MROCs Are The Missing Piece To The Research Puzzle

Kristopher Arcand

This past summer, we at Forrester continued to explore new and innovative methodologies. One of my highlights was visiting the IIeX conference in Atlanta back in June. And although I was impressed by the variety of new (qualitative) methodologies, it’s rarely a matter of choosing one or the other. The recent GRIT report by GreenBook shows, for example, that many market research online community (MROC) vendors dropped a few places in terms of innovation, but I agree with Andrew Leary from Ipsos SMX that these online communities will continue to play a relevant (and innovative!) role thanks to their flexibility and variability when it comes to size, duration, integration, and scale.

I recently researched the MROC space, interviewing all the major players to understand their capabilities and how they support organizations. I found that there are a number of ways that MROCs aid customer insights professionals, including:

  • Creating a better understanding of consumers’ drivers. MROCs allow us to ask consumers in an open-ended way to describe their experiences across the purchase journey, anywhere from the point they learn about or research the company to when they follow up for customer support. In turn, these findings can have an impact at any level of the organization. These insights become even more valuable for ongoing communities.
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Microsoft Cortana Accelerates The Business Transformation Of Chinese Manufacturers

Gene Cao

Microsoft officially launched Cortana Suites — a key part of Windows Azure Intelligent Cloud — in China last week, together with MySQL Database on Azure. Windows Azure Intelligent Cloud provides real-time analytics and open source database services to Chinese customers in nationwide data centers operated by 21Vianet.

To give Chinese customers a better idea of how to use cloud-based analytics, Windows Azure demonstrated customer usage scenarios involving big data analytics on cloud. The China Meteorological Administration partnered with AccuWeather, using Windows Azure to monitor and analyze air quality data from meteorological satellites and local air monitoring stations in real time.

Chinese manufacturers face challenges from digital service providers that better understand customers and shorten the distance from product design to the end user. After implementing real-time analytics on sensor data and customer behavior, manufacturers can improve their business models via:

  • Product innovation. Chinese manufacturers have started tracking operational data from sensors embedded in their products to manage and predict product upgrade and maintenance cycles. Customers prefer to pay for the time they actually use the equipment — so mechanical manufacturers use cloud analytics to support this sales model. The recent rash of elevator accidents in China primarily involved elevators whose manufacturers had limited labor resources for post-sales services — a common complaint of Chinese elevator manufacturers.
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Coalition Loyalty In The US Shows "Plenti" of Promise

Emily Collins

In May, American Express launched Plenti, a U.S.-based coalition loyalty program with eight partners, including Macy's, AT&T, Exxon Mobil and Rite Aid. These types of programs, which let consumers earn and redeem a single currency across multiple partners, are popular in other areas of the world, but coalitions have historically failed to gain traction in the United States.

Plenti's initial progress indicates that it might buck the trend: It signed up more than 20 million members in its first two months reaching around 16% US household penetration. For reference, established coalitions such as AIR MILES, Nectar and FlyBuys have household penetration rates of more than 50%.

But any decent loyalty marketer knows enrollment doesn’t tell the whole story. Three things, in particular, give coalition in the U.S. a fighting chance:

  • The loyalty program landscape is crowded. Plenti entered the market at a time when companies across industries – from retail to travel/hospitality to automotive – invest in loyalty programs to drive retention, engagement and loyalty. According to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics data, consumers belong to an average of nine loyalty programs. The proliferation of branded programs makes it hard to stand out, and it shows: 58% of loyalty marketers that Forrester surveyed in 2015 indicated they were dissatisfied with their loyalty strategy. Coalition programs offer a differentiated value proposition: members shopping across partners experience an increased earning velocity and wider choices for redemption, which boost the utility and perceived value of the program.
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Welcome to my customer analytics blog!

Brandon Purcell

Greetings!  My name is Brandon Purcell and I am the new Senior Analyst serving Customer Insights professionals at Forrester.  I will cover customer analytics which uses advanced analytics to analyze customer data to optimize customer-focused programs and initiatives to drive acquisition, retention, cross-sell/upsell, loyalty, personalization, and contextual marketing. I am a recovering customer analytics practitioner and come to Forrester from a boutique consulting firm where I led a team of data scientists that helped our clients solve their urgent business challenges by harnessing the latent value in their customer data.  A few highlights from my former life:

  • I helped develop a best in class Voice of the Customer program at one of the country’s largest banks
  • I created and led many trainings in business applications of predictive analytics
  • I built a patented algorithm that uses geospatial data to predict a person’s future location
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Let’s Get Real – Introducing The Forrester Wave™: Real-Time Interaction Management, Q3 2015

Rusty Warner

When I published the Market Overview: Real-Time Interaction Management back in May, I highlighted more than 100 vendors that provide real-time interaction management (RTIM) solutions or solution components.  I outlined in that report how enterprise marketing technology vendors address – to varying degrees – all five RTIM requirements: customer recognition, contextual understanding, decision arbitration, offer orchestration, and measurement and optimization. My Brief: Demystifying Real-Time Interaction Management provides further details and defines RTIM as enterprise marketing technology that delivers contextually relevant experiences, value, and utility at the appropriate moment in the customer life cycle via preferred customer touchpoints.

I’m now pleased to announce the publication of The Forrester Wave™: Real-Time Interaction Management, Q3 2015, which provides a detailed evaluation of eleven enterprise marketing technology vendors in terms of their RTIM solution capabilities. This 35-criteria evaluation includes a diverse group of vendors that address a broad range of RTIM capabilities: Adobe, Experian, IBM, Infor, Oracle, Pegasystems, Pitney Bowes, Salesforce, SAS Institute, SmartFocus, and Teradata.

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Nestle Used The Four Ps To Achieve Social Intelligence

Gene Cao

Nestlé took a different approach to its Chinese social command center than it did in other countries. Nestlé China used the firm’s global digital acceleration team (DAT) framework to create a centralized social command center in its Beijing headquarters.

The four Ps — purpose, people, process, and platform — are all important to establishing a successful social intelligence capability. My recent case study, entitled "Succeed With Social Intelligence In China", shows how Nestlé localized the four Ps to establish a successful social intelligence capability in China. The company:

  • Set measureable goals for social activities. One of the major challenges that Nestlé China faced was how to use social to manage precampaign customers and how to measure the effectiveness of social marketing campaigns. When Nestlé China built its social command center, it set a detailed goal to improve precampaign customer management, including A/B testing of customer usage hypotheses, customer feedback on marketing content, and spokesperson selection satisfaction rates.
  • Hired experienced employees with both global and local social marketing experience. The person that Nestlé China chose to head its social command center was involved in the creation of Nestlé's first social command center outside of China. The company allocated dedicated resources to the platform who had a keen noise filter and could determine which actions the business should take based on the data. It developed regular training sessions for its lines of business and assigned the social expert to share social intelligence findings with the rest of the business.
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Data Digest: Internet of Things Success Requires a Close Partnership Between IT and Business

Marc Jacobson

Survey data from Forrester Research indicates that Internet of Things (IoT) solutions may finally be ready for ‘prime time.’ Business Decision Makers (BDMs) report that IoT has become a top business priority and they are assessing solution feasibility and, in some cases, already investing. IoT will be driven by the business side of the house, but a close collaboration between business and technology management stakeholders is a prerequisite for success. Forrester believes that IoT will ultimately serve as a driving force for the Business Tehcnology (BT) Agenda by changing processes, skills, and the mindset of technology management organizations. 

Forrester Business Technographics® runs a series of annual surveys with business and technology decision-makers measuring technology adoption plans, drivers, barriers and buyer behaviors. Let’s take a closer look at how adoption plans for IoT have evolved over the past year.

Compared with 2014, BDMs surveyed in 2015 were more than twice as likely to report they would begin IoT investment within the next 12 months, 50% more likely to report they were currently implementing or piloting IoT and dramatically less likely to be unfamiliar with IoT adoption plans or report they were not familiar with the technology. In 2015, 49% of BDMs reported that the expansion of IoT initiatives was a “high” or “critical” organizational priority over the coming 12 months.


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China Unicom Monetizes Customer Behavior Data

Gene Cao

China Unicom demonstrated its big data analytics platform, including customer analytics, during the Shanghai World Mobile Congress last week. Huawei is helping China Unicom’s Shanghai affiliate build a big data analytics platform that can collect and analyze customer demographics and operational and behavioral data. For instance, it can estimate a consumer’s monthly income based on annual mobile fees, know whether she is walking or driving, and what routes she regularly takes. Such data is unique and even more comprehensive than that generated by Internet service giants like Baidu, Alibaba, or Tencent. China Unicom will begin to leverage this data analytics platform to monetize data in several ways:


  • Retain customers. China Unicom can predict which high-value customers may be thinking of dropping its services and target marketing based on the customers’ context to retain them. For instance, the system can automatically send a targeted offering when a customer passes by a China Unicom office. In 2014, the telco performed A/B testing among 200,000 Unicom subscribers in Shanghai who were thinking of changing telecom service providers. This helped China Unicom retain RMB 10 million in revenue from those users receiving targeted marketing offerings from the system.
  • Enhance public security. China Unicom uses the platform to help the Shanghai city government to monitor people’s location in the city in real time. The system provides a real-time heat map and automatically sends an alert when it discovers that too many people are crowded into one area. This can help the government avoid accidents such as the one that occurred in the Waitan district of Shanghai last year.
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When Sourcing Enterprise Marketing Capabilities, Start by Understanding Customer Expectations

Michael Barnes


To successfully grow in Asia Pacific (AP), you must excel at understanding customers’ needs, wants, and behaviors and have the capabilities necessary to transform this insight into improved customer engagement. But that’s true everywhere. What sets the AP region apart are the continued vast differences between markets. Appreciating these market differences, and the impact they have on customers’ expectations, is critical when sourcing enterprise marketing capabilities.    

In my recent report, entitled “Consider Regional Factors When Evaluating Enterprise Marketing Software Suites”, I highlight key regional trends affecting marketing priorities and the likely impact on organizations’ marketing technology requirements, including:

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Today's Forecast: Partly Cloudy With A Chance Of Hybrid Deployment

Rusty Warner

I’m a big fan of the cloud – and not because I live in the United Kingdom, which actually gets a lot more sunshine than people think. Seriously, I like the cloud because of the opportunities it brings for enterprise marketing technology deployment. Note that I said “opportunities,” as in potential; although Forrester’s research shows SaaS is the leading factor driving system replacements and net new investments in business applications, there is still work to do where marketing technology is concerned.

But what about all the so-called “marketing clouds” on the market? Surely, they offer cloud-based solutions, right? Cloud-based, yes; exclusively in the cloud, no. Of the eight modules in the Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe Campaign and Adobe Experience Manager remain largely hosted or on-premise solutions today. Within the Oracle Marketing Cloud, loyalty and marketing resource management (MRM) modules offer on-premise deployment options. Last week, IBM announced the IBM Marketing Cloud – based on the Silverpop acquisition, with IBM Campaign (formerly Unica) retaining a “marketing software” description. Even the majority of Salesforce Marketing Cloud customers employ a hybrid model for customer data management.

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