The 2016 Guide To Digital Predators, Transformers, and Dinosaurs

By 2020, every company that exists today will have become a digital predator or digital prey. This isn't news to you if you follow my research or blog posts. In fact I've been saying that since 2014. But why is it that some companies seem to understand digital business more than others? Is their a difference in the leadership in digital predators compared to digital dinosaurs?

These are the questions I dig into in my latest research "The 2016 Guide To Digital Predators, Transformers, and Dinosaurs." To get at the answers, we analyzed the results from the digital business survey to tease apart companies that are already digital, those that are transforming to become more digital, and those that are remaining less digital. Examining the perspectives of business executives in each group, we reveal how the digital business DNA differes between predators, transformers and dinosaurs.

Executives At Digital Predators Are Really, Really Customer Obsessed

While all companies profess to put customers first, it’s clear from the data that executives at digital Predators care more passionately about the customer across multiple dimensions: In every customer metric we measured, these executives rated the importance of the customer higher than peers in transformers and dinosaurs – in short, they are not just customer obsessed, they are really, really customer obsessed. Nowhere is this clearer than in the perception of how to apply digital thinking to the business:

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Digital Transformation 2016 Infographic

They say a picture is worth a 1000 words .... so our graphics designers and my wonderful research associate, Rachael Klehm, created this infographic to highlight a few of the data points from the Digital Transformation Playbook and the Forrester / Odgers Berndtson Digital Business research study. 

The challenge most companies still have is their CEO either doesn't understand how fast their world is about to change or simply cannot allocate sufficient investment to something that will not bear fruit (at least from an investor's perspective) for a year of two. Unfortunately, when it comes to digital transformation, a short-term share-price focus is likely to lead to failure within a few years. 

True transformation (vs bolt-on) is a fundamental strategic shift for most companies. 

On the plus side, that's no doubt one of the reasons why so many clients ask me to present to their executive teams!

Previous post: Digital's golden rule; always save your customer's time
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Digital's Golden Rule: Always Save Your Customer’s Time

Digital lessons from a recent hotel experience.
 
I’m sitting here in my hotel room writing this and watching the in-room dining web page on my phone fail. It’s apparently given up the ghost and is caught in a perpetual loop. It’s the first time I tried using this particular hotel chain’s mobile website. The “Room Service Order Online” features prominently on the first page of the in-room guide. Never one to miss out on an opportunity to test a digital experience I figured I’d give it a go.
 
First, the photo in the room guide shows what looks to be a native app. So naturally, the first thing I did was go to the App store and search for the app using the hotel name. Nothing. HMMM … time to take a closer look at the page in the in-room guide.
 
Aha … I now see I need to browse to the hotel’s web domain and append /atyourservice. Of course they could have offered a QR code to make it easy but they don’t so I type it all in on the tiny keys on my phone. And then I’m brought to a page that looks remarkably like the hotel chain’s main landing page. Bear in mind I’m browsing while I’m in my room on the hotel’s wifi network. They ought to know where I am.
 
Nothing on this page says anything about ordering food. But I can browse to reserve a hotel room at one of a number of hotels! I can even checkin! Oh wait - I did that already.
 
I‘m thinking there must be a link to room-service somewhere …. Wait … there’s a pull down menu at the top … let’s see what this has - surely there’s a room service menu in here?
 
Oh! this is what I find (see figure).
 
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Envision 2016: Microsoft Pushes Beyond IT

Where was HololensThis week in New Orleans, Microsoft launched it's first conference aimed squarely at business leaders as the company looks to move beyond the department of the CIO. Envision 2016 replaces Microsoft's previous Convergence conference and comes on the heels of "Build2016" the previous week.
 
As a guest of Microsoft, I had two reasons to attend Envision: First, to hear from CEO Satya Nadella and other Microsoft executives; I wanted to better understand their business strategy going forward, specifically as it relates to enterprise customers. Secondly, I had the opportunity to provide feedback to Microsoft leaders on its enterprise marketing strategy.
 
It was no doubt clear to attendees that Microsoft wants a relationship with enterprise customers beyond the office of the CIO. Based on Satya's opening keynote, there is a recognition that Microsoft must become a more strategic business partner, helping today's CIO clients work alongside their line-of-business peers to deliver on the promise of digital business. 
 
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Digitizing The Car: Why Auto-Makers Are On The Wrong Track

Autocross

I’m a bit of a car nut. I love driving cars. So does my wife. We both autocross one of our cars most weekends in the New England summers (FYI AutoX is a great way to hone your driving skills and be a safer driver). We love our cars and I’m pretty passionate about the whole driving experience.

As a car junkie, I love the fact that automakers are bringing digital experiences to their cars, but I can’t help thinking they are going about it all backwards – or as we say at Forrester, from the inside out.

In my post from CES this year, I noted that every single automaker seems hell-bent on making the car the center of their customer’s digital world. No doubt manufacturers hear the siren call of customer data; imagining all that they could do with such rich information. But it’s inside-out because, even for car-lovers like me, the car is not the center of my digital universe and I doubt it ever will be. Why? Because my car doesn’t go with me wherever I go. But you know what does? My phone.

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Digital Innovation Labs For Customers: Do They Inspire?

EinsteinMany technology vendors tell me they have established digital innovation labs as a place to bring customers and inspire them. So I was wondering, have you and your leadership team visited such a lab? If so, I'd like to hear from you:

  • What did you like? 
  • What didn't work so well?
  • Were any of your expectations not met?
  • Did your team come away inspired?
  • If so, what did you do differently as a result?
  • What would you like to see more of?

Drop me a confidential note via Twitter @NigelFenwick, LinkedIn or email me (or simply comment below - not confidential).

(If you're a vendor with an innovation lab, send me a factsheet about your lab(s)). 

Thanks.

Previous post: Microsoft and Lowe's Announce Augmented Reality Is Coming To Stores

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Microsoft And Lowe's Announce Augmented Reality Is Coming To Stores

If you're one of my regular readers, you may remember a post from August 2015 – "The Future Of Retail Is Digital" – in which I highlight key findings from a report on the future of retail experience. One recommendation was that retailers should begin to experiment with augmented and virtual reality technology early, so that potential use cases can be piloted in-store. Well this week, Microsoft announced a partnership with Lowe's to demonstrate the viability of Microsoft's Hololens to help Lowe's customers visualize custom kitchens.

While VR/AR is a long way from widespread market adoption (see this March 16 post by J.P. Gownder), the time needed to pilot and experiment with this technology means tech and CX teams in retailers need to be piloting use cases now in order to figure out what, if any, business impact the technology will have. (See also my comments from CES 2016).

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The Digital Transformation Playbook

As regular followers of my blog know, I’ve been covering digital business transformation since 2012 - before “digital” became the be-all and end-all term of technology marketers. (Have you noticed how every tech vendor is now an expert in digital business?). At the end of 2012 I penned a post predicting 2013 would be the year of digital business. And since then I’ve focused much of my research on the interconnections between digital business, customer experience, marketing and technology.

I’m happy to announce that we’ve now published a playbook on digital business transformation for the C-Suite - specifically for CIOs, but useful for all executives, including CMOs. The first few reports in the playbook are already live on our website, with the remainder coming on stream in the next few months. This playbook complements the earlier e-business digital playbook we published a couple of years ago.

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Welcome To The Age Of Innovation - Perspectives On CES 2016

Presenting and hosting a panel on digital transformation at this year's CES gave me the opportunity to wander the 2 million square feet of exhibit space and assimilate some of the changes coming our way:

Welcome To The Age Of Invention. For me, the most exciting aspect of CES is the sheer volume of innovative, inventive startups that are tapping into the power of sensor-enabled technology to create new products and services. Many of these companies are funded through crowdfunding platforms like Kickstartergofundme and indiegogo. The pace of innovation will accelerate as high-school kids use their fertile imaginations to tap into the technology that’s now second nature to them.

The Internet Of Things Will Fuel Rapid Digital Transformation. Based on the sheer volume of internet connected devices coming on the market this year, we’re going to see an explosion in the Internet Of Things (IoT). Everything – from wearables that track everything from your health and fitness to the temperature of a newborn child, and in-home appliances that interconnect to create a home environment tailored to your preferences – everything is now designed with sensors that collect data that's used to deliver better customer outcomes. Or at least that’s the promise. Sensors can and will improve our lives – giving us more data and insight about our environment and allowing us to tailor experiences to be more finely tuned to our personal desires. The data provided by the sensors in the Internet Of Things is the fuel for further digital transformation.

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Unleash Your Digital Predator

Your customers' digital experiences with other suppliers already shape their perceptions of value. Today, your customer assess the value of your services based in part on your ability to integrate into their digital world. The future belongs to companies able to harness digital to create new sources of customer value - these companies are destined to become digital predators, swallowing up lesser digital prey. 

As a business leader, do you get the feeling that you're no longer playing the same game that you once were? It's not you; the world has changed. The things that used to set companies apart — such as economies of scale, distribution strength, and brand — are far less potent than they used to be. Why? Because digital technology has fundamentally changed two things: the dynamics of the markets in which you operate and the speed needed to remain competitive.

The latest report in our series on digital business – Unleash Your Digital Predator – updates our thinking on digital transformation and includes analysis of data from our latest executive research study on digital, conducted in partnership with executive search firm Odgers Berndtson.

Many firms proudly point to their mobile app and proclaim "Hey, we're digital!" While they may be driving incremental revenue, all they have done is bolt another digital touchpoint onto the existing business. Digital transformation goes much further, fundamentally reshaping the way you create value for your customers and drive revenue growth. Achieving this requires that firms approach digital business from the outside in, pursuing two dimensions of digital in parallel: digital customer experience(DCX) and digital operational excellence (DOX).

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