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Mark Polly

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(New) Age Old Question: Does Customer Experience Drive Growth?

I’ve been really busy lately and missed a nice research report from Forrester back in July 2015.  In the report Does Customer Experience Really Drive Business Success?, analyst Harley Manning presented lots of data saying basically yes.

To start with, however, Mr. Manning presented several Customer Experience (CX) leaders who have tanked recently and CX laggards who have soared. Forrester annually ranks companies in terms of overall CX, not just in terms of a company web site.

Borders and JCPenney are two CX Leaders that both had close to -50% return.  Clearly their CX did not lead to business growth.  On the other hand, CX Laggards Cigna and Comcast both had tremendous growth rates well over 50%.  Obviously four samples do not make for a very compelling correlation, so Mr. Manning dug deeper and more broadly.

His team then looked at the growth compared to CX within specific industries and compared leaders to laggards.  What he found is that growth correlates to CX within most industries.  So don’t compare Comcast to JCPenney as they are not in the same industry. Rather compare Comcast (Laggard) to another cable company like ATT Uverse.  Forrester judged ATT to be a CX Leader in cable.  Guess what?  ATT’s growth rate beat Comcast.

Forrester looked at other industries:

  • Airlines:  JetBlue (CX Leader) beat out United (CX Laggard)
  • Investment Firms: CX Leaders Edward Jones and Charles Schwab beat out the CX Laggards
  • Retailers:  Here a superior online experience trumped traditional retail experiences.  CX Leader Amazon clearly beat out CX Laggard Walmart
  • Only in Health Insurance Payers did Forrester call a draw.  They could not correlate CX to growth in this industry.  Perhaps the turmoil of all the changes brought on by the U.S. Affordable Care Act supersede all others.

Forrester presented a CX/Revenue Growth equation to explain the impact potential.  The chart here summarizes the findings across industries using the equation.

CXIndutry

 

The next step is to see if this analysis holds true for other industries.

You can go to Forrester.com to find the full report.

Digital Leadership Turns into Better Business Performance

We’ve been talking about how digital transformation is essential to success in the future. Harvard Business Review Analytic Services and Redhat recently published a study that shows digital leaders are more likely to be successful than followers or laggards.  Here are a few key points from the study:

  • Digital leaders are more likely to have revenue growth over 10%
  • Profit margins for digital leaders are greater than the average
  • Leading companies will have a CEO who understands digital opportunities and threats, a CIO who is a master at digital, and digitally proficient leaders at many levels of the company
  • Digital leaders will have a clearly defined strategy and vision

In the study, digital followers and laggards were only confident in their digital skills and knowledge 19% and 5% respectively, compared to 67% of the leaders who were extremely confident in their skills and knowledge.  When asked about barriers to developing their digital business, 57% of laggards cited lack of digital leadership as a cause, which was the most cited reason by laggards.

For those companies who want to improve their digital leadership, the authors identify the following actions for CIOs:

  • Create a digital advisory board made up of internal and external experts to advise the executive team.
  • Learn to paint a picture of the digital future and use real examples
  • Embed IT staff in the lines of business to increase two-way learning
  • Create a common lexicon to increase understanding and improve communications
  • Partner closely with key business leaders
  • Establish formal and informal learning forums
  • Embrace a coaching framework across the organization
  • Identify and bring in outside experts to address specific trends for various parts of the business

A good way to start improving your digital leadership is to attend the upcoming webinar Rethink and Realign for Digital Transformation Success. While not tied to the study I talked about, this webinar will provide insights into many of the areas identified above.

You can get the full report on the enterprisersproject.com site.

Richer, More Personalized Customer Experiences for an API Economy

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Open API Economy Source: Point.io

At the IBM Digital Experience 2015 Conference, Ajay Kadakia with IBM talked about how the API economy is affecting legacy IT companies versus the newer cloud-based companies. The challenge is how to provide more agile, market reactive content off the legacy systems when competing against seemingly more agile, cloud based systems.

Ajay talked about the digital disruption that is already underway:

  • 90% of data has been created in the last 2 years
  • 4x increase in cloud investment vs 2013 (just 2 years)
  • 100% of LOB apps will be mobile first by 2017
  • 75B internet connected devices by 2020

Customer centricity is the only differentiator in today’s world, so experience really matters. But customer choice has exploded in the ways they can experience our brand.  Previously a website was the key method for customer self service.  Now we have devices such as mobile apps, kiosks, internet TV, connected appliances, connected cars, etc.

The only way to reach out to all these channels is to build robust APIs. To succeed, you must include a strategy for API creation and consumption in your overall business strategy. And this requires support at every level of the organization.

So what is an API in the context of an API economy. An API is like a Lego building block that can be combined with other APIs to build more sophisticated services.  APIs are the fast path to new business opportunities.  At the end of 2014, over 75% of Fortune 1000 had public APIs.  Almost every bank or financial services companies have APIs for their partners.

A successful API initiative requires end-to-end capabilities. APIs need to know who is using the API, you need to figure out how to charge or not charge for use of the API, and of course you need to manage the use of the API, which can require some IT infrastructure.

Entry points into the API Economy include:

  • Build – API Design and Implementation
  • Manage – API Lifecycle Management
  • Secure – Security, Metering and Control
  • Monetize – Analytics and Monetization

So how do you get started?  First accelerate your agility.  If you can’t be agile, you won’t be fast enough to meet customer and market demand.  Second you need a strategy to identify business goals, assets and revenue strategies.  Finally you need to monetize the API.

What can be API’s? Here are some examples of business assets that could be exposed through APIs:

  • Product catalogs
  • Customer records
  • ATM/Retail Locations
  • Payment Services
  • Shipping and fulfillment
  • Job Openings
  • Risk Profiles
  • Transaction data

You need to do a thorough asset inventory to identify the potential assets that you have that can become APIs.  Some APIs could be monetized, while others may be more useful to create brand loyalty. For each API you need to determine the business goals and success criteria.

There are several monetization models to consider:

  • For Free – can drive adoption for typically low valued assets or brand loyalty
  • Developer pays – high value assets (like Amazon Web Services) could get paid by developers
  • Developer gets paid – provides incentives for developers to use your API for things like Ad Placement, etc
  • Indirect – includes other models

For IBM, they were late to the API Economy, but have quickly caught up through various acquisitions over the past few years. IBM Watson and the new IBM/Apple apps are built on the IBM API platforms.

The ‘Age Of The Customer’ Is Here. What Are You Doing About It?

Customer centricity is no longer just a loaded buzzword used by marketers preaching tactics such as personalization and customer experience. Customer centricity is now a mind-set that companies need to adopt throughout the entire organization—not just marketing—to thrive in the digital world.

This quote from CMO.com’s article The ‘Age of The Customer’ Is Here. What Are You Doing About It? sums up nicely how we have evolved (or maybe suddenly transformed) into the customer-centric epoch.  The term “Age of the Customer” was coined by Forrester and aptly describes how access to information and the customer experience has shifted from companies to customers. This is why we keep seeing trends toward enhancing customer experience (see: Is Customer Experience the Top Digital Trend for 2015?).

Michael Hinshaw, CEO of McorpCX describes this the “Era of Smart Customers”.  He says, “Smart customers are customers that leverage digital devices to access information, anywhere and anytime. What that means is the power in the relationship between companies and customers is in the process of shifting.”Customer Centricity

Customer-centricity is one of the driving factors for Digital Transformation.  To be customer-centric, companies need to bring together people, processes and systems from across the company, especially sales, marketing, customer service. If your company is acting in silos across these areas, customers will see it and move on if they can.

The article, linked below, provides a good overall description of the challenges in becoming customer-centric. Some key steps to take to overcome these challenges include the following:

  • Define ownership for becoming customer-centric.  This could mean appointing a Chief Customer Officer, setting up a steering committee, or some other organizational technique.
  • Define metrics and continually measure how you are doing.  Start with a baseline, set targets and hold people accountable to meet the targets.
  • Refine and coordinate across the business where it affects the customer.  We might call this Digital Transformation, but it goes beyond the ‘digital’ part.  It is really about transforming culture and operations as well as the systems.
  • Connect with your customer.  Get feedback, encourage honest dialog about what you do and don’t do right.

Source: The ‘Age Of The Customer’ Is Here. What Are You Doing About It?

Mobile is at the Top of CEO’s Agenda for Digital Transformation

You’ve probably heard a lot about mobile in the past two years.  In PriceWaterhouseCoopers 18th annual Global CEO Study (2015), 81% of CEOs said that mobile technologies are strategically important to their business.  PWC says, “The sheer ubiquity of mobile devices today has revolutionised customers’ ability to obtain information – which has, in turn, transformed how they perceive value and the type of relationships they want to have with companies.”

PWC Technology Infographic

Everyday we see more and more evidence that mobile has to be a top priority for large and small companies. Not only are the sheer numbers of mobile devices and mobile users increasing every day, but the reliance on these devices increases every day.  Merkle RKG produces a quarterly Digital Marketing Report that has lots of information about where advertisers spend their money and the resulting consumer clicks. Here are some interesting data points from Merkle RKG’s first quarter 2015 report:

  • Mobile Paid Search Ad Spend was 32% of all ad spend in Q1.  That’s up from under 20% in Q1 2013.  Advertisers have increased buying mobile ads 60% in just two years.
  • 44% of paid search clicks on Google came from mobile devices.  So almost half of all ads clicked were ads displayed on mobile devices.
  • Desktop ad clicks dropped another 4% in Q1 on top of a drop of 3% in Q4 2014.  At the same time, phone clicks were up 42% in Q1 and tablet clicks were up 9%.  Tablet clicks were at 28% in Q4 2014, so the growth rate for tablets has slowed.
  • Mobile Organic Search Clicks accounted for 45% of all clicks in Q1 2015.  That’s up from 34% in Q1 2014.  That’s a 32% increase in just one year.

From those numbers it is clear that mobile devices are important to advertisers and search engines. From the click rates, it is also clear that mobile is very important to consumers.

But what if you haven’t jumped on the mobile bandwagon yet?  Will that hurt you? If you don’t really participate in paid advertising or paid search, does this matter to you?

Well Google is about to make that pain more real for companies who don’t make their sites mobile- friendly.  Google has decided to include “mobile- friendly” in its rankings for search results.  If your site is not mobile-friendly, then your ranking will drop on Google.  While your Search Engine Optimization efforts over the past few years have moved you up in the search results, this new designation will drop you back down.  How real is this mobile-friendly ranking?

According to Merkle RKG, Google has identified 29% of the Internet Retailer 500 websites as not mobile-friendly.  For all Fortune 500 websites, 46% do not meet Google standards for mobile-friendly.  Wow, half the Fortune 500 websites are at risk if they don’t revamp their sites.

It should be clear why 81% of CEOs think that mobile is strategically important. Not only are there a lot of mobile devices, but consumers, advertisers and Google are paying a lot of attention to content delivered on mobile.

CMOs Under Increasing Pressure to Produce Results

We’ve heard a lot about Chief Marketing Officers in the last few years.  With Digital Transformation at the top of many CEOs minds, the CMO role has gained prominence and power.  Of course with that prominence, comes increasing scrutiny.  Matt Langie wrote a story on CMO.com about the pressure CMOs are facing due to the high visibility and costs of digital marketing efforts.

Perficient Digital Transformation Series

For me this is a very timely article.  On April 15, I’ll be hosting a webinar titled Harness the Power of Your Digital Marketing Tool Box, where we’ll talk about digital marketing tools and provide some insight into the marketplace. You can register for the webinar by clicking the link.

The CMOs interviewed that story identified four concerns they face:

  1. More variables and more players to navigate.  The marketing marketplace has been going through a high level of turmoil in the past few years with the influx of hundreds of new tools and mergers and acquisitions by big players in the space.  Matt writes: “The pressure mounts each time a digital solution enters the marketplace. What are its capabilities? How does it drive ROI? Who is behind the latest release? What product support can I expect? These are all questions facing digital marketers on a nearly daily basis.”
  2. More issues that require marketers to quickly react/adapt. As our digital capabilities evolve to provide immediate feedback from customers, marketers are expected to address this feedback through their marketing efforts.  There are plenty of stories where marketers did not react quickly enough to both good and adverse events.
  3. Expected to be more proactive in more areas.  Being reactive and adaptive is great, but CEOs don’t like to be surprised.  This puts more pressure on CMOs to be proactive in areas like site optimization, mobile and social.  There has been a lot of talk about analytics, so CMOs are under pressure to be more proactive with identifying trends.
  4. Answering the usual call to deliver more, faster.  Every executive is under pressure to deliver more and deliver faster.  As marketing budgets increase, CEOs are looking for more return on that spend.  So not only do CMOs have to deliver more with limited budgets, they need to respond faster to market changes, which increases pressure on budgets even more.

As I see it, our digital marketing technology is enabling us to become faster, more agile, and more responsive.  However, as we gain these abilities, the pressure to deliver and show real results increases. Right now technology gains aren’t necessarily keeping pace with increasing expectations.

Here is a link to the story where you can read more details: Pressure Pushing Down On CMOs.

10 Questions To Ask A Digital Transformation Consultant

I saw this article – 10 Questions To Ask Before You Hire A Digital Transformation Consultant – on CMO.com and thought it would be interesting from a Digital Transformation consultant’s point of view. The author, Jon Bains, correctly identifies that it can be difficult to know who to trust when you need to engage somebody for consulting services. The Digital Transformation market has a lot of players with traditional agencies and consultancies expanding into this space. Who to engage with is a critical question and could mean great success or dismal failure for your business.

Mr. Bains offers these ten questions that you should ask before partnering up with a consultant. Speaking as one of those potential consultants, these are great questions that any respectable firm will be more than willing to answer.  The key for your company is to match the consultant’s answer with 1) reality – are they telling you the truth? and 2) your culture – will this consulting company fit your company’s style.

Here are the ten questions and my comments.  You can read the original article for Mr. Bains’ clarifications on each question:

  1. What is a typical engagement?  As a consultant, we have processes and methodologies that we like to follow.  Sometimes your engagement lines up exactly with our process and some times it doesn’t.  Look to see if the consultant is adaptable to what you want without losing the essence of their process.
  2. What is the shape of the billing curve?  A lot of potential clients want free strategy work in exchange for the promise of future work.  More than a few days of free work is not really a viable option for most consulting companies.  Strategy work involves the best consultants who are typically in high demand, so giving away that knowledge for free doesn’t make a lot of sense.
  3. Who are we likely to be working with?  In a digital transformation engagement you will typically have strategy work followed by implementation work.  Often the strategy team is different than the implementation team.  When you ask this question, its also important to find out if the strategy team will be available at least part time during the implementation phases.
  4. Has your team worked together before?   As Mr. Bains points out, really large consultants have thousands of employees who may have never met.  While you do want to have experts on the team, it is also desirable that they know how to work with each other and not at odds with each other.  You don’t want the “lead gen” expert creating strategy that the “content marketing” expert can’t deliver.
  5. How well do you know the sector?  This is a really good question because many consultants know marketing or IT, but really don’t know the market that you are in.  Automotive companies have different issues than healthcare providers.  Healthcare providers have different needs than do healthcare insurers.  Make sure your consulting company has experience in your specific sector.
  6. Do you expect to do any related production work? Really this is about the consultant’s ability to implement the strategies they help you create.  Too often I’ve seen consultants create great looking strategy that just could not be implemented with the budget or skills at the client.  If a consultant can help you implement the strategies, then you are that much closer to meeting your goals.
  7. Who is in your extended network – What are you likely to cross-sell?  Is your potential consult going to put pressure on you to “take advantage” of all the other great things they can sell you?  Will your strategy include signing up with the consultant’s email marketing distributor? While taking advantage of the consultant’s other divisions or partners might be very beneficial, you should be able to engage other firms independently as you desire.
  8. Which lines of the org chart are you most comfortable with?  Mr. Bains talks about making sure your consultant lines up with the “Doers” in your company.  If your digital transformation effort will require a lot of IT consulting and you engage a marketing/advertising agency, will that agency be able to work with your IT group?  Of course the opposite is true.  If your work is heavy on marketing or sales transformation and you hire an IT consultant, will that work?  Often times you will need a consultancy that can bring resources who align with all of your “Doers”.
  9. Have you done this before (successfully)?  Experience is always a key factor and usually why you are looking for outside help.  One thing to note is that engagements are almost always covered by some non-disclosure agreement.  So don’t expect your potential consultants to be able to tell you exactly what they did for other customers.  Just like we won’t spill the beans about your company, we won’t do it to other clients.
  10. Why do these programmes fail?  Hopefully your potential consultant as the experience to know what works and what doesn’t.  While all consultants will bring you case studies and examples of successes, try to find out what didn’t work on those projects or where an unnamed client had problems. Equally important is to find out what the consultant learned from those failures and will they apply that to your engagement.

At Perficient, we look forward to you asking us these questions.

Thriving in the Digital Economy thru Digital Transformation

IDC released a new MaturityScape report intended to provide guidance to companies about how to thrive in our new digital economy.  They predict that by 2018 a third of the top twenty market share leaders in each industry will be disrupted by new competitors that use digital technologies to create new services and business models.

IDC provide the following maturity model for digital transformation:

 

Digital Transformation Maturity

Source: IDC

IDC also identifies five key dimensions that need to be addressed:

  • Leadership – leaders need to become more sophisticated and knowledgable in their digital ecosystem.
  • Omni-Experience – the ability to attract and retain customers, employees and partners through engaging digital experiences.
  • Work Source – transforming the businesses work with talent through digital technologies
  • Operating Model – making business more responsive and effective through digitally connected people, partners, systems and assets
  • Information – leverage information and analytics to respond quickly to business opportunities

In the coming months, IDC plans to add further information about these dimensions.

Overall this is exciting information and validates a lot of the work we are currently undertaking with regard to Digital Transformation.

Transformation Needs Marketing, IT and Product Teams To Harmonize

With any Digital Transformation journey, various groups within your company need to coalesce together in order to move the organization forward.  Adobe CIO Gerri Martin-Flickinger spoke about how Adobe had to harmonize their Marketing, IT and Product efforts to ensure their transformation journey was a success.  You can read my blog article about what Adobe and other companies are doing to bring these factions together.

Is Customer Experience the Top Digital Trend for 2015?

If you listen to over 6,000 business professionals, the answer would be YES!  Econsultancy, in association with Adobe has produced a Digital Trends report every year for the last several years. This year’s report, Digital Trends 2015, says Customer Experience is the top, single most exciting opportunity in the digital marketing world. 22% of the survey respondents said that Customer Experience is their top opportunity while Content Marketing came in second at 15%. Here is an infographic from Adobe’s Digital Marketing blog highlighting the trends (view the infographic below as well).

When I looked back over the trends from the last several years, Customer Experience is the only topic voted highest two years in a row. Back in 2014, Customer Experience was predicted to be the hottest trend. In 2013, Content Marketing came out on top.  In 2012 Social was the top opportunity and Mobile topped the charts in 2011. (more…)