Monday, March 31, 2008

Study Reveals Video and Web 2.0 are Helping Companies Increase Collaboration in Today's More Interactive and Global Workforce

According to a new study by Cisco, consumer adoption of video and Web 2.0 has grown, companies are increasingly interested in using video to help grow their businesses, reach new customers, increase collaboration between their employees and look for more environmentally conscious means of communicating. More than half of the 850 corporate information technology (IT) decision makers surveyed say they are using video and Web 2.0 tools today. Another 25 percent said they are exploring such tools. However, nearly all those surveyed said more needs to be done to ready the network before they can implement video and Web 2.0 technologies to support organization-wide communication and collaboration.

Video and Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs, Wikis, telepresence and web conferencing are helping companies to keep pace with rapid market changes. Nearly 30 percent of companies surveyed reported that the primary business reason for investing in video and Web 2.0 tools is to address the demand for innovative products and services from their customers. The desire to be more environmentally conscious (26 percent) was also reported as a consideration in rolling out video applications.

In this era of the dynamic, collaborative knowledge worker, which is seeing a growing importance in global teaming, and a flatter, more interactive organization, enterprises need to innovate with their communication tools to be more agile in response to market changes. Nearly half the respondents anticipate using video more widely in the next five years, with more efficient collaboration with remote employees (66 percent) and reduced travel costs (56 percent) as the business drivers.

Additional key findings from the study include the following:

--Aside from cost, the biggest barrier to deploying video was challenges associated with maintaining a secure network (27 percent).

--Respondents agreed that IT complexity will increase as companies resolve how to deploy video and Web 2.0 technologies on top of existing collaboration applications.

--Only a small percentage of companies report that their network is ready to support video; the leading barriers are insufficient bandwidth and a lack of network infrastructure.

--Decision-makers in the United States are more likely to state that their network is increasing in complexity, becoming more costly to manage while enabling greater mobility.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Confusion Surrounds 'Report Spam' Button

Q Interactive, an online marketing services provider, announced the results of its "Spam Complainers Survey" jointly conducted with marketing research firm, MarketingSherpa. The mission of the survey was to uncover consumers' perceptions of what they consider to be spam, why they report emails as spam and what they think happens when the "report spam" button is clicked.

Spam Definition Changes from Unsolicited to Unwanted

Among the most striking findings of the study is the fact that the definition of spam has effectively changed from the permission-based regulatory definition of "unsolicited commercial email" to a perception-based definition centered on consumer dissatisfaction. Over half of the participants, 56 percent, consider marketing messages from known senders to be spam if the message is "just not interesting to me", while 50 percent of respondents consider "too frequent emails from companies I know" to be spam and 31 percent cite "emails that were once useful but aren't relevant anymore". (Respondents could select more than one answer for multiple questions in the survey.)

When it comes to utilizing the "report spam" button—the primary tool Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provide consumers to counter the problem—nearly half of respondents (48 percent) provided a reason other than "did not sign up for email" for why they reported an email as spam. In fact, underscoring consumers' varying definitions of spam, respondents cited a variety of non-permission-based reasons for hitting the spam button, including "the email was not of interest to me" (41 percent); "I receive too much email from the sender" (25 percent); and "I receive too much email from all senders" (20 percent).

Consequences Unclear When Reporting Spam

There is a pervasive confusion among consumers regarding what they believe will happen as a result of clicking the "report spam" button. Over half of respondents, 56 percent, reported it will "filter all email from that sender" while 21 percent believe it will notify the sender that the recipient did not find that specific email useful so the sender will "do a better job of mailing me" in the future. Even more indicative of the lack of understanding, 47 percent believe they will be unsubscribed from the list by clicking "report spam" while 53 percent do not believe the button it is a method to unsubscribe.

Not surprisingly, accompanying this confusion is the frequent misuse of the "report spam" button. The survey found a large number of consumers, 43 percent, forgo advertiser-supplied unsubscribe links in email and simply use the ISP's "report spam" button to unsubscribe from an advertiser's list—regardless of whether or not the email fits the consumer's definition of spam. Moreover, a full one in five consumers (21 percent) use the "report spam" button to unsubscribe from email they specifically do not consider spam.

A Call to Fix a Broken System

To address this problem, Q Interactive calls for ISPs, marketers, advertisers and publishers to come together with industry associations such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau to agree on a solution that is beneficial to consumers and all interested parties. To begin the dialogue, Q Interactive suggests two points for discussion:

*Replace the broken "report spam" button with buttons that more clearly indicate consumers' intentions such as an "unsubscribe" button and an "undesired" button.

*ISPs should categorize email senders based on their practices to identify and reward senders who follow best practices in transparency and permission.

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Alternative Media Spending Growth Accelerates in 2007, According to PQ Media

Spending on alternative media jumped 22.0 percent to $73.43 billion in 2007 and is expected to continue its rapid ascension in 2008 despite a slowing economy, as brand marketers scramble to stay in step with a rapidly changing media landscape, according to research released by PQ Media, a provider of media econometrics.

Alternative media spending grew at a compound annual rate of 21.7 percent from 2002 to 2007, as brand marketers increasingly turned to alternative advertising and marketing strategies to offset challenges posed by new technology, changing consumer behaviors, media fragmentation and multitasking, and growing demand for improved return-on-investment metrics, according to the PQ Media Alternative Media Forecast: 2008-2012. Alternative media, including 18 digital and non-traditional media segments, accounted for 16.1 percent of total advertising and marketing spending in 2007, up from only 7.9 percent in 2002.

PQ Media expects the momentum to continue in 2008 and through the rest of the decade as brand marketers seek new ways to deal with the evolving media landscape. Total spending on alternative media is forecast to grow 20.2 percent to $88.24 billion in 2008 and post compound annual growth of 17.0 percent in the 2007-2012 period, reaching $160.82 billion, according to the PQ Media Alternative Media Forecast: 2008-2012, the first source ever to define, structure, size and forecast the direction of the comprehensive digital and alternative media sector. Alternative media is forecast to represent 26.6 percent of total US advertising and marketing spending in 2012.

While all 18 segments of PQ Media’s Alternative Media Matrix, including 12 alternative advertising segments and six alternative marketing segments, posted double-digit growth in 2007, 12 of the 18 segments grew faster than 20 percent for the year. These same 12 segments are projected to drive growth over the next five years, including in order of projected growth: consumer-generated media, mobile advertising, videogame advertising, online video advertising, word-of-mouth marketing, advergaming & webisodes, product placement, search & lead generation advertising, and digital out-of home media.

Spending highlights and key trends impacting each major sector and related segments of alternative media include:

--Spending on alternative advertising, including online & mobile advertising and entertainment & digital out-of-home advertising, climbed 25.8 percent to $39.22 billion in 2007, and grew at a CAGR of 26.2 percent in the 2002-2007 period. Alternative advertising represented 17.7 percent of overall ad spend in 2007, up from a 7.0 percent share in 2002.

--Spending on online & mobile advertising, including search & lead generation, online classifieds & displays, e-media, online video & rich media, internet yellow pages, consumer-generated ads, and mobile advertising, rose 29.1 percent to $29.94 billion in 2007, and increased at a CAGR of 31.4 percent in the 2002-2007 period. Growth was driven by brand marketers shifting budgets out of traditional advertising to reach key demographics that have increased online and mobile usage due to improvements in online and wireless technology, particularly with wider adoption of broadband access.

--Spending on entertainment & digital out-of-home (OOH) advertising, including local pay TV, digital out-of-home media, video-on-demand (VOD), interactive TV (ITV), and digital video recorder (DVR) advertising, videogame & home video advertising, and satellite radio advertising, rose 16.2 percent to $9.28 billion in 2007, and climbed at a CAGR of 15.0 percent from 2002 to 2007. Spending was fueled by new ad insertion technologies, the pursuit of new ad platforms that reach young audiences; and the steady growth of local pay TV, satellite radio, and DVRs, subscribers.

--Spending on alternative marketing, including branded entertainment and interactive marketing, rose 17.9 percent to $34.21 billion in 2007, and posted a CAGR of 17.5 percent in the 2002-2007 period. Alternative marketing represented 14.5 percent of total marketing spend in 2007, up from 8.7 percent in 2002.

--Spending on branded entertainment marketing, including event sponsorship & marketing, paid product placement, and advergaming & webisodes, rose 14.7 percent to $22.30 billion in 2007, and climbed at a CAGR of 13.4 percent from 2002 to 2007. Growth was driven by deployment of media strategies aimed at being more interactive and entertaining than traditional media, as well as to engage target audiences in locations that are not impacted by ad-skipping technology.

--Spending on interactive marketing, including e-direct marketing, word-of-mouth marketing, and e-custom publishing, rose 24.4 percent to $11.91 billion in 2007, and climbed at a CAGR of 28.6 percent from 2002 to 2007. Spending was driven by strong gains in segments that reach affluent and influential consumers with focused messages that are either opted-in to or come from very trusted sources.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Email Black Hole Causing Customer Service Crisis

Email is officially the UK’s worst channel for customer service, according to research from eService provider Transversal. Transversal’s third annual Multi-channel Customer Service Study has uncovered a growing crisis in email response: emailing customer service staff is markedly less effective at yielding a satisfactory answer than using an automated online system or phoning a contact centre. Less than half (46 per cent) of the routine customer service questions emailed to 100 leading organizations were answered adequately.

Additionally, the average time to respond to email was nearly 4 days (46 hours), with 28 per cent of organisations not even replying at all. However proving that fast, accurate responses by email are possible, some companies responded with useful answers within 10 minutes. Overall these figures show a major deterioration since 2006, when email successfully answered 60 per cent of queries and kept customers waiting less time – on average 33 hours - for a reply.

Transversal’s study evaluated 100 leading UK companies in the banking, telecoms, insurance, travel, consumer electronics, grocery retail, fashion retail, CD/DVD retail, consumer electronics retail and utilities sectors for their ability to answer simple routine questions, via email, their website and by phone. While websites averaged 5 out of 10 correct responses and 55 per cent of phone calls were answered within 2 minutes, email responses continue to deteriorate year on year.

Analysis of responses show that too many companies simply use email to push customers to other channels rather than even attempting to provide a useful answer. The majority (63 per cent) of inadequate replies directed customers to call a contact centre, while nearly half (48 per cent) pushed customers back to the website, where they started, normally to generic web pages that didn’t answer the question. Not only does this increase customer dissatisfaction but multiplies the number of contacts consumers need to make, with many having to telephone to resolve their enquiry.

The usefulness of email replies has deteriorated year on year in 80 per cent of sectors. Even though many have improved response times, this appears to be through sacrificing effectiveness of replies. For example, in 2006, utilities companies took an average of 102 hours to reply to email with 70 per cent of replies answering the question. While 2007 email response times improved to 53 hours, only 15 per cent of replies answered the question. The picture is even worse in telecoms. From 2005 to 2007, average reply time fell from 32 to 26 hours but successful answers fell from 70 per cent to 20 per cent. The pattern of improving response times at the expense of deteriorating answers is clearly evident.

Insurance companies come bottom of the survey: only one email reply successfully answered the question and 50 per cent of companies didn’t respond at all. The slowest response took 27 hours – and then asked the customer to call them! Utilities were nearly as bad, with only one answering the question successfully and one partially answering it. One utility even advised customers to visit third party comparison sites to get information on current pricing.

Proving that fast, accurate responses are possible, in contrast 80 per cent of CD/DVD retailers provided correct answers, with the quickest received within one hour. Fashion, grocery and electronics retailers as well as consumer electronics manufacturers also scored relatively highly – but still only around 50 per cent of those surveyed responded satisfactorily. The fastest successful response was from a consumer electronics company which answered the question within 10 minutes. Showing the wide range of email handling skills a rival company in the same sector took 13 days to respond to an identical query.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Consumers ready to embrace new technologies

According to a new report by Visa Europe, the emphasis placed by European consumers on choice, convenience and flexibility in the shopping experience presents an interesting opportunity for retailers to capitalize on the power of technology and innovation.

Compiled from extensive consumer research carried out by Visa Europe in Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland and the UK in 2006 and 2007, the Visa Europe Consumer Insights Report shows that European consumers expect shopping to be stress-free and not add to the strain of their often hectic daily lives. Not only do they face increasing demands on their time, the stress of modern living result in many people finding it difficult to manage their money.

Given these pressures, consumers now value everyday, small pleasures above all else and choose retailers who recognize and respond to their developing needs. Shorter queues, multi-channel retailing, polite customer service as well as being able to offer a range of payment options now make up basic consumer expectations of the shopping experience.

Principal findings from the Visa Europe Consumer Insights Report for retailers include:

--Offering a full range of payment systems gives consumers choice – whilst cash may be the preferred payment option in some parts of Europe, cards are increasingly the European consumer’s choice and consumers are now annoyed by card phobic retailers as cash payments are often more time consuming and may reduce the ability to maintain control of expenditure

--Chip and PIN has been an important development which has brought benefits to retailers and consumers alike. Retailers can expect a host of new and exciting advancements only possible because of chip and PIN. These include contactless payments, prepaid cards, multi-application cards, in-store instant issuance and mobile payments.

--A multi-channel approach is key – retailers need to consider the benefits of all types of retail format - online, bricks and mortar and self-service kiosks and invest in the appropriate payment technology to ensure consumers can transact safely in every type of situation. This includes embracing security initiatives like ‘dynamic passcode authentication’ and accepting contactless payments.

The Consumer Insights Report 2 2008 follows on from Visa’s first Consumer Insights Report: ‘Understanding Consumers Everyday’ released in the UK in June 2006. It is based on a selection of research projects undertaken by Visa in 2006 and 2007.

Key consumer trends identified in the report include:

--We love to shop: 69% of consumers in Poland and 75% of people in Greece love to shop

--We love the occasional treat: 69% of Germans who say they are “very happy” and their lives “couldn’t be better” treat themselves at least once a week

--Everyday small pleasures really count: 73% of Italians said a smile brightened their day

--Not enough time: In Poland consumers say they are often unable to spend their time doing things that really makes them happy

--Speed and convenience count: Around 50% of Germans say queuing is the most annoying part of shopping

--Online and around the clock: 78% of UK consumers said they loved internet shopping because it allowed them to shop 24/7

--Security matters: 71% of UK consumers say they are more likely to shop online if they felt it to be safe; 70% of Germans say they are most likely to shop online with a retailer they recognize from the high street

--Money management: 70% of Italian consumers are “worried” when they spend their money; £83 billion ‘disappears’ from UK wallets each year

--Payment options: 40% of Germans prefer to pay with their card and would use it more often if it were possible to do so in more shops; 60% of UK adults now choose cards as their preferred payment method

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Presidential Campaigns Show Businesses How to Tap Social Networking and New Media Tactics

The 2008 presidential campaign serves as the harbinger of change in marketing strategies and the use of new media, as well as understanding how social networking can be adapted for building, marketing and in some cases, defending a brand, according to a new paper from Deloitte Consulting LLP. While businesses may sometimes be ahead of politicians in using new media, the velocity of the presidential campaigns forces politicians into much more aggressive experimentation and adoption.

Deloitte offers the following insights for companies to consider based on the campaign to date:

--You've lost control of the message. Your carefully crafted commercials, news releases, and websites are fair game for revisionists. Engage these new media influencers by categorizing their blogs, social networking sites and chat rooms as advocates, neutrals or hostiles. Nurture advocates with useful information while taking action to move neutrals in a positive direction. Consider creating your own revisionist acts. Creativity counts and can win points.

--For better or worse, YouTube is egalitarian. No matter how much you spend on production, there’s no guarantee your YouTube ad will be any more popular than other videos that address your brand. Slick and professional are not the hallmark of most popular YouTube videos. Before using YouTube as an advertising medium directly, consider if someone else is already doing a more effective and catchy job already.

--Facebook provides many plausible functions for markets, none of which is clearly dominant yet. Facebook recently announced that it strategically wants to be viewed as an application platform, not just a social networking site. While all of the campaigns have created a basic Facebook presence – not all that different from creating a simple web page or MySpace site, it’s expected that some campaigns will build custom applications to extend functionality, likely to build networks and mobilize communities. Facebook has also rolled out advertising functionality that allows precision in the types of ads targeted to specific segments.

--Brand terrorism may be right around the corner. For many businesses it is not a matter of whether, but a matter of when. Consider your vulnerabilities now. Re-think and update your crisis management plan quarterly. Identify the required participants and how they will be contacted in an emergency. Include a plan for how to leverage partners and affiliates in your response. Regardless of attack source – new media or old, new media will be part of the response. Think “Swift Boats” on steroids.

--Not responding is no longer an option. Attacks can not be ignored. From Dukakis’ response to “Willy Horton” to John Kerry’s delayed counter-attack from “Swift Boats,” the campaigns have shown what happens when they are either slow to respond or fail to retaliate at all – the attacker wins the day. New media such as social networking and blogs have greatly expanded the sources of threats and the speed at which attacks spread.

--Your media plan may need shredding. Picture yourself watching an online video of your passengers stranded on a tarmac or your CEO portrayed as Big Brother on YouTube. Create a media plan with an appropriate blend of traditional and new media, and then build in flexibility so you can scrap it and shift spending as needed. Remember that brand damaging information moves faster than good news.

--Your organizational structure may be an impediment. Upend a monolithic marketing organization and replace it with smaller units to enhance market-sensing capabilities and nurture instincts. Create the ability to act and react faster. Re-define the notion of "smart hires" based on the new structure, and build teams that balance mature experience with youthful new-media instincts to achieve depth and significantly improve results.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Widgets Continue Wiggling Into Budgets

Web widgets, or small modules of content or advertising that Web users can add to social network profiles or blogs, are becoming ubiquitous. Widgets, built for a specific platform such as Facebook, also known as applications, are being implemented by many of the 69 million adults and 15 million teens eMarketer estimates will be using social network sites in 2008. That represents 43.5 percent of adults, and 77 percent of the teen Internet population.

eMarketer projects that US companies will spend $40 million in 2008 to create, promote and distribute widgets and applications, up from $15 million in 2007.

“Since Facebook opened up its doors to third-party applications in May 2007, nearly 15,000 applications have been developed,” says Debra Aho Williamson, senior analyst and author of the report, Web Widgets and Applications: Destination Unknown. ”Overall, some 100,000 developers are working on widgets and applications worldwide.”

Widgets and applications may hold exciting marketing potential, but spending will represent just 2.5 percent of total US online social network ad spending in 2008, up from 1.6 percent in 2007.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Customer Email Reigns To Increase Web Traffic, but TV and Direct Mail Come Next

As business sectors such as retail, insurance, travel, banking and leisure become more dependent on online sales, marketers are anxious to understand which advertising media are most effective at driving web visits and purchases. Now new research, commissioned by Response One, has examined the relative effectiveness of different advertising media for encouraging consumers to visit a company's website and seriously consider a purchase. The report found that emails to existing customers easily topped the list, 52% more likely than average to inspire a web visit and serious purchase consideration. However, the more 'traditional' media of TV and newspaper advertising and direct mail (coming 34% and 16% above average respectively), were second and third.

Sponsored search engine links and adverts enclosed with bills and statements are also of above average effectiveness in encouraging web visits and purchases. However, the research also found that advertising on social networking sites is not considered effective by the majority of consumers. UK consumers felt that such advertising, far from being effective in driving web visits and transactions, was on a par (at 26% below average) with unsolicited email (31% below average). A notable exception to this observation was in the 18-24 year old bracket, who put social network adverts and customer mobile texts both on 22% above average for encouraging web visits and purchase consideration.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Organizations Should Carefully Consider Deployments of Virtual Environments

Organizations need to think carefully before they deploy virtual environments such as Second Life, because of issues with access and use, according to Gartner Inc. Gartner said that the allure of environments such as Linden Lab's Second Life can be intoxicating for users and, in some cases, for organizations, but IT managers need to exercise caution and consider other options.

Gartner has identified three key challenges that organizations face in using Second Life and offered the following advice to businesses considering deploying virtual environments:

Challenge One – Graphics Card IssuesOne of Second Life's issues is desktop support. Second Life widely supports NVIDIA graphics cards and now certain ATI cards (but not all). This circumstance puts severe pressure on IT departments when a business unit decides that it wants to use Second Life. Not all business users will have access to a PC that is considered "gaming class." Gartner said that even in the same PC model from the same manufacturer, graphics cards can differ, and organizations need to examine this reality, especially as user experiences become more graphics-intensive.

Challenge Two – DowntimeWhile Second Life now notifies users in advance of planned downtime via a Google shared calendar, that calendar has been found to be somewhat out of date with limited warning of future planned outages or rolling restarts. Although casual users of Second Life have become used to this downtime dilemma, any organization that wishes to use it for business purposes, such as running training sessions, may have to delay or reschedule those sessions if loss of service occurs during these rolling restarts. These issues are usually intolerable for enterprises that expect 24/7 access, scalability and reliable, bug-free operation from their virtual environments.

Challenge Three – Other Platforms EmergeGartner expects that other, more scalable virtual environments will emerge to challenge Second Life in the consumer-facing segment and that Sony's forthcoming Home could be one of these challengers. By the end of 2009, Gartner predicts that because of continued technical issues, consumers and consumer-facing businesses will seek other virtual environments as alternatives to Second Life.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Enterprises Should Not Block Access to Web 2.0 Technologies, but They Can Better Secure These Applications

Businesses need to resist the temptation to exclude their employees' access to Web 2.0 technologies and services if they are to benefit from the considerable creativity that Web 2.0 can unleash, according to Gartner, Inc.

Business demands will increasingly require security organizations to secure, rather than block enterprise access to the Web 2.0 global ecosystem. Many IT organizations are responding to the demand for Web 2.0 technologies. According to a Gartner Executive Programs survey of 1,500 CIOs worldwide, half of the respondents said they plan to invest in Web 2.0 technologies for the first time in 2008.

"Rather than just stopping the use of Web 2.0 technologies, IT groups should be providing secure means of developing and deploying such applications," said Joseph Feiman, vice president and Gartner fellow. "The business application movement toward Web 2.0 and other related-trends, such as increased use of open-source software and wider deployment of service-oriented architectures, are combining to change how applications are developed with significant implications for security."

"Web 2.0 enables masses of individuals to become application and content developers and deploy Web 2.0 applications that implement their own versions of established business rules and practices. Although this entails risks, it can also unlock huge business value," Mr. Feiman said. "By mapping the business gain against the potential risk, organizations can determine the most effective constraints and controls for enterprise use of Web 2.0."

According to Gartner, with mashups, Ajax and other Web 2.0 technologies already in widespread use, saying "no" to the Web 2.0 ecosystem will generally not be an option. Instead, enterprises should take tactical and strategic steps to increase the odds that business use of Web 2.0 will increase the bottom line rather than have a negative business impact through security incidents.

"Organizations need to extend their security processes to enable safe use of Web 2.0 technologies" said John Pescatore, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "Strategies to contain and protect the use of new technologies will always be more effective in the long run than security approaches that rely solely on blocking."

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Monday, March 10, 2008

62% of Americans Participate in Mobile Digital Activities

Some 62 percent of adult Americans have taken advantage of mobile access to digital data and tools. The Pew Internet Project’s new report, entitled Mobile Access to Data and Information, examines mobile access in two ways and finds that:

--58 percent of adult Americans have used a cell phone or personal digital assistant (PDA) to do at least one of ten mobile non-voice data activities, such as texting, emailing, taking a picture, looking for maps or directions, or recording video.

--41 percent of adult Americans have logged onto the internet on the go, that is, away from home or work either with a wireless laptop connection or a handheld device.

--Overall, 62 percent of adult Americans have either accessed the internet with a wireless connection away from home or work or used a non-voice data application using their cell phone or PDA, according to the Pew Internet Project’s December 2007 survey.

Overall, 75 percent of all American adults say they own cell phones. Here’s how the data breaks out when looking at non-voice data activities people access from their cell phones or personal digital assistants (PDA), with percentage represented as a share of those with cell phones or PDAs.

--Send or receive text messages: 58 percent have done this at some point, with 31 percent saying they do this on a typical day.

--Take a picture: 58 percent have taken a picture with their device; 15 percent say they do this on the typical day.

--Play a game: 27 percent have played a game on their handheld device, with 8 percent saying they do this on a typical day.

--Send or receive email: 19 percent have done this, with 8 percent saying they do this on a typical day.

--Access the internet for news or other information: 19 percent have used their handheld device for such information access, with 7 percent saying they do this on the average day.

--Record a video: 18 percent have done this with their handheld device, with 3 percent say they shoot a video on their cell phone on the typical day.

--Play music: 17 percent do this with their cell or PDA, 7 percent on the typical day.

--Send or receive instant messages: 17 percent have used their device for IM-ing, and 6 percent saying they do this on the average day.

--Get maps or directions: 14 percent say they have gotten maps or directions with their device; 3 percent do this on the typical day.

10 percent have watched a video on their handheld device, with 3 percent saying they do this on the average day.

Young adults (those between the ages of 18 and 29) are most likely, on a typical day, to use their cell phone or PDA to access a non-voice data application; 73 percent with wireless handheld devices do so. This compares to the average of 42 percent of those with cell phones or PDAs who use a non-voice data application on their devices on the typical day.

More striking is use among African Americans and Latinos. Some 56 percent of English-speaking Hispanics with a wireless handheld device use a non-voice data or information application on the average day, and 50 percent of African Americans with wireless handhelds do so. These groups lagged in "desktop" online access in the late 1990s and early part of the decade, but the report shows a very different pattern for wireless access on the go. African Americans and English-speaking Hispanics are more likely than white Americans to use cell phones or PDAs for non-voice data applications.

The report also suggests that email is alive and well, even though sending text-messages is very popular, especially among young adults. On the average day, 60 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 29 with cell phones or PDAs send or receive text messages, while about the same share (62 percent) of internet users in this age group send or receive email on the typical day.

The report also documents how many Americans have connected to the internet with a laptop or other wireless-enabled device away from home or work. Some 52 percent of internet users have done this at some point. Usage patterns for this type of wireless access (e.g., logging on to WiFi networks) are similar to those for non-voice data access using cell phones or PDAs, with young Americans, blacks, and English-speaking Hispanics being the most likely users of wireless while away from home or work.

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Friday, March 7, 2008

79% Companies Seek Focus on Issues With Greatest Customer Loyalty Impact

A new national study conducted by the Gantry Group LLC, Best Practices for Customer Satisfaction, reveals that 60% of companies value customer satisfaction programs that help them to focus efforts on those issues with the greatest impact on customer loyalty. The customer satisfaction data of most value to companies is the understanding of the degree to which customer’s expectations are met (38%) and tracking the customer’s perception of value (37%).

According to the study, the cost of customer satisfaction tracking programs is rationalized more by high customer satisfaction scores (25%) than increased revenue (18%), reduction in customer churn (12%) or increased repeat sales (9%).

Study respondents included C-level executives (26%), CMO/head of marketing (26%), and heads of professional/customer support services. Two-thirds of study respondents were with companies with over $100M in annual revenues, and 31% from companies with $11M - $99M.

The study revealed the following additional findings:

--Companies with no formal, periodic customer satisfaction surveys in place are limited by “bandwidth” – too many competing priorities (67%).

--In addition to knowing where they should focus to gain maximum impact on customer satisfaction (60%), companies value the ability to forecast customer loyalty and retention (42%) and isolating individual customer data (41%).

--Tying customer satisfaction to employee performance-based compensation is a key challenge to 32% of respondents.

--Service delivery and solution performance are the most important customer touch points to be monitored (93% and 80%, respectively) followed by customer service (80%), sales/account management (71%), and technical support (66%).

--79% of respondents are not satisfied with merely tracking performance metrics or overall company “satisfaction” and desire the ability to diagnose issues down to the business process level to accurately identify problems.

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Outsourcing, Open Source, Data Storage, and IT-Enabled Innovation on the Rise; Backsourcing on the Decline

Cutter Benchmark Review has conducted its IT Trends 2008 survey. Which technologies and IT trends are enduring? Which ones are emerging? According to CBR Editor and Cutter Senior Consultant Gabriele Piccoli, the results "offer both opportunities to cheer and some reasons to worry. Here's a look at some of the results:

Virtualization: 61% of respondents indicate their companies are currently using virtualization tools, a 9% increase over last year's results. The greatest use of virtualization tools is for application testing and development (42%), followed by system patches and update testing (25%), and production (25%).

Security: The number of companies concerned with intrusion detection has jumped 24% from 2006 to 2008. All of that gain has gone toward networked-based systems, which are more than twice as likely to be employed as host-based or target-specific technologies.

Open Source: As many as 65% of respondents say their organization has deployed open source systems -- a 16% increase over the last two years.

Outsourcing: Cutter's 2008 survey shows that 55% of respondents have or are planning to outsource work -- a 7% increase since 2007. The types of work being outsourced include development work (78%), maintenance work (64%), and help desk support (49%). In 2007, only 38% of respondents outsourced the help desk. That number has jumped to 49% in 2008.

Backsourcing: The number of respondents who are considering backsourcing is down 10% from 2007. A total of 39% of respondents indicate that their organization is considering backsourcing in 2008.

IT Staffing Plans: Despite the recent economic turmoil, 55% of respondents expect to be hiring IT staff in 2008. While another 36% of respondents expect no changes in their IT staffing plans, the remaining 9% expect to be downsizing.

Service-Oriented Architecture: 57% of respondents say their organization has implemented an SOA initiative or program, a 6% increase over 2007. The primary drivers behind today's SOA initiatives are: to increase IT's responsiveness to business demand (73%), to reduce cost of IT operations (58%), to exploit strategic competitive opportunities (51%), and to retire legacy technology (33%). The highest-level champion of SOA initiatives is the CIO at 35%; followed by the EVP, SVP, and VP at 19%; and then the CEO at 17%. There are significant impediments to the adoption/expansion of SOA in the organization, according to 61% of respondents. The reasons cited include a lack of visible ROI (31%), a lack of alignment with business strategies (25%), a lack of business buy-in (23%), and insufficient sponsorship (23%).

Enterprise Architecture: 61% of surveyed individuals indicate their organization has an EA initiative underway, an increase of 6% since 2007. The most common driver for EA requirements is the imperative to reduce cost (51%), followed by alignment to a defined enterprise business architecture (47%), and a formal development of enterprise business requirements (37%). Central IT groups have taken a 22% jump to be the most common owner of requirements for EA (39%), followed by IT director or executive (16%). Only 12% of enterprise-level business groups and 7% of business units are responsible for EA requirements.

Emerging Trends:

Enterprise 2.0: 8% of respondents indicate their organization has already launched an Enterprise 2.0 initiative, while 7% are in the implementation planning stage, 18% are doing early experimentation, and 34% are still gathering information. A full 33% of respondents say their organization is not actively pursuing Enterprise 2.0 initiatives at all.

Web 2.0: Only 5% of respondents say that their organization has already begun using Web 2.0 to interact with customers. Another 12% are in the implementation planning stage, 25% are doing early experimentation, and 31% are still gathering information. 28% of respondents specify that their organization is not currently pursuing using Web 2.0 to interact with customers.

Mashups: Mashups initiatives have already been launched by just 2% of respondent organizations, while 3% are in the implementation planning stage, 21% are doing early experimentation, 19% are gathering information, and 56% have not actively pursued mashups at all.

IT's Role in Business Innovation: The IT organization's role in business innovation is foremost reactive to business innovation initiatives, according to 38% of respondents. Another 35% of respondents view IT's role as a key enabler for business innovation. Just 15% of respondents indicate that business innovation is not a role for their IT department -- a 6% decline from 2007.

More information about Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Monday, March 3, 2008

2008 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index

Brand Keys has released the results of their 2008 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index. This year there are more ‘ties’ in terms of loyalty brand rankings than there have been in the past 10 years of the Index. The best you can say about that is it’s a sign of category standardization, but, more likely, the curtain has been pulled back from brands, exposing products and services that have lost their ‘brandness’ and are turning into Category Placeholders.

Among the 57 categories and 382 brands measured in 2008, the product and service brands that customers ranked 1st in terms of meeting and exceeding their expectations for the category were:

-Airlines: JetBlue and Southwest
-Allergy Medicine (OTC): Benadryl and Tylenol
-Allergy Medicine (Rx): Clarinex and Zyrtec
-Athletic Footwear: Air Jordan and New Balance
-Automotive: Toyota
-Banks: Wachovia and Washington Mutual
-Beer (Light): Coors Light
-Beer (regular): Sam Adams
-Bottled Water: Aquafina and Fiji
-Car Insurance: Geico
-Car Rental (Airport Locations): Hertz
-Car Rental (AO Locations): Avis
-Casual Dining: Olive Garden
-Cell Phones: Samsung
-Clothing Catalogues: L.L.Bean
-Coffee: Dunkin’ Donuts
-Computers: Apple
-Cosmetics (Luxury): Estee Lauder
-Cosmetics (Mass Merchandiser): Maybelline
-Credit Cards: Discover Card
-Diapers: Playskool and Wal-Mart White Cloud
-DVD Players: Samsung
-Energy Provider: PSE&G
-Evening News Show: ABC
-Gasoline: BP and Sunoco
-HDTV (LCD): Samsung
-HDTV (Plasma): Panasonic and Pioneer
-Hotels (Luxury): W Hotels
-Hotels (Upscale): Embassy Suites and Hyatt
-Hotels (Midscale): Comfort Inn
-Hotels (Economy): Day’s Inn
-Insurance Company: NY Life
-Laundry Detergent: Tide
-Long Distance Provider: AT&T and Verizon
-Major League Sports: National Football League
-Morning News Shows: Good Morning America (ABC) and The Today Show (NBC)
-Mutual Funds: T. Rowe Price
-MFP Office Copier: Konica Minolta
-On-line Books & Music:
-On-line Brokerage:
-On-line Travel Sites: and
-OTC Pain Reliever: Tylenol
-Parcel Delivery: UPS
-Pizza: Domino’s and Papa John’s
-Quick-Serve Restaurants: McDonald’s and Subway
-Retail Stores (Apparel): Victoria’s Secret
-Retail Stores (Discount): Wal-Mart
-Retail Stores (Department): Macy’s
-Retail Stores (Electronics): Best Buy
-Retail Stores (Office Supply): Staples
-Retail Stores (Home Improvement): Lowe’s and True Value
-Satellite Radio: XM
-Search Engines: Google
-Soft Drinks (Diet): Diet Pepsi
-Soft Dinks (Regular): Pepsi
-Toothpaste: Crest
-Wireless Phone Service: AT&T and Verizon

At a time when most brands continue to struggle to differentiate themselves from their competition and engage their customers in order to remain profitable, these rankings serve as both an opportunity and warning. The brands that answer this warning with a truly consumer-centric view of their category, based on predictive loyalty metrics, will gain the most, and establish themselves as 21st century brands and not commodities.

More information on Customer Loyalty can be found at