Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More of the World's Population Connecting to the Internet in New Ways and Embracing Web 2.0 Activities

Nearly a quarter of the world's population – roughly 1.4 billion people – will use the Internet on a regular basis in 2008. This number is expected to surpass 1.9 billion unique users, or 30% of the world's population, in 2012, according to IDC's Digital Marketplace Model and Forecast.

While the PC is currently the dominant means of gaining access to the Internet, IDC expects the number of mobile devices accessing the Internet will surpass the number of online PCs by 2012. Once on the Internet, users will continue to spend time on Web 1.0 activities like searching, shopping, and sending email. But Web 2.0 activities, such as watching user-generated videos, posting blogs, and participating in social networks, are quickly capturing the attention and time online of more and more Internet users. The latter will create new opportunities and challenges for online advertisers seeking to monetize the Internet experience.

Highlights from IDC's Digital Marketplace Model and Forecast include the following:

--Users will access the Internet through more than 1.5 billion devices worldwide in 2008, including PCs, mobile phones, and online videogame consoles. By 2012, the number of devices accessing the Internet will double to more than 3 billion, half of which will be mobile devices.
China passed the United States in 2007 to become the country with the largest number of Internet users. China's online population is forecast to grow from 275 million users in 2008 to 375 million users in 2012.

--Nearly half of all Internet users will make online purchases in 2008. By 2012, there will be more than 1 billion online buyers worldwide making business to consumer (B2C) transactions worth $1.2 trillion. Business to business (B2B) eCommerce will be ten times larger, totalling $12.4 trillion worldwide in 2012.

--Worldwide spending on Internet advertising will total $65.2 billion in 2008, which is nearly 10% of all ad spending across all media. This share is expected to reach 13.6% by 2011 as Internet ad spending grows to $106.6 billion worldwide.

--Roughly 40% of all Internet users worldwide currently have mobile Internet access. The number of mobile Internet users will reach 546 million in 2008, nearly twice as many as in 2006, and is forecast to surpass 1.5 billion worldwide in 2012.

--The most popular online activities today are searching the Web, finding information for personal use, using Internet email, accessing news and sports information, and accessing financial or credit information. In addition to these activities, more than 50% of online users worldwide are using instant messaging and playing online games. The fastest growing online activities include accessing business applications, creating blogs, online gambling, accessing work-related email, and participating in online communities.

--Among mobile Internet users, the most popular online activities are searching the Web, accessing news and sports information, downloading music, videos, and ringtones, using instant messaging, and using Internet email. By 2012, downloading music, videos, and ringtones will become the number one activity among mobile Internet users worldwide.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lead Scoring and Prioritization Pave the Road to Higher Conversion

All companies are pressured to maximize sales and marketing effectiveness to increase conversions, lead to sales revenue, and top-line revenue growth. As a result, lead generation and management have become top marketing pains for Chief Marketing Officers (CMO). A recent survey conducted by the Aberdeen Group revealed that Best-in-Class companies are 80% more likely than all others to leverage demand generation or lead management technology. As a result, 77% of Best-in-Class companies experience year-over-year improvement in lead-to-sales revenue, compared to 0% of Laggards.

The top objectives causing all organizations to implement a lead management strategy was to improve the quality of leads that are passed on to sales (78%). The need to optimize conversion or profitablity from various sources of leads was also identified by 64% of respondents as a top objective. Best-in-Class companies indicated that they currently utilize customer databases (96%), lead management/demand generation solutions (92%), customer segmentation and targeting (88%), and scoring and prioritization tools (77%) to automate lead management. These enabling technologies help Best-in-Class companies experience a 192% higher average lead qualification rate than all other organizations.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Monday, June 23, 2008

Organizations Lacking in Customer Experience Management Capabilities

ciboodle, a provider of customer-oriented business software and services, is a sponsor of the customer experience management benchmark study released by Ventana Research. The survey of more than 250 companies from around the world evaluated the maturity of customer experience management and found that only 12 percent of organizations are truly mature in their focus on ensuring the optimal customer experience.

On the surface, the research results show a high degree of understanding of the customer experience management as a serious business strategy, with more than half the participants identifying the term as the process of improving customer interactions and a quarter recognizing it as a strategy for influencing customer behavior.

In the study, key themes emerged around multiple channels, the single customer view and the agent desktop:

-- Multi channel: The Ventana study found that nearly all interactions occur through a customer service agent in a call center or through the Web, and the research shows that customers are less than satisfied with the results of their calls. Few participants reported that issues usually are resolved during the first call. And despite the growing prevalence of multi-channel customer service amongst the organizations surveyed, less than a quarter of organizations record handoffs between communication channels, and only about two-thirds are capable of tracking interactions across channels.

-- Single customer view: Creating a single, comprehensive (or 360-degree) view of the customer is an objective that companies have talked about for many years. Yet the Ventana study shows that it remains a dream for most organizations — barely a third companies reported that they have currently achieved this.

-- Agent desktop: More than one-third of the organizations participating in the research said they intend to upgrade the desktop technology on which agents rely in the next 12 months. Only about one-third of respondents said their current desktop provides agents with relevant information that depends on the caller's profile and circumstances.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Thursday, June 19, 2008

90% of Enterprise Businesses Benefiting from Virtual Collaboration

In the UK, an overwhelming nine out of ten large companies are using some form of virtual collaboration solution to enhance the quality of their communications, both within and beyond the business. And, of these, nearly two thirds have incorporated an element of video and/or web collaboration, in addition to their established audio conferencing capability.

So finds a survey of UK manufacturing and service businesses undertaken by Vanson Bourne on behalf of leading unified collaboration and communications services provider, Genesys Conferencing.

Key findings include:

-- 90% of businesses employing 1,000+ staff have adopted a conferencing/collaboration tool as part of their communications strategy. For businesses with 3,000+ staff this rises to 96%.

-- 74% of these use integrated multimedia conferencing tools to some degree, with only 26% exclusively using audio conferencing solutions. This is especially strong in manufacturing businesses, with 81% of respondents using multimedia tools.

-- Companies are also using virtual collaboration tools more frequently. Nearly one third (29%) of respondent businesses are using virtual conferencing on a daily basis, with a further 45% every week. Financial services businesses lead the field here, with 83% using conferencing tools weekly or more frequently.

-- 30% of respondents confirmed they would use their conferencing solution more frequently, if it could more effectively replace face-to-face meetings, followed by 25% who pointed to the need for peer groups to use it more often. The ability to see tangible evidence of cost savings and if it were easier to use were also seen as significant barriers to greater usage, by 22% and 14% respectively, with only 5% expressing an environmental concern in wanting to see tangible evidence of reduced carbon emissions.

-- The above priorities were exactly mirrored by those businesses who have yet to implement a virtual collaboration solution, but who plan to within the foreseeable future.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Monday, June 16, 2008

CRM Customization Initiatives Improve Key Sales and Customer Metrics

ustomizable applications and software developer kits allow for better information management and data collection; as a result, top organizations are using these technologies to customize and configure their core CRM solution to mirror unique business processes. In an increasingly competitive marketplace where companies are challenged to obtain a 360-degree view of the customer, businesses are customizing CRM solutions to integrate data from customer-facing groups, as well as increase the level of internal visibility into sales processes.

A recent study, Tailor-Made CRM: Best Practices in Customization, Configuration, and Integration, conducted by the Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company, revealed that Best-in-Class companies are 2.4 times more likely than Laggards to leverage a data integration solution to support CRM customization initiatives; the result is increased performance in data entry, data retrieval, and ease of maintenance. The top two objectives of an organization’s CRM customization initiative stem from the most fundamental of business drivers: to attain and keep customers. The need to improve customer retention (36%) and the need to improve customer acquisition (36%) were identified by all respondents as the top two objectives of a customization initiative. Best-in-Class companies indicated that they currently utilize data integration solutions (47%), contact management solutions (50%) and sales knowledge management solutions (38%) to increase the effectiveness and functionality of the core CRM solution. As a result of technology implementation and integration, Best-in-Class companies are more than 5 times as likely as Laggards to experience year-over-year improvement in customer retention levels.

The report demonstrates the value of collectively leveraging organizational practices in process, performance measurement, knowledge management and technology to provide a foundation for CRM success. By combining processes for data sharing between customer-facing groups (47%) and dedicated CRM support resources (47%), Best-in-Class compaines are able to maximize the effectiveness of their sales force by customizing the CRM solution to match unique business processes.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at

New Research Shows the Impact of the Internet on Consumer Behavior in Europe

Fleishman-Hillard International Communications, in conjunction with Harris Interactive, has announced the results of the Digital Influence Index (DII), a study designed to track and measure the influence and impact of the Internet on consumer behavior and decisions in the UK, Germany, and France.

Key findings include the following:

-- Across all three countries addressed by the study, the Internet has roughly double the influence of the second strongest medium (television) and roughly 8 times the influence of traditional printed media. This shift in consumer influence indicates a need and an opportunity for companies to reprioritize the mix of communications channels they use to reach their customers.

-- Consumers use the Internet in different ways to make different decisions. For example, consumers are more likely to seek opinions of others through social media and product-rating sites when making choices that have a great deal of personal impact (e.g., healthcare options or major electronics purchases). But they do use company-controlled sources when making transactional decisions on commoditised items, such as utilities or airline tickets.

-- While consumers see the clear benefits of the Internet on their lives, they continue to have concerns about Internet safety and the trustworthiness of some online information. In the UK, for example, 66% of online consumers say the Internet helps them make better decisions, but just 28 percent trust the information companies provide on the Internet.

-- Although most survey results were consistent across all three countries, use of the Internet shows distinct national differences. Germany leads the three countries in Web research, for example, while UK consumers are the most likely to have created an online profile site on a social networking page.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Customers Seek Secure Banking with Web 2.0 Tools

Research released by WorkLight indicates a strong desire for Web 2.0 banking tools among customers. The survey revealed that a staggering 1 in 4 Facebook users would consider leaving their bank to be able to obtain online banking through Web 2.0 gadgets. Polling Facebook users between the ages of 18 and 34, the survey also determined that nearly half of those asked would take advantage of secure Web 2.0 gadgets for online banking.

As Web 2.0 continues to be adopted around the world, consumers are looking for new ways to leverage popular tools such social networks (Facebook, MySpace, Bebo), personalized homepages (Netvibes, iGoogle, Windows Live, etc), RSS and desktop widgets, in order to do business.

The survey of 1000 Facebook users, conducted by WorkLight, discovered that 48% of respondents would take advantage of online banking with Web 2.0 gadgets if their banks offered this service.

The profile of the typical Web 2.0 banking customer was revealed to be males between the ages of 25-34. According to the study, men are slightly more open to managing personal financing with Web 2.0, with 55% of men responding in the affirmative, versus 45% of women in the research group. Among the age groups, the 25-34 year olds seemed slightly more open to the idea of Web 2.0 banking with 53% saying they would take advantage of the service, compared to 45% for the 18-24 year olds. Moreover, 25-34 year olds (33%) are more likely to switch to another bank that offered Web 2.0 gadgets for online banking than 18-24 year olds (21%).

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Monday, June 9, 2008

Worldwide Application Infrastructure and Middleware Market Revenue Increased 13 Percent in 2007

The worldwide application infrastructure and middleware (AIM) software market revenue totaled $14.1 billion in 2007, a 12.9 percent increase from 2006 revenue of $12.5 billion, according to Gartner, Inc. The market was primarily driven by strong growth in emerging market segments, such as enterprise service buses (ESBs) and business process management suites (BPMS).

The AIM market can be primarily characterized by three overall market forces. The market is demonstrating resilience with several mature segments still evolving and growing. In addition, vendors are shifting their traditional application infrastructure and middleware products mix toward ESBs and BPMS in response to the strong demand for products that support service-oriented architecture (SOA) and process-centric applications. Thirdly, the globalization and internationalization of companies are driving B2B integration requirements and sophistication.

In 2007, the top five vendors held more than 50 percent of the overall AIM market and are slowly eroding market shares from the smaller vendors primarily through acquisitions and expansion of their middleware suites offerings. IBM maintained its leading position and accounted for 28.9 percent of the total software revenue.

Integration Appliances, one of the 11 segments in which Gartner divides the AIM market was the fastest growing segment which saw an increase of 64 percent in 2007, although growing from a small installed base. ESBs held the No.2 position with a solid 39 percent growth continuing to benefit from the increasing demand for SOA.

From a regional perspective, North America and Western Europe remained the largest regions worldwide followed by Japan and Asia Pacific. Asia Pacific was the fastest-growing region with 25.4 percent growth in 2007. The performance was fostered by the rapid modernization of IT infrastructure and emerging small medium business markets in China and India.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Multi-channel Consumers Spend More; More Likely to Purchase from Multiple Providers

While multi-channel consumers spend nearly twice as much as their single channel counterparts on average, they are also more likely to purchase from multiple providers, according to a new study from Opinion Research Corporation, an infoUSA company. Consumers who use more than a single channel to interact with an organization – for example, shopping online as well as in a company’s store – also tend to spend more than those who rely on only one channel.

The research also indicated that internet shopping will continue to grow, with 65 percent of respondents expecting to make a web-based purchase in the future, vs. 42 percent who use this channel now. This suggests that the internet will continue its transition from a research or browsing tool to more of an actual selling channel. Somewhat surprisingly, telephone shopping will also continue to rise, as 39 percent of respondents plan to use the telephone to make purchases in the future, compared to only 21 percent who currently do.

Additionally, the survey found that consumer’s multi-channel usage varies by industry. For example, big box retailers such as Borders and Home Depot (17 percent); mass merchants such as Wal-Mart and Target (16 percent); department stores (14 percent) and restaurants (11 percent) have had the most success at implementing multi-channel strategies.
More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Survey Shows Leading Brands Plan to Maintain and Increase e-Commerce Investments

ATG, an e-commerce platform and optimization services provider, announced survey results proving many of the largest and most recognizable Web merchants expect to maintain or increase their e-commerce investments in the near future. Despite the reported decline in consumer spending, a majority of survey respondents believed that the slowing U.S. economy would either not significantly impact their e-commerce business overall, or it might even have a positive impact resulting in e-commerce growth.

The survey, conducted at ATG’s annual user conference ATG Insight Live 2008, collected data from representatives of more than 50 global brands in industries ranging from retail, media and entertainment, financial services and insurance, telecommunications, consumer product manufacturing, healthcare, and technology consulting. While all respondents reported annual Web sales of at least $10 million, the majority (a combined 58 percent of participants) reported annual Web sales of $100 million or more. Within the majority, 26 percent reported annual Web sales of $1 billion or more.

ATG’s research showed that:

--96 percent of respondents plan to either maintain or increase their level of investment in e-commerce strategies or tools to strengthen the online experience for customers

--4 percent of respondents said they would invest less in e-commerce in order to focus on other marketing and sales channels

--48 percent of respondents reported that the slowing U.S. economy would not significantly impact their e-commerce business

--22 percent of respondents believed the slowing U.S. economy might have a positive impact on their Web business, resulting in e-commerce growth