Forrester recently presented our Asia Pacific 2017 Predictions at events across Singapore, Sydney, and Beijing, followed by a webinar earlier this week for customers across the region. We shared our view that businesses today are under attack, but not by their competitors. They are under attack from their customers. Three years ago, Forrester identified a major shift in the market, ushering in the age of the customer. Power has shifted away from companies and towards digitally savvy, technology-empowered customers who now decide winners and losers.
Our Empowered Customer Segmentation shows that consumers in Asia Pacific are evolving — and becoming more empowered — along five key dimensions. These five key shifts explain changing consumption trends and lead to a sense of customer empowerment: Consumers are increasingly willing to experiment, reliant on technology, inclined to integrate digital and physical experiences, able to handle large volumes of information, and determined to create the best experiences for themselves.
Your digital intelligence strategy and implementation is struggling to keep up with your device-hopping customers. You’re trying. And it’s difficult – so many obstacles. But you face the Digital Dilemma, introduced by colleague Nigel Fenwick: your customers’expectations of digital experience keep rising. When any digital experience they have with you doesn’t meet their expectations, their perception of the value your firm provides falls … which leads to risk of customers taking their business elsewhere. Ouch. So, tackle the Digital Dilemma head on. Focus your digital intelligence strategy like a laser on the customer experiences that matter most to your business outcomes. How? With an actionable digital intelligence strategic plan. Here are 3 of the key components your strategic plan must include.
1. Align the plan to the right metrics and KPIs. The optimal approach is to align measurement with customer-focused KPIs that stakeholders are already measured on. Simple, but not necessarily easy. But this is how you get that laser focus on the experiences that matter most to outcomes.
You've been creating digital customer experiences for years now. You've built a successful app. You’ve assembled a martech/adtech stack. You may even have started swinging at omnichannel delivery or harnessed AI or piloted a connected product. So it’s time to declare victory on digital transformation, right?
In 2016 mobile evolved from a stand-alone channel to a baseline for all branded digital experiences. In 2017, mobile will continue to elevate customer expectations as it transforms even non-digital experiences – such as Starbucks “order ahead” functionality. There is no question that mobile moments are the battleground to win, serve and retain your customers. What a mobile moment is and where it surfaces, however, will become amorphous as it extends beyond smartphones to platforms and connected devices and then eventually lives in a consumer’s personal ecosystem.
App usage as we know it has likely peaked. In 2017, platforms will expand in importance as consumers continue to consolidate their time into fewer places on the smartphone. Already, they spend 84% of their time in just five apps. These experiences that we loosely still refer to as mobile (but not for much longer) experience will lives as fragments on third party platforms. Consumers will still use apps for in-depth experiences with brands, but will increasingly use fragments to get quick things done. Examples of popular third party platforms today include Apple’s iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WeChat.
Consumers in Asia Pacific are in the midst of a digital transformation. Within the past decade, online penetration in China grew from 8% to 54%, while mobile internet access grew more than sevenfold. Today, the rate of customer evolution is gaining speed, as consumers are increasingly willing to experiment with new products, rely on devices, demand seamless digital experiences, consume large volumes of information, and are committed to seeking out the best experiences for themselves.
Forrester’s Empowered Customer Segmentation measures these key shifts in customer behaviors and attitudes and anticipates how consumers both respond to digital innovation and demand it. An analysis of our Consumer Technographics® data for Asia Pacific shows that the most rapidly evolving customers dominate in metropolitan China and metropolitan India:
There's a fundamental difference between 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.