Monday, January 31, 2011

Cloud Computing Dominates IT Priority List for 2011

Investing in cloud computing – primarily private clouds – is a top priority for IT organizations for 2011, according to two online polls Unisys Corporation conducted on the website in recent weeks.

The latest Unisys poll, completed on January 24, asked people to name their organization’s biggest priority for IT investment in 2011. Of the 262 respondents to the poll, 44 percent indicated that cloud computing would be their top priority. By contrast, 24 percent named support for mobile/end-user devices as their primary IT investment focus.

In addition, 17 percent of respondents cited cybersecurity as their top IT investment priority for 2011, while 15 percent said cost-cutting would be their top priority in the new year.

An earlier poll in December 2010, which drew 88 responses, asked about intentions to implement cloud computing. Eighty percent of the respondents said their organization was planning some kind of cloud, with 45 percent – the largest group – citing a private cloud. Fifteen percent said their company was focusing on a public cloud. Another 21 percent cited a focus on a hybrid cloud, which blends public and private elements.

More information on Cloud Computing can be found at

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 Tops in Customer Service

In a survey of 9,200 shoppers, took top honors in the sixth annual NRF Foundation/American Express Customers’ Choice survey, conducted by BIGresearch. Continuing to impress shoppers with their stellar service, (#2), LL Bean (#3), (#4), Lands’ End (#5), JC Penney (#6), Kohl’s (#7), QVC (#8) and Nordstrom (#9) round out the remainder of the list.

The top 10 list includes:

3.) LL Bean
5.) Lands’ End
6.) JC Penney
7.) Kohl’s
8.) QVC
9.) Nordstrom
10.) Newegg

More information on customer service and support can be found at

Monday, January 24, 2011

U.S. Companies Say Offshoring has not Cost Domestic Jobs

The sixth annual study on corporations’ offshoring trends was released by the Center for International Business Education and Research’s (CIBER) Offshoring Research Network (ORN) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and The Conference Board.

The study is part of ongoing research into the effects of offshoring trends on American competitiveness and reflects the sentiments of business managers as regional economies around the world continue to recover from the global recession and economic upheaval in Europe and Asia.

In addition, survey respondents are broadening the range of factors that influence their selection of an offshore location to include the location of the best service provider and the quality of infrastructure, e.g., telecommunications, power and transportation. In spite of placing a high priority on cost savings and labor arbitrage, the survey finds average achieved cost savings offshore have declined for functions at many companies. For example, IT services and software development have experienced consistent declines over the past five years while average achieved savings have increased for administrative and innovative functions.

According to the researchers, survey participants have lower expectations than previous respondents for average cost savings in several offshoring functions. Contact center, information technology and software development offshoring have seen the largest declines among all offshoring functions as companies new to offshoring discover a number of hidden costs involved, including expenses for training, staff recruitment and retention, and government and vendor relations.

As companies expand offshoring activities by increasing scale or by offshoring more diverse and complex functions, most firms see a decline in the overall efficiency of their offshoring processes as measured by average cost savings across offshored functions. This may be partially attributed to a loss of managerial control as offshoring operations are expanded, requiring companies to improve coordination and management of their global sourcing.

Key findings include:

-- Most companies say offshoring of jobs has not resulted in higher unemployment domestically

-- The desire to cut costs is not the primary motivator for companies moving some job functions to overseas locations

-- Firms shifting jobs overseas may be responding to a shortage of skilled domestic employees

-- Manufacturers and high-tech/telecommunication companies are less likely to use captive offshore operations -- owned by the company and located on foreign soil -- and are moving increasingly toward the use of third-party providers of offshore labor

More information can be found at

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Web-based Email Shows Signs of Decline in the U.S. While Mobile Email Usage on the Rise

comScore, Inc, a leader in measuring the digital world, released results from a study on U.S. consumers’ evolving email behaviors using data from its comScore Media Metrix and MobiLens services. The study found that in November 2010, the number of visitors to web-based email sites declined 6 percent compared to the previous year, while email engagement declined at an even greater rate. During the same time period, the number of users accessing email via their mobile devices grew by 36 percent as an increasingly complex digital environment influenced consumers’ communication habits.

An analysis of web-based email trends revealed that fewer Americans visited web-based email destinations and spent less time doing so versus last year. In November 2010, more than 153 million people visited web-based email providers, decreasing 6 percent from the previous year. In terms of engagement, overall time spent in the email category declined 9 percent, while total pages viewed dropped 15 percent. Despite such declines, however, it should be noted that email remains one of the most popular activities on the web, reaching more than 70 percent of the U.S online population each month.

While web-based email has witnessed a decline over the past year, email usage via mobile devices has experienced significant growth, driven largely by increased smartphone adoption. In November 2010, 70.1 million mobile users (30 percent of all mobile subscribers) accessed email on their mobile, an increase of 36 percent from the previous year. Daily usage of email showed an even greater increase growing 40 percent as 43.5 million users turned to their mobile devices on a nearly daily basis for their email communication needs.

Accessing mobile email increased by double-digits across all age segments. Younger age groups showed a higher probability of accessing email from their mobile devices compared to older segments. Persons age 25-34 were 60 percent more likely to access email than an average mobile user, with those between the ages of 18-24 being 46 percent more likely to do so, representing the two age segments with the highest propensity. Overall, males were 14 percent more likely to be users of mobile email.

More information can be found at

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Survey Reveals CRM practitioners Have Been Slow to Embrace Social Networking

SugarCRM, a customer relationship management (CRM) company, announced the results of its 2010 Social CRM Survey. The poll’s results reinforced the notion that in the year 2010, CRM practitioners have been slow to embrace social. Those that have chosen to take advantage of this new technology have enjoyed a competitive advantage in the market and a considerable return on investment, placing them firmly ahead of their challengers.

Survey Results

-- 42 percent of respondents said LinkedIn is where they most often interact with or research customers and prospects, while 32 percent listed Facebook and 14 percent listed Twitter.

-- 50 percent of respondents said yes, social networks have helped their business become more successful in the last 12 months.

-- Only 26 percent of respondents said they currently integrate their customers’ social networking information with their existing CRM data.

-- 72 percent of respondents said they plan to integrate their customers’ social networking information into their existing CRM data within the next year.

After reviewing the results, the discrepancies among the responses become obvious. Over half of those polled indicated that social networks have helped their business become more successful, yet only 26 percent of respondents currently utilize this priceless social network information.

According to the survey, 2011 will bring much change to the CRM market; virtually all of the respondents agreed that over the course of the new year they planned to integrate their customers’ social networking information into their existing CRM data. While nearly half of all respondents stated that having social CRM capabilities would impact their decision-making when purchasing their company’s next CRM system, it’s clear that social CRM will become a staple in the market by 2012. 

More information on CRM can be found at

Monday, January 17, 2011

Midsize Businesses Increasing IT Budgets; Investing in Analytics and Cloud Computing

More than half of midsize companies are planning to increase their information technology (IT) budgets over the next 12 to 18 months, according to an IBM global study of more than 2,000 midsize companies representing more than 20 countries. As a result, these companies are investing in a wide range of priorities including analytics, cloud computing, collaboration, mobility and customer relationship solutions.

Other key findings include:

-- 53% of respondents expect their IT budgets to increase over the next 12 to 18 months, 31% expect they will remain unchanged and 16% think they will decrease or are unsure.

-- Security (63%), customer relationship management (62%) and analytics / information management (59%) were cited as their "Most Critical IT Priorities."

-- 75% plan to upgrade their core IT systems to improve performance, security and reliability.

-- Top expected benefits from cloud computing include cost reduction, better manageability of IT, improved system redundancy and availability.

-- To achieve their technology objectives, more than 70% plan to pursue a consultative (IT and business), versus purely transactional relationship with their primary IT provider.

-- Top barriers to IT adoption cited were cost, difficulty in acquiring and deploying technology solutions, and lack of IT skills and resources.

Comparisons between the current study and those from 2009 also reveal a shift from a predominant focus on cost control and efficiency to a greater emphasis on growth initiatives. Today, 21% characterize their strategic mindset as 'efficiency and cost control', with the majority (79%) concentrating on customers, growth and innovation. In 2009, 53% characterized their company mindset as one of efficiency and cost control", with less than half (47%) focused on growth, innovation and customers. This change is reflected in the increased adoption of analytics and predictive technologies that have become more affordable and widely available for midsize companies.

More information on cloud computing can be found at

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cloud Adoption Triggering Fundamental Changes in Mid-Market and SMB

The results of a December survey of 1,000 North American mid-market and small businesses examines their adoption of cloud-based information technologies. The research was performed by MarketBridge, a provider of technology-enabled Marketing & Sales Managed Services and Solutions. Among the initial findings are:

-- Migration to the "Cloud" is Accelerating: 44% of companies claim to have at least one business application on the cloud and over 70% indicate they will move more within the next 12 months

-- Mobility Drives Cloud Migration: 38% of respondents indicated that the need to support greater workforce mobility is a trigger for cloud adoption

-- Early Adopters are Growth Companies: Companies growing >10% per year were nearly twice as likely to move software and infrastructure to the cloud

-- Marketing, Sales Most Accepted Cloud Applications: While 36% of companies using marketing automation do so via the cloud, and 29% of CRM is cloud-deployed, >49% of companies are planning to move one or more of these applications to the cloud within 12 months

-- Private Cloud Networks Preferred: 52% of respondents preferred to deploy on some sort of "private cloud" as oppose to multi-tenant public clouds

-- Better Security Becoming a Cloud Asset: 48% of respondents believed that data security would actually be better on the cloud, recognizing the investment and expertise needed to establish and maintain secure computing environments

-- 3rd Party Channels Remain Critical: 67% of respondents preferred to purchase software applications through a 3rd party value-added managed service provider; this appears to be due to a need for both higher service levels and functional expertise 

More information on Cloud Computing can be found at

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Survey: Frugal, Yet Optimistic Shoppers Driving Smarter Retail Through Technology and Mobility

A new IBM survey of more than 30,000 consumers demonstrates that, while shoppers are optimistic about the future, they have developed attitudes during the global recession over the past several years that still dictate their behavior: They buy what they need, search for items on sale and wait longer to purchase, and they have embraced the use of technology throughout every step of the process.

According to the study:

-- Seventy percent are positive about their income situation.

-- However, the shopping attitude is that frugality reigns. Their top three shopping attitudes are to only buy what they need, search for items on sale and wait longer to purchase.

-- Forty-nine percent of respondents were "instrumented consumers" -- those who use two or more technologies, e.g. a website, mobile device or in-store kiosk to shop

-- a 36 percent increase since IBM's last retail study a year ago.

In this new environment, service is paramount, and consumers should be at the center of any retailer's strategy. In order to succeed, retailers need to do three things: listen to, know and empower consumers.

-- Listen: From Facebook to Twitter, to blogs, YouTube and reviews, shoppers are leveraging social media more than ever before to discuss retailers, products and brands with friends, family members and strangers. Retailers that listen to and participate in these conversations can obtain added insight into what customers want.

-- Know: While listening is important, a personalized shopping experience is still dominant in the mind of the consumer. By offering promotions on items they regularly buy and remembering things such as preferred payment methods and receipt types, retailers can increase spend and loyalty among shoppers.

-- Empower: Finally, retailers must empower consumers by making it as easy as possible to shop seamlessly across channels and letting them choose how to interact. Forty percent of the people we surveyed want to check product prices wherever they are and get promotions based on the items they scan, while 50 percent are willing to use a personal mobile device to avoid the checkout lane.

More information on CRM can be found at

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Research Finds Nearly 90% of Companies Have Some Form of Social Networking in Place

InformationWeek Analytics, a service for peer-based IT research and analysis, announced the release of its latest research report; Socially Challenged? Make Your Enterprise Social Networking Efforts Pay Off explores why, at a time when everyone seems to be friending, tweeting and linking, the vast majority of the 700+ companies we polled can't get their employees to use social networking tools for the benefit of the business.

Nearly 90% of companies have some sort of social networking in place, according to InformationWeek Analytics' recent Social Networking in the Enterprise Survey, yet attempts to get employees to blog, use wikis, participate in discussion forums or take advantage of full-scale enterprise social networks largely fail. Lack of single sign-on, integration with e-mail, tracking of user activity and connection to external social nets are key factors that keep employees from embracing internal social nets.

Key findings include:

-- The most used function of enterprise social networking is the online directory with Facebook-style profiles (22% of survey respondents report heavy use), followed by team or company wikis (13%), company discussion forums (7%) and internal blogs (5%).

-- One-third of companies surveyed don't provide employees with single sign-on to their internal systems.

-- 39% of respondent don't offer any type of e-mail integration with their internal social networks.

-- Only 8% of companies approach their social networking initiatives with a coordinated team from multiple disciples; most efforts are led by marketing.

-- Microsoft's SharePoint is the leading enterprise social networking system, with 71% of the market; Google's sites and IBM's Lotus are the only other platforms with a sizable base.

More information on CRM and Social Networking can be found at

Friday, January 7, 2011

Consumers’ Purchases of Computers and Mobile Phones Will Decline While Purchases of Newer Consumer Technologies Will Soar, New Accenture Survey Finds

A new Accenture survey predicts that consumer purchase rates for personal computers and mobile phones (excluding smartphones) will decline by 39 percent and 56 percent this year compared with last year, respectively. By contrast, buying rates of 3DTVs (three-dimensional TVs) are expected to rise 500 percent; tablet computers 160 percent; ebook readers 133 percent; and smartphones 26 percent.

The annual survey focused on usage and spending on 19 different consumer electronics technologies among more than 8,000 consumers in eight countries in both emerging markets and developed economies: Brazil, China, India, Russia, France, Germany, Japan and the United States. Survey respondents in emerging countries represent key urban markets rather than the population as a whole.

The survey found that only 17 percent of survey respondents plan to buy a desktop or laptop computer in 2011-- a 39 percent drop from 2010. Tracking with this trend, the survey revealed that 75 percent of U.S. survey respondents emailed each week from their PCs in 2010, down from 80 percent the year before. The research also showed that respondents are using multiple devices such as tablet PCs for activities that used to be done on traditional PCs. For example, on at least a weekly basis, 40 percent of the respondents email from a tablet PC. In addition to checking email, respondents are using tablet PCs for browsing the web, watching videos and reading books, newspapers and magazines.

The research also found that ownership of basic mobile phones dropped from 79 percent in 2009 to 65 percent in 2010. In the same period, ownership of smartphones quadrupled from eight percent to 32 percent. In the survey, mobile phones were described as having basic voice capability but not the enhanced features available on smartphones, such as surfing the Internet.

3D TVs

Unlike purchases of PCs and mobile phones, purchase rates of 3D TVs are expected to grow this year at the fastest rate--500 percent—of all 19 technologies included in the survey. As consumer electronics companies consider ways to increase demand for 3D TVs, price emerged as the biggest lever for driving greater interest in this new technology product. According to the survey, 57 percent of respondents said they would be more inclined to buy a 3D TV if the price were within their budget. Finding this price point was more significant among respondents under 24 years old (64 percent) than respondents who were older (50 percent). Other factors respondents said would make them more inclined to buy a 3D TV included having greater availability of 3D content and not having to wear 3D glasses.


Among respondents in all eight countries surveyed, Chinese consumers were among the most enthusiastic purchasers and users of the latest consumer technologies. While two percent to three percent of respond¬ents in most countries own a 3D TV, twice that many Chinese respondents say they own one. Sixty-nine percent of the nation’s respondents want or plan to own a 3D TV, compared with only one-fourth of U.S. consumers and one-fifth of Japanese consumers.

Chinese respondents are big users of smartphones, the survey revealed. More than half (53 percent) of Chinese respondents currently own a smartphone versus one-third of U.S. respondents. Furthermore, smartphones are predicted to be the most purchased device in China next year, with 38 percent of those surveyed planning to buy one.

More information can be found at

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Marketing Trends Survey Reveals Positive Economic Outlook for 2011

StrongMail a provider of marketing solutions for email marketing and social media, announced the results of its “2011 Marketing Trends” survey, which provides unique insight into how businesses plan to budget and prioritize marketing dollars in 2011.

According to the survey, half of businesses plan to increase their marketing budgets in 2011, and another 43% plan to maintain current levels. Only 7% of respondents plan to decrease marketing budgets, a significant improvement over the 11% reported in last year's survey. Despite budget increases, respondents indicated a lack of resources/staff to be the biggest email marketing challenge in 2011, representing a potential demand for outsourced marketing services. Integration with customer data and email deliverability rounded out the top three email marketing challenges for 2011.

Email and Social Media Lead the Pack; Direct Mail and Tradeshows Face Cuts

Email marketing (65%) and social media (57%) will be the top areas of investment in 2011, followed by Search (41%). Direct Mail (36%) and Tradeshows/Events (33%) are the top targets for decreased spend; however, this is a marked improvement over last year's survey, which found marketers reducing spend in these areas by 42% and 44% respectively.

Engagement and Segmentation Are Top Priorities; Facebook is King

The most important email marketing initiatives for 2011 are increasing subscriber engagement (52%), improving segmentation and targeting (49%), and integrating social media and email marketing (43%). On the latter point, a full 71% have already integrated email and social, or plan to 2011.

Among social media initiatives, Facebook is the biggest priority (35%), followed by viral/referral marketing programs (22%). Marketing via Twitter and implementing social media management technology tied for third place (21%). Awareness building (63%) is the primary goal for social media marketing initiatives, followed by loyalty acquisition (54%) and reaching new audiences (42%). As is the case with any new channel, social media marketing is seen as least effective at generating leads and revenue.

Survey Highlights

-- 93% of businesses plan to increase or maintain marketing spend in 2011

-- 44% of business cite lack of resources/staff as primary email marketing challenge in 2011; 41% data integration; 36% email deliverability

-- 52% of businesses cite increasing subscriber engagement as top 2011 email marketing initiative; 49% improving segmentation/targeting; 43% integrating email and social media

-- 65% of businesses plan to increase marketing budget for email; 57% social media; 41% search

-- 71% of businesses plan to integrate email and social media in 2011

More information on marketing trends can be found at