Announcing The Forrester Wave: Mobile Commerce And Engagement Platforms, Q1 2016

Brendan Witcher

Robust mobile commerce platforms are no longer a “nice to have” for retail organizations. A recent Shop.org and Forrester Research survey indicates that smartphone sales accounted for 17% of total retail sales in 2015, and that sales from smartphone devices grew 53% year-over-year.

With mobile’s stake now planted so firmly in the ground, it is critical that the technology solutions used to support transactional mobile sites and apps provide the scalability and flexibility required today to stay ahead of the innovation curve tomorrow. With this in mind, we are pleased to announce that the Forrester Wave evaluation of mobile commerce and engagement platforms is now live.

Among mobile commerce and engagement platforms, which Forrester defines as commercial solution partners for the technology, development, and/or ongoing support of their mobile websites and/or mobile apps, we have identified four core competency traits. These include:

  • An obsession for mobile commerce trends and metrics. The best of these vendors do not just build and support mobile technology; they live and breathe mobile commerce — it's in their DNA. This means they are at the forefront of what works and what doesn't when it comes to how mobile experiences support conversion metrics.
  • A continually evolving, common platform on which they support all of their clients. Unlike traditional agencies, these vendors are not building tailored capabilities for each client. Instead they onboard all of their clients onto a common (often software-as-a-service [SaaS] based) platform.
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How to embrace new digital business models

Martin Gill

The mass adoption of consumer broadband in the late nineties and early 2000’s helped firms like Amazon, Expedia and Intuit establish new business models and new ways of scaling to millions of customers. Selling products online and empowering customers to find the best deals on travel or financial services products changed market dynamics in a range of industries. But things aren’t slowing down. Quite the opposite, in fact.

 

Digital continues to change how your firm makes money. Perhaps not fundamentally yet for your firm, but don’t kid yourself, there are changes afoot. There’s obvious examples:

 

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Should Financial Services Firms Engage With Fintech Startups?

Oliwia Berdak

At least two dozen accelerators and incubators have been launched by financial services firms in the last two years. I believe that in five years’ time, most of these corporate accelerators will have disappeared. Why? A fully-fledged, multi-startup accelerator is expensive to run. The cost of searching, selecting, and providing seed investment and support for startups could easily reach $1 million a year.  Many accelerators aren’t focused enough on customer problems or business objectives to deliver return on that investment.

So why are so many banks, insurance, and wealth management firms eager to loosen their purse-strings? Some want to identify and co-opt future disruptors, others are looking to startups for innovation. There’s been a palpable change of tone in discussions of digital disruptors in retail financial services. The ubiquitous stories about voracious startups that want to eat incumbents’ lunch have been replaced by tales of successful collaboration. Financial technology startups deliver innovation, established firms bring customers, and together they live happily ever after.

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Only Sophisticated And Innovative P2P Lending Platforms Will Survive In China

Zhi-Ying Ng

China is now the largest P2P lending market in the world. In just the first half of 2015, people exchanged RMB 300 billion ($47 billion) on more than 2,000 P2P lending platforms. As P2P lending in China reaches a tipping point, we expect many platforms to fail, and only sophisticated and innovative platforms will survive and thrive.

The “Q&A: Peer-To-Peer Lending Platforms In China” report takes an in-depth look at P2P lending platforms in China,  including the main players, key differences between Chinese P2P lending platforms and those in the UK and US, the problems that Chinese P2P lending marketplaces address, challenges P2P lending platforms face, as well as best practices in the P2P lending industry.

While the potential for P2P lending in China is huge, the challenges that lie ahead for these companies are significant. To succeed, P2P lending companies must overcome barriers related to the external environment that they operate in and the operational obstacles that their platform face such as:

  • Fraud. Widespread fraud and embezzlement in P2P lending tarnishes the entire industry, damaging well-run marketplaces as well as the immediate victims of fraud. Many of China's P2P lending platforms are not transparent, failing to disclose their revenues, expenses or fund allocation.
  • Regulation. In late December last year, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) published new draft rules calling for closer supervision of the P2P lending sector. Some of these regulations include establishing a third-party depository of customer funds, requiring P2P lending platforms to improve disclosure, and prohibiting platforms from building capital pools.
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Global Payments Acquisition of Heartland Payments a Sign of Things to Come

Brendan Miller

Global Payments Announced on Tuesday that is planning to buy Heartland Payment Systems, a rival payment processor for $4.3 billion in cash and stock.  The two companies’ combined will be the 6th largest U.S. payment acquirer based on card purchase volume and the largest U.S acquirer based on active merchant locations (using March 2015 Nilson data to re-calculate the size of the new company).    

Global Payments gets Heartland’s direct sales force focused on selling to higher margin SMB merchants as well as new ISV and Reseller distribution relationships for its OpenEdge Integrated Payments Channel.  Global also gains a stronger U.S. presence in restaurant, retail and education verticals.

  • The new combined company will need to determine how to avoid channel conflict with Heartland’s POS companies, Xpient, pcAmerica, Dinerware and Liquer POS.  OpenEdge has operated with a strict mantra not to compete against the channel in the past.  Heartland Payments has had a more blended go-to-market strategy – enabling its direct sales to sell its POS systems while simultaneously developing ISV/Reseller channel.
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Don't Build A Digital Strategy; Digitize Your Business Strategy

Martin Gill

Business leaders don't think of digital as central to their business because in the past, it hasn't been. But now your customers, your products, your business operations, and your competitors are fundamentally digital. To win in this new world, digital leaders must reimagine their businesses as fundamentally digital. Do this, and you can become a digital predator; fail, and your business will become digital prey.

This isn’t a fundamentally new message from Forrester. We’ve been saying this for a couple of years now. But what we have done is update our thinking and our data on the subject based on our most recent research and a major new survey in partnership with Odgers Berndtson.

The result is that we’ve updated the Digital Business Imperative- the anchor document for our Digital Business Transformation playbook. In some ways it's disturbing reading, because while the overwhelming majority of executives now acknowledge that digital will disrupt their industry, just over a quarter think that their firm has an appropriate strategy in place to respond.

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Yahoo’s Challenge: Mobile. Yahoo’s Answer: China.

Julie Ask

Yahoo’s board met yesterday amidst disappointing financial results that have failed to live up to the expectations of its investors. Prevailing rumors suggest that the board under pressure from investors will vote to break apart the business and sell the pieces.

While it is true that the majority of Yahoo’s revenue comes from online advertising, the future is clearly mobile. Mobile phone numbers are more important than email addresses, and consumers already use their mobile phones more than two hours a day in the U.S. Global expansion depends on mobile.

Power in mobile depends on two core factors: audience and data. Here’s why.

Audience will draw in developers, advertisers and service providers. Today in mobile, audience depends on a strong presence in social networking, instant messaging, and media (e.g., video, music, games, news and books).

Data is the context that drives the value of the audience. The more context brands have about consumers to offer them insights about needs and motivations, the better brands can win, serve and retain those customers in their mobile moments. Winning in data includes access to email, browser, maps, search, wallet, commerce, health, fitness, home and automotive data - as a start. Those who own the mobile OS (e.g., Apple, Google and Microsoft in the U.S.) own the trump card in data.

Simply put, despite a host of strategic mobile acquisitions (e.g., social media, mobile analytics) and new talent, Yahoo! is still too small. It lacks the scale of Facebook or Google. This makes Yahoo a good partner, but not the booming, independent success that each of these businesses has become.

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Predictions 2016: eBiz Professionals’ Influence Continues to Expand

Patti Freeman Evans

2016 is looking busy for eBusiness professionals, who hold an increasingly important role as digital leaders in their organizations. They’ve been in strategic and operational roles, driving digital transformation throughout their companies. Their hand in new developments such as digital store or branch, mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT) proves that this role is core to productive, current, and rapidly evolving firm. 

In 2016, Forrester believes that:

Top digital leaders will get poached by other firms. As lagging firms wake up to the current competitive reality in 2016, they will actively look to those leading digital transformation in the service of customer obsession to find top talent.  And they’ll be looking across verticals — not just within their own competitive set.

Mobile takes business beyond digital channels, roles, and responsibilities. Only 4% of the executives we surveyed have the organization, technology, and talent to engage consumers proactively in their mobile moments, but 14% aspire to do so.  To address this gap, many companies will create mobile centers of excellence where digital leaders will be key players. In this role, they will orchestrate the use of mobile throughout the organization, driving cross-role collaboration.

Digital ecosystems will accelerate — particularly with mobile. As more organizations look to serve their customers across multiple touchpoints and an evolving journey, digital pros will help tie them together via partner ecosystems.  These ecosystems will connect with customers across their personal ecosystems. For example, digital pros will create new partnerships with mobile platforms as consumers spend time in fewer apps.

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Announcing Forrester’s Inaugural Wave Evaluation of Subscription Billing Platforms

Lily Varon

Few industries are immune from the digitization of experiences, content, services, and products. In this era of cloud computing, IOT and mobile devices, firms are increasingly testing new product offerings that combine elements of content, software, services, and hardware together. Like the evolution of the products themselves, the rulebook on monetizing them is also evolving: firms are replacing the simple one-time sales models of yore with subscription and consumption-based business models that better sustain a continuous relationship with their customers. But unfortunately, in most cases, firms’ existing technology ecosystem doesn’t support the complex requirements of supporting a subscription business model- from customer lifecycle management to finance management.  Enter: subscription billing platforms.

Forrester has identified the eight leading vendors in the space and spent the last four months putting them through a grueling process of due diligence, product demos, capability assessments and customer reference checks. Here’s what we found.

■  Aria Systems, SAP hybris billing, and Zuora lead the pack. These three vendors represent thought leadership and the associated market innovation. All three commonly go head-to-head in opportunities at both midmarket and enterprise firms and in both B2C and B2B monetization scenarios. Each of the three has developed core industry vertical expertise in sectors such as IOT, healthcare, and telco and has established mature partnerships with global management consultancy and system integration firms.

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Predictions 2016: The Digital Store Engagement Surprise

Adam Silverman

We’ve all been told time again that the in-store shopping experience is undergoing seismic change. Technologies such as beacons, omnichannel fulfillment and in-store analytics have promised to change the definition of how a retail store engages with customers. And although iron-clad digital store success stories are few and far between, stores will continue to chase the digital store dream despite not knowing the precise endgame. A handful of market leaders are implementing digital store initiatives that will act as lighthouses to the rest of the industry, showing a glimpse of what's possible with the right strategy.

In 2016, Forrester believes that:

Digital operational improvements will emerge as the golden child of store digitization. Trying to engage shoppers with shiny new technologies makes for some pretty flashy headlines, but does little to boost the retailer’s bottom line. On the other hand, store operations-focused technologies have shown early, but real, results. Tools such as in-store analytics and associate task management are ushering in a new era of store efficiency, using real-time insights to help associates understand what needs to get done and when.  The smartest retailers will start combining data from sources like online behavior, in-store analytics, supply chain, and labor planning to make operational decisions in real time. 

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