Channel Partner Business Models In The Age Of The Customer

Tim Harmon

I’ve been invited to present at several partner conferences this year on the topic of how channel partners should transform their businesses, specifically in light of declining discount margins and digital transformation.  Yes, you heard me right – declining discount margins.  It’s not happening across the board, but the general trend in the tech industry for the past couple of years is that vendors are reducing the discounts they are offering to partners (but some are rolling out programs that can boost partners’ profitability in other ways). 

To more than compensate for shrinking discount margins, I posted last year that there is a new wide world of value-added services opportunities for channel partners – particularly “away from the box” value-added services (as opposed to “close to the box” services involving installation and configuration), driven largely by the upsurge of line-of-business buyers: planning, adoption services, change management, risk management, multi-vendor management, and benchmarking, to name a few.  For example, we just interviewed a Google partner who is seeing significant growth with its customer success program.

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Why You Should Attend Forrester’s MARKETING 2016 Forum

Carlton Doty

I’ll be brief, because I know you’re busy. If you’re a customer-obsessed marketer, you should plan to attend Forrester’s annual Forum designed just for you – MARKETING 2016. Join us and 600+ marketing leaders in New York City on April 26-27 as we dive deep into the issues that matter most to you. Our agenda this year is comprised of five sections:

1.     Thriving In The Post-Digital Age: Led by our own VP/Principal Analyst Shar VanBoskirk, hear our latest research on what it takes to succeed as a marketing leader in a world where digital embeds in everything.

2.     Customer Understanding: Sick of all the noise about big data? Join VP and Research Director Srividya Sridharan as she uncovers how to move from data, to insights, to business action.

3.     Contextual Engagement: Principal Analyst Rusty Warner will be joined onstage by eBay and J&J as they discuss best practices in using situational context to drive deeper customer engagement.

4.     The Leadership Question: Forrester’s Michelle Moorehead will moderate a superstar panel on the changing leadership role for CMOs.

5.     The Power Of Trust: Principal Analyst Fatemeh Khatibloo will discuss how your ability to manage consumer privacy will be a key differentiator in building trust.

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Don’t Let Volatile Markets Scare You Away From Customer Experience Investments

Harley Manning

If you like horror shows, forget The Walking Dead and check out global markets: In 2016, US stocks got off to their worst start ever. Oil prices are in the toilet — taking oil company stocks with them — and neither looks to fully recover any time soon. Of course, both of these Nightmares on Wall Street might pale in comparison to what a Brexit could do to volatility in foreign exchange rates (and therefore your profit and loss).

In the past, you might have expected China to ride to the rescue. But that won’t happen: The Chinese economy just grew at its slowest rate in 25 years

Companies that obsess over these developments might be tempted to panic and cut spending on customer experience improvement programs, despite the fact that many firms are sitting on piles of cash. But cutting CX budgets is a terrible idea because CX is the greatest potential source of competitive advantage — especially in times of high market volatility. For example:

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Planning Your Digital Reboot For A Go-To-Customer Strategy - Upcoming Webinar

Peter O'Neill

There has been quite a response to my comment in the last blog on planning a technology-focused track at our October B2B Marketing Forum. Thanks for your inputs. I am glad you are looking forward to it. I have the luxury of being able to invite many different experts to the Forum, not just the B2B Marketing analysts; so that track in Miami will focus on how to deal with the current marketing-technology offerings as an enterprise: how to architect, compare and procure, and manage the business case – through the full life cycle.

I’ve recently enjoyed Ajay Agarwal’s article in TechCrunch “Marketing Tech’s Bumpy Road”. Ajay talks about the trends from the investor point of view of course; but his comparison of B2C being weighted 10:1 in marketing and sales resources compared to B2B being the other way around is succinct -- that is why sales enablement is so important in our B2B Marketing research portfolio. But that ratio of 1:10 will swing more and more across to marketing each year of the Age of the Customer, as empowered buyers engage with suppliers digitally and redefine their expectations of face to face meetings.  Andy Hoar is just starting his new survey of business buyers, a project he does with eRetailer each year, so expect to see us updating our sales archetypes forecast, as reported here by Mary Shea, later this year.

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Hot Off The Press – The Forrester Wave™: Customer Analytics Solutions, Q1 2016

Brandon Purcell

We have all this valuable data about our customers, but we need to make better use of it.

This is the most common theme I hear on inquiry calls, at conferences, and in advisory sessions.  At this point, companies are fully aware that their data contains enormous value.  In fact, I like to think that data has a potential value much like the concept of potential energy in physics.  In physics, the conversion of potential energy to kinetic energy requires force.  In business, customer analytics is the Force that unlocks the hidden value in your customer data.

Because customer analytics often relies on advanced machine learning algorithms, it used to be the domain of statisticians who could write code in R or Python.  Today, thanks to the 11 customer analytics solution providers in The Forrester Wave™: Customer Analytics Solutions, Q1 2016, customer insights professionals are applying these techniques to their data to address key business objectives.  This report, which is only available to Forrester clients, evaluates the customer analytics solutions of Adobe, AgilOne, Angoss, Alteryx, FICO, IBM, Manthan, Pitney Bowes, SAP, SAS, and Teradata.

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Change Is Afoot For The Modern B2B Seller

Mary Shea

Everybody is telling us this: Today's modern B2B buyer is soooo empowered! Well, that’s because they can use digital and mobile channels to get access to competitive, pricing, reference and other information they need. Not only that, they even prefer to transact anywhere, anytime, and anyhow they want. So, the pressure is on for sales people to raise their game. Those who can only communicate in terms of product and service capabilities will see their messages fall flat.

Go-to-market leaders that fail to empower their sellers will see their selling organizations commoditized by those that do and their businesses surpassed by disrupters. While change is clearly afoot - I can’t think of a more exciting time to be in Sales! B2B sellers who embrace change, who are adroit at leveraging new technologies to support more contextual engagements, and who seek out less cluttered channels such as social - will not only remain relevant but will be wildly successful!

To hear and see more, watch the below Animated Interview And Podcast with Chad Quinn, President and Founder of Ecosystems.

Back From Yet Another Pilgrimage To Mobile's Mecca

Thomas Husson

After experiencing some of the most exhausting days in the life of a “mobile” analyst, I am back from Barcelona. Here are my key takeaways from the 2016 event.

MWC 2016's "Mobile Is Everything" theme summarizes two ideas: the disruptive power of ubiquitous mobile devices and their ability to connect things and objects in our surrounding environment. This year, innovation and key announcements did not so much come from new flagship smartphone manufacturers but instead focused on solutions that enable mobile devices to activate adjacent technologies — like VR, 360-degree cameras, 5G, and the IoT — to build the next generation of connected experiences. Let's cut through the hype to look at what the headlines really mean for B2C marketers:

  • VR is really still hype. Samsung massively surfed on the VR "wow" effect and heavily promoted its Gear VR headset while Facebook's CEO insisted that VR is the next-generation platfrom and will shape the future of social. After the distribution of five million of Google's Cardboard VR Viewers since June 2014, the buzz will continue with Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR (to be launched mid-March at the Game Developer Conference), creating awareness for digitally immersive experiences. But reach will be extremely limited, as the technology will only attract a niche set of users — especially gamers — in the first two years. However, marketers at retail, automotive, travel, or luxury real-estate companies with a digital innovation agenda should keep an eye for signs of VR adoption beyond the "techno-few."
  • Use mobile to unlock IoT consumer experiences. IoT remains first and foremost a B2B and industrial play. However, B2C marketers can combine mobile and IoT to activate new brand experiences.
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Fixing the Mobile Shopping to NFC Payment Adoption Gap

Brendan Miller
NFC is Ready For Prime Time, but Merchants and Consumers are Standing By
Mobile in-store shopping hasn't translated into mobile in-store paying. Seventy-two percent of smartphone-owning US online adults have used their phone in-store as a "trusted advisor," to check prices, find product information, or locate an item, but meanwhile adoption rates of Apple Pay still hover around 5% for eligible transactions*.  In the past year, two market factors started to shape the next phase for mobile payments in-store. First, tech giants like Apple, Google, and Samsung released new NFC-based payment systems. Second, in an effort to avoid new fraud liability with the EMV liability shift, US retailers began implementing new EMV terminals that are also NFC ready. Yet despite consumers having the right technology in hand — and merchants now technically ready to use that technology for mobile payments in-store — consumers haven't changed their tried and true payment behavior.  
 
Merchants Need to Take The Reins
Merchants who have NFC can bridge the gap by being much more proactive in getting consumers to try "tap and pay" at the POS.  The mobile payment systems:Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay and PayPal  have made strides to make the act of paying simple, but more needs to be done at the merchant to fully crack the convenience code.  Forrester has a framework called the Convenience Quotient**: to be fully adopted, any new product’s benefits have to be greater than its barriers to use.   Most merchants who have NFC still have not overcome the convenience quotient and therefore consumers default to their plastic card.  
 
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Look Forward To The B2B Marketing Forum In October

Peter O'Neill

For the past six years, Forrester has held its Sales Enablement Forum for B2B marketing professionals in March, the first two years in San Francisco and then down in Scottsdale (see here for my debrief from the successful 2015 event). I've already had a few calls and emails asking me about this year’s Forum: What is the agenda? Where and when is it being held?

So, here is a timely reminder that we have reconfigured our events calendar this year and the 2016 B2B Marketing Forum is now scheduled for October 18 and 19 in Miami, Florida. Planning is well underway: We are recruiting guest speakers and planning the track sessions. Without giving too much away, I can report that our current thinking is to set the overall agenda across these five themes:

1.  Go-To-Customer  - How to inform and configure your marketing, channel, content and sales plans so that they are customer obsessed.

2.  Blending Art And Science - Use data to set sales and marketing activity based on the ultimate predictive metric: propensity to buy.

3.  Contact In Context - Use voice-of-the-customer/social listening/predictive analytics to be able to speak to customer issues more directly and authentically.

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The Public Is Still Skeptical Of Federal Digital Customer Experience

Rick Parrish

The White House has been trying to improve the federal digital customer experience (CX) since 2011. But when I published my first report and blog on the topic in 2015, the situation was still dire. A Forrester survey had just shown that, for instance:

  • Only two-fifths of the public agreed that the federal government should focus on offering more digital services.
  • Fewer than a third of Americans wanted federal mobile apps that tailor safety alerts and other government information to the user’s location.
  • Just two-fifths of people were interested in a single-sign-on credential for federal websites.
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