James Wang of ARK Funding Administration agrees. He says, Alphabet's Q1 earnings underscore "a macro theme we are seeing in the internet space, which is that the bigger players are getting bigger and the smaller players are treading water or shrinking."
I don't like this. I don't like this one bit because I'm always a fan of the underdog. But also because it seems way too risky to tie so much market health to a small number of firms. And because it creates a socialogical mis-perception of how much is enough. I'll let you economists out there weigh in here; I'm interested.
And I will simply say that I don't expect Alphabet's advertising growth to continue in a similar habit because:
Business Intelligence (BI) pros continue to look for outside professional services. Forty-nine percent of decision makers say their firms are already engaging and/or expanding their engagements with outside data and analytic service providers, and another 22% plan to do so in the next 12 months. There are two main reasons for this sustained trend:
The breadth and depth of BI deployments cannot be internally replicated at scale. Delivering widely adopted and effective BI solutions is not easy. It requires rigor in methodology, discipline in execution, the right resources, and the application of numerous best practices. No internal enterprise tech organization can claim this wealth of expertise and experience; this only comes after delivering thousands of successful and unsuccessful BI projects — which we believe is solely the realm of management consultants and systems integrators. These partners have collectively accumulated such experience over many years and thousands of clients and projects.
Many of you may know that at the beginning of March my colleague Rebecca McAdams who had been leading Forrester's email marketing research for the previous 18 months moved into an Advisor position with Forrester's customer experience leadership board. With this change, I'm proud to reclaim email marketing as my very own. Some of you may be thinking, "This feels a little back to the future..." You are right! I've been studying email since 1999 (yikes!). And am looking forward to continuing our great research agenda on the workhorse of the digital marketer's toolkit.
Rebecca launched some "future of email" research before her move. As I go through the notes from the smart conversations she had trying to find the answer to: What is next for email marketing? This question pops into my mind instead: Has email marketing already come as far as it can? What I learned from the research is that:
Marketers already know what best practices will make email marketing better, they just don't apply them.
Because doing so:
Costs more. Making email better, through analytics, improved segmentation, dynamic content or offer optimization drives up email CPMs (from basically free to not quite free).
The world is changing fast, and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and telecommuting are increasingly becoming the norm, not the exception. This increasingly mobile and flexible workforce creates new security challenges as more and different types of devices are being used in multiple locations. Security and risk professionals must ensure that only the right people get access to the right information at the right time and for the right reasons. Identity and access management (IAM) tools help evaluate who has authorized access to which resources and why.
While IAM has traditionally focused on access for employees and business partners, we actually expect customer identity access management (CIAM) to be one of the fastest growing IAM niches. CIAM requires a delicate balance between security measures that are strong enough but don’t detract from the customer experience. As a bonus, data collected by CIAM tools can help with customer retention and drive profitability. As companies learn to leverage this data, we expect 19.5% annual CIAM software growth over the next five years.
Today I answered an inquiry about digital strategy and transformation programs in in the utilities sector and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts more widely. While I don't have any formal reports specific to utilities, the sector often comes up in discussions about smart cities and is one we track in our research on data and analytics. For example, utilities have one of the highest rates of engagement with insights service providers which illustrates their drive to better leverage data and insights to inform their digital transformation.
Several of the customer references we interviewed for our recent insights services wave were from the utilities sector. For example, an Australian power company described itself as a "poles and wires business” with significant investment in the network, and need to optimize investments. Their first priority was to improve digital operational excellence (as opposed to digital customer experience). However, the biggest challenge they had was the implication to the organization and the change management required to implement the insights into their operations. A water company in the UK engaged an insights service provider for similar operational and process optimization.
The bedrock of the insurance industry is quaking. For decades, large North American insurers got bigger by dominating distribution and methodically mastering information technology. But the confluence of changing customer demands, hundreds of insuretech startups and non-traditional competitors sniffing around the business of insurance is messing up the long-standing insurance equilibrium. Insurance carriers--and their agents and brokers--must go digital or go bust.
During the second half of 2016, my fellow Forrester analyst, Oliwia Berdak and I interviewed digital business strategy executives with traditional insurers and hot startups around the globe to get their take on the role that digital will play in the business of insurance over the coming decade. What were the big takeaways from our conversations? Consider that:
Digital technologies have enabled new insurance models, threatening incumbents. Digital disruption threatens to reduce many insurance companies to low-margin utilities, with limited engagement with or relevance to customers.
Legacy insurers are struggling to respond. Even though nearly one in three insurers told us in a separate survey that they were in the midst of massive disruption, insurers are being thwarted by their business silos, legacy tech, disconnected business partners, their scramble for skills, legal and compliance, AND the fact that except for auto, other business lines are profitable.
Vertical integration will break apart. The vertical integration that served insurers so well in the past has become an obstacle to the rapid change unleashed by digitally empowered customers. The insurance value chain will fragment as companies build new partnerships, pursue new revenue streams, and seek new ways to create value for customers.
Today Amazon announced the latest addition to its Amazon Echo line of Alexa-enabled devices. The Echo Look is the first Echo device to include a camera. It will not be the last. Adding a camera is the smartest next move for Amazon even though it will trigger an "ick" response by people nervous about Amazon looking into their homes. First, the details.
Echo Look is being positioned as an Alexa device that can also take your picture or capture video hands free. By playing on a double meaning of the word "look" the company baits a nice marketing hook because it then goes on to emphasize that by looking at you, the device can help you "love your look." How? By fulfilling a portion of the long-hoped-for magic mirror concept I first wrote about in 2011. The magic mirror would look at you and help you make yourself over. While many companies like L'Oreal and Rimmel have adapted this concept for use in a mobile phone makeup app, nobody has yet gone for the full-body closet assistant we described in 2011. (Actually, there are several of these available in upscale dressing rooms, but none available for in-home use.)
If you’re a B2B marketer and take responsibility for building content for sellers, here's one of those déjà vu moments that you’ve come to dread. During a presentation, a slide comes up. You’ve seen this slide before. In fact, you built that slide — a few years ago. What is it doing in this presentation? How out of date is it?
Oh, you know the story. The seller had some version of the original presentation and mixed this and other slides with newer content. Or the original presentation with additional slides is still findable somewhere on a shared drive. But someone changed — customized — it without regard to current positioning, messaging, or branding. From the seller’s point of view, nothing is more natural than to fit content to the needs of the buyer, which progresses the sale. But from the marketer’s point of view, carefully crafted messages are garbled or — worse — just plain wrong.
What do we do? For B2B marketers, the answer is not to just clamp down on customizing. Sellers will always have ways to download or screen-capture content and alter it. The answer is to think about how and why the content sellers use should be customized.
I have a huge German Shepherd that ranks only slightly behind my human children when it comes to being spoiled and how much attention he gets. I’ve been working on training him for nearly a year now, and he amazes me with how intelligent he is. He knows all the basics: sit, stay, here, lay down, etc. But he also picked up detecting scents very quickly and is learning to detect things with his nose that I can’t even see with my eyes. And he does all of these things faster than most kids learn to break the Netflix password.
The other day, working with him on his training points, I thought to myself, “Woah, my dog speaks human.” Not just English either. He speaks German (that’s the language he's trained in), and he totally understands it. I realized the problem is that I don't speak “Dog.” My dog knows about 30 human words, and they are words in a language his master has no business trying to pronounce, mind you. But he knows what those words mean, and he gets the tasking or request down every time they're uttered. He could look at me for an hour and bark, growl, howl, yip, or yelp constantly, and he could be telling me the cure for cancer and I wouldn’t know it.
OK that’s interesting, but what does it have to do with better communication among techies?
At last October’s B2B Marketing Forum,Ryan Skinner, senior analyst at Forrester, delivered one of the more resounding messages — and gave us a serious wake-up call on our content marketing work to date. He told us, “Too much, not enough quality.” And our greatest quality issue is in our content distribution strategies.
This is indeed a serious challenge for B2B marketing organizations, which spend an average of 12% of their budgets on content marketing. We dedicate three times as much headcount to this as our cousins in consumer marketing. But Forrester’s recent survey of technology buyers revealed that 60% of these buyers believe that content that vendors provide is “useless.”
That’s a wastage of$4.3 million for a business with, say, $1 billion in revenues!
Now when they say “useless,” they don’t mean badly written. The content’s useless because it is usually the wrong information that gets delivered at the wrong time and probably to the wrong person.
What do you do if you have so many resources and so much waste? Well, consider a process improvement program such as outsourcing or even automation. No, not automatically generated content (though we do talk about the emergence of content intelligence and intelligent agent tools in the recent Forrester report “The Top Emerging Technologies For B2B Marketers”), I am thinking here of how to improve your content management and dissemination.