Convergence of Marketing and Technology

With the convergence of marketing and technology, companies are struggling to identify the rightful owner(s) within an organization responsible for prioritizing opportunities which will drive business growth and engage the empowered customer.

Additionally as the use of mobile, social and web increases, it has become critical for organizations to create a 360-degree view of the customer, highlighting both good and bad experiences, across channels and  touchpoints. In addition to focusing on business imperatives such as reduced cost, increased loyalty etc. to drive the customer experience, companies should also consider ‘engagement imperatives’ such as identifying customer pain-points, improving convenience and motivating customers to change behaviors which in turn will lead to increased ROI.

As organizations attempt to understand the customer better by creating customer journeys as well as creating a 360 degree view of the customer cross channels and touchpoints, they need to consider the ‘impact’ these innovative technologies will have on the enterprise. Some key considerations to keep in mind are listed below:

  • Identify Leaders: Identify leaders within the organization to drive the business model innovation required to incorporate new channels such as mobile, social and digital.
  • Create New Business Models: New business models will need to be developed which are nimble, agile and rapidly iterate.
  • Portfolio Optimization:  To achieve portfolio optimization organizations will need to drive alignment and synchronization of activities cross-brand, cross-channel and cross-stakeholder group (Decentralized approaches imply higher costs).
  • Update Business Processes: Current transaction-based processes may need to be updated to deliver personalized, targeted content tailored to the lifestyle of the customer.
  • Update Operational Governance and Management Processes : Operational governance and management processes will need to be built that tap into new market opportunities and customer needs.
  • Co-Create Value with the Customer: Organizational structure of the organization will be impacted by introducing customers into product development efforts.
  • Co-Create Value with Partners: Organizations will need to collaborate with players, such as information technology companies, design agencies, companies providing strategy / management etc. to deliver customer-centric products and services, as they may not have the resources and skill-set in-house to build relevant offerings.
  • Integration of Systems : Building a 360 degree view of the customer requires an understanding of data integration requirements between disparate data sources namely systems of record such as CRM as well as data from social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Data architects will now be required to build processes to connect structured as well as unstructured data

Deep-Dive into Multi-Channel Customer Intelligence

Background

As mobile and social are quickly becoming new channels for customer acquisition, engagement and service, many brands across the board are looking to social and digital channels as a way to increase their customer knowledge and understanding through multiple customer touch-points.

As the use of social channels increases exponentially, it is critical that brands are able to create a 360-degree customer view by aggregating data from each one of these interactive channels. Without drawing from all touch-points, brands fail to have a holistically understanding of their consumer and run the risk of presenting disjointed messaging to their consumer as they visit the brand from a diverse number of channels.

Despite the availability of brand monitoring tools (e.g. Radian 6, Alterian and Scout Labs) and brand analytics tools (e.g. Crimson Hexagon, Crowd Factory, SAS and Oracle), brands face the challenge of trying to close the gap between aggregating data from diverse channels and drawing actionable business insights. In order to turn observation into business advantage, feedback mechanisms need to be created to channel insights towards product improvement, business process improvement and trend recognition.

The Challenge

Harnessing the power of big data to drive business and organizational decisions is not without challenges.

Real-time analytics: Recent statistics demonstrate how high the volume of Twitter data really is – Twitter is seeing around 155,000,000 tweets per day, at about 2500 bytes on average for each tweet and about 35 Mb per second – handling the immense amount of data at a sustained rate is a challenge. Also, gathering real-time analytics is made more difficult because of signal-to-noise ratio. Twitter is especially hard given the high rates at which tweets are created and the minuscule number of those tweets that are relevant to a campaign.

Sentiment Analysis: Sentiment Analysis is about the meaning of the content. Knowing the sentiment (positive, negative or neutral) is a good start, but not enough. The data needs to be analyzed to derive improvement opportunities such as ideas for product innovation and business process improvement. The process of mining data is additionally difficult since the human interaction component cannot be completely eliminated.

Solutions

Many companies are trying to get hip on how to tackle the problem of harnessing excessive amounts of data spread across multiple customer touch points. As companies mature their social programs, they can progress through a variety of stages. Companies who are in the earlier stages of social maturity such as Gatorade are focusing their efforts on listening. Gatorade has created a “mission control center” which is staffed by employees who monitor Twitter and Facebook, 24 hours a day.

Other companies such as SAP have long been monitoring and interacting with their employees and customers via social community sites. SAP’s Senior Vice President Mark Yolton has spoken extensively about his 8+ years of experience using the Social Monitoring tool Jive, which has helped SAP form several social communities both internal and external to the company. The SAP Community Network is used to drive social innovation, commerce, intelligence and social insight. Mark champions that biggest benefit SAP has gained by creating these communities is around ‘Customer Intimacy’ – aggregating and analyzing customer data that allows them to create a 360-degree view of their customers wants, needs and actions which helps SAP understand and interact with more effectively.

At the more experienced end, are companies like Dell who use media channel to engage with consumers and drive sales. Dell has more than 9000 employees trained in social media, a ‘Chief Listening Officer’ and a twitter handle @DellCares which resolves 98% of Twitter reported support requests. Dell’s BI solution is available on a smartphone or tablet, provides up-to-the-minutes sales data and customer intelligence and suggests next actions for front-line service personnel.

Benefits

The analysts at Forrester have coined a term ‘Social Intelligence’ which is defined as the process and use cases for harnessing social media data to inform your business strategy. It involves monitoring social media, collecting and analyzing the content, and using the insights to inform your strategy.

The true benefit of aggregating structured data (weblogs, social CRM, application data) and unstructured data (social applications such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, customer comments and product reviews) is being able to derive actionable insights. Additionally brands need toprovide a feedback mechanism to channel these insights for product improvement, business process improvement and trend analysis.

Aggregating and analyzing data across channels provides the following additional benefits:

Identify New ‘Niche’ Customer Segments – Just because people share some similar characteristics such as age and gender (e.g. female in the age group 35 – 45) does not imply that they share the same passions and interests. Building a community of loyal followers, deeply engaging with them and actively listening and participating will help to identify new niche customer segments.

Deliver Targeted, Personalized Content and Advertising – The future of competitive advantage lies in managing and analyzing all the critical data entering a business environment. Data which provides user preference and location information such as product reviews, check-ins, ratings etc. collected across the mobile, social and digital channels provides a wealth of information for improving customer understanding and targeting them with personalized content.

Increase Customer Loyalty – Customer loyalty and satisfaction can be improved by creating a 360 degree view of the customer and gaining deeper insights into existing customer segments as well as discovering new customer segments by developing a multi-channel strategy and aggregating data across mobile, social and digital channels.

Conclusions

Drawing business insights such as determining ‘top performing regions’ or ‘top influences’ can be accomplished relatively easily by aggregating and analyzing structured and unstructured data, however, the hard part is in drawing subjective business insights such as determining ‘product improvement ideas’ or ‘future trends’.

The key to successful subjective analysis is in empowering and training the personnel at various customer touch points to ask probing questions of customers and flag answers which require deeper analysis. Flagging specific ‘key data points’ will allow actionable nuggets of information to be highlighted and stand apart from the sea of information.

Additionally, forming a deep relationship between people interfacing with customers at multiple touch-points such as social media channels, customer service channels, websites etc. and subject matter experts, such as product managers and designers who are within an organization, will allow for business insights and relevant data to be captured in ‘real-time’ rather than ‘after the fact’, which will lead to better understanding of customer behavior and opinions.

Creating a Mobile Strategy

In my previous post I mentioned that brands who do not consider mobility an integral part of their business strategy may experience limited benefits  from building mobile applications as opposed to brands who focus on developing a mobile strategy which ties back to business goals. A mobile strategy should provide a framework to help brands identify development, cross-platform, monetization, promotional and globalization strategies prior to developing mobile applications.

A mobile strategy provides the framework, vision and guidance on which mobile applications will be built. When creating a mobile strategy be sure to address the following:

1. Key Market Insights: Provide an overview of the mobile market focusing on mobile penetration, market share by device and OS worldwide as well as in the US. I have found spending a few minutes on the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies is a helpful way to show the ‘state’ of emerging technologies.  In this section I also touch upon mobile, social, digital usage patterns and high-level discussion on challenges such as device / platform fragmentation.

2. Competitive Analysis : A competitive analysis is a  good way to study a brand’s competition and the gap between the brand and the innovators and leaders in that business vertical. A detailed competitive analysis focusing on features, functionality and capabilities will help to clearly define the short-terms and long-term objectives the brand hopes to achieve with mobility.

3. Project Sponsors and key Business Stakeholder Interviews: One of the key steps in building a successful mobile strategy is in identifying business stakeholders from cross-functional teams. Interviewing the stakeholders on their goals and objectives to be met via the mobile channel, their target audience and their mobile behaviors and discussions around projects, data sources and application touchpoints will help to ensure cross-functional support and buy-in.

4. Develop the Mobile Strategy: When implementing a mobile strategy, one methodology that I have had success with is POST (People, Objectives, Strategy, Technology) advocated by Forrester. The mobile strategy should be customized to the brand based on their unique requirements, project prioritization, risk (e.g. resistance to adoption, concept maturity etc.), LOE and business benefit (e.g. increasing sales, decreasing costs or increasing loyalty).

5. Best Practices & Mobile Trends : Identifying best practices and mobile trends help brands to best leverage this emerging technology in building mobile websites, native apps and hybrid apps to meet business objectives in the short-term as well as long-term.

Integrated Mobile / Digital Strategy

Integrated Mobile / Digital Strategy

Clients need to define an integrated and holistic digital / mobile strategy across multiple customer touch-points which ties back to their business goals

In my previous post I mentioned that at Blue Saphyre we have created a framework of documents which we refer to as the ‘Web 2.0 Strategy Framework’. It is an integrated and holistic approach to understand a client’s business functions and goals (across multiple channels).

The concept of the web 2.0 Maturity Model document is based on maturity models created by Gartner – however the difference is that the key performance areas (KPAs) identified typically influence the digital / mobile strategy.
– Mobile
– Business Intelligence and Web Analytics
– User Generated Content (UGC) / Social Media
– Content Management Systems (CMS)
– User Experience (UX)
– Information Architecture (IA)

Each of these dimensions play a critical role in holistically understanding the current and desired mobile / digital maturity level of a client as well as in prioritizing capabilities and building a roadmap. These dimensions will continue to evolve may need minor customization based on the industry:

Analyzing the current and desired mobile / digital maturity levels is the first step towards Gap Analysis which helps to identify capabilities of interest. These capabilities need to be prioritized based on risk, effort and business impact.

Sample Prioritization Matrix

Sample Prioritization Matrix

Once the capabilities have been prioritized on a Prioritization Matrix an implementation roadmap can be created with a focus on ‘incrementally’ deploying mobile / digital capabilities in the organization.

Sample Roadmap

Sample Roadmap

Figure 3: Sample Implementation Roadmap

Things you should consider on acting on today – determine where your company / client falls on the mobile / digital maturity model.

Next up is a deep-dive into creating a mobile strategy – stay tuned.

Web 2.0 Strategy Framework

Connecting the Dots

The Scenario

Many clients who I have had the opportunity to meet are looking for a quick and easy way to dabble in social media by creating a Facebook fan page and / or Twitter account without fully understanding how social media can impact their business. Creating a Facebook fan page and Twitter account are free, require minimum effort and gives them a false sense of security of having a competitive advantage. Similarly many companies want a ‘mobile application’ and the reason if asked could be as basic as “our competitors have one”.  Moreover finding people claiming to be ‘iphone developers’ or ‘ social strategists’ are plentiful which makes it easier for companies to spend a relatively small amount of money and get an iphone application built, a Facebook fanpage created or a Twitter account created.

The typical end result of the scenario described above is that the Facebook fanpage and Twitter account may get only a few followers (mostly people from the company and not true customers / users). With no strategy on how to leverage these social channels and without having the right people in place to manage the communication on these channels, they are not able to engage users in a conversation and very soon interest in the channel dies out. Another characteristic which is frequently seen is that the team gets mired in lengthy discussions on ROI calculations to justify investment in social media. Similarly the iphone application which probably took only a couple of developers and a few months to build gets only a few downloads and poor user reviews because of limited / not well thought out functionality and process flows. Given this end result it is not surprising that the company quickly gets disillusioned with social media and decides that there is no compelling reason for them to invest in social media and a new way of doing business.

The Problem

Some of the glaring issues in the scenario described above are listed below :

  1. A holistic and integrateddigital strategy which ties back to business goals had not been defined
  2. Social media goals and objectives had not been defined
  3. The company had not made the cultural shift to adopt social media
  4. The company had not identified champions to monitor and manage the social content
  5. Mobile presence was not considered a core customer interaction channel and not made an integral part of the business strategy

The Solution

At Blue Saphyre we have created a framework of documents which we refer to as the ‘Web 2.0 Strategy Framework’.  It is a holistic approach to understand a clients business functions and goals (across multiple channels) as well as their current and desired web 2.0 maturity levels. The framework is based on using analytics (to derive customer insights), competitive analysis, stakeholder interviews, and research on current trends in the industry.

The framework helps to identify the gap between the current and desired web 2.0 maturity levels, prioritize capabilities across several dimensions such as risk, business benefit and implementation complexity to close this gap and finally create a customized implementation roadmap for the client.

The Web 2.0 Strategy Framework consists of the following list of deliverables:

  1. Web 2.0 Maturity Model
    The web 2.0 maturity model provides a framework and an objective criteria to assess an organization’s web 2.0 maturity level. The framework consists of 5 distinct maturity levels and multiple web 2.0 dimensions such as mobility, business intelligence and analytics and user experience with key practices defined to each capability across all the maturity levels.
    The maturity model helps to provide a common language and shared vision for prioritizing tasks and capturing the as-is and desired maturity level for an organization.
  1. Web 2.0 Questionnaire
    The web 2.0  questionnaire lists key questions for stakeholder interviews to help drive-out the current as well as desired web 2.0 maturity levels of an organization with-respect-to key practices identified across multiple web 2.0 capabilities.
  1. Web 2.0 Prioritization Matrix
    The web 2.0 prioritization matrix provides a template to prioritize web 2.0 capabilities across several dimensions including risk, business benefit and implementation complexity.
  1. Web 2.0 Implementation Roadmap
    Based on gaps identified between the current and desired state of an organization, a roadmap is created with a focus on ‘incrementally’ deploying web 2.0 capabilities within an organization based on capabilities identified and prioritized in the prioritization matrix.

The framework has proved to be an effective tool to guide conversations with clients and drive home the  point that web 2.0 is not a single technology rather it is a combination of technologies and tools which impact each other and need to play well together. Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.

Next up is ‘Creating an Integrated Digital Strategy” – stay tuned.