Article

27.12.2016

These 4 giants from Silicon Valley want to seduce your IT management

Already champions in everyday life, Google, Facebook, Slack and LinkedIn are adopting innovative and complementary approaches to convert companies. What strategies are they implementing in order to convince you?

Google: the value of data intelligence

Google is adopting an approach which goes beyond communication tools and suites of productivity apps/services. The company has largely transformed its business divisions so that they can exploit cloud infrastructures, big data, analytics and machine learning as a matter of priority. Two competitors are blocking it along the way: Amazon and Microsoft, but for different reasons. Developers have been using Amazon Web Services for a long time, which gives it a history of trust. Microsoft (Cloud, Office) also has a historical presence in IT departments around the world. In this approach, linked to the processing of sensitive data, Google still needs to evangelise: a company is not as easily convinced as a consumer, particularly when it comes to strategic or confidential data. Its weapon: the power of its artificial intelligence tools to process data silos.

Facebook: introducing WorkPlace, naturally

After more than a year of development with partner companies such as Danone, Starbucks, Royal Bank of Scotland and Booking.com, Facebook officially launched WorkPlace last October. This Facebook spin-off enables organisations to create an internal social network - completely private and secure - within an interface familiar to all employees in their everyday life, introducing head-on competition for already widespread tools such as Chatter (Salesforce) or Yammer (Microsoft). Unlike free Facebook, WorkPlace is billed monthly depending on the number of users: $3 for the first 1,000, $2 for the next 9,000 $1 for over 10,000 users.

Slack: real-time collaboration becomes mainstream

Despite the introduction of Microsoft Teams on its turf, Slack remains confident in its strategy of creating tools that allow greater communication and productivity within companies.

"We find this offensive both flattering as well as intimidating, given Microsoft's means, but we think there is sufficient space in the market for several players", declared April Underwood, VP of Slack at the beginning of November.

A market that Slack has largely contributed to opening and driving, by introducing the concept of real-time collaboration. Its weapon? Agility, despite its still limited size and its proven and copied tools. Result: 4 million active users everyday and constant growth.

LinkedIn: from B2B marketing for... Microsoft

Microsoft Closes Acquisition of LinkedIn at the beginning of December. The transaction, which runs into billions of euros, has been followed closely by the European Commission. Despite a strong position in the business, mainly at a human resources level, LinkedIn needs 25 billion euros from Microsoft to pursue its offensive in the domain of professional tools, in a hugely competitive climate. For Microsoft, the acquisition will enable the company to reach B2B marketing targets such as recruitment agencies, head-hunters and businesses. To explain the synergy sought in simple terms, the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, gives the example of a meeting where everyone present sees their LinkedIn profile, linked to their invitation.

Article

21.03.2016

Social media and e-commerce: opportunities and risks

The huge popularity of social media brings new opportunities, but has resulted in some new stumbling blocks as well. What are the most recent trends? And how should you respond to them?

Social media such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc. seem cutting edge, but the principle is as old as the hills: word of mouth, sometimes abbreviated as WOM in marketing. Even in the heyday of the mass media, positive recommendations from neighbours, family and friends remained important to a company's success. Newspapers, magazines and television advertising were the first channel introducing a new product to consumers, but word-of-mouth turned out to play a decisive role in what matters most: consumer behaviour. Consumers shared experiences and thereby affected the behaviour of their fellow consumers. Today, more than ever, they do so through social media.

Consumers persuading consumers

Social media are the contemporary, more sophisticated and super-fast successor of old-fashioned word-of-mouth advertising. They are a catalyst. Social networks allow people to exchange views, share experiences, express their dissatisfaction, etc. more quickly than ever.

In addition, more and more consumers are opting for a "social search" over search engines such as Google to find information. They consciously do not search the entire internet, but approach their friends on Facebook or contacts on LinkedIn or Twitter. It speeds up the search and makes the result more reliable. The idea is that if X thinks it is good/nice/beautiful, we will probably think it is good/nice/beautiful too. There is also the option to ask questions and really discuss the product or service you need information about.

Consumers talk about all sorts of products (offline and online), from new detergents to new car models. And it is not just young people who are sharing their experiences about products and brands. Young and old, male or female: everyone does it. All these recommendations between consumers are worth gold.

We can illustrate this with an example: computer manufacturer Dell assumes that 25% of its customers choose their brand after it has been recommended by another user. The average purchase value per customer is about 210 dollars. Based on this amount, the value of every recommendation is estimated at 42 dollars. The more consumers Dell can convince to buy its products, the more money it makes.

However, the reverse is equally true: bad word-of-mouth advertising can have devastating effects. Particularly in this age of social media, a bad reputation does not take long to spread.

Social media in 2014

Perhaps Facebook will no longer exist in ten years' time, but it will most certainly have been replaced by something else. Social media are here to stay. It is therefore important for companies to build a good social media strategy. They can start by thinking about which channel they want to use for which content and objective. What do you need to take into account?

  • Content (the message to the consumer) is still the key part, but the importance of segmentation is increasing. The audience is varied, so not all content and every channel is suitable for everyone. As a company, it is best to divide your target audience into sub-target groups. You can then choose specific content and a channel per sub-target group.
  • Create real-time content: define a number of key moments in the year in advance and use these wisely. The World Cup, back to school, the summer holidays, etc. are all events that happen regularly and companies can respond to in a clever way. The trick is to find a good link between the key moment and your product. Be creative in this respect. If a school bag brand presents its content at the end of August, it will have to use an original approach to avoid coming across as predictable. 
  • Social media are predominantly a mobile story: most consumers are switching to smartphones and tablets. It is no coincidence that the four best-known social networks are also in the list of most popular mobile apps: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. In any case, your content (both on the website and on social media) will have to be mobile-friendly. 
  • The importance of customer care is only increasing. Consumers will now use social media more than ever to find information, ask questions and make comments.
Article

21.03.2016

The conversation manager: essential and permanently online

Coordinating a company's social media strategy is a task in itself. Who will you use to handle this? And what about involved customers who suddenly get too involved?

Because of social media, the role of a traditional marketing manager is evolving more and more towards being a conversation manager: someone who facilitates consumer communication. This includes communication between customers themselves and communication between the customers and the company.

Some key tasks in the conversation manager's job description are:

  • Uniting and activating ‘branded fans’, as they will recommend the brand to friends and family.
  • Listening to what people are saying about your company and seeking their active contribution to your products and strategy.
  • Creating content worth distributing in order to encourage discussions.
  • Managing these discussions.
  • Ensuring your work is very customer-oriented and customer-friendly through customer care, i.e.by responding faster and providing more than what the customer is expecting.

Some companies are big enough to hire a full-time conversation manager. In other cases another employee will take on this role part-time. A third possibility is using a specialised company.
Caroline Hombroukx, conversation manager at content marketing company Head Office:

“No matter which option you go for, communication in social media must come across as personal. There is definitely a reason why large companies such as Telenet and Belgacom have created a fictitious person to deal with their customers; Charlotte and Eva respectively. The conversation manager also has to know the company and its social media strategy very well. It may therefore be an advantage if someone in the company itself takes on that role. That person is right at the source and so can distribute information, take a quick picture and post it online, etc.

This task is not for everyone. A conversation manager must have experience with social media, have fluent communication and writing style and must be empathetic, positive and solution-oriented in his or her dealings with customers. Prior training is not a luxury, because the employee must be very aware of the company's content strategy. The audience is varied and unpredictable. You have to decide time and time again whether certain content is or is not suitable for your target group. It is also not a nine-to-five job: the online world keeps on turning even at night or at the weekend."

The advantage of hiring a conversation manager from an external company is that in principle the expertise is present. In that case the challenge is to know the company to such an extent that the customer has the impression that he or she is talking to a real employee.

Getting angry is out of the question

Traditional marketing and advertising are a one-way street. If they do not work, they are a waste of money. However, they are not likely to result in angry comments. A company venturing out on Facebook, Twitter or other social media, can be sure to receive comments and reactions. Including negative ones. Caroline Hombroukx:

“On social media the consumer is suddenly right next to you banging the table. It is important to respond well to that. Getting angry yourself is out of the question. You need to respond by showing that you understand and you are taking the question or complaint seriously. Everyone following the discussion must see that the company is providing a quick answer and is trying to find a solution. If a mistake has been made, you can acknowledge this openly and honestly. You can also show the problem as something positive: as an opportunity to improve your brand, product or service. Of course you must find a suitable solution in the end. If the person sharing the complaint becomes too negative, you have to try and divert him or her to a private channel: a private message on Facebook, a direct message on Twitter, an e-mail or a phone call."

An enthusiastic, understanding response also works well if the consumer is sharing something positive about your brand, company or service. Thanking the consumer strengthens the bond between the company and the customer. Caroline Hombroukx:

"The dialogue with the target group is an opportunity to improve your product or operations through constructive criticism. Make customers feel involved. It creates a strong relationship. If you are publishing a magazine or starting a poster campaign for instance, you can let customers choose the best layout or title from three options posted on Facebook, for example. Everything that engages customers can only strengthen their commitment."

Social media dos and don'ts

  1. The consumer is always right (even when this isn't the case).
  2. Be open, honest and friendly.
  3. Use a personal style.
  4. Respond quickly to any questions or reactions.
  5. Stay positive and be understanding.
  6. Do all you can to engage your customers.
  7. Come up with a free gift every now and then.
  8. As a brand, try to avoid political topics.
Article

14.12.2016

Tant qu’il y aura des data…

Het ultieme doel van big data? Een unieke klantervaring creëren. Maar waarom lukt het een start-up zonder verleden om affectief te zijn, terwijl oudere bedrijven met tonnen data maar wat graag dichter bij hun klanten willen staan? Wat is de winnende formule?

Digitale gegevens opslaan en verwerken is niet nieuw. Datamining ook niet. Maar connected devices en mobiele toepassingen creëren letterlijk een tsunami aan gegevens. Sms'jes, chats, foto's, filmpjes, muzieklijsten, zoekopdrachten, clicks op het net, routeberekeningen op Google Maps en aanverwanten, onlinebetalingen, contacten met klanten via chatbots of e-mail, automatische bestellingen door slimme koelkasten ... We produceren de hele tijd gegevens zonder er ook maar even bij stil te staan! Ook als we akkoord gaan met geolocatie of wanneer we inloggen op een hotspot ...
Tegen 2020 zal het datavolume allicht vervijfvoudigen.  Zo genereert een geconnecteerde wagen in amper één uur miljoenen gegevens die niet alleen nuttig zijn voor de auto zélf, maar ook voor de verzekeraars en de e-commerce. Er staat veel op het spel: een strategie bijsturen, een service personaliseren, betere beslissingen nemen, tendensen opsporen, prognoses maken ...

Old-school statistici interpreteerden cijfers uit het verleden om voor een betere toekomst te zorgen. Hedendaagse  “data scientists' zijn geeks, er worden academische opleidingen georganiseerd en we zijn mentaal niet meer in staat om het explosieve groeitempo van de gegevens bij te houden. Alleen machines kunnen dergelijke gegevensstromen nog verwerken. Dankzij automatische leertechnieken ('machine learning') gebeurt dat beter en sneller. Er zou een standaard voor correct gebruik van artificiële intelligentie in de maak zijn op initiatief van kleppers als Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM en Microsoft. Volgens Nicolas Méric, oprichter en CEO van de start-up DreamQuark, gespecialiseerd in deep learning in de gezondheids- en verzekeringssector, verhogen dergelijke technologieën de menselijke capaciteiten, maar zijn ze niet bedoeld om volledig autonoom  te werken.

Wie komt in aanmerking?

Geen enkele sector ontsnapt aan de behoefte om gegevens te verzamelen en die te gebruiken om zijn omgeving nuttig aan te passen. Maar de ene is al gehaaster – of opportunistischer– dan de andere. Telecommunicatie, transport, gas-, water- en elektriciteitsleveranciers nemen het voortouw: de Franse spoorwegen maar ook schoonheidsproductenfabrikant Nuxe speuren alle onlinekanalen af op zoek naar klantencommentaren om hun klanten beter te leren kennen. Liftenfabrikant ThyssenKrupp wil zijn liften en vooral de gebruikers ervan optimaal bedienen en verzamelt allerhande liftparameters om het onderhoud te optimaliseren en vervelende storingen te voorkomen.
Big-data-managers in bedrijven staan voor drie grote uitdagingen, ook wel bekend als de '3V's': grote Volumes verwerken, rekening houden met de oneindige Variatie van gegevens en omgaan met de Velocity of snelheid waarmee ze worden gegenereerd.
Banken ontsnappen daar niet aan. Ze hebben er zelfs enorm veel bij te winnen, want ze beschikken over tonnen transactionele informatie over hun klanten en creëren allerhande processen. Zij staan dus voor de uitdaging om zelf ook met die schat aan gegevens aan de slag te gaan en binnen een zo kort mogelijk tijdsbestek nieuwe diensten met toegevoegde waarde uit te testen.

Momentum

Jean-François Vanderschrick is Head of Marketing Analytics & Research bij BNP Paribas Fortis: "Wat mij fascineert is niet zozeer de hoeveelheid beschikbare gegevens en connected devices, als wel wat de technologie er tegenwoordig allemaal uithaalt. Er gaat geen dag voorbij zonder dat ik van iets nieuws opkijk. JP Morgan komt tendensen op het spoor door foto's te kopen van de bezetting van supermarktparkings. China ontwikkelt gelaatsherkenning om de lay-out van zijn interfaces aan te passen aan de gelaatsuitdrukking van zijn klanten. Sokken 'made in USA' kunnen we volgen zodra ze verzonden worden totdat we ze in huis hebben ... Het is allemaal onderdeel van ons dagelijkse leven. Net zoals een bank die zich wil gaan aanpassen aan de levensfase waarin haar klant – die ze volgt sinds hij een rekening heeft – zich bevindt om hem precies datgene aan te bieden wat nuttig voor hem is."

BNP Paribas Fortis zette onlangs een nieuwe stap in de dataverwerking met de benoeming van een Chief Data Officer die lid is van het uitvoerend comité, Jo Couture. Dat betekent ook dat er meer mankracht, nieuwe tools en nieuwe capaciteiten onderweg zijn.

Jean-François Vanderschrick: "Data analytics moet ons in staat stellen om de klantervaring te verbeteren en de kosten onder controle te houden. Meestal gaat dat samen met een verhoogde efficiency."

Volgens hem belandt de leercurve nu pas in de exponentiële fase terecht.  

De timing is even belangrijk als de service zelf

Data komen in heel wat domeinen van pas: operationele excellentie, marketing, fraudedetectie, kredietrisico ... De bedrijven hebben intussen ingezien dat ze hun gegevens in kennis en diensten moeten omzetten en hebben vaak alles in huis om dat goed te doen, op voorwaarde dat ze zich niet door de oceaan van gegevens laten overspoelen. Het moeilijkste – en een bron van frustratie – is wellicht het ontsluiten en kwalificeren van de gegevens. Compliance-aspecten hebben de natuurlijke neiging om de ontwikkeling af te remmen, terwijl een kortere data -to -market juist heel belangrijk is. Dikwijls laat de marktintroductie te lang op zich wachten. Verder is het van belang om een service in real time aan te bieden. Supermarktketen Monoprix analyseert bijvoorbeeld het verwerkingsproces van de 200.000 dagelijkse bestellingen van zijn 800 winkels om onmiddellijk te kunnen ingrijpen op de supply chain. Voor de Franse winkelketen is dat een kritiek proces.

"Er moet een juiste dosering worden gevonden tussen tests (het prototype van de service oogt dikwijls bijzonder fraai, maar het veralgemenen ervan lukt niet altijd), risicometing en prioritering van de doelstellingen", zegt Jean-François Vanderschrick.

Het algoritme 'opvoeden'

Als je over de gegevens en de technologie beschikt en er financiële belangen meespelen, staat er geen grens op het ontsluiten van de gegevenswaarde. Je verbeelding is de enige beperking. Naast grote en complexe projecten zijn ook hier vrij eenvoudige quick wins mogelijk en wenselijk. Zo kunnen de operationele directies van de onderneming elementaire analyses verrichten op grote gegevensvolumes.

"Er zijn heel wat soorten gegevens die er misschien volstrekt onbelangrijk uitzien, maar die toch informatie verschaffen en tot actie aanzetten: een klant die met de concurrentie werkt, die elders kredietlijnen opent of een zeer groot bedrag leent, die met een ander land werkt ... Al die gegevens verdienen onze aandacht vanuit commercieel oogpunt,  in 70 procent van de gevallen zijn ze relevant", voegt de BNP Paribas Fortis manager eraan toe. Door het transactionele model van een klant te onderzoeken kunnen we betere kredietbeslissingen nemen. Relevante beslissingen liggen meer voor de hand met een model dan zonderweet Jean-François Vanderschrick. "Via machine learning leren we het algoritme om antwoorden te geven die meer en meer to the point zijn", voegt hij eraan toe.

'Big is better', ook voor kleine ondernemingen?

Dankzij de cloud hebben kmo's vandaag de nodige opslag – en rekencapaciteit – om de gegevens te verwerken. Bedrijfsmanagementprogramma's die gebruikmaken van de cloud-technologie, zoals CRM, tools om bestellingen of productiekosten of de traceerbaarheid van leveranciers te volgen, maken big data toegankelijk voor kleine en middelgrote ondernemingen. Op één voorwaarde: dat alle gegevens op dezelfde plaats samengebracht worden. Het verschil tussen corporates en kmo's speelt zich af op lange termijn. Maar kmo's voor wie eenstatisticus te duur is, kunnen altijd specifieke studies kopen en hun gegevens uitbreiden met externe databases ...

(Bronnen: BNP Paribas Fortis, Les Echos, Transparency Market Research, IDC, Ernst & Young, CXP, Data Business)

 

 

Article

27.12.2016

Trend spotting. A manual.

Would you like to know what people will want next? If so, all you have to do is look at successful innovations and the expectations they generate, according to David Mattin, trendwatcher at www.trendwatching.com and co-author of the book Trend-Driven Innovation.

Any professional is long accustomed to the hyper-accelerated pace of innovation that sees new products and services arrive and disappear at light speed. With that comes the sense that consumer behaviours and mindsets change faster, more unpredictably — chaotically, even — than ever. Put together, it's an avalanche that can feel overwhelming.. That is, in summary, what David Mattin writes in his article How to spot a trend at www.trendwatching.com.

Still, being on board wih the latest trends or even anticipating them doesn't have to be the preserve of a chosen few with seemingly magical intuition, Mattin says. According to him, trendspotting can be a simple, replicable process that anyone can do. His article provides a model that answers the question that any start-up, CEO, marketing director or product developer struggles with: what will my customers want next?

Human needs

There are various methods to determine what customers want. Traditional market research is the most well-known method. Yet Mattin believes this method is inadequate to spot future trends in an environment of rapid change.

”After all, our job is to figure out what people will want before they want it. People often don't know what they want until you show it to them."

Observing potential customers with ethnographic fieldwork is another research method. This can yield deep insights, but it is hard, slow and expensive. Big Data can provide useful customer information, but it usually only allows you to optimise what you’re already doing. Big data rarely generates the radical insights that can underpin something truly new, Matting claims.

So what’s the answer? The key to actionable foresight lies in looking at the overwhelming onslaught of innovation — new brands, products, services, campaigns, experiences and more — that now parade before our eyes and across our screens every day.

Mattin: "The ultimate answer lies in the customer expectations those innovations are creating. In order to be successful, businesses must meet those expectations at the right time.”

In order to spot consumer trends, it is essential to define what a trend is exactly. According to the trendwatcher a trend is a new manifestation - in behaviour, attitude or expectation - of a fundamental human need or want, usually via a new technology or an economic or social change. In other words:, when an age-old human need: for connection, security value, excitement… is served by a new technology, this will most likely introduce a new trend. A good example of this is Napster, the well-known illegal music streaming platform from 1999 This innovation served the basic needs ‘novelty’ (more music) and 'convenience' (instant access). It was this innovation that has led to iTunes, Netflix and Spotify, all of which satisfy those needs and are extremely successful.

Learning from Uber

But there's still a piece of the puzzle missing. How does a cluster of innovations that serve a basic need in a new way become a worldwide trend? The answer lies in two words: expectation transfer.

David Mattin: “When an innovation serves a basic human need in a new way, it sets new customer expectations: it primes consumers to expect something new. Once created, new expectations spread across markets, industries, product and service categories.”

He refers to Uber as an example, with which the basic human needs of 'convenience' and 'low-cost transport' are served. The iconic innovation of Uber raised consumer expectations of one-touch smartphone fuelled services, and these expectations were served by others, such as Handy, an American on-demand home services start-up that earned 50 million dollars in just one month.

Mattin claims it is crucial to watch as many innovations as possible, as this allows you to tap the collective intelligence of the business crowd around the question: what will customers want next? When you spot a cluster of similar innovations, you'll know that you could be on to an interesting new signal of where customers are heading. The trendwatcher also emphasises to not dismiss innovations that seem niche or even ridiculous — they can often be weak signals of powerful new emerging expectations.

“Remember when couch-surfing was just for students and broke travellers? Now, Airbnb will let you rent the Villa Machiavelli in Tuscany for 5,164 pounds per night”, Mattin argues.

Goldmine of opportunities

The trendwatcher concludes that in order to spot trends, you should start interrogating every innovation you see for the new customer expectations it creates, and pretty soon it will become a habit.

“That habit becomes something more: a new way of seeing the world that turns the overwhelming flood of innovations into a goldmine of opportunity. Of course, you'll need to apply the trends you spot. That means turning them into winning new innovation ideas, and then executing.”

Read the whole article here

(Source: www.trendwachting.com)

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