IBM has announced its intent to acquire marketing automation company Silverpop for an undisclosed sum. This acquisition is — on the surface — just another tactical play by a large marketing technology vendor to bring on additional capabilities to support a strategic platform narrative. While Forrester clients can look for our analysis of this announcement in a forthcoming Quick Take — which I will be publishing in collaboration with my colleague Lori Wizdo — Forrester’s initial thought on the news is that we’re not surprised. Given that the various competitors in this space have been adding capabilities left and right through acquisitions, IBM is simply doing the same — checking the box to build out an expansive product line portfolio. The marketing automation vendor landscape (both business-to-business [B2B] and business-to-consumer) shrinks further, and we continue to wait for examples and proof that these mega vendors can deliver the integration they promise.
In the age of the customer, firms that assume that what made them successful in the past will continue to drive competitive advantage in the future are doomed to failure. But as a counterpoint, those firms that embrace the opportunity digital technologies bring to get closer to their customers by creating contextually relevant, personalized customer experiences will thrive. That’s the theory, but what does it look like in practice?
This week, two major UK grocery firms paint opposite ends of the digital spectrum.
Consumers are embracing an increasing number of devices and touchpoints to shop – this we know and at Forrester we call this the mobile mind shift. But eBusiness professionals still need to figure out the relative influence each touchpoint has on their customers’ shopping behavior in order to determine where to focus their efforts. Should you follow the likes of House of Fraser with a mobile first web presence? How do your customers use your digital presence for research pre-purchase?
Forrester’s new retail segmentation helps eBusiness executives answer these questions by providing a framework to map out the complex ecosystem of touchpoints and devices their customers use to shop. The segmentation identifies increasingly sophisticated multi-touchpoint shopping behaviors and helps eBusiness executives to identify critical touchpoints to create the most relevant shopping experiences for customers across markets.
It was just a matter of time. They started with taking people from point A to point B. They gave us some glimpses of what might come by dropping off ice cream and litters of kittens. Uber became (and continues to become) incredibly efficient by matching supply and demand, all from the mobile device. How successful? A valuation of $3.4B back in August 2013.
Some may argue (and I got this question yesterday from a journalist) "they could have done this without mobile services." I disagree. Mobile has added a level of convenience and improved the customer experience dramatically. Convenience. Convenience. Convenience. Uber has embraced what we call the mobile mind shift and is expertly serving customers in their mobile moments - a concept explored in depth in our upcoming book.
Uber (and similar services) have grown the overall business for private car transportation. What are they cannibalizing? I haven't done this analysis, but for me - I drive less and spend a lot less on parking. Do I spend more on Uber than I would have on parking? Probably, but they are so enjoyable to do business with. (See our customer experience framework).
- Mobile phones (subsidized) are relatively cheap - or at least affordable as a cost of doing business for your typical driver. Dedicated hardware isn't.
- A mobile app for the drivers (and now cyclists) pinpoints exact pick-up locations PLUS shows the hotspots for demand based on time of day, location, weather, holidays, local events, and probably a hundred other factors. There is no other way to communicate easily to drivers where they should wait to pick up rides.
Amazon is testing a new device to facilitate making a grocery list and ordering groceries through their AmazonFresh service in markets such as San Francisco and Seattle. (See TechCrunch article.) Consumers can add items to the list through voice or by barcode scan. Two things (for me) make this an interesting experiment to watch.
1) Amazon looks to profit from what we call "a mobile moment," a concept introduced in our forthcoming book, The Mobile Mind Shift. Or more specifically in this case, an impulse sales moment. As a consumer, I add an item to my grocery list before I forget. I may or may not order that day - it may be tomorrow, but I will buy it. The Dash adds convenenience - it removes friction from my shopping process. The Dash takes advantage of the immediacy of mobile. (See our report on how to create mobile moments).
How mature is your company's voice of the customer (VoC) program? Compare yourself against the state of the art and find out:
How VoC programs affect customer experience and business results.
How companies integrate and analyze data from different sources.
How VoC program owners share customer insight.
How they drive action based on their insights.
Which vendors they use to support their VoC program.
We'd like to hear from practitioners that can speak about their company's VoC program. As a thank you for completing our 10-minute survey, you will receive the report resulting from this research, "State Of Voice Of Customer Programs, 2014." As additional thanks, you will receive the high-level results after the survey data has been processed.
If you don’t understand what social depth is, just go to your favorite retail brand website. Most likely, you will find either ratings and reviews and/or colorful photo galleries on the site, providing you with customers’ written and visual perspectives of the brand’s products. And if you are a business decision-maker, chances are that you have stumbled on an interesting blog or two on a B2B brand site. Social depth is not a new concept, but brands are increasingly coming up with creative ways to use social content to inspire and influence buyers who are on their website(s). This is because social content helps move buyers from exploration to a purchase.
At Forrester’s Marketing Forum next week (and in a soon-to-be published report), I will talk about three brands that have launched brilliant and successful social depth strategies. These brands really set the stage for innovative approaches and should provide you with inspiration as you think about your social depth marketing plans this year:
Do industry innovations change the consumer or do consumer demands change the industry? That's the question when looking at how US online adults prepare their annual income tax returns. When the IRS ceased its mailings of paper forms before the 2011 tax season, approximately 15 million more consumers began filing their taxes online. But would this have happened anyway? We could argue that as media consumption, financial management, shopping transactions, and other traditional behaviors moved online, it’s only natural that consumers’ tax filing practices would have too.
At a subliminal level, the decision about how to file taxes speaks to one's comfort level with new technology, sensitivity to data privacy, desire for convenience, and embrace of old habits. Our Consumer Technographics® data shows a variation in how US online adults prepare their taxes: While 33% defer to professionals, 27% file their own taxes by downloading computer software, and 22% do so through a website. One in 10 of these consumers still files taxes by hand using paper forms.
David Ortiz took this selfie when the Red Sox visited the White House to celebrate their win in the 2013 World Series. First there was a huge hue and cry because of the question of whether Samsung put him up to it (David says it was spontaneous, but he does have a contract with Samsung.)
Was Big Papi wrong to take money from Samsung? No, any athlete can sign an endorsement deal.
Was Ortiz wrong to ask for a selfie with the president? Look at that smile on Obama's face. He was having a good time. If he didn't want a selfie, he should have said no. This is a hell of a mobile moment. If it were me up there with the president, I hope I would have the courage to ask, too!
Was Samsung wrong to promote it? You could argue this, but frankly, Samsung has to be delighted.
Is the White House within its rights to object? I imagine so, and I understand their position.
I had the opportunity to attend Nokia's event in San Francisco yesterday. Stephen Elop (EVP Devices & Services), Jo Harlow, Vesa Jutila and Valerie Buckingham among other executives answered questions. See the press event here. High level take away: they released a series of colorful, large & bright screened devices with INSANE camera capabilities at a wide range of price points.
Their Achilles heal is still apps - or lack thereof. They've made progress. They have 245,000 apps today (compared to Apple's 1M plus) and they are adding 500/day. They are doing well with the 100 most popular apps (think eBay, Facebook, Instagram, etc.).
Here are a few things that matter to you:
1) More and more consumers will buy these phones. Nokia phones - despite the lack of apps - will become increasingly difficult for consumers to ignore. They have large screens. They are finger-friendly with large icons. They are "glance friendly" - with live content on the homescreen page. They have INSANE photo/video capabilities that can make any of us look like professionals. They are price competitive. I had total phone envy yesterday as I sat there with my small-screened phone.
2) Your larger competitors will start to build native apps for the Windows family of phones. Many of your focus on iOS and Android today. (See research) Watch your traffic and device adoption among your customer base. It may not be time yet, but you shouldn't ignore them flat out.