. Similarly, activities like playing games (such as word games and puzzle games), listening to music (both streaming and non-streaming), and using social media are increasingly done via mobile phones, and activity levels are now approaching those of PCs.
In recent months, Forrester’s Data Insights team has been analyzing our Technographics® data for the Asia Pacific version of our annual global series, “Understanding The Changing Needs Of Online Consumers.” For the past seven years, Forrester has been tracking consumers’ online and offline behavior in Asia Pacific. In 2012, we surveyed 16,616 Asia Pacific consumers across two surveys to find out about their use of the Internet for media, entertainment, shopping, communication, and social computing.
Across Asia Pacific (AP), expanding mobility support for employees, customers, and/or business partners will be the top strategic telecom priority for enterprises in 2013, surpassing other telecom priorities like performing network management and consolidating operations equipment, rationalizing/consolidating telecom/communications service providers, and moving communications applications to the cloud.
While enterprises will invest in a range of mobility products and services, there are five key areas in particular which will attract the most investment in 2013. Vendors need to focus on the solutions and engagement models that meet customers’ needs in these five areas and target the industries and countries where the demand will be greatest:
Business consulting services. Specifically for defining a formal enterprise mobility and/or BYOD program strategy, including devices, applications, data access, and provisioning. Moreover, AP organizations will likely need help in drafting compliance and legal policies related to enterprise mobility.
Telecom expense management solutions. This is one of the most critical telecom requirements for AP CIOs in 2013. Across the region, 50% to 60% of organizations pay the entire cost of voice and data services for company-supported Android and iOS phones and tablets. For BlackBerry phones, this proportion is nearly 70%.
A number of Forrester analysts from the Asia Pacific region attended the recent SAP analyst event in Singapore. Meetings with SAP global and regional executives and a large number of detailed breakout sessions over the 1½-day event all clearly indicate that SAP is continuing to try and reposition itself as a true generalized application platform player.
At the core of (almost all) initiatives is the HANA in-memory database technology. Whatever the problem, HANA will solve it (said with tongue planted very firmly in cheek). While the technology clearly has immediate performance benefits, particularly for existing SAP clients, net-new customers will likely need to compare the value of SAP’s offerings with others much more seriously.
In mid-July, my colleagues and I attended Orange’s annual analyst event in Paris. There were no major announcements, but we made several observations:
ORANGE is one of the few carriers with true delivery capabilities. Its global footprint is a real advantage vis-a-vis carrier competitors, in particular in Africa and Asia. At the recent event, Vale, the Brazilian metals and mining corporation, presented a customer case study in which Vale emphasized the importance of ORANGE’s global network infrastructure for its decision to go with ORANGE as UCC and network provider. ORANGE’s global reach positions it well to address the opportunity in emerging markets, both for Western MNCs going into these markets and also to address intra-regional business in Africa and Asia. Another customer case study with the Chinese online retailer 360buy, focusing on a contact center solution, demonstrated ORANGE’s ability to win against local competitors in Asia.
China represents a huge opportunity for most organizations — the nation has a population of 1.35 billion people, consumer spend has gone up progressively in the past few years, and Forrester expects 268 million Chinese consumers to buy online by 2014. And, we are committed to providing our clients with the data and analysis required to be successful in the country. In fact, as part of our Technographics product, we have been investigating the impact of technology on consumer behavior in the Asia Pacific region since 2006.1
Recently, I collaborated with my colleague Sam Yanling Jaddou on a report called “Understanding China: The Opportunities And Challenges” that will help marketing and strategy professionals understand the uniqueness of the Chinese market, as well as key consumer trends.
Some highlights from the report, which is based on a survey of more than 3,600 metropolitan Chinese consumers2:
Chinese consumers are very receptive to new trends. They not only show high interest in new technologies like cloud services, Internet-connected TV, and tablets, but the uptake of these devices is already higher in China than in the US and Europe. However, because of their relative high price, new technologies are mainly bought by high-income Chinese.
Airtel launched India’s first 4G LTE services in Kolkata yesterday. Airtel delivers the service using TDD technology, making it one of the few operators globally to launch a TD-LTE network. The majority of commercial LTE launches are still based on FDD technology, which begs the question: What impact will TDD have on the LTE landscape? Will TD-LTE get support from equipment manufacturers, or will it suffer a fate similar to that of WiMAX? What does it mean for operators? I believe that TDD will affect the entire mobile ecosystem. Here’s how:
Price parity between paired and unpaired spectra. Both paired and unpaired spectra will be viewed as media that deliver wireless service irrespective of the underlying technology; this will drive price parity between the spectra. The dichotomy between the FDD spectrum (used primarily for coverage) and the TDD spectrum (mainly for capacity) will disappear as technological advancements make it possible to achieve similar capacity and coverage on both spectra. Consequently, the “spectrum crunch” may diminish, as any spectrum will be satisfactory for the deployment of mobile broadband services.