Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Survey Finds 'Cautious' Brits are Lagging Behind in SaaS Adoption

The UK is behind the curve with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) adoption, according to new research from RainStor, an infrastructure software company . The findings show that just 22 per cent of UK companies are already using a SaaS application, compared with 49 percent in the US. A further 28 percent of UK companies intend to make use of SaaS in the foreseeable future, compared with 42 percent of US companies.

The research also found that UK companies that have adopted SaaS are significantly more cautious than their US counterparts; 82 per cent of UK companies using SaaS would like to take a copy of their data at least once a week compared to 46 per cent of US companies. UK companies also cite far more reasons to take a copy of SaaS data than US companies and appear to be less willing to fully adopt a cloud model for business applications. When keeping a copy of SaaS data, 38 per cent of UK companies would prefer to keep the copy on-site, rather than with another third party cloud provider, compared with just 5 per cent of US companies.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Social Media Newest Playground for Cybercriminals

Cisco has issued its Annual Security Report for 2009, which highlights the impact of social media, particularly social networking, on network security and explores the critical role that people, not technology, play in creating opportunities for cybercriminals. The Annual Security Report also includes winners of the 2009 Cisco® Cybercrime Showcase and discusses trends in cloud computing, spam and overall global cybercrime activities that information technology professionals continue to face.

Social media experienced explosive growth in 2009. Facebook alone tripled its active user base to 350 million over the course of the year. Social media adoption is expected to continue growing into 2010, especially as more organizations realize the value of social networks as an absolute business requirement. Social networks have quickly become a playground for cybercriminals because members of these sites put an inordinate amount of trust in the other members of their communities and often fail to take precautions to prevent the spread of malware and computer viruses.

Key Findings

Spam: Social media may be where cybercriminals troll for new victims. However, spam is still a tried-and-true means for tricking people into downloading malware and persuading them to buy, for example, fake pharmaceuticals. The Annual Security Report estimates that in 2010, spam volume will likely rise 30 to 40 percent worldwide over 2009 levels. However, Cisco's own SensorBase data shows that while the U.S. and other economic leader countries (such as those within the European Union) begin to shut down spam zombies in their own countries, the rollout of broadband in developing economies (including India and Vietnam) have made them an increasing source of spam. In fact, the U.S. was toppled as the No. 1 spam sender. In 2009, that distinction went to Brazil.

Cloud Computing: While 10 years ago it would have been unthinkable for businesses to keep sensitive data outside the corporate firewall, today, with the advent of cloud computing and hosted applications, doing so is increasingly common. Many users are so trusting of cloud computing that they do minimal due diligence on who's hosting their sensitive data, and how secure the data is. The Annual Security Report recommends that organizations looking to use externalized services ask providers to explain their data security measures thoroughly.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Companies Struggle With Integration and Coordination Across Complex Partner Networks As Business Interdependence Increases Globally

Executives worldwide are struggling with the challenges of integration and collaboration across complex networks of business partners and customers in a more interdependent business world, according to a new study released by the Business Performance Management (BPM) Forum and the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. The study finds that 21st Century business models have become increasingly dependent on partner networks to shape customer experiences, drive innovation processes and deliver products and services to global markets. Information systems and cross-company business processes, however, are strained to keep pace.

According to key findings in the research, executives appear to be well aware of the need for significant improvement:

-- Some 68 percent of respondents indicate that business partners are essential to their companies’ go-to-market processes, customer experience and competitive position.

--More than half say their partner networks are becoming more global and complex.

-- Yet, only 8 percent of executives believe their companies are highly effective in the way they integrate and optimize these business networks.

Even in a difficult economic environment, the vast majority of companies -- some 73 percent of respondents -- are investing in programs and systems to optimize the way they collaborate with partners. 37 percent of respondents say their partner networks are contributing significant innovation, insight and value to their business, further emphasizing the return from program investment. Executives are also responding to the pressure to transform customer experience and satisfaction as nearly 4 in 10 respondents report that their customers are demanding greater visibility into both their supply and distribution chains.

The study underscores that information systems and cross-company business processes, are not keeping pace with increased business interdependence to enable companies to achieve round-the-clock collaboration, shared innovation, improved productivity and cooperative customer handling:

-- Only 6 percent of respondents say they currently have end-to-end data and process integration across their partner networks, although 51 percent report at least some level of integration with select partners.

-- Some 64 percent of respondents say they have either no ability or an unsatisfactory ability to extend and leverage their internal systems to selling and service partners.

-- Some 75 percent say they have no ability or an unsatisfactory ability to extend and leverage their internal systems to suppliers and outsourced service providers.

--Only 26 percent of respondents say they are effective in sharing customer data and insights with partners to enable innovation.

The study found that business network transformation holds multiple direct benefits to customer experience, including faster time to product resolution (55 percent), reduced cost of customer support (42 percent) and better innovation around products and services (45 percent). Some 42 percent of respondents say they rely heavily on suppliers and outsourced services to meet customer needs and more than 51 percent say integration of partner networks with the customer is important to delivering enhanced service and support.

The study makes it clear that outsourcing, supplier and demand chain partnerships are contributing far more than just cost savings and operational capacity for today’s global businesses. Executives are concerned with improving productivity across their value chains as indicated by at least 25 percent of respondents signaling a significant need for improvement in supplier vendor management, global procurement and sourcing; customer handling and support; sales and customer acquisition; transportation and warehousing; order management and fulfillment; and product lifecycle management.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Monday, December 7, 2009

Security Concerns Hinder Cloud Computing Adoption

Concerns about the security of cloud computing environments top the list of reasons for firms not being interested in the pay-per-use hosting model of virtual servers, according to new research by Forrester Research, Inc. Forty-nine percent of survey respondents from enterprises and 51 percent from small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) cited security and privacy concerns as their top reason for not using cloud computing.

Other key highlights of the survey include:

--X86 server virtualization adoption has now reached most firms. Seventy-two percent of enterprise respondents are using or upgrading x86 server virtualization, up from 54 percent in 2008. Fifty percent of SMB respondents are using or upgrading x86 server virtualization, with an additional 24 percent planning to do so within the next 12 months.

--Cloud computing adoption is lagging. The firms surveyed showed low interest in pay-per-use hosting of virtual servers, one of many types of cloud service offerings in the market. The percent of enterprise respondents using pay-per-use hosting of virtual servers is effectively unchanged from 2008, with three percent using or expanding usage, although the percentage interested and without specific plans has increased. Only four percent of SMB respondents have already implemented pay-per-use hosting of virtual servers compared with two percent in 2008. Security, maturity, and concerns about costs led as the reasons why firms are not using cloud-hosted servers.

--Green IT awareness is rising. Interest in increasing the electrical efficiency of the data center rose from 2008, with 60 percent of enterprise respondents saying they are interested or very interested in doing so compared with 51 percent last year.

More information on the CRM industry can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

IT Organizations Will Spend More Money on Private Cloud Computing Investments Than on Offerings From Public Cloud Providers Through 2012

Despite the economies of scale offered by public cloud providers, private cloud services will prevail for the foreseeable future while public cloud offerings mature, according to Gartner, Inc. Through 2012, IT organizations will spend more money on private cloud computing investments than on offerings from public cloud providers.

Gartner defines public cloud computing as a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service to external customers using Internet technologies. Private cloud computing is defined as a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service to internal customers using Internet technologies.

Private cloud services will be a stepping stone to future public cloud services and, over time, will span both private and public cloud resources in a hybrid manner. For many large enterprises, private cloud services will therefore be required for many years, perhaps decades, as public cloud offerings mature.Gartner analysts said appropriate investments in private cloud computing will also make it easier for enterprises to gradually use public cloud services in the future. For services destined to be cloud at some point in time, enterprises should evaluate the return on investment from developing private cloud services, while waiting for external offerings to mature.

Enterprises also need to be aware that some IT services are destined for the cloud computing style and others are destined for more integration and intimacy with the business. Once it is established that a particular service is destined for cloud computing, then a decision needs to be made as to whether it makes more business sense to wait for a mature cloud service to appear or to develop private cloud services sooner.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In Social Media, Point-of-View Equals ROI

Marketers rushed into social media in 2009 like gunmen into banks, looking for fast cash and a quick way out. Typically, this resulted in a bad experience for all parties and a premature determination that this "social media thing" just doesn't pay out. To avoid such folly in 2010, marketers would be wise to follow these three basic steps to optimizing their social media ROI.
Read the full article....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Social media like Twitter change customer service

Hailed as the Next Big Thing, customer service through Twitter is a work in progress. The performance of many companies has been uneven as they try to handle a crush of customer queries, integrate Twitter into their overall strategy and manage the heightened expectations of consumers. however, Twitter should augment customer service, not be some magic bullet.

Read the full article from USA Today.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Biggest Marketing Supply Chain Savings Go Unaddressed

Nearly two-thirds of senior marketers have never undertaken a comprehensive audit of the costs and processes that contribute to their marketing supply chain and most admit their resources and suppliers are poorly integrated across global networks, reports the Chief Marketing Office (CMO) Council.

The milestone “Define Where to Streamline” study (www.marketingsupplychain.org/report) provides a comprehensive assessment of how well marketers are managing, controlling and introducing sustainability practices across increasingly complex global supply chains. These include hundreds or thousands of printers, exhibit and merchandise suppliers, warehouse and fulfillment operations, communications agencies, media channels, independent contractors, as well as creative and digital service providers.

The online audit of more than 300 senior marketers conducted by the CMO Council found marketers are inadequately positioned to introduce new efficiencies and waste reduction programs into their marketing ecosystems.

While only 25.2 percent of respondents have undertaken a comprehensive audit and analysis of costs and process efficiencies in their supply chain, the study found that roughly the same number – 25.9 percent – track obsolescence on marketing and event management consumables. However, just over 50 percent of the marketers audited acknowledge that ROI could be the greatest reward from an optimized supply chain as a streamlined process will likely speed time-to-market and time-to-value from marketing spend. These numbers reflect a lack of visibility into marketing supply chain operations and poor tracking and accountability of marketing materials and merchandise inventory, which often involve millions of printed items, including product packaging, corporate brochures, sales literature, premiums and point-of-sale display units.

Interestingly, the CMO Council study suggests that a trend toward greater sustainability and carbon footprint reductions may lead many marketers onto the right path for gaining a deeper understanding of their supplier network and value chain. More than two-thirds of respondents – 63.6 percent – said they are targeting print production, warehousing and delivery of marketing consumables and 37.1 percent said they were targeting transportation and logistics with an eye toward realizing sustainability gain and carbon footprint improvements. Delving into these areas will enable marketers to exact cost-savings and efficiency improvements from many of the greatest areas of spend within their marketing supply chains.

Other key findings from the report include:

-- With 89 percent of companies indicating they are not generating real economies or efficiencies in their marketing supply chain process, marketers are further challenged as one third of respondents indicate they have no internal resource of expertise in supply chain management. In fact, 47.8 percent of marketers surveyed indicate that marketing supply chain management is an evolving functional area that needs more attention or a discipline growing in importance of value.

--30.4 percent of respondents said they weren’t fully realizing the value and potential of the Internet and instead are managing partners through traditional means while 30.1 percent clearly have adopted an online approach, saying they were seeing major improvements in workflow, collaboration, content access and digital asset management.

-- Marketers acknowledge that a streamlined supply chain can improve go-to-market strategy and speed time-to-value from marketing spend, and play a critical role in managing the potential variance in customer experience. The delivery of accurate and relevant content, the uniformity of communication and consistency of message, and the timely provisioning of up-to-date sales and marketing messages and materials are the top three critical values an optimized marketing supply chain to go-to-market strategy.

-- Creative, once an area often left in the hands of agencies or advertising, may come under greater scrutiny as a significant number of marketers – 40.5 percent – identified creative design and development as an area in the marketing supply chain with the greatest potential for process, productivity and performance improvements.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Companies Identify Major Business Benefits in Listening to Online Conversation

As control of a company’s marketing messages -- and, indeed, its very brand image -- continues to migrate from traditional media to social media, companies need to pay close attention to how they're being perceived in online conversations. They also need to take appropriate action, based on the insights they glean.

That’s precisely what a growing number of companies are doing, according to a new benchmark report published by the Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company. In fact, the research found that, despite the substantial cutbacks that most companies have been forced to make in light of the global economic recession, 50% of all companies are increasing their investment level in social media monitoring initiatives. The research also found that the insights derived from social media monitoring and analysis can benefit multiple parts of the organization, including marketing, sales, public relations, customer service, market research and product management.

Aberdeen research reveals a number of striking performance disparities between Best-in-Class, Industry Average and Laggard companies. For example, Best-in-Class organizations are 2.6-times more likely than Industry Average companies, and 93-times more likely than Laggards, to improve their ability to generate consumer insights that drive new product/service development. They are also 3.3-times more likely than Industry Average companies, and 82-times more likely than Laggards, to improve their ability to identify and reduce risk to the brand. Best-in-Class organizations also outperformed Laggards when it comes to improving customer advocacy and decreasing customer service costs.

In addition to deploying the right set of enabling technologies, success in social media monitoring requires a combination of strategic actions and organizational capabilities. To that point, Best-in-Class companies are 42% more likely than Laggards to have a process for disseminating insights gleaned from consumer-generated content to key decision-makers and also twice as likely to have a process for applying the insights in the context of specific needs. Best-in-Class companies are 1.9-times more likely than Laggards to have dedicated operations resources devoted to social media monitoring, analysis and reporting.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Five best practices for avoiding “CRM Gone Wild”

When it comes to creating a successful CRM project -- whether it's automating the quote-to-order process, creating greater visibility into the sales pipeline, refining your partner relationship management practices, or meeting any other business requirement -- less is more. In other words, identify your top CRM-related business goal, define the related functionality, and then deliver it. Save the "nice to have" wish list for later.
Read the full article...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Worldwide SaaS Revenue to Grow 18 Percent in 2009

Worldwide software as a service (SaaS) revenue is forecast to reach $7.5 billion in 2009, a 17.7 percent increase from 2008 revenue of $6.4 billion, according to Gartner, Inc. The market will show consistent growth through 2013 when worldwide SaaS revenue will total over $14 billion for the enterprise application markets.

The content, communications and collaboration (CCC) market and the customer relationship management (CRM) market continue to have the largest amount of SaaS revenue across market segments, with the CCC market generating $2.6 billion in 2009, up from $2.14 billion in 2008 and the CRM segment generating $2.3 billion in 2009, up from $1.9 billion in 2008.

SaaS has continued to represent a key driver of growth in the CRM market for the past four years, climbing from less than $500 million in 2005 and over 8 percent of the CRM market to over 20 percent of the market in 2008, with nearly $1.9 billion in revenue. Gartner expects growth to continue, with SaaS representing almost 24 percent of the CRM market’s total software revenue in 2009.

More information on SaaS can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Google tries its own take on customer service

If you rely on a compelling service that happens to be free, what level of customer support are you entitled to receive? Google is trying to figure that out. Known for using brilliant engineers, complex algorithms and speedy servers to organize online information in a simple and accessible fashion, Google is learning how to add the human touch to its repertoire as customers look for answers that can't be found on an FAQ.

For many users of Google's free services, support is limited to a series of Web pages, FAQs, and user forums. That's not that surprising, since Google can't realistically offer phone support to every Gmail user who can't figure out the conversation-based design.

But as Google continues to push forward with free advertising-supported services that people and small businesses increasingly rely on in their personal and professional lives, the company appears to be banking on its ability to train those users to expect a healthy dose of relatively low-cost support.

Read the full article.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Web Remains Retail Industry's "Growth Engine" This Holiday

With overall retail sales expected to show no gain this holiday shopping season, online retail sales in the US will reach $44.7 billion this holiday season, an eight percent increase over last year, according to a new forecast by Forrester Research, Inc.. The growth rate represents an increase from 2008, when, on the heels of the worst of the global financial crisis, online holiday retail sales in the US grew just five percent. Forrester defines the holiday shopping season as the months of November and December.

The National Retail Federation has forecast a one percent decline in overall US holiday retail sales for this year. A recent Forrester survey of more than 4,000 US online consumers showed that 94 percent of those who made a purchase online within the past three months plan to continue to buy online this holiday season. And 72 percent of retailers surveyed in "The State Of Retailing Online," a Shop.org study conducted by Forrester in Q3 of this year, say they expect online holiday sales to increase over last year.

As outlined in the new Forrester report "US Online Holiday Retail Forecast, 2009," online retailers will strive to balance consumer demand this holiday with profitability. Improving margins is in; chasing sales is so last year. The change in strategy will manifest itself in a number of different ways, including more limited-time and limited-quantity sales as retailers seek to reduce across-the-board discounting. Retailers will also cut down on automatic free shipping and institute price thresholds to qualify for free shipping. Customer engagement is also a priority this holiday: Expect to see online retailers deploy more cross-channel customer service options, advanced merchandizing software that will provide more product information, and enhanced social networking tools that will enable consumers to share purchase decisions with friends.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Survey Finds 78% of Consumers Want More from Their Social Network Experience

European research results announced by Critical Path, a provider of messaging applications, reveals a startling gap between what consumers want from their interaction with social networks and the services available today.

The average consumer has four separate address books across a number of services, including mobile phones and social networks such as Facebook®. The majority of people (68%) fail to update their address books with contact changes and 91% are frustrated with their out-of-date contact information.

Of the 3,000 consumers surveyed:

-- 75% found the task of updating their contacts across their social networks frustrating
-- 82% wanted a solution to synchronize their separate address books
-- 78% are looking for a simple, easy-to-use solution

Clear preferences for services were identified – a large majority wanted automatic updates from their friends using social networks and also wanted control over the type of updates they receive.

This research demonstrates the growing relevance of social networks and the importance consumers place on their online interactions. Operators have a clear opportunity to provide solutions to address these consumer frustrations and heighten their role and value in mobile social networking.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Survey Highlights Importance of Online Customer Experience

Tealeaf, a provider of online Customer Experience Management software (CEM), announced the results of the 5th annual survey of online consumer behavior, commissioned by Tealeaf and conducted by Harris Interactive. The survey found that 48% of U.S. online adults say that they are now conducting more online transactions than they did in the past given the current economic climate. However, 80% of adults who have conducted an online transaction in the past year experience problems when doing so in 2009.

This improvement over prior years may be attributed to a growing business focus on delivering better online customer experiences. While this reported decline in online transaction issues is good news, online customer experience is still very much a work in progress. The percentage of consumers affected by issues such as error messages (38%), endless loops (19%) and login problems (28%) is still extremely high. Further, the resulting business impact is significant, as 32% of those who experience issues when conducting transactions online would simply take their business elsewhere (to either an online or offline competitor) or abandon the transaction entirely.

The survey results also show that online adults are increasingly turning to social media to share their online experiences with others, while simultaneously becoming less likely to alert a company directly – a shift in consumer behavior which extends the business impact of customer experience issues beyond any single transaction.

The number of consumers who contact a company directly in response to online transaction issues declined:

- 26% of online adults who experience problems conducting online transactions then posted complaints on a company's Website in 2009, versus 32% in 2008.

- 38% of all online adults contacted a company's call center after encountering problems using the Website in 2009, versus 47% in 2008.

Meanwhile, 12% of online adults who encountered issues said they shared those experiences via blogs or social networks, twice as many as in 2008.3

Further, the survey reveals that these shared experiences are highly influential and should therefore be a real business concern. More than half (54%) of all online adults said social media content has influenced their online transactions, with 82% of those reporting that social media has influenced their choice of vendor.

Interestingly, the survey also found that online adults whose transactions have been influenced by social media content actually respond to positive reviews (26%) more so than negative ones (21%), so good online transaction experiences are amplified online just as much, if not more, than bad.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cloud Computing is Democratizing Computing Power and Traditional IT Barriers of Cost, Time, Quality, Scale, and Geographic Location

A new study, recently published by Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company, revealed top performing companies that have adopted cloud computing have reduced IT costs 18% and data center power consumption by 16%. The survey revealed the top business pressures driving the adoption of cloud computing include:

-- Overall cost of IT infrastructure

-- Need to enhance competitive advantage

-- Lack of flexibility in the current IT environment

-- Need to support additional services or users

Survey results show top performing organizations shared several common characteristics, including:

-- 77% monitor cloud applications for efficiency and use

-- 75% have a cloud team or task force

-- 69% use a formal cloud evaluation process

-- 62% have a formal education plan for training cloud team

Cloud computing is changing the role of IT from predominantly one of maintenance to one of innovation enabler through the new service delivery model of cloud services. Consequently, top companies are realizing the critical need to establish a governance model around SOA architectures and cloud-based service delivery.

More information on cloud computing can be found at www.crmindustry.com

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Facebook Costs Companies 1.5 Percent of Total Productivity

An independent study by Nucleus Research finds that companies that allow access to Facebook lose an average of 1.5 percent in total employee productivity. Key findings of the study of 237 employees concluded:

- Nearly half of employees in the study and 77 percent of those with an account use Facebook during work hours

- Some employees use Facebook as much as 2 hours per day while
at work

- One in 33 employees use Facebook exclusively while at work

Of those using Facebook at work, 87 percent could not define a clear business reason for accessing the site. Further, the analysis reveals potential security concerns through email, as most organizations do not monitor and manage Facebook as closely as email. This creates an opportunity for Facebook users to circumvent controls and violate corporate communications policies.

The Nucleus analysis concludes that companies should evaluate their Facebook policy and the cost to the organization in allowing access to Facebook, as today blocking Facebook may actually result in a 1.5 percent gain in productivity.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Study Shows Improved Performance From Advanced Collaboration

Organizations around the world that deploy the most advanced Internet-protocol-based collaboration technologies achieve more than twice the return on their collaboration investment and perform better than their less collaborative peers, according to a new Frost & Sullivan study.

"Meetings Around the World II: Charting the Course of Advanced Collaboration," sponsored by Verizon and Cisco, examines how professionals in businesses and government agencies get their work done by using advanced collaboration tools such as voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), instant messaging or meeting via high-definition video.

The study found that businesses and government agencies deploying increasingly more sophisticated collaboration tools -- such as VoIP soft phones, immersive video and fixed mobile convergence -- saw a corresponding improvement in business results relative to the amount invested. The overall average Return on Collaboration (ROC) score was 4.2 -- meaning organizations received an average return of four times their investment in deploying collaboration technologies in terms of improvement across business-critical areas.

The study was undertaken as organizations around the world grappled with a challenging economy, and results showed use of unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) solutions are becoming increasingly popular. Nearly half (44 percent) of all organizations surveyed have deployed UC&C tools -- such as user presence on a device, document sharing, immersive video or Cisco TelePresence for near-lifelike visual communications, integrated voice, e-mail and instant messaging, and telephone features and management capabilities on mobile devices and the desktop.

The study also found that 40 percent of organizations that deploy UC&C plan to increase spending on this despite current economic conditions. In addition, more than 80 percent of organizations that have not deployed UC&C tools plan to deploy some form of them in the next two to three years.

The greatest impact of collaboration was where the largest numbers of people interacted for a common goal, including sales, research and development and marketing. By implementing more advanced UC&C tools, the study found, organizations could increase their return across all areas.

This finding suggests that teams using UC&C tools can benefit from a "network effect" -- a theory attributed to Robert Metcalfe, the co-inventor of Ethernet, that holds that the more users on a network, the more value is likely realized from it. While larger enterprises tended to receive greater collaboration returns, small and medium-sized businesses can increase returns by deploying progressively more advanced tools and expanding their reach beyond their organizations working with customers, partners and suppliers.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Despite The Recession, 94 Percent of Enterprises Continue to Invest in Online Communities and Social Media

A second annual survey of companies sponsoring online communities shows signs of increasing maturation as enterprises continue to invest in social media tools and online communities. According to the survey, conducted by Deloitte, Beeline Labs and the Society for New Communications Research, 94 percent of the respondents indicated that they plan to maintain or increase investment in their communities, while only six percent plan to decrease investment. However, while enterprises are effectively using these tools to engage with customers, partners and employees for brand discussions and idea generation, the survey also indicates that organizations continue to struggle with harnessing social media’s full potential.

Of the companies surveyed, a majority agreed that increasing word-of-mouth (38 percent), customer loyalty (34 percent) and brand awareness (30 percent) continue to be the top business objectives of online communities, followed by idea generation (29 percent) and improved customer support quality (23 percent). However, in the majority of companies surveyed, marketing continues to be the primary driver of online communities, resulting in a significant gap between community goals and the organizations’ capability to fully leverage these communities on an enterprise wide basis.

Several data points indicate continued maturation of the enterprise’s use of communities and social media. For instance, this year’s survey pointed to an evolution in the way in which companies are tracking and engaging with both active and inactive members. While the number of active users and their level of participation have been considered the top measures of success for an online community, this year survey respondents are paying close attention to non-active users or “lurkers” – people who observe the community, but don’t participate in the discussion. Thirty-two percent of respondents are capturing data on how these individuals derive value from the community.

Additionally, 20 percent of survey respondents have set up formal “ambassador” programs, which give outsiders preferential treatment in return for being more active in the community. Thirty-nine percent of the survey respondents also indicated that more full-time people are being deployed to manage the communities.

According to the survey, the biggest obstacles to creating a successful community -- getting people to join (24 percent), stay engaged (30 percent) and keep returning (21 percent) -- can be easily remedied through partnering and new management practices. The study indicates that very few companies, however, are taking the steps necessary to overcome these challenges.

While 58 percent of respondents evaluated partnering with existing communities, complementary vendors or end users when developing their community, 55 percent of the companies that evaluated a partnership did not actually partner.

Furthermore, the survey also revealed significant gaps between community goals (such as generating word of mouth, customer loyalty and brand awareness) and how success is being measured. The top two analytics for measuring success are the number of active users (34 percent) and how often people post/comment (32 percent), indicating that participation is still considered to be the biggest measure of success. Potentially more useful analytics, however, such as increase in search engine rank and citations/links on other sites, are less often utilized, highlighting a mismatch between the desired outcome and how that outcome is measured.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Monday, October 5, 2009

Gartner Says IT Organizations Will Invest More in Private Cloud Services than in External Cloud Providers Through 2012

While cloud computing services come in many forms, Gartner, Inc. predicts that through 2012, IT organizations will invest more in private cloud services than in offerings from public cloud providers.

Private cloud computing is a style of computing where scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service to internal customers using internet technologies. This definition is very similar to Gartner’s public cloud computing definition, however the focus on internal is related to who can access or use the services in question and who owns or coordinates the resources used to deliver the services.

Gartner predicts that private cloud services will be a stepping-stone to future public cloud services. For many large organizations, private cloud services will continue to be required for many years, as public cloud offerings mature.

There are two characteristics that companies need to consider when investing in private cloud computing delivery, as opposed to public cloud computing delivery. First, private cloud services are implemented for an exclusive set of consumers (that is, only approved members can participate, and approval is contingent on some characteristic that the general public or other general businesses cannot gain easily). The access will frequently be controlled by a centralized organisation, such as a company's IT organization or an industry association, but this control is not essential to the concept of the private cloud. Second, they can be built on top of a public cloud infrastructure or in a hybrid model.

In addition, the scope of internal cloud services around intimacy and integration can be compared to external cloud services that are dependent on interface and independence from the organization. IT services used in the public cloud are standard across businesses, and not differentiators. These services are separated from the business – independent, not customized and not integrated. They focus on creating a self-service, easy-to-use, and are generally not end-customer facing. They are also a relatively static service.

Although some IT services are destined for the cloud computing delivery, others are destined for more integration and intimacy with the business. These services are business differentiators and tightly integrated with the business. They change often and are integrated and customised. They may incorporate a range of standardised cloud services (for example payment processing), but the resulting aggregate service will be enterprise unique and will not be typical to cloud services.

More information on the CRM industry can be found at http://www.crmindustry.com/

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Business Productivity and Cost Reduction Top Concern for IT Executives

CIOs, CTOs, and senior IT executives cite business productivity and cost reduction as theirtop business concern, according to the 2009 IT Industry Trend Survey, commissioned by the Society for Information Management .

IT and business alignment, the number-one concern in 2008, fell to number-two on the survey, which annually provides important benchmark data in areas including spending, salaries, job scope of IT professionals, and technical/business trends.

Rounding out the top 10 concerns in SIM’s annual survey, the list includes:
3.) Business agility and speed to market
4.) Business process re-engineering
5.) IT cost reduction
6.) IT reliability and efficiency
7.) IT strategic planning
8.) Revenue generating IT innovations
9.) Security and privacy
10.) CIO leadership role

Respondents indicated the number-one application/technology of importance is Business Intelligence. It was followed by server virtualization, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, customer/corporate portals, enterprise application integration/management (EAI/EAM), and continuity planning/disaster recovery.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Two-thirds of Companies Not Fully Measuring IT Value, Neglecting Competitive Advantage

A nine-country survey of 1,217 IT professionals reveals that enterprises worldwide believe they are realizing value from their IT investments -- yet they cannot be sure, as fewer than half have a shared understanding of value across the enterprise, and two-thirds fail to fully measure it.

Conducted by ISACA, an association of 86,000 IT governance, security and assurance professionals, the survey found that half of the respondents believe they are realizing between 50-74 percent of expected value from their IT investments, and nearly a fifth believe they are realizing 75-100 percent. Yet, half measure the actual value only “to some extent,” while one in 10 does not measure it at all.

At the same time, half of the respondents reported that accountability for such value measurements is delegated to the IT function itself, instead of remaining with the business, where it belongs.

Additionally, despite the challenging economy, 30 percent of companies are increasing their investments in IT this year, while only 13 percent plan to reduce spending and 14 percent plan to freeze it at the current level. In the UK this average isn’t replicated, as just 19 percent of organizations intend to increase their investment while 20 percent plan to cut spending across the board.

Interestingly, among the benefits organizations receive from their IT-related investments, respondents cited “improved customer service” (35 percent) and “cost reduction” (24 percent) as the two most important. Somewhat surprisingly, only 16 percent named “new or improved products and services” as the top benefit. India stands out, with improved customer service as the top-ranked benefit, at 45 percent.

The survey identified some regional differences—specifically between established economies and fast-growing ones. Of the nine countries surveyed—Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, the UK and the US—the India-based participants were the most advanced in adopting effective value management practices and assigning accountability for those investments to the business. Seventy percent of respondents’ organizations in India have a framework for selecting the IT-related investments that will result in the greatest value and 57 percent fully measure value. In addition, almost half of Indian organizations are increasing IT-related investment based on potential or expected contribution to business value, and 63 percent said there is a cross-departmental understanding of what constitutes value in IT investment—a figure significantly lower in the UK, at just 22 percent, and the US, at 34 percent. Top-down management responsibility for optimizing IT investment was also evident, with one-third of respondents indicating board or board chair level.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Monday, September 14, 2009

Optimistic Forecasts for 2010 Drive Sales Force Staffing, Compensation Design

Corporate sales forces are anticipating better times ahead, as companies project higher revenues and sales goals for next year, according to a survey by Watson Wyatt, a global consulting firm. Additionally, the number of employers planning further sales force layoffs has declined sharply as the economy shows signs of improvement.

The survey found that the vast majority (83 percent) of companies project revenue growth in 2010, with 43 percent expecting revenues to increase by 6 percent or more. Also, slightly more than half (51 percent) expect higher sales goals and quotas for next year. Only 12 percent anticipate decreasing their sales staffing levels in the upcoming fiscal year (compared with 53 percent in February), and 16 percent actually anticipate increasing their sales force head count. Voluntary sales force turnover fell in 2009; 81 percent of respondents report less than 10 percent voluntary turnover, compared with 51 percent in February. Watson Wyatt’s survey was conducted in August 2009 and includes responses from sales executives at 129 large companies.

However, 60 percent think that sales force productivity and efficiency remains a significant concern, while 48 percent believe that sales force quota and goal setting is a concern. About one third (35 percent) also are concerned about sales force morale and motivation, while 40 percent are concerned with coaching and development. Less than half (47 percent) report being satisfied or very satisfied with their goal-setting processes.

Alterations companies plan to make to their sales incentive plans in the next fiscal year include changing performance measures (60 percent), changing performance measure weightings (50 percent) and changing incentive formulae or mechanics (49 percent). Twenty-eight percent also expect to change their pay mix.

Even in the current economy, the large majority of companies (86 percent) are able to identify their top performers, and 79 percent report that the top earners mirror the top performers, indicating a strong pay-for-performance orientation.

Other findings include:

*The look backwards reflects a difficult 2009. Compared to this time last year, 34 percent have decreased sales force goals and quotas. Despite this, 57 percent still reported decreased sales force performance relative to plan.

*Nearly two-thirds of companies (65 percent) are managing their compensation cost of sales to below 4 percent of total sales.

*Companies continue to manage sales compensation on a global basis with local customization. For the 64 percent of companies that have sales incentive plans in other countries, most determine program eligibility (59 percent) and design (60 percent) globally, but pay levels (79 percent), sales goals (73 percent) and pay mix (68 percent) on a local basis.

*Almost half (46 percent) offer stock-based compensation to their sales forces.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Monday, September 7, 2009

Americans Continue To Adopt Digital Lifestyle

Americans of all ages continue to adopt a digital lifestyle according to the largest annual survey of consumers' technology adoption and attitudes by Forrester Research, Inc. "The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2009, US" is a graphical analysis of Forrester's North American Technographics Benchmark Survey, 2009 (US, Canada) of nearly 48,000 respondents. Highlights of the report include:

Devices. High-definition televisions (HDTVs) and home networks were two of the fastest-growing consumer technologies in 2008. Over the next five years, nearly 39 million US households will get their first high-definition set and more than 30 million homes will add network connectivity. Forty-four percent of US households have a laptop, and the average American family owns two personal computers.

Media consumption. While media consumption among all Americans is split evenly between new and traditional media, on average, consumers younger than 40 spend almost 2 hours a week more with new media than they do with traditional media.

Mobile. Four in five US households now have a mobile phone; families with older children have nearly three mobile phones per household, the most of any age segment. Eight percent of consumers own a smartphone.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Monday, August 31, 2009

Social Networking Poll Shows Users More Vulnerable Than Ever

The results of Bringing Social Security to the Online Community poll were released today, highlighting the vulnerabilities and concerns of social community members around cyber security and the precautions that they are taking or need to take to protect themselves. The online survey conducted by AVG and the CMO Council reveals that while the social networking community has serious concerns about the overall security of public spaces, few are taking the most basic of steps to protect themselves against online crimes.

The survey shows that while the majority of social networking users are afflicted by web-borne security problems, less than one third are taking actions to protect themselves online.

Participants indicated concern over growing phishing, spam and malware attacks, and nearly half of those surveyed are very concerned about their personal identity being stolen in an online community.

The survey was conducted online during the second quarter of 2009 and gathered responses from a random sampling of more than 250 consumers. According to the poll results, despite widespread use (86 percent) of social networks at home and/or at work, most fail to perform the following basic security measures on a regular basis:

--Changing passwords (64 percent infrequently or never)
--Adjusting privacy settings (57 percent infrequently or never)
--Informing their social network administrator (90 percent infrequently or never)

Despite the apparent security risks and dangers of engaging in social networking sites, respondents identified several common practices that could cause harm to unprotected users:

--21 percent accept contact offerings from members they don’t recognize
--More than half let acquaintances or roommates access social networks on their machines
--64 percent click on links offered by community members or contacts
--26 percent share files within social networks

As a result of this widespread proliferation of links, files, and unsolicited contacts, users have experienced high levels of breaches and threats:

--Nearly 20 percent have experienced identity theft
--47 percent have been victims of malware infections
--55 percent have seen phishing attacks

AVG encourages users to follow six simple steps to stay secure:

--Do not accept pop-ups or prompts for software, unless you're armed with web scanner software

--Do not ever provide, post, or submit any confidential personal data (e.g., SSN, banking details, medical records). Social networking sites do not require this sort of information to join, unless you're online dating or paying monthly.

--Change your password at least once a month. Do not change it if you're prompted to. This can be a third party malicious link.

--Do not let friends, peers, coworkers, etc. access their social networks on your computer, nor yours on their machine. Others could introduce infections to your computer through unsafe practices, or your login security could be compromised via cookies saved on your computer.

--Never auto save your password information, and clear your history at least once a week.
Do not accept friend requests or request friends that you personally do not know.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Three Pitfalls of Multisourcing

Gartner, Inc. has identified three major pitfalls that organizations can experience when they strive to achieve an efficient and effective multisourcing environment. To overcome these challenges, CIOs and sourcing managers need to develop specific competencies to master multisourcing. In addition, Gartner predicts that through 2012, inflexibility caused by an excessive cost reduction focus will result in business disruption in 30 per cent of outsourcing deals, including the inability of the buyer to compete effectively.

The three key challenges that organisations face in multisourcing include:

--Outsourcing Deals Are Difficult to Build and Manage
Outsourcing deals are difficult to manage for four main reasons. First, many organizations lack the experience to properly oversee and estimate the end-to-end effort that outsourcing requires. Second, a project team often centrally plans and executes sourcing projects amid emotionally charged political agendas. Third, new options, such as alternative delivery and acquisition models, change the way the sourcing life cycle drives activities, and increases the complexity of the sourcing environment and the decision-making process. Finally, the service provider landscape is dynamic, which makes it frequently challenging to find the right one with which to build a long-lasting relationship.

--Outsourcing Deals Often Fail to Deliver Expected Outcomes
Once an organisation has established an outsourcing relationship, it often faces further difficulties because an outsourcing relationship frequently promises more than it delivers. Some challenges can arise such as, low end-user satisfaction, poorly defined business benefits and immeasurable deal benefits, complex governance and strained relationships.

--Outsourcing Deals Often Fail to Evolve
Organisations are frequently disappointed because their outsourcing contracts failed to deliver the innovation they had anticipated. In addition, outsourcing deals often aren't structured to provide the flexibility needed to enable the deal to adapt quickly to changes in the market and organisation. They don’t always evolve due to factors on the client side - organisations often fail to describe what evolution and innovation mean to them, and the service provider side – changes may disrupt their businesses and jeopardise their margins.

Organizations can manage these challenges by building a successful, outcome-oriented sourcing environment. Gartner has identified ten key competencies to help organisations move toward efficient and effective multisourcing.

--Strategy management: It aligns sourcing actions with the business goals, strategy, frameworks and governance to ensure optimal ongoing business support.

--Risk management: It prevents, detects and mitigates sourcing risks to substantially reduce the levels of risk across all deals.

--Financial management: It formulates financial targets with the business (for example, reduce total cost of sourcing (TCS) by 15 per cent in two years) to establish a clear guideline for all sourcing activities.

--Demand management: It oversees and prioritises IT services based on demand to optimise resources and skills across all sourcing activities.

--Service management: It aligns the services across internal and external service providers (ESPs) to achieve seamless, end-to-end service delivery.

--Program management: It aligns portfolio and sourcing strategies so that projects achieve desired outcomes.

--Relationship management: It maintains the relationships with all internal and external service providers (SPs). It sets performance expectations with SPs, collects performance metrics for each and provides feedback.

--HR management: It helps to forecast and fulfill staffing needs relative to sourcing needs to ensure an optimal level of skills and resources.

--Performance management: It helps to optimize ESP’s costs and ensure that new or revised business goals are always attained.

--Contract management: It manages the contracting process to meet the organization’s needs. It includes keeping internal contracts and industry best-practice contract templates for future use.

More information on managing your customers can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Study Shows Cloud Computing Gaining Critical Mass Among Large Enterprises

F5 Networks, Inc., a provider of Application Delivery Networking (ADN) solutions, announced the results of a survey that shows how large enterprises are implementing cloud computing. The study reveals that among large enterprises, cloud computing is gaining critical mass, with more than 80 percent of respondents at least in trial stages for public and private cloud computing deployments. Additionally, despite the maturing rate of adoption of cloud computing among enterprises, the study shows that there is considerable confusion and concern around the definition of cloud computing.

The survey found that IT managers are aggressively adopting cloud computing. Half of respondents reported that they have already deployed a public cloud computing implementation. In addition, private cloud computing models are also enjoying broad acceptance in enterprises, with 45 percent of respondents currently using private clouds. Consequently, cloud computing is also meriting budgetary consideration, with 66 percent of respondents indicating that they have a dedicated budget for cloud computing initiatives.

Other findings from the survey include:

--Cloud computing is more than SaaS - Although Software as a Service (SaaS) is an important component of cloud computing, respondents ranked SaaS behind Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) as the most important components of cloud computing.

--Core cloud computing technologies - Enterprises employ a wide range of technologies in their cloud computing platforms. Access Control was the top concern for people, whereby 90 percent of respondents named Access Control as somewhat/very important for building the cloud. Network Security and Virtualization were also named as key technologies.

--Cloud computing influencers - The people within the enterprise that influence cloud computing decisions go well beyond IT. Respondents named IT, application development, and line of business (LOB) stakeholders as the top influencers for cloud computing decisions.

More information on Cloud Computing can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Majority of Marketing Execs Say Their Teams Exert Greater Business Influence

According to a new survey by the Creative Group, although the recession has hit many marketing departments hard, there is some good news for those in the creative industry: Sixty-one percent of marketing and advertising executives interviewed said marketing teams have greater influence on business decisions than they did three years ago. This compares to 23 percent who believe marketing professionals hold less sway.

Advertising and marketing executives were asked, "Do you believe the influence a company's marketing professionals have on business decisions has increased or decreased in the last three years?" Their responses:

Increased significantly...........................18%
Increased somewhat................................43%
No change.........................................15%
Decreased somewhat................................20%
Decreased significantly............................3%
Don't know.........................................1%

Monday, August 17, 2009

U.S. Retail Spending on IT Is Down but Opportunities Remain for Technology Service Providers

Technology service providers (TSPs) must look beyond their focus on Tier 1 retailers and gear their offerings more to Tier 2 and Tier 3 retailers if they are to survive the current fall in retail spending on IT, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner defined Tier 1 retailers as companies with revenue of more than $1 billion. Tier 2 retailers are companies with revenue of $250 million to $999 million. Tier 3 retailers are companies with revenue of less than $250 million.

Between January and March of 2009, Gartner conducted a survey with 83 senior retail executives with significant responsibility for IT decision making. The survey revealed that North American retailers have severely pulled back their spending on IT this year.

To weather the storm, Gartner advised TSPs to build growth strategies to capture resilient market segments, such as grocery, and allow for market maturation among Tier 1 retailers. As most Tier 1 retailers will have already made most of their vendor selections for the 2009 holiday season, TSPs should also target IT — the late adopters of IT and the non-adopters. Software as a service (SaaS) offerings with built-in best practices will appeal to Tier 2 and Tier 3 retailers that are currently priced out of the supply chain application market.

Based on the survey findings, Gartner predicts that the remainder of 2009 will see retailers significantly pulling back on all new project launches in the supply chain areas, except for vendor managed inventory (VMI), the uptake of which is being driven by cost containment strategies. Survey data indicates that no new warehouse management systems projects were planned by respondents in 2009, although quick and late adopters said that they would be looking to launch some projects within two years. Similarly, very few new transportation management systems are planned for this year, but double-digit growth could return within two years.

Inventory planning projects launched by respondents before September 2008 are likely to continue with some Tier 2 retailers looking to launch new projects. Gartner expects double-digit growth to return to inventory planning projects within two years, led by new engagements among quick and late adopters. Demand planning projects in 2009 are likely to be limited almost exclusively to Tier 1 and Tier 2 retailers, although double-digit growth is expected to return to all three tiers within two years.

Survey respondents indicated that although ongoing sourcing projects will continue throughout 2009, no new sourcing projects are expected to start this year, with Tier 1 and Tier 2 retailers expected to launch new projects within two years.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Worldwide Online Ad Spending Contracts 5% in the Second Quarter, U.S. Loses 7%

Worldwide spending on Internet advertising contracted for the second consecutive quarter, by 5%, to $13.9 billion from $14.7 billion in the same quarter a year ago. IDC's Worldwide and U.S. Internet Ad Spend Report 2Q09 (forthcoming) found that all global regions posted losses, with the exception of the Asia/Pacific region and Japan, which saw slight gains in the second quarter (2Q09). U.S. spending also declined for the second quarter in a row, by 7% year over year, to $6.2 billion from $6.6 billion.

In the United States, all major advertising formats saw year-over-year revenue losses, with search ads being least affected, display ads losing 12%, and classifieds shrinking 17%. All major publishers' ad sales declined, for the most part at double-digit loss rates, with Google being the only exception, posting low single-digit growth. Worst affected were Monster.com with a 31% decline, suffering from the terrible condition of the classifieds business in the current downturn, and AOL, hit by both the weakness in display ads as well as internal sales problems.

For the coming quarters, there is good news and bad news. The bad news first: Given the 2Q09 numbers and the outlook provided by media companies such as Yahoo!, IDC expects U.S. advertisers to decrease their online spending quarter over quarter in 3Q09 by about the same amount as they did in the first and second quarters of 2009. The good news: It seems like things are not going to get any worse in the Internet ad industry.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Facebook: Measuring the cost to business of social networking

Much attention has been given to social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook, and a number of CRM and ERP vendors have rushed to integrate their applications with social networks, but what is their impact on productivity and where do they fit in a business environment? To explore the business productivity impact of Facebook, Nucleus interviewed 237 randomly selected office workers about their use of Facebook and found:

-- Seventy-seven percent of workers have a Facebook account.

-- Of those workers with Facebook accounts, nearly two-thirds access Facebook during working hours.Those who access Facebook at work do so for an average of 15 minute each day.

--Eighty-seven percent of those who access Facebook at work couldn’t define a clear business reason for using it.

--Of those who do access Facebook at work, 6 percent never access Facebook anywhere else — meaning one in every 33 workers built their entire Facebook profile during work hours.

As social networking sites grow in popularity, companies need to understand the cost in productivity from accessing these sites. Although industry pundits may tout Web 2.0 and social networking as the next big thing, when asked to actually identify business uses for Facebook, Nucleus found that few employees could point to a true business reason. In some cases a specific business benefit may outweigh the general productivity loss, but the business case hasn’t yet been made for broad business user adoption. Companies should evaluate their Facebook policy and the cost to the organization in allowing access to Facebook, as today blocking Facebook may actually result in a 1.5 percent gain in productivity.

More information on CRM can be found at http://www.crmindustry.com/

Monday, August 3, 2009

Smartphone Growth Encouraging, Yet the Worldwide Mobile Phone Market Still Expected To Shrink in 2009

The worldwide mobile phone market recorded another quarter of year-over-year decline in the second quarter of 2009 (2Q09). According to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, handset vendors shipped a total of 269.6 million units worldwide, down 10.8% from 302.2 million units in 2Q08. The second quarter results are an improvement from the 17.2% decrease seen during 1Q09, but ongoing challenges stemming from the economic crisis remain a factor to watch.

For the full year, IDC believes that the market will decline 13%, with the market outlook for 2009 remaining relatively consistent among the top vendors. The small signs of improvement were centered around consumer demand for high-end handsets and the manufacturers' ability to shift portfolio to meet these needs.

Regional Analysis

Amidst the ongoing economic challenges in North America, the market for converged mobile devices thrived with the arrival of the Palm Pre and the iPhone 3G S towards the end of the quarter. Shipment volumes for other converged mobile device vendors also benefited from increased attention and price adjustments on the segment, pushing the market even higher. At the same time, interest in prepaid devices remained strong for budget-conscious customers. Finally, the market for mid-tier and high-end devices began to show signs of improvement with the arrival of new devices from leading vendors.

Despite the expected decrease in volume from last year in Latin America, the second quarter of 2009 was stronger than expected, showing solid sequential growth from the doldrums that were seen in 1Q09. Local currencies in the key markets of Brazil and Mexico experienced revaluation from the precipitous drops that occurred in the prior six months, helping to alleviate some of the economic pain being felt by many businesses and consumers. Interest in 3G services and offerings have been expanding in the region, helping carriers to increase, or at a minimum sustain, ARPUs that have been falling over time.

Results in Western Europe continue to reflect weaker demand from the previous year despite some improvement from the first quarter. The growth of the very low-end segment was not sufficient to reverse the decline in traditional mobile phones. However, the robust growth of converged mobile devices was a sign that the recession may have reached the bottom and some improvements can be expected for second half of the year. In CEMA, the market showed more vitality after two quarters of abrupt decline, with regional shipments approximately 15% higher than in the previous three months. With handset distribution and sale largely out of mobile operator hands, the financial crisis had squeezed inventory out of the channel as bank and trade credit dried up. The recovery of shipments in the second quarter suggests that this process has now been largely completed and that underlying demand remains robust.

High levels of private savings and aggressive national fiscal policies have helped sustain the demand for consumer products in Asia/Pacific, even as the global economy sputters along. Now, with several Asian economies showing the green shoots of recovery, mobile phone demand has also responded in a healthy fashion, with shipments for the region once again surpassing 100 million units in 2Q09.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Advertisers Much More Likely Than Consumers to Believe in Power of Twitter

What are you doing? It seems like everyone, especially in the media, is answering that question in 140 characters or less with a “tweet” and letting their “followers” know what they are up to each hour of the day. But is Twitter something that is in its infancy, something that is just a media darling or has it already experienced its fifteen minutes of fame? These are some of the results of a new LinkedIn Research Network/Harris Poll.

Just under half of advertisers (45%) say that Twitter is something is in its infancy and its use will grow exponentially over the next few years, while one in five (21%) believe Twitter will not move into the mainstream and is something mostly young people and the media will use. Just under one in five advertisers (17%) believe Twitter is already over and it’s time to find the next best thing while 17% of advertisers say they don’t know enough about Twitter to have an opinion on it.

Among consumers it is a different story altogether, as over two-thirds (69%) say they do not know enough about Twitter to have an opinion about it. Just over one in ten say it is just at its infancy (12%), 12% also say it is just something that young people and the media will use and 8% of consumers say it is already over and it’s time to find the next best thing.

As might be expected, there is also an age divide on opinions of Twitter. Younger advertisers are more likely to have an opinion on Twitter than their older counterparts (only 11% of 18-39 year olds do not know enough about Twitter to have an opinion compared to 20% of advertisers 40-49 years old and 21% of advertisers 50 and older). Among consumers, the same applies and only half (55%) of adults, 18-34 years old say they don’t know enough to have an opinion, compared to 80% of those 55 and older.

Among those who have an opinion regarding Twitter, feelings about the effectiveness of it for promoting products and ideas are lukewarm among both consumers and advertisers. Among advertisers, just 8% say Twitter is very effective for promoting products and ideas while half (50%) say it is somewhat effective. One-third (34%) of advertisers say it is not that effective and 8% believe it is not at all effective for promoting products and ideas. Among consumers, 8% also say it is very effective for promoting ideas and products and 42% believe it is just somewhat effective. Three in ten (31%) consumers say Twitter is not that effective and 19% feel it is not at all effective for promoting products and ideas.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Global Online Population To Hit 2.2 Billion By 2013

The number of people online around the world will grow more than 45 percent to 2.2 billion users over the next five years, according to a new report by Forrester Research, Inc.. Asia remains the biggest global Internet growth engine: 43 percent of the world's online population will reside in Asia by 2013, with 17 percent of the global online population in China. Growth rates in the US, Western Europe, and the major industrialized nations in Asia Pacific such as Australia, Japan, and South Korea will slow to between 1 percent and 3 percent.

The Internet user base is increasing in every area of the world. Regional highlights include:

North America. Online penetration in the US is set to rise from 73 percent to 82 percent over the next five years, representing about a 3 percent annual growth rate. By 2013, US online penetration will be on par with the most highly penetrated markets of Europe and Asia, such as the Netherlands, the UK, Japan, and South Korea.

Europe. Europe's Internet growth will be fueled by the continent's emerging markets. Internet usage in Russia and Turkey will grow by almost 8 percent annually, while growth in Spain's online population will increase by an average of more than 5 percent each year.

Asia. China's online population (already the largest in the world) will rise by nearly 11 percent each year over the next half decade. Other Asian countries with substantial online growth rates include India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Philippines. By contrast, growth rates in some of the more mature markets such as Japan and South Korea will rise by less than 2 percent each year.

Latin America. Brazil is currently the fourth largest market in the world in terms of number of Internet users, but despite a 7 percent annual growth rate over the next five years, it will drop to the No. 5 position in 2010 when it is surpassed by India.

Africa and the Middle East. The countries of the Middle East and Africa currently represent just 8 percent of the global online population but over the next five years will see some of the highest growth rates in the world, around 13 percent. Egypt, Iran, and Nigeria are among the countries with the highest growth rates in the region.

Countries With The Most Internet Users: 2008
1. US
2. China
3. Japan
4. Brazil
5. Germany

Countries With The Most Internet Users: 2013
1. China
2. US
3. India
4. Japan
5. Brazil

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Monday, July 20, 2009

Worldwide CRM Market Grew 12.5 Percent in 2008

Worldwide CRM market revenue totaled $9.15 billion in 2008, a 12.5 percent increase from 2007 revenue of $8.13 billion, according to Gartner Inc. Analysts said that market growth was driven by enterprise investments in technologies focused on customer retention, analytics and on-demand solutions.

Software as a Service (SaaS) continued to drive the market forward, representing nearly 20 percent of total CRM software market revenue in 2008, up from just over 15 percent in 2007. Interest in social networking and social software also escalated in 2008 as businesses were confronted with the sales, marketing, and serviceability impact of increasing consumer participation in online forums.

SAP continued to be the market leader accounting for 22.5 percent of worldwide CRM software revenue in 2008, but this is down from a 25.5 percent share in 2007. Microsoft experienced the strongest growth rate among the top 5 vendors, as its revenue increased 75 percent in 2008.

While the CRM market remains highly concentrated in Western economies, emerging markets are growing rapidly and now account collectively for nearly 16 percent of the worldwide market, up from approximately 13.8 percent in 2006. Although both North America and Europe underperformed in terms of CRM market growth in 2008, their share of the market remained high at 52.5 percent and 31.6 percent, respectively.

Overall market share of each CRM subsegment shifted slightly in 2008, with sales remaining as the largest subsegment, representing 42.8 percent of the market and enjoying the highest growth of 14.7 percent. Marketing automation also continued to grow in 2008, with a 10.4 percent increase, representing 20.6 percent of the CRM market. Customer service and support represented 36.6 percent of the CRM software market, as this segment grew 11.2 percent in 2008.

Gartner said that most vendors remain cautiously optimistic for continued growth for the worldwide CRM market. Gartner advised vendors that they can benefit from strategies that drive customer value creation, which include:

- Aligning products, services and contractual agreements to enable customer business imperatives of higher client acquisition, retention and satisfaction.

- Continuing to offer creative terms to maximize revenue potential and enable businesses to consumer critical products and services.

- Extending application vertical-market functionality, whether by in-house development, acquisition or partnership agreements to take advantage of key verticals or government stimulus packages.

- Focusing product offerings on applications and technologies that provide customers with tools and capabilities to increase visibility on customer requirements and behaviors.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Social Media Index: Wave IV Survey Results

The 2009 Toolbox.com/PJA IT Social Media Index, Wave IV, was conducted between June 3 and June 17, 2009. The goal of the Wave IV survey was to confirm the ongoing use of social media tools and user-generated content by global IT decision-makers and influencers. Additionally, the survey examined attitudes about vendor participation in online communities among these professionals, as well as the value that they place on emerging communities like Twitter for sharing knowledge and solving problems in the workplace.The survey respondent distribution was 64.6% North America, 12.7% Asia, 14.7% Europe, and 8.0% rest of world.

The survey revealed the following:

-- The majority of executives and professionals value vendor participation in online communities. 34.7% responded that vendors must have a presence in online communities, and 42.0% responded that it is important that vendors listen to their audience and engage in conversation.

--Being transparent and open, posting interesting and relevant content, and responding to members’ questions ranked among the most important contributions that vendors can make in an online community.

--More than 90% of executives and professionals rated topic-based communities and knowledge-sharing communities as most appropriate for vendor participation.

--Among the executives and professionals who use Twitter, more than 72% have less than 50 followers, and 62% described Twitter as becoming more useful for sharing and finding content and expertise.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Survey Shows Many Users are Underwhelmed by Their Experiences of SaaS

A recent survey by Gartner, Inc. has revealed that although software as a service (SaaS) is more mainstream and less controversial than ever before, many customers are underwhelmed by their current experience of it and sense that SaaS is not quite the panacea it often promised to be.

The survey, which was conducted in December 2008 among users and prospects of SaaS solutions in 333 enterprises in the U.S. and the U.K., found that the apparent acceptance of SaaS as a viable model has not entirely translated into satisfied users of SaaS.

Gartner found that 58 percent of organizations will maintain current levels of SaaS in the next two years, 32 percent will expand, 5 percent will discontinue and 5 percent will decrease levels.

Survey findings showed that overall, organizations are somewhat satisfied with SaaS, with an average score 4.74 on a 7-point scale. All 16 aspects included in the survey rated similarly, including (in order of popularity) functionality for business users, provider responsiveness, reliability of performance to technical specifications, service reliability and support compliance and risk management.

Gartner found slight differences between U.S. and U.K. survey participants. U.S. organizations rated all 16 aspects slightly higher than the overall average at 4.94, while U.K. organizations were more critical and rated slightly lower at 4.34. U.S. respondents were most satisfied with provider responsiveness, functionality for business users and reliability of performance to technical specifications and least satisfied with yearly cost of service, terms and conditions and predictability of costs. U.K. respondents were most satisfied with support compliance and risk management, service reliability and terms and conditions, and least satisfied with speed to implementation, predictability of costs and post sale/user support.

When asked to identify the top three factors that they would consider in making their decision to deploy SaaS, meeting technical requirements was the top overall consideration at 46 percent, followed by security, privacy and/or confidentiality at 33 percent and ease of integration and functionality needed for business unit owners, both at 29 percent.

Respondents who have considered using SaaS, but decided not to, were asked what factors they considered in making the decision. Forty two percent cited high cost of service, 38 percent said difficulty with integration and 33 percent said the solution didn’t meet technical requirements. These findings contradict the general impression that SaaS could help alleviate costs and also that it does not require much integration and technical requirements.

More information on SaaS can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Economy Drives Midsize Companies to Work Smarter, Leaner: IBM Study Reveals Top 5 Trends

A new study by IBM of midsize organizations in 17 countries shows that companies have not been deterred from their plans for strategic IT initiatives, which range from information management and security management to social media and cloud computing -- despite a clear recognition of the need to cut costs in a difficult economy.

Conducted in April - May 2009, IBM's "Inside the Midmarket: A 2009 Perspective" study reveals five key trends:

1. The highest-priority technology solution, chosen by 75 percent of respondents, is Information Management, which turns mountains of data into meaningful insights

2. The most pressing business challenges include increasing efficiency and productivity (80 percent), improving customer care (74 percent) and better use of information (72 percent)

3. The impact of the economy on IT budgets has caused 53 percent to actually increase or re-prioritize their spending, with 37 percent reporting a decrease

4. Despite the economy, more than two-thirds of those surveyed are planning or currently implementing their top IT priorities

5. A majority of firms view their primary IT provider as a technology advisor or IT and business consultant, with 25 percent seeing the relationship as purely transactional

Information management was ranked as the most critical IT priority for improving business performance by the largest majority of participants (75 percent). At a time when digital information is growing every day at a rate eight times the volume housed in all U.S. libraries, organizations need smarter ways to cope with today's increasing information overload by turning this data into real intelligence.

Not surprisingly, 83 percent of midsize companies say improving efficiency is a key priority. Enhancing customer service and prospecting for new customers are also high on the priority list, however (74 percent). A third set business priorities center around improving business agility and decision making, with close to three out of four study participants giving high priority to improving their ability to predict market trends.

Despite the current economic environment, an unexpectedly large percentage of organizations are rethinking, not reducing, when it comes to budget. A total of 53 percent report that their IT budgets are actually increasing (14 percent) or remaining the same but with changing priorities (39 percent). Ten percent report no change, while 37 percent are reducing their budget. According to study data, most are holding or increasing their budgets to use IT to help drive efficiencies or reduce costs in other areas of the business or better connect with customers.

In spite of the current economic climate and concerns about barriers to successful implementation of IT projects, more than two-thirds are planning or currently implementing their top IT priorities, led by Infrastructure Reliability (75 percent), Disaster Recovery (72 percent), Information Management (71 percent) and Security Management (68 percent).

This year's survey also illustrates the growing role of emerging technologies, such as cloud computing, green IT, and social media -- areas that were not even included in a similar IBM study conducted in 2007. While lower on the scale of critical priorities, midmarket companies are actively pursuing several emerging technology areas to improve performance. The survey shows that 79 percent intend to implement, have established goals, or have started/completed implementation of Green IT solutions, followed closely by social media/Web 2.0 (71 percent) and Cloud Computing (69 percent).

More information on managing your customers can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sustainability is the New "Green"

Aberdeen Group announced the release of its The 2009 State of the Market: Mid Year Insights Report which found that for more and more companies, positive social and environmental performance is inextricably tied to a vision of long-term viability and success, however, sustainability is not synonymous with "green" or environmental initiatives. Throughout the past year, Aberdeen’s research shows that leading companies have made a resoundingly strong business case for the adoption of genuine sustainability strategies to drive demonstrable business results -- from bottom line cost reductions and enhanced brand value, to optimized performance and ability to attract and satisfy customers, partners and employees.

The report finds that sustainability is an increasingly important aspect of corporate strategy. Across a wide array of sectors, representing firms of all sizes and from all geographies, sustainability and corporate responsibility have grown in importance even as the economy has become more challenging. The emergence of responsibility-framed strategies for business sustainability underscores the increasing importance of social and environmental stewardship to shareholders, customers, trading partners, and regulators alike. The increasing integration of sustainability criteria into organizational strategy marks a dramatic shift in the culture of the business ecosystem worldwide. Indeed, this shift in vision and action has decisively transformed the global market and the very nature of internal and external processes, requirements, alliances, and opportunities.

Based upon findings from over 700 companies worldwide, results continue to demonstrate that sustainability initiatives are increasingly championed by C-level executives. A robust 84% of all respondents already have (65%), or plan to have (19%), executive leadership for their company-wide sustainability strategy. Further demonstrating the continued importance of sustainability even in the current economic climate, for 71% of respondents, dedicated sustainability budgets are either being maintained at current levels (34%) or are being increased (37%). Only 3% of respondents indicated that their sustainability budget will decrease.

The research further reveals that top performing organizations with responsibility-framed strategies have achieved dramatic competitive advantages. In fact, sustainability-driven top performers have reaped impressive rewards across the value chain -- from bottom line cost reductions and enhanced brand value to optimized performance and an improved ability to attract and satisfy customers, trading partners, and talent. Results from Aberdeen research demonstrates that leading companies have made a resoundingly strong business case for the adoption and expansion of genuine, sustainability strategies and initiatives. However, for too many companies sustainability is a focus for the benefits it delivers according to metrics that are not measured at all, unevenly measured, or not communicated. As a result, the positive impact of sustainability initiatives on the efficiency, quality, and resilience of a company is often only anecdotally understood while the work of making the business case in quantitative as well as qualitative terms is unevenly attended to.

A key takeaway of the report is that CEOs who don’t have a sustainability strategy in place should immediately benchmark current performance while investigating opportunities to drive measurable linked to desirable business, social and environmental outcomes.

More information about CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Survey Reveals Why Online Shoppers Abandon Purchases

A PayPal survey has revealed that nearly half (45 percent) of online shoppers have abandoned their carts multiple times in the past three weeks due to high shipping costs, security concerns and lack of convenience. The average cost of abandoned goods in U.S. shopping carts is $109.

High shipping costs was cited as the largest single reason for cart abandonment. While nothing could have prevented one-third of shoppers from abandoning purchases, the survey found that providing shipping costs upfront might have caused 40 percent to complete the purchase.

The survey also uncovered signs that the economy still has shoppers wary about clicking the "purchase" button. More than one-third of respondents abandoned checkout because they didn't plan for all of the expenses; while more than 25 percent left the site to search for a coupon. However, one-third of shoppers later returned to the same site to buy. An additional 20 percent purchased the items at a brick and mortar store or competitor's Web site.

Breakdown on Why Shoppers Abandon

At least a fifth of all U.S. survey respondents cited the following as very important reasons for cart abandonment:

--High shipping charges: 46 percent
--Wanted to comparison shop: 37 percent
--Lack of money: 36 percent
--Wanted to look for a coupon: 27 percent
--Wanted to shop offline: 26 percent
--Couldn't find preferred pay option: 24 percent
--Item was unavailable at checkout: 23 percent
--Couldn't find customer support: 22 percent
--Concerned about security of credit card data: 21 percent

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Social Media Explosion

Social networks are exploding in popularity. Forty-three percent of the online community now uses social networking sites, including Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. This is up from 27 percent a year ago, reports The Conference Board and TNS.

The Consumer Internet Barometer, a quarterly report produced by The Conference Board, the global business membership and research association, and TNS, a global market insight and information group, surveys 10,000 households across the country and tracks who's doing what on the Internet.

More than half of social networkers log on at least once a day, and the majority log on several times a day. Interacting with family, friends and celebrities are among the main reasons people log on to sites like Twitter. The majority of users log on at home, although a quarter of social networkers log on at work, and 10 percent connect through their phone.

Social networking spans all generations. Today, about 19 percent of those age 55 and over visit these sites, up from just 6 percent a year ago. Women are more likely than men to use social networking sites (48 percent versus 38 percent), but usage has increased dramatically among both groups in just a year.

Facebook Most Popular Site

The most popular site is Facebook, used by 78 percent of online households, followed by MySpace (42 percent), LinkedIn (17 percent) and Twitter (10 percent).
Both men and women use Facebook in equal numbers. However, women are more likely than men (47 percent versus 35 percent) to use MySpace. Conversely, more men than women (21 percent versus 15 percent) use LinkedIn. Across generations, Facebook usage is about equal, but when it comes to MySpace, those under 35 are more likely to have an account than their older counterparts.

When asked with whom they would like more access/interaction with, celebrities (15 percent) topped the list, with favorite company (14 percent), service providers (13 percent) and athletes/sports teams (11 percent) not far behind.

The top concerns of social networking members — expressed by about 50 percent — are viruses/malware, exposure of information to strangers and lack of privacy. Women tend to be moderately more concerned than men. Only 14 percent claim they have no concerns, compared to 22 percent of men.

Twitter Encourages Closer Connections

Members of Twitter, the real-time micro-blogging website, say their top reasons for "tweeting" are to connect with friends (42 percent), update their status (29 percent) and look for news (26 percent). They also use Twitter for work-related (22 percent) reasons. Two out of three Twitter users interact with friends. Thirty percent interact with family, 30 percent connect with celebrities, and 24 percent interact with other bloggers. Members of Twitter also are likely to interact with TV shows, employers, co-workers, companies/brands and TV anchors/journalists.
Among Twitter users, half report being introduced to the site by a friend or family member, and one out of three were introduced by a co-worker.

More information on social media can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Survey Shows Social Media is Emerging as a Direct Marketing Channel

StrongMail Systems, Inc., a provider of commercial-grade solutions for marketing and transactional email, announced new survey data that points to the emergence of social media as a direct marketing channel and significant planned investment in email marketing and social media programs in the second half of 2009.

According to the survey, there is still a wide-spread land-grab for ownership of social media within the various facets of marketing, with 29 percent of respondents stating that responsibility is owned by multiple departments. However, social media appears to be emerging as a direct channel with 36 percent of survey respondents stating that the direct marketing department owns social media. Surprisingly, only 9 percent of the respondents report that social media is owned by public relations departments, suggesting that marketing teams value social media more for its demand generation potential than awareness building. A paltry 5 percent have a dedicated social media department.

The survey also revealed that social media is a hot initiative with email marketers, with 66 percent planning to integrate the two channels in 2009, and 48 percent who have already formulated a strategy for achieving this initiative. Funding is also exceptionally strong for both channels. Of marketers planning to increase budgets in 2009, 83 percent will increase spend in email marketing, followed by social media at 62 percent.

The increased focus and investment in social media underscores the importance of applying resources properly; however, there is still widespread confusion regarding how a social media strategy for email marketing should be implemented. 55 percent of respondents report that one of their biggest challenges with integrating social media and email marketing is determining metrics by which to measure success. At 48 percent, establishing business goals for the program is a close second.

Based on these findings, it's clear that social media has grown to the stage where it needs an owner and a purpose within marketing. StrongMail believes that the intrinsic interconnection between social media and email make it an ideal direct channel. Email continues to drive engagement in social networks by alerting members of new content and updates, and the ability to communicate relevant messages within social networks is critical to a business’ success in the medium.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com