2016 is now upon us, and for those of us in the research business, it’s a chance to pool our collective knowledge and lay out what we think will be the most important areas of focus in the new year. From the minds of Altimeter analysts Charlene Li, Susan Etlinger, Ed Terpening and Omar Akhtar, here are Altimeter’s top trends for 2016:
Agile customization of experiences becomes a priority
Advanced digital organizations will use data to drive customized experiences based not only on static transaction profiles, but on dynamic data from real time social engagement, website activity and even their social graph activity. This will require deep integration of CRM, marketing automation, content publishing, and social engagement platforms, tied together with world-class analytics. Omni-channel brands like Sephora will lead the charge, having digitized almost all aspects of the experience, including the physical retail store.
Digital governance becomes a necessity
While terribly mundane, many organizations will reach a breaking point in 2016 where the morass known as digital/social/mobile will require a wholesale review of how they work with each other and across the enterprise. Central to this effort will be the rationalization of the digital C-Suite, identifying the roles and digital responsibilities of the CEO, COO, CMO, CIO, and the need for new positions like the Chief Digital Officer and Chief Experience Officer.
Social goes paid
Despite the hope that social platforms represented a new humanization of brands and companies, most marketers will treat Facebook and Twitter like the great paid channels that they have evolved into. With ever-evolving and maturing targeting opportunities, “social” will become another piece of the bought media decision, with the traditional social engagement moving squarely into service. That will leave the social media team searching for a new purpose, potentially moving into employee engagement and brand support via community engagement.
Rising Digital Ecosystem Complexity
Where once social media was the disruptor, organizations today are faced with an increasingly complex digital ecosystem in which social plays just a part:
Evolving Hybrid Org Models
As far back as 2005, organizations have been evolving their org structures to meet the needs of an integrated, holistic social business (e.g., Centralized vs. Hub & Spoke, etc.). Especially as social crosses more business functions and silos than ever, having a deliberate org structure—supported by a governance plan—is increasingly important, yet we continue to see companies struggle to create an effective Hub & Spoke structure that both gives autonomy to spokes and yet keeps strategy and social data aligned.
As evidenced by the flat growth of centralized, shared social hub teams, more autonomy is moving out to business functions like Sales, HR and geographies. As this spread occurs, we continue to see misalignment of strategy, data, tools and governance. In 2016, the value and role of the social hub will be an open question for many brands: what is the right balance between orchestrated and silo’d social? Does the social team belong in emerging digital teams, which are less focused on IT infrastructure and e-commerce, but rather pursuing new digital business models?
Paid Social Advertising and Social Sales Forces
Brands’ increased reliance on social ads to reach consumers as well as social commerce (“buy buttons”) and social sales force enablement will impact strategy and budget allocation. Will brands shift resources from engaging consumers through community management to paid social for reach? Will the rise of Employee Advocacy increase reach and reduce social ad spend? If that happens, how will social platforms like Facebook respond? Will social ads be managed by digital advertising teams with a more tactical, e-commerce focus or will brand teams continue their use of social at the top of the sales/marketing funnel?
Ethical data use and privacy will emerge as brand issues
We saw a lot of stories this year related to the explosion of digital information, multiple data breaches, pending legislation related to biometric and location data, and of course the news that the European Court of Justice had invalidated the “safe harbor” data transfer pact between the U.S. and the European Union. The law continues to struggle to keep up with user expectations, but my hope is that the conversation will become more productive. I will be looking at topics such as differential privacy and vendor relationship management—in which the individual, not the company, is at the center.
We will start to see analytics for the visual web
2015 was the year of the selfie stick, Caitlyn Jenner’s groundbreaking Vanity Fair cover and Jon Hamm’s final, enigmatic smile on Mad Men, but it was also the year that a single, heartbreaking image of Alan (Aylan) Kurdi, a Syrian child of Kurdish origin, reached 20 million screens around the world, poignantly conveying the impact of the refugee crisis in a way that words could never do.
Also this year, Flickr faced complaints about its auto-tagging algorithm, which mistakenly tagged photos of concentration camps as “jungle gym” and “sport,” raising the issue of how algorithms for visual content draw inferences, and what impact that may have on institutions and individuals.
As we move into 2016, it’s clear that we need mechanisms to better understand the impact and resonance of visual content on the web, and in fact companies such as Oracle, Crimson Hexagon, Tracx, Synthesio have partnered with emerging visual analytics companies such as Ditto and Piqora to that end. This is just a first step toward a discipline of interpreting and responding to the visual web; as brands, organizations and as human beings.
With artificial Intelligence, the future is becoming more evenly distributed*
In 2015 the Internet of Things hit the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” on the Gartner Hype Cycle, with autonomous vehicles and neurobusiness (!) not far behind. Just this week, investors such as Reid Hoffman, Peter Thiel and Elon Musk pledged millions of dollars toward an OpenAI research center, which will “focus on improving digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole.” in 2016, AI and algorithms will enter the mainstream of business conversations as we grapple with the implications of automating thought and decision-making. On a related note, I fully expect “algorithm” to be word of the year in 2016.
* Thanks and apologies to William Gibson.
The consolidated “back-bone” MarTech platform
We’ve been seeing Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle and IBM battle it out in the “marketing cloud wars” where each company claims to offer the entire range of digital marketing solutions in one integrated platform. While no company can claim to offer all the solutions, let alone complete integration between them, each vendor has made a lot of progress, to the point where it now makes sense for most companies to consolidate all their digital marketing operations in one “marketing cloud” and integrate the missing functionalities into it. Aside from giving brands a chance to coordinate all their marketing activities on a single platform, it also sets the stage for unifying the customer experience across sales, service and marketing. For more details on this concept, check out our report on The Customer Experience Cloud.
Predictive Intelligence for Content
Technology vendors have created some extremely sophisticated tools to collect customer data from disparate sources and make them accessible to content strategists. In theory, this should allow content creators to create even more engaging, personalized content since they know now what their customers look like and how they engage with branded content. However, evaluating data is a job for data scientists not content creators, and they’re in short supply. As a result, analytics programs must be able to offer some element of prediction that applies to branded content. Whether it’s thought leadership, social media posts or product offers, analytics will be able to offer not just performance numbers on different types of content, but also what creators can do to boost their chances of engagement.
IoT will power post-purchase marketing efforts
For most marketers, their job ends once the customer makes the purchase. But with the rise of the Internet of Things, there is an opportunity to engage with customers long after they’ve exited the checkout counter. Sensors attached to physical products can send the manufacturer information about how the items are being used, whether they need repairs or upgrades or if they can be automatically re-ordered. While this is especially useful for high-tech appliances such as washers, fridges or cars, it can even be applied to ordinary products such as a bottle of booze. A company called Thin Film recently partnered with Johnny Walker Blue Label to create a “smart bottle” which can tracks the in-store movement of the item, its consumption, and send recommendations and tips to the customer via mobile. And that’s only one of the many ways we’ll be able to reshape customer engagement via the Internet of Things. We’ll be tracking all the others throughout the year.
The new areas of focus for Altimeter’s research team in the New Year.
A new book by Altimeter’s Brian Solis underscores the importance of great design and empathy in creating lasting customer experiences.
A new thought leadership study from Altimeter and Cofactor.
A new research report by Altimeter Group’s Brian Solis and Capgemini Consulting
Altimeter’s resident Internet of Things expert Jessica Groopman talks with UnboundID’s Emeka Obianwu.
How to start crafting optimal customer experiences in the Internet of Things.
In this 1-hour webinar, industry analysts Susan Etlinger and Rebecca Lieb share their latest research on Content Marketing Performance.
The CEO of Altimeter Group has a new book out which contains essential guidelines for how leaders can engage employees and customers on digital channels.
NYT- and WSJ-bestselling author Charlene Li guides business leaders deeper than ever before into the uncomfortable and ever-changing terrain of the digital era.
In this one-hour webinar, Susan Etlinger shares a framework on how to 1) extract insight from data and 2) in a way that engenders trust.
In this 1-hour webinar, join Jaimy Szymanski and Brian Solis for a discussion on how organizations can approach mobile design strategy through the lens of an evolving connected customer.
Charlene Li and Jon Cifuentes share research on how leading organizations use social and digital technologies to create holistic employee engagement strategies that drive business impact and cultural change.
In this 1-hour webinar, Ed Terpening and Charlene Li share research on how successful organizations scale social business strategy and manage social media risk through a formalized governance system.
In this one-hour webinar, Brian Solis shares research on how businesses explore digital transformation, including results from a 2014 survey of leading digital strategists.
In this 45-minute webinar, analyst Rebecca Lieb shares best practices for your content marketing software selection process.
Businesses today are met with unique challenges and opportunities that necessitate pause. For years, management models were developed to optimize the pursuit of business objectives.
In this one-hour webinar, analyst Susan Etlinger explores the phenomenon of “TV Everywhere” and shares findings from her recent report, Data Everywhere.
In this one-hour webinar, analysts Andrew Jones and Charlene Li share how insights can be gleaned from social media.
In this one-hour webinar, Rebecca Lieb will share findings from her recent research report on how content marketers should select content marketing tools.
To learn more about the state of social media command centers, Altimeter Group spoke with three organizations — MasterCard, eBay, and Wells Fargo Bank.
Rebecca Lieb shares findings from her recent research report on real-time marketing, including the top 6 use cases, the benefits and risks, and 12 best practices.
What is native advertising and, by extension, what is it not?
In this report, industry analyst Susan Etlinger demonstrates how leading organizations are deriving actionable intelligence from a holistic view of social and enterprise data.
In this webinar, they discuss the seven factors that successful social businesses share and how their strategies are designed to deliver business value.
In this 1- hour webinar, industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang presents his research on the business disruption, and share examples of companies that are already moving into the Collaborative Economy.
Altimeter analysts Charlene Li and Brian Solis proudly introduce their new book The Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy. It was written to help readers learn how to better align social media strategies with business objectives to deliver real results and ROI.
In this webinar, Altimeter Group’s Charlene Li and Brian Solis review the six distinct stages that organizations move through as they evolve their social business strategy.
This report defines the Collaborative Economy, looks at companies that are already moving into this space, and provides a framework, the Collaborative Economy Value Chain, which companies can use to help rethink their business models.
Watch this webinar with industry analyst Rebecca Lieb, to explore scalable organizational models for addressing content needs across the enterprise.
Watch this webinar and learn how prepared your company is for social business.
Over 30 Technologies Have Emerged, at a Faster Pace than Companies Can Digest. If you think social was disruptive, it was really just the beginning.
In its latest research, Altimeter Group’s Charlene Li and Brian Solis uncovered a distinct gap between organizations that execute social media strategies and those that are truly a “social business.”
Advertising and media are converging. The results will disrupt how companies must deploy their marketing efforts.
The volatility of social data and the pace of change mean that tried-and-true measurement methods are no longer enough. Social data is different.
Social media is the modern Pandora’s box: it has had a meteoric rise as a tool to interact and engage with customers, but also a dark underside exposing companies to new types of risk.
Real-world case studies of best practice training programs are discussed, as well as outcome-oriented training strategies that will keep all levels of employees engaged.
Did you miss today’s webinar with Charlene Li and Chris Silva talking about the proper foundation for mobile business? If so, please see a full replay of today’s content, available on Vimeo.
As an analyst and research firm focused on disruptive technologies, our clients and others frequently ask us what we are paying attention to and what we are researching.
The Altimeter Group will be present at SXSW Interactive festival to research, interact, and share our insights on disruptive technology at this year’s 2012 SXSW in Austin Texas.
As an analyst and research firm focused on disruptive business trends, our clients and others frequently ask us what we are paying attention to and what we are researching.
Research Agenda Q1-Q2 2014
Sales and operations planning processes are 35 years old and are currently experiencing a renaissance. The redefinition of the process powers growth and improves resiliency in the face of increasing volatility.
If you have a website, a blog, or even a Facebook or Twitter presence, you are a publisher. Think like one: build a digital content strategy that embraces words, images and multimedia to systematically enhance consumer engagement and conversion rates.
The End of Business As Usual explores each layer of the complex consumer revolution that is changing the future of business, media, and culture. As consumers further connect with one another, a vast and efficient information network takes shape and begins to steer experiences, decisions, and markets. It is nothing short of disruptive.
As mobile becomes the leading means for users to interact with brands, content, and one another inside of organizations, simply “getting to mobile” is not strategy enough.
What’s a crises? We did analysis on the list of social media crises aka “punkings” to find out what went wrong, why, and what should have been done.
Charlene Li sat down with Ken Blanchard, the author of The One Minute Manager, on the morning of June 21st, 2011 to discuss how leadership is being affected by social media.
Is the supply chain ready to be social? And, if so, how do companies begin the journey? What steps do they take?
Engage! examines the social media landscape and how to effectively use social media to succeed in business—one network and one tool at a time. It leads you through the detailed and specific steps required for conceptualizing, implementing, managing, and measuring a social media program.
Download our paper and presentation below, and register for a webinar with me and partner Jeremiah Owyang on Wednesday, December 1 at 11 am PST for a webinar on the Rise of Social Commerce. Registration at: http://bit.ly/rscwebinar. Meet the new shopper. Underneath the keys of the keyboard, they are shopping in a new way. Unleashing […]
Social technologies are disrupting traditional business models, and the analyst industry is no exception.
While numerous social media measurement technologies exist, no single tool can adequately measure and provide insights for all social marketing activity.
In Open Leadership, Charlene Li offers the next step resource that shows leaders how to tap into the power of the social technology revolution and use social media to be “open” while maintaining control.
“Be Open, Be Transparent, Be Authentic” are the current leadership mantras — but companies often push back.
This webinar follows Altimeter Group’s recently published open research report: Social CRM: The New Rule of Relationship Management, which covers 18 uses cases of social CRM.
In 2009, a subset of the marketing-focused chapters were published as “Marketing In The Groundswell.”
Putting the Public Back in Public Relations is a crucial guidebook for helping brands navigate the social economy, while enhancing your career and future in the process.
Groundswell is required reading for executives seeking to protect and strengthen their company’s public image.
Now Is Gone seeks to help businesses embrace Social Media intelligently. Readers can learn if their organization is ready, how to begin, the predominant participation is marketing approach that other businesses are using, social media marketing strategies, and general social media insights.