Channeling My Inner Millennial

Mary Shea

As a very late Boomer or — as The New York Times columnist Richard Pérez-Peña likes to call us — a Boomer reboot, I find that I have Millennials on my mind all the time! I’m not on social networks for 3 hours a day; I’m just an avid user. I sleep with my smart phone on my bedside table, and I’m a pretty good multitasker. I work with a group of phenomenal Millennials at Forrester, and I now clock more than a year in terms of researching, writing, and speaking about Millennials in the workplace. As I think about our team of researchers, I’m reminded of a Forbes quote of the day that Caroline Robertson shared with me recently: “If you put Boomers and Millennials together in the same place and with the right setting and conditions, it’s amazing how they spark each other.” I wholeheartedly agree.

Check out our most recent report, “Millennial B2B Buyers Come of Age,” and see if you agree. Shanta Samlal-Fadelle and I coauthored this report, which looks at the impact that the heads-down generation is having on purchasing decisions for their firms. Although 73% of Millennials in B2B organizations tell us that they have involvement as influencers or decision makers, our research shows that B2B marketing and sales leaders are not paying enough attention to this increasingly present and influential constituency. In the report, you’ll hear directly from Millennials regarding their engagement and channel preferences, while Shanta and I provide actionable advice on how to fine-tune your approach to attract, rather than repel, Millennial buyers.

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Trust Must Be The Foundation Of Your B2B Digital Ecosystem

Dan Bieler

Far from being a soft issue, trust underpins the management of your digital business and digital ecosystems. Trust is one of the most vital elements of any business relationship. But the shift away from linear value chains focused on internal relationships toward more open networks of relationships in the context of digital ecosystems has made trust a critical driver of new revenue opportunities and more efficient operations. As the foundation of your B2B digital ecosystem, trust has a significant impact on your bottom line as:

  • Multistakeholder relationships are gradually replacing interpersonal relationships. Enterprise customers expect their presales and aftersales engagements with vendors to be coherent and consistent. CIOs must support trust-building technology across the value chain.
  • Digital transformation that doesn’t put trust at the center will fail. Digital alters business dynamics. Trust is the oxygen of business activity. Without trust, all enterprise stakeholder relationships are suboptimal.
  • Trust scores will emerge to certify the trustworthiness of business and workers. To overcome the challenges of false identities and data tampering, data custodians will emerge to authenticate identities and ensure data quality.
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B2B Marketing Is More Than Just Marketing

Peter O'Neill

At the B2B Marketing 2016 forum last October, we had several sessions when we reflected on some external forces that affect our work as marketers. Trends included the movement toward as-a-service business models (our CEO once famously predicted that every business will eventually become a software business), the increasing use of video content in marketing, and the leverage of social channels. These sessions had great attendance, and the feedback was very positive. We had made attendees aware of possibilities that they may not have yet discussed in their own companies.

Similarly, we often pleasantly surprise our B2B marketing subscribers with research reports that appear on our landing page. We provide powerful buyer and buyer-journey data to technology vendors, and we continue to explore the as-a-service theme through a series of reports from Duncan Jones, vice president and principal analyst, who normally publishes for sourcing and vendor management (i.e., procurement) professionals.

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Marketers Aren't Getting What They're Paying For

Susan Bidel

Marketers have always carefully calibrated their messages and the audiences they wanted to reach, and, for most of advertising’s history, the process was pretty straightforward. Marketers used content as a proxy for audience, and worked with known and trusted entities to carry out their plans. They bought space, delivered materials to publishers, and ads appeared. That was the process for the first banner ad, too, for AT&T on Wired Magazine’s website on October 27, 1994.

While the intent of marketers has remained consistent as they have embraced digital channels, the process of executing advertising is a lot more complicated. In the intervening 23 years since that first banner ad, hundreds of companies have arisen intermediating tried and true relationships between marketers and media. These companies claim to improve the process for marketers by identifying and reaching audiences without the context of content, using modeling practices honed in financial markets.  

But, there are some fundamental differences in the two markets. Financial market regulators would not tolerate, for example, the sort of haphazard standards that are applied to digital media. Any financial institution caught selling fake stock, for example, would suffer severe consequences.

The same doesn’t appear to be true in digital advertising. The result is that the ecosystem is rife with fraud and unviable inventory that essentially robs marketers of their ability to know what they are buying, who they are really reaching, and how to measure their progress. Without that knowledge, they cannot build a sustainable digital advertising practice that performs for them, and that more broadly drives the economy.

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YouTube Concerns Will Boost The Long-Run Outlook For Online Video Ad Spend

Brandon Verblow

Poor quality inventory and lack of transparency are problems for the digital ad industry. My colleague Susan Bidel and I have recently published reports that show how the related problems of fraud and lack of viewability result in wasted spending by marketers and a lost revenue opportunity for quality publishers. For further detail, clients can read Forrester Data Report: Ad Fraud And Viewability Forecast, 2016 To 2021 (US) and Poor Quality Ads Cost US Marketers $7.4 Billion In 2016.

While not an issue of ad fraud or viewability per se, recent concern over YouTube ads represents another facet of the ad quality problem. In the past couple of weeks, large marketers like AT&T, Verizon, and The Guardian have pulled their ads from YouTube after discovering that these had been displayed alongside video content promoting terrorism and hate.

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Technology Management - 5 to 7 years from now

Marc Cecere
 
There have been many “this will end IT as we know it” events. The PC, client/server, the web, and outsourcing have all changed tech organizations, but not fundamentally. This time things are different. Five to seven years from now, these organizations will resemble current ones, just as the first cell phones resemble the iPhone.
 
The empowerment of customers and business users, external services, new methodologies, automation, and cognitive technologies will dramatically change the size, shape, and mandate of this organization. These forces will automate functions, increase role specialization, and shift focus from internal capabilities to external services.
 
So, what will these organizations look like?
 
 
 
  • They  will be smaller and more specialized as packages apps and cloud reduce the need for coding, engineering and other hand-on technical skills.
  • They will be faster because of cloud, agile methodologies and changing client expectations.
  • Business and technology differences will blur as users become more sophisticated, tools more intuitive and Agile becomes the default methodology. 
  • Structurally we’ll see experimentation with broker/integrator/orchestrator, continuous business services, internal consulting and other models. 

Amazon Connect - The Elephant In The Room In The Customer Service Space

Kate Leggett

Amazon just launched a preliminary cloud contact center offering, built on AWS. It offers an IVR, natural language understanding via Lex, queueing and routing and telephony infrastructure. It supports basic self-service interactions, and phone interactions. The best videos to explain what Amazon Connect does is at: Getting Started With Amazon Connect  and Introducing Amazon Connect

Even though this is a first step in the commercial contact center world, this offering is really cool. Why? Because Amazon knows how to build and run contact centers. They built their own infrastructure to  power "millions of customer conversations". Amazon Connect has the potential for democratizing customer service technologies - making them simpler, smarter and prepackaged, to allow companies of all sizes to offer good service. 

Today, a customer service organization needs 3 technology categories to support their operations: queuing and routing technologies (to route incidents to the right agent), a  CRM or customer service agent desktop (to capture customer and case details), and workforce optimization technologies (to manage agent staffing, productivity, quality and forecasting).

This technology ecosystem is cumbersome, unintegrated, and vendors offer pieces of this ecosystem. Sure, there’s been movement to consolidate these categories over the last several years. But, still nobody offers the end-to-end solution that customers demand.

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Computer: Tea, Earl Grey, Hot

James McQuivey

With all due respect, Star Trek got the future wrong in this one important respect.

Like millions of others, I have a fond spot in my aural memory for the voice of Patrick Stewart. With his enviably erudite accent, Stewart played Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise D, and in the process resurrected the Star Trek franchise from the campy overdrama of William Shatner's Captain James T. Kirk. Among the many things Stewart's voice intoned with such high confidence, one that is instantly recognizable to fans like me is: "Computer, tea, Early Grey, hot."

In the fantasy world of the Starship Enterprise, the computer was an omnipresence, an intelligence that could interact with you verbally but also directed visual information to touchscreens nearby when needed. The computer could also control lighting, ship systems, and -- as so lovingly demonstrated in the above clip -- food replicators. Sounds a lot like Amazon's Alexa, doesn't it? Star Trek is famously credited with previsioning a lot of technology we have today, from PDAs, mobile phones and, hopefully soon, tricorders. You can, in fact, assign your Amazon Echo to respond to the command "computer" instead of Alexa, should you wish.

But this simple sentence, "Computer, tea, Early Grey, hot," as right a description of the future as it is, also got the future completely wrong. Setting aside the question of whether we'll ever have food replicators, if we examine what the phrase suggests about human-computer interaction in the future, we can see pretty quickly why Star Trek got this one wrong. Because in the future:

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The Disruptive Force of Disruption

Victor Milligan

Digital disruption is a fairly well understood dynamic: new entrant uses technology in new ways to upend existing business models and disrupt markets. In other words, digital disruption is a distinct force with a distinct life span that is mostly external to traditional markets and businesses.

But what if it is more than that? What if it is the canary in the coal mine representing the first signals of a shift in our economy and society? Consider the following:

  • 7% of jobs will exit the economy due to automation even if one considers the jobs created specifically by automation. Without the creation of different products or markets (think of the app economy), automation can cause a major shock to developed economies.
  • We are already seeing early indications of how high-performing, highly liquid platforms (think Facebook) can extend services and experiences into different industries (e.g. banking and peer-to-peer lending) to blur or pummel traditional industry lines and norms.
  • The next step in Uber is self-driving cars which are moving from a cool idea to a reality – and will cause duress or change in automotive, transportation, and insurance markets (let alone public safety norms).
  • Artificial intelligence offers up the opportunity to change the health of populations, changing life expectancy, the very nature of diagnostic, surgical, and hospital care, and the economics of health insurance.
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Plate Tectonics and the TV Advertising Business

Jim Nail

 One of the key concepts I learned as a geology major at Williams College comes in very handy when analyzing the changes in the TV advertising business over the past few years. Plate tectonics describes giant slabs of the earth's crust that contain the continents and are propelled by the upwelling of molten layers deep in the earth's core. As plate boundaries grind against each other or are pulled apart by these forces, the mega-structures of the earth are formed: mountain ranges, undersea trenches and ocean basins. The San Andreas Fault is probably the best known example of a plate boundary. For decades, or even centuries, there is no apparent movement but once the massive forces can no longer be contained, the plates can move a dramatic distance within seconds, such as the 1989 Loma Prieta quake which exhibited a 7 foot shift in the position of two plates.

What the heck does this have to do with TV advertising? Just as this plate movement builds up tremendous pressures, so have the forces of technology, advertiser demands for better targeting, and the drift of dollars away from TV to digital put pressure on the TV networks. But just as the plates initially resist moving, there has been little movement in TV advertising: The upfronts last year recovered from the down years of 2014 to 2016, there has been little progress in addressable TV, and Nielsen still reigns as the currency of the market. We've seen the TV business resist these technology-driven pressures for at least a decade, so the question is whether the business will gradually change over the next five to 10 years, or will a San Andreas style quake transform the industry in a matter of months?

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