What Is Your IT Strategy To Win In The Age Of The Customer?

Doug Washburn

Consider the following scenario: It’s a hot summer day and a prospective customer walks into your store to buy an air conditioner. He evaluates several models and then buys one — but not from you. It turns out your competitor located two miles away is offering the same model at a 20% discount. How did he know this? He scanned the product's bar code using the RedLaser app on his iPhone, which displayed several local retailers with lower prices than yours. If he had been willing to wait three days for shipping, he could have purchased the exact same model while standing in your store from an online retailer at a 30% discount.

This type of technology-fueled disruption is affecting all industries, not just retailers. Since the early 1900s, businesses relied on competitive barriers such as manufacturing strength, distribution power, and information mastery. But this is all changing in the age of the customer, where empowered buyers have information at their fingertips to check a price, read a product review, or ask for advice from a friend right from the screen of their smartphone.

To compete in the age of the customer, your business must become customer-obsessed. As Forrester’s Josh Bernoff (@jbernoff), SVP of Idea Development and author of Groundswell and Empowered, advocates in his latest research: “The only source of competitive advantage is the one that can survive technology-fueled disruption — an obsession with understanding, delighting, connecting with, and serving customers.”

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S&P Downgrade Of US Debt And Related Financial Market Distress Mean Slower Growth In US And Global Tech Markets

Andrew Bartels

The financial news from the US and Europe – the messy resolution of the US debt ceiling impasse and the related downgrade of US government securities, the sharply higher prices for Spanish and Italian debt after inadequate response to the latest Greek debt crisis, and the big drops in stock markets on Monday – will certainly weaken the economic growth prospects of both the US and Europe. We anticipated much of this two weeks ago, both before the US debt ceiling was raised at the 11th hour along with a makeshift deficit reduction plan (see my blog on July 28, 2011) and after the news of much lower US economic came out on Friday (see my blog on July 29, 2011). In fact, the resolution to the debt ceiling issue was slightly better than we expected (no default, and in interim deficit reduction that cut only $21 billion in fiscal year 2012 starting in October 2011) while the US economic outlook in Q2 2011 and earlier was quite a bit worse. The big surprise was S&P's downgrade of US securities from AAA to AA+. While that downgrade was not copied by the other rating agencies and in fact had no impact today on the prices of US treasury securities, it had a big psychological impact. Along with the bad news coming out of Europe after interest rates on Spanish and Italian debt spiked, the S&P downgrade triggered the 600 point or so drop in the Dow Jones Industrial index today, following a 500-point fall on Friday. The result of all these events at best will mean very weak growth in both the US and Europe in the rest of 2011 and well into 2012; at worse, it increases the risk of a renewed recession.

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Venices (And Singapores) Of The World: Imitation And Innovation

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

We often hear of city comparisons.  In my many years in Russia, I must have heard that St. Petersburg was the Venice of the North hundreds of times.  Another is Paris.  How many times have you heard “[Insert city] is the Paris of the [insert region]”?  Actually, a quick search reveals that there are at least 11 cities that are “the Paris of the East.”  Some are quite surprising:

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US Q2 2011 GDP Report Is Bad News For The US Tech Sector, But With Some Silver Linings

Andrew Bartels

The US Department of Commerce released preliminary Q2 2011 GDP data this morning (National Income and Product Accounts -- Gross Domestic Product: Second Quarter 2011 (Advance Estimate); Revised Estimates: 2003 through First Quarter 2011), and there was not much good news in the numbers.  First, US real GDP growth came in at a weaker than expected 1.3% (see Table 1).  Equally bad, prior quarters' growth was revised downward -- Q1 2011 down to 0.4% from 1.9% earlier, and Q4 2010 down to 2.3% from 3.1% earlier.  Given the negative impact of the deadlock on raising the US Federal debt ceiling -- even if a default is avoided at the last minute -- it is hard to see US real GDP growing faster than 2% in Q3 and Q4 2011, and very possibly not much more than 1.5%.

Table 1, US Real GDP Growth Rates, Before and After July 29, 2011 revisions

 

Real GDP, annualized growth rate from prior quarter

Q1 2009

Q2 2009

Q3 2009

Q4 2009

Q1 2010

Q2 2010

Q3 2010

Q4 2010

Q1 2011

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Forrester Will Lower Its Tech Market Forecast By One-To-Two Percentage Points, Depending On Federal Debt Ceiling Outcome

Andrew Bartels

On Tuesday, we were ready to publish our mid-2011 global IT market forecast.  It projected 7.4% growth in the US IT market in 2011, and 10.4% in 2012.  Global growth in US dollars was forecast at 10.6% in 2011 and 7.6% in 2012, with the dollar rebounding in 2012 from its weakness in 2011;  measured in local currencies to eliminate currency fluctuations, growth was projected to be 7.8% in 2011 and 9.1% in 2012.  Our definition of the IT market included business and government purchases of computer and communications equipment, software, and IT consulting and outsourcing services -- it did not include their purchases of telecommunications services, which are declining in the US and growing slowly globally.

Our forecast did recognize three threats to economic growth, and thus three risks to our forecast: 1) a failure to reach a sensible resolution to raise the US debt ceiling and start on a path to lower budget deficits; 2) a failure of European governments to reach a sensible resolution to the Greek debt crisis that lowered the Greek debt burden and reduced the risk of a broader debt crisis that included Italy and Spain; and 3) overreaction by China and India to rising inflation that reduced their growth. 

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Is Marketing The Biggest Opportunity For IT Since The Internet?

Nigel Fenwick

In today’s fast-paced global economy, examples of how empowered customers and citizens use social technology to influence everything from brands to governments are all around us. The Arab Spring clearly shows the ability of technology to empower people. In this new digital age, marketing teams must react at the speed of the market: Product development life cycles that used to last many years are compressed into months or weeks; customer service expectations have moved from same-day response to instant response; public relations snafus must be handled in minutes rather than days; marketing campaigns are adjusted in real time based on instant feedback from social media. In this new era, mastering customer data becomes the key to success and, in my opinion, represents the biggest opportunity for IT to impact business results since the dawn of the Internet.

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Mobilize Your Collaboration Strategy

Ted Schadler

Here's the 411 on that:

1. We published a new report called, you guess it, "Mobilize Your Collaboration Strategy." It describes eight collaboration apps that employees need, crave, want, and are getting (with or without your support) on the mobile devices.

2. We also make the argument that client/server is the wrong architecture to deliver mobile collaboration apps to a workforce already expert in iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry and trained by Angry Birds and Google Maps. The right architecture is the mobile app Internet -- read more about that here. See our complete analysis and a forecast of the size of the mobile apps & services market in a Forrester report here.

3. Our Content & Collaboration IT clients have found this report and presentation a good way to introduce mobile strategy and the mobile app Internet to their teams. (We've delivered it a half a dozen times in the past few weeks.)

4. The media has found this interesting enough to write about it. (ReadWriteWeb, CIO UK, and GigaOM included.)

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How Successfully Is Your Organization Using Social Technologies?

Nigel Fenwick

Let's face it, there are plenty of examples emerging of organizations doing great things with social technologies -- but just how many are having a measurable impact on their organization's goals?

If you think your organization is already doing great things with social technology you may be right. If you are seeing measurable results, I encourage you to nominate your organization for a Groundswell award.

What's a Groundswell award? Josh Bernoff, one of the authors of Groundswell, explains the history of the award in his blog here. Each year we review multiple nominations across various categories of social technology use; we identify the examples we believe best demonstrate the criteria for winning each award. We have categories that include internal and external uses of social technologies, and we're especially interested to see examples of strong collaboration between IT and Marketing. This is the fifth year we are running these awards (you can see past winners here and a full list of award categories below).

The 2011 award categories include:
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"The Future Of Mobile Is User Context": What It Means For Content & Collaboration Professionals

Ted Schadler

My colleague Julie Ask has just published an important report, "The Future Of Mobile Is User Context," introducing how companies will use the new intelligence and capabilities of smartphones to deliver better customer experiences in their own context. I quote here from her report:

"In the future, improving the convenience of mobile services will be achieved via improving the use of context in delivering mobile experiences. Consumer product strategists must anticipate what their customers want when they fire up their phones and launch an application or mobile website. Intuit’s SnapTax, for example, must leverage a customer’s home state to file the appropriate tax forms.

"To help consumer product strategists get ahead of this evolving expectation, Forrester has defined a vocabulary to help consumer product strategists discuss, plan, and execute on the opportunity to deliver services, messages, and transactions with full knowledge of the customer’s current situation. Forrester calls this the customer’s 'mobile context' and defines it as:

"The sum total of what your customer has told you and is experiencing at the moment of engagement.

"A customer’s mobile context consists of his:

  • "Situation: the current location, altitude, environmental conditions, and speed the customer is experiencing.

  • "Preferences: the history and personal decisions the customer has shared with you or with his or her social networks.

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Business Models Trump Technology As Enablers Of Gov2.0

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Local governments continue to evaluate their short- and long-term objectives and the tools they need to achieve them.  As they do, it is increasingly obvious that those tools include not only the technologies to transform their internal processes and external citizen programs and services.  The business model – how the cities partner and purchase – is the most important enabler to a technology-driven government transformation.  Governments no longer – if they ever really did – go out and purchase technology.  Rather as governments increasingly turn to technology-driven solutions, they are pushing vendors to adopt business models that have long been popular in larger infrastructure-based public works projects – public private partnerships (PPPs). 

The PPP model, however, has been a daunting proposition for many vendors.  I’ve heard many technology vendor strategists state categorically:

“PPPs are not in our DNA.”

“We do them if we have to.”

“Our competitors are driving us in that direction.”

But more recently, particularly in the context of the smart city opportunities, tech vendor strategists are embracing alternative business models.  They still, however, tend to avoid the term PPP – although the models chosen are all forms of “partnership” with the public entities they are serving.  Here are four examples:

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