Join Our Global Mobile Executive Survey: We're Extending The Deadline

Julie Ask

For the past two years, Forrester has fielded a Global Mobile Executive Survey to understand and benchmark mobile initiatives. Last year, we surveyed nearly 300 executives leading mobile initiatives within their enterprises. 

To help business executives benchmark and mature their approach to consumer mobile services, we are updating this survey. 

Planning and organizing for the use of mobile technologies is a complex task. Integrating mobile as part of a broader corporate strategy is even more complex. However some players are leading the way and working on infrastructure, staffing, and competencies that are hard to see unless you look closely. If you want to understand the role that mobile is playing in various organizations, what their objectives are, how they measure the success of their mobile initiatives, and a lot more, you just have to share with us your own perspective and we will aggregate the answers. For your efforts, we will share a free copy of the survey results.

If you’re in charge of your company's mobile consumer initiative or if you’re familiar with it, then please take this survey.

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Bitcoin: Some Parts Brilliant, Some Parts Sure To Bomb

Denée Carrington

A version of this post originally appeared on Re/code.

The rollercoaster ride for Bitcoin enthusiasts continued this week: There was good news from UK regulators, who have taken a relatively progressive stance on virtual currencies, and bad news with the latest heist of 890 Bitcoin (roughly $600,000) and the resulting demise of Flexcoin, a Bitcoin storage service. The breaking news frenzy perhaps reached a new peak with the claim that the real Satoshi Nakamoto has been identified. There’s no doubt that additional revelations are on the horizon when it comes to the first crypto-currency, and with that, the debate about the longevity and usefulness of Bitcoin will continue. In our new report on Bitcoin, we address the following questions:

1.       What is Bitcoin?

2.       Who are the main players?

3.       What headway has Bitcoin made?

4.       How viable is Bitcoin as a consumer payment alternative?

5.       Should I worry about crypto-currencies like Bitcoin disrupting my business?

6.       How can I outsmart crypto-currencies?

Here’s the bottom line: Bitcoin is deeply flawed as an alternative currency or payment method for mainstream consumers. It will, however, be a catalyst for a more efficient global payments system because it demonstrates one way to tackle the many embedded inefficiencies.

Bitcoin Is Not A Viable Payment Alternative For Mainstream Consumers

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Creating Customer-Centric eBusiness Experiences In China

Zia Daniell Wigder

On March 19th, I’ll be joining several of my colleagues in Shanghai, China for our Summit for Marketing & Strategy Professionals. One of the themes we’ve been exploring recently is how the age of the customer translates in the Chinese market. During my session at the summit, I will discuss some of the following things that the most customer-obsessed businesses, and savviest eBusiness leaders, are doing to effectively compete in China. These leaders:

Understand their customers and use this information to be as relevant as possible. In China, a growing number of eCommerce players are using customer data to help drive sales online, for example, by providing detailed product recommendations. As in other parts of the world, however, many eBusiness executives in China are at the early stages of truly understanding their customers and using this information to be relevant in their daily lives. We’ll look at how some brands use customer data effectively today, and what some of the more innovative use case scenarios look like in eBusiness.  

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Making The Case For A Direct-to-Consumer Website In China

Kelland Willis

On March 19th I will present at Forrester’s second annual Marketing and Leadership Summit in Shanghai on online direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales opportunities in the Age of the Customer; I will also facilitate a short discussion on the topic with Vincent Lau, Regional Director of eCommerce Asia Pacific for Deckers.  During the track session, Vincent and I will discuss:

How eBusinesses should measure the success of their DTC site. In China, DTC sites can’t generally compete with a marketplace when it comes to traffic and sale volume – the traditional eCommerce metrics. However, they can compete in a handful of other meaningful ways – fashion retailers, for example, report higher average order values, larger margins as a result of not having to sell at discounted rates, and a positive influence on overall sales growth across channels in the region.

How a DTC site compares to marketplace channels. There is no denying that marketplaces dominate the eCommerce landscape in China, and will likely take the lion’s share of online sales for a business, but DTC sites also offer a handful of lucrative advantages. One eCommerce executive noted that the DTC shopper is very different from a marketplace shopper and is ultimately more valuable. Not only do shoppers on DTC sites spend more, they buy across categories, pay full price and engage with the brand in meaningful ways by shopping across channels and categories and contributing to social media communities.

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More Trends In Emerging eCommerce Markets

Zia Daniell Wigder

In our research, we’ve talked about some of the trends that mark early-stage eCommerce markets. This year I’ve been to a few events to talk about how different eCommerce markets are evolving – today we see that:

Retailers’ ownership of logistics networks is now widespread. The model of online retailers owning and operating logistics networks in emerging markets is well established. While there used to be a handful of examples to point to, it’s becoming increasingly common for a number of the top eCommerce players to operate their own logistics networks - Amazon in India is just one recent headline-maker in this area. Indeed, in the BRIC countries today, only Brazil does not currently see many of the leading online retailers operating their own networks.

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Differentiating On The Claims Experience: Why Better Claims Handling Results In Higher Customer Loyalty And Lower Costs

Ellen Carney

For consumers, there are two key insurance moments:  when coverage is bought and then when it’s used, with hopefully a long span of time between the two.  And if there is a claim, then it’s up to the insurer to react to help the claimant recover.  But too often, the claims experience spurs policyholders to consider changing insurers, especially among policyholders who’ve been customers longer (and have been paying premiums longer).[i]  What else happens when there’s a policyholder unhappy about a claim?  Claimants readily take to social bully pulpits with their claims grievances, effectively using Twitter and Facebook to “regulate” insurers into action. 

In addition, they also file complaints with state insurance regulators, an activity that about 34,000 US consumers did in 2013.What’s their biggest gripe?  A look at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) stats reveals that 56% of consumer complaints filed in 2013 were issues related to claims handling, with the biggest chunk, 24%, because of perceived delays. And that’s not counting delays associated with getting referrals, pre-authorizations, and finding willing providers.[ii]

Over the past year, I’ve been involved in a variety of client advisories focused on the claims experience for both consumers as well as insurer work teams responsible for getting claims paid.   Why is the claim experience so easy to go off track?  For starters:

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What Can Microsoft Teach You About Digital Business?

Martin Gill

It’s only crumbling, archaic companies that have to worry about digital disruption, right? Companies that cling to out-moded ways of operating, where out-of-touch, besuited executives languish in mahogany-paneled boardrooms pondering strategy over cigars and brandy.

Oh no. Digital disruption impacts every business and every company.

No matter how “born digital” you may think your firm is, there’s always room to get leaner, meaner and closer to your customers. Take this as an example.

You might think that Satya Nadella, recently appointed Chief Exec of software powerhouse Microsoft, has nothing to worry about. While Microsoft wasn’t strictly “born digital”, it isn’t far off. It boasts an impressive array of digital services in its suite of products – Hotmail, Xbox Live and MSN to name just a few. But Nadella is only too aware that what’s made Microsoft successful in the past will not continue to differentiate it in this uncertain future.

In a recent New York Times interview Nadella was asked about how he wanted to change the culture of Microsoft. He succinctly sums up exactly why every firm must become a digital business:

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Why Did Facebook Buy WhatsApp? Dwindling Supply Of Options To Grab Hundreds Of Millions Of Users ... That Are For Sale

Julie Ask

That's one reason ... but here are a few more .... 

1. 450M active users (Source: NY Times)

2. Adding 1M users daily

3. 70% of MAU use the service daily (Source: TechCrunch)

4. WhatsApp offers users in Europe, Brazil and other emerging markets (= net new audience) (Source: Gravity/Techcrunch)

5. Nearly 200 minutes of usage each week (Source: Mobidia)

6. Facebook gets how to monetize mobile through paid advertising without wrecking the user experience. (In Q4 2013 they crossed over from 49% of revenue from mobile to 53% from a base of 945M mobile monthly active users) Source: Facebook, TechCrunch

 

Why $16B to $19B? I am not a financial analyst, but here are a few thoughts:

- Facebook generated $1.37B in mobile revenue in Q4 2013 on a base of 945M users ... annualized that is $5.80/MAU (monthly active user)

- WhatsApp already generates $1/user for a chunk of their users through a subscription fee (less fee to app store?)

- If WhatsApp users can be monetized at the same value, that adds another 50% approximately in mobile ad revenue

- Facebook reported 914 minutes of use on mobile per month in 2013 (Source: allthingsd.com)

- According to Mobidia, only Kakao Talk has more

- WhatsApp is already located in Si Valley

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Plan The Best Routes To Guide You On Your Mobile Insurance Journey

Ellen Carney

It’s one thing to say where you want to go, but you still have to know how to get there.  If it’s a physical journey like a quick trip to the local store, a meandering trek across Europe, or a digital or business technology initiative that your company is after, getting to the destination or end state demands a road map.    Maps show all the options to get a traveler to the destination; routes are a subset of options to get the mobile traveler there In a hurry?  You’ll take the efficient and direct interstate.  Want to explore and learn?  Your route will take you on back and scenic roads. 

We wanted to learn just how mobile insurance executives took to the mobile road after their strategic plans were approved.  Throughout Q4 2013,   we talked to insurance executives in the US, UK, France, Italy, Israel, the Netherlands, and Turkey who were responsible for turning that mobile strategy into solutions that engaged with consumers and agents.   Crafting a roadmap to guide the mobile journey, stood out as especially key because mobile initiatives are hampered if the execution teams fail to consider the myriad internal and external factors that impact delivery time lines. 

One European carrier we spoke with put it best:  “There’s lack of vision, a lack of focus, and too many people are playing around the edges. That’s giving mobile a bad name in terms of costing money and not giving any benefit for it. List out and create a road map, so you’re clear about what you’re focused on and why.”

Effective Road Maps Embody Three Elements

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Viber Nets $900M From Japan's Rakuten

Julie Ask

Finally - some sensible entrepreneurs. I love it. Viber draws a stark comparison to the owners of SnapChat that turned down $3B not long ago ... and they had far fewer users. With $900M for 300M subscribers, perhaps we are now seeing the market price. (Viber brings Rakuten 300M subscribers according to this Reuters article.) 

Why did Rakuten want the platform? I'll offer a few ideas:

- Companies need to embrace the mobile mind shift and engage consumers where they are and how they want to be engaged. Today and increasingly so - consumers expect engagement on their mobile devices, whether they are shopping or seeking customer service. Companies need to be present in those moments when consumers reach for their phones. 

- Viber isn't simply an app. It may have started as an app, but like so many others with aspirations ... it has transformed from an app to a platform. I may not need 200 apps on my phone. I may not want 50. Not every brand will earn a spot or be able to manufacture a mobile moment with me through an app on my phone. Brands are going to have to "borrow mobile moments" by engaging with consumers on third party platforms. Consumers need a messaging or communication app, a mapping app, and what else? The question is: how long will this list be. 

- Audience size matters. Everyone says, "oh, we could just go build this ourselves." But it takes a special app to get several hundred million users. I can't even count the number of social media/messaging apps that I have downloaded, used 2-3 times and abandoned because the size of the community was too small. Consider also that these apps draw up to a couple of hundred minutes of usage a week. 

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