I had a fascinating inquiry this morning with a government securities commission (not the SEC and not in the US). The client had a classic question about how to navigate the new data economy. The commission produces and consumes large volumes of data but continue to struggle to answer persistent business questions like how well they are doing or even who they are doing it for. Yes, securities commissions regulate securities markets; they monitor publically traded companies, investment houses, and brokerage firms. Howevver they continue to ask, “for whom?” Who are the investors that they are protecting with their regulation? As they expressed the question, “How do we know what Mrs. Smith is investing in?” They currently work with several large data providers who provide financial information on companies but that information wasn’t exactly what they were looking for. Essentially, in this Age of the Customer, they want to know who their “customers” are. This was a question about how to best serve their customers, in this case the investors.
They wanted to know how to source additional third-party data that would give them a clearer picture of the investors that they are serving. Census data provides a wealth of information about households and individual finances. But the data teams at the commission are not experts in navigating census data. Data providers like Thompson-Reuters provide data on the financial services industry. Others such as Experian or Acxiom provide information on consumers. What kinds of other data providers can help them with their data strategy to answer that basic question of how to better serve their customers, and who they are?
Order management systems (OMS’s) typically haven’t garnered the same attention as other commerce technology. Orchestrating online orders from the point of purchase through to the point of fulfillment was viewed (through the eyes of eBusiness professionals) as a back-office process. In fact, eBusiness professionals have historically paid little attention to these systems and were happy for them to be developed and minded by supply chain or enterprise architecture professionals. But like the awkward kid at school, Omnichannel OMS systems have blossomed and turned into the must-have technology for almost every eBusiness leader.
Is this the long-awaited year of mobile? Last week, Facebook announced that its quarterly profits had more than doubled, driven in large part by mobile; 62% of Facebook’s ad revenue now comes from advertising on mobile devices. Forrester forecasts that mobile will be the fastest-growing digital marketing category in 2014, increasing 47% in 2013 over the prior year. And Forrester believes that we are witnessing a mobile mind shift — “the expectation that I can get what I want in my immediate context and moments of need.”
But mobile’s marketing moment has not yet arrived. While consumers continue the rapid shift to mobile, marketers have not yet realized mobile’s brand building potential — because for too many marketers, mobile remains a tactical underfunded offshoot disconnected from a CMO's brand building efforts. This is a missed opportunity.
Marketing needs a mobile mind shift. To harness the power of mobile, marketers must start with the experience they want customers to have with their brand, not the technology. Then determine what role mobile can play in delivering, improving, or even reinventing that experience — by creating, anticipating, or addressing a customer's mobile moment. Because the new battleground for customers is the mobile moment — the instant in which a customer has a want or need — Forrester has identified three types of mobile marketing moments.
"When will Google launch a bank and what will it look like?" is a question I frequently hear from our banking clients. Google’s activities in digital wallets and payments, as well as its reputation as one of the most disruptive firms in the market, have obviously left many banking executives worried. Unfortunately, they’re asking the wrong question.
I’ll leave aside the issue of whether Google or perhaps Apple or Amazon should be the focus of this increased attention. Each of these players has its unique strengths and growth plans, and some of these correlate more or less closely with financial services. That’s not what makes the question so wrong. As I write in my new report, it’s the assumptions that are faulty here; assumptions that reveal precisely the type of legacy mindset that makes many retail banks so vulnerable to disruption.
Many retail financial firms still haven’t grasped the full potential of digital disruption. They think that new competitors will use their digital might to beat them at their own game, be that through more efficient processes, brilliant algorithms or better user experience. While these three things do matter, what matters most is the purpose which they serve. As I have written elsewhere, digital disruptors like Google are disruptive because they don’t play by the rules. Instead, they use digital technologies to deliver better or entirely new ways of meeting customer needs, often bypassing regulation and re-defining a given industry in the process.
Pundits’ take that Facebook has “solved” mobile advertising after its home run last week hid a bigger, behind-the-scenes story:
We’re finally seeing branding and direct response marketing merge in a meaningful and measurable way; Facebook is just one place where it’s happening most demonstrably.
Here’s important context: Facebook’s quarterly earnings beat projections last Thursday, driven by the 62% of its ad revenue that comes from mobile. Also note that Facebook’s only ad revenue from mobile is its in-feed ads (or native ads, or whatever you want to call them).
The in-feed ad is Facebook’s holy grail. If they can manage to position ads in users’ mobile feeds so that these ads: a) perform well, and b) don’t kill engagement with Facebook, then they can print money against their 1 billion-plus monthly active users.
Facebook knows they’ll need advertisers’ and their agencies’ help to achieve this. That’s why I want to draw your attention to a slightly less publicized study that came out of Facebook and two partners the week prior to its quarterly earnings announcement.
Working with the social ad platform Adaptly and Refinery29 (one of a new set of savvy content-driven eCommerce outlets), Facebook showed that social advertising that merges branding and direct response outperforms direct response ads alone, by a margin of about 70%.
I have just published a report that builds on Forrester's research on CMOs' technology spending plans, focusing on India's banking industry. The Indian banking industry emerged unscathed from the 2008 and 2009 global financial crises, but it will not be immune to the age of the customer. My report outlines how technology will play an increasingly crucial role in implementing differentiated revenue models, a superior customer experience, and an optimized cost structure for banks. The key findings from the report include:
Digitally enabled customers are demanding customer obsession from their banks. Indian banking CMOs' top three business priorities are addressing the rising expectations of customers, improving margins, and acquiring and retaining customers — priorities that are similar to those of their peers in other industries. The experience that other industries offer — such as the compelling content, interactions, and features that consumer product companies provide — are shaping customer expectations, and customers want similar experiences from their banks. And the entry of new players and the tough economic situation are driving CMOs to increase their focus on winning, serving, and retaining customers.
Does something like this sound familiar? "We need to find, fix, finish, exploit, analyze, & disseminate this intrusion set along the kill chain via force multipliers so we can observe, orient, decide, and act according to tactical, operational, and strategic priority intelligence requirements." I bet that part of it does.
I think that it is important to keep in mind that we aren't the military and don't have the resources of the military. While military concepts can be useful, buzzwords won't secure your environment; you could become distracted and utilize your limited resources in the wrong manner. As I was sorting out my Black Hat calendar tonight, I fortuitously saw a talk that is very applicable to this topic: "The Library of Sparta," with David Raymond, Greg Conti, and Tom Cross. Here is part of their abstract:
At my wedding reception (I will NOT be saying how many years ago), another couple and my husband and I took the dance floor when the cotton eyed joe began to play. I’ve actually seen it danced a few different ways but the way we danced it then involved a lot of going forwards and backwards, kicking and hopping to and fro in a circle as couples rather than traditional line dancing. How did we manage this dance in a very small circle with all the dress clothes including my poofy wedding dress (THAT probably dated me) to boot and still manage to laugh our way through it? Our partners made all the difference.
You are probably thinking – she just released the ITSM Implementation Service Providers Wave for North America a few weeks ago with a blog, why didn’t she bring up the partnership story then? Because picking the right partner for ITSM SaaS is just as important as picking an implementation service provider for success. Everyone knows that when you pick a SaaS provider, they are responsible for the delivery operations of that service. But I find clients who know very little about what the delivery capabilities are for the ITSM SaaS vendors and in the past we did not have a method of highlighting the differences between delivery capabilites. In the newly released Forrester Wave: ITSM SaaS Delivery Capabilities report, I take the 10 vendors we have classified as having an “established” client base in the Market Overview: IT Service Management SaaS Tools Update, 2014 report and applied 30 evaluation criteria to detail these differences.
(1) Rapidly improving their mobile services. Yes, this is now true of many banks around the world, but it's especially true in Australia. Following our reviews, CommBank announced updates to its app that would move the bank from 64 out of 100 to 69 out of 100, and up from 10th place globally, based on our reviews of 32 banks across 11 countries, to joint 6th. Westpac has already migrated 1.2 million customers to its new web based platform, which would move the bank from 62 to 77 out of 100, and 2nd place overall in our global reviews, up from 12th. These are dramatic positional swings in a very short period of time.
Pop Quiz: If your company has conquered North America and Western Europe and is now looking for the next big market, where should you go? The no-thinking, because it’s obvious, answer is of course China. But if you want low cost of entry and a rapid return on investment you might want to aim a bit further South - to Australia.
While it isn’t as big a market as China (or even India) and may have a higher cost of living, which can make establishing a beachhead there expensive, Australia has significant enough similarities to the western world — a well-educated populace, a high income citizenship and desire for new technologies and innovations — to make success here far easier. And if you are doing ROI calculations around this decision, it has a key advantage over its Asian peers: higher acceptance of cloud services.