Countdown: T Minus Two Weeks Until The VoC Award Winners Announcement!

Adele Sage

Where will you be at 5:20 p.m. on Tuesday, June 26th? I know where I’ll be: announcing the winners of Forrester’s annual Voice Of The Customer Awards at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum in NYC!

We’ve read through the incredible submissions, graded them, picked our finalists, and picked our winners. And I’ve been busy for the past few weeks organizing everything for the big announcement on June 26th and the Forum track session panel featuring the three winners that’s happening on Wednesday, June 27th, at 1:20 p.m.

Yes, you heard right. This year I’m not just announcing the winners on Day 1; I’m also moderating a track session where you can hear more about the winning programs. First, the companies’ representatives are going to describe the types of improvements they’ve made and the business results associated with those improvements, and then I’m going to open up the floor to Q&A. This is your chance to ask the burning questions about what makes these programs so successful.

So, sign up for the event, and stay tuned on my blog for the big announcement in two weeks!

Inhibitors And Drivers In Japan’s Retail Market

Patti Freeman Evans

I spent last week in Tokyo, Japan.  Given that an increasing number of our clients are eyeing Japan’s eCommerce market, I thought it would be interesting to share some observations from my trip. Local business perception is that the economy is struggling and will persist to struggle, but robust activity on the street and our most recent Asia Pacific Forecast belie that. There is clearly potential for growth in the market, but changes need to be made before that can happen. Based on my observations, the key inhibitors are:

  • Low adoption of English in the business world. Japanese is the primary language used to conduct business in Japan. Understandable in the world’s third-largest economy. Many understand English, few are comfortable using it in a professional setting. This issue makes it hard for broader penetration globally across eBusiness. A notable exception is maverick Rakuten where employees are required to have strong English language skills.
  • Retail is aggressive but mostly single channel in focus. Companies I talked to are trying to understand cross-touchpoint attribution, but there is little evidence of multichannel sales in those stores. BIC Camera, one of the largest consumer electronics chains in Tokyo, for example, offers an enormous selection without the option to purchase across different channels.
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The SMB Phoenix Three Years Later

Tim Harmon

 

Three years ago, I wrote a report on a then-forthcoming SMB market phenomenon, characterized as the “SMB phoenix.” Gleaned from interviews with new (at the time) small business founders, our research indicated that these new businesses “rising from the ashes” of the 2008-09 recession were poised to mark a significant departure from the SMB market of yore. Headed by a new breed of entrepreneurs, these SMBs were characterized by their optimistic growth projections, their bigger investment in and broader utilization of technology, their marketing prowess, and their relative self-sufficiency. In many ways, they act more like an enterprise business than a classical SMB.

In addition to our extensive Forrsights data on customers’ technology adoption trends, issues, and opportunities, we are engaged on a regular basis by tech companies to research various aspects of the SMB market. One of these recent projects, commissioned by Symantec, involved a deep dive on the SMB phoenix market to determine if it had evolved according to our projections (N.B. Symantec refers to the SMB phoenix as “accidental entrepreneur”).

I expected the original SMB phoenix premises to be borne out, but not to the extent that the research concluded. The differences between SMB phoenixes and their predecessors are astounding! Faster growth? Almost four times as many phoenixes project that their employee headcount will double in the next two years. Technology? Phoenixes have a broader (by about 25%) software deployment footprint, which is characterized by much greater propensity to go cloud. Self-sufficiency? Phoenixes’ technology decision-informing skews heavily toward their founders’ prior enterprise experience, their employees’ input, and online resources; their predecessors’ toward VARs and traditional media like print and radio.

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Apple's iOS 6 Will Open Up New Product Experiences

Thomas Husson

My colleague Ted Schadler, who attended Apple's worldwide developer conference 2012 this morning in San Francisco, has nicely summarized Apple's Tour De Force and What It Means For CIOs 

Here are my thoughts on what Apple's announcements mean for product strategists and brands willing to interact with consumers:

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European eCommerce Gets A Collective Voice. Can It Grow Teeth?

Martin Gill

I've written about the European Union's grand plans for eCommerce in the past. Much of what the European Commission wants to achieve is laudable and would be fantastic to see. After all, who amongst us doesn't want to see eCommerce thrive? However, recent initiatives such as the much debated "Cookie Law" suggests that the good intent is often diluted by the time directives become in-country legislation. So there is a very real risk that further plans to tinker with national laws regarding things like tax, delivery charges, and returns could wind up making the world more, not less complex.

Each country in Europe has an eCommerce industry body. The IMRG in the UK, Fevad in France, BVH in Germany. The list goes on. But the challenge with these bodies is that they are all country-specific, and as such don't really think too deeply about cross-border issues and also lack the power to effectively lobby the EC when it comes to influencing legislation.

One of the things that Europe really needs to help drive a more effective cross-border e-economy is an effective cross-border "user group." A group that can operate in the way that shop.org does in the US.

We have EMOTA, which is essentially an umbrella organization for the various industry groups, but feels a little detached from the actual retailers.

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The Data Digest: Digital Seniors

Gina Fleming

Does your brand include Seniors (those ages 65+) in its digital marketing strategy? It should. Here’s why. Forrester recently published a demographic overview of Digital Seniors, and the findings are suggestive: 60% of US Seniors are online — that’s more than 20 million online Seniors in the US.

How are US Seniors using the Internet and technology? While they trail behind younger generations when it comes to device ownership and online usage, they integrate technology into their lives in ways that are relevant for them. For example, they use it as a way to connect with family and friends — 46% of US online Seniors send and receive photos by email, and just under half have a Facebook account.

Seniors aren’t as active on the Web and are less likely to own a smartphone or tablet as younger generations, so many campaign managers don't see them as an obvious target for digital campaigns. But they do have a number of advantages compared with younger consumers, including 1) their size — there are about 21 million online Seniors in the US; 2) their income — they have far more money to spend than 18- to 24-year-olds; and 3) their brand attitudes — they are more brand-loyal, with 63% of online Seniors agreeing that when they find a brand they like, they stick to it, compared with 53% of all US online adults.

Why Customer Experience Is Critically Important To Marketing At FedEx: The SVP Of Marketing Weighs In!

Harley Manning

One of the great pleasures of working on our upcoming book, Outside In, was interviewing customer experience leaders at great brands like FedEx. I was fortunate enough to be able to talk with Laurie Tucker, SVP of corporate marketing at FedEx, to get her story. I was so impressed by the work that's going on in her group that I invited her to speak at our Customer Experience Forum in New York on June 26th to 27th (she's on the morning of June 27th).

As a prequel to some of what we'll hear from Laurie at our event, we sent her questions about the FedEx customer experience and why she sees it as a competitive advantage. Her answers appear below.

Enjoy!

Q: How would you describe the experience that you want FedEx customers to have?

A: Relationships oftentimes start with a simple handshake. For example, when you meet someone for the first time and extend your hand in greeting, you’re offering to build a relationship. In the same way, we want to offer a hand to our customers to establish a personal and meaningful connection. After all, FedEx is more than just delivering packages. We’re an innovative company that thrives on delivering solutions and programs that meet our customers’ needs and expectations.

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Impact Of Real-Time Decision-Making With Mobile

Julie Ask

I saw this article today on augmented reality. It doesn't use the phone — it uses Google Goggles, but you can imagine it as an application on a mobile phone.

The AR glasses makes the food products you see look bigger through the lenses so users eat less. [See article.] You can imagine more scenarios, though, with a mobile phone along with its processing power and contextual information about the user. If I walk in to a sandwich shop, for example, I can scan the options with my phone to find a sandwich that fits my calorie and nutritional requirements. (I spend a lot of time in airports so would love this). Certainly if I pick up a candy bar, I can read the nutritional information or calorie count.

I go back to trying to answer this question, "how does access to real-time information improve our lives — and not simply addict me to accessing information constantly like checking email or Facebook updates?" Health, wellness, and financial services among others are where I see some bigger opportunities.

Kicking Off Forrester's Search Marketing Wave(s)

Shar VanBoskirk

I’m doing it.  Waving three vendor categories at the same time.  And I can’t wait (seriously, no satire intended.)

For those of you less familiar, Forrester’s Waves are detailed analyses of technology vendor and service providers done in order to help our user clients select the best partners for them. (Please note: the keyword in the preceding sentence is detailed. A Wave typically takes 12 weeks to conduct and includes multiple inputs like product demos, client reference interviews, and written responses to an RFP-like questionnaire).

Well, over the course of the next three months, I will be waving search marketing agencies, bid management platforms, and SEO automation tools. In the past, I have evaluated only search marketing agencies as many of them provided proprietary technologies, and stand-alone technologies were still quite immature. But since Q4 2011, I’ve gotten more and more inquiries about search marketing technology players as well. And search technologies have really made some strides in the last 12 months.

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Salesforce Buys Buddy Media: Not A Shocker

Melissa Parrish

As an analyst, I make a lot of predictions about various technology offerings. Over the last year those predictions have increasingly focused on the Social Media Management Platform (SMMP) space, specifically about how I expected consolidation as demand increased from marketers, and big tech players realized the necessity and potential of these platforms. It seemed pretty obvious to me that this space would continue to heat up, especially as I fielded more and more phone calls every week from marketers vetting the players in this space. So in answer to the most common question I’ve been getting since last week: no, I’m not at all surprised that a company like Salesforce would buy Buddy Media.

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