The Facebook/WhatsApp Deal Is Bad News For Telcos

Dan Bieler

Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp shows that the market for messaging is far from dead. But it’s just gotten worse for the telcos. We’ve already discussed the underlying reasons in a report — but the fact that Facebook put $19 billion on the table, of which $4 billion is in cash, for a global messaging service with 55 staff should scare telcos, with their millions of employees and high-cost structures. Over-the-top communications tools like WhatsApp, Line, KakaoTalk, WeChat, and Viber (which itself was bought a few days ago by Rakuten) have pushed telcos further and further away from any meaningful customer engagement.

To be sure, WhatsApp is about much more than instant messaging; it’s about content sharing — which is an emotional activity. Such emotional activities are critical to closer customer engagement. As the online giants use ever more granular user analytics to cement their position as marketing powerhouses, telcos’ hopes of developing new revenue streams from analyzing user behavior are slipping away faster and faster. This is what makes the deal so dangerous.

Of course, it’s tough to justify the deal simply on the basis of WhatsApp’s revenue model of $1 annual subscriptions. In my view, the deal is really about:

  • Bringing a major competitor into your family. Otherwise, someone else could have lured WhatsApp into theirs. The deal, which accounts for about 10% of Facebook’s market capitalization, could be seen therefore as an insurance cover.
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India's Tech Market Will Grow 8% In 2014

Manish Bahl

Forrester just published its “India Tech Market Outlook: 2014” report; here’s a summary. We expect the Indian economy to start recovering from the tough situation it faced in 2013. It will start picking up (albeit at a slower rate) in 2014 thanks to good monsoons, an uptick in exports due to the weakening of the rupee, and huge infrastructure projects in public transportation, housing, agriculture, and farming  that we expect to take off once a new central government is in place. As a result, we’ve marginally increased our 2014 forecast from 7.4% to 8% in local currency. But the biggest threat to India’s economic outlook is political instability after the national elections, which could have a long-term economic impact.

The three most important highlights from the report:

  • Customer obsession will take center stage for technology spending. The increasing demands of digital customers are redefining business. Recent Forrsights data indicates that Indian CIOs’ top business priority is to address the rising expectations of customers and improve customer satisfaction; 87% consider it a high or critical priority. Business leaders want to leverage technology to better engage digitally enabled constituents, fundamentally shifting how firms interact with customers.
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What Indian CIOs Can Learn From The Delhi Assembly Elections

Manish Bahl

Disclaimer: I am not a political analyst, and this post is not intended to promote any political party.

December 8 was an historic day for Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which arose from the anti-corruption movement of Anna Hazare a year ago, achieved a spectacular result in Delhi’s assembly elections — one far beyond anyone’s expectations. The party won 39% of the total assembly seats, sending Congress (which is India’s oldest party and had ruled Delhi for the past 15 years) plummeting to third place.

AAP’s rapid rise and strong showing highlight a fundamental shift in India’s political system toward citizen engagement and empowerment, especially in urban and semiurban areas. In particular, India’s youth are ready to take risks to realize their hopes and aspirations. About 350,000 18- and 19-year-olds have recently joined the voter rolls and saw in AAP the possibility to change the existing political system. And AAP was in tune with them, putting volunteers to work on social media platforms to connect with citizens on issues like corruption.

Indian CIOs should sit up and take heed, because just as empowered citizens can disrupt traditional politics, digitally empowered customers will disrupt businesses in every industry. Forrester calls this the age of the customer, and we define it as:

A 20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers.

You must prepare to deal with this disruption and understand what you must do to make your organization customer-obsessed:

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India Technology Market 2014 Predictions

Sudhanshu Bhandari

By Sudhanshu Bhandari and Manish Bahl

India is going through a tough time: Poor policy, delayed reforms, the free fall of the rupee against major currencies, multibillion-dollar scams, and political gridlock are all negatively affecting the country’s growth. However, we anticipate the Indian economy will start picking up — albeit at a slower rate — in 2014, mainly due to good monsoons, improving exports, and huge infrastructure projects that should launch once a new central government is in place.

Forrester’s Asia Pacific (AP) analyst team has just published its 2014 technology predictions report. What top trends will be critical to the Indian market?

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India Technology Market 2014 Predictions

Manish Bahl

By Sudhanshu Bhandari and Manish Bahl

India is going through a tough time: Poor policy, delayed reforms, the free fall of the rupee against major currencies, multibillion-dollar scams, and political gridlock are all negatively affecting the country’s growth. However, we anticipate the Indian economy will start picking up — albeit at a slower rate — in 2014, mainly due to good monsoons, improving exports, and huge infrastructure projects that should launch once a new central government is in place.

Forrester’s Asia Pacific (AP) analyst team has just published its 2014 technology predictions report. What top trends will be critical to the Indian market?

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Indian CIOs Must Adopt A Dual Technology Management Agenda To Win In The Age Of The Customer

Manish Bahl

Digitally empowered customers are forcing firms to redefine their engagement model to survive in the age of the customer. Data from Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets And Priorities Survey, Q4 2013, indicates that Indian CIOs’ top business priority is to address the rising expectations of customers and improve customer satisfaction; 87% of them told us that it is a high or critical priority.

                                                               

Indian business leaders’ attitudes are changing; increasingly, they view IT as a means to better engage digitally enabled constituents, and this is fueling a fundamental shift in the way firms interact with customers. Business leaders expect their CIOs to contribute to business growth by winning and retaining customers. But targeting the customer experience requires IT organizations to radically shift focus. CIOs must alter governance processes, job descriptions, IT performance metrics, and even the culture of the technology management organization.

Forrester recently published Technology Management In The Age Of The Customer, which highlights how empowered customers are disrupting every industry and CIOs need to adapt tech management to these rapid changes. To meet this objective, CIOs must broaden their tech management priorities and carry two agendas:

  1. Managing infrastructure management and internal operations, which we call “IT.”
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WebRTC: The Next Wave Of Innovation In Customer Engagement

Nupur Singh Andley

In the age of digitally empowered customers, advancements in the ubiquitous, multimedia web collaboration space will gain momentum, riding on the developments in web real-time communication (WebRTC) technology. While still nascent in Asia Pacific, according to WebRTC Stats, as of March 2013 more than 11% of the video calls in Asia Pacific were made leveraging the technology.

The central theme of the WebRTC project is to enable interconnectivity between web browsers for real-time communications via a JavaScript API (application programming interface). It aims to achieve interoperability on two distinct levels:

  • At the platform level to eradicate the need for codec download to establish the connection between different web browsers, as is the case today.
  • At the application level to allow multimedia sessions to run simultaneously on the same connection.
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Understanding Gamification in APAC

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.
 
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Just Published: Forrester's Inaugural Customer Engagement Agency Wave

Fatemeh Khatibloo

When we set out to evaluate the new breed of firm that we call "customer engagement agencies," we sent our initial screener to an incredibly long list of firms -- over sixty, in fact! -- ranging from MSPs to digital agencies to management consultancies. We felt that we needed to cast a wide net if we wanted to understand the range of approaches vendors take to customer engagement: how they use data and analytics, the channels they enable with customer intelligence, and how they service their most strategically engaged clients. As the responses rolled in, a hypothesis began to take shape in my mind: The emerging customer engagement agency model hails from two mature markets -- digital/direct agencies and database MSPs -- and, depending on provenance, these evolving agencies take one of two primary approaches to customer engagement.

Turns out, I was on the right track, though the reality is not quite so black and white.

In our final evaluation of 13 vendors in The Forrester Wave: Customer Engagement Agencies, Q4 2012, we did find different strengths and weaknesses depending on legacy business model, but ultimately EVERY firm still has a long road ahead of evolving its people and processes to support CEA clients. We also found, though, that each CEA we evaluated is working hard to connect the dots between strategy, analytics and execution in order to optimize customer experience and profitability. And that can only be a good thing for the marketers and CI leaders who are visionary enough to hire them.

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