Nike Allegedly Lays Off FuelBand Hardware Engineers: Are Pedometers A Commodity?

Julie Ask

Nike reportedly laid off their hardware engineers from the FuelBand team. (See CNET) Financial analysts are speculating that it is to focus on software. Besides, hardware is difficult and the margins tend to be low. We've seen it with product recalls and free replacements from competitors Jawbone and Fitbit. It is difficult to ship excellent hardware products consistently. 

My point of view:

1) I have about 5 wearable devices and 4 mobile apps on my phone to track my steps, active calorie burn, route, etc. I wear bulky devices with built in heart rate monitors. I wear a Nike FuelBand and other single purpose devices. I compare the data I collect from the different devices. Last week on a day I burned more than 1,200 active calories and 1,200 inactive calories, two devices were within 2 calories of each other. One was simple - no display. One was bulkier with a full range of sensors. Nike has been more focused on active calorie burn than total burn - which as a runner - is what I want. Mobile apps can do this, too. 

2) Mobile apps scale faster with almost no barriers to acquisition. The same CNET article reported that Nike has added 10 million users to its Nike+ platform since August 2013 growing from 18 million to 28 million users. 

3) Nike's resources will be better spent figuring out how to ingest more data sources and improving their (software =  mobile app) engagement with consumers. The engagement mechanics within the mobile app are the key to shifting consumer behavior. (See Forrester mHealth report)

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How Mobile Shifted Are Your Customers?

Julie Ask

We talk about the notion of the Mobile Mind Shift in our upcoming book

We define the mobile mind shift as: the expectation that I can get what I want in my immediate context and moments of need. We'll be releasing a tool to measure how shifted your customers are. We focus a lot of our attention on mobile apps - those services that have been designed to meet consumer needs on the go. According to Flurry, about 13% of consumers reach for apps on their phones more than 60 times per day. And it's growing fast!

Flurry just released some numbers to show how often consumers reach for their phones:

Usage-Based Insurance Onboarding: It's All In The Packaging

Ellen Carney

Alright, I admit it.  I'm not necessarily the most loyal insurance customer.  I like mixing things up to test out different experiences, which means that if you're my insurance company, I'm going to talk about you in my job...a lot.  

Back in 2012 when I was writing the US Secure Auto  Insurance Site Rankings report, I changed my car insurance to Progressive (so underwhelmed was I by their predecessor, I can't remember the name of the insurer, just that I got from my agent).  And I not only changed to Progressive, I also switched from a traditional auto policy to the company's usage-based insurance coverage, SnapShot.  

A few days after signing up, I was surprised to get this box in the mail--note the SnapShot logo on the packaging tape (and trust me that there's a Progressive logo on both ends of the box).  Best of all, there was a compelling call to action on the box:  "Plug In Today!"

                                                                    

And inside the shipping container?  This smaller box, about the size of...the box an engagement ring might come in.  Oh my!  I felt like I was about to go with Flo on a Thelma and Louise-like adventure, assuming that we'd be safer drivers than they were, at least when the movie ended. 

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The Age Of The Customer Drives North American Insurers To Take Five Customer Actions In 2014

Ellen Carney

Once upon a time, insurers sat in the power seat when it came to their interactions with policyholders.  The insurers understood the magic behind how insurance was sold, how premiums were calculated, and how claims were adjudicated. Those days are gone. In the Age Of The Customer, consumers are changing the rules and who wield the power. Thanks to all things digital, consumers have shifted from being passive sideliners and are willing — and able — to play more active and demanding roles across the insurance business. That means that digital must now be a core underpinning of an insurer’s customer experience philosophy, not an endpoint.

Just what are the factors propelling North American insurer agendas this year? For starters, it’s about:

  • Booming growth in revenues and profits. 2013 was a very good year for most North American insurers --the best since the financial crisis. Many are sitting on hefty policyholder surpluses and capital.
  • The fallout from HealthCare.gov. Balancing political winds with project management reality heaped more pressure on already stressed health plans, thanks to shifting deadlines, relaxed employer mandates, and zombie health plans. And as a result, trust across the broad healthcare ecosystem was undermined.
  • The risk of emerging insurers to meet the needs of digitally empowered consumers. Consumers are getting being trained to expect even more from their digital interactions. New insurers are coming to market offering new digital experiences that simplify, personalize, empower, and reassure customers.
  • Extreme weather. US and Canadian insurers have shifted to a posture of adaptation, and are looking to arm policyholders with new tools to better protect them from natural hazard risks.
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European Insurers Wake Up To Digital Disruption

Oliwia Berdak

Calculating and avoiding risk is at the core of insurance. So what are we to make of the fact that insurance executives top our list of professionals who think that the digital disruption of their industry is imminent?[i] We should take it seriously, seeing it as admirable clairvoyance rather than blind fear. Unlike many other industries, at least insurers know the risks they’re facing. But will they act upon this vision? They might have no other choice.

Digital disruption has arrived in insurance. In our new report on trends in European digital insurance, we show that years of slow growth, low consumer trust, and heavy regulation have weakened incumbents. Meanwhile, customer expectations have been rising, fuelling the appetites of startups and companies not traditionally associated with insurance, such as digital platforms, car manufacturers, utility companies, telcos, and sensor and wearable manufacturers, whose utility and access to consumer data has placed them dangerously close to the core of insurance.

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Facebook Announces Nearby Friends Feature

Julie Ask

Facebook today announced a new optional feature– the ability to see which friends, or friends within a created group, are nearby. The social network is smartly looking to better serve its members who have made the mobile mind shift, expecting to get what they want in their immediate context and moment of need. In this case – knowing when a friend is nearby.

Prviacy will be a concern with this feature, but users are protected by opt-in’s and by only mentioning how close someone is, not their specific location. Connecting directly in person requires a number of steps including messaging and permission. A few thoughts:

1) This isn’t original, but Facebook has a better shot at success than the original services. 

About 10 years ago, Sam Altman started a company called Loopt that he sold about two years ago to Green Dot for $43.4M. It started out as friends connecting, but eventually needed to make money. Mobile advertising wasn’t a big market 10 years ago – in fact, it is still somewhat small today. But Facebook has two key advantages now: first, they have more than one billion users so they don’t have to recruit (and many of my friends will already have the app on their phone). Second, they don’t have pressure to make money near term. Facebook will win if even 5% or 10% of their members adopt. 

2) It’s a smart mobile app development strategy.

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Navigating the New Digital Landscape

Martin Gill

I’m writing this on the train. On my iPad. Connected to the internet (albeit intermittently, thanks to the occasional tunnel) while trundling through the British countryside. I booked my ticket online with Expedia. I used the Trainline app to check the most up to date timetable info just before I left the office. Digital is enhancing my journey. Making it easier.

Every single one of my fellow travelers, with the exception of the sleeping Hipster opposite me, has immersed themselves in their own digital worlds. They tap the screens of smartphones. They watch movies on their tablets. They type meeting notes on their laptops.

The world has gone digital.

But that’s not a surprise, right? Digital is a boardroom topic these days. C-level executives who barely had the faintest notion of what “digital” was a few years ago are waking up the threat that digital disruption poses to their business. Spurred on by apocryphal tales of iconic brands who flushed their futures down the digital toilet, they are facing the reality that their businesses need to take digital seriously.

But here’s the kicker. While senior executives in many firms may now understand the importance of digital for their firm’s survival, few know what to do about it.

At Forrester, we recently ran one of our largest ever global executive surveys in partnership with Russell Reynolds. We asked firms about their digital strategies. Here’s what we found:

  • Seventy three percent of firms that think they have a digital strategy. If this sounds high, that’s because many of these firms are mistaking the fact that they have a website, or a mobile app, as having a digital strategy.
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Augmented Reality Graduates From Gimmicks To Utility

Julie Ask

Augmented reality has represented the potential for the magical enhancement of our physical world through digital content. (See report) Too many of the use cases today - especially in marketing - have been gimmicks leaving a user to scratch his head and think, "I don't get it." Some have offered entertainment. Some have delivered games and rewards (e.g., Zappar). A few have offered true utility in a consumer's mobile moment - Amazon, Yelp, or the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (see case study) by simplifying the discovery and consumption of simple, 2D information. 

Finally, we are beginning to see more examples of how augmented reality can offer true utility to consumers in those mobile moments when they are struggling to complete a task. In this example, Mitek uses AR to help correct or guide a consumer's use of the camera to send or input information to a bank or service. This offers one example of why companies need to continue to revisit emerging technologies. They can very quickly move from gimmicky to reality. Mobile shifts consumer expectations very quickly. 

 

Use Forrester's European Retail Segmentation to Understand Complex Customer Behavior

Martin Gill

Digital disruption is both an opportunity and a threat.

 

In the age of the customer, firms that assume that what made them successful in the past will continue to drive competitive advantage in the future are doomed to failure. But as a counterpoint, those firms that embrace the opportunity digital technologies bring to get closer to their customers by creating contextually relevant, personalized customer experiences will thrive. That’s the theory, but what does it look like in practice?

 

This week, two major UK grocery firms paint opposite ends of the digital spectrum.

 

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European Retail Segmentation: Emerging Patterns Of Multitouchpoint Shopping

Michelle Beeson

Consumers are embracing an increasing number of devices and touchpoints to shop – this we know and at Forrester we call this the mobile mind shift. But eBusiness professionals still need to figure out the relative influence each touchpoint has on their customers’ shopping behavior in order to determine where to focus their efforts. Should you follow the likes of House of Fraser with a mobile first web presence? How do your customers use your digital presence for research pre-purchase?

Forrester’s new retail segmentation helps eBusiness executives answer these questions by providing a framework to map out the complex ecosystem of touchpoints and devices their customers use to shop. The segmentation identifies increasingly sophisticated multi-touchpoint shopping behaviors and helps eBusiness executives to identify critical touchpoints to create the most relevant shopping experiences for customers across markets.

Our new report focuses on the nuances of shopper behavior across European markets and Martin Gill’s recent report provides a global overview.

Here’s how European shoppers differ:

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