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Archive for December, 2015

  How to Enter China via the Web (and lots more stuff)

December 30, 2015 Leave a comment

 

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Your one-stop shop for the latest e-commerce industry white papers, case studies, special reports and webinars.
In this report, Internet Retailer seeks to explain the unprecedented opportunity and how quite a few companies from outside of China are overcoming the considerable obstacles to selling to Chinese consumers via the web.

Mobile Strategies Report

Compliments of Mobify and Urban Airship

Mobile Masters: A look back at 2015 and what you need to know for year ahead

This executive report will uncover the mobile events of the past year, examine how businesses should react, and discuss emerging mobile developments that should be on every executive’s radar for the year ahead. Download Now

Internet Retailer Exclusive

Compliments of GoECart, Virid, PCA Predict, RackSpace

Black Friday-Cyber Monday: What did we learn and what to do for 2016

In this extensive 30 page exclusive report, the Internet Retailer’s editors provide real-time reporting on sales for the entire Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Internet Retailer coverage from that week / weekend are based on data being provided by industry leading companies. Download Now

Internet Retailer Exclusive

Compliments of Mobify

Push Notification Best Practices

Harness the power of push notifications to engage customers, drive purchases and build loyalty in these mobile moments. Download Now

Internet Retailer Exclusive

Compliments of Adyen

5 Best Practices for Omnichannel Commerce

Endless aisle, click & collect, one-click payments: omnichannel commerce has gone from buzzword to reality, but merchants have a long way to go to unify shopper experiences. In this whitepaper, you will learn 5 best practices for omnichannel commerce from the world’s leading retailers, including Burberry, Inditex, Ticketscript and more. Download Now

Internet Retailer Exclusive

Compliments of Shopatron

The New Online Shopper

The online consumer has evolved. Shoppers now expect to easily find the products they want, when they want them. Are you prepared? Download this eBook to learn the key eCommerce essentials needed to meet modern consumer demands, including fulfillment profitability management, save the sale, integrated inventory sharing and more. Download Now

IR Special Report

Compliments of Rackspace and OpinionLab

The Hot 100 Preview

New thinking is coming out of e-retail organizations large and small. It’s coming from those with pockets flush with investor cash, from e-retail veterans, and everyone in between. You’ll meet 100 such merchants in this issue, and get a glimpse of what they are doing to advance e-retailing.Download Now

Internet Retailer Exclusive

Compliments of Oracle

Oracle Commerce Gets the Cloud Treatment

This Forrester Research brief analyzes the key differentiating capabilities of this new offering and will provide guidance to eBusiness and channel strategy professionals on how to evaluate this solution as part of their commerce technology replatforming initiatives. Download Now

B2B Special Report

Compliments of Punchout2Go, Four51, MarketLive, and Apruve

B2BecNews Special Edition (Winter 2015) – E-Procurement Tools

In this exclusive report, B2BecNews takes a close look at how companies are blending spend management policies with a new generation of e-procurement tools to improve purchasing operations. Download Now

Industry Category Title & Description

E-Commerce Platform

5 Keys to the Digital Experience Equation

Leveraging customers, context and content to deliver the optimal digital experience. Download Now

The E-Commerce Platforms for your company to stand on!

In our online Vendor Directory, we have categorically listed the businesses that will make your online business work! Keep everything under one roof with the pillars of e-commerce including order management, content management, inventory, marketing, analytics, payments and sales!

If you’re a solutions provider, contact Thomas Moore to get your company listed today!

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B2B eCommerce on Salesforce: The Facts
2015 Mobile & Digital Commerce Trends and Beyond
Amazon & You: Top New Competitive Strategies for 2016
B2B Health Check: 5 Steps to E-Commerce Fitness
Secrets of the IR 2015 Hot 100 Retailers

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10 eCommerce essentials every manufacturer must know to satisfy the new online shopper
2016 Digital Strategies: 5 Ways to Create Competitive Advantage
How Three Brands Digitized Extensive Product Catalogs
Budget Blues Got You Down?
FREE Custom Segment Builder for your Holiday Campaigns
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Google Shopping Defaults That Kill Retailer Profitability
The executive’s guide to ecommerce technology
Digital Marketing: Are You Ready to Go Agile?
Turning Mobile Browsers Into Mobile Shoppers
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Free Retention Analytics for 60 Days
The Latest Push Notification Best Practices
A/B testing: the basics plus a case study
IR Research
Fulfillment Strategies by the IR Top 1000
Selling Strategies of the IR Top 1000
Product Showcases –December 2015
B2B E-commerce Authorize.Net
Categories: Uncategorized

Sandy solution for renewable energy storage

December 29, 2015 Leave a comment

Image result for the australian lead logo

By Andrew Spence / 10th of November, 2015
Banner

SAND is emerging as a key ingredient in the race to develop a viable electricity storage system for renewable energies.

Latent Heat Storage has developed a low cost thermal energy storage system based on the latent heat properties of silicon derived from sand.­

The device – known as TESS – is being developed in South Australia with the help of an AUD $400,000 government grant to take it from prototype to commercial reality.

Storage is the next big challenge for energy generation worldwide

The TESS device stores electricity as thermal energy by heating and melting containers full of silicon. The high latent heat capacity and melting temperature of silicon makes it ideal for the storage of large amounts of energy.

Latent Heat Storage Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Whalley said storage was the next big challenge for energy generation worldwide.

“Renewable energy sources generally spill energy due to supply and demand mismatches, so we’ve designed the TESS device to capture this ‘spilt’ energy for later use or release to the grid,” Whalley said.

“Our system also means that energy consumers will be able to purchase stored electricity off-peak at low tariffs, which ultimately means cheaper energy.”

A key benefit of the TESS device is its capability to handle an increasing workload from 500kW applications through to an industrial scale of up to several hundred megawatt hours – enough to power about 7000 homes for a day.

The patented device is small enough to fit inside a 20-foot shipping container but is readily scalable as demand requires.

TESS is suitable for grid and off-grid applications and has been designed to overcome the intermittent nature of renewable energies such as wind and solar by providing a stable energy output suitable for base load power.

It can be integrated anywhere within an electricity network and is suitable for commercial and industrial businesses where heat and electricity are required such as hotels, schools and hospitals.

“After three years of research and development, our key objective now is to complete building a commercial prototype of the TESS device and start showcasing its potential to global markets,” Whalley said.

A commercial prototype will be ready in early 2016 to be used as a selling tool to potential clients and Whalley said devices would initially be built to meet the needs of individual sites rather than mass produced.

The Australian Government grant, through its Entrepreneur’s Programme, has been matched by Latent Heat Storage shareholders to generate $800,000 of total project funding.

The device has been developed in partnership with Adelaide-based engineering consultancy ammjohn, and final year engineering students at the University of Adelaide.

Whalley said the commercial introduction of energy storage systems would encourage more renewable energy generation such as wind farms and solar arrays.

“Energy prices are increasing around the world while storage technology costs are reducing, so we’re approaching the tipping point where energy storage systems are finally becoming commercially viable,” he said.

“We are developing an energy storage system to meet market demand … we anticipate that this will result in exponential growth of the energy storage market worldwide.”

Key contacts

Jonathan WhalleyCEOLatent Heat
61 419 808 701jonathan.whalley@latent-heat.com
Categories: Uncategorized

Iconix Brand Group Inc: Is There Any Hope for This Brand Management Company?

December 29, 2015 Leave a comment

 Image result for motley fool logo

The stock is down more than 50% year-to-date. Is a turnaround possible?

Iconix Brand Group (NASDAQ:ICON) licenses, markets, and promotes a portfolio of over 35 well-recognized consumer brands sold at popular retail outlets around the world. Some of its most recognized brands include Rampage, Mudd, Candie’s, Lee Cooper, Rocawear, and Joe Boxer.

While the stock logged fresh all-time highs last summer, its performance since the beginning of this year has left a lot to be desired. The stock has performed incredibly well for most of the past decade, far outperforming the S&P 500, but now down over 50% year-to-date, many investors are wondering what’s next.

ICON Chart

ICON DATA BY YCHARTS

A major reason for the drop appears to be the sudden resignation of longtime CEO Neil Cole back in August. Cole had been at the helm since 1993 and was responsible for the complete rebranding and restructuring of the business in 2005, changing its name from Candie’s to Iconix Brands and transforming the company from a manufacturer and retailer to a brand management and licensing business. He has yet to be replaced.

Considering the recent downward spiral, I looked at the core of this business to determine whether the stock decline is warranted or whether investors are missing the big picture. While I found several positives, I also came across red flags. Let’s take a closer look.

A healthy licensing business
Licensing agreements and international joint ventures are at the core of the company’s business model. Iconix has over 50 direct-to-retail licenses and more than 1,100 total licenses. The vast majority of the company’s licensing agreements include minimum guaranteed royalty revenue over the term of the existing contracts, excluding renewals. As of January, the company had over $800 million of aggregate guaranteed royalty revenue.

Licensing agreements allow the company to eliminate or substantially reduce inventory and operating risk associated with traditional retailers. While Iconix owns the licenses to the brands, the licensees are fully responsible for the cost of manufacturing and selling. The licensing business, as its main source of revenue, has been quite profitable over the years:

Iconix Licensing Revenue

SOURCE: 2014 ANNUAL REPORT

The company’s largest direct-to-retail licensees are Kohl’s, Target, and Wal-Mart, which represent approximately 26% of total revenue. Contracts date back to 2004, 2006, and 2007, respectively, and have a consistent history of being renewed. Most of the current contracts extend through 2020, and many of the brands — like Mossimo at Target — are exclusive to specific stores.

During the first half of 2015, Iconix reported licensing revenue of $98.5 million, a 1% year-over-year increase compared with the second quarter of 2014.

Strategic acquisitions: strengthening the entertainment and sports portfolio
In June 2010, Iconix acquired an 80% stake in Peanuts Holdings and its popular Charlie Brown characters. Peanuts has a strongly diversified platform at a global level, with over 700 licensing agreements including relationships with ABC Networks, Hallmark, and Universal Studios. In October 2012, an agreement was reached with 20th Century Fox Animation to produce The Peanuts Movie, scheduled for release this month. Iconix should benefit from ticket and merchandise sales after the movie is released in over 70 countries.

Recent acquisitions, announced earlier this year, include Strawberry Shortcake and PONY. The former, acquired from American Greetings for $105 million in cash, is a well-recognized global brand with a diversified network of over 350 licensees. PONY, a footwear and apparel brand, cost Iconix $35 million in cash for a 75% stake in the North American division. PONY joins other profitable brands within the sports sector, including Daskin and Umbro, which generate over $2 billion in global retail sales. 

Multiple resignations, an SEC investigation, and lowered guidance
And now the red flags. In addition to the CEO’s resignation, the company also lost its CFO and COO at the beginning of this year. This is all happened in the middle of an ongoing SEC investigation, which is reviewing company records regarding accounting methods and reporting. The complaint alleges Iconix underreported the cost basis of its brands and engaged in irregular accounting practices related to its international joint ventures. Results from the investigation are still pending. 

The financial outlook bears watching, too. As of the most recent quarterly earnings report in August, the fiscal 2015 outlook was notably lower across the board. Revenue guidance has gone from a high of $510 million at the beginning of the year to $425 million. GAAP diluted earnings per share have also been lowered from a high of $3.20 to $2.39, while free cash flow is now expected to be in the range of $190 million, down from the previous forecast of $218 million.

The Foolish bottom line
Iconix has some well-recognized international brands under its umbrella that will remain popular. The company also has some strong partnerships with top retailers, guaranteeing recurring revenue with a fairly predictable history of renewals. It has also been strategic with acquisitions, bringing in brands that already resonate with consumers.

Still, I would stay on the sidelines for the time being as I wait for the SEC investigation to conclude and for the company to restore its leadership. Investors do not like uncertainty, and that’s obviously reflected in the poor performance of the stock. But if things work out in the company’s favor, I can see the company enjoying a healthy rebound.

Categories: Uncategorized

Holiday Tips for UBER in LA

December 26, 2015 Leave a comment

(blogmaster note: a slight detour from ‘Fashion technology’ to being a fashionable LA passenger with Uber)

6 Places Your Uber Driver Doesn’t Want To Pick You Up in LA

I’m Lexus Jones. I have a regular full-time job but on the weekends and occasional weeknights I drive for Uber. Over the last couple of years I have driven over 2,000 trips for Uber. At first I drove on the UberX platform. Now I drive a luxury car on the Uber Plus platform. Whenever I think that I have seen it all, something new happens. I will be sharing those stories here. I will also answer questions and give advice on how to get the most out of your rides.

uber_pickup.jpg

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The waiting game (Photo by Mark Warner via the Creative Commons on Flickr)

Uber drivers in Los Angeles generally like to congregate wherever there are passengers, however, there are some exceptions to that rule. That’s because certain really busy areas turn out to be notorious for short rides and/or rude passengers who are known to puke in our cars. In Los Angeles, it’s often the best areas that experienced drivers avoid.

The Hollywood Hills

Any Uber driver cruising along Sunset on a busy Friday or Saturday night is bound to get a request from a passenger way up in the hills or deep in the canyons. We will take those calls when we are new to the platform but we quickly learn that this is fool’s gold. Despite their wealth, people in the hills rarely travel far distances, they tend to be aloof, and it can take as long traveling up the windy narrow roads to get to their mansions as it does to carry them to the Mondrian or Chateau Marmont. Also they never tip. Ever. The first time I got a call from way up there I was excited to check out the view, but then after driving 10 minutes, waiting 5 minutes by their ridiculously huge gate, and then driving 6 minutes to get them to their destination, I had learned my lesson. The $7 fare was not worth it.

USC

The longest ride you will get from a USC student is from the campus area to DTLA. But the most typical ride you’ll get is from the Greek area—which is a shit show at night—to some drunk girl’s apartment 8 blocks away. These kids will make you wait, demand to use your AUX cord to blast their terrible music, and puke in your car. For a $5 ride? Go Bruins.

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Uber drivers aren’t hot on the South Bay for pick-ups (Photo by Chris via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)

The South Bay

When I started driving for Uber two years ago I noticed that it was always surging in Hermosa, Manhattan, and Redondo Beach almost every night. When I finally took the bait (after dropping someone off at LAX) I saw why. There was lots of demand, very few Ubers, but every ride was less than 2 miles on average and often much shorter. Everyone was drunk, young, predictably rude and entitled, and they never knew where they wanted to go. One person would get in, call their friend(s) asking “Where are you? But we aren’t going there, are we? What? I CAN’T HEAR YOU! Put Billy on! But I don’t want to go there!” Fuck the beach communities. The reason it surges there is because no driver wants to enter that Bermuda Triangle and waste a good night taking people on short trips all night. Also the cops hate Ubers there and will ticket you for anything.

Grocery stores

This is where I differ from most Uber drivers. Most drivers hate rides that come from grocery store pick-ups because the odds are very high that it will be a short trip that will include helping someone with a lot of bags and heavy items. I have not found that to always be the case. If it’s on a weekend sometimes it’s someone heading to a party with several cases of beverages, a large cake, and/or a couple of bags of ice; and I don’t mind helping out party people because I have been in their shoes once upon a time. But beware, many other drivers don’t look at it that way. They are nervous that taking groceries in and out of the car may cause scratches and dents and the ice might leak. Don’t be surprised if a few of your drivers cancel.

Hollywood Bowl

If you can find your passenger there in the cluster, you’re going to have a decent trip. But finding them is close to impossible. When 10,000 people file out of a concert and they all stand around the giant Bowl marquee, and the LAPD refuses to let you even pause there to try to identify your passenger, and there’s tons of traffic, and the cell phone reception is horrible, you learn quickly to avoid the Bowl. I recommend that anyone who wants to get an Uber after seeing a show there simply walk down the hill to the gas station on Franklin and Highland. It’s a pleasant walk, you can get a bootleg T-shirt for $5 and a bacon wrapped dog for $4. But most importantly you’ll be able to get an Uber in minutes and avoid the congestion.

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Abboy Kinney (Photo by Matt M via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)

Abbot Kinney on First Fridays

Everyone loves food trucks but Uber drivers hate Venice on the first Friday of each month because the ONLY place people want you to take them is Abbot Kinney. It couldn’t be more annoying. It doesn’t matter if you pick up some millionaire in Marina Del Rey or a housewife in Palms, on First Fridays every ride is short and they’re all going to the same congested intersection to eat from the same damn food trucks that they could find any other night of the week. Often what experienced drivers will do after dropping off their first First Friday passenger is turn off their phone and drive to Hollywood or DTLA, otherwise every ping will be to the same destination.

Now That You Know This, What Can You Do As A Passenger?

It’s not your fault if you’re a 19-year-old frat boy on 28th Street and you want to go to the Taco Bell drive-thru on Vermont and 36th late at night. Your driver is going to hate you when you drunkenly slur your request to him. So here are some tips:

Be prepared, have a few bucks in your pocket. Hand it over to the driver as soon as you get in the car and it will erase his bad attitude immediately. That is what I do when I take any ride that will be less than $8. It’s amazing what two or three bucks can do.

If you are at a grocery store, wheel your cart to a neighboring building, like a drug store or a nail salon. Then type that store into the app. If “Helen’s Nails” pops up on the app, the driver is far more likely not to cancel on you than if it says “Jons.”

But the best thing you can do as a passenger is listen to the words of the Grateful Dead and “please be kind.” Driving for Uber is an increasingly tough job. The attitudes and behaviors of the passengers make all the difference in the world. I say this with peace and love.

Lexus will answer your questions. So leave them in the comments below or e-mail us attips@laist.com. Follow Lexus on Twitter at @uberlexus

Related:
Not So Fast: Uber And Lyft Pickups At LAX Put On Hold
How Your Uber Driver Really Feels About Long Rides
The Pros And Cons Of Using An Uber For Drug Dealing, According To A Driver
What It’s Like To Be An Uber Driver In 2015
10 Things That Make Your Uber Driver Sad
Tales From An Uber Driver: Why I’m Anonymous

 

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Fierce Retail Holiday Report

December 24, 2015 Leave a comment

FierceRetail

This week’s sponsor is Shoptalk.

Today’s Top Stories

1. Target pursues urban growth

2. Amazon captures 50% of retail sales growth

3. American Apparel closing more stores

4. Manic Monday sales soar 27%

5. RILA touts retail wins

This week’s sponsor is Leanplum.

Deliver holiday checkouts with these essential mobile tips. Download the guide now!

Also Noted

Inside Kohl’s technology center

Stories from around the Web

News from the Retail Industry

Editor’s Corner

Have a Merry after-Christmas

Thursday, December 24, 2015 | By Laura Heller

Anyone who attends trade shows and industry events has heard or said the phrase, “have a good show.” We tell each other to make lots of contacts and initiate deals, to take a lot of notes and bring back actionable information to grow future business.

But as important as a good show is, the after-show is far more important: following up on leads and finalizing those deals.

I’m reminded of this as the holiday selling season draws to a close, because this year it’s the after-season that will make or break the year for retailers.

Holiday shopping has been forever changed—by the recession, by technology and by a younger generation. Consumers start earlier, plan better and extend the holiday much longer.

They have the tools to compare prices and check inventory. They read reviews and crowdsource gift ideas in ways that make retailers’ hot lists and toy books seem obsolete. Even the Neiman Marcus holiday catalog seemed to fade into the background this year, upstaged by Amazon’s one-hour delivery and Instagram stars’ gift guides.

And the weeks after Christmas will matter more than ever. Shoppers are expected to receive gift cards in record numbers, and they will be ready to redeem them for goods and services. The incentives dangled in front of shoppers as promotions have limited windows for redemption (unless it’s a Macy’s $10 gift card), and those savvy self-gifters have done their research and know exactly when the best sales are for targeted items.

Shoppers are even still waiting to buy holiday gifts until after Christmas.

So while the season is soon officially over, it will be the after-show that counts as retailers close out their books. Have a Merry Christmas to be sure, but here’s hoping for an even merrier after-Christmas. -Laura

 


FierceRetail will be taking a publisher’s holiday and will return to its regular publishing schedule on January 4, 2016. In the meantime, be sure to check our websites for new content throughout our holiday.


Marketplace

Today’s Top News

1. Target pursues urban growth

Thursday, December 24, 2015 | By Laura Heller

Target (NYSE:TGT) will be adding a new small format in the Chicago market, the company’s fourth there, as it pursues urban markets with gusto.

The retailer will be taking over a 32,000-sq.-ft. store in the north side neighborhood of Lincoln Park currently occupied by Best Buy.

“Chicago is a priority market,” Target spokeswoman Kristy Welker told Crain’s Chicago. “With Target’s focus on growth in urban locations, the company is able to leverage its strength in flexible store design to fit stores into less traditional, smaller spaces to allow access to all of Target—regardless of store size.”

Chicago has also been a test market for Target as it tries to personalize its assortment with items tailored to local needs. The company’s new downtown location even obtained a liquor license and serves food and adult beverages to shoppers.

Target has 18 smaller format stores and plans to open 14 more, Welker said. It’s all part of the retailer’s push into urban markets as big box chains try to make themselves small in a quest for growth.

Flexible formats are a big focus for Target CEO Brian Cornell. Originally developed under different banners—TargetExpress and CityTarget—all formats large and small have been rebranded under the Target banner.

For more:
-See this Crain’s Chicago article
-See this Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal story

Related stories:
Report: Target is developing a mobile wallet
Target’s Wonderland jingles RFID bells
Target scouts innovators in retail accelerator program
Target opens connected home showroom
Target releases fresh merchandise in rapid-fire 2015 overhaul

2. Amazon captures 50% of retail sales growth

Thursday, December 24, 2015 | By Laura Heller

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) now accounts for roughly 50 percent of all online retail sales growth in the United States and 24 percent of total retail sales growth, according to Macquarie Research.

By the end of 2015, Amazon’s U.S. sales will be $88 billion, a 33 percent jump from 2014’s $66 billion, estimates Macquarie analysts.

For every $1 of e-commerce growth this year, Amazon will take 51 cents and 24 cents of every $1 of total adjusted retail growth. “Think about the inverse of that: Every other retailer is fighting for 49 cents and 76 cents of each dollar, respectively,” note analysts in a research note.

Amazon captured 35 percent of online sales on Black Friday, according to Slyce, and 51 percent of U.S. shoppers planned to buy from Amazon this holiday season, according to a poll from Reuters/Ipsos. That number is consistent with Macquarie’s projections for 2015.

And there’s no expectation that Amazon’s growth will slow. It’s quite the opposite, thanks to Amazon Prime.

A stunning 25 percent of U.S. households are currently Prime members and by 2020 that number will grow to 50 percent, estimates Macquarie. Amazon likely added 7 million households as Prime members in 2015, thanks to the company’s addition of new services such as award winning original content and new streaming services.

“We believe that Amazon thinks its strategy of bundling in more and more benefits for Prime members (video, music, books, photo storage, etc.) is a key reason for the Prime growth,” according to the report. “Therefore, we expect Amazon to continue to ramp up its benefits for Prime.”

Related stories:
Inside Amazon’s urban warehouse
Amazon Fire sales are on fire
51% of holiday shoppers will buy on Amazon
Amazon opens first store
Amazon adds Streaming Partners Program

3. American Apparel closing more stores

Thursday, December 24, 2015 | By Laura Heller

American Apparel wants to close more stores as it moves forward with a plan to reorganize under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The troubled retailer has petitioned the bankruptcy court to close nine stores, including the company’s very first location in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, according to Women’s Wear Daily.

Additional stores scheduled for closure include three in southern California and two in the New York City market, including Jersey City, New Jersey and Norwalk, Connecticut. American Apparel also requested permission to close stores in Madison, Wisconsin and Tigard, Oregon.

All locations are slated to close on Jan. 30, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, and follow an earlier request to shutter nine units.

American Apparel is struggling to emerge from Chapter 11 following a tumultuous period marked by executive in-fighting between the board of directors and founder Dov Charney.

Charney was fired in December for alleged misconduct, including the misuse of funds and sexual misconduct with other employees. He and other shareholders will lose their stake in the company. Charney owned a 42 percent stake in American Apparel and was also the biggest creditor, holding $15 million in debt.

Charney has filed several lawsuits against the company, which will likely be delayed due to the bankruptcy.

For more:
-See this Women’s Wear Daily story (subscription required)
-See this article in the Silicon Valley Business Journal

Related articles:
American Apparel files for bankruptcy, wipes out Charney
American Apparel needs cash, risk of bankruptcy
American Apparel to close stores, cut jobs
American Apparel sues former CEO Charney
New American Apparel CEO puts focus on order, discipline

Categories: Uncategorized

Four in Five Retailers Say Mobile Is Having a Major Effect

December 24, 2015 Leave a comment

 

eMarketer

Mobile’s importance is becoming undeniable

December 22, 2015 | Retail & Ecommerce

Mobile still accounts for a fairly small share of total retail sales, and, in many markets, even of digital retail sales. But retailers are feeling the impact of mobile devices.

Retailers Worldwide that Have Experienced Major Mcommerce Growth, 2014 & 2015 (% of respondents)

In 2014, a little over half (57%) of retailers worldwide surveyed by payment solutions provider Payvision reported experiencing major growth in m-commerce sales. Among the total, 33% strongly agreed that growth was significant—already a sizeable share.

But by 2015 the evidence in favor of mcommerce was overwhelming. Nearly half of respondents were now in the “strongly agree” group, with an additional 34% agreeing more generally. Overall, 79% of retailers worldwide were undergoing major mcommerce growth this year.

More retailers around the world are getting into omnichannel as a result. This year, 91% of respondents said they offered customers the option to shop and pay across multiple devices. That was up from 84% last year.

Nearly three in four respondents reported this year that such an option had boosted sales via digital devices. In addition, 71% of retailers surveyed said they were focused on offering seamless shopping across multiple devices as well as offline sales channels.

eMarketer estimates that in 2015, US consumers bought $74.93 billion worth of goods and services via mobile devices, up 32.2% over 2014 spending levels. This year, mobile accounted for 22.0% of all retail ecommerce sales in the US, up 3 points since last year. It still made up a tiny portion of total retail sales, however, at just 1.6%.

In some other world markets, mcommerce is a bigger part of the picture. In South Korea, for example, mcommerce sales made up 46.0% of retail ecommerce sales and 5.1% of total retail sales this year, according to eMarketer estimates. In China, 49.7% of retail ecommerce sales and 7.9% of all retail sales occurred via mobile devices in 2015.

– See more at: http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Four-Five-Retailers-Say-Mobile-Having-Major-Effect/1013374?ecid=NL1014#sthash.jvooZWi2.dpuf

Categories: Uncategorized

2015 Call Intelligence Report

December 23, 2015 Comments off
Categories: Uncategorized

Flexible Polymers Show How To Improve Daily Commute

December 22, 2015 Leave a comment
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Winter solstice 2015: Everything you need to know as people gather at Stonehenge for the shortest day of the year

December 22, 2015 Leave a comment

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Winter solstice 2015:

By , video by Robert Midgley

People gather at Stonehenge in Wiltshire on the Winter Solstice to witness the sunrise on the shortest day of the year (Eddie Mulholland/The Telegraph)

People gather at Stonehenge in Wiltshire on the Winter Solstice to witness the sunrise on the shortest day of the year (Eddie Mulholland/The Telegraph)

Why is Stonehenge important?

Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, is carefully aligned on a sight-line that points to the winter solstice sunset (opposed to New Grange, which points to the winter solstice sunrise, and the Goseck circle, which is aligned to both the sunset and sunrise).

Archaeologists believe it was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC and it is thought that the winter solstice was actually more important to the people who constructed Stonehenge than the Summer solstice.

The winter solstice was a time when cattle was slaughtered (so the animals would not have to be fed during the winter) and the majority of wine and beer was finally fermented.

The only other megalithic monuments in the British Isles to contain a clear, compelling solar alignment are Newgrange in County Meath, Ireland and Maeshowe situated on Mainland, Orkney, Scotland.

Both famously face the winter solstice sunrise.

What exactly is the winter solstice?

The December solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. This year the solstice occured on Tuesday December 22nd at 04:49 GMT (Universal time) with the sun rising over Stonehenge in Wiltshire at 08:04.

How long to wait until the longest day of the year 2016:

180 : 11 : 18 : 13
Days Hrs Mins Secs

The winter solstice happens every year when the Sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. In other words, when the North Pole is tilted furthest – 23.5 degrees – away from the Sun, delivering the fewest hours of sunlight of the year.

The Sun is directly overhead of the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere during the December solstice and is closer to the horizon than at any other time in the year, meaning shorter days and longer nights.

The shortest day of the year lasts for 7 hours 49 minutes and 41 seconds in Britain. This day is 8 hours, 49 minutes shorter than on June Solstice.

The day after the winter solstice marks the beginning of lengthening days, leading up to the summer solstice in June.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite is true. Dawn comes early, and dusk comes late. The sun is high and the shortest noontime shadow of the year happens there. In the Southern Hemisphere, people will experience their longest day and shortest night.

Keep up, Druids…

In 2009, a crowd wearing traditional costume, met at Stonehenge on December 21st morning to mark the rising of the sun on the shortest day of the year.

But unfortunately their calculations were slightly out meaning they had in fact arrived 24 hours prematurely.

Revellers celebrate the 2014 winter solstice at Stonehenge

The ’09 solstice fell at exactly 5.47pm that day, and because the sun had already set, the official celebrations should have taken place at sunrise the next day.

Arthur Pendragon during the winter solstice at Stonehenge in Wiltshire Photo: PA

English Heritage, who manage the ancient site in Wiltshire, decided to open the gates anyway and welcome those who had made a miscalculation.

A spokesman for English Heritage said at the time: “About 300 people turned up a day early. We took pity on them and opened the stone circle so they could celebrate anyway. They were a day early but no doubt had a wonderful time as well.

“People always assume that because the Summer solstice is the June 21st, the winter solstice will be the 21st December. They should always check because it does change.”

Pagan leader Arthur Pendragon said: “It is the most important day of the year for us because it welcomes in the new sun.

“There were hundreds of people there. If we’d celebrated on the 21st it would have been the right day but the wrong sun – when the whole point of the occasion is about welcoming in the new sun.”

Shouldn’t it be on December 21st?

While it more often than not falls on December 21st, the exact time of the solstice varies each year.

Sunrise between the stones at Stonehenge on the Winter Solstice in 1985 Photo: Mark Grant

In the Northern hemisphere the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, because it is tilted away from the sun, and receives the least amount of sunlight on that day.

However, the earliest sunset does not occur on the solstice, because of the slight discrepancy between ‘solar time’ and the clocks we use.

The shortest day of the year often falls on December 21st, but the modern calendar of 365 days a year – with an extra day every four years – does not correspond exactly to the solar year of 365.2422 days.

The solstice can happen on December 20, 21, 22 or 23, though December 20 or 23 solstices are rare.

The last December 23 solstice was in 1903 and will not happen again until 2303.

Why isn’t the earliest sunset on the year’s shortest day?

Solar noon – the time midway between sunrise and sunset is when the sun reaches its highest point for the day, but the exact time of solar noon, as measured by Earth’s spin, shifts.

A clock ticks off exactly 24 hours from one noon to the next but actual days – as measured by the spin of the Earth – are rarely exactly 24 hours long.

Winter Solstice by Barbara Hepworth (1970)

If the Earth’s spin is measured from one solar noon to the next, then one finds that around the time of the December solstice, the time period between consecutive solar noons is actually 30 seconds longer than 24 hours.

Therefore two weeks before the solstice, for example – the sun reaches its ‘noontime’ position at 11:52 a.m. local standard time.

Two weeks later – on the winter solstice – the sun reached that noontime position at 11:59 a.m. – seven minutes later.

The later clock time for solar noon also means a later clock time for sunrise and sunset. The result? Earlier sunsets before the winter solstice andincreasingly later sunrises for a few weeks after the winter solstice.

The exact date of earliest sunset varies with latitude but the sequence is always the same.

For the Northern Hemisphere the earliest sunset occurs in early December and the latest sunrise in happens in early January. This year earliest sunset was on 13 December and the latest sunrise on 31 December.

What does ‘solstice’ mean?

The term ‘solstice’ derives from the Latin word ‘solstitium’, meaning ‘Sun standing still’.

On this day the Sun seems to stand still at the Tropic of Capricorn and then reverses its direction as it reaches its southernmost position as seen from the Earth.

Some prefer the more teutonic term ‘sunturn’ to descibe the event.

There’s a Google’s Doodle…

To mark the solstice, Google has done a special Doodle of ice skaters in a snow globe that can be viewed by several countries, including most of Europe, Canada, Mexico, Colombia and Japan.

How can I best watch the solstice where I live?

There’s no need to travel out of town to see the sunrise.

Photo: http://sztanko.github.io/

This handy website shows the streets in cities around the world where you can get a clear view of the sun rising on the morning of the solstice.

How was/is the solstice celebrated around the world?

The December solstice marks the ‘turning of the Sun’ as the days slowly get longer. Celebrations of the lighter days to come have been common throughout history with feasts, festivals and holidays around the December solstice celebrated by cultures across the globe.

Saturnalia

Ther winter solstice festival Saturnalia began on December 17 and lasted for seven days in In Ancient Rome.

These Saturnalian banquets were held from as far back as around 217 BCE to honor Saturn, the father of the gods.

The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms.

The festival was characterised as a free-for-all when all discipline and orderly behaviour was ignored.

Wars were interrupted or postponed, gambling was permitted, slaves were served by their masters and all grudges and quarrels were forgotten.

Saturnalia by Antoine-Francois Callet (1741-1823) Photo: Oil on canvas. Musée du Louvre

It was traditional to offer gifts of imitation fruit (a symbol of fertility), dolls (symbolic of the custom of human sacrifice), and candles (reminiscent of the bonfires traditionally associated with pagan solstice celebrations).

The Saturnalia would degenerate into a week-long orgy of debauchery and crime – giving rise to the modern use of the term ‘saturnalia’, meaning a period of unrestrained license and revelry. A mock ‘king’ was even chosen from a group of slaves or convicts and was allowed to behave as he pleased for seven days (until his eventual ritual execution).

The poet Catullus considered it to be “the best of days.”

Feast of Juul

The Feast of Juul (where we get the term ‘Yule’ from at this time of year) was a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia at the time of the December solstice.

People would light fires to symbolise the heat and light of the returning sun and a Juul (or Yule) log was brought in and dropped in the hearth as a tribute the Norse god Thor.

The Yule Log often was an entire tree, carefully chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony and sometimes, the largest end of the log would be placed into the fire hearth, while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room.

The Yule log is introduced to the proceedings

The log would be lit from the remains of the previous year’s log which had been carefully stored away and often slowly fed into the fire through the Twelve Days of Christmas. Tradition dictated that the re-lighting process was carried out by someone with clean hands.

The log was burned until nothing but ash remained. The ashes were then collected and either strewn on the fields as fertilizer every night until Twelfth Night or kept as a charm and or as medicine.

A piece of the log was kept as both a token of good luck and as kindling for the following year’s log.

French peasants believed that if the ashes were kept under the bed, they would protect the house against thunder and lightning. The present-day custom of lighting a Yule log at Christmas is believed to have originated in the bonfires associated with the feast of Juul.

Yalda

Yalda or Shab-e Chelleh (‘night of forty’) is an Iranian festival celebrated on the “longest and darkest night of the year,” i.e. the night of the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice.

Every year, on December 21st, Iranians celebrate the arrival of winter, the renewal of the sun and the victory of light over darkness on Yalda Night.

Ancient Iranians believed that the dawning of each year is marked with the re-emergence or rebirth of the sun, an event which falls on the first day of the month of Dey in the Iranian calendar (December 21).

On this day, the sun was salvaged from the claws of the devil, which is represented by darkness, and gradually spread its rays all over the world to symbolize the triumph of good over evil.Family members get together (most often in the house of the eldest member) and stay awake all night long in Yalda.

Photo: Saman Aghvami

Pomegranate, watermelon and dried nuts are served as a tradition and classic poetry and old mythologies are read in the gathering.

It is believed that eating watermelons on the night of Chelleh will ensure the health and well-being of the individual during the months of summer by protecting him from falling victim to excessive heat or disease.

In Khorasan, there is a belief that whoever eats carrots, pears, pomegranates, and green olives will be protected against the harmful bite of insects, especially scorpions. Eating garlic on this night protects one against pains in the joints.

Getting a ‘Hafez reading’ from the book of great Persian poet Shamsu d-Din Muhammad Hafez-e Shirazi is also practiced.

Another custom performed in certain parts of Iran on the night of Chelleh involves young engaged couples. The men send an edible arrangement containing seven kinds of fruits and a variety of gifts to their fiancees on this night.

In some areas, the girl and her family return the favour by sending gifts back for the young man.

Central Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and some Caucasian states such as Azerbaijan and Armenia share the same tradition as well and celebrate Yalda Night annually at this time of the year.

Santo Tomas in Guatemala

December 21 in St Thomas’s Day in the Christian calendar. In Guatemala on this day, Mayan Indians indulge in the ritual known as the Palo Volador, or “flying pole dance”.

Three men climb on top of a 50-foot pole as one of them beats a drum and plays a flute. The other two men wind a rope attached to the pole around one foot and jump.

Mayan Indians take part in the Palo Volador in Guatemala Photo: Alamy

If they land on their feet, it is believed that the sun god will be pleased and that the days will start getting longer.

The ancient Incas celebrated a special festival to honour the sun god at the time of the December solstice.

In the 16th century ceremonies were banned by the Roman Catholics in their bid to convert the Inca people to Christianity.

A local group of Quecia Indians in Cusco, Peru, revived the festival in the 1950s. It is now a major festival that begins in Cusco and proceeds to an ancient amphitheatre a few miles away.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Marketer’s Guide to Facebook

December 21, 2015 Leave a comment

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Marketer's Guide to Facebook

The Marketer’s Guide to Facebook

Written by Dillon Baker
Image by Vetra Kori
DECEMBER 4TH, 2015

https://contently.docalytics.com/v/contently-ultimate-guide-to-facebook

And read this:

THE FACEBOOK EPOCH

I’m fond of saying that few companies are as underrated as Facebook is, especially in Silicon Valley. Admittedly, it seems strange to say such a thing about a $245 billion company with a trailing 12-month P/E ratio of 88, but that is Wall Street sentiment; in the tech bubble many seem to simply assume the company is ever on the brink of teetering “just like MySpace”, never mind the fact that the social network pioneer barely broke 100 million registered users, less than 10% of the number ofactive users Facebook attracted in a single day late last month. Or, as more sober minds may argue, sure, Facebook looks unstoppable today, but then again, Google looked unstoppable ten years ago when social seemingly came out of nowhere: surely the Facebook killer is imminent!

Actually, I don’t think so: I believe the Age of Facebook has only just begun, and to truly understand why, you have to start with Microsoft back in the 80s.

THE PC AND INTERNET EPOCHS

I wrote last year in The State of Consumer Technology at the End of 2014 that there have been three epochs in consumer technology: the PC, the Internet, and Mobile. It’s important to note, though, that the PC and Internet epochs are interrelated. Specifically, the latter was built on top of the former.

In the case of the PC, Microsoft’s dominance was captured by their iconic mission statement: A computer on every desk and in every home, running Microsoft software. And they succeeded! Moreover, those computers didn’t just run Microsoft software, they also supported an entire ecosystem of 3rd party software developers, systems integrators, OEMs, and more. Windows was a true platform: the company made billions, but, as their executives bragged repeatedly, that number was only a fraction (usually about a quarter) of the money generated by the ecosystem as a whole.

The consumer Internet was a part of this ecosystem: through the 90s and into the 00s all of those desks and houses added first dial-up and then, more importantly, broadband connections to the Internet, setting the stage for Google, the winner of the second epoch. The Internet was infinitely vast, but Google search, by virtue of relying on links — the very structure of the web itself — not only scaled with the web but actually became stronger and more effective the larger the web became.

Still, Google’s dominance was gated by the platform it operated on top of. This limitation had two forms: the first was the total number of PCs, the active number of which is measured in the hundreds of millions, and the second was the way in which users interacted with their PCs: with intent. People use PCs because they have a reason to use them, and Google’s traditional focus on search advertising is a particularly good fit in that regard: search ads are so valuable to advertisers precisely because the user’s intent is known.

It may seem odd to view either of these as limitations, particularly a decade ago when, per my observation above, many assumed the company would rule the Internet forever. But, over the last several years, two things have happened to make Google’s natural habitat of the web seem likerelatively small potatoes.

ANDROID AND THE MOBILE EPOCH

The third epoch, as I noted, is mobile. But rather than being measured in the hundreds of millions, mobile users are measured in the billions. And, to Google’s credit, they saw mobile’s importance far earlier than their Internet peers: the company bought Android in 2005, and even more impressively, pivoted the entire project away from the Blackberry imitator it was originally designed to be into an iPhone alternative. And, in what was a masterstroke at the time, the company made it free, helping to assure its adoption by OEMs desperate to compete with Apple and, over time, jump starting an ecosystem that in user numbers dwarfs even Microsoft’s.

I have said and continue to think that making Android free was one of the smartest strategic moves any tech company has ever made. As Bill Gurley noted in a prescient 2011 post:

AdWords is an highly respectable castle, and Google would clearly want to put a “unbreachable moat” around it. Warren himself is on record suggesting that Google’s moat is pretty good already. But where could you extend the moat? What are the potential threats to Google’s castle? Basically, any product that stands between the user and Google and has the potential to distract the choice of search destination is a threat…

Android, as well as Chrome and Chrome OS for that matter, are not “products” in the classic business sense. They have no plan to become their own “economic castles.” Rather they are very expensive and very aggressive “moats,” funded by the height and magnitude of Google’s castle. Google’s aim is defensive not offensive. They are not trying to make a profit on Android or Chrome. They want to take any layer that lives between themselves and the consumer and make it free (or even less than free). Because these layers are basically software products with no variable costs, this is a very viable defensive strategy. In essence, they are not just building a moat; Google is also scorching the earth for 250 miles around the outside of the castle to ensure no one can approach it. And best I can tell, they are doing a damn good job of it.

It’s only now that the downside of this approach is coming into focus for Google: its scorched earth Android strategy prevented anyone from making Microsoft-type money from Android the platform — and “anyone” includes Google. Even that would be ok, though, were Google to replicate its PC-era positioning as the front-door to the Internet, but that is how we get to Facebook.

THE MOBILE MARKET

Before he moved his blogging to Twitter, Marc Andreessen wrote a post on Product/Market Fit. Of those three words, though, the one that matters more than anything is market. Andreessen wrote:

If you ask entrepreneurs or VCs which of team, product, or market is most important, many will say team…On the other hand, if you ask engineers, many will say product. This is a product business, startups invent products, customers buy and use the products…Personally, I’ll take the third position — I’ll assert that market is the most important factor in a startup’s success or failure.

Why?

In a great market — a market with lots of real potential customers — the market pulls product out of the startup. The market needs to be fulfilled and the market will be fulfilled, by the first viable product that comes along. The product doesn’t need to be great; it just has to basically work. And, the market doesn’t care how good the team is, as long as the team can produce that viable product. In short, customers are knocking down your door to get the product; the main goal is to actually answer the phone and respond to all the emails from people who want to buy. And when you have a great market, the team is remarkably easy to upgrade on the fly.

Mobile is a great market. It is the greatest market the tech industry, or any industry for that matter, has ever seen, and the reason why is best seen by contrasting mobile with the PC: first, while PCs were on every desk and in every home, mobile is in every pocket of a huge percentage of the world’s population. The sheer numbers triple or quadruple the size, and the separation is increasing. Secondly, though, while using a PC required intent, the use of mobile devices occupies all of the available time around intent. It is only when we’re doing something specific that we aren’t using our phones, and the empty spaces of our lives are far greater than anyone imagined.

Into this void — this massive market, both in terms of numbers and available time — came the perfect product: a means of following, communicating, and interacting with our friends and family. And, while we use a PC with intent, what we humans most want to do with our free time is connect with other humans: as Aristotle long ago observed, “Man is by nature a social animal.” It turned out Facebook was most people’s natural habitat, and by most people I mean those billions using mobile.

FACEBOOK’S ALIGNED ADVERTISING

Keep in mind the second part of Google’s dominance: it wasn’t simply that they were the front-door to the Internet, but also that their business model, search ads specifically, was perfectly aligned with how PCs were used — with intent. That allowed Google to gradually come to dominate direct response advertising, which is all about generating immediate sales or leads. Direct response advertising, though, is only between 10 to 15 percent of all advertising; as I noted in Peak Google, far more money is spent on brand advertising:

The idea behind brand advertising is to build “affinity” among potential customers. For example, a company like Unilever will spend a lot of money to promote Axe or Dove, but the intent is not to make you order deodorant via e-commerce. Rather, when you’re rushing through the supermarket and just need to grab something, the idea is that you’ll gravitate to the brand you have developed an affinity for. And once a customer has picked a brand, they’re loyal for years. That adds up to a lot of lifetime value, which is why consumer-packaged goods companies, telecom companies, car companies, etc. are among the biggest brand advertisers.

Brand advertising is a bit of a mysterious thing — the biggest sign that it works is that when companies don’t invest in it sales suffer — but at its core it is about engaging potential customers in the empty spaces when they aren’t too focused on any one thing, and thus more receptive to formation of subconscious affinities. There have traditionally been few better places to do brand advertising than TV: it offers a captive audience at scale that is in a laid back state of mind, not an active one. Advertising on TV, though, is in serious trouble: first came DVRs, and then subscription services, and, perhaps more importantly, that device in your pocket ever tempting you to do what is most natural: connect to others.

To be clear, all of the brand advertising money on TV will go somewhere; the U.S. has had about the same amount of advertising — between 1.1% and 1.4% of GDP — for as long as we’ve been measuring. And, what better place for that advertising to go than to an app that, more than any other, fills the empty spaces in people’s days?

To be sure, people don’t only use Facebook: Instagram is hugely popular, as is messaging. And, unsurprisingly Facebook has acquired the former and the biggest player in the latter (WhatsApp); I say “unsurprisingly” because here Facebook is following Google’s playbook as well: the former nailed search, but “borrowed” the concept for AdWords from Overture, acquired Applied Semantics to create AdSense, acquired YouTube, and, as noted above, Android. The company has a brilliant acquisition record (Motorola notwithstanding), and, in my estimation, created a model that ought to be followed: get your core right and acquire what you need to augment it. Facebook is doing the exact same thing.

WHY FACEBOOK IS UNDERRATED

This, then, is why I think Facebook is underrated: a company’s potential is first and foremost measured by its market, and Facebook’s potential market is, when you consider both sheer numbers and time spent, an order of magnitude greater than the PC-based Internet market ever was. Then, on top of that, you increasingly have brand advertising dollars — also an order of magnitude more than direct response dollars — looking for somewhere to go other than TV, and it just so happens that Facebook is the perfect brand advertising platform.

The company has the right set of products in the right market at the right time.Notice that I have barely touched on the product or team at all, because, as Andreessen noted, market matters most. But Facebook is in very good shape on those two points as well; while I get that many in tech don’t use Facebook much — how many of us spent our younger years trying to get away from friends and family? — it is dominant for the vast majority of the population, and not just in the U.S.: here in Asia the app is used for not only friends and family but also professional connections, business pages, and even e-commerce (I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Asia also happens to be mobile first to a far greater degree than the U.S. as well). More impressively, no matter Facebook’s alleged struggles with youth, the reality is the company is part of the fabric of the Internet: you may not like email, but you have an email address, and you could say a similar thing about Facebook. If anything the fact some don’t like the product yet use it anyway is a testament to just how strong it is. And for everyone else there is Instagram and Messenger (or, in the developing world, WhatsApp).

To be sure, Facebook won’t completely own the market: I’m bullish on Snapchat, for one, and Google is probably best placed to harvest whatever advertising money is left to be made on the web. But at least to this point Facebook has given no indication that they won’t own a big chunk of this massive market opportunity: their team’s disciplined execution, led by Mark Zuckerberg, is among the most impressive I’ve ever seen.

FACEBOOK AND THE PLATFORM SIREN CALL

There is one more curious acquisition Facebook has made, and that is Oculus Rift. Zuckerberg said at the time:

Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. For the past few years, this has mostly meant building mobile apps that help you share with the people you care about. We have a lot more to do on mobile, but at this point we feel we’re in a position where we can start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences.

I’ve long argued that the shift to mobile gave Facebook no choice but to abandon its platform pretensions, and that it was the best possible thing that could have happened to the company. To be an ad company is inherently incompatible with being a platform company: the latter requires letting others share the spotlight — the same spotlight you want to sell to advertisers. Indeed, Google on the Internet has never been a platform either.

Platforms, though, are tech’s most potent siren call. All companies — and perhaps more accurately, all founders — wish to build a dominant one, but their construction is the most difficult endeavor in the industry. Windows remains the ideal: Microsoft made billions, and crucially, so did everyone else.Apple is making even more than Microsoft ever did — see the bit about the size of the mobile market above — but perhaps not doing as good a job as they could sharing the proceeds with their ecosystem. Google, meanwhile, has their platform, but barely anything to show for it from a profit perspective, at least directly. And now, perhaps, Facebook has the seeds of their own platform: the company has learned so much from Google, to their immense benefit; it will be fascinating to see what lessons they end up applying to Oculus.

Not that it matters for now, anyways: the truth is my list of epochs was incomplete: first came the PC, and on top of the PC was the Internet. Now we are on the mobile era, and on top of mobile is, well, Facebook. They are their own epoch, a reality that cannot be underrated.

Categories: Uncategorized

Profiles of Local Consumer Commerce December 2015 Insights from 12 Billion Transactions in 15 U.S. Metro Areas

December 21, 2015 Leave a comment

 

Click to access jpmc-institute-local-commerce-report.pdf

Executive Summary New research from the JPMorgan Chase Institute shows that the year-to-year growth of consumers’ everyday spending on most goods and services in 15 major U.S. metropolitan areas has slowed dramatically, from 5 percent in the second quarter of 2014 to 0.5 percent in the comparable period in 2015. This slowdown in everyday spending growth is one of several puzzling signals in the data on the U.S. economy. Gross domestic product has increased every quarter except for Q1 2014 in the past four years, but in fits and starts. Unemployment is down and corporate profits have largely been solid. In real terms, retail sales have also grown every quarter since the 2009 recession, though inconsistently and at a slowing rate. Within the sector, spending growth has differed significantly by category. For example, auto sales have grown strongly in recent months, but several big chains and other merchants are forecasting a tough 2015 holiday season. A new, powerful data asset—the JPMorgan Chase Institute “Profiles of Local Consumer Commerce”— allows us to shed light on these ambiguous indicators. With this new data set, we can analyze important characteristics of the transactions between consumers and businesses at the point of sale and at the neighborhood, city, and metropolitan-area levels. In this initial report, we use these data to explore the marked 4.5 percentage point slowdown in the growth of local consumer commerce between Q2 2014 and Q2 2015. Specifically, we identify the contribution of different consumer and business segments to this slowdown. -4.5pp 5.0% 15 Metro Area Local Consumer Commerce YOY Growth Q2 2014 Q2 2015 0.5% Age How do older and younger consumers spend dierently? Income Does spending grow more quickly for higher income consumers or lower income consumers? Business Size Do large businesses contribute more to spending growth than Small and Medium Enterprises? Consumer Residence Do consumers who live in the same area as a business spend more or less than those who live farther away? Product Type How does spending dier across durable goods, nondurable goods, and services? 15 Cities 12.4 Billion Debit & Credit Card Transactions 34 Months October 2012 to July 2015 48 Milli

Categories: Uncategorized

What Just Happened in Solar Is a Bigger Deal Than Oil Exports

December 18, 2015 Leave a comment

 

Photographer: Jacob Kepler/Bloomberg
ENERGY

The impact: $73 billion in new investment in the U.S.

December 17, 2015 — 5:21 AM PST

The clean-energy boom is about to be transformed. In a surprise move, U.S. lawmakers agreed to extend tax credits for solar and wind for another five years. This will give an unprecedented boost to the industry and change the course of deployment in the U.S.

The extension will add an extra 20 gigawatts of solar power—more than every panel ever installed in the U.S. prior to 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). The U.S. was already one of the world’s biggest clean-energy investors. This deal is like adding another America of solar power into the mix.

The wind credit will contribute another 19 gigawatts over five years. Combined, the extensions will spur more than $73 billion of investment and supply enough electricity to power 8 million U.S. homes, according to BNEF.

“This is massive,” said Ethan Zindler, head of U.S. policy analysis at BNEF. In the short term, the deal will speed up the shift from fossil fuels more than the global climate deal struck this month in Paris and more than Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan that regulates coal plants, Zindler said.

Data Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

This is exactly the sort of bridge the industry needed. The costs of installing wind and solar power have dropped precipitously—by more than 90 percent since the original tax credits took effect—but in most places coal and natural gas are still cheaper than unsubsidized renewables. By the time the new tax credit expires, solar and wind will be the cheapest forms of new electricity in many states across the U.S.

The tax credits, valued at about $25 billion over five years, will drive $38 billion of investment in solar and $35 billion in wind through 2021, according to BNEF. The scale of the new projects will help push costs down further and will stimulate new investment that lasts beyond the extension of the credits.

Data Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

Few people in the industry expected a five-year extension. Stocks soared. SolarCity, the biggest rooftop installer, surged 34 percent yesterday. SunEdison, the largest renewable-energy developer, climbed 25 percent, and panelmaker SunPower increased 14 percent.

Congress is expected to vote by the end of this week on the tax credits as part of a broader budget deal that also lifts the 40-year-old ban on U.S. oil exports. Oil producers have lobbied for years to lift the ban, but it isn’t likely to significantly affect either consumption of oil or deployment of renewables. Leaders from both parties reached an agreement on the bill late Tuesday.

The 30 percent solar tax credit was set to expire next year and will now extend through 2019 before tapering to 10 percent in 2022. The wind credit had expired at the end of 2014, and the extension will be retroactively applied from the start of 2015 through 2019, declining in value each year.

Wind power has had an especially tumultuous relationship with U.S. lawmakers, who have kept the industry’s credits alive through a disruptive ping-pong game of short-term extensions every year or two. “You open manufacturing plants and then you close them. And then you open them and you close them,” BNEF’s Zindler said. “It’s economically inefficient. This will give them a good five-year line of sight on what the market will look like, and that’s really important.”

Watch Next: How the Energy Market Could Shift in 2016

Power Struggle: How the Energy Market Could Shift in 2016
Categories: Uncategorized

If you thought deadly water pollution was only a ‘Third World’ problem…read on!

December 17, 2015 Leave a comment

 

Water crisis in Flint Michigan declared public health emergency

Officials have declared a health emergency in Flint, Michigan, due to high lead content in the water.

MSHCH

Last Updated Oct 2, 2015 1:47 PM EDT

A public health emergency has been declared in cash-strapped Flint, Michigan, after tests showed the city’s water supply is causing elevated levels of lead in children, following months of complaints about the smell and taste.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced Friday that the state will spend $1 million to buy water filters and immediately test water in public schools in Flint. He also announced expanded health exposure testing, continued free water testing, and quicker steps to ensure that water from the Flint River is effectively treated.

The problems arose after the city broke away from Detroit’s water system in 2014 and began taking water from the Flint River to save money, pending the completion of a new regional pipeline in 2016.

On Thursday, the Genesee County health department declared a public health emergency, recommending that people not drink the water unless it has been filtered and tested to rule out elevated levels of lead. More steps will be announced Friday.

County Commissioner Brenda Clack told residents that infants and children should not use the water coming from the taps in the city of Flint.

“Individuals who have respiratory conditions should not use the water, pregnant women should not use the water – it’s imperative that they not use the water,” she urged.

The problem: Although the river water is treated, it is corrosive and releasing lead from old plumbing in thousands of homes.

A coalition of residents and national groups petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to order the state to reconnect Flint to Detroit water.

“As evidenced by the ongoing poisoning of the children of Flint, it’s time for the EPA to take immediate action to provide us with a safe water source,” LeeAnne Walters, a Flint parent and member of the Water You Fighting For group, said Thursday.

Flint, 60 miles north of Detroit, is among a number of communities that have complained about the rising cost of Detroit’s water and sewerage service, which serves about 4 million people in southeastern Michigan. It opted to temporarily use the Flint River until a new line to Port Huron opens in 2016 at an annual cost of $12.5 million.

The decision to break away from the Detroit system was made while a Snyder-appointed emergency manager was running the long-struggling city, which had reached a financial crisis.

“In terms of a mistake, what I would say is we found there are probably things that weren’t as fully understood when that switch was made,” the governor said Wednesday.

His comments marked a significant shift. In July, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, Brad Wurfel, recommended home tests but added: “Anyone who is concerned about lead in the drinking water in Flint can relax.”

Residents are unhappy with the taste, smell and appearance of water from the Flint River and have reported rashes, hair loss and other health concerns that they attribute to it. A General Motors plant stopped using the water because it was causing excessive rust.

Despite the complaints, city officials had said state tests showed the water met federal safety guidelines.

But in September, Virginia Tech researchers released a report saying Flint’s water was creating a health threat in old homes that have lead pipes or pipes fused with lead solder. And doctors last week reported high levels of lead in local children’s blood samples, also blaming water pipes.

Flint officials say they know which homes have risky pipes but that the information is on about 45,000 index cards and difficult to retrieve.

The city is now telling residents to use only cold water for drinking, cooking and making baby formula, and recommending they use the certified filters. The General Motors Foundation, the local United Way and others have given at least $105,000 to buy filters for 5,000 residents.

“It’s our intention to begin the distribution of those as soon as possible,” Genesee County Health Officer Mark Valacak said. “This community always comes together no matter what the challenge, and this is yet another challenge but we are fortunate in having a number of community members who have come to the forefront.”

Categories: Uncategorized

One very simple thing we can all do to bring jobs back to the United States? Sign me up.

December 15, 2015 Leave a comment

(BLOGMASTER’S NOTE: As many of you readers of this blog know, my company AM4U Inc (https://www.am4u.com) has a technology that enables US and EU retailers and Brands to make their active apparel and textiles at home again at higher profits than they do now in low labor cost countries. Please support AM4U Inc by sending this post to all your friends,

Thanks Bud Robinson co-founder of AM4U and watch these videos:

 

Thomson ReutersAnd read this post from Reuters:
DECEMBER 14, 2015
Brandon Weber By Brandon Weber

This holiday season, if you’re buying gifts for people, you might have to endure, at some point … ahem. This:

Holiday shopping can be a grind. But even though you’re busy, there’s an admirable reason to stop and think for a moment about what you’re buying.

A lot of what you see in the mall or online is made in other countries, often in subpar working conditions. But you have a choice.

If we try to find just a few more American-made items, it can mean so much for people in this country.
Jobs. Employment. Wages for your neighbors.

This magical button delivers Upworthy stories to you on Facebook:

One of the reasons the recession was so hard to rebound from is that we’ve lost so many of the good-paying jobs to outsourcing — that is, sending jobs overseas. When that happens, other jobs go with them.

It’s not just the widget-makers who lose their jobs. The surrounding communities do, as well.

The local grocer, and hairstylist, and pub, and restaurants, and lawyers, and dentists … all kinds of jobs disappear when factories close and move overseas.
Many of the white-collar jobs that support manufacturing also go.

I’ve lived in Michigan for over 25 years, and when auto suppliers or even automakers close their doors, this is exactly the effect.

When jobs move overseas, the surrounding neighborhoods and communities are drained of their economic lifeblood.

“OK, smart guy, what do you propose to do about that?”

It turns out it’s not that hard to make a difference. It could be as simple as buying one more American-made item for every hundred purchases you make. Just one.

Yes, it really is that simple.

The folks from the Million Jobs Project, an organization trying to raise awareness about this concept, have consulted with economists who say that all it takes to get jobs going again is for each of us to spend 5% more on American-made goods. When you fit that into your holiday shopping, that likely amounts to just one gift.

Where can you find American-made goods?

The website for the Million Jobs Project has a list of goods still made here.
Here’s how you can make a difference, as explained in these videos  https://www.youtube.com/watch?

v=4FrGxO2Fn_Mhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VW_9UDhaC4&index=4&list=PL6-7JyTp2U99aY89liuZ3wzmlP0tZqX4k

 

“Out of 100 purchases you make, maybe 20 of those are already made in the U.S., and all you need to do is buy one more American made thing. That’s 5%. Just one more thing.”
Not much to it.

I’m in. You?

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management

December 13, 2015 Leave a comment

 

Gartner

4 August 2015 ID:G00277054
Analyst(s): Chris Fletcher, Jason Daigler

VIEW SUMMARY

CRM lead management matures amid strong user interest and a more complex vendor environment. IT application leaders should work with business leaders to define both core and emerging B2B marketing requirements in this technology segment.

Market Definition/Description

This document was revised on 28 August 2015. The document you are viewing is the corrected version. For more information, see the Corrections page on gartner.com.

Lead management processes take in unqualified contacts and opportunities from a variety of sources, including Web registration pages and campaigns, direct mail campaigns, email marketing, multichannel campaigns, database marketing and third-party leased lists, social for CRM and social media, and tradeshows. The output of lead management processes — qualified, scored, nurtured, augmented and prioritized selling opportunities — are handed off to direct, indirect or e-commerce sales channels for action and closure. Lead management integrates business process and technology to close the loop between marketing and direct or indirect sales channels, and to drive higher-value opportunities through improved demand creation, execution and opportunity management. CRM lead management applications are primarily implemented to support the sale of considered purchases. A considered purchase is any product or service that represents a significant investment; that requires research or involves a complex product/service; or that has a strong emotional or business affinity for the prospect. These are primarily, but not exclusively, B2B or business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) business models.

A lead management product can be delivered as a stand-alone lead management technology, or as a set of lead management functionalities that is part of a customer relationship management (CRM), sales force automation (SFA), multichannel campaign management (MCCM), integrated marketing management, marketing resource management (MRM), or email marketing application. Functionality can be provided as a SaaS service, or as an on-premises application.

Magic Quadrant

Figure 1. Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management
Figure 1.Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

Vendor Strengths and Cautions

Act-On

Act-On is a Niche Player and a new entrant in the 2015 Magic Quadrant. Act-On is a marketing automation product targeted at small or midsize businesses (SMBs), and primarily supports B2B and B2B2C business models. The company has closed several venture capital funding rounds, including approximately $40 million in 2014; Gartner estimates 2014 revenue to be approximately $30 million. Act-on has 85% of its customers in North America.

Strengths
  • Product functionality: Act-On’s customers gave the platform high scores in several categories, including ease of use, product features and functionality, and ease of deployment. Product functionality includes support for content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO)/search engine marketing, and email marketing. Content management system (CMS) integration supports Drupal, Joomla, WordPress.com and others.
  • Time to value: References noted the relatively short time to value based on Act-On’s implementation model and ease of deployment. Act-On may also be an appropriate choice for the department of a larger organization or for single business unit implementations.
  • Pricing: Act-On’s pricing model is based on active contacts only, as compared with the total number of contacts or size of the database used by several other vendors. This is an appealing model for customers that have high volumes of inactive contacts in their database and are looking to reactivate them through automated nurture programs.
Cautions
  • Market size limitations: The majority of Act-On’s customers are in the SMB or midmarket range, and Act-On may not be an appropriate choice for companies with enterprise or midsize enterprise requirements. The company’s customers are primarily located in North America.
  • Single scoring models: Lead scoring capabilities are relatively simplistic and based on a single scoring model. The ability to use multiple scoring models throughout the buying process was in beta at the time of research.
  • Limited enterprise functionality: Act-On’s emphasis on ease of use and simplified processes may not be appropriate for larger organizations, and may limit some customers that are looking to implement more complex, large-scale global deployments.

Adobe

Adobe is a Challenger in this year’s Magic Quadrant, based on Campaign’s lead management functionality, global presence and partner ecosystem, B2B marketing capabilities, adjacent capabilities in campaign management and content management, and its strong position with marketing teams. Adobe Campaign is optimal for organizations that need to support both B2B and B2C business models, or that require lead management closely integrated with other Adobe assets.

Strengths
  • Technology and integration: Adobe Campaign is one of several products in Adobe Marketing Cloud and can support multiple lead management campaigns, across countries and languages, on a single instance. The solution supports multiple online and offline channels, including email, Web landing pages, call center and direct mail, social, search, mobile and video. Campaign integrates with Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Analytics, Adobe Target, and Adobe Marketing Cloud Core Services for Shared Assets and Profiles & Audiences. Campaign integrates with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce and SugarCRM.
  • Global presence: Adobe has a global presence, a broad partner ecosystem, and a strong base of users and partners in digital marketing. These assets are an important part of the Campaign value proposition, particularly with users that require integration with other Adobe assets. Campaign has an installed base of well-known brands in media, life sciences, financial services, high tech, communications and manufacturing, and in both B2B and B2C organizations.
  • Digital: Lead management is increasingly integrating with B2C technologies and business models as the lines between B2B and B2C blur. Adobe has done a better job than most vendors in this segment in terms of integrating its multiple technologies with Campaign; roadmap plans for 2015 include deeper integration with Adobe Profiles, Audience Manager, Target and Media Optimizer. Response Manager supports cross-channel revenue attribution leveraging transactional data flows from any system, including Adobe Analytics. Adobe Campaign can also share key performance indicators (KPIs) with Adobe Analytics, enabling Adobe Analytics to serve as the attribution solution.
Cautions
  • B2C focus: The majority of Campaign implementations support multichannel campaign management and B2C and B2B2C business models. Companies with B2B requirements should evaluate Campaign’s current and planned functionality against other vendor products in this Magic Quadrant.
  • Complexity and support: Reference users cited a complex development environment and user interface with Campaign, and Campaign’s ranking for ease of use lags when compared with the Leaders. Campaign also received lower-than-average scores for support and service, and for resource requirements.
  • Analytics and attribution: References ranked Campaign lower than the Leaders on its ability to support predictive analytics for lead management, and for its ability to support multichannel revenue attribution.

CallidusCloud

CallidusCloud is a Niche Player in this Magic Quadrant, providing basic lead management as part of CallidusCloud Lead to Money suite. CallidusCloud is known primarily for its Sales Performance Management (SPM) functionality. The vendor announced 2014 revenue of approximately $136 million and 22% year-over-year growth.

Strengths
  • SPM and sales focus: CallidusCloud’s focus on SPM and sales enablement with its customers ties in well with its B2B lead management messaging. CallidusCloud Marketing Automation supports SEO and email marketing, campaign management, A/B testing and lead generation.
  • Integrated functionality: Lead management is supported as part of CallidusCloud Marketing Automation, providing simpler implementation and eliminating the need for another product for CallidusCloud users. The product also integrates with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce and SugarCRM.
  • Partner management: CallidusCloud Marketing Automation supports lead management for indirect and channel sales models. Partners can access functionality including workflows, lead scoring, lead nurturing and the ability to create Web landing pages or run email campaigns.
Cautions
  • Callidus-centric: The lead management capability is an integral set of features within the Marketing Automation product, and is more suitable for companies that have implemented additional CallidusCloud products.
  • Complexity: Platform can be customized to support complex processes, but client inquiries indicate this often requires additional support from the vendor.
  • Basic functionality: Clients with complex lead management functional requirements should evaluate other vendors in the Magic Quadrant and compare those capabilities against the ones provided by CallidusCloud.

CRMnext

CRMnext is a Niche Player in the Magic Quadrant, supporting customers in India, Southeast Asia and the Middle East in financial services, banking, insurance, media and pharmaceuticals. CRMnext is privately held and has announced recent private equity investments. Gartner estimates 2014 revenue of approximately $50 million; CRMnext has several large customers, with support for as many as 35,000 users each.

Strengths
  • Scalability: CRMnext has several large customers that support an average of more than 1,500 active users on its implementations, and can be implemented on-premises or hosted. CRMnext supports both on-premises and SaaS implementations with the same codebase.
  • Vertical industry expertise: CRMnext is implemented in several large financial services and banking organizations, and supports complex lead management functionality specific to those industries.
  • Cost-effective: The CRMnext product provides cost-effective lead management for companies that have implemented the CRMnext solution and have functional lead management requirements that align with the core CRMnext product capabilities.
Cautions
  • Industry- and CRMnext-centric: CRMnext’s lead management capability is integrated with and dependent on the core CRMnext product; it is not a viable solution for companies that have not implemented CRMnext, or that have lead management requirements outside the scope of CRMnext’s targeted industries.
  • Limited reach: CRMnext is just beginning to build out sales and support coverage for North America and EMEA; its presence is currently limited to core markets in India, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
  • Partner ecosystem: CRMnext has historically lacked a strong technology and service provider ecosystem. During the past year, it has built out its partner resources and has several well-known partners that can provide services, but this offering is relatively new.

HubSpot

HubSpot is a Visionary and a new entrant in the 2015 Magic Quadrant; its marketing automation platform is used primarily by SMBs, in B2B and B2B2C business models. HubSpot has more than 13,000 customers in 90 countries, across several vertical industries. Twenty-one percent of HubSpot’s revenue is from customers outside the U.S.; HubSpot completed an initial public offering (IPO) in October 2014, and reported 2014 revenue of approximately $115 million and 49% growth.

Strengths
  • Customer base and partner network: HubSpot has a large customer base and more than 2,200 partners and value-added resellers in 65 countries. HubSpot also has a large social following and provides many forms of support for its customers, such as free knowledge bases and training classes. Reference customers gave HubSpot extremely high marks for support and service.
  • Growth: HubSpot has experienced significant growth in revenue, customers and employees.
  • Full-funnel solution: HubSpot is an integrated marketing automation solution that provides several additional features for generating leads, including functionality in the areas of blogs, landing pages, SEO and social media apps. These features allow HubSpot customers to extend the platform beyond just lead management. HubSpot may also be an appropriate choice for a department of a larger organization or for single business unit implementations.
Cautions
  • SMB and midmarket focus: Enterprise companies should weigh HubSpot’s company strategy and its focus on smaller organizations rather than on solutions that target the needs of the enterprise. Most product integrations are with other midmarket-focused products.
  • Integration requirements: Native HubSpot connectors are available for Salesforce and HubSpot CRM, but integrations with Magento, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Shopify, Sugar and others are provided by partners or third parties. Prospects should confirm that non-native integrations provide bidirectional integration with HubSpot and that support resources are available.
  • Limited lead augmentation and predictive analytics: HubSpot plans to release new lead augmentation features, but does not currently offer predictive scoring capabilities. This functionality was planned for availability after research for this Magic Quadrant closed; clients should confirm this capability with HubSpot, or through references. Reference customers gave the vendor lower scores for predictive analytics and lead scoring, relative to other categories.

IBM (Silverpop)

IBM (Silverpop) is a Leader in this Magic Quadrant for the first time, with a broad global presence and multiple marketing products that can support both lead management and campaign management requirements. IBM acquired Silverpop in 2014, which provides much of the core functionality used to address lead management requirements; additional marketing functionality can be provided through the IBM Marketing Solutions portfolio. Consider IBM’s lead management capabilities when you have complex data management and data segmentation requirements, need to support lead management through multiple channels, or require broad global support for implementations.

Strengths
  • Product breadth: IBM has multiple marketing assets it can bring to a client engagement, including IBM Leads and IBM Campaigns (based on the former Unica product), Tealeaf for marketing analytics, and WebSphere Commerce, in addition to its now core Silverpop product. Although these products represent a mix of technology stacks, deployment models and licensing models, companies prepared to integrate these solutions can augment Silverpop with other IBM technologies.
  • Silverpop platform: Silverpop provides a robust email marketing hub, a marketing database, interactive analytics, and (based on integration with Tealeaf or Digital Analytics) behavioral analytics. References noted that tools such as Silverpop Engage — in combination with Digital Analytics — are powerful and usable by end users, and that IBM Campaign’s segmentation capabilities can add functionality.
  • References: References gave IBM higher-than-average scores for multichannel attribution, customer journey mapping, lead scoring and digital marketing hub capabilities.
Cautions
  • Portfolio complexity: Gartner inquiries show that client companies are often confused about the feature/function overlap between IBM’s marketing products and which products to invest in for a given set of requirements. Clients should evaluate functionality requirements to understand which specific products will be required and what integration is available across these multiple technology platforms.
  • Mix of deployment and license models: Customers looking to deploy a lead management solution based on IBM products will, in most cases, have to deal with a mix of technology stacks, deployment models and licensing models. References gave IBM only average scores for ease of use and integration with other applications.
  • Messaging and reorganization: Recent naming changes for products and product portfolios have created some confusion, although a recent IBM reorganization to bring marketing, commerce and analytics together under one business unit seems to be bringing more consistency to its go-to-market messaging.

Marketo

Marketo is a Leader in this Magic Quadrant, with deep lead management functionality, short time to productivity and good customer growth. Marketo reported fiscal 2014 revenue of approximately $150 million, year-over-year growth of 56%, and 3,800 customers. The vendor has customers in technology, business services, financial services, media, life sciences and education, with a mix of approximately 70% to 30% between SMB and enterprise companies.

Strengths
  • Functionality/ease of use: Marketo references gave high marks to the vendor’s ease of use, product features and functionality, ease of deployment and resource requirements, and to its product roadmap and vision. New functionality announced early in 2015, included: Marketo Mobile Engagement, supporting customer and consumer behavior over mobile devices; and Ad Bridge, linking Marketo behavioral data with social ads and targeted display ads.
  • New markets and features: Marketo continues to be aggressive in adding new functionality, including new APIs for data exchange, SEO, predictive analytics and personalization. Marketo is also targeting and winning new B2C customers by adding campaign management functionality.
  • Ecosystem and partners: Marketo has an ecosystem of integrators and digital agencies, including Accenture Digital, Deloitte Digital, DigitasLBi and others, and technology partnerships with Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Salesforce and SAP hybris. Technology solutions include data integration partnerships with Acxiom, D&B, Hootsuite, Cisco WebEx and others.
Cautions
  • Competition: Marketo is one of the few pure-play lead management vendors left in the marketing automation market after multiple merger and acquisition (M&A) events in prior years. Gartner estimates that Salesforce users account for approximately 70% of Marketo’s customer base, meaning that Marketo and Salesforce both cooperate and compete in the market. Marketo also competes with other large vendors that have acquired lead management companies or technologies.
  • North American focus: More than 80% of Marketo’s revenue comes from the U.S.; companies with global lead management requirements should examine Marketo’s sales and support presence in regions where they have marketing requirements.
  • Evolving focus on B2C: Although Marketo is addressing and winning opportunities in the B2C campaign market, its focus on B2C is relatively new. Companies with B2C requirements should examine Marketo’s products and pricing specific to that business model, and examine its ability to scale and manage very large datasets compared with the capabilities provided by campaign management and database vendors.

Microsoft

Part of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM product line, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing is a Niche Player in this market. A separate product from Dynamics CRM, Dynamics Marketing is SaaS-based with updates twice per year. Dynamics Marketing was announced as a stand-alone marketing product in 2014 and is based on the MarketingPilot acquisition by Microsoft.

Strengths
  • Microsoft’s presence: Microsoft has a strong presence in CRM; Dynamics CRM has more than 40,000 customers and 4.4 million users, making it one of the most widely used products in the Magic Quadrant, and Dynamics CRM and Dynamics CRM Online were Leaders in the last published Magic Quadrant for SFA. Native connections between Dynamics CRM and Dynamics Marketing provide easy adoption for existing CRM customers.
  • Ecosystem and partnerships: Microsoft offers a strong ecosystem of complementary products for companies that choose Dynamics Marketing, including solutions for MRM, social marketing, sales collaboration and marketing analytics. Microsoft Azure Machine Learning can provide big data analytics, and a partnership with Thunderhead enables Dynamics Marketing customers to generate customer journey maps.
  • Competitive, transparent pricing: Microsoft offers a simple per-user, per-month price for all of Dynamics CRM. Microsoft’s pricing represents good value for an enterprise-level tool.
Cautions
  • Limited adoption: Dynamics Marketing entered the lead management market late, compared with its competitors, and has struggled to gain market share. Integration outside Microsoft Dynamics CRM requires the use of a Microsoft-provided software development kit, including integration to Salesforce. Companies using products other than Dynamics CRM should evaluate the cost of custom integration. Reference customers gave Microsoft low scores for its ability to integrate with other applications.
  • Language support: Dynamics Marketing currently provides support for 12 languages. Customers in the Asia/Pacific region should check support for their language and consider the cost of customization that may be needed for that support.
  • On-premises Dynamics customers: Whereas Dynamics CRM is offered in both a SaaS and on-premises delivery model, Dynamics Marketing is SaaS-only. Dynamics CRM customers using the on-premises version for data security or other mandated reasons will need to consider any internal complexity caused by storing lead management data in the cloud.

MMIT

MMIT is a Niche Player and a new entrant in the 2015 Magic Quadrant. Its 2Lead offering is primarily used by automotive importers and dealerships, which represent 95% of its customer base. Within the automotive space, 2Lead offers strong functionality and is widely used outside of North America — with approximately 70% of its customer base in Europe.

Strengths
  • Global reach: The 2Lead platform has been implemented in 34 languages. This results in not only a localized product for internal users, but also a higher quality of data cleansing when handling foreign addresses. 2Lead offers high-quality name cleansing and parsing for leads, with an understanding of regionalized naming conventions and address structures.
  • Lower cost of ownership: Reference clients for 2Lead reported a lower cost of ownership, relative to other competitors in this market.
  • Simplicity, functionality and support: 2Lead’s customers gave it high ratings in nearly every category, including ease of use, ease of deployment, product features and functionality, and support and service. 2Lead also gives customers access to additional purchased leads and the ability to augment existing leads with third-party sources that provide data such as maintenance records and mileage information.
Cautions
  • Smaller scale: As a smaller company, relative to others in the Magic Quadrant, MMIT may face challenges in maintaining feature parity with larger competitors that have more development resources.
  • Limited vertical exposure: 2Lead is highly targeted at the automotive industry. Of all the reference customers surveyed for other vendors in this Magic Quadrant, none mentioned MMIT as a considered vendor.
  • Lead workflow functionality: With 2Lead, lead workflow processes require custom scripting as opposed to the drag-and-drop workflows offered in some other platforms.

Oracle

Oracle is a Leader in this Magic Quadrant, based on Eloqua’s rich lead management feature set, its global and broad ecosystem of partners and digital agencies, and its growing roster of customers. Part of Oracle’s Marketing Cloud, Eloqua is broadening its target market to include B2C companies and integration with Oracle marketing assets.

Strengths
  • Product functionality: Eloqua provides a broad range of lead management functionality, including multichannel campaigns, lead scoring and analytics. References gave high grades for KPIs and dashboards, advanced analytics, multichannel attribution and marketing hub capabilities. New features include secure and centralized control of templated content for distributed marketing teams and business units, marketing project calendar capabilities, a mobile campaign manager capability and mobile access to prospect profile data.
  • Marketing Cloud: Oracle’s adjacent products in Marketing Cloud include Oracle Content Marketing, Oracle Social Relationship Management (SRM), Datalogix, Responsys and BlueKai. Oracle’s vision for cross-channel marketing now extends beyond B2B lead management as it highlights its capabilities with data management and its ability to leverage Responsys and BlueKai for multichannel consumer campaigns.
  • Global presence and ecosystem: Gartner estimates that more than 30% of Eloqua customers are outside of North America; Oracle is able to provide global sales and support. Oracle also has a strong ecosystem of partners (digital agencies and technology partners) that can provide services and technology add-ons for its Eloqua and Marketing Cloud products.
Cautions
  • Integration: Out-of-the-box integration of all of the Marketing Cloud products should not be assumed — references gave lower-than-average scores for integration with other applications. Customers requiring a marketing solution that will leverage functionality from products in the Marketing Cloud should evaluate the current and planned integration plans for products such as Responsys, BlueKai and Datalogix — as well as for commerce assets such as Oracle Commerce — with Eloqua.
  • Deployment and license models: As with other vendors that have acquired multiple marketing assets, Oracle has a mix of deployment, architecture and license models in its portfolio. Prospective customers should therefore evaluate and understand the implications (to their organization) of each product’s deployment/license model.
  • Cost and contracts: Eloqua is a feature-rich lead management product and its license costs usually reflect that; organizations evaluating Eloqua should compare its costs with those of other feature-rich products in this Magic Quadrant — as well as with lower-cost, but simpler products — and then match costs to their requirements. References gave lower-than-average scores to the sales and contract negotiation process.

Salesforce

Salesforce is a Challenger in the Magic Quadrant, based on Pardot’s combination of functionality and ease of use, its integration with Salesforce, and its ability to provide a single-vendor solution based on the leading SFA tool in the industry. Pardot is sold separately from Salesforce, but can augment its lead management capabilities with adjacent Salesforce technologies including Marketing Cloud, Sales Cloud, and Data.com, as well as through the platform and the AppExchange.

Strengths
  • Market presence and depth: More than 150,000 organizations use Salesforce for sales and CRM application functionality, giving Pardot an advantage over competitors due to its tight integration and ability to provide a single-vendor relationship. Pardot also has an advantage in competitive situations by virtue of it being the “in-house” solution, and Gartner client inquiries show a steady rise in the number of Pardot inquiries compared with its competitors.
  • Resources: Salesforce can provide additional marketing automation functionality through integration with Sales Cloud, Data.com and Marketing Cloud, as well as a robust partner ecosystem through the Salesforce AppExchange. Pardot can provide unlimited API calls to Salesforce, eliminating a potential cost factor compared with other solutions. Today, Pardot is a separate product within Sales Cloud — with its own lead management database and hosting platform — but Gartner expects that Pardot will become an integral part of the Sales Cloud application by the end of 2015.
  • Salesforce Engage functionality: Launched in April 2015, Salesforce Engage empowers sales reps to manage highly focused marketing campaigns, such as the ability to deploy campaigns from mobile devices. This functionality is beneficial to marketing departments, because it still allows for oversight through templates and permissions.
Cautions
  • Depth of advanced functionality: Reference customers scored Pardot lower for product features and functionality, and for product vision and roadmap. While integration with other applications is a strength, especially within the Salesforce ecosystem, companies desiring advanced lead management functionality should compare the Pardot feature set against those of its leading competitors and also consider the functionality available from the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
  • Integration with Marketing Cloud: Salesforce continues to work on the integration of Pardot with the Salesforce platform and Marketing Cloud. Companies that have, or plan to implement, Marketing Cloud applications should evaluate the level of out-of-the-box integration available between Pardot and other Salesforce applications and evaluate the roadmap for integration of the product lines.
  • Workflow limitations: Workflows and drip campaigns can be designed through a visual UI without code, but the ability to manage workflows and share them among business units is limited. Pardot workflows are not completely integrated into the CRM system and Salesforce has stated that further enhancement of its workflow capabilities is a 2015 roadmap item.

Salesfusion

Salesfusion is a Niche Player and a new entrant in the 2015 Magic Quadrant. Salesfusion is one of the smaller companies included this year, both in terms of revenue and number of employees.

Strengths
  • CRM integration: Salesfusion offers native, bidirectional integration with Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Infor CRM, SugarCRM, and Sage CRM.
  • Lead scoring and workflow functionality: The Salesfusion platform goes beyond scoring leads and assigning leads to different segments by allowing users a simple way to drill down into a lead to see what a particular score is made up of. The workflow functionality is also intuitive and easy to use.
  • Value: Salesfusion offers a full-featured platform for a simple base price per month, up to a certain number of contacts. The absence of additional maintenance or service fees makes the implementation costs easy to absorb. Reference customers gave Salesfusion high scores for the sales and contract processes associated with implementation.
Cautions
  • Technology advancement: IT leaders should gauge Salesfusion’s ability to improve its product functionality and scale with its lead management efforts. Reference customers gave the Salesfusion platform lower scores for its ease of use and product vision and roadmap.
  • International capabilities: Salesfusion offers native translation in English and French, whereas competitors offer several additional languages. As such, roughly 85% of Salesfusion’s revenue is from the U.S. and U.K.
  • Midmarket focus: Companies with revenue of more than $5 million are a good fit for Salesfusion’s platform, but midsize to large and enterprise companies should measure existing functionality and scalability against larger competitors.

SugarCRM

SugarCRM is a Niche Player in the market. The lead management functionality is an integrated part of the Sugar product. SugarCRM relies on internal resources and open source/partner development for product enhancement, and also partners with other lead management and marketing automation vendors.

Strengths
  • Value: Customers across multiple industries choose Sugar because of its relatively low cost and simple pricing — with a per-user, per-month model. Customers that do not have complex lead management requirements and that require a lower-cost solution frequently choose to use Sugar’s integrated lead management capability.
  • Flexible deployment models: On-premises, SaaS and hosted versions of the platform are all available. This offers SugarCRM some sales advantages for organizations that are hesitant to host lead data in the cloud.
  • International availability: Thirty-six percent of SugarCRM’s revenue comes from EMEA-based clients and 13% comes from the Asia/Pacific region. The Sugar platform is fully supported in 27 different languages, with additional translation packs developed by the SugarCRM community for more than 80 more languages.
Cautions
  • Basic functionality: Sugar offers basic lead management functionality; companies looking for more-advanced features should evaluate other vendors in this report. Some functionality requires integration with other systems or tools, such as lead acquisition through social channels, KPIs and scorecards, and deeper data analysis. Sugar offers a good set of APIs for integration, but limited native connections exist. Reference customers gave SugarCRM relatively low scores for lead management vision and product roadmap.
  • Basic lead scoring and visual workflows: Sugar offers only basic forms of lead scoring, and the visual workflow functionality in Sugar requires an add-on module. Version 7.6 includes advanced workflow, with a visual workflow designer tool, and also enhances the scoring and routing/nurturing capabilities of the core Sugar Enterprise and Ultimate offerings. Because Sugar 7.6 was released after the research cut-off date for this Magic Quadrant, prospects should speak with reference users to confirm functionality.
  • Midmarket and SMB focus: Most Sugar customers that use its lead management capability are in the SMB or midmarket space, and several of the integrations — such as those for CMSs — reflect that market segment. Companies with more complex lead management requirements should compare Sugar’s lead management capabilities with other solutions evaluated in this report.

Zoho

Zoho is a Niche Player with a lead management offering that is dependent on and integrated with Zoho CRM. Although its pricing model is attractive for some organizations, its lead management functionality is mostly appropriate for small organizations or for companies with limited financial resources. Gartner estimates Zoho’s CRM revenue at less than $50 million.

Strengths
  • Value: Lead management is a feature set of Zoho CRM and provides basic but cost-effective functionality. Zoho’s freemium pricing model is attractive for companies with limited budgets and provides a cost-competitive alternative for lead management.
  • Integration: Zoho CRM integrates with several Zoho applications, as well as with Microsoft Outlook and Exchange, and Google apps.
  • Global: Zoho CRM is supported in 15 languages and used by 35,000 companies, although these are predominantly companies with 10 or fewer users. Zoho claims 1,000 global channel partners that provide deployment and implementation services; Zoho provides free support for paid users; no-cost support is available for free users for an initial 30 days, with email support after that.
Cautions
  • Business model: While Zoho’s freemium pricing model is attractive for small companies, this also limits the vendor’s ability to actively sell its product or develop its partner channels.
  • SMB focus: Zoho continues to be a lead management option primarily for small organizations or for companies with limited financial resources.
  • CRM-centric functionality: Zoho’s lead management capabilities are dependent on and integrated with Zoho CRM. Companies that require bidirectional integration with CRM applications other than Zoho should examine offerings from other vendors covered in this Magic Quadrant.

Vendors Added and Dropped

We review and adjust our inclusion criteria for Magic Quadrants and MarketScopes as markets change. As a result of these adjustments, the mix of vendors in any Magic Quadrant or MarketScope may change over time. A vendor’s appearance in a Magic Quadrant or MarketScope one year and not the next does not necessarily indicate that we have changed our opinion of that vendor. It may be a reflection of a change in the market and, therefore, changed evaluation criteria, or of a change of focus by that vendor.

It should be noted that some vendor or product names have been changed since the 2014 Magic Quadrant. This section will therefore reflect the vendors that have been added or dropped as well as those vendors or technologies acquired by another vendor or renamed.

Added

  • Act-On
  • CRMnext
  • HubSpot
  • MMIT
  • Salesfusion

Dropped

  • Silverpop was acquired by IBM in 2014, and appears in this Magic Quadrant as IBM (Silverpop)

Other Vendors to Consider

Several vendors provide innovative or unique technology for marketing automation, digital marketing or CRM lead management, but do not meet the revenue criteria or the technology criteria for this year’s Magic Quadrant. Those vendors that do not appear in this year’s Magic Quadrant, but do provide some level of lead management capability, include (in alphabetical order) the following:

  • BySide (Made to Work)
  • Impartner (formerly TreeHouse Interactive)
  • Infor
  • InsideView
  • Lattice Engines
  • Sage
  • SAP
  • SAS
  • Teradata
  • Velocify

A broader list of marketing automation and digital marketing vendors can also be found in the “Gartner CRM Vendor Guide, 2015” and the “Gartner Digital Commerce Vendor Guide, 2015.”

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

Inclusion Criteria: Company

To be included in this Magic Quadrant, a vendor must demonstrate that it has:

  • Proven ability to deliver lead management application functionality as defined in the Inclusion Criteria: Technology section.
  • A minimum of 12 customers that have deployed its lead management application in a production implementation during the past 12 months.
  • A sales and customer support presence in a minimum of two of the following three regions: North America and Latin America, EMEA, Asia/Pacific.
  • Demonstrated corporate business viability; for example, by generating a minimum of $20 million in lead management revenue during the past year. Vendors that provide lead management as part of a feature within an application suite (such as CRM or MCCM) must generate a minimum of $20 million from licensing of the application suite.
  • An ecosystem of partners that can provide services or technology extensions such as system integration services, third-party applications, digital agency services or consulting and implementation services.

Inclusion Criteria: Technology

These criteria need to be a standard part of the vendor’s application and cannot depend on applications or functionality provided by partners, or on custom development or services (such as custom application development provided by the vendor’s professional services organization or a system integrator).

  • Multichannel Lead Management. The ability to provide lead management functionality for both inbound and outbound marketing initiatives. This includes, at a minimum, lead collection, analytics, augmentation, scoring, process management and nurturing across a minimum of three lead generation and lead management channels within a single campaign. Support of digital and nondigital channels within the same campaign is mandatory. Digital lead generation channels include websites, Web landing pages and microsites; e-commerce sites; email marketing; online webinar or conference services; video and interactive applications; and social sites. Traditional or offline lead management channels include presales or marketing qualification applications (such as inside sales or call and contact centers); print-on-demand services; direct mail marketing; tradeshows, seminars or events (in-person, physical events); and third-party database/lists.
  • Lead Aggregation/Lead Database. The ability to collect, store, execute on, import/export, analyze and report on leads. Lead input capabilities need to support both online real-time/near-time processes and offline, batch input of data. The vendor does not need to provide a database, but the data model and the ability to collect/source data that will be stored in the database is required. This functionality includes the ability to collect, store, analyze, and segment unqualified leads from campaign management applications, digital marketing applications, Web and e-commerce sites, and database and data management applications, and to feed those unqualified leads into the lead management application. This category also includes the ability to collect and build demographic and behavioral history in the lead management database for individual unqualified leads as they mature through the lead management application.
  • Analytics, KPIs and Business Intelligence. The ability to:
    • Leverage integration tools (such as APIs, XML and so on) to transfer data between applications — including both source applications (such as third-party data providers, referral systems and websites) and execution applications (such as SFA, contact center and email) — to use in closed-loop marketing analysis.
    • Generate operational and strategic KPIs sufficient to monitor and guide revenue generation, including the ability to provide revenue guidance and insight based on current lead volumes/quality.
    • Provide preconfigured reports, management and sales dashboards, metrics and KPIs as a standard (for example, not custom-designed) part of the application.
    • Monitor, access and report on data stored in the lead management application or in CRM/SFA applications to provide closed-loop marketing analytics.
    • Provide real-time graphical representation of data and metrics appropriate for marketing, sales and executive users.
    • Support or integrate with mobile devices used by customer-facing sales teams.
  • The vendor, or a vendor’s partner, must provide professional services and consulting that guide the user organization in the use of the analytics, KPIs and business intelligence that support continuous marketing improvement and lead management maturity.
  • Lead Process Management. The ability to:
    • Create lead management workflows or business process management rules — using a graphical workflow or business process tool or a nongraphical scripting tool — to create a lead management application that dynamically routes leads through the lead scoring, qualification, augmentation and distribution processes based on execution criteria (such as geography, estimated value and the status of prior process steps)
    • Dynamically pass leads to a sales execution system — such as SFA, partner relationship management (PRM), call/contact center application or digital commerce — on the basis of user-defined routing, scoring or qualification rules
    • Execute multiple lead management processes and workflows simultaneously within a single instance of the product
  • Lead Nurturing. The ability to:
    • Manage and control the lead life cycle from collection to conversion, including, at a minimum: maintenance (build a relationship for a longer-term sell); execution (sell to the client at appropriate later time); and removal of inactive leads from the database
    • Provide integration with Web content management systems (WCM) used to develop, store and maintain content within the context of lead-nurturing activities. Integration with WCM can be provided as an integral feature of the lead management product, or can be provided by a third-party vendor or partner.
  • Integration With Sales Applications. The ability to:
    • Support bidirectional integration with CRM/SFA applications (examples of these applications include Microsoft Dynamics CRM/Dynamics CRM Online, Oracle Sales Cloud, Salesforce, SAP CRM, and SugarCRM)
    • Pass qualified leads to a channel sales organization (such as value-added reseller, distributor, agent, broker or reseller) as an automatic function of the lead management process, and track the status of that lead automatically through integration with a CRM, SFA or PRM application
    • Integrate with a digital commerce or e-commerce application to dynamically pass a qualified prospect to an e-commerce site (in lieu of a direct or indirect salesperson) for closure
    • Support integration with a minimum of two CRM, PRM or digital commerce applications as a standard, documented and supported capability provided by the vendor
  • Lead Augmentation. The ability to:
    • Append missing or additional information to the lead from external, third-party sources (for example, missing email fields), and integrate and store this information into the lead management database and associate it with the appropriate lead or customer information
    • Provide integrated data cleansing capabilities to eliminate incomplete, redundant or duplicate lead information based on criteria set by the end-user organization
    • Augment or nurture a lead with additional collateral or value-added content — such as documents or PDFs, spreadsheets, videos or Web-based content — to increase the lead score and the probability to close. This capability can be provided as part of the product’s native capability, or through integration with a third-party tool or service provider’s product
  • Lead Scoring/Qualification. The ability to:
    • Create multiple lead qualification and scoring processes — based on criteria such as a campaign, product type, customer segment, estimated customer value, opportunity value or seasonal criteria — to execute multiple lead qualification and scoring processes simultaneously
    • Dynamically route those leads meeting qualification or scoring criteria to the next appropriate part of the lead management process
  • Integration, APIs and Templates. The ability to:
    • Integrate with third-party applications (for example, SFA, PRM, call/contact center applications and legacy applications) using published and supported APIs or integration interfaces
    • Integrate with social sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, as well as with major CRM, SFA, e-commerce, customer support, social, virtual event, marketing data, and customer management applications or services
    • Make packaged lead management templates available for line-of-business applications or for automation of cross-industry (horizontal) lead management functionality

Evaluation Criteria

Ability to Execute

Product/Service — Licensed or SaaS applications offered by the vendor that provide lead management functionality and integration with adjacent applications, data or services. This includes current product capabilities, feature sets, technology base, architecture and integration capabilities.

Overall Viability (Business Unit, Financial, Strategy, Organization) — The viability of the vendors overall financial strength, the financial and practical success of the business unit or company, and the likelihood of the business unit or company to continue selling, supporting and investing in the product, and to advance the state of the art in the company’s product portfolio.

Sales Execution/Pricing — Vendor’s sales and pricing, including all presales and sales activities. Responsiveness to customer or prospect requests for information, RFI/RFP activities and presales technical support. The ability of the vendor to marshal and coordinate required third-party resources, such as system integration or technology partnerships during presales and sales activities; the vendor’s execution during contract negotiation, RFP or quote responses, pricing and negotiation activities; and the overall effectiveness of the direct and indirect sales and sales management organization. Cost and pricing competitiveness as they relate to competitors with comparable capabilities, including the published list price of the vendor’s product (licensed or SaaS); any optional modules needed to meet the minimum product requirements defined above; annual maintenance fees, if any; and any required services, training, implementation fees, customization or related services.

Market Responsiveness/Record — The vendor’s ability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customer needs evolve and market dynamics change. This criterion also considers the vendor’s history of responsiveness.

The vendor’s strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of geographic regions outside the headquarters’ region, directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries as appropriate for that geography and market.

Marketing Execution — The vendor’s market awareness, market momentum, and market perception of leadership and innovation in lead management. The vendor’s ability to execute its own tactical and strategic marketing campaigns that support a growing customer base, and to create and extend its own brand as a lead management vendor and visionary.

Customer Experience — The availability and viability of the vendor’s internal customer service and support capabilities, including: support resources, systems, policy and global scope; external resources, including partnerships with global system integrators, consulting organizations and technology partnerships; and related internal or external resources such as third-party tools or consulting methodologies, customer-led social networking initiatives, and the availability of user groups and SLAs.

Operations — The vendor’s ability to meet its goals and commitments. Factors include the quality of the organizational structure — including skills, experiences, programs, systems and other vehicles that enable the organization to operate effectively and efficiently on an ongoing basis.

Table 1. Ability to Execute Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria

Weighting

Product or Service

High

Overall Viability

Medium

Sales Execution/Pricing

Medium

Market Responsiveness/Record

High

Marketing Execution

High

Customer Experience

High

Operations

Medium

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

Completeness of Vision

Market Understanding — Ability of the vendor to understand buyers’ needs and translate these needs into products and services. Vendors that show the highest degree of vision listen and understand buyers’ wants and needs and can shape or enhance those wants with their added vision.

Marketing Strategy — Ability of the vendor to develop and deliver a clear, differentiated set of messages consistently communicated throughout the organization and externalized through the website, advertising, customer programs and positioning statements.

Sales Strategy — Ability of the vendor to articulate and demonstrate the development of a selling strategy that leverages direct and/or indirect sales, marketing, customer support and service, or communication affiliates that extend the scope and depth of market reach, skills, expertise, technologies, services and the customer base. System integration, technology, application, strategy consulting and distribution partnerships are integral parts of the sales strategy.

Offering (Product Strategy) — A vendor strategy for product development and delivery that emphasizes market differentiation, functionality, methodology, time to market, competitive activity, technology and industry advances, as well as other relevant criteria that impact the customer experience and map to current and future requirements. Product strategy will also include: the company’s business model, such as the soundness and logic of the vendor’s underlying business proposition; its vertical or industry strategy, which will direct resources, skills and investment to meet the specific needs of individual market segments, users or vertical industry groups; and its global strategy, which will affect the ability of the company to meet the needs of a global customer base.

Business Model — The soundness and logic of the vendor’s underlying business model. Product strategy should align with the company’s business model and the value proposition it delivers to customers. The product license model (such as SaaS versus one-time license fee) should support the target market and use models that the vendor is targeting with its go-to-market strategy.

Vertical/Industry Strategy — The vendor’s strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of individual market segments, including vertical- or industry-specific markets, for its products. The vertical/industry strategy will direct resources, skills and investment to meet the specific needs of individual market segments, users or vertical industry groups; its global strategy will affect the ability of the company to meet the needs of a global customer base.

Innovation — Investment of financial, management and technology resources, expertise or capital in areas such as product development, sales and support infrastructure, third-party and partner relationships, or M&As. Such actions are intended to expand the scope, capabilities, or global presence of the company and its products for its customers.

Geographic Strategy — The vendor’s strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of geographies outside the “home” or native geography, either directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries, as appropriate for that geography and market.

Table 2. Completeness of Vision Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria

Weighting

Market Understanding

Medium

Marketing Strategy

Medium

Sales Strategy

Medium

Offering (Product) Strategy

High

Business Model

Medium

Vertical/Industry Strategy

Medium

Innovation

Medium

Geographic Strategy

Medium

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

Quadrant Descriptions

Leaders

Leaders in the CRM lead management market provide market-leading functionality that supports B2B, B2B2C and B2C lead management processes across multiple channels, and both outbound and inbound marketing processes. These vendors demonstrate market awareness and agility in their ability to develop and deploy support for new market and user requirements; examples include the development of industry-specific templates for lead management, or the ability to integrate with both digital channels (such as email marketing, social, or online webinars) and traditional or asynchronous marketing channels (such as in-person trade events and educational seminars, print-on-demand capabilities and third-party customer or list data). The Leaders have developed an ecosystem of technology partners and provide deep integration, including formal and documented technical support and customer support from both vendors, with key applications such as SFA, e-commerce, Web analytics or WCM solutions. They are able to provide in-depth professional services and consulting through both their own services organization and through the development of partnerships with leading solution providers, management service providers or consulting organizations; and have demonstrated their ability to sell and support enterprise-scale customers and deployments on a global basis. Leaders are able to show viability through revenue growth, organizational growth, financial stability and either profitability or the ability to attract outside investment. Leaders sell successfully in more than one vertical industry and customers show high levels of satisfaction and success with their implementations.

Challengers

Challengers in CRM lead management offer breadth of functionality, but lack the depth of functionality of the Leaders. Challengers often provide lead management functionality that is dependent on or integrated with another product from the same vendor, so that the lead management functionality cannot be realized without implementing a broader set of application functionalities. Lead management capability is not best-of-breed, but Challengers provide market presence and adjacent technologies (such as email marketing, CRM, WCM, e-commerce or Web analytics) that are valuable to buyers requiring a single-vendor platform to fulfill multiple functional requirements. A key value proposition is integration with currently implemented technology or infrastructure. Challengers are often slower to react to changes in the market and lag behind the Leaders; they are often dependent on selling to their existing installed base of customers.

Visionaries

Visionaries have a strong vision for a set of technologies that includes lead management, but they do not yet provide best-of-breed lead management that is both broad and functionally deep. Visionaries may be looking to capitalize on market momentum — by emphasizing their role as part of the ecosystem as they invest in internal R&D or M&A activity in a bid to increase their market presence and potentially move to either a Challenger or Leader position. Visionaries are thought leaders and innovators that have not yet gained broad market penetration and adoption. They often have a strong presence in a small set of vertical industries or within a limited geographic region. Visionaries can also come from an adjacent market sector and are looking to expand their total addressable market by moving into lead management. Visionaries may have a strong technology vision and roadmap, but lack the Ability to Execute demonstrated by Leaders.

Niche Players

Niche Players provide a basic set of lead management features to a narrow segment of the potential market. Their markets are often defined by vertical industry expertise or by the dependency that their lead management capability has on their core product — such as a CRM suite with integrated lead management capability that cannot be realized without implementing that application. They meet the Magic Quadrant criteria and may attempt to extend their functionality and win customers through extensive professional services engagements. Niche Players may be limited in the geographic reach, partner relationships or scalability of their solution. These vendors are appealing to customers with limited budgets or constrained technology resources, or those that don’t require the depth of functionality provided by Leaders or Challengers. Niche Players often lack vision, or are unable to deliver on the vision they articulate.

Context

The CRM lead management market saw significant M&A activity from 2010 through 2014, involving several of the vendors in this Magic Quadrant: Adobe (Neolane), IBM (Silverpop), Microsoft (Marketing Pilot), Oracle (Eloqua), Salesforce (Pardot, via ExacTarget) and others. These acquisitions have enabled large enterprise application vendors to provide best-of-breed lead management functionality while building out their vision of an integrated set of marketing automation applications and looking to consolidate multiple point capabilities into an integrated marketing automation offering.

Additionally, several vendors have emerged that target either a specific vertical industry (MMIT, CRMnext) or a specific market segment (HubSpot, SugarCRM, Salesfusion, Zoho). IT application leaders therefore need to evaluate several aspects of their prospective lead management vendors, including the level of existing integration, the short-term roadmap for integration activities and the ability to cross verticals or market segments.

There is continued maturity among user organizations in their evaluation of lead management vendors. User organizations are asking increasingly complex questions and taking longer to make investment decisions regarding lead management applications. This is partly due to M&A events, which necessitate increased caution and due diligence, partly to a growing maturity and experience on the part of user organizations, and partly to the expanding range of lead management or marketing automation capabilities that vendors now offer and that necessitate additional due diligence on the part of IT professionals.

Client inquiries and reference user research point to: longer evaluation cycles; increased due diligence on the part of the buyer; more careful examination of vendor claims and references; and a closer examination of the vendor’s lead management architecture, technology roadmap and ability to align with the user organization’s enterprise applications, architecture and strategy. User organizations are also spending an increasing amount of time evaluating the ability of lead management applications to integrate with the customer’s ever-expanding “marketing cloud” of applications — which enables customer understanding and engagement. Lead management applications add the most value when they support customer-facing applications such as SFA, digital commerce and customer engagement centers. IT leaders should take a leadership role in extending the value of lead management across multiple customer touchpoints.

Lead management investment decisions that were previously managed primarily by the marketing organization are now seeing increasing involvement from sales management and sales operations, senior management and IT. Lead management technologies are now being evaluated in the context of enterprise architecture and applications, rather than as a departmental or line-of-business application. Marketing and sales executives continue to be the primary decision makers, but IT application leaders should work closely with these teams to vet solutions, ensure consistency with adjacent technology investments, and provide guidance on integration and project management.

Predictive lead management technologies, big data analytics and other emerging technologies have promise, but are early on in the Hype Cycle (see “Hype Cycle for CRM Marketing Applications, 2015” for details). IT leaders should work with internal users on developing short-term and longer-term objectives and setting appropriate expectations.

Market Overview

Gartner has noted several evolutions and changes during the past two years, including:

  • A growing level of maturity and expertise in the user organizations, which in turn leads to longer vendor/product evaluations and a deeper examination of architecture and vendor fit
  • Ongoing M&A activity that adds breadth and depth to vendor platforms, but that also raises questions around integration, architecture fit and the consistency of deployment/licensing models
  • A blurring of the demarcation between B2B and B2C marketing, with lead management vendors adding SEO or digital marketing functionality
  • Market awareness and acceptance of products focused on a subsegment of the market, such as SMBs or a specific industry
  • A deeper end-user appreciation of the value of lead management processes, but also a higher level of expectation and quantifiable proof points that show revenue impact

CRM lead management can support B2B, B2B2C and B2C business models, although it is used primarily by companies selling “considered purchases” — that is, products that are complex, are associated with a significant financial investment, or that require substantial research.

CRM lead management applications continue to have a business process management orientation that enables user organizations to create and deploy a preferred customer workflow across multiple channels and content types. However, these applications now recognize that lead management needs to also integrate with search, personalization, Web analytics and related “ad tech” technologies formerly associated with pure B2C business models.

Some vendors are now consciously moving beyond B2B/B2B2C business models and targeting B2C business models and customers, which are in turn adopting business process management processes that resemble the B2B business model. However, the large scalability requirements of B2C, lead management license models (which are based on the size of the database or the number of contacts in the system), and the greater focus on digital marketing technologies that are less common in lead management will initially challenge some vendors.

Reference surveys indicate that lead management is making an important contribution to achieving company marketing and sales objectives. When asked how they would rate the impact of their company’s lead management programs on its ability to achieve sales and revenue objectives, 77% rated their programs as high or very high. However, challenges continue to exist. Top challenges identified in our 2013 and 2014 research include: alignment of marketing, sales and other customer-facing departments; lack of sufficient resources or time in the marketing organization; measuring business impact via analytics, business intelligence or KPIs; and the integration of lead management with other applications or business processes

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