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Why Business Executives are the New IT Buying Center

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 300x99 Why Business Executives are the New IT Buying Center

By, Kathleen Schaub

Several times a week the IDC CMO Advisory Service gets inquiries from tech company clients about how to shift their company mindset to a new and different buyer.  IDC’s IT Buyer Experience Study shows that business buyers have 53% of buying influence in the earliest part of buyer’s journey and their influence stays high throughout the entire process.  The tech buyer’s influence, while still important, is comparatively waning.

A successful shift to a business-buyer approach will accelerate if you understand what’s behind it.

Front office automation has more business risk than back office automation.  The 2nd Wave (as IDC calls the client-server era) was mainly about automating things inside your company.  The 3rd Wave (as IDC calls the current era of cloud, mobile, social, and big data) is about automating your connections to the outside world (I call it the company “skin”).  When tech problems happened deep in inside your company, it was frustrating but not devastating.  The worst business tech problem of the 2nd Wave was being too slow to adopt new technology leaving competitors or upstarts to sail past you with business process advances.  That problem is still a concern today.  However, add the horror of screwing up in front of customers, investors, influencers, indeed, the whole world!  Just ask the CEO of Target.  Business executives are forced to pay attention to technology today – whether they want to or not. IDC forecasts that business executive budgets for technology will outstrip IT budgets.

Technology is easier and prettier now. Back in the day it took a real expert to understand the ins and outs of information technology products.  The products were intimidatingly gray and beige and filled with exposed wires and chips.  They hummed, got hot, and sparked out with regularity.  No wonder the finance and marketing execs wanted to leave those suckers alone.  Now most of those wires and chips are moving to the “cloud”.  Doesn’t that sound nicer?  Devices you touch are smooth and have pictures. Better design makes technology 99% invisible (to quote the title of one of my favorite podcasts). 

Business executives are smarter and more confident about technology.  Back in the day, technology was a startling thing that business people in the prime of their careers had never seen, much less used.  I remember one intelligent, capable, and admired, C-suite executive who used to have his administrative assistant print out his email because he wasn’t quite sure how to use it.  Now, anyone younger than 60 came of age with PCs and programmable everything.  Information about technology is available at everyone’s fingertips and accessing opinions from your professional network is incredibly easy. While a portion of the population will always be skeptical or frightened about the next new thing – it’s not likely to be IT that they are scared of (drones, anyone?).

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If Newspapers And Magazines Think Life Is Tough Now, They Won’t Want To See What Happens Next…

Business Insider

The last decade has been tough for those in the print business.

Thanks to the inexorable shift of eyeballs to digital, newspaper advertising has collapsed, and many newsroom budgets have been slashed. Magazines have fared better, but many of them are also under pressure, and their path to a happy and lucrative digital future still seems unclear.

And there’s more bad news on the way.

The shift to digital that has demolished some print publications is very much generational. And, from a generational perspective, this shift is only just beginning.

Media consumers in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s grew up reading newspapers and magazines. Old habits die hard. Many of these consumers will never be as comfortable with digital as they are with paper, and they will keep reading newspapers and magazines until the day they die.

But media consumers in the 0s, 10s, 20s, and 30s have no such print habits or allegiances. To them, the idea of printing information on a dead tree and then trucking it to houses and newsstands seems ludicrous, old-fashioned, inconvenient, and wasteful. To these folks, paper-based publications are a pain to carry and search, easy to misplace, and hard to share, and the information in them is outdated the moment it appears. For those who weren’t raised on paper, digital is superior in almost every way.

This “digital generation,” moreover, isn’t just kids anymore. Slowly but surely, digital consumers are taking over the coveted media demographics. And in another 10 to 20 years, the only media consumers who still prefer print will be retired folks who have long since passed the torch of influence and spending-power to the digital generation.

The results of a recent survey of UK media consumers make this clear.

Researchers asked consumers which media they would miss the most. They then segmented the results by age.

Even among the oldest consumers — 75 years old and up — digital has made inroads, but it’s still perceived as less valuable than print. TV, meanwhile (the purple band), is the big winner in this age group.

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Social media faces doubts after latest round of results

USA Today

Social media, social outcast?

The once-sizzling sector could be on the outside looking in for investors following a string of disappointing financial results and a sharp slide in stock prices the past two months. Shares of Twitter, Pandora and LinkedIn have sunk more than 30%. Even Facebook, riding a wave of mobile advertising growth, is off its March high nearly 20%.

Online recruiting site LinkedIn, until now a dependable performer, was the latest major name to deepen doubts among many on Wall Street. On Thursday, it posted a $13.3 million loss and its slowest revenue growth in four years.

LinkedIn’s results come amid questions about the immediate financial prospects for social media companies. Since early February, those stocks have sputtered after an extended streak from 2012, according to the Global X Social Media Index ETF.

“These stocks were winners,” says Arvind Bhatia, an analyst at financial-services firm Sterne Agee. “Invariably, as soon as they show any kind of slowdown, the momentum investors get out.”

Aaron Kessler, an Internet analyst at Raymond James, expects the fallout to last weeks, maybe months, before “momentum” investors come back. Many have been spooked by steep company market valuations that don’t match revenue projections, he says.

Bhatia framed the situation as being bigger than social media. The reverse stampede has also battered shares of Amazon.com, eBay, Yelp and Netflix, he says.

“It’s a re-rating of the entire sector,” adds Tom White, an analyst at market researcher Macquarie. The recent malaise extends to Internet and software stocks, including IPO newbies GrubHub and Rocket Fuel.

Yet the focus has been squarely on social media following a spate of earnings reports and the surprise resignation this past week of Google’s Vic Gundotra, who was the company’s senior vice president for social.

Days before LinkedIn’s first-quarter results, Twitter shares were eviscerated when it whiffed with middling user growth. It now has 255 million monthly active users. (Twitter shares tumbled another 18% on Tuesday after its six-month stock lockup was lifted, allowing major shareholders to sell their holdings.)

The future of social network Google+ is rife for debate after its leader abruptly quit. Its 300 million members, while an impressive figure, is light years behind Facebook’s 1.28 billion.

Indeed, the silver lining for social media is the social-networking giant, whose recent prowess in mobile underscores “solid fundamentals,” Bhatia says. (The average reported quarterly revenue growth for Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and Pandora was 82%.)

“You cannot find fault in Facebook’s results,” he says. “And yet its stock went down. It was a case of comparing it to good numbers (from previous results). It happens.”

Smartphones: The silent killer of the Web as you know it

The Next Web

The PC is dyinglong live the PC! These headlines have been thrown around for years, as sales of laptops and desktops have continually dwindled downward.

The tablet has long been pinned as the murderer of the traditional computers and it certainly looked like it was going to be the one to do away with them (perhaps in a few years), with the focus of many companies such as Apple and Microsoft shifting towards a tablet-first world.

It’s obvious from the steadily declining shipments of traditional computers and companies exiting the PC market, that it’s not looking good for PCs, with tablets regularly eating into computer shipments year on year.

That was, until Apple reported in its last earnings call that it had actually sold fewer iPads than the previous quarter for the first time ever. The media is in a frenzy, wondering if the tablet isn’t the savior after all. From stories wondering ifApple’s iPad business is collapsing to others pointing to tablet demand hitting a wall, it seems that the world has suddenly realized that tablets aren’t  all they’re cracked up to be; perhaps they won’t outsell the PC after all.

But that’s not because tablets are dying, it’s because a deeper shift is underway that will fundamentally change the way the internet is used in the future.

Tablets have been on an insane trajectory for the last few years, but the rate of adoption was a little odd, compared with traditional uptake. According to twoseparate Pew Research studies, adoption has thus far been made up of:

16% 15-20 year olds with tablets
18% 20-29 year olds with tablets
25% 30-55 year olds with tablets

A post by Dustin Curtis this week pointed out that this is the exact opposite of how new technology is traditionally adopted, with older people adopting tablets must more rapidly than those that are younger. How can this be? Probably because the older generation ‘gets’ the tablet and “naturally extends” the function of the desktop/laptop computers they’re used to.

Benedict Evans also published a great, in depth look at iPad sales trends which sheds a lot of light on what’s really going on under the surface, which can be seen in the graph below. For example, iPhones are continuing to grow at an exponential rate, but the iPad is hitting a wall.

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What the Death of Homepages Means for the Future of News

The Atlantic

The New York Times lost 80 million homepage visitors—half the traffic to the nytimes.com page—in two years. That’s according to this graphic, taken from an internal review of Times digital strategy obtained by BuzzFeed.

This is the clearest illustration of the demise of homepages I’ve seen. (Well, not literally the clearest; it’s somewhat grainy, in an apropos way.) News used to be a destination, and you would go find it on your driveway and in your browser. Now you’re the destination, and “information—status updates, photos of your friends, videos of Solange, and sometimes even news articles—come at you; they find you,” Quartz‘s Zach Seward writes.

If the clicks aren’t coming from homepages, where are they coming from? Facebook, Twitter, social media, and the mix of email and chat services summed up as “dark social” (dark, because it’s hard for publishers to trace). Here’s the incoming traffic data from the BuzzFeed network (a bundle of popular sites including BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, the TimesNew York magazine, and The Atlantic) in the first three months of  2014.

News publishers lost the homepage firehose, and gained a social media flood. This social flood corresponds with the emergence of another powerful piece of technology: audience analytics software that tells digital publishers what people are reading, and how long they’re reading it, with greater specificity than ever. One theory is that the rise of twin technological forces—the social flood and the age of analytics—will (a) make the news more about readers; and (b) make news organizations more like each other.

Why should the death of homepages give rise to news that’s more about readers? Because homepages reflect the values of institutions, and Facebook and Twitter reflect the interest of individual readers. These digital grazers have shown again and again that they aren’t interested in hard news, but rather entertainment, self-help, awe, and outrage dressed up news. Digitally native publishers are pretty good at pumping this kind of stuff out. Hence quizzes, hence animals, hence 51 Photos That Show Women Fighting Sexism Awesomely. Even serious publishing companies know that self-help and entertainment often outperform outstanding reporting.

Second, we should expect—and have already seen—an expedited clustering effect around news tropes, and this clustering is making news organizations more like each other. This goes back to technology. The better publishers can see what audiences are reading, the more they will be inclined to quickly serve up duplicates of the most popular stuff.

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Dos and Don’ts of Social Media Engagement

Nemertes Research

As social media use grows and expands beyond marketing to customer service, more companies are creating and adjusting their social media handling policies. I have run into a number of contact center and customer service professionals who are still trying to figure out just how to handle the complex social media world. Here are some top dos and don’ts for businesses planning to engage customers on social media.


  1. Create accounts with a definitive purpose and audience – Many companies have separate social accounts for specific campaigns or groups (e.g., one for customer service and one for marketing campaigns). Keep messaging for each account relevant to the appropriate audience.
  2. Extend company branding to social media – Make sure company logos, messaging, and company voice extend to the organization’s social media presence to facilitate identification.
  3. Monitor, analyze, and respond – Don’t just use social media outlets to spread information; use them to engage conversation. Also, use social media analytics applications to gain insight into social media metrics that are important to your company.
  4. Define rules and regulations for social media ­– Some large companies treat public social media outlets as customer communities and post community guidelines outlining policies for interaction between customers within these public outlets. Make this information visible to everyone who is interacting within the community.
  5. Think before posting – Making posts related to current events is a great way to stay relevant, but think carefully about content and public sensitivity surrounding certain situations before posting.


  1. Stalk customers – A well-known retailer once saw a comment that a friend of mine made about them on a public forum that was completely unrelated to their products. The retailer created an account on this forum and responded to try and resolve the issue. While this may seem like going above and beyond for customers, what it ended up doing was making everyone who saw the response very uncomfortable. Do interact with your customers; don’t stalk them to unrelated social outlets.

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The many ‘deaths’ of digital marketing

Marketing Week

Digital marketing is apparently dead. Procter & Gamble’s global brand building officer Marc Pritchard talked about the end of digital as something separate or distinct from general marketing in his keynote at Dmexco in Cologne, Germany, last September.

This is a view that Econsultancy and MarketingWeek espoused in our Modern Marketing Manifesto, which we published last year. We cut out ‘digital’ as one of the key elements of marketing from the initial draft and instead focused on integration, customer experience, brand, data and other elements irrespective of medium or channel.

But while we might agree that this is conceptually and strategically the right direction, the reality on the ground is quite different. Few organisations are at a point where they are sufficiently capable or mature in their digital marketing or ecommerce activities so that this has become ‘business as usual’.

Digital is the catalyst and driver for marketing and business transformation; where organisations talk about innovation, it is almost entirely digital. This means that the operational reality for most businesses is that digital is very much alive and a huge area of focus.

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White Paper: Top Reasons to Upgrade from Windows XP Now

XP Migration Hub

In this White Paper, Rod Trent, IT Community Manager for Windows IT Pro, examines the current landscape for XP, explains the implications for failing to migrate to a new operating system, and discusses the key steps in the migration process.

Read the white paper now

Explore how migrating from Windows XP can benefit your business by clicking here

Screen Shot 2014 03 13 at 12.18.10 PM White Paper: Top Reasons to Upgrade from Windows XP Now

How to Choose a Data Management Platform


Demand-side platform (DSP) is one of the hottest media trends right now, but what most people fail to understand is that it is merely a buying mechanism. The real value lies in the data management platform (DMP), which acts as the brain that tells the DSP which ad impression to buy. In the Western ad tech ecosystem, third-party DMPs like BlueKai serve as the central nervous system that various DSPs plug in for intelligence. In some instances, many Western DSPs such as Turn will often combine their own first-party data with BlueKai’s third-party data to create custom audience segments.

The Chinese Way: No Third-Party DMP

The Western ad tech ecosystem is the ideal way of operation. However, the picture looks quite different in China.

Even though there are quite a few DMP companies in the Chinese tech ecosystem, none of the major DSPs in the China market are actively using them. What happens instead is that all the DSPs use their own third-party data collected from direct publisher relationships. With no de facto standards in third-party DMP data, Chinese marketers have zero transparency in knowing the exact data that is being used for targeting. Hence, the local DSPs are all moving toward a strategy of a first-party DMP offering to prove their value add, and most of all for vendor lockdown. In the end, whoever controls the client’s data will control the bulk of the marketing budget. To make things more complicated, agency-trading desks (ATD) and third-party tracking vendors like Miaozhen also have a DMP offering. Of course, marketers have the option of hosting their own DMPs internally.

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What Does Latino Technology Use Mean For Your Brand?


At this point, it’s really not a question of whether or not Hispanic consumers utilize mobile technology more than their non-Hispanic counterparts. As recognized “trendsetters,” Hispanic consumers are clearly outpacing non-Hispanics in their adoption of mobile, social and online sources for shopping, especially at the local level, according to a recent BIA/Kelsey study.

But, what is valuable to advertisers are these questions: To what degree? and For what purposes? Hispanic consumers use mobile technology and how that information can help advertisers create content that will capture their attention.

In a recent nationwide study of mobile phone use by Hispanics vs. non-Hispanics, we asked participants to shed a little light on how they used their mobile phones and the results were as expected:

Social Media 

For those engaged in social media, 95.5% of Hispanics used their mobile phone to access Facebook compared to 98.6% of non-Hispanics. The usage numbers are also relatively close for several other sites like Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

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