Apr 04 2014

Channel Optimization

By Barton Goldenberg, President of ISM

Channel management in both B2B and B2C industries is evolving quickly. Who could have forecasted the explosive growth of companies like Amazon, Apple, iTunes, Sysco, or Zappos? Many of these companies are now multi-billion dollar leaders within their respective industries. Consider the dramatic changes that have taken place at bookstores, record shops, and travel agents. Any company today that has not implemented a seamless multi-channel strategy (e.g., stocking distributors, agents/brokers, direct sales, indirect sales, contact centers, self-serve web, social communities) risks their own demise.

Severe channel disruption will continue to take place over the next five years and will meaningfully impact the way your company distributes its goods and services in the future. You must understand where your industry’s channel management is heading, and then put into place the optimal multi-channel strategy that typically includes enhanced business processes and the utilization of integration technologies with each channel partner.

Multi-channel strategy optimizes customer channel preference versus lowest cost-to-serve channel. Yet determining customer channel preference requires hard work, and determining the lowest cost-to-serve channel [for each customer] often is not tracked by companies because it is hard to do. Yet properly done, channel optimization drives both customer satisfaction and profitability. So it is not a matter of whether you will need to achieve channel optimization but rather how you will go about achieving channel optimization. Do you have any thoughts regarding how to achieve this optimization?

On April 8th, at 1:00 p.m., I will be digging into this topic during ISM’s monthly webinar. I encourage to you attend, and bring your questions and thoughts along. To sign up for this even, click here

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Mar 24 2014

The Internet of Everything

By Barton Goldenberg, President of ISM

I recently had a very interesting conversation with my good friend, Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies based in San Jose, CA, and a renowned technology analyst. Tim is very keen on the new trend called the “Internet of Everything”, which was in full display at this year’s Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show. What follows results from my discussion with Tim and follow-up research:

The “Internet of Everything” is made up of two parts. The first part consists of the infrastructure required to connect all devices – smart phone, tablets, PC, etc. – for real-time communications and analysis. For obvious reasons, this is being backed by Cisco. The second part – which is being called the “Internet of Things” – and is being backed by Qualcomm and Intel – is less about the infrastructure and more about the collection of data from lots of different devices. Here are some examples of the Internet of Things in action:

• Connected Automobile (20-30 sensors per vehicle)
• Connected Devices (e.g., AppStore, Netflix, OnStar)
• Connected Home (e.g., Kwikset, PetTracker, Dropcam and connected refrigerators)
• Connected Wearables (e.g., Nike+, glasses, watches)
• Connected Health (e.g., iHealth, Mimo)
• Connected Commerce (based on Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons)

An excellent Internet of Things example is the Sleep Number bed, which has 500 sensors in it. When a person lies on a Sleep Number bed, the sensors pick up the person’s body movements and send the data back to this person’s smartphone with observations on sleeping habits to allow the person to hopefully sleep better. In another example, companies are now building motion sensors directly into tennis racquets that can be connected to a smartphone to provide tennis players with detailed analysis of their tennis game.

A key component supporting the Internet of Things is “Beacon” technology. Today’s Beacons use blue tooth low energy (BTLE), which is a radio chip that utilizes low energy specs. BTLE today transmits consistent signals and can be used in headsets, smart phones, etc. And unlike the older blue tooth devices, BTLE does not stream continuously but rather sends out short communications bursts thereby enabling device batteries to last up to a month without charge.

Beacon technology can be used for short signal bursts based on location. So for example, imagine a person downloading the Macy’s department store app, and informing Macy’s what products he/she is interested in (e.g., jeans, jewelry, etc.). Macy’s can then place beacons on for example their jeans aisle such that when the person is shopping at a Macy’s store, the Macy’s app sends out a promotional alert to that individual shopper to inform them that there is a 30% discount on jeans for the next 30 minutes. Pretty cool use of technology!

For those of you not yet familiar with the new SF 49ers stadium currently being built in Santa Clara, this new venue will utilize Beacon technology throughout. It will be the most tech-friendly stadium ever with the entire stadium WIFI-ready. By placing a Beacon on every other seat, stadium attendees will be able to see the location of his/her seat on his/her smartphone or tablet if he/she has an electronic ticket. Once seated, the Beacon will send a burst of information to the person’s smartphone or tablet such as a 20% discount for T-shirts in the next 20 minutes or an electronic coupon during the game (e.g., $1 off hot dogs). Furthermore, Beacon technology will allow stadium attendees to be connected to the Internet through the football game, so that they can watch replays, get football statistics, view in-stadium promotions, etc. throughout the game. View this one-minute video to learn more.

Tim and I foresee the “Internet of Everything” and the “Internet of Things” having an enormous impact on how companies market and sell products in the future. With 2.8 billion people online today, and another one billion coming online in the next three years, the possibilities to leverage new customer data are endless for both B2C and eventually B2B companies. Of course all this requires a well thought out strategy and implementation plan as well as an understanding of the changes that the company will need to take in the area of customer service as their customers take “always-on and always-connected” to an entirely new level.

The team at ISM is presently working with our clients to analyze the Internet of Everything and its Internet of Things as part of its end-to-end customer-centric planning. ISM will be offering an Executive Briefing to organizations taking a serious look at how they will reach — and sell to — the Internet of the Customer. Get ready to strap your seat belts on, as the Internet of Everything and the Internet of Things is just beginning to take off!

Tags: , , , Posted by - jennifermq @ 4:01 pm


Mar 14 2014

CRM Software: On-Premise vs. On-Demand

By John Chan, Director, ISM Software Lab

According to a study by CSO Insights, 85 percent of all CRM systems in 2003 were On-Premise solutions, while just 15 percent were On-Demand, also known as SaaS (Software as a Service) and Cloud Computing. Fast forward ten years to 2013 and SaaS has over 40 percent of all deployments with the potential to reach 50 percent in 2015 reports Gartner. A major reason for the change is pricing. It can be very expensive to start up an on-premise solution, while the subscription rates of On-Demand CRM can be a more inexpensive model. Another reason for this change is the advancement of the Internet. Some companies have trouble supporting all of their information on their own system, but thanks to the Internet these companies are now able to go with an On-Demand solution and have someone else support it all for them.

There are many advantages to using an On-Demand CRM as opposed to an On-Premise. The first advantage is that with an On-Demand solution you can access the system from anywhere as long as there is an Internet connection, and not worry about any local server installation. One of the biggest advantages of an On-Demand service is that there is usually not a large upfront cost for the software since it is usually a subscription fee. This, coupled with the fact that it is a much shorter implementation time than On-Premise, make On-Demand systems very attractive to customers.

However, On-Premise also offers some very intriguing advantages to using its system. While an On-Premise solution can have a large up-front investment, an On-Demand solution can have many hidden subscription fees, including mobile access and extra storage. Many users belief that On-Premise can actually be cheaper in the long-run due to the ongoing fees of an On-Demand solution. The two most prominent advantages of an On-Premise solution are flexibility and security. An On-Premise solution offers the flexibility for a company to modify their system to fit their needs. A company also has complete control to manage security on their system in an On-Premise solution. Not having to worry about others overseeing the data and making sure it is secure is a big plus.

Which CRM solution is better: On-Premise or On-Demand? There really is no correct answer. While each has their own advantages and disadvantages, it really is up to the company to find out which type of solution better fits their particular business.

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Mar 05 2014

Big Data Analytics & Insight

By Barton Goldenberg, Founder & President, ISM

Big Data is going through a similar phase that CRM went through in its heyday in the late 1990s when it meant different things to different people.

Big Data has been described as everything from “as powerful as a tsunami, but a deluge that can be controlled” to “just another name for the same old data marketers have always used.” I view Big Data as information from both traditional and new digital sources that can be leveraged to help you understand your customers while profitably and proactively managing the acquire-grow-retain customer lifecycle. We now know much more than we have ever before about what customers are buying, what they “like”, and what’s important to them. However, this information is only useful if it is actionable, which is why “insight-driven management” is essential in today’s highly competitive and challenging environment.

We’re seeing only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Big Data analytics and insight. While there is no shortage of data analytics opportunities, — e.g., segmentation profiling, customer engagement, propensity to purchase, next best offer – we have just begun to receive data from the ‘Internet of Everything’, where connected devices, homes, wearables, health and commerce will be churning out customer data by the gigabyte.

Now is the time for the ‘creative’ marketer and the ‘technical’ marketer to collaborate. On the one hand, the creative marketer needs to determine how to secure more read-time data coming from brand loyal customers sensitive to privacy issues. On the other hand, the technical marketer needs to harness more real-time data coming from external sources to deliver smarter, insight-drive decision making.

Want to learn more? Attend ISM’s Big Data & Insight webinar on March 11th at 1:00 p.m. EST. For more information and to register, click here

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Feb 10 2014

Do You Capture the “Voice of Your Customer?

Learn How at Feb. 11 ISM/Infor Webinar: Customer Experience Management

By: Barton Goldenberg, Founder & President, ISM

How easy is it to conduct business with your company? How good is the experience when people visit your website, call your contact center, request information, or have a face-to-face with your sales reps? How well do you capture the ‘Voice of the Customer’ within your company? Learn how at the “Customer Experience Management” Tuesday Feb. 11 webinar sponsored by ISM and Infor, a leading provider of business application software.

To provide an excellent customer experience, your company needs to invest time, money and effort. Do your customers value the activities that you perform? Are you spending your money wisely? Do customers have a positive experience with your company regardless of the channel with which they interact? Do you capture, measure, and monitor customer satisfaction?

Customer experience is all about how the customer feels about doing business with your organization. This requires that you place each customer within an appropriate customer segment based on transactional, demographic and behavioral information, and then offer them a unique Customer Journey that meets their specific needs and wants. This ultimately means offering each customer the right product(s) and service(s) at the right time via the desire channel(s). While not an easy task, properly done this helps you achieve a high level of customer loyalty, advocacy and satisfaction.

The tricky part of getting customer experience management right is ensuring that inbound and outbound customer processes (e.g., customer incident management and escalation, eCommerce, customer portals, digital marketing, etc.) get built into or seamless linked with your CRM automation tools that typically include sales, marketing and customer service applications.

It also means taking the time to ensure that a change management program is in place within your organization so that all customer-facing personnel not only adopt customer experience processes and tools but drive customer experience excellence.

While no easy task, today’s savvy customers are willing to accept nothing short of this. Are you ready? For more information and to register for this important Customer Experience Management webinar, click HERE

Tags: , Posted by - jennifermq @ 11:19 am


Jan 23 2014

CRM Market Perspective From ISM Software Lab Director

By: John Chan, Director, ISM Software Lab

John Chan, who joined ISM in 1999 as the Software Lab Director, is responsible for software testing and defining the evaluation criteria for The Guide to Mobile and Social CRM and the CRM software offered on ISM’s Reviews Online service. He oversees the implementation of ISM’s Top 15 CRM Software Awards selection program. Prior to joining ISM, Chan conducted market research for Citibank and focus groups for US Airways as well as market research on email usage. He holds an MBA from Georgetown University and a BA with honors from Colgate University.

You work with dozens of companies with CRM–focused products and services, how has the CRM marketplace changed since 1999 when you joined ISM?

During the late 1990′s and early 2000’s, the CRM industry was not user friendly. There were exceptions, but overall, CRM application fees were very expensive and many buyers felt that they were not getting a ‘bang for their buck’. Users were looking for more functionality and subsequently were underwhelmed with the CRM product they purchased. This has changed for the better over the past decade. Not only have developers made CRM simpler to use and more comprehensive, but the overall price of CRM applications has become less expensive.

Over the past two decades, CRM has changed from just a customer database storage system to an all-around product that a company can use to manage every aspect of their business data. Companies can now use CRM software to continuously track their customers’ needs and wants. The CRM market numbers reflect this convergence. As an example, as of the end of 2012, the annual worldwide CRM market had multiplied more than eight times ($18 billion) compared to what it was 15 years prior, at the end of 1998 ($2.3 billion).

Many factors drove the CRM boom, but the enhancements of the Internet were far reaching. Companies unable to support a full database on premise could move to offsite storage on the Internet for an easier and cheaper investment. The emergence of mobile technology also boosted CRM offerings as companies give their staff easy access to data on the go.

The world of technology is ever changing. This is no different in the CRM marketplace. With new changes come new opportunities. One key issue of CRM software is whether it is hosted On-Premise or On-Demand. In my next blog post, I will cover the many advantages and disadvantages of the two, and how the customer can decide which one will be the better solution for them. If you have any questions or comments, please email me at johnc@ismguide.com or place these questions/comments within the comments section, which follows.

Tags: Posted by - jennifermq @ 9:40 am


Jan 15 2014

Data: Go Big or Go Home

Panel at Marketing & Tech Partnership Summit Jan. 28

By: Barton Goldenberg, Founder & President, ISM

The world of marketing has changed so significantly this past decade that Kotler’s 4 Ps – which stood for many decades as the pillars of successful marketing – are now being challenged. The old adage that marketing is half art and half science is over; the science component is closer to 80% of successful marketing. Here’s why: today’s data analytics and insight tools allow for complex market segmentation and sub-segmentation that leverage comprehensive third-part data overlays, meaningful Customer Journey mapping, channel optimization based in part on meaningful advancements in web analytics, and new ways to successfully promote your products and services using creative, digital techniques. Any marketer that is not levering today’s data analytics and insight tools or is not collaborating closely with their technology colleagues risks personal extinction.

During Direct Marketing News’ annual Marketing & Tech Partnership Summit, I will be challenging my distinguished panelists, Todd Cullen, Chief Data Officer of OgilvyOne and Tamara Gruzbarg, Senior Director of Analytics and Research at Gilt Groupe, regarding strategies for the successful integration of data analytics and insight into the marketing function. Do today’s marketers need to master the new data analytics and insight tools? Can data analytics and insight be delegated to your technology colleagues? If marketing/technology collaboration is the best way forward, how to optimally structure this collaboration? Using case studies from B2B, B2C and B2B2C companies, we will explore how best-in-class companies are leveraging data analytics and insight to enhance marketing decision making and to stay one step ahead of their competition. 2014 is a pivotal year for marketer to transition to the new marketing world: are you ready?

Please share with me the key challenges you see for successfully applying data analytics and insight tools to your day-to-day marketing responsibilities.

For more information on the Summit and to register, click Here

Tags: , , Posted by - jennifermq @ 11:17 am


Dec 12 2013

The Changing Customer View of 360 Degrees

Data Analytics Insight & Analysis and the Customer Experience Add Dimensions

By Jean Young, Vice President, ISM

Several things happened in the last few days to make me take another look at the over-used descriptor of a 360-degree view of the customer as a CRM mantra. First, I was talking to an ISM client praising ISM’s guidance in getting its CRM program on track “so we have a 360° customer view”. Then I saw a very interesting article by Gord Hotchkiss titled “360 Degrees Of Separation” published by MediaPost Publications.

Written from a marketing perspective, the column notes the term originally was the “promise of CRM vendors”. As defined by Big Data, he says it is the “total scope of a customer’s interaction with their company”. Gord then redefines 360 degrees as understanding the “customer’s decision space…with the customer looking from outside in.”

All very interesting but I think his discounting of the CRM industry is naïve. As an example, CRM software vendors and customer-centric strategists, such as ISM, are aggressive leaders in shaping and implementing the Customer Experience and Big Data Analysis & Insight to understand and impact the customer- and organization-initiated journeys. As we know in today’s digital world, the customer “speaks” in many ways. Now, more than ever, the 360-degree view of the customer means we can know, serve and interact with our customers with increased knowledge and insights. All good news.

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Dec 09 2013

Companies Must Have Their Mobile and Online Customer Strategy in Place!

By Barton Goldenberg, Founder & President, ISM

I just received the following interesting tidbit from my weekly financial newsletter:

“Black Friday is losing its importance as mobile devices and online sales continue to gain popularity. According to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, which collects data from roughly 800 U.S. retail sites in real time, as cited in Barron’s, online sales were up 20 percent on Thanksgiving Day this year as compared to last year. They slowed a bit on Black Friday, up just 9 percent relative to last year by mid-afternoon. Many of the folks who chose to forego shopping in stores made their purchases using mobile devices which accounted for 37 percent of online sales on Friday.”

For the past few years I have been writing and speaking about the importance of having your mobile and online customer strategy in place. This requires creative segmentation of your customer base and a clear understanding of the channels in which customer segments prefer to work. This must be complemented by a multi-channel strategy that drives customers to the lowest-cost-to-serve channel while ensuring the highest level of customer satisfaction (needless to say, this is an important trade-off), thereby driving up margins.

While it is true that not all customers will opt to use mobile and online channels, one thing is for sure: more and more customers will select these channels. What amazes me is that while the online channel is fairly well developed, the mobile channel is still in its infancy. The impact of getting your mobile strategy right can be impactful – just look at what happened to Facebook’s stock price as Facebook finally came up with a meaningful mobile offering!

Only the foolhardy would risk not having a mobile and online strategy in place right now. So here’s my question to you: What do you think are the key reasons why so many companies are still struggling to put an effective mobile and online customer strategy into place?

Tags: , Posted by - jennifermq @ 10:33 am


Nov 06 2013

Webinar Tackles Knowledge Communities with Focus on “The Value-Add of Private Social Communities”

ISM & Mzinga Present Nov. 12 Webinar

By Jean Young, VP, ISM

Ask many executives if the company has a private social community and the answer may be: “yes, our clients can login and check the status of orders” or “we have our own Facebook, Twitter, YouTube accounts”. Neither answer is correct.

ISM Founder/President Barton Goldenberg says, “There is confusion as to the role of private social communities, particularly how they fit under the umbrella of Knowledge Communities. This webinar will clarify the confusion, fill in the holes, and provide guidance as to next steps.” ISM, which provides customer-centric business strategies and initiatives for global organizations, and Mzinga, a provider of enterprise social software solutions worldwide, will provide the “facts” and client examples of how private social communities improve internal collaboration, leverage institutional knowledge, and increase customer outreach and satisfaction.

Set for Tuesday, November 12, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., EST, the webinar’s moderator is Barton Goldenberg and the presenters are two veterans of the social media arena: Kathy Barton, SVP of Digital Marketing/Social Media, ISM, and Mike Merriman, VP of Sales/Marketing, Mzinga.

The webinar will cover:

• Internal knowledge communities and how companies are using them to capture, enhance, share and retain knowledge about customers, projects, products and processes.
• External knowledge communities and how to leverage social media tools to deepen existing customer relationships, loyalty and engagement, and increase customer outreach and satisfaction.
• The challenges associated with designing and delivering meaningful knowledge communities.

For more information and to register, click here

Tags: , , Posted by - jennifermq @ 2:45 pm


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