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…

Le graal des big data? Créer une expérience client sans précédent. Mais pourquoi une start-up sans passé réussit à être affective là où ses ainées croulant sous les data rêvent de proximité ? Quelle est l’alchimie gagnante ?

Stocker et traiter ses données numériques, ce n’est pas nouveau. Le datamining non plus. Mais avec les objets connectés et les usages mobiles, les données déferlent littéralement. SMS, chats, photos, vidéos, requêtes à un moteur de recherche, clics sur le net, demandes d’itinéraires sur google maps ou autres, paiements en ligne, contacts client par chatbots ou messagerie, renouvellement automatique des commandes à partir d’un frigo intelligent… des données, nous en produisons sans cesse sans même nous en rendre compte ! Même lorsque nous acceptons la géolocalisation ou que nous nous connectons à une borne wifi...

En 2020, le volume des données devrait être multiplié par 50. Une voiture connectée, par exemple fournit, en une heure de temps, des millions de données utiles à l’automobile, mais aussi aux assureurs aussi ou à l’e-commerce. Et les enjeux ne sont pas moins prometteurs qu’ajuster sa stratégie, personnaliser un service, prendre de meilleures décisions, détecter des tendances, établir des prédictions… 

Il y a toujours eu des statisticiens pour interpréter les chiffres du passé afin d’améliorer le futur, mais aujourd’hui les ‘data scientists’ sont des geeks. Des cursus universitaires voient le jour et l’explosion des données adopte un rythme quasi insoutenable pour que nos connaissances puissent suivre. Seules des machines sont encore à même de gérer de tels flux de données. Les techniques d’apprentissages automatiques (‘machine learning’) permettent de faire mieux et plus rapidement. Un standard pour une utilisation correcte de l’intelligence artificielle serait en cours à l’initiative de noms comme Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM et Microsoft. Pour Nicolas Méric, fondateur et PDG de la start-up DreamQuark, acteur de deep learning appliqué à la santé et l'assurance, de telles technologies dopent les capacités humaines mais elles ne sont pas vouées à pouvoir s’en passer.

Qui est concerné ?

Aucun secteur n’échappe vraiment au besoin de récolter ses données afin de les faire fructifier en transformant son environnement. Mais disons que certains se montrent plus pressés – ou opportunistes - que d’autres. Les télécoms, le transport, les fournisseurs de gaz, eau, électricité, émergent : la SNCF mais aussi le fabricant de produits de beauté Nuxe épient tous les canaux en ligne en quête de verbatim client pour mieux le connaître. L’ascensoriste ThyssenKrupp, qui veut chouchouter ses cabines et surtout leurs utilisateurs, récolte moult paramètres sur celles-ci afin de parfaire la maintenance et d’anticiper les pannes désagréables.

Les responsables des Big Data en entreprise sont face à trois défis principaux, rassemblés sous la règle dite des ‘3V’: pouvoir gérer de gros Volumes, tenir compte de l’infinie Variété des informations, et parvenir à gérer la Vitesse à laquelle elles sont générées. Les banques n‘y échappent pas. Ces entreprises qui ont d’ailleurs beaucoup à y gagner puisqu’elles disposent de tonnes d’informations transactionnelles sur leur clientèle et créent des processus en tout genre, sont mises au défi : celui de se servir d’un tel trésor pour tester elles aussi de nouveaux services à valeur ajoutée dans un délai le plus court possible.

Momentum

Jean-François Vanderschrick est Head of Marketing Analytics & Research chez BNP Paribas Fortis : « Ce qui me fascine, c’est moins la multitude des données disponibles et des objets connectés que tout ce que la technologie permet désormais d’en tirer. Pas un jour ne se passe sans que je ne sois surpris par quelque chose de neuf. JP Morgan détecte des tendances en achetant les photos de l’occupation des parkings des supermarchés. La Chine développe la reconnaissance faciale pour adapter le lay-out de ses interfaces à l’expression de ses clients. Vous pouvez suivre à la trace votre paire de chaussettes made in USA de son expédition jusqu’au moment où elle franchit le seuil de votre domicile… Tout cela fait partie de notre quotidien au moment même où une banque manifeste ses intentions de s’adapter à la phase de vie que traverse son client – celui qu’elle suit depuis qu’il est actif – pour lui offrir juste ce qui lui est utile. »

Chez BNP Paribas Fortis, le management data franchit récemment un nouveau pas avec la nomination d’un Chief Data Officer membre du Comité Exécutif, Jo Couture. Ce qui signifie aussi des renforts humains, de nouveaux outils analytiques et de nouvelles capacités.

Jean-François Vanderschrick : « Les data analytics doivent nous permettre d’améliorer l’expérience client, ainsi que de garder les coûts sous contrôle et in fine, cela conduit généralement à une plus grande efficacité. »

Selon lui, la courbe d’adoption entame à peine sa phase exponentielle.

Le timing est aussi important que le service lui-même

Les données servent une multitude de domaines : excellence opérationnelle, marketing, détection des fraudes, risque crédit… Les entreprises comprennent désormais qu’elles doivent transformer leurs données en connaissances et en services et bon nombre d’entre elles ont tout pour y parvenir. Toutefois, il convient de ne pas se laisser noyer par la masse d’informations. Le plus compliqué - et source de frustration - est sans doute de pouvoir accéder aux données et de parvenir à les qualifier. Les aspects de compliance ont naturellement tendance à freiner les développements. Réduire le data to market reste cependant un défi majeur car souvent, le timing de la mise sur le marché s’avère bien trop long. Il s’agit aussi d’offrir un service en temps réel, comme c’est le cas chez Monoprix qui analyse le processus de traitement de 200 000 commandes quotidiennes de ses 800 magasins pour intervenir directement sur sa chaîne d’approvisionnement, un processus critique pour l’enseigne française.

« C’est une délicate alchimie à produire entre les tests (la maquette du service est souvent très chouette, mais encore faut-il réussir la généralisation), la mesure du risque et la ‘prioritarisation’ des objectifs », soutient Jean-François Vanderschrick.

Eduquer l’algorithme

Pour peu que l’on dispose des données et de la technologie, et qu’il y ait des enjeux financiers liés, l’imagination reste notre seule limite pour libérer la valeur des données. A côté de projets conséquents et complexes, des quick wins relativement simples sont ici aussi tout à fait possibles et souhaitables, notamment pour permettre aux directions opérationnelles de l’entreprise d’effectuer des analyses élémentaires à partir de grands volumes de données. « Aujourd’hui, une variété d’informations qui semblent peut-être anodines peuvent nous éclairer et servir de déclencheur d’actions : un client qui commence à travailler avec la concurrence, qui place des lignes de crédit ailleurs, ou emprunte un montant particulièrement important, traite avec un autre pays… autant d’informations qui commercialement parlant, méritent toute notre attention et qui sont jugées utiles dans 70 % des cas » ajoute le responsable de BNP Paribas Fortis. Analyser le modèle transactionnel d’un client permettrait de prendre de meilleures décisions de crédit. Il est possible d’améliorer de manière conséquente la pertinence des décisions, comparé à ce que nous pourrions faire sans modèle, prétend Jean-François Vanderschrick qui ajoute encore :

« Grâce au machine learning, nous éduquons l’algorithme à fournir des réponses de plus en plus pertinentes.» 

Si ‘Big is better’, est-ce accessible aux petites ?

Grâce au Cloud (espace en ligne), les PME disposent désormais des capacités de stockage - auxquelles s’associe la puissance de calcul nécessaire pour exploiter les données. C’est un des enjeux majeurs des Big Data. Le second est de savoir comment les traiter. Des logiciels de gestion d’entreprise usant de la technologie cloud, style CRM, outil de suivi des commandes ou des coûts de production, traçabilité des fournisseurs, rendent les big data accessibles aux petites et moyennes entreprises. Seule condition : rassembler toutes ses données au même endroit. La différence entre les corporates et les PME se jouera sur le long terme. Mais les PME pour qui un super statisticien serait impayable, peuvent toujours acquérir des études ciblées et enrichir leurs données par des bases externes…

(Sources : 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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