Announcing Our Annual Benchmark On The State Of US Consumers And Technology In 2016

Gina Fleming

In 2016, consumers of all ages are extremely connected — the average US online adult uses more than four connected devices, three-quarters use a smartphone and more than half use a tablet. Forrester’s annual report on the State of Consumers and Technology: Benchmark 2016, US reveals the most important consumer technology trends that marketers need to know. This data-rich report is a graphical analysis of a range of topics about consumers and technology and serves as a benchmark for US consumers’ level of technology adoption, usage, and attitudes. Our annual benchmark report is based on Forrester's Technographics® online benchmark survey that we've been fielding since 1998. We analyze our findings through a generational lens, including Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen X, Younger Boomers, Older Boomers, and the Golden Generation.

What did we find this year? All generations use more devices this year than a year ago, but which devices they use depends heavily on age. For example, 84% of Gen Zers (ages 18-27) use a smartphone and laptop, but only 44% use a desktop computer and 49% use a tablet. Their older Millennial counterparts, Gen Yers (ages 28 -36), have higher incomes and in addition to using smartphones and tablets, two-thirds use a tablet. In contrast, three-quarters of the Golden Generation (ages 72+) uses a desktop computer, and only a third use a smartphone. 

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Big Data, Big Growth, Big Promises

Jennifer Adams

In the age of the customer, insights-driven businesses use big data solutions to gain business insights, create differentiated customer experiences, and drive competitive advantage. In our recently published Big Data Management Solutions Forecast, 2016 To 2021 (Global ), we take a more in-depth look at the software solutions to manage big data.

Big data management solutions address data sets that are so large and complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate. Nonrelational databases are one of the key tools to manage and search the increasingly large and diverse types of data. Scaling is built into nonrelational databases, allowing them to support millions of users and hundreds of terabytes of data. The cost of a nonrelational database is typically only 10% of the cost of a comparable traditional relational database.

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Don’t Let That Social Post Pass You By

Jessica Liu

Social marketing often feels like running a race against an unlikely competitor: your own customers. In the social media world, consumer behaviors and technical functionality evolve so quickly that the minute you feel good about your social presence and perhaps have even pulled neck-and-neck with your customers’ social media behaviors, they surge ahead and leave you in the dust. What’s your technique to keep up with this superior runner in this course-shifting race? Do you have a methodical training approach before the big race or do you improvise after you push off from the starting block? Most runners will tell you that it’s preferable to be in the former camp and not the latter.

The pace of social technology change and the volume of short shelf-life content make social networks a real-time media channel. Yet, marketers have trouble managing social content at the speed that it demands. Unlike traditional media channels (TV, print, and even digital banner ads), “social media” and “we’ve got months to do this” are rarely uttered in the same breath. As part of our new Social Marketing Playbook launch, the Processes chapter gives marketers a structure for managing social content in real-time and striking a balance between inbound inquiries and outbound messaging. Marketers ultimately need:

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An Existential Threat

A message for CEOs:  You are slowly going out of business, and many of you don't know it yet.

Your customers demand reliable and compelling experience, enabled by your business technology (BT). If that technology fails, or if you fail to provide that technology, you will lose customers and market share. Your company will be acquired, broken up, or stagger into oblivion as an irrelevant zombie.

Early evidence? Store closings at Wal-Mart and Macy's are exhibit A, but stress fractures are appearing in financial services (Bank of America), telecommunications (Comcast), and the travel industry (United). Now none of these companies are going to disappear in the near term. But the pressure and time of "Customer geology" spell long-term trouble.

The threat is not understood at the top of most companies. In my years attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, I never once encountered a session on how technology should be deployed in large companies.  CEOs aren't engaged, board members don't care, and most investors and analysts can't see beyond the quarter. 

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Banks and Fintechs: Better together

Aurelie L'Hostis

Old met new in the world of retail banking on July 28, as BPCE, France’s second largest banking group, announced the acquisition of the German digital bank and fintech pioneer Fidor Bank.

Founded in 2009, Fidor Bank has built a community of 350,000 users across Germany and the UK, who are rewarded for offering peer-to-peer financial advice and invited to participate in the social co-creation of products and services. The startup has also developed a proprietary technology platform – the Fidor Operating System (fOS) – which enables open and fast API banking, offering its 120,000 customers access to a wide selection of services provided by other fintech partners.

The news about BPCE inking a deal with Fidor came as no surprise. As I discuss in a recent report, the digital banks which have proliferated over the past few years – competing to win customers by offering more compelling digital customer experiences than those offered by established banks – are struggling to acquire large numbers of customers and reach profitable scale. Why? They operate on narrow margins, can’t sustain large marketing campaigns, and create limited perceived added-value for customers.

Fidor has done well since its launch, hitting profitability for the first time in 2012. The startup however made the decision to shift its business model away from just direct-to-consumer offerings, and now white-label its technology to financial institutions. The telecom operator Telefónica in Germany recently partnered with the fintech to launch a mobile banking service for its customers.

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Cisco Takes Next Step To Becoming A Partner For The CIO's BT Agenda

Dan Bieler

Cisco's declared intention to further invest in key priority areas in its portfolio, such as security, IoT, collaboration, next generation data center and cloud, did not come as a great surprise to Forrester.

Last year, we evaluated Cisco’s efforts to transform itself  from a network business to a global provider of business technology (BT) -- the technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers -- and a strategic partner to CIOs and CTOs. Cisco launched several programs to change its operational set-up, its business culture, its compensation incentives, and also its skillsets.  

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How British Gas Transformed Customer Engagement And Won Our 2015 EA Award

Charlie Dai

Customers’ perception of a company depends on their experiences with the organization at every point of contact. Companies can try to change how customers view a brand in a number of ways, such as a new mobile app or an improved complaint-handling process. However, to really improve customer perception, every interaction at every touchpoint must answer questions, suggest new services, and deepen the relationship. Many firms fail to tap into business opportunities that their front-line employees encounter because their processes and technology are antiquated. 

Enterprise architecture (EA) programs can lead the effort to address these limitations and deliver benefits to customers. British Gas, one of the winners of the 2015 Forrester/InfoWorld EA Awards, is a firm that seized its opportunity. My recent report, Enterprise Architects Transform Customer Engagement, analyzes the key practices enterprise architects at British Gas made to serve as brand ambassadors and to improve customer satisfaction levels and highlights key lessons for EA leaders. These practices include:

  • APIs, cloud, and big data technologies power the new engagement platform. To build an engagement platform that delivers customer insights to front-line engineers, the British Gas EA team developed a platform architecture that uses APIs and cloud and big data technologies to support a new engagement platform and the applications on top of it. The API mechanism simplifies digital connections to business applications; cloud infrastructure provides robustness and agility for business operations; big data technology arms field engineers with customer insights; and policies and multitenancy ensure flexibility and security.
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Google Video Chat App Duo Connects iOS And Android, But Fragments The Landscape

Nick Barber

Google this week added yet another chat app to the mix with Duo, a smartphone-only video chat application that bridges the gap between iOS and Android devices. Rather than solve the problem of interoperation between different video chat applications, though, it made another application altogether. 

The killer video chat app will be the one that works like a telephone. Regardless of your carrier, device, or network, you can dial a number anywhere in the world and talk to someone on the other end. Google, Apple, Facebook, Snapchat and others who offer video calling: take a page from the enterprise.  The problems that consumers face now with video chat applications are the same ones that enterprises overcame years ago with interoperation standards. Enterprise videoconferencing systems for years have boasted interoperation standards like H.323 and SIP so that systems from Cisco, Polycom, and other vendors could all talk to each other. The consumerization of IT is flipped in this case. Traditionally we’re used to having a better experience outside of the enterprise than within, but when it comes to video chat the enterprise wins.

The good news about Duo is that it connects Android and iOS users. Apple’s Facetime doesn’t. With Duo you can talk to anyone, regardless of their OS.

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CXDC 2016 Q&A with The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Rick Parrish

CXDC 2016 is just around the corner, and we have an incredible agenda featuring 25+ Federal CX leaders and top Forrester analysts. 

I asked two of our speakers from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Sarah Brooks, Director, Insight & Design and Julia Kim, Chief of Staff, Veterans Experience – to chat about some of the ways VA is improving the customer experience (CX) for veterans.

Rick: The CX team at VA has been very busy! What two or three CX improvements over the past year are you most proud of? Why?

Sarah and Julia: It has been busy! Especially when we are trying to build the office while also doing the work. We are proud of many things (more than we can put into a blog post!), but here are a few things we’ll highlight:

  • Reframing the Disability Compensation and Pension application process from Veterans’ points of view. There were only five people in our office, and Secretary Bob asked us to look into this thing that he was getting a lot of calls and emails about. What we found is that VA is not managing our Veteran-facing touchpoints during this process – in fact, we have very few front stage touchpoints at all. We have done a lot of work to optimize the back stage (see figure 1). We were not thinking about how to help Veterans understand what was happening and why it was happening. This was our first exposure to what has become a recurring theme at VA.
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Bringing Order To Chaos: Unraveling the Social Technology Web

Erna Alfred Liousas

Marketers have more choices then they really need when it comes to social marketing tools. Market fragmentation and consolidation, along with the internal organizational struggles we all face, make it a challenging time to be a marketer.

But don’t worry — we’re here to help! After analyzing the marketplace and interviewing 35 companies ranging from brands to agencies to vendors, my “Unraveling The Social Technology Web” report discusses:

  • The evolution of the social marketing technology landscape
  • Principles for determining if you truly need a particular technology
  • An overview of technologies that support specific social tactics across the customer life cycle

Our team will continue writing reports analyzing this space, so feel free to share the topics that interest you along with the challenges you face with social technologies.