B2B Marketing Professionals — Prepare For 2016 By Considering These Predictions

Peter O'Neill

The B2B marketing research team has just published its 2016 predictions report, outlining four shifts that B2B marketing professionals can expect by December 31 of next year. This report is aligned with and part of a series of Forrester predictions reports — each discussing the effects on specific roles in a company, but all part of the greater picture: The Age Of The Customer.

Forrester clients can read the full report here, they can also attend this webinar on December 10th.

B2B buying has changed: Buyers prefer to do research themselves rather than rely on vendors’ sales reps. Our report highlights several major changes coming in 2016 as a result of this shift and organizes their implications into four realms: go-to-customer strategy, the accelerating shift from art to science, tech investments, and B2B messaging. In the report, we explain these changes, with data and research substantiation, and also outline what they mean for B2B marketing professionals. Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • As funnel becomes life cycle, marketing will need to manage a new dynamic with sales.
  • Marketing’s role as steward of the customer relationship will surge.
  • Buyers will expect B2B suppliers to be at the right (digital or physical) place, at the right time.
  • Big data will help manage sales and marketing activities.
  • Through-channel marketing will become a critical success factor for many B2B companies.
  • Adoption of through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) will even affect the success of enterprise marketing automation vendors.
  • Mobile will become the primary target for all systems.
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Holiday Shopping Moves Online — In Both Western Europe And The US

Michael O'Grady

In Western Europe, November and December account for a fifth of annual retail sales. However, consumers aren’t spending more over the holiday period; they are just shifting their spending earlier in the shopping season. Forrester expects European online sales over the holiday period to grow 12.5% compared to 2014. In the UK, heavy discounting, notably as a result of Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions, has a huge impact on holiday shopping.

  • Holiday spending is of critical importance to retailers. In 2014, Amazon traded one-third of its retail sales in the last three months of the year. And in the UK, 19% of annual retail sales happen in the six-week run-up to Christmas. Consumers spend more online during the holiday period and buy from more retail categories than they do during the rest of the year. Toys, jewelry, perfume, and videos are among the most popular categories bought online.
  • UK retailers embrace Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The majority of UK retailers participated in Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in 2014. In fact, nearly one-fifth of all online sales in the eight weeks leading up to December 27, 2014 happened in the week of Black Friday. And for UK retailer John Lewis, its sales in Black Friday week overtook its sales in Christmas week.
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Announcing Forrester’s Inaugural Wave Evaluation of Subscription Billing Platforms

Lily Varon

Few industries are immune from the digitization of experiences, content, services, and products. In this era of cloud computing, IOT and mobile devices, firms are increasingly testing new product offerings that combine elements of content, software, services, and hardware together. Like the evolution of the products themselves, the rulebook on monetizing them is also evolving: firms are replacing the simple one-time sales models of yore with subscription and consumption-based business models that better sustain a continuous relationship with their customers. But unfortunately, in most cases, firms’ existing technology ecosystem doesn’t support the complex requirements of supporting a subscription business model- from customer lifecycle management to finance management.  Enter: subscription billing platforms.

Forrester has identified the eight leading vendors in the space and spent the last four months putting them through a grueling process of due diligence, product demos, capability assessments and customer reference checks. Here’s what we found.

■  Aria Systems, SAP hybris billing, and Zuora lead the pack. These three vendors represent thought leadership and the associated market innovation. All three commonly go head-to-head in opportunities at both midmarket and enterprise firms and in both B2C and B2B monetization scenarios. Each of the three has developed core industry vertical expertise in sectors such as IOT, healthcare, and telco and has established mature partnerships with global management consultancy and system integration firms.

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Predictions 2016: The Digital Store Engagement Surprise

Adam Silverman

We’ve all been told time again that the in-store shopping experience is undergoing seismic change. Technologies such as beacons, omnichannel fulfillment and in-store analytics have promised to change the definition of how a retail store engages with customers. And although iron-clad digital store success stories are few and far between, stores will continue to chase the digital store dream despite not knowing the precise endgame. A handful of market leaders are implementing digital store initiatives that will act as lighthouses to the rest of the industry, showing a glimpse of what's possible with the right strategy.

In 2016, Forrester believes that:

Digital operational improvements will emerge as the golden child of store digitization. Trying to engage shoppers with shiny new technologies makes for some pretty flashy headlines, but does little to boost the retailer’s bottom line. On the other hand, store operations-focused technologies have shown early, but real, results. Tools such as in-store analytics and associate task management are ushering in a new era of store efficiency, using real-time insights to help associates understand what needs to get done and when.  The smartest retailers will start combining data from sources like online behavior, in-store analytics, supply chain, and labor planning to make operational decisions in real time. 

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2016: CX Leaders Will Adopt Agile, Insight-Led Innovation To Fuel Customer Obsession

Deanna Laufer

In 2015, customer experience (CX) rose to the No. 1 priority for business and technology leaders. In 2016, it will be among the top 10 critical success factors determining who will win and who will fail in the age of the customer. And for good reason: Better customer experience correlates with stronger revenue growth. But this is only true when competitors provide meaningful differences in the experiences they offer and unsatisfied customers have the freedom to jump ship when treated poorly. So in order to reap the benefits that better CX can provide, in 2016, companies will need to get down to the real business of not only providing good experiences but also breaking away from the pack with meaningful internal operational changes.

This won’t be easy, because success in the age of the customer requires shifting to a customer-obsessed operating model that puts customers at the center of all strategic decision-making. In 2016, leaders will tackle the challenge of making this shift; laggards will underestimate the magnitude and speed of change required and will instead push forward with uncoordinated digital efforts and flawed business priorities.

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In 2016, Financial Services Executives Will Bet Big On APIs

Peter Wannemacher

We’ve just published our Predictions 2016 report, outlining eight shifts that banks and their partners can expect by December 31 of next year. I encourage you to read the full report with all of our predictions here.

As a preview of the report, here are two of our predictions for 2016:

  • APIs and open platforms will take center stage. APIs are becoming the most powerful technology in digital business design. Done right, APIs open new angles for business strategy. Financial services providers have been relatively slow to recognize and act on APIs as an opportunity to transform their businesses and, ultimately, better win, serve, and retain customers.* This will change in 2016, as digital executives collaborate with CIOs to champion big investments in internal, B2B, and product APIs. APIs won’t only help firms increase agility and provide services to clients and partners: They will enable financial firms to build dynamic ecosystems of value, reconnecting a fragmented value chain. They will be part of a wider, and longer-term, shift to open platforms as the foundation of digital financial services strategy.
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The Race To Digital Mastery Is On In 2016

Martin Gill

When it comes to digital, we are at a pivot point. Digitizing your business isn’t about technology: it’s about customer obsession - and in 2016, it will be among your ten critical business success factors helping position your firm for success in the Age of the Customer. In fact, next year will be a year of consequence: those firms that “get digital” will begin to pull ahead, and those firms that don’t will begin to look increasingly archaic, facing the risk of extinction.

The preliminary results from our recent digital business survey are telling. An increasing number of firms are reporting that they have a coherent and comprehensive digital strategy. While this is good news, these firms are still the minority. The vast majority of firms report that their approach to digital is limited at best, and non-existent at worst. But the consistently bleak picture is that most executives think the wrong people are in charge of their digital activities and few (very few) think they have the capabilities to deliver.

But there are some shining lights.

Leading firms like John Deere are pathing the path to digital mastery, demonstrating revenue and share price growth that outpaces less digitally savvy competitors. Executive committees are taking note. Innovation spend is on the rise, digital skills are in hot demand, and a new breed of digitally savvy senior leaders is finally emerging.

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2016 Predictions: Key Trends Will Transform Mobile Engagement

Julie Ask

2016 will be the most consequential year for companies on the path to customer obsession, and that includes adapting to empowered customers who expect to get anything they want immediately, in context on their mobile devices.  Today that represents nearly 50% of consumers in the U.S. alone. The consumers pick up their mobile devices 150 to 200 times a day. In aggregate, that adds up to nearly 30 billion mobile moments each day. These mobile moments are the next battleground where companies will win, serve and retain their customers. Tragically, few companies will make the leap. Those that do will reap the rewards.

 

What role does mobile play in customer obsession, and how can businesses leapfrog their competition to deliver superior customer experiences? Here are three ways Forrester predicts mobile will change the ways business leaders operate in 2016.

 

1. Mobile will act as a catalyst to transform businesses in the Age of the Customer.

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How mobile will transform business in 2016

Thomas Husson

With my peers Julie A. Ask, Jeffrey S. Hammond, Michael Facemire, Tyler Shields, Christian Kane, Jennifer Wiseand many other analysts, we put together our thoughts in a new 2016 Mobile predictions report on what to expect in the mobile space next year across industries and roles.

We believe 2016 will be the most consequential year for companies on the path to customer obsession, and that includes adapting empowered customers who expect to get anything they want immediately, in context on their mobile devices.

What role does mobile play in customer obsession, and how can businesses leapfrog their competition to deliver superior customer experiences? Here are three ways Forrester predicts mobile will change the ways business leaders operate in 2016.

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Forrester’s 2016 Predictions: All That Data Will Finally Drive Business Action

Carlton Doty

Do you consider yourself “data-driven”? If you’re like most business and technology leaders, you do. But the reality is that most businesses have only scratched the surface when it comes to transforming all of that data into insight that drives real business action. In our 2016 predictions report, my colleagues Brian Hopkins, Jennifer Belissent, PhD., and I predict what will happen in the hottest areas of big data, analytics, business intelligence, and systems of insight — and tell you what to do about it. Here’s a sneak at just a few highlights:

  • Chief data officers (CDOs) will gain power, prestige, and presence . . . for now. The trend toward appointing a CDO accelerated in 2015, and will continue in 2016.  CI pros should take advantage of this. How? Extend customer insights beyond marketing to drive a culture of insights-to-execution across the organization.
     
  • Firms will try to come to terms with data science scarcity. Two-thirds of firms will have built predictive systems capability by mid-2016, but will struggle to find data science talent. Customer insights teams must increase analytic yield without waiting for hard-to-find data scientists. How? Some analytics platforms from vendors like AgilOne, Custora, and Origami Logic can empower business users without a rigorous statistical background.
     
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