CI Fail: Contextual Relevance Gone Bad

Srividya Sridharan

Rarely do moments like this occur. Last week, while watching the evening news (yes, I still watch news), I was horrified by the continued coverage of the cruise ship disaster in Italy. But, while watching the coverage, I was wading through my mail and opened a direct mail piece (also a rare event) that I had just received. To my horror, I found an offer from American Express to sign up for the Costa Concordia cruise. Worse still, it offered to “immerse” me in a truly European experience. To make things even worse, notice the typo in the headline?

While marketers strive to achieve messaging relevance that would make you stop what you’re doing and take notice, this execution in particular was a case of bad timing and lack of foresight into the implications of marketing campaigns already in flight.

What lessons does this highlight for customer intelligence (CI)?

  • Agility. In our research, we find that direct mail is one of the top channels that CI professionals favor over other channels. Despite CI’s heavy use of direct mail, this faux pas no doubt occurred because of the cycle time between the cruise ship disaster and the direct mail drop.
    • CI Pros: Speed up CI processes to provide greater organizational value. Apply principles of agile development to CI, especially to channels that are not inherently real-time, such as direct mail in this case.
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Google Data Integration: Could It Drive PIDM Adoption?

Fatemeh Khatibloo

Yesterday, Google announced that, effective March 1, it would be creating a single view of users across the majority of its products and services and creating a single, simplified, global privacy policy to cover the new approach.

Now, as a customer intelligence analyst, I preach a “consolidated view of the customer” to clients nearly every day. I advise retailers, CPGs, and others that creating an optimal experience for customers is nearly impossible without having a clear understanding of their needs and preferences, across all channels and lines of business. But what Google’s doing extends well past traditional “single view” and into “personal data locker” territory.

On the face of it, Google claims that it’s making these changes for the same reason: to improve the user experience. But to remain profitable and keep providing free services to several hundred million users, Google will also use its vastly increased insight about users to sell better targeted (read: more expensive) ads to advertisers. 

Is Google’s new policy PIDM-friendly?

I wanted to look at how these changes map to the principles that companies must follow to be successful as personal identity management emerges. Here’s my take:

  • Privacy: Google’s new privacy policy is a good one. It’s simply written, well constructed, and fairly concise. It’s almost global, excluding only a handful (Chrome, Wallet, Books, DoubleClick) of its businesses. However, while the policy allows broad-brush opt-outs, its failure to provide its granular controls over what’s shared between properties and devices is a major miss.
     
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How Data Sensitive Are Your Customers?

Fatemeh Khatibloo

Most marketers and customer intelligence (CI) pros tend to lump together most types of customer data. Sure, things like passwords and social security numbers are considered more "sensitive," but for the most part, the systems that protect all the data -- and the privacy policies that communicate their capture and governance -- are largely the same.

This model used to work just fine. But in an era where consumers are becoming increasingly aware of data capture, data breaches, and the value of personal data, it's not enough to treat all data (nor all customers) the same. In researching our latest report, "Personal Identity Management Success Starts With Customer Understanding," we found that:

  • Individuals see different types of data differently -- they're most worried about what we consider individual identity data, and far less concerned about the capture and use of their behavioral data
  • Most consumers are willing to share their data in exchange for value. But, what they consider "valuable" is very age-dependent -- in other words, the same consumer isn't equally motivated by discounts and cash rewards. 
  • A surprising number of consumers "just say no" if a privacy policy doesn't pass their sniff test, and the numbers seem to be rising. 
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Forrester's CPS Practice Welcomes Our Newest Analyst - Denée Carrington!

Carlton Doty

Over the summer, I asked you all whether we are finally headed toward a cashless society. Since then the battle for the digital wallet has certainly heated up. Well today, I am thrilled to announce the newest addition to Forrester's Consumer Product Strategy practice. Her name is Denée Carrington, and she will be joining us as a Senior Analyst, covering consumer payments, starting January 3, 2012. 

To provide more specifics, here's a sneak peek at some of the coverage areas where Denée will be able to help Forrester clients with consumer payment strategy in the new year:

  • Defining the future of consumer payments
  • Managing a portfolio of payment products (e.g. credit, debit, prepaid, contactless, mobile, person-to-person (P2P), etc.)
  • The business models and profitability of these payment systems
  • Understanding the dynamics of customer (consumer and merchant) payment behavior
  • Understanding the payments needs of different markets
  • Sizing the different payments market opportunities
  • Driving customer (consumer and merchant) adoption of payments systems
  • Building and developing new payment systems
  • Optimizing existing payment products to improve security and increase convenience
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Google One-Day Shipping + Google Wallet = PIDM, Phase I?

Fatemeh Khatibloo

By now, you’ve likely read a whole host of stories about Google’s reported play at competing with Amazon’s Prime "one-day shipping" program. The crux of it? The internet giant is planning to leverage its local search product to offer consumers a same-day shipping option if they purchase from a participating retailer.

There are plenty of challenges to this business model, many of which are covered here and here--logistics, data sharing, and cost structure are just three key issues that Google would need to tackle head-on to make such a program viable. Nonetheless, it got me thinking... there’s an aspect of this proposed plan that is awfully intriguing from a Personal Identity Management (PIDM) perspective. 

Google could effectively build the first purchase transaction personal data locker. Here's how:

  • In order to facilitate delivery, Google would have to capture transaction data at the product level.
    • This would let consumers maintain "anytime-anywhere" access to their purchase history. Imagine never again rooting around for a receipt to return an item, or trying to remember which size bags your vacuum cleaner takes.
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Carrier IQ: When CI Should Be Damned

Rob Brosnan

Did you see the news about Carrier IQ covertly capturing Android users' activities for analysis by carriers? Trevor Eckhart, who analyzed the application, writes:

Carrier IQ software, which consists of embedded software on mobile devices and server-side analytics applications, enables mobile operators and device OEMs to understand in detail a wide range of performance and usage characteristics of mobile services and devices. These include both network-facing services such as core voice and data offerings, as well as non-network-facing capabilities such as music players, cameras and other side loaded media, in order to assist with product and service development and roll-out [emphasis added].

Customer Intelligence is not a spying operation. The promise of CI is not reductively commercial. Instead, proper CI practices help businesses – with their customers' consent – to understand the preferences and needs of their customers. Firms also use CI processes and technologies to determine and enforce an optimal and respectful relationship with customers.

What lessons does the Carrier IQ incident highlight?

  • CI pros have an ethical responsibility to customers. CI pros are customer advocates after all. They cannot truly represent customers unless they also help their employers understand appropriate boundaries for data capture. Helping customers also helps businesses, protecting firms from the risk of public outrage and litigation. CI pros: Help your employers understand when data capture goes too far.
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Four Reasons Why ExactTarget's IPO Helps CI Pros

Rob Brosnan

ExactTarget filed an S-1 last Wednesday, November 23, the first step towards an initial public offering (IPO) by the end of March, 2012.1 The company grew substantially over the past several years and is tracking a 55% growth rate in 2011. ExactTarget now services about 4,600 direct clients and reports $148 million in revenue through September 30, 2011. Congratulations to Scott Dorsey and his team for guiding the company to this point.

How will ExactTarget's IPO benefit CI Pros? The IPO can:

  • Provide additional capital for research and development. The funds ExactTarget will raise through the IPO will help transform the company from an email service provider (ESP) into a full-fledged marketing technology platform. Increased R&D will allow the company to evolve through organic development and acquisitions. Both moves will help it to fill out its cross-channel campaign management and Customer Intelligence offerings. CI Professionals at mid-to-large enterprises should expect to see the company move more aggressively to offer enhanced enterprise marketing capabilities.
  • Enhance attractiveness to partners. ExactTarget's IMH has yet to catch on with heavy hitters in analytics, offline channel management, and marketing resource or operations management.2 The quarterly and annual disclosure requirements on ExactTarget could help clarify the company's plans to potential partners and assuage concerns about future competition. Stronger partnerships will lead to additional IMH applications for CI Pros.
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What The Demise Of Flex Means For CI Pros

Rob Brosnan

Earlier today, November 12, Deepa Subramaniam posted on the Flex Team Blog:

Does Adobe recommend we use Flex or HTML5 for our enterprise application development?

In the long-term, we believe HTML5 will be the best technology for enterprise application development.

In the short term, vendors and marketing technologists using Flex for application development can continue without ripping and replacing their user interfaces. Adobe will donate the Flex SDK to an (as yet unnamed) foundation for future development, while still providing support for Flex and the Flash Builder development tool.

Photo by mugley - http://flic.kr/p/4XfysrHowever, Adobe’s clear emphasis on HTML5 – and lack of a recipient for the Flex SDK – create long-term problems for CI pros:

  1. Slowed marketing technology release cycles. Adobe’s announcement throws a wrench into the development cycles for vendors of enterprise marketing technologies that use Flex, such as IBM Coremetrics, SAP, SAS. At some point, vendors that use Flex will need to incorporate a migration from Flex into their development road maps, pulling resources from other product features.
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Wells Fargo's Statement Snafu, Or Why PIDM Isn't Just About Digital

Fatemeh Khatibloo

This week, some Wells Fargo customers in South Carolina and Florida got a nasty surprise. Turns out, a "malfunctioning printer" printed multiple customers' account information (including transactions and, in some cases, Social Security numbers) on the pages of other customers' statements. 

The number of customers affected hasn't been made public -- a real misstep in my opinion, and one which renders Wells Fargo's public apology rather hollow sounding. Remember: Transparency is a key factor in gaining consumer trust in the era of personal identity management.

Aside from the bank's public handling of the matter, though, there's another important issue. Too often, when organizations talk to us about security and privacy, they're focused on digital data. But the truth is, there is plenty of analog data that follows individuals around, from in-store transactions and personal trainer visits to, yup, mailed bank statements. It's not enough for firms to spend millions of dollars protecting consumers' digital footprints if they're not also thinking about both inbound and outbound uses of offline data. 

Does your organization have discipline and governance around the way offline data is captured, managed, and disseminated?

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Silk's Other CI Concern

Rob Brosnan

David Streitfeld at The New York Times' Bits blog comments on Representative Edward Markey's (D-MA) letter to Amazon. Streitfeld says:

But if you use the tablet to post reviews of Italian restaurants on Yelp, Amazon would merely collect that data, bundle it with the fact that a lot of customers in your community seemed to be favorably reviewing Italian restaurants, and then strike a deal with one restaurant to offer discounts, which it would e-mail to you. Some customers might feel tracked; others might not even notice.

David's example is certainly worthy of consideration. Building a database of targeted offers and triggered campaigns from aggregated browse behavior is one way for Amazon to extract value from Silk. It's clearly a striking example for privacy advocates, but it's not the whole story.

Aside from the Customer Intelligence advantages, Amazon's Silk browser also provides the retailer with competitive intelligence (the other CI?). Amazon can watch for products or product combinations purchased on competitor websites, then optimize its merchandise to match or beat those competitors. Besting other retailers doesn't require it to track individual Kindle Fire users or target them through seemingly creepy direct marketing. Instead it can continue to do what it does best -- optimizing its supply chain and catalog -- without appearing to overstep customers' privacy expectations.

The competitive issues raised by Silk are as critical as the individual privacy concerns. 

Are you a retailer who competes with Amazon? What should CI professionals do to combat Amazon's move?