Sales Enablement Sense Of Urgency Applies To Buyers And Vendors Alike

Peter O'Neill

My report “Develop Your Sales Enablement Charter Or Run Into A Perfect Storm” for Forrester clients, and the associated blog for all, has prompted many inquiries — from business decision-makers in B2B marketing or sales management; from technology decision-makers; and, of course, from the sales enablement vendors themselves. Some have questioned my sense of urgency — “Will things come to a head in sales enablement so quickly?” Well, here is an email that I received from Forrester’s own VP of sales operations that echoes most every sentiment I’m hearing from the sales enablement buying community:

I get contacted multiple times per week with vendors who have technology around streamlining and/or improving some part of the B2B sales process. I (and my team) have taken a number of these calls, and there certainly is some interesting technology out there, however it feels like there is a huge market inefficiency going on that is manifesting itself in two different ways:

  • There are many vendors that are attacking a small piece of the B2B selling process — i.e., forecasting, or gamification, or content distribution, etc. Because of this, each of these vendors [is] somewhat of a niche player, and it becomes harder to justify the ROI of any specific player. In addition, you have to go through a separate sales cycle with each one, with a separate procurement process, and if we do decide to purchase, completely separate integrations that likely leverage the same [scarce] Forrester tech management resources.
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Marketers: How Do You Use Word of Mouth?

Nate Elliott

I'm really excited to be a keynoting the WOMMA Summit in Miami this November. It's going to be a great event, including speakers from Comedy Central, Nissan, Twitter, Google and more -- and I'm glad to be part of it.

But to do a great keynote, I need to ask for your help: I'm working with WOMMA to generate fresh survey data for this event. If you're a brand-side marketer whose company uses word of mouth marketing, could you take a few minutes to complete our survey? It won't take long -- and to thank you for your time, we'll be sure to send you a copy of the aggregated data.

Thanks for your help -- and see you in Miami.

Go Native To Strengthen Your Brand Engagement

Clement Teo

Digital advertising is akin to a carpenter’s toolbox. Each tool in the box serves a different purpose and was made to accomplish a specific task. Similarly, native advertising, or sponsored content, is a marketing tool that marketers can use as a complement to other forms of digital advertising to achieve a specific purpose.

Forrester defines native advertising as: Any form of paid or sponsored content that directly and transparently contributes to the experience of the site or platform where it appears by aligning with the format, context, or purpose of that site or platform’s editorial content page.

While Asia Pacific marketers have yet to invest in native advertising in a big way, native advertising provides them with an additional avenue to better engage with customers and win their preference. Native advertising is more engaging than display advertising and is also showing early success on consumers’ mobile screens. For example, content marketer Contently saw a clear 10% rise in brand opinion among its engaged subscribers, while Virgin Mobile USA claimed that native ads led to a 200% uplift in the likelihood to consider its brand. Taboola, Virool, and Skyword are examples of companies that can help marketers drive discovery of their content and improve engagement. I discuss how marketers can work with them in my latest report.

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Data Digest: Announcing Our Annual Benchmark On The State Of US Consumers And Technology In 2015

Gina Fleming

In 2015, consumers of all ages are extremely connected — the average US online adult uses more than four connected devices, and 70% use a smartphone. Marketers today want to know who the early adopters are, how far behind the laggards are, and what types of technologies they need to incorporate into their marketing and customer interaction mix.

Our annual report on The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2015, US answers these questions. This data-rich report is a graphical analysis of a range of topics about consumers and technology and serves as a benchmark for US consumers’ level of technology adoption, usage, and attitudes. Our annual benchmark report is based on Forrester's Technographics® online benchmark survey that we've been fielding since 1998.

Because of sharp differences in technology adoption by age, we analyze our findings through a generational lens, including Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen X, Younger Boomers, Older Boomers, and the Golden Generation. So what did we find this year? Not surprisingly, younger generations lead in technology uptake, with Gen Yers leading the way — showing the highest uptake of Internet-connected TVs, smartphones, and tablets. Older generations lag behind, but even members of the Golden Generation use more than three connected devices, on average.

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Global Smartphone Subscribers Surpassed Feature Phone Subscribers in 2014

Satish Meena

Last year, the number of smartphone subscribers in the world surpassed the number of feature phone subscribers. We expect the share of people using smartphones to grow at a rapid pace through 2020, when 87% of all mobile subscribers will have a smartphone. Several factors will drive this trend, including the falling average selling price of smartphones, the increasing availability of low-cost data plans, greater 3G penetration, and the continued rise of mobile messaging apps, social media, mCommerce, and mobile apps. The majority of new smartphone subscribers will come from Asia Pacific and Africa; the opportunity that developed markets present to handset manufacturers is primarily in the form of handset replacement. According to our recently published Forrester Research World Mobile And Smartphone Adoption Forecast, 2015 To 2020 (Global), in 2020 there will be more than 5.4 billion active smartphones in the hands of more than 3.6 billion subscribers across the globe. Some of the implications of rapid smartphone growth are as follows:

  • Shortening the smartphone replacement cycle in developed markets.In most developed markets, smartphone penetration is saturating; vendors are expected to launch programs like Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program to increase smartphone sales by shortening the replacement cycle. And it’s not just the US; handset manufacturers or telcos may launch similar programs in other regions with high smartphone penetration, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the United Arab Emirates.
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The Data Digest: Citizen Engagement Will Put Smart Cities On The Map

Anjali Lai

“It takes a village” – but when it comes to building smart cities, it takes far more than that. Developing smart cities requires strategic partnerships, creative business models, change management – and according to my latest report, co-authored with my colleague Jennifer Belissent – citizen buy-in. In order for smart city technology to take hold, governments must incorporate citizens’ perspectives into their strategy long before giving their plans the green light.

Gathering citizen perspectives on so nascent a concept is a classic challenge; however, current attitudes and behaviors signal citizen readiness for smart cities. For instance, as US and UK online adults become aware of smart city solutions, they grow deeply intrigued. And, according to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® survey and behavioral tracking data, online adults’ current device activities lend themselves to participating as engaged digital citizens: 

US and UK citizens are equipped to interact with their community and governments through new technology, which suggests a readiness for smart city applications and services. However, citizens are conscious of the fact that this smart city sophistication comes with tradeoffs, like threats to data privacy and the risks of relying on one digital system.

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All Things Hair: A case study about brand-building in 2015 AD

Ryan Skinner

I just published this case study about All Things Hair. If you haven’t heard or come across ATH before, it’s a series of YouTube channels initiated by Unilever’s hair care products division. On each national channel (they’re in about a dozen countries now), a half-dozen teenage and twenty-something video bloggers describe how you can get some really important look or style going.*

There are a lot of interesting things going on in this ATH thing that I’m not really going to focus on here, such as predictive search, marketing innovation, influencers, video marketing, product positioning, brand measurement, ecommerce links, audience targeting and paid content promotion. This was Unilever working with Razorfish, so you knew it wasn’t going to be “How VO5 got better email open rates”.

No, what interests me most is how this whole ATH burrito here represents a new way of building brands based on how customers work and think today. Unilever’s not the first to do this, by any means, but – given the fact that they have a little bit of experience thinking about brand-building – they seemed to have done it with their “eyes wide open” if you will. They knew they were reengineering how they built brand value, and proceeded methodically from that standpoint.

So what did this awareness mean when push came to shove?

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Building Direct Digital Relationships In A Sea Of Rising Intermediaries

James McQuivey

There is a fundamental division at the heart of the digital economy. Digital tools make it possible for any company to build a direct relationship with its customers. At the same time, new digital intermediaries can use the same digital tools to create unprecedented intermediary roles. Torn between two lovers, anyone?

We’re in the age of the customer, a period during which end consumers have more access to the basic economic resources that help them make more rational and empowered decisions. The theory of perfect competition dictates that market economies flourish best on a foundation of perfect information that enables perfectly rational actors. The digital technologies we all carry in our pockets — not to mention, have surrounding us in our cars, our homes, and even strapped to our bodies — have initiated a chain reaction, unleashing an unprecedented level of information, which has enabled us — if we choose to accept our mission — to behave like much more rational actors than ever before. (Caveat lector, I didn’t say “perfectly rational” for a reason. See our research on how humans make choices to understand more.) 

The more those technologies spread, the more buyers and sellers enter the system, the more innovation there is — at lower cost, thanks to the economics of digital disruption – and the spiral feeds itself.

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Federal CX Pros Must Start Preparing For The Presidential Transition Right Now

Rick Parrish

It's been eight years since the last presidential transition. Since then, we've seen real progress on the federal customer experience (CX) front, including the creation of the "customer service" cross-agency priority goal; the launch of 18F, the US Digital Service, and similar digital services shops; and the appointment of chief customer officers at four agencies.

Unfortunately, the next presidential transition could derail it all. The new administration might have different management priorities, misunderstand CX and its value, or simply want to undercut the current administration’s achievements. Improving federal CX may be good politics for nearly every conceivable incoming president, but that may not be enough. Some presidential transition experts bemoan times when neither good politics nor effectiveness were enough to save existing initiatives from a new administration's desire to appear different. As one expert put it, "Never underestimate the power of crazy."

Formally, the transition won't begin until the next president is chosen. In reality, work on the transition has already begun. The current administration has already refocused from rolling out new initiatives to securing its legacy; many senior executives are already planning their retirements or looking for work in the private sector.

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Microsoft Cortana Accelerates The Business Transformation Of Chinese Manufacturers

Gene Cao

Microsoft officially launched Cortana Suites — a key part of Windows Azure Intelligent Cloud — in China last week, together with MySQL Database on Azure. Windows Azure Intelligent Cloud provides real-time analytics and open source database services to Chinese customers in nationwide data centers operated by 21Vianet.

To give Chinese customers a better idea of how to use cloud-based analytics, Windows Azure demonstrated customer usage scenarios involving big data analytics on cloud. The China Meteorological Administration partnered with AccuWeather, using Windows Azure to monitor and analyze air quality data from meteorological satellites and local air monitoring stations in real time.

Chinese manufacturers face challenges from digital service providers that better understand customers and shorten the distance from product design to the end user. After implementing real-time analytics on sensor data and customer behavior, manufacturers can improve their business models via:

  • Product innovation. Chinese manufacturers have started tracking operational data from sensors embedded in their products to manage and predict product upgrade and maintenance cycles. Customers prefer to pay for the time they actually use the equipment — so mechanical manufacturers use cloud analytics to support this sales model. The recent rash of elevator accidents in China primarily involved elevators whose manufacturers had limited labor resources for post-sales services — a common complaint of Chinese elevator manufacturers.
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