Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘market research’ Category

Gladly Pay You Tuesday…

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We’re finally getting some rain in central Texas.  We’ll see how long it lasts!

And on the topic of rainmaking, this just in from our friends at Nucleus Research.

Nucleus conducted an analysis of 21 of IBM Smarter Commerce case studies and their ROI, and discovered that for every dollar spent, companies realized an average of U.S. $12.05 in returns.

According to the research, this payback occurred in an average of 9 months (with a high of 23 months, and a low of two).

The cases Nucleus analyzed included U.S. and European companies and government agencies which had deployed IBM Smarter Commerce technologies.

All the case studies were developed independently by Nucleus, following their standard ROI methodology, and IBM was privy to the results only after the research was completed.

In their analysis, Nucleus also observed some summary conclusions, finding that Smarter Commerce projects delivered both top-line and bottom-line benefits, with roughly 60 percent of returns coming from indirect benefits such as productivity, and the rest from direct savings such as reduced operational costs or hires avoided.

Specific key benefits included the following:

  • Increased productivity. In many cases companies were able to accomplish more work with fewer staff or avoid additional hires as they grew by automating previously manual processes and increasing employee productivity.
  • Reduced costs. Smarter Commerce customers experienced cost reductions in areas such as customer call handling costs, technology costs, and other costs associated with supply chain transactions.
  • Improved inventory management. Greater visibility into customer demand and inventory levels enabled Smarter Commerce customers to gain better control over their inventory, reducing inventory carrying costs and increasing inventory turns.
  • Improved decision making. Greater agility and rapid insight into data for decision making enabled companies using Smarter Commerce to more quickly make decisions and act on them with confidence.
  • Reduced customer churn and increased customer satisfaction. Companies using IBM Business Analytics were able to more rapidly understand customer satisfaction and retain more profitable customers by proactively addressing customers’ propensity to churn. For example, one telecommunications customer was able to reduce customer churn by 8 percent in the first year and 18 percent in the second year by further refining its churn analysis.

Customers Leverage Prepackaged Functionality

Nucleus indicated that the $12.05 average return from Smarter Commerce was at the high end of the range of returns Nucleus had seen from other assessments of deployments such as analytics and CRM, and many IBM Smarter Commerce clients indicated they had achieved high returns by taking advantage of the investments IBM has made in providing integrated solutions, more intuitive user interfaces, and prepackaged industry functionality.

By way of example:

  • Integrated solutions and prepackaged industry functionality accelerate time to deployment and time to value while reducing overall project risk.
  • Usability improvements drive more rapid adoption and make it easier for companies to drive adoption of technologies such as business analytics to casual and business users beyond the data expert specialists that have historically been the primary users of analytics.

Industry-specific functionality and expertise were particularly important in the success of customers adopting Smarter Commerce technologies in the government sector, such as social services agencies and police departments, where IT often has limited resources.

You can go here to download the full report.

Talk To The Mannequin Middleman

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Middlemen have gotten a pretty bad wrap since the Internet came along.

First, it was the travel agents, who were one of the first to be “disintermediated” by sites like Expedia, Orbitz, etc. Why hire a person to do what a computer and network could do?

Although it turns out it wasn’t quite that easy, as we later discovered, and nearly 20 years later there are still travel agents, but they’ve evolved and often moved up the value stack in terms of their offerings. (As an example, whenever I book a scuba diving trip, I typically now use an exclusive provider of scuba vacation travel, and they’ve served me quite well…although, sigh, it’s been far too long since I went diving!)

At IBM, we’re only supposed to employ our American Express travel agents when we’re traveling overseas.  I, personally, don’t mind using our Online Travel Reservation system for planning my travel, but that Web-based system has never been the same as talking to a really good Amex travel agent, and it certainly has never made me laugh.

So this story in The New York Times caught my eye, which explains how e-commerce companies are “bypassing” the middlemen in a variety of e-commerce verticals.

From eyeglasses to office supplies to bedding to nail polish to shaving supplies, there are host of “smarter commerce” e-commerce ventures popping up that are “controlling the supply chain,” providing products and services to end consumers at lower costs than many big retailers while pocketing the disintermediated profits.

But before you leap headlong into a Web server (which, let’s be frank, could hurt!), let’s not forget that physical presence still matters.

CNBC reports that “what’s old is new again” for some e-commerce retailers, outlining that a “growing number of online retail companies are setting up physical stores” in response to trends like “showrooming,” whereby consumers do in-store flybys only to later make a purchase online.

IBM vice president and global retail leader Jill Puleri was quoted in the story with this observation: “If there’s one thing showrooming teaches us, it’s that consumers still want to see what they are buying in person.”

It goes on to cite data from IBM suggesting that “50 percent of online sales were generated after consumers first browesed offline.”

So what’s next? One could easily envision pop-up stores emerging in highly-trafficked areas around the world: airports, train stations, even shopping malls, where consumers could “touch and feel” the merchandise and then get incented to go and make an actual purchase online.

Now if they could just figure out a way to make those in-store mannequins just a little less creepy.

Six Keys To Effective Reputational And IT Risk Management

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In September of last year, I blogged about the IBM 2012 Global Reputational Risk and IT Study, which I explained was an “investigation of how organizations around the world are managing their reputations in today’s digital era, where IT is an integral part of their operations and where IT failures can result in reputational damage.”

I also wrote “corporate reputations are especially difficult to manage in an era when anyone with a smartphone and Internet connection can file their complaint with a single touch.”

That continues to be the case, but what’s new is that IBM has recently issued another report on further implications of this study and its findings, and more importantly, what organizations can do to get on offense when it comes to better managing their corporate reputation.

The Connection Between Reputational Risk And IT

When the corporate world first began paying attention to the concept of reputational risk in 2005, organizations’ focus tended to be on business issues like compliance and financial misdoings.

Today, the focus has shifted to include the reputational impact of IT risks. Virtually every company is now reliant on technology for its critical business processes and interactions. While it may take 10 minutes or 10 hours to recover from an IT failure, the reputational impact can be felt for months or even years.

IBM - Factors Affected By IT Risk

Reputational damage caused by IT failures such as data breaches, systems failures and data loss now has a price tag. According to analyses performed by the Ponemon Institute, the economic value of a company’s reputation declines an average of 21 percent as a result of an IT breach of customer data — or the equivalent of an average of US $332 million.

The question now is not whether IT risks affect your corporate reputation, but what you can do to effectively prevent and mitigate these risks.

IBM -- True Price Of Reputational Harm

Six Keys To Effective Reputational And IT Risk Management

An analysis of responses to the IBM study revealed distinct correlations between the initiatives that organizations are undertaking to protect their reputations from the ramifications of IT failures and the overall effectiveness of their reputational and IT risk management efforts.

Based on this analysis, and the pattern it revealed among organizations that are most confident in their ability to prevent and mitigate IT-related reputational risk, there are six key initiatives that IBM recommends as part of every company’s efforts:

  1. Put someone in charge. Ultimate responsibility for reputational risk, including IT-related items, should rest with one person.
  2. Make the compliance and reputation connection. Measuring reputational and IT risk management strategies against compliance requirements is essential.
  3. Reevaluate the impact of social media. In addition to recognizing its potential for negative reputational impact, social media should be leveraged for its positive attributes.
  4. Keep an eye on your supply chain. Organizations must require and verify adherence of third-party suppliers to corporate standards.
  5. Avoid complacency. Organizations should continually evaluate reputational and IT risk management against strategy to find and eliminate potential gaps.
  6. Fund remediation; invest in prevention. For optimal reputational risk mitigation, companies need to fund critical IT systems as part of their core business

IBM -- Importance Of Reputational Risk

How IBM Can Help

When planned and implemented effectively, your organization’s reputational and IT risk strategy can become a vital competitive advantage. When you protect against and mitigate reputational risks successfully, you can enhance brand value in the eyes of customers, partners and analysts. Further, your organization can better attract new customers, retain existing customers and generate greater revenue.

IBM can help you protect your reputation with a robust portfolio of IT security, business continuity and resiliency, and technical support solutions. You can start with an IT security risk assessment, or penetration testing performed by IBM experts.

For business continuity and resiliency, you can begin with a Continuous Operations Risk Evaluation (CORE) Workshop and move on to cloud-based resiliency services. Our technical support solutions range from basic software support to custom technical support.

What makes IBM solutions work is global reach with a local touch. This includes:

  • Over 160 business resiliency centers in 70 countries; more than 50 years of experience
  • More than 9,000 disaster recovery clients, with IBM providing 100 percent recovery for clients who have declared a disaster
  • A global network of 33 security operations, research and solution development centers; 133 monitored countries
  • 15,000 researchers, developers and subject matter experts working security initiatives worldwide.

To learn more about the IBM Global Reputational Risk and IT Study go here.

The SMB IT Spending Zeitgeist

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In Spiceworks' "State of SMB IT 2H 2012" survey, mobile is moving on up. Tablets continue to grow in SMBs and in the last 6 months, adoption has tipped to over half (53%) of SMBs supporting tablets on their networks.  The number of companies supporting tablets (53%) is on the verge of reaching the 59% of companies who manage smartphones on their networks.  Larger organizations are driving this trend towards more tablets in the workplace.

Click to enlarge. In Spiceworks’ “State of SMB IT 2H 2012″ survey, mobile is moving on up. Tablets continue to grow in SMBs and in the last 6 months, adoption has tipped to over half (53%) of SMBs supporting tablets on their networks. The number of companies supporting tablets (53%) is on the verge of reaching the 59% of
companies who manage smartphones on their networks. Larger organizations are driving this trend towards more tablets in the workplace.

It’s that time of year.  Google has released its 2012 Zeitgeist, telling us what’s on the minds of the world’s searchers.

Facebook, not to be out done, has released the Facebook Year In Review, “a look back at the people, moments and things that created the most buzz in 2012 among the billion people around the world on Facebook.”

Now, go and ask folks what they think about Facebook’s everchanging privacy controls, and we’ll see if the Facebook Year In Review gets soon revised.

But I’m actually more interested in a big report from a small, but growing networking software and social business upstart located right here in Austin, Texas.

Spiceworks connects 2.2 million IT professionals with more than 1,300 technology brands, and offers its IT management software through a novel ad-supported model. In turn, it claims to “help businesses to discover, buy and manage $405 billion worth of technology products and services each year.”

Spiceworks just released its semi-annual “State of SMB IT Report,” a collection of statistics, trends and opinions from small and medium business technology professionals from amongst their community.

This December’s study is the seventh edition, and claims to “keep the pulse on the happenings of small and medium business IT professionals and IT departments.”

First, I’m just happy to discover they still have a pulse.

The National Federation of Independent Business’ “Small Business Optimism Index,” which is reported monthly, indicated in its November report one of the steepest declines in its history. In fact, it has reported a lower index value only seven times since it first conducted its monthly surveys in 1986.

The Index dropped a full 5.6 points in November, bottoming out at 87.5 (In 2000, by juxtaposition, it was well above 100), indicating something was rotten in November. The Index’s own Web statement suggested “it is very clear that a stunning number of [small business] owners…expect worse business conditions in six months,” and that nearly half are certain things will be worse next year than they are now, with a head nod to the looming fiscal cliff talks, the promise of higher healthcare costs, and the “endless onslaught of new regulations.”

Chicken Little, the SMB sky is falling!

Clouds, Virtualization, And Tablets Are Driving The SMB IT Spending Bus

But fear not, the SMB adoption of new technology is riding to the small business rescue, or so suggests the Spiceworks SMB IT study.

The headlines? Though IT budgets are on the rise in the SMB, hiring new staff is at a standstill. But for those still standing, in the last six months, SMBs adopted tablets and cloud services in fast-growing numbers.

Here are the four key findings:

  • Tablet adoption keeps its momentum and nears smartphone levels. Hardware maintains the lion’s share of IT spend in the SMB.
  • Adoption of cloud services spikes; desktop virtualization shows strong potential. (Can you say “Go long on VMWare??”)
  • IT budgets reached their highest point in the last three years, while hiring freezes are up.
  • BYOD is still a hot topic, though IT pros are split on the issue.

Diving down a bit, on the subject of tablets, 53 percent of SMBs now support tablets on their network, making them almost as popular as smartphones at 59 percent.

Cloud services are now used by 62 percent of SMBs, up from 48 percent in the first half of 2012.

With respect to IT budgets, they’re on the rise, averaging $162K, up from $152K in 1H 2012. But only 26 percent plan on hiring IT staff in the second half.

And on BYOD, whlie 14 percent fully embrace the trend, 32 percent say it works well for some devices, but not for others. Digging deeper, I discovered that smartphones led with 81 percent BYOD support, while tablets only garnered 62 percent.

And somewhat ironically, there’s more support for BYOD in much smaller organizations (defined here as less than 20 employees) than larger ones (50 percent in those above 250 employees).

I would encourage you to go here and register to download the full report, but the top line is this: If you’re an IT vendor looking for budget flush at the end of 2012, desktops, laptops, and servers are certainly low-hanging fruit, with tablets bringing on the most growth.

And on the software front, be on the lookout for disaster recovery and storage solutions (an IT mainstay through downturns), cloud-based solutions, and virtualization software.

Whatever you do make, just make sure you make those new purchases with “Gangnam Style” — and if you have no idea of what I’m referring to, see above with regards to the 2012 Google Zeitgeist!

IBM’s 2012 Tech Trends Report: Skills, Skills, And More Skills!

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Across the four technology areas covered in the 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report  – mobile, business analytics, cloud and social business – only one in ten organizations has all the skills it needs. These shortages are not trivial or isolated. Within each area, roughly one-quarter report major skill gaps, and 60 percent or more report moderate to major shortfalls.

Across the four technology areas covered in the 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report – mobile, business analytics, cloud and social business – only one in ten organizations has all the skills it needs. These shortages are not trivial or isolated. Within each area, roughly one-quarter report major skill gaps, and 60 percent or more report moderate to major shortfalls.

Okay boys and girls, it’s that time of year.

No, not the time for Saint Nicholas to come shooting down your chimneys to deliver lots of tablets and smartphones for Christmas.

That time will come soon enough.

No, I’m referring to the results from IBM’s third annual Tech Trends Report, where we talk to an extended sample of technology decision makers to find out what’s on their minds.

In 2010, I explained from the results that it was all about mobile and the cloud.

Last year, the headlines centered on IBM’s Watson technology and business analytics.

This year…while we wait for the drum roll, let me first tell provide you with some background about this year’s study.

About the 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report Study

The 2012 Tech Trends Report is based on a survey of more than 1,200 professionals who make technology decisions for their organizations (22 percent IT managers, 53 percent IT practitioners, and 25 percent business professionals), and who come from 16 different industries and 13 countries (which span both mature and growth markets).

IBM also surveyed more than 250 academics and 450 students across those same countries in order to better understand how tech trends are impacting future IT professionals.

The Headlines This Year: What’s Old Is New, And What’s New Is An Emerging Skills Gap

According to this year’s survey, what’s old is new. Mobile technology, business analytics, cloud computing, and social business continue to be emergent key themes. What’s new is this: Though new and exciting business possibilities are emerging from these new capabilities, significant IT skills shortages, combined with lingering security concerns, are threatening adoption and business progress.

By way of example, the survey revealed that only one in ten organizations has all the skills it needs, and within each of the four areas previously mentioned, roughly one-quarter of respondents report major skills gaps, and 60 percent or more report moderate to major shortfalls.

The skills shortage is more acute in mature markets, with roughly two-thirds of respondents indicating moderate to major shortages versus roughly half in growth markets.

With respect to security concerns, they consistently rank as the most significant barrier to adoption across mobile, cloud computing and social business.

The report observes that IT security is not just a technology concern, however. It’s a broad business issue with far-reaching policy and process implications, and notes that moving into mobile means organizations must address the increased risk of data loss and security breach, device management challenges, and complications introduced by the growing trend toward “bring-your-own-device” (BYOD).

In cloud computing, it calls for policies on employee use of public cloud services, segregation of data within shared or hybrid cloud solutions, and ensuring the right data is in the right place subject to the right controls.

In social business, organizations need to consider customer privacy expectations, regulatory compliance, and employee guidelines on confidentiality, acceptable use, and protecting the corporate brand.

Pay Attention To The Pacesetters

So with all this in mind, which organizations are better positioned to create competitive advantage? Early adopters or late arrivers? Those focused on strategic impact or tactical implementations?

The data suggest it’s those companies forging ahead faster (in spite of adoption hurdles) and using mobile, analytics, cloud, and social technologies in more strategic ways.

The so-called “pacesetters” believe emerging technologies are critical to their business success and are using them to enable new operating/business models.

They’re also adoption ahead of their competition.

What sets them apart from the “followers” and “dabblers” are three key factors: They’re more market driven, they’re more analytical, and they’re more willing to experiment.

And where they say they’re headed next also provides a learning opportunity.

More than 75 percent of pacesetters are increasing investments in mobile and cloud computing over the next two years, and they’re betting heavily on business analytics and social business (two to three times as many pacesetters are raising those investments by 10 percent or more).

With respect to skills, 70 percent of pacesetters are building capabilities in mobile integration, security, privacy, and mobile application architecture, design and development.

Twenty-eight percent have already developed business analytics expertise in probability, statistics and mathematical modeling (and another 60 percent are eagerly developing those capabilities).

In cloud computing, more than 70 percent are developing skills in cloud security, administration, and architecture.

The 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report data suggests an opportunity for organizations everywhere to help close the large and expanding technology skills gap. Is your organization prepared to take these important and often necessary actions?

The 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report data suggests an opportunity for organizations everywhere to help close the large and expanding technology skills gap. Is your organization prepared to take these important and often necessary actions?

And nearly one-quarter of them have already built the expertise needed to extend social business solutions to mobile and to perform social analytics.

Their intent to combined technologies — mobile and social, social and analytics, etc. — are helping drive even greater business value for their organizations.

The 2012 IBM Tech Trends Upshot?

CEOs understand the external factors impacting their organizations most: Technology and skills.

But one without the other is a recipe for innovative decline, and to effectively address these interconnected imperatives, business and IT executives need new approaches for bridging skills gaps and helping their organizations capitalize on the strategic potential of emerging technologies.

The figure to the right demonstrates specific actions that can help you as a leader move your organization into a pacesetting position.  And IBM is also stepping up and offering some new skills-building initiatives as well.

Bridging The Skills Gap

On the heels of this study, IBM has announced an array of programs and resources to help students and IT professionals develop new technology skills and prepare for jobs of the future.

The initiatives include new training courses and resources for IT professionals, technology and curriculum materials for educators and expanded programs to directly engage students with real-world business challenges.  You can learn more about those here.

CMO Talk: What If Everything You Knew About Marketing Changed?

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Click to enlarge. The practice of marketing is going through a period of unparalleled change, putting CMOs everywhere to the test. However, you can seize the opportunity to transform your marketing function. The combined insights of the 1,734 senior marketing executives participating in IBM’s Global CMO study point to three strategic imperatives that can strengthen your likelihood of success, as outlined in the graphic above.

Contrary to popular opinion, we don’t all know one another at IBM.

I know, I know, it’s hard to believe, considering there’s only 400,000+ plus of us — you’d think we all knew one another, but we don’t.

But the good news is, we’re always making new acquaintances inside IBM.

That was the case at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association Summit I attended last week in Vegas, where I finally got to meet face-to-face my colleague, Carolyn Heller Baird.

Carolyn is situated in IBM’s Global Business Services organization, and for the better part of two years, Carolyn served as the Global Director for our Chief Marketing Officer study, which was released late last year (and for which I wrote an extensive blog post, which you can find here.)

Carolyn was also in attendance at WOMMA, where she presented the CMO findings in some detail before a sizable audience.

I sat down with Carolyn to talk about the study’s findings in more detail, and to also try and better understand the implications for marketers in general, and social media practitioners in specific.

Before I hand you off to our interview below, I want to highlight the fact that the study results are still available via download here.

As the study concluded, half of all CMOs today feel insufficiently prepared to provide hard numbers for marketing ROI, even as they expect that by 2015, return on marketing investment will be the primary measure of the marketing function’s effectiveness.

There’s a gap to close there, and Carolyn’s comments in the video provide some actionable insights on to how to start to close it!

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