A lot of the articles on this talk about why it "makes sense" (the typical after-the-fact justification that journalists do). Once you get past the dining puns in the headlines, you learn that the merger makes sense because Priceline sells mostly outside the US and OpenTable mostly within the US -- so they can target each other's customers. Or it makes sense because Priceline can sell restaurant reservations to its travelers.
These justifications are all true, but allow me to propose a different justification. Imagine for a moment that the world is undergoing a mobile mind shift -- and that mobile moments are becoming more valuable. OpenTable has dominated the restaurant reservation moment. You can be anywhere, decide to make a reservation, check reviews, and book a table in a moment. It's a perfectly suited task for an app, and the OpenTable app is perfect for it.
OpenTable has also cleverly embedded itself into restaurants -- many of them use its system to manage reservations, even as their customers use it to make reservations. I don't know if there is a restaurateur app from Open Table, but there ought to be. Why not manage the reservations on your mobile device as well?
From Time Warner and Comcast to AT&T and DirecTV, corporate mergers appear to be the latest tactic in winning the battle for market share and driving innovation. From a business perspective, the strategic advantages of such mergers may be clear — but what do these changes look like from the consumer’s viewpoint? To understand consumer reaction to the latest series of merger announcements, Forrester leveraged its Technographics360 approach of linking multiple data sources to give a holistic view of consumers. Specifically, we tuned into online chatter with our social listening platform and engaged our ConsumerVoices market research online community for this analysis.
According to the data, consumers associate mergers with increased costs, fewer opportunities for choice, and decreased product and service quality. While a few individuals appreciate the potential for innovation that mergers might afford, the prevailing sentiment is uncertainty:
The fact that individuals are wary of these corporate mergers partially stems from the timeless truism that “people are afraid of change.” To mainstream consumers, a large merger suggests a loss of customer control and greater uncertainty; according to the Harvard Business Review, these are the top two qualities that underpin a fear of change.
I’m returning from three days at Forrester’s Technology Management Forum in London. The theme was “Unleash Your Digital Business”, and a very public event on the first day hammered home the timeliness and relevance of the story.
Parliament passed the “Ordinance for the Regulation of Hackney-Coachmen”in 1654. London at that time would have been unrecognizable to the modern city-dweller. Over a decade before the Great Fire destroyed swathes of the medieval city. Almost 200 years before Charles Dickens immortalized the orphans, beggars and thieves of the smog-shrouded slums of the industrial revolution. But in essence, the act of hailing a taxi remained unchanged since that day.
You stand on a street, wave at a driver and take your chances.
And Hailo, and a number of other clones, but Uber is the main bone of contention here. Uber represents the future. It empowers consumers to make a choice, placing power in their hands, and removing it from the service provider. It’s a poster-child for the Age of the Customer. And London’s taxi drivers aren’t happy about it. I will stop short of debating the politics or legislative aspects here – suffice to say that London’s taxi drivers are so unhappy that an estimated 12,000 of them took to the streets on Wednesday to protest. It was messy. And tragically misguided.
The following day, three interesting things happened.
In the age of the customer, companies must transform their cultures from product-centric to customer-centric. But that is easier said than done. Customer centricity requires all employees to understand who their customers are, how customers perceive their interactions with the company, and the roles employees play in delivering the overall experience. Customer experience (CX) rooms — immersive, interactive spaces that help employees better understand customers — have emerged as a powerful new tool for bringing customers and their journeys to life for workforces. Done well, CX rooms inspire empathy and understanding among employees and help build customer-centric cultures.
Firms create CX rooms to help employees understand the current customer experience their company delivers and to better understand the intended experience the company wants to deliver. The CX room that Ingrid Lindberg, chief customer experience officer at Prime Therapeutics, created at a previous employer demonstrated how complicated it was for customers to know which of the company's many phone numbers they should call or which of the firm's many websites they should visit.
Today, Nokia’s HERE just announced it plans to acquire Medio Systems, a Seattle-based company that is a pioneer in the emerging field of real-time predictive analytics. I met Medio founder and CTO, Brian Lent, a couple of times in the past few years and have always been impressed by his vision of what analytics would become.
Such an acquisition will help HERE and then Nokia Networks and Technologies deliver more contextualized and personalized experiences by adding smart data to its location intelligence capabilities.
At Forrester, we believe that to embrace the mobile mind shift, companies will have to serve customers in their mobile moments. To do so, they must anticipate their customers’ next likely actions. Already, almost 1 in 4 smartphone users expect their mobile experiences to change based on their location.
According to Nokia, it could, for example, mean delivering individual restaurant recommendations to someone ready for lunch, giving drivers routes that match their driving style based on real-time conditions, or helping businesses personalize their customer offerings.
To be able to deliver these experiences and engage with customers in real time, marketers will have to think about mobile not as yet another digital channel but as a catalyst for business transformation. To do this, Forrester believes they need a business discipline to win in the mobile moment by implementing what we refer to as the IDEA cycle, by:
• Identifying the mobile moments and context.
• Designing the mobile engagement.
• Engineering platforms, process, and people for mobile.
I’ve been covering the sales enablement space here at Forrester for six years. While the concept is certainly more common than it was “back in the day”, I’m not really sure we as a community have a lot of clarity about how to get various Marketing, Human Resources, IT, Finance, and Sales groups on the requisite same page required to drive the desired effectiveness and efficiencies of most sales enablement initiatives across the selling system.
The problem today? Sales is Getting Too Much Well Intended Help and Not Enough Real Support
One of the important realizations that we continue to illuminate for business leaders is that when all of these groups are working independently to support sales, a tremendous amount of uncoordinated, redundant, or conflicting investments are made. Corralling these “random acts of sales support” is job #1 of any strategic sales enablement initiative…but how do you determine whose efforts are the random ones? Whether you are in a small or large organization there are many different people are certain they know what salespeople need to be successful, resulting in an avalanche of sales enablement deliverables, but few real results.
I recently spoke with members of the application development team at Torry Harris Business Solutions (THBS) in India. THBS develops mobile apps for clients worldwide. The team revealed that THBS clients now focus much more on user experience (UX) design — so much so that some of them are even willing to spend an additional 5% on top of the total app development cost to get a better design. UX design represents about 30% to 40% of the total mobile app development cost. But a great UX is only half of a mobile engagement; context is the other half. To develop a complete and effective mobile engagement, eBusiness and channel strategy professionals must:
Set against marketing messages, I would rather listen to my neighbor’s opinion of a product. A critic’s opinion. An expert’s. Any idiot with an Internet connection, in fact (according to our research, review content from complete strangers is more trustworthy than messages from brands).
The payload of this realization – that marketers’ messages are overinvested in by a million percent and underdeliver by an equal value – strikes our marketing foundations, oh so softly. Thud. Pop. Distant thunder.
Simultaneously it’s never been easier for other people to write about our brands, to create breathtaking personal tributes to our products, to call out our worst policies, and even to slander us. The crowds have snatched the megaphone and they won’t give it back.
These are two factors in a big equation that we’re still only beginning to calculate.
So far, we’ve dealt with these changes pragmatically and conservatively.
Community management is a perfect example of the pragmatic response. Community management is just a series of tribal agreements about playing rules. The brand will not allow threads that include the word “shit”. The brand will retweet only tweets from registered users. The brand answers requests within one hour between 9 AM and 9 PM EST. The brand will blog politely about its topic.
The marketing fortress has collapsed, the mobs are baying for blood, and the sop you throw this change is to play nice? This is what I’d call the Marie Antoinette response.
Global online expansion is not the same game it was just a few years ago. Today companies are taking a multi-pronged approach to international expansion and looking at a variety of different ways to tap into online shoppers in different markets. One approach that has been gaining momentum is the use of global marketplaces.
Traditionally dominated by small- and medium-sized businesses, online marketplaces have been extending their offerings for global brand owners. Brands today have a growing number of options to build out enhanced official storefronts on these global marketplaces, reaching hundreds of millions of online shoppers in the process.
Amazon. The giant of US online retail offers brands more than just a point of entry into the US market – brand store options are available in all 10 markets in North America, Europe and Asia in which the company operates marketplaces.
eBay. eBay's global offerings are growing rapidly: Current marketplace options for brands in countries such as the US, the UK and Australia being supplemented with new offerings in emerging eCommerce markets. The company has taken innovative steps to tap into the cross-border online shopper.
MercadoLibre. This long-time leader in Latin American eCommerce has rolled out enhanced brand store options over the past year, opening up opportunities for brands looking to tap into the millions of new consumers starting to shop online in the region every year.