Apple’s iPhone Continues To Show Strong Growth In The U.S., Samsung And Android Adoption Slow

Doesn’t really matter if Samsung is trailing Apple in adoption in the North American market. The Forbes article by Alex Conrad on ‘Who is the king in Emerging markets’ (http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexkonrad/2013/03/28/emerging-market-samsung/) shows that Samsung is the clear leader. So, why does the US market matter in the global view apart from just a tick in the checkbox for geographies won over by the Samsung/Android platform.

TechCrunch

Apple’s trajectory in the U.S. smartphone market over the past little while has been an upwards one, with the company gaining more and more iPhone subscribers every month. During the three-month period covering November 2012 to February 2013, Apple added 8.9 million new iPhone subscribers according to comScore, while Android as a platform in total added only 2.9 million. That means Apple’s share of the total smartphone subscriber base in the U.S. grew to 38.9 percent from 35 percent, while Android’s dropped from 53.7 to 51.7 percent.

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 8.13.29 AMComScore’s figures also show that in terms of smartphone manufacturers, Apple also continues to lead the pack. Its share among OEMs rose 3.9 percentage points during the three month period, while Samsung gained only 1 percent percentage point, rising from 20.3 percent of the U.S. market to 21.3 percent. That means Apple and the iPhone continue to enjoy almost double the smartphone manufacturer share…

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Same Day Delivery – A reality check

A recent BCG report provides great insights into whether same day delivery help ecommerce players leapfrog its competitors. In summary, the article says that there are more significant online purchase decision drivers above the need for same day delivery. The overall report highlights can be gathered from the below charts

Same-Day-Delivery-Ex1_lg_tcm80-130887

Customer demand is limited. Only 2% of online purchasers will be willing to pay for expedited services. However, the fact that online retailers provide the option of expedited service such as same day deliver augurs well for the retailer’s brand. The same-day delivery is expected to generate between $425 million and $850 million in delivery fee income in 2013. So, its a significant revenue pool.

Carriers should not ignore other ways to add value
Same-Day-Delivery-Ex5_med_tcm80-130885

And while the firm suggests retailers and carriers to tread the same day delivery model cautiously without providing a clear recommendation, firms such as eBay are being aggressive in extending the purview of their same day delivery services. This NYTIMES article encapsulates what the various retailers are doing . Click here

Ultra-Hot Secret Sharing App Whisper Raises $3 Million From Lightspeed, Trinity, And Others

Cool idea. This is so logical and it never crossed anyone’s mind till now. People normally share their happy, fun, interesting and exciting moments. Forgotten in the mix are the embarrassing, dark , depressing moments. But I would still question if one would go on to a social platform to discuss the not-so fun side of his/her psyche. I am not so sure. Maybe it’s just a cultural thing. I see proliferation of discussion forum on each and every subject in the US. In Asian cultures, there is a dearth of such forums because people from these cultures refrain from discussing personal things with total strangers.

TechCrunch

If you haven’t heard of Whisper yet, get ready to. It’s the latest social app to capture the attention of a huge — and growing — audience of users, as well as the attention of a group of investors. So far, the startup has raised $3 million in Series A funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners and others.

At the heart of Whisper’s app is the ability to anonymously share secrets with others. Those secrets take the form of photos that users can overlay text on top of. It looks a lot like the long-running PostSecret website, which has been running for years, but Whisper brings in a whole bunch of features that make it into a more full-fledged social network.

Whisper co-founder Michael Heyward told me by phone that the app was developed as a side project at secure messaging startup TigerText. Developing it with co-founder Brad Brooks, he…

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Google Opens Up Compute Engine To All Developers Who Buy Its $400/Month Gold Support Package, Drops Instance Prices By 4%

Allowing individuals, small businesses and large firms to host applications on a complimentary offering would be the next logical step for Google. But that would bring it in direct competition with Amazon? If that were to happen or actually happens, then what are Amazon’s competitive advantages? On the technical infrastructure and customer support front, Amazon might not have any advantage. But Amazon offers a lot of semi consulting services for firms interested in hosting application such as supply chain management, customer experience management and payments ( all thanks to its experience with doing actual business). So, this business + technical offering would still place Amazon ahead of Google in terms of value proposition. But surely, different customers have different needs. Maybe, Google will get more competitive and may be a superior supplier for people and firms who are looking for the pure technical infrastructure for various purposes such as testing and development.

TechCrunch

At last year’s Google I/O developer conference, Google launchedCompute Engine, a cloud computing platform that allows developers to run their apps on Linux virtual machines hosted on Google’s massive infrastructure. This was a limited launch, however, and developers had to either get an invitation or go through Google’s sales teams to get access to this service.

Starting today, developers who subscribe to Google’s $400 per month Gold Support package with 24/7 phone support can access Compute Engine without the need to talk to sales or an invitation.

New Pricing

The support package, of course, only gives developers the ability to use Compute Engine; they will still have to pay the usual usage-based fees to access the infrastructure. The good news is that with today’s announcement, Google is also dropping all of its instance prices by 4 percent (that’s after it already dropped storage prices by 20 percent…

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Challenges ahead for Consulting

Post financial crisis, variety of things such as paradigm shift in economic markets, increased governmental regulations and business changing technological innovations are setting the operating stage for all firms.

Historically, I.T. consulting firms have primarily focussed on the developed western markets, hardly trying to expand in other regions. But the new economics will force these firms to grow through acquisitions, a possible risk of which is a federated organisation. Till now, these firms enjoyed strong bottom lines by charging high fees or through the currency advantage of leveraging low cost off-shore – both of which are now under pressure. Moreover, they will need to evolve from their “one-size-fits-all” approach and devise customized albeit cost-effective operating models.

Also, a tremendous increase in market demand-driven job opportunities in the emerging markets will make talent retention in the off-shore centres difficult for all I.T leveraging a low cost worker pool. Intellectual property (IP) creation will then get challenging.

In developed markets, increased government regulation, lack of large capital projects in client organisations and increasing use of disruptive technological innovations like cloud computing will affect the way consultants are engaged, and pose challenges for I.T. consulting organisations such as inability to maintain a high leverage of its workforce,  and  need for a constant retooling of staff . Immigration restrictions stifling skilled workforce mobility across geographies will make it more difficult for consulting firm to respond to staffing opportunities.

In the face of these challenges, I.T consulting companies’ organisational strategy need to –

1. Focus on operations – Think local and develop localised operating models to meet client needs and budgets, enabling custom value propositions and countering immigration restrictions.

2. Focus on people – Build an employee-centric story. Invest and retain staff by incorporating training programs to help employees meet career objectives and by providing them the right opportunities and competitive compensations. .

3. Promote collaborative culture – By putting in place effective frameworks to affect a culture change, cross leverage IP to create better value for customers.

NO ONE OWNS the GUEST, but SOMEONE always OWNS the MOMENT

Moment of Truth - Decide to be Real

Disney’s Boyle quoted this in the recent Forrester’s Marketing Forum , 2010 – “No one owns the guest, but someone always owns the moment”

Let’s walk through an example and this will further illustrate Boyle’s point of view

A couple of weeks back , a distant acquaintance of mine moves with his family from India to the US (Chicago to be specific), on a work related assignment for Deloitte for the first time . He was entitled to stay in a hotel for the 1 month duration and hence chooses the Residence Inn (Marriott being the group company) because of its proximity to the client location. This is their “first” visit to Chicago and hence the numerous butterflies in their stomach. Strangely, he has this major stomach pain one night and the doctor tells him that he need to be immediately  operated for removing his appendix.Here’s where Marriott comes into the picture and creates multiple instances which formed an indelible impression by being “real” . Marriott  did the following – arrange for commute between hotel and hospital , regularly checked with the other family members whether they needed help with grocery shopping , with other retail shopping etc. Icing on the cake – the Marriott management sent the family a “Get well soon” cookie when my friend returned from the hospital . Again a gripping “Moment of Truth” created .

What does the above incident  tell us ?

Irrespective of whether Marriott and its sister concerns are collectively viewed as a “beloved company” , there are key learnings from this example –

1. The Marriott staff added a humanity aspect to their interaction with their guest by sending the “Get Well Soon” cookie. for my friend and his family , it must have felt like getting a “get well” card from my near and dear ones . So, Marriott now built this personal relationship with its guest

2. The Marriott staff regularly checked with the family on my friend’s well-being whenever the staff members met the family members in the hotel lobby or the alleys.  This point coupled with the above point shows 2 things – Marriott staff was clear about why they are in the business – to make your guest’s stay a memorable one (like he/she is close to his/her near and dear ones  – Clarity of Purpose . This also reflects that they treated customers as human beings with the same set of common feelings of anguish , happiness etc . So they were able to more effectively connect with their guests because they represented a business which acted as a living human being

3. The hotel staff took the necessary actions which seemed logical to them . They , obviously , did not have to tread through yards of official bureaucracy to act in the way that they did. What’s important here  – Obviously the hotel management had enabled a working environment where the staff was empowered to take actions which was part of the hotel culture and which was humane in approach .One should and can only  build the culture and the actions are a by-product of that culture . One cannot build actions . What one can build is the right intent & motivation behind the actions and that will result in consistent , synchronised actions being delivered again and again over a period of time.

This point coupled with the above point shows 2 things – Marriott staff was clear about why they are in the business – to make your guest’s stay a memorable one (like he/she is close to his/her near and dear ones  – Clarity of Purpose . This also reflects that they treated customers as human beings with the same set of common feelings of anguish , happiness etc . So they were able to more effectively connect with their guests because they represented a business which acted as a living human being.

So , from a learning standpoint or from  Customer Experience standpoint  , it’s very important that we always remember the Golden Rule of Customer Centricity – “Do to others what you would like to be done to you” . In this example , obviously the individuals of staff acknowledged the fact that had they been in such a situation , they would have expected any other human to act in the way they did. So they were clear from a humanitarian aspect with how they would have liked to be handled in a similar situation . So their reactions(help extended to the family) were based on the logical actions(they put themselves in the customer’s shoes).

My ending note would be that “People” are the most important component of the intersections pyramidal aspects of Customer Experience Management namely People , Technology and Process . The most effective channel at the end of the day , I would still like to believe in are the Staff Facing Channels. One might have multi channel integration , great websites (of course experience design is again a reflection of the company culture and attitude towards customer ) , efficient Straight through processes but at the end of the day – the moments of truth are created when there is a human to human interaction . That’s human !! You don’t form make or break impressions through website, IVR , ATM interactions . The moments of truth creation happens when the customer talks to the face of the organisation – the organisation’s employees . Process and technology do play their role but they need to purely viewed as enablers . The torch bearers are your employees. (for reference Key Components of Customer Experience)

The first step to Customer Experience Management after outlining your strategy and objectives is to Align , Educate , Enable  & Empower your people i.e your employees because they are the bearers of your image – be it during a f2finteraction (touch-points) or a back-office or a technology staff action (impact-points) . Simply put , organisations need to build a scalable , sustainable “Mom & Pop” shop model. Wind back to the forties or fifties when everyone used to shop from their neighbourhood retail stores  and they used to be addressed as “Mr.John or Mr. Oliver Twist” as soon as they entered the shop

Remember the Golden Rule ? Put yourself in a customer’s shoes . And then if you think that you would want to be treated by every business like your neighbourhood “Jack & Jill’s ” shop who personally know you , address you by your first name , then why wouldn’t your customer want you to treat him / her the same  way ? A very simple axiom.