Predictions 2016: eBiz Professionals’ Influence Continues to Expand

2016 is looking busy for eBusiness professionals, who hold an increasingly important role as digital leaders in their organizations. They’ve been in strategic and operational roles, driving digital transformation throughout their companies. Their hand in new developments such as digital store or branch, mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT) proves that this role is core to productive, current, and rapidly evolving firm. 

In 2016, Forrester believes that:

Top digital leaders will get poached by other firms. As lagging firms wake up to the current competitive reality in 2016, they will actively look to those leading digital transformation in the service of customer obsession to find top talent.  And they’ll be looking across verticals — not just within their own competitive set.

Mobile takes business beyond digital channels, roles, and responsibilities. Only 4% of the executives we surveyed have the organization, technology, and talent to engage consumers proactively in their mobile moments, but 14% aspire to do so.  To address this gap, many companies will create mobile centers of excellence where digital leaders will be key players. In this role, they will orchestrate the use of mobile throughout the organization, driving cross-role collaboration.

Digital ecosystems will accelerate — particularly with mobile. As more organizations look to serve their customers across multiple touchpoints and an evolving journey, digital pros will help tie them together via partner ecosystems.  These ecosystems will connect with customers across their personal ecosystems. For example, digital pros will create new partnerships with mobile platforms as consumers spend time in fewer apps.

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Millennial Shopping Experience Series: A Stroll Down Fifth Ave: Digital? Yes. Helpful? Not so much.

Omnichannel retailing is a ubiquitous initiative among retailers today.  It's ambitious, necessary and very challenging.  Each channel reinforces the others and Adam Silverman's digital store work is great stuff advancing the thinking around how retailers are bringing new digital tech into the store environment, putting into customer and store associate hands to drive value.  He writes about it in a recent doc: The Future of the Digital Store.  And, two millennials on our team tested out some digital store experiences recently.   Here is the second in the millennials shopping experience blog series, this one by Laura Naparstek and Diana Gold.

On a recent afternoon, we took a walk down NYC’s Fifth Avenue to discover that many retailers are not always getting the in-store tech game right. This area of Manhattan is like an upscale mall where retailers experiment and test new in-store innovations; however, the technology we saw did little to reduce friction. Many retailers’ in-store tools were cosmetic—or broken.

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Millennial Shopping Experience Series: Old School Satisfaction in New School Brooklyn

This blog is the first in a series I've devised where I've asked a few millennials (some on my team, some in my family, and others) to look at their shopping experiences across the multichannel field and report back.  Those reports will be featured here, in my blog over the next few months.  

Why am I doing this?  Well as Sucharita Mulpuru writes in her terrific report, The Future of Shopping, 0% 100% repeat-x rgb(255, 255, 255);">Digital natives are now sought-after shoppers with disposable income and retailers are nervous that these consumers are capricious and demanding, with unique expectations for products, customer service, and payments.  Most large firms are looking for data and insights on millenials, even if they are not in their core customer segement.  So here is the first in my series by Luke Evans:

Old School Satisfaction in New School Brooklyn

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Andy Hoar gets bold

Andy recently published the first B2B ecom forecast .  He and the forecast team have tackled a complex market and come up with bold numbers-- and the numbers are huge.  Here's a link to his blog.  And here is a link to the doc.

Then, Andy followed it up with a big idea report: Dealth of a (B2B) Salesman.  It's bold work that maps out the future of the ebiz B2B salesman - who survives, who evolves and who doesn't.  Here's a link to his blog.  And here is a link to the doc.

For any eBusiness pro working in B2B these two docs are worth the read.  Even if you don't agree with the conclusion in the Death of a Salesman doc initially, you will see a very strong, well laid out argument that is pretty hard to ignore.  Happy reading!

eBusinesses Use Digital to Deal with Sandy

eBusiness professionals have disaster recovery plans in place to deal with nearly annual storms across the country.  How many times have we heard of a snow storm November and December slamming formerly robust holiday sales?  However, Sandy has put the northeast in uncharted waters.  The extent of the challenges we face in the nation's most populous region is vast and varied:  Gas, fuel and water shortages, road closures, and electrical outages affect both homes and businesses throughout the area.  NYC is an odd microcosm of the variety of issues we face:  Below 23rd Street has water but no electricity and no subway service. By contrast, north of 23rd Street - while it’s not business as usual - life is closer to normal.  Yet, in the outer boroughs and the tri-state area, the situation is often much, much more dire.   

I write this from refuge at my brother-in-law’s apartment at 100th Street because we lost power at home in Tribeca.  Since we are safe, I am more frustrated by lack of battery power and Wi-Fi variability than I am with the lack of electricity for other things.   I felt so cut off without internet access.  To see crowds of people leaning up against closed Starbucks locations’ outer walls to access Wi-Fi is an indication of how digital technology has become so critical to our daily lives.  Now, fully connected, I am able to work at near full capacity in spite of the devastation around me – I just wish my brain was up to my digital capabilities.

Across a broad search on how eBusinesses are dealing with the situation, a number of initiatives arose:

  • Local businesses are already using digital means to try to recover.
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Harnessing the Mobile Revolution -- End-to-End

Engaging with users via mobile is now unavoidable - no surprise there. By 2016, smartphone subscriptions in the US will likely outnumber people and in Europe, almost 70% of the population will own smartphones. Consumers want  simple, immediate, and contextual  mobile services.

Mobile offers additional contact options that go beyond the traditional touchpoints you have with a consumer, further embeds your brand into your customers' lives, and, perhaps most importantly, can serve as the central connector between all your touchpoints. The flexibility and immediacy mobile provides enables you to drive customers across and within channels and, at the same time, comes with greater complexity and more need for speed. 


eBusiness professionals are at the forefront of this evolution.  In order to drive value for your business and your customer, it is critical that you have a systematic, end-to-end approach to support and connect with customers through this critical touchpoint.
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Inhibitors And Drivers In Japan’s Retail Market

I spent last week in Tokyo, Japan.  Given that an increasing number of our clients are eyeing Japan’s eCommerce market, I thought it would be interesting to share some observations from my trip. Local business perception is that the economy is struggling and will persist to struggle, but robust activity on the street and our most recent Asia Pacific Forecast belie that. There is clearly potential for growth in the market, but changes need to be made before that can happen. Based on my observations, the key inhibitors are:

  • Low adoption of English in the business world. Japanese is the primary language used to conduct business in Japan. Understandable in the world’s third-largest economy. Many understand English, few are comfortable using it in a professional setting. This issue makes it hard for broader penetration globally across eBusiness. A notable exception is maverick Rakuten where employees are required to have strong English language skills.
  • Retail is aggressive but mostly single channel in focus. Companies I talked to are trying to understand cross-touchpoint attribution, but there is little evidence of multichannel sales in those stores. BIC Camera, one of the largest consumer electronics chains in Tokyo, for example, offers an enormous selection without the option to purchase across different channels.
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Learn From Your Peers And Forrester Analysts

Springtime in London will bring the Forrester eBusiness and Channel Strategy Summit (May 23).  The event will focus on how progressive organizations are actually executing effectively in serving their customers across a complex array of touchpoints.  In particular, we'll spend a good deal of time talking about the impact mobile is having on how we all effectively serve customers.  Julie Ask will lead us off on that topic from her vast knowledge in the mobile space.  She and Thomas Husson recently published their much-read Mobile Trends assessment for this year — great read. 

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Join Our Global Mobile Survey And Get Free Aggregated Results

A year ago, Forrester fielded our Q3 2010 Global Mobile Maturity Online Survey. We interviewed more than 200 executives in charge of their companies’ mobile strategies around the globe (40% in the US, 40% in Europe, and 20% in the rest of the world). You can see the results from last year’s survey here.

To help consumer product strategists and executives benchmark and mature their mobile consumer strategies, we’re updating this survey.

Planning and organizing for the use of mobile technologies is a complex task. Some players are laggards and think they still need to get the basics of their online presence right, while others are clearly ahead of the curve. Yet two questions we consistently hear are: “Where is my organization compared with others in the use of mobile?” and “How can we mature our mobile consumer approach?”

Here’s how you can help:

If you’re in charge of your company's mobile consumer initiative or if you’re familiar with it, then please take this survey.

Click here to start the questionnaire. 

If you’re not familiar with your company’s mobile consumer approach, please forward this survey to the relevant colleagues who are in charge of defining or implementing your mobile consumer approach. 

  • The survey takes less than 20 minutes to complete.
  • The survey will be live until November 20.
  • Responses will be kept strictly confidential and published only in an aggregated and anonymous manner.
  • For your efforts, we will share a free copy of the survey results.
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Payments Evolution Adds Complexity To The Multitouchpoint World Of eBusiness

Though Google’s announcement of its new Wallet product is unlikely to be terribly disruptive initially (see Charlie Golvin’s post about it), it does signal yet another point of complexity facing eBusiness professionals today. We’ve been writing about this topic and advising clients about how to address it all year. We expect this subject, fundamentally agile commerce, to be a persistent theme for quite some time. So I thought it would be a good time to pull some of the good work my colleagues have been doing together around this topic of multitouchpoint proliferation (that’s a mouthful). 

Charlie Golvin and Thomas Husson have a fuller assessment of the Google announcement published that augments their existing blog investigation of the evolving multitouchpoint space.  Plus, they have been looking into the complex and changing mobile and payment space lately. See: Welcome To The Multidevice, Multiconnection World.

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