Our Take: What The Recent M&A Activity In The Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) Space Means For The Market Research Industry

Roxana Strohmenger

 

Over the past two weeks, the EFM vendor landscape has heated up once again with a round of mergers and acquisitions. Last year, we saw the mergers between Vovici and Verint and Globalpark and QuestBack. Now we have news of SMG and Locately (August 16) and Confirmit and CustomerStat from MarketTools (August 22). These mergers make sense and are in line with how I see the EFM vendor landscape evolving.

Part of this evolution revolves around enhancing the EFM suite of products and bringing new feedback channels into the mix — like mobile. This goes beyond purely enabling the viewing of online surveys on a mobile browser. It encompasses offering mobile apps, enabling the collection of qualitative data, capturing mobile behavioral data, and even leveraging location to unearth insights about consumers. That is exactly what SMG, an EFM vendor that focuses on customer experience analytics, did by acquiring location analytics market research firm Locately. Confirmit did the same last year by acquiring Techneos to create a stronger mobile offering for its customers.

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The Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) Vendor Landscape Evaluated

Roxana Strohmenger

Over the past year, my colleague Andrew McInnes and I have immersed ourselves in the world of enterprise feedback management (EFM), which we define as follows:

A system of software and processes that enables organizations to centrally collect, analyze, and report on feedback from key customer groups and tailor insights for various internal users.

During this time, it has been a great experience talking with vendors and clients about how this technology tool enables companies to bring all of the customer data and information collected across channels together into one platform. This ability is more important than ever given that we have entered the “age of the customer” — a period marked by the rise of the empowered customer, who is armed with more information than ever before and who is now using a rapidly evolving set of devices as a means of engaging not only with friends and family but also with companies anytime and anywhere. To be successful in this new world, companies must understand how consumers interact across these multiple touchpoints; failure to do so can lead to a fragmented view of the customer.

While it is clear that companies must embrace EFM, what is not as clear is how they should navigate the EFM vendor landscape. This is due to the dozens of small vendors, evolving market segments, and increasing M&A activity. To help professionals within the marketing and strategy organization, Andrew and I decided to conduct a Forrester Wave™ evaluation of the EFM vendors.

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Our Take: What The Verint-Vovici Merger And QuestBack-Globalpark Merger Mean For The Market Insights Professional

Roxana Strohmenger

The past three weeks have been quite busy within the enterprise feedback management (EFM) vendor landscape, with two major acquisitions. The first occurred on July 19th between Verint and Vovici; the second was announced today between QuestBack and Globalpark. These mergers make sense and are in line with how I see the EFM vendor landscape evolving over the next five years.

One part of the EFM vendor evolution will be the creation of what my colleague Andrew McInnes calls “comprehensive customer experience solution sets.” The Verint and Vovici merger demonstrates this. Here you have two distinct vendors, each with their own sweet spot within the EFM world. Verint is primarily known as an actionable intelligence solutions vendor that focuses on creating enterprise workforce optimization software and services to evaluate customer communications, especially in the contact center. Vovici is primarily known as an online survey management and enterprise feedback solutions vendor that focuses on helping companies obtain customer feedback from different channels and bring it all together to create a more holistic view of the customer. Essentially, Vovici had what Verint lacked — and Verint had what Vovici lacked. The result is now a more well-rounded and robust EFM offering.

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Summarizing The TDMR Event: Very Exciting Methodologies, Great Case Studies, But How Can We Take It From Here?

Roxana Strohmenger

Earlier this week, I was in “tech geek” heaven because I had the opportunity to participate in IIR’s Technology Driven Market Research Event (TDMR) in Chicago. The purpose of the conference was to showcase how technology has generated new ways for market insights professionals to connect with and understand consumers. Over the course of the two days, the bulk of the presentations focused on two methodologies: social media market research and mobile research, with a smattering of additional presentations on neuroscience and gamification.

TDMR was a great conference. It brought together a core group of 200 market insights professionals who realize that although traditional research methods have their place, as an industry, we need to start understanding and experimenting with new methodologies. In addition, it highlighted how the industry needs to stop dumping data on our clients and instead deliver key insights, make recommendations, and present actionable next steps. These points were especially evident in Merrill Dubrow's high-energy presentation, which addressed how we are seeing an increased number of outsiders questioning how we do things and why we are so slow to innovate. As he stated — with even Glenn Frey’s song blasting in the background — the “heat is on” for the market research industry to change.

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How Enterprise Feedback Management Can Help Market Insights Professionals Manage Data And Information Overload

Roxana Strohmenger

Companies are in a unique position today, as they have an unprecedented ability to collect information about consumers through various channels and thus create rich and deep profiles of their target customers. However, what is considered a goldmine of information has actually highlighted many pain points, including: 

  • Consumers are being bombarded with multiple surveys across different channels by different departments. As a result, consumers feel more and more that they are being badgered for information about themselves.
  • A siloed department structure creates little incentive to collaborate across departments. Thus, repetition of similar projects by different departments occurs, contradictory results can be communicated internally, and learning based on a department’s successes and failures from past projects is not communicated across departments.
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How Can Enterprise Feedback Management Help The Market Research Professional?

Roxana Strohmenger

You might be wondering why this post has nothing to do with Latin American consumers. Well, in addition to my Latin American research, enterprise feedback management (EFM) is a new and exciting coverage area that I will be addressing to help market research (MR) professionals. My goal is to assist you in finding the right tools and processes that will aid you in making sense of all the copious amounts of information that is collected from all parts of your company regarding consumers and synthesize them into coherent, actionable solutions.

What is EFM? Right now it means several things. From the viewpoint of a customer experience (CXP) professional, it is a tool that can be used to assist in developing a systematic approach for incorporating the needs of one’s customers into the design of better customer experiences, or what we call at Forrester voice of the customer (VoC) programs. My colleague Andrew McInnes will be covering EFM, as well, but from the perspective of how CXP professionals can utilize these tools.

For a market research professional, it is also used as a tool, but is not specific to solely collecting customer experience feedback. I see it as an advantage in two main ways.

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1 + 1 = 3. Why Research Vendors Should Collaborate

Reineke Reitsma

As mentioned in some earlier posts, in the past quarters, I have been looking into the role that Market Research professionals play (and can play) with regard to information management. I’ve had many enlightening conversations about this topic with both vendors and client-side market researchers.

Technology developments result in more and more information becoming available internally, and at different parts of the organization. Just think about all the data an average company collects or buys — media measurement data, advertising awareness, advertising spend, retail data, sales data, competitive intelligence, Web-tracking data (from listening tools), Web site tracking, marketing data (e.g., Nielsen Claritas), customer satisfaction surveys, brand trackers, and other primary research data, to name just a few. One vendor estimated that the average research department handles around 50 different research sources!

When I spoke with vendors about their relationship with clients, each and every one of them was looking for ways to increase the level of engagement. For one thing, they are working on best-in-class reporting tools to make it easier for clients to process their data and make it visually more interesting — and hopefully easier to use. However, not many vendors think further than their own set of data. When questioned, they mention that their systems don’t allow for third-party data. Yes, it’s possible to link to internal CRM systems, but that’s about as far as things go.

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