Microsoft Cortana Accelerates The Business Transformation Of Chinese Manufacturers

Gene Cao

Microsoft officially launched Cortana Suites — a key part of Windows Azure Intelligent Cloud — in China last week, together with MySQL Database on Azure. Windows Azure Intelligent Cloud provides real-time analytics and open source database services to Chinese customers in nationwide data centers operated by 21Vianet.

To give Chinese customers a better idea of how to use cloud-based analytics, Windows Azure demonstrated customer usage scenarios involving big data analytics on cloud. The China Meteorological Administration partnered with AccuWeather, using Windows Azure to monitor and analyze air quality data from meteorological satellites and local air monitoring stations in real time.

Chinese manufacturers face challenges from digital service providers that better understand customers and shorten the distance from product design to the end user. After implementing real-time analytics on sensor data and customer behavior, manufacturers can improve their business models via:

  • Product innovation. Chinese manufacturers have started tracking operational data from sensors embedded in their products to manage and predict product upgrade and maintenance cycles. Customers prefer to pay for the time they actually use the equipment — so mechanical manufacturers use cloud analytics to support this sales model. The recent rash of elevator accidents in China primarily involved elevators whose manufacturers had limited labor resources for post-sales services — a common complaint of Chinese elevator manufacturers.
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Amazon's Dash Buttons: Smarter Than They Seem

Sucharita  Mulpuru

In late March, Amazon cracked up the Twittosphere with an  announcement that it would release a Dash button (not to be confused with the Amazon Dash device which is a wand for your kitchen).  It is a button that you put in your home (like your laundry room) and program to order a single packaged good (say a specific SKU of Tide detergent).  You press the button and that item gets ordered through your Amazon Prime account.  On September 2,  Amazon made the buttons available to the general public (Amazon Prime members specifically) for $5 each. 

My esteemed colleague James McQuivey just published a piece calling the Dash Buttons the Best Bad Idea of 2015 in which he outlines the reasons why this device, while widely  mocked, is actually a super interesting idea whose most fascinating applications won’t even be with Amazon.

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A New Era For Customer Experience In Australia? We Think So.

Tom McCann

A new era for customer experience (CX) measurement has just been launched in Australia — are you ready for it?

Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) report for Australian brands is now available for clients here. With the introduction of this research methodology you now have a tool that:

  • Reflects how well your brand’s customer interactions fuel the types of customer loyalty that drive revenue — retention loyalty, enrichment loyalty, and advocacy loyalty.
  • Measures how well your brand delivers on 25 industry specific drivers of CX quality, like how quickly your company resolves customers’ problems.
  • Provides a competitive benchmark of the quality of your brand’s CX compared to other brands within and across industry sectors, on a national or international level.
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Consumers Will Manage All Brand Interactions Via Their Smartphones

Thomas Husson

I spent the last couple of months interviewing marketers and vendors to understand how brands integrate push notifications and in-app messages in their marketing strategy.

Even though my research was primarily focused on mobile apps, I was convinced that there was much more at play. In fact, brands that can harness the power of contextual data to consistently deliver customer value will deliver compelling brand experiences that will build brand preference and, ultimately, loyalty.

Even with the emergence of connected objects that send notifications, smartphones will remain the primary interface in which consumers will personalize their digital experiences. Smartphones will become the hub for most interactions between a brand and its customers. In the next five to 10 years, consumers will use smartphone apps to define and control the communication environment in which brands can interact with them. In particular, we see that:

  • Mobile will become the primary touchpoint for brands to engage consumers. Mobile traffic has already overtaken desktop traffic in five major countries: Nigeria, India, South Africa, Indonesia, and Poland.No doubt this will happen across the globe in the next couple of years. B2C marketers will become smarter in engaging customers via mobile, maturing their approach and moving progressively to the holy grail of one-to-one marketing.
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How Does Your Brand Stack Up On Facebook, Twitter, And Instagram?

Nate Elliott

Ever wonder how you compare to the top brands in your use of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks?

Forrester recently reviewed how the top 50 global brands market on social networks. We evaluated 11.8 million user interactions on 2,489 posts made by 249 branded profiles, and collected tons of great data -- including how many top brands use each social network, how many fans they've collected, how often they post, and how often users interact with their posts. We published our complete findings in our research brief "How Top Brands Are Using Facebook, Twitter, And Instagram" -- but I also wanted to highlight some key findings here.

First, follower counts for the big global brands have skyrocketed in the past year. Top brands now average 18.1 million Facebook fans each -- more than double their average in 2014. Their average number of Instagram followers is now over 1 million -- almost five times higher than last year. Follower counts have nearly doubled on Twitter and Google+ as well.

Second, marketers are posting more often than in pervious years. Top brands now post 18.3 times per week on Twitter and 6.5 times per week on Facebook -- both slight increases over 2014. They post 4.9 times per week on Instagram, an increase of more than 50% over last year.


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2015 Global eCommerce Trends - 4 reasons to be excited about tomorrow’s webinar

Susan Wu

Join us tomorrow as we host a webinar on the state of global online retailing in 2015. Learn how to better target increasingly sophisticated buyers through an understanding of consumer behaviors and market trends.   We will talk about the present status of shoppers and its implications for the future.  The webinar will draw on forecast data insights from our Online Retail, Web-Influence, and Luxury Retail forecasts. 

We plan to discuss:

1)     What you can learn from young mobile shoppers in mobile-first economies.

2)     How product purchases differ across markets and why that matters.

3)     How the changing eCommerce landscape is impacting consumer purchase behaviors.

4)     The cross-border impact on global eCommerce.


Register for our webinar here or contact your Forrester representative to attend:

Are Marketers Ready To Double Down And Truly Adapt To The Consumer Of Today?

Erna Alfred Liousas

For two days this week, I enjoyed Hubspot’s Inbound 2015 conference. Hubspot is an inbound marketing platform targeting small to medium-size businesses and each year the company holds a conference bringing together thought-leaders, customers, and partners. This 3.5-day event has over 250 sessions spanning a myriad of topics. Conferences provide different perspectives on the marketing landscape, customer success stories, product updates, philanthropic awareness, networking opportunities, and — my favorite — kernels that can be developed into themes with broader implications. I was happy to experience all those elements and walked away with more than a few kernels with broader implications. I’d like to share a few resulting from comments by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, Chris Brogan, and Mitch Joel. Let me forewarn you, these ideas may seem provocative, but they make for a good debate and even better research. 

Do Marketing And Sales Become One?

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Coalition Loyalty In The US Shows "Plenti" of Promise

Emily Collins

In May, American Express launched Plenti, a U.S.-based coalition loyalty program with eight partners, including Macy's, AT&T, Exxon Mobil and Rite Aid. These types of programs, which let consumers earn and redeem a single currency across multiple partners, are popular in other areas of the world, but coalitions have historically failed to gain traction in the United States.

Plenti's initial progress indicates that it might buck the trend: It signed up more than 20 million members in its first two months reaching around 16% US household penetration. For reference, established coalitions such as AIR MILES, Nectar and FlyBuys have household penetration rates of more than 50%.

But any decent loyalty marketer knows enrollment doesn’t tell the whole story. Three things, in particular, give coalition in the U.S. a fighting chance:

  • The loyalty program landscape is crowded. Plenti entered the market at a time when companies across industries – from retail to travel/hospitality to automotive – invest in loyalty programs to drive retention, engagement and loyalty. According to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics data, consumers belong to an average of nine loyalty programs. The proliferation of branded programs makes it hard to stand out, and it shows: 58% of loyalty marketers that Forrester surveyed in 2015 indicated they were dissatisfied with their loyalty strategy. Coalition programs offer a differentiated value proposition: members shopping across partners experience an increased earning velocity and wider choices for redemption, which boost the utility and perceived value of the program.
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The Data Digest: A New Retail Reality, Boxed Up

Anjali Lai

They say that good things come in small packages – and it seems that those consumers who have signed up with the burgeoning wave of subscription services know this to be true. Today, whether you’re looking for fine wine or baby food, artistic inspiration or masculine essentials, you don’t have to leave your home to get – or even search for – the items yourself; the box delivered to your door may have just what you’re hoping for.

Subscription services are relatively new, but consumer awareness of and interest in the concept are growing. I recently became a customer of Stitchfix – and while I might be among just a handful of consumers who’ve actually signed up, nearly one-fifth of US online adults are interested in similar services. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that interest is particularly high among young shoppers: 

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Through-Channel Marketing Automation — An Emerging Market Consolidating?

Tim Harmon

We recently completed our evaluation of 14 through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) vendors in “The Forrester Wave™: Through-Channel Marketing Automation Platforms, Q3 2015.” The TCMA Forrester Wave was oversubscribed — besides the 14 evaluated vendors, there are an additional 10 to 15 TCMA vendors that we are researching. Obviously this is a very fractured market, even considering the growing number of companies — across B2B industries such as healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, tech, and telecom — now leveraging their channels to amplify their marketing.

Last week, Zift Solutions, a leading TCMA vendor, announced that it will be, in essence, acquiring “semi-competitor” SharedVue — “semi” because SharedVue didn’t qualify its product for the TCMA Forrester Wave. SharedVue has been owned and controlled by The Channel Company, the corporate entity behind CRN (IT channel journalism), Xchange (IT channel events), and IPED (IT channel training and consulting) since 2010. SharedVue’s product is strong in its content syndication core, but the company has done little to expand the product into a broader, fuller TCMA platform involving marketing campaign packaging, digital asset management, digital marketing tactics support, etc.

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