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Fresh Research + Data: The 2016 State of Digital Transformation

This week, I released a new report with my client and colleague Brian Solis, principal analyst of Altimeter Group (a Prophet company) that delves into how digital leaders and strategists are tackling digital transformation within their organizations. It features data analysis from more than 500 survey respondents (because we all love a great chart)!


Here are a few highlights – aka TL;DR:

  • Customer Experience (CX) remains the top driver of digital transformation but IT and marketing still influence technology investments.
  • 55% of those responsible for digital transformation cite “evolving customer behaviors and preferences” as the primary catalyst for change. Yet, the number one challenge facing executives (71%) is understanding behavior or impact of the new customer.
  • Only half (54%) of survey respondents have completely mapped out the customer journey. This means that many companies are changing without true customer-centricity.
  • 41% of leaders surveyed said they’ve witnessed an increase in market share due to digital transformation efforts, and 37% cite a positive impact on employee morale.
  • The CMO vs. CIO: Digital transformation is largely led by the CMO (34%) not the CIO/CTO (19%).
  • Innovation tops digital transformation initiatives at companies today. 81% said it was at the top of their agenda, 46% stated their company has launched a formal “innovation center.” Right behind innovation was modernizing IT infrastructure (80%) and improving operational agility (79%).

You can download the report from Prophet’s website here. 

Next up? We’re working on a report that uncovers how the change agents — movers and shakers like YOU within companies — are inciting digital transformation. Stay tuned; that should drop in Q4.



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[New Report] The Six Stages of Digital Transformation

Cover_6_Stages_of_DTI’m pleased to announce the release of a new piece of research I’ve been working on––for a few years, collectively!–with my research colleague Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group. The report, The Six Stages of Digital Transformation, outlines a maturity framework to help companies advance technology roadmaps, business models, and processes to compete in a digital economy.

Download the report for free on AltimeterGroup.com.

After several years of interviewing those helping to drive digital transformation (we call them “change agents”), we have identified a series of patterns, components, and processes that form a strong foundation for change.

The Six Stages of Digital Transformation reflect the state and progress of an organization in motion. The stages are defined by the digital transformation elements that are present in an organization’s current position or its immediate roadmap. Although presented as six distinct steps, companies may not migrate through each step on a linear path or at the same speed. These six distinct stages are:    

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 8.09.12 PM

  1. Business as Usual
  2. Present and Active
  3. Formalized
  4. Strategic
  5. Converged
  6. Innovative and Adaptive                                                                                        

Collectively, these phases serve as a digital maturity blueprint to guide purposeful and advantageous digital transformation. Our research of digital transformation is centered on the digital customer experience (DCX) and thus reflects one of many paths toward change. We found that DCX was an important catalyst in driving the evolution of business, in addition to technology and other market factors.

Within each phase, we assess the following criteria:

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 8.05.06 PM

As digital transformation involves many departments, leaders, and an overall cultural shift of an organization, there is no set prescription for its strategy and implementation. Instead, this report was developed to share common milestones and best practices by those leading transformation in companies such as Discover, GM, Harvard, Lego, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nestlé, Sephora, and Starbucks, among many others. Like the imminent customer journey you will develop, the path from phase to phase is not a linear experience. Use these best practices within the report as your guideposts.

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Misunderstanding mobile creates fractured customer experiences

This post originally appeared in USA Today.

SAN FRANCISCO — Even with the advent of the smartphone as a “first screen,” companies are still unable to see past mobile as simply another marketing channel or the latest bright, shiny object, based on new research from Altimeter Group.

This leads to low budgets and staff allocation in support of mobile initiatives, as well as treating mobile as only part of the customer journey, not a self-contained experience in and of itself.

Mobile CX Cross ChannelSophisticated companies are only beginning to explore a more intuitive and native mobile-only approach as they evolve existing cross-channel and omni-channel strategies to fit with rising consumer expectations and increasingly mobile lifestyles.

In our report, “The Inevitability of a Mobile-Only Customer Experience,” my colleague Brian Solis and I explore how organizations can reach both mobile- and digital-first customers by focusing first on learning more about their frustrations, desires and behaviors specific to mobile.

We found strategists must use these insights to re-imagine the mobile-first customer journey as it could be, in order to move past treating mobile as a “bolt on” to existing digital initiatives.

Consumers are quickly learning to operate in a mobile-only world, with one-third of shoppers using mobile exclusively, and more than half considering mobile the most important resource in the purchase decision process.

Yet many brands force customers to shift between devices and hop channels when moving along the path to purchase. Some 90% of consumers move between devices to accomplish a goal, using an average of three different screen combinations each day .

This is caused by different groups managing disparate touchpoints internally, each with its own process, resources and metrics. Additionally, we found mobile customer experience investments are currently made around the context of engagement (where and when it will be used), requiring users to focus on specific device or app functionality to complete a task. When they require something outside of that unique scenario, they’re forced to turn to another screen or device to convert.

The result is an inconsistent customer experience at best and a lost customer to a competitor who gets it, at worst.

Leading organizations are those that focus on building mobile experiences that are both self-contained (beginning of journey to end) and also complementary to the digital customer journey at large. We spoke with more than 20 mobile strategists and executives from companies that included MasterCard, Zappos, Intuit and Starwood Hotels and Resorts, uncovering that mobile success lies in developing mobile and digital strategies individually, while also bringing them together to deliver a unified customer experience.

Once brands truly understand the digital customer experience and mobile’s role within it, they can begin to design for the experience customers want rather than solely what technology permits. This creates an entire shift in whom companies design for, what problems can be solved, and what results can be reached — including increased customer acquisition, retention, efficiency and more.

The key lies in looking deeper into customer insights, letting data analysis and predictive experience mapping take center stage. Customer behavior is the secret weapon to creating truly innovative mobile experiences that keep customers on-screen, on-device, onto conversion.

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Brands risk irrelevancy when approaching mobile as second screen

This post originally appeared on Marketing Tech News.

Companies that focus on customer-centric mobile experiences will outpace those that lead with technology considerations, according to a recent report by Altimeter Group: The Inevitability of a Mobile-Only Customer Experience.

In our research, we found that mobile’s technological implications should remain considerations during the final stages of mobile strategising only, as they represent a means to an end, not the end in and of itself.

Two Smartphones Mobile Second Screen When brands lose sight of customer lifestyles, needs, and problems throughout their path to purchase, it leads to unwittingly optimising digital strategies for mobile in ways that don’t fit with rising expectations. This results in misinformed investments in cross-channel and multiscreen approaches that cause the very problem they’re solving for—channel-hopping consumers who are forced to visit multiple media to complete a task.

My colleague Brian Solis and I spoke with more than 20 companies that are approaching mobile from a customer-centric point-of-view, including Zappos, MasterCard, Intuit, Old Navy, and Citi. We uncovered that, as mobile positions itself as the customer’s true “first screen,” it is increasingly becoming the standard for hosting the customer journey.

Mobile investment’s catch 22

Unfortunately though, investments in mobile are lagging, as strategists struggle to prove mobile’s value among competing digital, marketing, customer experience, and IT priorities. It is a catch 22 as strategists try to make the case to prioritise investment in mobile: executives require results to approve funding, yet funding is required for processes and technologies to build the business case.

Additionally, we found that mobile is often positioned as a facet of digital marketing, which itself is part of a larger marketing division. This buries mobile in slow-moving bureaucracy, unable to nimbly adapt to shifting customer expectations.

When mobile is aligned with a single department, other groups must work in isolation, complicating or degrading the customer journey.

We found that a mobile working group is a powerful solution, acting as an internal lobbying organisation across multiple departments. This aids in showcasing mobile’s importance to leadership, as well as providing the manpower needed to consistently keep tabs on customer experiences and analyse related data.

For those digital strategists looking to make mobile a top priority in 2015, we advise following four key steps to creating customer-centric experiences:

1. Map the Mobile Customer Journey

Study the mobile customer journey as it exists today, including devices used, challenges, and opportunities within each. Delve into data specific to your mobile customers to define “day-in-the-life” mobile personas that inform customer-centric strategies.

2. Re-imagine the Mobile Customer Journey

Design a mobile-optimised journey, by device, to win each moment of truth. Experiment with strategies that both enhance and prevent channel hopping or multi screening, while also complementing other channels. Define a series of intended mobile experiences at each stage of the customer journey, aligning each with customer personas and related data.

3. Measure and Optimise

Define intended customer response and desired outcomes at each step in the mobile customer journey, by screen. Link back to business goals and shorter term KPIs to measure progress and optimise engagement in each moment of truth.

4. Create Alignment Through a Test-and-Learn Approach

Present customer findings, the newly minted mobile-first journey, and key business outcomes to the greater working team around mobile, digital, and CX. Run a test pilot of the roadmap to validate research and ideas and gain internal support.

Once strategists and executives embrace mobile customer experience at the core of strategy development, mobile reaches the company’s DNA level and is no longer treated as a “bolt-on” to existing digital initiatives.

The result is an ROI that moves beyond light engagement metrics like click-through rate (CTR) and app ratings, and into the realm of increased customer satisfaction, retention, recommendation, and—ultimately—customer lifetime value. Now, those are results that will turn any executive’s head.

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Video Series: “Digital Stat Chat” Debut!

As a follow-up to Altimeter’s 2014 State of Digital Transformation report my colleague Brian Solis and I launched in July, I enlisted the help of Crazy Eyes Productions to create a new way of telling the data story. With that, the “Digital Stat Chat” video series was born. In the first episode, you’ll be introduced to half of the data from our report, with the second half coming next week. You can also access all graphics from the video on Altimeter Group’s Flickr page.

In the future, you can turn to Digital Stat Chat for my review and analysis of newly released data from Altimeter and other reputable sources. From social to mobile, disruptive tech to CX, you’ll find it all here.

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Altimeter Group + Facebook Report: Why Mobile is Essential for Brand Marketing

Digital Media, Mobile Time SpentCompanies that treat mobile as the “first screen” today will be better prepared for tomorrow’s consumers. Mobile is no longer a luxury; it’s table stakes for connecting with your digital customer. It enables right-time, real-time relevancy in brand messaging and promotion, opening up a world of possibilities to the savvy marketer who invests in understanding the mobile, and digital, customer journey.

Facebook commissioned Altimeter Group’s Rebecca Lieb, analyst, and I to explore the growth and evolution of mobile branding and advertising as viable means to reach customers in new ways, on their terms. You can read the report below, and check out Facebook’s interview with Rebecca on its news blog.

[1] comScore Major Mobile Milestones in May: Apps Now Drive Half of All Time Spent on Digital https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Blog/Major-Mobile-Milestones-in-May-Apps-Now-Drive-Half-of-All-Time-Spent-on-Digital June 25, 2014. United States.

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New Research: Socially Engaged Companies Get More Leads, Attract Better Talent

It’s no corporate HR secret: the greater investment made into employees, the greater the ultimate reward back to the company. This has never been truer than today, when always-on employees are increasingly connected to companies via an array of social channels and expect to be greeted by an engaged employer offering valuable content.

Altimeter Group partnered with LinkedIn to look deeper into the impact of corporate social media on a company’s employees, its executives, and its bottom line. Specifically, we examined the results that 25 of the top socially engaged companies reap when cultivating an engaged presence on LinkedIn via content marketing, employee engagement, talent and recruitment, and sales efforts.

We found that companies that take advantage of their ability to reach employees on a deeper level are coming out on top:

1. Employee engagement on LinkedIn is most successful when championed by leadership, starting with active executives. Executives from the most socially engaged companies on LinkedIn are:

Socially Engaged Executives

2. This leads to employees feeling empowered and inspired at their jobs. Employees at companies that are among the top socially engaged in LinkedIn are:

Employees at Socially Engaged Companies

3. And, perhaps most importantly, the top socially engaged companies on LinkedIn reap benefits to the bottom line as well. These companies are:

Results of Socially Engaged CompaniesCheck out the full infographic on LinkedIn’s blog, and learn more about our study and the impact of relationship economics from my colleague, Brian Solis.


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New Research: Understanding the Digital Customer Experience Drives Investment in Digital Transformation

[This post originally appeared on Altimeter Group’s blog.]

“Digital transformation” isn’t a trendy moniker to signify an increase in technology investment. It’s a renewed focus on the customer and the human side of business.

In Altimeter Group’s latest research, we uncovered that digital transformation is a re-alignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models with a pointed purpose: to more effectively engage digital consumers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle. Understanding the digital customer experience (DCX) is one of the primary catalysts for businesses placing substantial investment in digital transformation.

But, why does it matter? What makes digital transformation so important NOW? Social, mobile, real-time, and other disruptive technologies are aligning like never before to necessitate big changes within organizations, forcing them to adapt in order to maintain relevancy. Digital transformation is significant because it is finally driving real change within businesses; they’re developing new models, team structures, and customer-centered philosophies along the way.

For the better part of the last year, my colleague Brian Solis and I researched the current state of digital transformation efforts among best-in-class organizations. We spoke with 20 ecosystem contributors to understand what digital transformation is, what its benefits are, what catalysts drive it, and what challenges lie ahead. We looked for insights into how companies are transforming from the inside out in order to formulate best practices amidst a time of crucial change. We found:

Social Business Alone Isn’t Enough

Social business helps executives flatten traditional hierarchies by empowering employees to connect, communicate, and collaborate across traditional boundaries. But, without a vision for how to compete in connected markets and how to create value for a digital customer, social alone doesn’t cut it. When leadership recognizes that existing business models, systems and processes are ill-equipped to respond without big changes, digital transformation is inevitable.

Brands are Out of Touch with Digital Customer Behaviors and Expectations

Altimeter Group found that brands are out of touch with their digital customers. Even though companies are boosting technology budgets, they’re doing so based on assumptions and not from data or research into the new customer journey. More so, brands don’t yet have the infrastructure to support next-generation marketing efforts. But, there is hope! We also learned that brands are creating a sense of urgency by using insights stemming from the new DCX as the catalyst for internal digital transformation.

Digital Transformation Puts People at the Center

Every business says they’re customer-centric, but Altimeter learned that leading companies put people at the center of change. They start with studying the data (digital footprints and preferences) plus behavior to learn where to prioritize technology, resources, and investments. The case for urgency is made in updating an antiquated customer journey to a more accurate, adaptive, optimized DCX.

Digital Transformation Success Lies in the Reaction of Three Key Elements

During our research, we uncovered three core elements that contribute to successful beginnings and growth of digital transformation efforts. By making significant investments in technology and new business models, companies like Starbucks, Nestle, Intuit, and Sephora are getting in front of digital transformation—rather than stuck reacting to it.

The Three Elements of Digital Transformation

  • Element #1: Vision and Leadership. Digital transformation is an emergent movement and not yet recognized as a formal priority or effort by most businesses. This requires those leading or attempting to get a digital transformation program in motion to make the business case. But, the business case needs more than evidence or anecdotes; it needs a story and a vision for what it looks like and what it delivers.
  • Element #2: Digital Customer Experience. Digital customer experience begins with research, not guesswork, to study personas, behaviors, and expectations throughout every stage of the customer lifecycle. Once armed with information, digital transformation takes shape by specifically aligning people, processes, and technologies against goals and milestones to map a new and effective journey for digital customers.
  • Element #3: The Digital Transformation Team. In many cases, we learned that organizations form special teams to bring people together to start talking and put change into motion. These teams go by many names: digital circles, Centers of Excellence (CoE), rapid innovation teams, digital acceleration teams, and more.

The path toward digital transformation is not prescribed. Every business subscribes to this movement as one that is long-term, without an end in sight. No companies we interviewed claimed to have “figured this out,” nor does any organization believe it has successfully undergone digital transformation. However, one thing is clear: a sense of urgency for change must come from within. A change agent needs to make the case to show that digital customers are already moving on due to a lack of focus on DCX. Only then can organizations begin the process of re-aligning and re-inventing current processes, infrastructures, and teams in order to bring about a more connected customer experience.

You can download the full report here, and share its graphics from our Flickr page

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SXSWi 2013: Data, Data Everywhere

At this year’s SXSWi, I heard a familiar tune: everything still leads back to the data. It’s the underlying and often puzzling theme serving as the connective tissue for all other emerging trends I noted at the festival. Whether perusing the hectic vendor floor, attending insightful sessions, or conversing with attendees over lunch, it was impossible to ignore the data elephant (and, its challenges) in the room.

My LinkedIn social graph visualization. Data upon data!

Data upon data, as visualized in a snapshot of my LinkedIn social graph.

The question keeping everyone up at night is, “How do we make sense of all this data?”
Tracking customers via their data along the Dynamic Customer Journey (DCJ) is morphing into a top priority for organizations as traditional and digital media more seamlessly converge into delivering one holistic experience for the customer. Add to that the rising popularity of the “quantified self,” and companies are now struggling to not only connect the dots between their own data sources but also the data sets of their customers. With consumers beginning to take control of their own data tracking and analysis, the complexity of taking calculated actions only increases for businesses attempting to make sense (or, “cents,” perhaps) of the myriad of data points at their fingertips.

Collaborative consumption is the new buzzword, with its applications attempting to transition from a “nice to have” to proving utility.
From Zaarly to Lyft, Task Rabbit to Airbnb, collaborative consumption has taken hold in the online and mobile application space. Although the majority of these companies are technically in their infancy, their apps are beginning to mature as they develop stronger location and micro-location targeting and service delivery capabilities. A focus on adapting to better deliver real-time information and individualized customization to users is also coming to light as consumers demand instant gratification, fine-tuned relevance, and the death of mass “customization.”

New business opportunities are being discovered as companies further analyze their customers’ dynamic, flexible social graphs.
With companies becoming more savvy in determining the impact of their customers’ online social connections, new business opportunities are emerging that focus on disruption via micro-community development, influencer and advocacy programs, and vertical-specific targeting (healthcare, education, and entertainment were definite stand-outs at SXSWi). As such, analytics is still a big part of the equation, gaining importance as businesses strive to create new opportunities and, still, prove social ROI—whether analyzing an individual’s data, group data sets, or connections between complex big-data graphs.

Although the idea of data management, analysis, and related action may not have a shiny new appeal, it certainly can’t be ignored. The bottom line is that we must solve these core data equations before moving on to the next red-hot, sexy application that benefits from its understanding. Otherwise, the energy of disruption will short-after be diluted by a lack of strategic business value.

For others who attended SXSWi, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Did you also see data as such a pervasive theme woven into the core of your sessions and conversations?

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Disrupting the Mobile Location Landscape: 
Exploring Key Themes from Mobile Loco 2012

Screen shot 2012-12-18 at 1.16.24 PMLast week, I attended the Mobile Loco conference in San Francisco. Mobile location technologies have always been an interest area for me, so I was excited to see what disruptive topics would be up for discussion during the annual event.

This post will explore mobile location technologies and applications from the perspective of brands that are looking to grow in this hyper-targeting space. There weren’t many brands on panels at Mobile Loco, but the opportunities, barriers, and possibility for industry disruption can be applied to brands just as easily as vendors, startups, or investors.

Opportunities: How can brands evolve their current mobile presence to deliver greater value to their customers and their bottom line?

Yelp Mobile Advertising

Yelp’s inline mobile advertising delivers value to its app users by helping them find relevant places nearby.

Many opportunities were touched on in the day’s sessions. They included, in no particular order:

  • Mobile advertising. For companies like Yelp, advertising within its mobile application that is based on user history and current location has become commonplace, nearly accepted as normal by its users. However, this isn’t the case for all mobile applications. The transition to mobile advertising may not be as smooth for brands whose apps do not lay ground for such a natural tie-in.
  • Personalization and customization. Admittedly, this opportunity is probably of the lowest hanging fruit to brands, but it’s one that many still have yet to harvest. Mobile offers a world of granular location data that brands can use to create engaging, valuable experiences. Gamification is often connected as well, also used as a way to gather more data about customers while simultaneously boosting brand engagement and sales.
  • Immediate satisfaction. With the advent of companies like Uber, getting what you want, exactly where you are, at the press of a button will become the norm. Look for instant gratification to be a theme in the New Year. 
Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital put it best: “The mobile phone is a remote control for your life. The notion of pressing buttons to get what you want immediately is compelling.”
  • Integration with POS. Until mobile location can prove its weight in cold hard cash, it will remain a novelty. Groupon’s CEO Andrew Mason has helped track the company’s mobile ROI (including redemption, overspend, and customer loyalty) by integrating with merchants’ payment systems.
  • Vertical expansion. Until now, mobile location apps have been broader in terms of focus. Anyone can check into anywhere, for example. 2013 will bring a greater focus into vertical opportunities. The number one prediction? Retail.

Barriers: What obstacles and challenges are brands currently facing in evolving their mobile presence to take advantage of location-based technologies?

Again, in no particular order, common challenges arose amongst speakers:

  • Mobile location is only part of the equation. As Vishy Gopalakrishnan, VP, Mobility, SAP, put it: “Mobile location is necessary but not sufficient. Location is just one factor—it’s a much bigger equation.” If brands focus solely on location-based campaigns and solutions to solve their mobile problems, success will be futile.
  • Users don’t see additional value in sharing more data. Brands must consider the value proposition for their customers when asking them to share location data with their company. It comes down to relevancy: what makes the experience better? Can customers save more money or time? Will their data be used in the right way? Transparency in data usage yields consumer trust.
  • Data silos act as barriers to innovation. When individual brands create silos of data it’s usually because they want to control each touch point. With multiple data silos within the same brand, how can anyone make sense of it? At the end of the day, it’s customers who suffer from fragmented experiences.
  • Mobile advertising is intrusive. Although conversion is getting better, consumers still view mobile advertising as intrusive—especially if based on location data. Brands must hurdle this barrier by ensuring their advertising is relevant and delivered in a non-intrusive way that makes sense with the application’s key features. In the words of Mike Ghaffary, VP, Business Development for Yelp: “If you have an app that has nothing to do with location, it’s extremely difficult to successfully advertise based on location. You can’t even pay in the space.”
  • Location quality is still lacking. Simply put, location services aren’t accurate 100 percent of the time. When location data isn’t correct, it becomes more difficult for brands to deliver relevant features, offers, and recommendations (especially when looking at mapping interior spaces).

Disruption: How can brands push disruption of the mobile location space, ultimately delighting and surprising their customers?

Although it’s difficult to predict the next big mobile location disruption, a few keynote speakers and panelists shared their thoughts:

Increased automation.

“Push automation where it hasn’t been before. What are the areas of technology that haven’t yet been deployed? Think how GrubHub transformed delivery, or how Uber expanded its market. Automation and ease of use leads to an expansion of use cases.” –Bill Gurley, Benchmark Capital

Indoor mapping.

“It’s all about delivering wonderful, context-aware experiences to mobile users. Retail is an important vertical [for interior mapping], but it’s not the only one. We’re looking at museums, education, conferences … we want to leverage every possible asset on mobile to make indoor location work.” –Cormac Conroy, VP Engineering & Product Management. Location Products & Technology for Qualcomm

Enterprise adoption.

“The mobile world has opened up access to the enterprise and expanded the market of what you can go after. A lot of companies have applications with the potential to change and disrupt—from new models for mobile-centric salespeople, to changing how payments work in retail.” –Chris Yeh, VP of Platform at Box

Relevant advertising.

“We’re just at the tip of the relevance piece at Yelp. We’re delighting users with their location data and mobile advertisements, helping them find things thanks to ads.” –Mike Ghaffary, VP, Business Development for Yelp

Look for these opportunities, barriers, and disruptive themes to work their way into future Altimeter research. And, for others who attended Mobile Loco – anything key I’ve missed from the day?

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