Unilever Buys Dollar Shave Club To Become Digital Direct

Ted Schadler

Unilever is the latest in a long string of enterprise giants to acquire digital. It acquired the digital-native startup, Dollar Shave Club, for $1 billion. I've been telling the Dollar Shave story lately as a way to describe the disruption possible when a company uses digital technology to establish a direct relationship with a customer. Dollar Shave Club is in its customers' daily shower and conscienciousness. It's a digital disruptor, not because it has a revolutionary product. It's because it has a revolutionary relationship.

What should you take away from this Dollar Shave Club deal?

  • Digital disruption starts with a direct customer relationship. Sure, sometimes digital is about new products and services. But it's always about a direct relationship with customers. That's what's so scary to traditional industries with their indirect distribution models. Unilever has sold through distribution for time and memorial. It doesn't know its customers except through the lens of research and somes times purchased sales data. No longer. Now it can know its customers as Under Armour is starting to.
  • Digital strategy is about bridging the gap between your core capabilities and what customers want. For large firms, you don't need to reinvent your core capabilities to become digital. You instead need to recognize that digital is the way customers want to buy, engage, and get service, so you must give them the tools they expect. Dollar Shave Club sells razors. It just sells them conveniently at a great price. That puts digital within reach of every company.

There will be a lot more digital direct deals like this. Direct customer relationships are one vector of our digital future.

Valuable services lurk behind confused marketing of 'managed cloud'

Paul Miller

(Confusing messages. Image by Wikimedia Commons user 'Melburnian')

Again and again, we hear examples of companies struggling as they try to realise the benefits of moving to cloud. They know what they want to achieve as a business, they know that cloud can help, but they cannot translate that understanding into the way they specify, procure, and run the technology.

There are plenty of organisations willing to help, offering everything from design and migration services through to management of infrastructure and applications on an ongoing basis. Even in the public cloud world, it's easy to find companies eager to take your money, and then start and stop workloads on your behalf.

But, as the blurb for my latest report states,

"Cloud computing changes the way that applications are designed, built, and run. It is often part of a broader organizational change, as enterprises move to embrace digital opportunities. Providers of managed cloud solutions need to recognize this shift: They must do more than simply run a customer’s computers. But CIOs seeking a trusted partner to assume this broader role find that too many managed cloud offerings fail to rise above basic management of infrastructure."

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Win Hearts and Minds With Livestreaming

Nick Barber

Over the next few weeks US voters will focus on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and their running mates at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Their messages will carry well beyond traditional TV with the help of livestreaming. The Republican National Convention in Cleveland will provide a 360 livestream. This will be one of the first high profile events streamed in 360 degrees. Twitter announced a deal with CBS to livestream the conventions whenever they are in session.


Image: Facebook Live has a map of every current live broadcast globally.

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Responsive Web Design Is Not Mobile First

Ted Schadler

My colleague and coauthor Julie Ask and I are watching with dismay as company after company shrinks its desktop website down to a small screen using responsive web design (RWD) techniques so it fits on – but isn’t optimized for – smartphones.

Companies have delightedly embraced responsive web design as the one-size-fits-all solution to mobile, tablet, and desktop sites. In a recent survey of digital business professionals, we found that 93% are using, piloting, or planning to pilot responsive web design.

That sounds great on paper. After all, RWD is a very practical approach to developing websites that render on any device. But when mobile tasks diverge from desktop tasks as they often do in commerce, the one-size-fits-all approach taken by most responsive retrofits will fail to delight or even satisfy customers on smartphones or desktops.

People do different things on their smartphones than on their desktops or tablets (see figure). To delight and serve your customers in their mobile moments of need, you need to give them exactly what they need to move forward in their immediate context. So if you can't reach all customers with an app – AND YOU WON’T! – you will need to deliver an app-like mobile web experience.

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Brexit Vote Means Weaker UK And European Tech Market In 2016 And 2017

Andrew Bartels

As soon as the news of the Brexit vote in the UK came out, the Forrester team began revising our UK and European tech market forecast to take into account the economic implications and uncertainties of the voters’decision that the UK should leave the EU. Based on this revised analysis, we predict the UK tech market will grow by just 1% (pounds sterling) in 2016 with zero growth in 2017, compared with our prior forecast of 5% in both years.

Europe as a whole, will post no growth in 2016 (euros), and just 1% growth in 2017  two percentage points slower than our earlier forecast. With the plummeting pound and enervated euro, European tech market measured in US dollars will be similarly weak with 0.2% growth in 2016 and 1.1% in 2017.

The slowing of UK and European tech market growth results from multiple uncertainties created by the Brexit vote coming on top of what was already a weak and shaky European economy. As a result:

  • The UK economy, which had been outperforming most of the Eurozone countries, will take a hit. The Belgian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, and Swiss economies, which are growing by 1-1/2% or less, are vulnerable to declines, with Italy especially exposed due to a looming banking crisis.
  • Greece and Portugal are struggling once again, with threats of renewed recessions leading to declines in tech spending.
  • The only countries with decent economic growth and above average tech market growth are Ireland and Spain in the Eurozone, and Sweden, Poland, and other Central European countries outside it.
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Forrester’s CX Marketing Forum 2016 In Shanghai: Fuse CX, Brand, And Marketing To Create Your Competitive Advantage

Travis Wu

Following last year’s highly successful Summit for Marketing Leaders in Shanghai, I’m excited to take on the role as the forum host for Forrester’s upcoming Customer Experience (CX) Marketing Shanghai 2016 Forum, taking place just seven weeks from now on September 1 at the JW Marriott Shanghai.

The line between CX, brand, and marketing disciplines has blurred as empowered customers now have more knowledge, more power, and more leverage than ever over companies, services, and products. This year’s Forum focuses on fusing CX, brand, and marketing, which is the first step to becoming customer-obsessed, to build the foundation for driving continuous business success in the age of the customer. We are here to help you answer these questions:

How do companies thrive in this dynamic environment?

How can I combine CX, brand, and marketing to create a core competitive advantage for my company?

How do I show the real value of CX to the rest of my organization, including senior executives?

Our CX Marketing Shanghai 2016 Forum brings together the best minds of marketing and CX from both Forrester and leading companies in different industries to discuss forward-looking trends and share best practices. Come attend this one-day forum to:

  • Understand how CX, brand, and marketing drive business growth
  • Learn best practices from CX and marketing leaders in different industries
  • Deepen your understanding of your rapidly evolving digital customers
  • Know how to boost marketing outcomes through digital technologies and advanced data analytics
  • See how design thinking and digital technologies can improve CX quality and increase your customer loyalty.
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The Democratization Of Customer Service Forces Vendor Consolidation

Kate Leggett

Today, customers expect easy, effective customer service which build positive emotional connections.  And they expect this type of service from all companies that they do business with – companies that are both big and small.  

Companies use complex software from different vendors to support customer service operations. They use:

  1. Queuing and routing technologies. They capture the customer inquiry, which can be via voice, digital, or social channels, and route and queue the inquiry to the right agent pool.
  2. CRM customer service technologies. They enable customer service agents to create and work the incoming service request.
  3. Workforce optimization technologies. They record agent interactions with customers, evaluate the quality of these interactions, recommend targeted training based on quality scores, manage agent schedules, forecast future schedules and more.
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Microsoft’s Big Bang: Everything CRM and ERP On One Platform

John Bruno

This week Microsoft announced a new offering (available in the Fall): Microsoft Dynamics 365. Sound familiar? It should. Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Microsoft Dynamics AX all come to mind, and this was not done by mistake. Microsoft is bringing together the capabilities from these products, their intelligence tools, and third party or internally-built apps from its newly launched AppSource. Microsoft will use Dynamics 365 to provide disaggregated applications that serve the functional needs formerly delivered through CRM and ERP suites (e.g. sales, service, marketing, operations, etc.) atop is a common application platform and data model.

So what is Microsoft looking to achieve with these changes? Well, business doesn’t end with a customer interaction, and delivering superior customer experiences doesn’t end at the front office. Front office and back office apps need to talk to one another to make sure companies are able to win, serve, and retain customers. Microsoft aims to: 

  • Give employees access to the right data and tools to perform their jobs. By utilizing a common data model, Dynamics 365 will show a consolidated view of the customer, inclusive of transactional data. This consolidated view delivered in the context of business apps will provide marketing, sales, and service professionals the appropriate context and functionality to serve their customers.
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Banks Have A Variety Of Islamic Banking Platforms To Choose From

Jost Hoppermann

The World Bank explains Islamic finance as “equity-based, asset-backed, ethical, sustainable, environmentally and socially responsible finance.” In previous Forrester research, we have described many of the core principles of Islamic banking: limitations on interest, certain contractual considerations, and the prevention of gambling — which limits many of the speculative aspects of financial services. These principles make the Islamic Banking sector worthy of consideration in itself; and the tools and technologies that support Islamic banking are important for any financial services firm operating in geographies with large Islamic populations. However, the market is relevant for other key reasons:

  • Islamic banking is of a significant size and continues to grow. For example, Islamic commercial banking hold totals assets of about US$1.1 trillion and has captured a 15% to 20% market share of total commercial banking in countries where Islamic banking exists (according to Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University in the UAE). Recent estimates predict growth rates of about 9% for the finance market and 10% for commercial banking — rates beyond the growth of many conventional banks (according to the Dubai Islamic Economic Development Centre andThomson Reuters).
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After Brexit, it's business as usual for most of Europe's public cloud workloads

Paul Miller

The flags of the European Union and the United Kingdom

(source: Wikimedia Commons)

Two weeks on, the result of the UK referendum on membership of the European Union (EU) continues to reverberate around the world. Forrester provided advice for clients needing to understand the business implications. Looking at the specific impact on public cloud deployments in Europe introduces a number of additional points. These are best considered in three separate contexts:

  • that of companies wishing to serve customers in the UK
  • that of companies wishing to serve customers in the remaining 27 EU member states (the EU27)
  • that of companies wishing to serve customers in the EU27 from a base in the UK.
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