From the start of my research into the changes surrounding emerging digital technologies in 2013 (see "The Future Of Business Is Digital"), I've been struck by the differences between those companies that apply digital technology as a bolt-on (frequently adding an eCommerce site, social media, or customer mobile apps) and those that take a more holistic approach to transforming the way the company uses technology to deliver better customer outcomes and drive revenue.
Transformers are more likely to succeed because they recognize their customers' expectations are evolving. The executives in these companies redesign their business to evolve alongside the expectations of their customers. These companies are obsessed with helping their customers achieve their desired outcomes, and they continuously explore new ways to do that profitably. This is why transformers are destined to become digital predators while bolt-on companies are more likely to become digital prey.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of many transformers that caught my attention back in 2013 remains a challenge for many companies in 2016: delivering digital operational excellence (DOX). DOX focuses on the ability to use emerging technologies to change operational aspects of the business (those not directly touching the customer) to create business agility in service of the customer. Why is this important? Because without the ability to evolve quickly, your company will fail. This is the digital dilemma.
I use this simple equation to illustrate my point:
As a customer insights / analytics / digital measurement pro, do you experience any of these challenges? And what can you do right now to make progress with them?
I can’t keep up with requests from my stakeholders for analysis and insights. Does the volume of requests and your team’s capacity seem increasingly out of whack in your organization?
Our customer data isn’t where we need it to be – we can’t get a comprehensive view of our customer. You’re not alone. Marketing and technology teams struggle to align objectives, roles, budget, projects and process, and timelines to maximize value from customer data. Marketing decision-makers report several reasons they are failing: too many data sources (44%), lack of access to technology to manage data source integration (38%), lack of budget (35%), lack of skills to support integration (34%), organizational silos (27%), and lack of an executive sponsor (23%).
We’re leaving money on the table because our different analytics and insights teams work in silos. Here’s a simple digital measurement example of this: one digital team is responsible for driving visits to the website. Other teams are responsible for maximizing on-site conversions. They work in their own separate silos. A more efficient and effective approach: work together to identify the characteristics of customers most likely to convert, and work on driving that group to the site. That type of silo breakdown needs to happen more.
Talk about interesting times in the business of insurance. The year 2015 saw the attention-getting launch of Google Compare and its hibernation about 12 months later. Traditional insurers like Mass Mutual and Shelter Mutual got busy and launched their own direct-to-consumer digital quoting and sales businesses. State Farm was busy filing patents for by-the-trip car insurance and the means to measure just how stressed drivers were behind the wheel and rate their insurance accordingly. Prudential recognized that previously scary diseases were now chronic conditions that could be medically managed, launching life insurance coverage for HIV positive customers. AOL saw an opportunity and is now selling insurance to its members. And we at Forrester have been busy keeping track of over 700 disrupters across FinTech that have been capturing market attention and venture capital. Some of these firms like Lemonade are returning to the social roots of insurance. Lemonade's founders also appreciate that consumers are irrational economic animals and decided to hire a behavioral scientist to help them anticipate the crazy actions of homo sapiens. And yet some people out there still call insurance a boring industry!
I’m a bit of a car nut. I love driving cars. So does my wife. We both autocross one of our cars most weekends in the New England summers (FYI AutoX is a great way to hone your driving skills and be a safer driver). We love our cars and I’m pretty passionate about the whole driving experience.
In my post from CES this year, I noted that every single automaker seems hell-bent on making the car the center of their customer’s digital world. No doubt manufacturers hear the siren call of customer data; imagining all that they could do with such rich information. But it’s inside-out because, even for car-lovers like me, the car is not the center of my digital universe and I doubt it ever will be. Why? Because my car doesn’t go with me wherever I go. But you know what does? My phone.
“The industrial companies that can bring together cloud, open source, and real-time process management with industrial product cycles will be the ones that will win in the digital transformation process.”
William Ruh, CEO for GE Digital
At Mobile World Congress 2016, GE outlined some fundamental insights about the digital transformation efforts of industrial businesses. William Ruh, CEO for GE Digital, a US$6 billion business of General Electric, shared valuable insights about the digital transformation process that industrial businesses need to tackle.
Digital Transformation Is Happening And Offers New Opportunities
Companies that fail to embrace digitization won’t be able to compete in the next decade. William Ruh stressed that while the past decade was primarily about the consumer Internet, the next decade will be about the industrial Internet. Digitization offers one of the biggest opportunities in many decades to companies that are willing to change:
Many technology vendors tell me they have established digital innovation labs as a place to bring customers and inspire them. So I was wondering, have you and your leadership team visited such a lab? If so, I'd like to hear from you:
Understanding agent attitudes toward their insurance carrier partners is crucial in earning independent agent loyalty—and driving sales. Why? Because despite predictions that direct-to-consumer insurance sales would doom the insurance agent, nearly 20 years after the advent of online insurance selling, millions of consumers and small businesses continue to rely on their local insurance agencies. Consider that when it comes to their agents, US consumers:
Buy from. Even after all that money direct insurers spend on TV ads, consumers are still buying from insurance agencies. In a survey of 10,000 online Americans, we found that 84% of home insurance buyers stated that they bought from an agent; 82% did the same for their car insurance, while 57% of life insurance buyers said that they did.
Trust in. When we asked in the same survey about attitudes toward financial services providers, more than 70% of life insurance buyers and about two-thirds of non-life insurance buyers we surveyed agreed with the statement “I completely trust my agent”. And that trust runs deep for some customers, especially for 25-34 year olds we surveyed.
Stick with. And after buying from an agent, consumers tend to stick with their them We asked US online adults how long they had been buying certain coverage from their agents. The average relationships with their auto, home, and life agencies were 12.9, 12.5, and 16.3 years Consumer steadfastness with an agent is often longer than that loyalty to a spouse: the average American marriage that ends in divorce lasts eight years. And no surprise, the tenure with direct insurers is much shorter than that with agent-centric insurers.
Presenting and hosting a panel on digital transformation at this year's CES gave me the opportunity to wander the 2 million square feet of exhibit space and assimilate some of the changes coming our way:
Welcome To The Age Of Invention. For me, the most exciting aspect of CES is the sheer volume of innovative, inventive startups that are tapping into the power of sensor-enabled technology to create new products and services. Many of these companies are funded through crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, gofundme and indiegogo. The pace of innovation will accelerate as high-school kids use their fertile imaginations to tap into the technology that’s now second nature to them.
The Internet Of Things Will Fuel Rapid Digital Transformation. Based on the sheer volume of internet connected devices coming on the market this year, we’re going to see an explosion in the Internet Of Things (IoT). Everything – from wearables that track everything from your health and fitness to the temperature of a newborn child, and in-home appliances that interconnect to create a home environment tailored to your preferences – everything is now designed with sensors that collect data that's used to deliver better customer outcomes. Or at least that’s the promise. Sensors can and will improve our lives – giving us more data and insight about our environment and allowing us to tailor experiences to be more finely tuned to our personal desires. The data provided by the sensors in the Internet Of Things is the fuel for further digital transformation.
IBM opened its global Watson Internet of Things (IoT) headquarters in Munich this week. It is hardly unusual for this quintessential global business to open research centers on a global scale. But the decision to move the HQ for one of the most dynamic areas of the digital transformation arena to Munich is noteworthy for several reasons. The move underlines that:
IoT has a very strong B2B component. Yes, IoT will play a role in consumer segments such as the connected home. But connectivity limitations and costs, compliance, and security will put many IoT ambitions in the consumer space to rest. The real action will be in the B2B space, where IoT will be elemental to drive activities like predictive maintenance, fleet management, traffic management, supply chain management, and order processing. Forrester expects the market size for B2B eCommerce, of which IoT is a subset, to be about twice that of B2C by 2020.
IoT and big data are closely intertwined. The real value of IoT solutions will not come from the hardware components of connected assets but from the data they generate and consume. In order to manage and make sense of the data that connected assets generate, cognitive systems and machine learning will play a fundamental role for the evolution of IoT. “Employing” Watson in the IoT context elevates IBM’s role in the IoT market significantly.