Lego a ‘better investment than shares and gold’ – Telegraph

Average Lego set has increased in value 12 per cent each year since the turn of the Millennium, providing a better return than mainstream investments

Source: Lego a ‘better investment than shares and gold’ – Telegraph

The Ultimate Collector's Millennium Falcon is the most expensive, having gone from a retail price of £342.49 in 2007 to £2,712 today

The Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon is the most expensive, having gone from a retail price of £342.49 in 2007 to £2,712 today

It may appear as no more than a popular children’s toy, but investors were able to secure a better return buying Lego sets over the past 15 years than from the stock market, gold or bank accounts, a Telegraph analysis found.

The value of the FTSE 100 is no higher than it was in February 2000, meaning the average annual return to savers over the past decade and half is just 4.1 per cent once dividend payouts are included.

By contrast, Lego sets kept in pristine condition have increased in value 12 per cent each year since the turn of the Millennium, with second-hand prices rising for specific sets as soon as they go out of production. Modern sets are performing even more strongly, with those released last year already selling on eBay for 36 per cent more than their original price.

The analysis found none of the main investments favoured by savers matched returns on the plastic building bricks.

Savers who invested in gold received a 9.6 per cent annual gain over the past decade and a half, while those who went with a savings account or Isa generated 2.8 per cent, according to investment company Hargreaves Lansdown.

Some Lego sets that once sold for less than £100 now fetch thousands on the secondary market.

Lego can only reach a top price if it has been kept in it's box, according to Ed Maciorowski, founder of BrickPicker.comLego can only reach a top price if it has been kept in it’s box, according to Ed Maciorowski, founder of BrickPicker.com

Many of the highest prices are for old sets based around films such as Star Wars or landmarks or brands such as the Taj Mahal in India or the Volkswagen Beetle. But data from investing website BrickPicker.comshowed even sets based on everyday scenes such as police stations and town roads are soaring in value.

The largest percentage rise in price for any Lego set has been on “Cafe Corner”, a model of a hotel which went on sale in 2007. The set, which has 2,056 pieces, originally sold for £89.99 but the price has risen to £2,096 since it went out of production – a return for investors of 2,230 per cent.

Ed Maciorowski, founder of BrickPicker.com, said the top price would be fetched only if the Lego had been kept in its box, in perfect condition. Used Lego is less valuable, but can still be worth hundreds of pounds more than its original price.

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“The neat thing is that all sets are retired at some point, and several hundred are retired each year a movie run ends, a licence expires or the Lego company wants to refresh its range,” he said.

“That means anyone with a set at home – large or small, it doesn’t matter – could have quite an investment on their hands if it’s in good condition, as this stuff appreciates very well in value.”

Most second-hand Lego is traded and bought on eBay. BrickPicker pays eBay for a breakdown of sales and compiles its own database of values and growth rates.

Mr Maciorowski said tens of thousands of investors across the world were pushing up prices of rarer sets.

He said the growth rates would continue. “Lego investing is not hitting bubble-like status,” he said. “That is partly because the Lego company doesn’t promote the secondary market, it wants to sell direct to customers.”

deathstarDeath Star II sold for £249.99 in shops, but is now worth £1,524, according to BrickPicker

Price rises can be disrupted if Lego restarts production of sets it had previously retired – but usually the effect is temporary as investors snap up the new stock, Mr Maciorowski said.

The most popular type of Lego is Star Wars themed, accounting for 10 of the 20 most expensive sets.

The Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon is the most expensive, having gone from a retail price of £342.49 in 2007 to £2,712 today.

Two slightly earlier models, the Death Star II and Imperial Star Destroyer, which were released in 2005 and 2002 respectively, also fetch more than £1,000.

Mr Maciorowski said the new Star Wars film, Episode VII – The Force Awakens will give the old sets a “new life” in secondary market.

“Demand is going to be off the hook,” he said. “Sometimes when the next instalment of a film comes out it boosts interest: the new Fantastic Beasts films, for example, should also see demand pick up for some of the recently retired Harry Potter Lego.”

Laith Khalaf, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The returns from Lego look pretty awesome, but investors need to beware that the value of collectables can be vulnerable to fads.

“There’s absolutely no harm in buying some pieces as a hobby, and you may well make some money, but as a main building clock for your retirement I would suggest sticking to more traditional shares and bonds.”

Seven Lego investing tips from a pro

Ed Maciorowski from BrickPicker.com says:

1 If you are interested in a particular Lego set, buy one to build and one to save for a rainy day. Even used Lego sets can appreciate to values higher than the retail price. Putting away a few large and exclusive sets to resell in years down the road can be very profitable.

2 Limited edition and seasonal sets do very well in the Lego secondary markets. Any sets with short production runs usually appreciate well. The rarer, the better.

3 Invest in Lego sets that were released after 1999. Pre-2000 sets were not really great investments. Many sets were basic and uninspiring. There are a handful of vintage sets that are viable collectables, but most have plateaued in value and many are in poor condition.

4 Keep the Lego boxes, pieces and instructions in excellent condition. Save all the components of a Lego set. Keep them in a dry and dark storage space. No sun … no moisture. The better the condition, the more the set will sell for in future.

5 Stack Lego boxes vertically like books. Horizontal stacking causes boxes to crush and seals to break.

6 Size doesn’t matter. Both small and large sets can appreciate very well percentage wise.

7 Lego mini figures are very valuable.

Most expensive Lego sets

Set – release date – pieces (mini figs) – retail price – current value

1 Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon – 2007 – 5,195 (5) – £342.49 – £2,712

2 Cafe Corner – 2007 – 2,056 (3) – £89.99 – £2,096

3 Taj Mahal – 2008 – 5,922 (0) – £199.99 – £1,848

4 Death Star II – 2005 – 3,441 (0) – £249.99 – £1,524

5 Imperial Star Destroyer – 2002 – 3,096 (0) – £249.99 – £1,467

Lego sets with biggest rises in value

Set – release date – pieces (mini figs) – retail price – current value – growth

1 Cafe Corner – 2007 – 2,056 (3) – £89.99 – £2,096 – 2,230%

2 Market Street – 2007 – 1,248 (3) – £59.99 – £698 – 1,064%

3 Holiday Train – 2006 – 965 (7) – £49.99 – £574 – 1,048%

4 Rescue from the Merpeople – 2005 – 175 (5) – £14.99 – £168 – 1,018%

5 The Batboat: Hunt for Killer Croc – 2006 – 188 (2) – £14.99 – £167 – 1,011%

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Innovation takes more than just technology, it takes people: 8 Digital Transformation Tips

8 Digital Transformation Tips – Direct Marketing News.

digital darwinism

Consumer behavior is constantly evolving. According to a 2014 Altimeter Group report, mobile, social, and real-time technology trends (or what venture capitalist Fred Wilson refers to as the “Golden Triangle of Disruption”) are changing the way consumers engage and discover information. And as consumers change, companies must evolve to survive.

The result is digital transformation.

Digital transformation, according to the research and advisory firm, is “the realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.” Companies that invest in digital transformation, according to the report, experience numerous benefits, such as improved customer journeys, greater competitive advantages, and increased conversion and loyalty rates.

“We have to look at what the customer experience is and what it could be,” Brian Solis, author and principal analyst for Altimeter Group, said during a keynote presentation at the ONE Teradata Marketing Festival in Las Vegas.

However, not all businesses are able to recognize or keep up with these societal and technological shifts. The result is what Altimeter Group refers to as “Digital Darwinism.” Put simply, those who adapt live and those who don’t die.

Consider the following two examples Solis cited during his keynote presentation: Movie rental company Blockbuster had the opportunity to purchase streaming service Netflix back in 2000 but passed on the opportunity due to its own popularity. Fast forwarded to 2010: Blockbuster files for bankruptcy while Netflix experiences a 43,101% sales boost since 1999, according to Solis. Likewise, he said that Amazon bankrupted what was formerly the number two bookseller Borders in less than a decade.

“You can see that moment when consumers have changed so much that [they’ve] split off in an entirely different direction,” he said.

Of course, using disruptive technologies to enhance the digital customer experience isn’t easy. According to a 2013 survey conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review and Capgemini Consulting, 63% of nearly 1,600 executives and managers said that the pace of technology change within their organization was slow. What’s more, an Altimeter Group survey found that 88% of executives and digital strategists said that their company was undergoing a formal digital transformation effort in 2014; however, only a quarter of them had mapped out their customers’ digital journeys.

Still, bettering customers’ experiences through digital transformation is important. So here are eight tips from Solis’ presentation that marketers should consider when creating their own digital transformation efforts.

1. Always ask why: Just because a company does something one way doesn’t mean that it’s the right way. Marketers should always question their actions and assumptions and look for opportunities to make experiences, products, and processes better and more efficient.

“We should be asking ‘why’ because that prompts ‘what if’ and ‘what if’ always prompts ‘what’s next?’” Solis said.

2. Build a culture that rewards people for trying new things: So often in life, failure is considered a negative; however, Solis argued that it’s really just the opportunity to learn from experimentation.

“That’s why it’s called innovation, not iteration,” he said.

3. Identify your purpose: Technology plays a major role in digital transformation and innovation, but only if it provides a purpose, Solis said.

“Ideas can start with anything,” he noted, “but they can all be driven by a higher purpose.”

4. See something for what it could be: Digital transformation isn’t about reinventing the wheel; it’s about improving an experience. For instance, Steve Jobs didn’t invent the mouse or the MP3 player; he just made the user experience better.

“That takes seeing the world in a different perspective because we’re making decisions today [based on] life as we know it,” Solis said.

5. Think like a customer: To help gain a different perspective, marketers should ask themselves what they can do differently and what would their customers do, Solis said.

“Connected customers always see the world differently,” he added.

6. Remember, innovation isn’t just born out of technology: It also comes from people who are passionate about doing something better than the way they are today, Solis said. And marketers don’t need to have a C-suite title to initiate change within their organizations.

“Change doesn’t always have to come from the top,” he said. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, leadership rarely comes from the top; leadership comes from the middle.”

7. Imagine what your brand would be like if you had to start over: Digital transformation can be difficult for companies built on a legacy. So Solis advised marketers to re-imagine their companies if they launched digitally today. What would be different, he asked, and what would your customers value?

8. Understand that you can learn how to be innovative: Innovation doesn’t always come naturally to people, and that’s OK.

“Innovating isn’t something that you have to be born with,” Solis said. “You can learn it. It’s like developing a skill, and we have to master it.”

Three-fourths of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2019

11 massive predictions about the future of mobile and mobile data | memeburn.

At this stage, telling anyone that we live in a mobile world seems more or less pointless. Our phones are hardwired into our daily lives and, for many of us, can seem more like artificial limbs than everyday devices. They’ve changed the world too. Web designers now think about how you’ll experience a site on a phone or tablet before they think about how you’ll see it on a desktop.

Apps meanwhile have gone from single function curiosities to powerful tools that allow us to do everything from hailing private cars to making investments on the fly.

Given that we’ve come so far since the first cellphone call was made 42 years ago, where are we likely headed to next?

Well, global networking powerhouse Cisco has lifted the cloth on its crystal ball and offered up its predictions for where mobile and mobile data are going in the next few years. And if it’s anywhere near right, then we’re in for some astonishing growth in both spaces.

1. Global mobile data traffic will increase nearly tenfold between 2014 and 2019

Mobile data traffic will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 57% from 2014 to 2019, reaching 24.3 exabytes per month by 2019.

Cisco Exabytes

2. By 2019 there will be nearly 1.5 mobile devices for every person on the planet

There will be 11.5 billion mobile-connected devices by 2019, including M2M modules—exceeding the world’s projected population at that time (7.6 billion).

Cisco devices

3. Mobile network connection speeds will increase more than twofold by 2019

The average mobile network connection speed (1.7 Mbps in 2014) will reach nearly 4.0 megabits per second (Mbps) by 2019. By 2016, average mobile network connection speed will surpass 2.0 Mbps.

4. By 2019, 4G will be 26% of connections, but 68% of total traffic

By 2019, a 4G connection will generate 10 times more traffic on average than a non-4G connection.

<center<Cisco 4G traffic

5. By 2019, more than half of all devices connected to the mobile network will be “smart” devices

Globally, 54% of mobile devices will be smart devices by 2019, up from 26 percent in 2014. The vast majority of mobile data traffic (97 percent) will originate from these smart devices by 2019, up from 88% in 2014.

6. By 2019, 54% of all global mobile devices could potentially be capable of connecting to an IPv6 mobile network

More than 6.2 billion devices will be IPv6-capable by 2019.

7. Nearly three-fourths of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2019

Mobile video will increase 13-fold between 2014 and 2019, accounting for 72% of total mobile data traffic by the end of the forecast period.

Cisco Video

8. By 2019, mobile-connected tablets will generate nearly double the traffic generated by the entire global mobile network in 2014

The amount of mobile data traffic generated by tablets by 2019 (3.2 exabytes per month) will be 1.3 times higher than the total amount of global mobile data traffic in 2014 (2.5 exabytes per month).

9. The average smartphone will generate 4.0 GB of traffic per month by 2019

That’s a fivefold increase over the 2014 average of 819 MB per month. By 2019, aggregate smartphone traffic will be 10.5 times greater than it is today, with a CAGR of 60 percent.

10. By 2016, more than half of all traffic from mobile-connected devices (almost 14 exabytes) will be offloaded to the fixed network by means of Wi-Fi devices and femtocells each month

Without Wi-Fi and femtocell offload, total mobile data traffic would grow at a CAGR of 62 percent between 2014 and 2019, instead of the projected CAGR of 57 percent.

11. The Middle East and Africa will have the strongest mobile data traffic growth of any region with a 72% CAGR

This region will be followed by Central and Eastern Europe at 71 percent and Latin America at 59 percent.

Everybody would kill the CIO ! The Top 10 Strategic #CIO Issues For #2015 (Bob Evans – Oracle)

The Top 10 Strategic CIO Issues For 2015.
By Bob Evans – Oracle

Throughout 2014, the CIO profession was subjected to a baffling series of apocalyptic forecasts and dire predictions that have proven to be laughably wrong.

Where did all these distortions and misperceptions about the stewards of IT strategy and execution come from?

Well, times of extreme change and disruption in the business world—and 2014 surely qualified in spades for that designation—always breed lots of theories about what caused all that upheaval and where it will lead.

And since the CIO profession and its attendant IT organization have always been among the most misunderstood siblings in the corporate family, it’s not surprising that their decline, downfall, decimation, and demise were so grandly forecast and greatly exaggerated. Here are a few of my favorite crackpot theories:

  • The CMO would kill the CIO: The CIO and the CMO, we were told, were locked in a Texas Cage death match from which only one would emerge alive. Because CMOs have begun to embrace marketing automation technology, this theory went, the CMO would inevitably be in mortal opposition to the CIO.
  • Mobile technology would kill the CIO: The CIO and the entire IT organization would become wards of the CFO as superb mobile technology rendered many/most traditional enterprise systems obsolete. According to this yarn, only core financial apps would require the rigor of traditional enterprise systems, so the CIO would be tucked deeply under the CFO and become little more than a mechanic wearing a green eyeshade.
  • Cloud computing would kill the CIO: In this daydream, the CIO and the entire IT organization would join the woolly mammoth for a nice long dip in the tar pit, as the rise of cloud computing would eliminate any need for businesses to retain deep business-technology vision and strategy.
  • Big data and its data scientist masters would kill the CIO: The rise of the omniscient data scientist would lead to a Borg-like collective mentality that would know everything about everything, making IT irrelevant.

But a funny thing happened on those roads to CIO extinction, and here in 2015 we find that the best CIOs are not only alive and well and far from endangered, but are indeed creating more business value than ever before by collaborating eagerly and openly with those supposed forces of opposition. World-class CIOs and IT organizations have never—ever—worked in isolation, and in today’s dizzying high-change business environment, the collaborative approach is paying huge dividends.

In 2015 and beyond, as the full impact of digital disruption takes hold across all industries, the winning organizations will be those in which the CIO engages relentlessly with the CMO, the CFO, the chief revenue officer, the CHRO, the heads of product development and manufacturing, the data scientist, the heads of service and support, and every other line of business leader to help conceive and create the digital enterprise.

forbes-cover-image

 

Because without that type of collaboration, without that infusion of strategic business-technology capability into every facet of the organization, businesses will simply be unable to keep pace with the rapidly shifting and escalating wants and needs of customers, whether consumers or businesses.

In that context, I’d like to offer my “Top 10 Strategic CIO Issues for 2015.” And I’d like to begin by sharing my Top 10 lists from the two previous years to offer a sense of continuity and perspective that, in combination with the 2015 list, reveal a profession and a corporate asset that are more relevant, more valuable, and more strategic than ever before.

So first, the 2013 list with a link to the full column about those trends; then the 2014 list and a link to its companion article; and then the 2015 list with discussion of each of the 10 issues.

The Top 10 Strategic Issues for 2013

1) Simplify IT and Transform Your Spending: Kick the 80/20 Budget Habit.

2) Lead the Social Revolution: Drive the Social-Enabled Enterprise.

3) Unleash Your Company’s Intelligence: Create the Enterprisewide Opportunity Chain.

4) Embrace the Engagement Economy: Merge the Back Office and the Front Office into the Customer Office.

5) Future-Proof Your IT Architecture.

6) Upgrade “Cloud Strategy” to “Business Transformation Enabled by the Cloud.”

7) Transform Big Data into Big Insights, Big Vision, and Big Opportunities.

8) Preside over a Shotgun Wedding: Systems of Record Marry Systems of Engagement.

9) Lead with Speed: CIO as Chief Acceleration Officer.

10) Bend the Value Curve: More Innovation, Less Integration.

Next, The Top 10 Strategic CIO Issues for 2014

1. Drive Customer-Centric Innovation Throughout Your Organization.

2. Why the Internet of Things Will Turn Your Business Upside Down.

3. Shatter the Legacy Model of IT Budgeting and Expectations.

4. Dazzle Your Customers—Make Them Love Your Company!

5. Who’s on First? It’s a Mobile-First, Cloud-First, Social-First World.

6. Blending Art and Science: Why Product Development and IT Must Collaborate.

7. Don’t Fight Tomorrow’s Wars with Yesterday’s Technologies.

8. Embrace Your Ultimate Metrics: Customer Loyalty Moves to the Front.

9. Tie IT Compensation to Knowledge-Worker Productivity.

10. Design and Deliver the Transparent Enterprise.

Clearly, all of those initiatives from 2013 and 2014 need to continue into 2015 and beyond, but for this year’s top CIO imperatives, I’ve broken the list into four categories that reflect the multifaceted capabilities the modern and business-driven CIO must have, and the wide-ranging responsibilities such executives deserve to have.

As you’ll see below, those four subsets are Business Transformer, Customer Expert/Advocate, Business-Technology Visionary, and Culture Warrior. Here’s the 2015 Top 10 list, followed by an overview of each item.

The Top 10 Strategic CIO Issues for 2015

The Business Transformer

1) Be the joyful digital disruptor, not the hesitant and befuddled digital disruptee.

2) Accelerate insights, decision-making, and operations: function as the Chief Acceleration Officer. Yes, this is the same as #9 on the 2013 list, but it not only bears repeating, but deserves a promotion up the list.

3) Forge strategic and deep relationships with the CMO, CHRO, CFO, and beyond.

The Customer Expert and Advocate

4) Harness the enterprisewide power and potential of customer-centric big data and analytics.

5) Unlock insights and capabilities that let every employee contribute to customer loyalty.

The Technology Visionary

6) Modernize and simplify: Exploit cloud computing to help achieve each item on this list.

7) Reimagine your security strategy as globalization and mobility redefine privacy and risk.

The Culture Warrior

8) Be the strategic evangelist for turning social from tactical sidelight to strategic growth engine.

9) Embrace new HCM outlooks and tools to make your department—and your entire company—a high-demand destination for world-class talent.

10) Transform the IT organization and reputation from no to yes, from SLAs to revenue growth, from obstacle to accelerator, from passive to opportunistic.

chart_final

Here are a few thoughts on each item from the 2015 list:

1) The Digital Disruptor. Every industry is going through profound upheavals as digital technology rapidly and radically transforms how capital is raised, how new products are created, how customer-driven services are fused with those products, how sellers engage with customers, and how social media accelerates and amplifies all of those changes. Drugstores become health-care and wellness facilities, music consumers become playlist producers, heavy industrial equipment takes on end-to-end intelligence, poured concrete emits digital diagnostics, and patients begin to have engagements with their medication. Who’s better positioned than the CIO to drive these disruptions?

2) The Chief Acceleration Officer. If it’s true that speed kills, then it’s surely better to be the perpetrator than the splattered roadkill. The pace of life here in the twenty-first century continues to intensify at home and at work, and that pace is surely not going to diminish as young digital natives move into the workforce and expand their purchasing power. Businesses and other large organizations must come up with good ideas more rapidly than ever before, make better decisions in hours rather than weeks, find and hire world-class talent more quickly, spot emerging trends and opportunities before competitors do, and move as fast as their customers move. CIOs are in an ideal position to make speed a virtue across the enterprise.

3) The BFF of the CMO, CFO, CHRO. Mortal-combat silliness aside, the digitized enterprise will require automated processes across HR from recruitment to retirement; across finance from fundamental accounting to budgeting and planning; and across the entire spectrum of marketing automation. The business-centric CIO of 2015 will not just “support” these relationships but will initiate them, enrich them, and extend them.

4) The Champion of Big Data and Analytics. This vital opportunity ties together items 1, 2, and 3 above as big data becomes a precious raw material for creating the new goods and services—not to mention enriched modes of engagements with customers—that will distinguish the innovative disruptors from the overmatched disruptees.

5) The Customer-Loyalty Enabler. For decades, IT has been a bulwark of the back office, dedicated to the cliche of “keeping the lights on” and reconciling accounts for what has already taken place. But business today is increasingly driven and predicated upon rapidly shifting demands from customers who are no longer content just to buy what you’ve made. Rather, those customers want and expect to be able to buy exactly what they want, through whatever channel they choose, and with a level of customization and precision unlike anything we’ve seen before. All of this—every step, every process, every decision point—is consumed in the digital world, which top CIOs understand as well or better than anyone else in the company.

6) The Cloud Change Agent. Think about how rapidly this cloud model has evolved: a handful of years ago, mostly the province of test and development, and later some trials in “non-essential” areas like HR or marketing. And the hope was that this new approach could lower the cost of IT. Today, we’re seeing companies move major portions of finance over to ERP clouds, which is about as mission-critical as you can get. They’re unleashing powerful new recruiting and talent-management capabilities through HCM clouds. And marketing clouds have become indispensable sources of revenue generation and customer engagement in both B2B and B2C environments. The strategic CIO in 2015 will leverage the growing sophistication of cloud solutions to not only re-engineer the economics of IT by liberating more funds for innovation, but also to accelerate and enhance core business processes through powerful mobile-first software as a service applications.

7) The Security/Privacy Strategist. This challenge was meaty enough evenbefore the arrival of the all-digital enterprise, so the stakes are incredibly high as mobile usage proliferates, the volume and variety of digital services explode , and people simply expect—and demand—access to every type of information around the clock and in any form they choose. And as we’ve all seen with recent high-profile breaches, consumers are finding that the line between security and privacy is indistinguishable. CIOs need to be frontline enablers of powerful new digital capabilities while also somehow finding a way to ensure that security continues getting better and better.

8) The Social Champion. What are the best tools to quantify the impact of your company’s social programs? How do you correlate those programs to sales? How does your service team mine social insights to master preventive maintenance? How does product development exploit social to co-create next-generation products with customers? World-class CIOs will move to the forefront on all of these strategic social decisions in 2015.

9) The Talent Hunter. A couple of thoughts on this one: Does your CEO feel that the IT organization and the apps it provides to HR are helping your company win the talent wars? Or would your CEO say your HR systems are mediocre and have become a distinct competitive disadvantage? Second, within the IT organization itself, are you bringing in new talent to meet the new types of issues described above for big data, analytics, digital disruption, product design, customer engagement, and more? Or are you sitting back and saying that those areas are outside the range of influence of the IT team?

10) The Positive Partner. For too long, CIOs and their IT organizations have earned the unflattering reputation of being Doctor No. In a different time and place, that attitude, while not terribly helpful, could be brushed aside and attributed to the fog of IT-speak. But today, as referenced through items 1 through 9 above, CIOs and their organizations have to be joyful and enthusiastic enablers and co-creators, assertive partners in creating new strategies while executing flawlessly on the old, finders and shapers of world-class talent, and fully responsible stewards of innovation, revenue growth, and customer loyalty.

7 Technology Trends to enhance Brand customer journeys: from numbers keeping score, to numbers driving better actions

Behind The Scenes At The Breakout 12/26/2014.

Source: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/240588/behind-the-scenes-at-the-breakout.html

According to Kyle Lacy, Director of Global Content Marketing & Research at the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, in one of the breakout sessions at Connections 2014, there are 7 Technology Trends as well as recommendations for how brands can use these trends to enhance their customer journeys. Kyle shared key technology trends that are transforming how customers communicate, and how brands should be interacting with them.

1. Moments Matter

Take advantage of every experience the customer has with your brand no matter what the interaction is and what device it’s happening on. Moments really do matter when technology allows us to reach our customers at any stage along the customer journey. Think about your stage in the customer journey and how to optimize those moments and the experience your customers have with your brand, says the report.

2. Connected Consumer

Mobility is the largest trend seen in all the recent trends uncovered, and this is just the beginning, says the report. Smartphones still have a massive growth potential with only 30% of the total market using smartphones. 42% of US consumers purchased a product on their mobile phone in 2013 and 83% of US consumers research products while in-store on their mobile phone.

Kyle noted. “…as the global consumer becomes more connected, we don’t care with what device, only that they are connected…””

3. The Ecommerce/Amazon Effect

Amazon is revolutionizing ecommerce and retail. From things like Amazon Prime Air and enhancing product recommendations and personalization, Amazon continues to be on the cutting edge of technology. And, it’s not just Amazon. Ecommerce is continuing to be transformed from giants like Alibaba to startups like Partpic.

4. Brand Personalization

Personalization is everything. The ExactTarget Marketing Cloud’s recent Predictive Intelligence Benchmark Report found there is a 12-25% increase in sales if the transactional message includes personalized product recommendations.

5. Collaborative Economy

This is a collaboration between products, ideas, and people that is just another step in the social revolution, says the report.

The collaborative is defined as, “An economic model where creation, ownership, and access are shared between people and corporations.” Brands like Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, LendingClub, and many others have introduced a whole new economic model that has major implications for how consumers are interacting with each other.

6. Social Intelligence

Social media has gone from a handful of use cases and strategies to a new concept of social intelligence based on numerous key aspects of social media ranging from tactical to strategic value.

The main issue now, though, says Kyle, is that organizations don’t know how to build out groups to manage “digital.” When empowering the new collaborative company, it’s about embedding social media cross the fabric of the organization, to make one department’s outputs another department’s inputs. This the true value and efficiency with social media.

7. Humanizing Automation

Kyle finished his seven trends with “humanizing automation.” Automating the customer journey is a vital goal for most marketers. The challenge comes when you try to keep the human element to the customer journey while still maximizing efficiencies using automation. To do this, you need to be sure you’re making data-based decision. (Relevant) data is where you start and experience is where you end, says Kyle.

David Walmsley, Head of Multichannel at Marks & Spencer, concurs by concluding that “… we must move from numbers keeping score, to numbers that drive better actions…”

For additional information about the discussion and more data from the presentation, please visit here.

88% of executives stated: their company is undergoing a digital transformation (The 2014 State of Digital Transformation by Altimeter Group)

The 2014 State of Digital Transformation | Altimeter Group.

The State of Digital Transformation” also features expert voices as part of Altimeter Group’s previous qualitative research, including Sephora, Starbucks, Westfield, Ford, GM, LEGO, Discover, Intuit, Nestlé, Univision, a multinational financial services business, a multinational CPG company, and an American pharmaceutical company, among others.

Defining Digital Transformation

To focus our initial research, Altimeter defined digital transformation as a movement through a customer-centric lens:

The realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.

From the onset, we learned that digital transformation means different things to different people, and that’s okay; we’re all learning. What’s important to realize however is that investing in new digital technologies, such as social, mobile, big data, cloud, etc., doesn’t in of itself equate to “digital transformation.” It’s about uniting individual technology efforts around a common vision supported by an updated, integrated infrastructure to effectively compete as a unified business in connected markets.

You’ve heard it before…people, process, technology. But without vision to see how markets are shifting and leadership to identify, organize and drive new opportunities, digital transformation can become yet another victim of technology-first efforts that miss the human mark. This is why we focused our research on the digital customer experience initially. It’s a tremendous effort.

Strategists often equate digital transformation with a shift in technology investment. Its true implications though span far beyond technology and into the realms of infrastructure, organization, and leadership. More so, it leads to and is inspired by a renewed focus on the entire customer experience. As you can imagine over the years ahead, digital transformation will leave in its wake modernization, improvements and innovation across everything from HR to collaboration to sales to supply chain and beyond.

We learned that 88% of executives and digital strategists stated that their company is undergoing a formal digital transformation effort in 2014. Yet, only 25% had mapped out the digital customer journey. This is  especially interesting in that participants were given Altimeter’s definition of digital transformation at the beginning of the survey.

Not surprising, a majority of strategists, 42%, reported that while they have not yet researched the customer journey, but were investing in new digital channels any way. At the same time, 17% of digital leaders are now in the process of studying the digital customer journey.

Digital transformation doesn’t just mean increasing digital investments. It means thinking and acting “digital first.”

Figure 3_600

We asked strategists to help rank the most important digital transformation initiatives they were pursuing. Here are the results…

1) Improving processes that expedite changes to digital properties, ie. website updates new mobile or social platforms, etc. (80%)

2) Updating website and ecommerce programs for a mobile world (71%)

3) Integrating social, mobile, web, ecommerce, service efforts and investments to deliver an integrated and frictionless customer experience (70%)

4) Updating customer-facing technology systems (66%)

5) Further research into customer digital touch points (63%)

6) Overhaul customer service to meet the expectations of digital customers. (46%)

Figure 5_600

 In our previous report, we learned that it is a rare occurrence when digital transformation is led by the CEO. This time around, we also learned who the players are in championing or sponsoring change. Here, digital transformation is often driven by the CMO, CEO, and CIO (54%, 42%, and 29% respectively.)

Figure 6_600

Change of course is not without its challenges. And it is most interesting, yet not surprising, that the greatest antagonist to change is company culture (63%). That’s just the beginning however. Digital transformation is as much about introducing new technologies as it is seeing new opportunities and working toward them differently than in the past.

Additional challenges facing digital transformation specific to DCX include…

– Thinking beyond a campaign mentality (59%)

– Cross-functional collaboration (56%)

– Resources (56%)

– Understanding digital customer behavior (53%)

– Securing executive support (42%)

Figure 7_600

Digital transformation wouldn’t push forward if it didn’t bear fruit worthy of the effort. There are other fantastic reports, like this one by CapGemini and MIT, that cover different aspects of digital transformation. They all agree that in the end, those organizations that invest in new technologies, people, and processes to compete in digital markets realize business-level returns including market share, greater margins and profits, talent, among others.

Digital transformation impacts the bottom line. It leads to boosts in collaboration and productivity. Additionally, digital transformation helps companies assess and aspire to enhance the real customer experience.

Since our work focused on DCX, we were also introduced to more performance-oriented benefits…

1) Lift in customer engagement (75%)

2) Improved customer satisfaction (63%)

3) Higher digital traffic (53%)

4) Increased lead gen/sales (49%)

Conclusion

It’s clear. We still have a lot to learn about digital transformation: what it is, what it isn’t, and what it offers businesses that explore its permutations. But what’s clearer is that change has to start somewhere.

Remember, in the end, the key to digital transformation is to adopt technology as enabler for something bigger. Behavior, whether it’s related to customers, employees, values, or expectations, is as important (or more so) as becoming increasingly digital through new investments in strategy and technology.  Thus, digital transformation becomes a catalyst for re-imagining the overall customer (or employee) experience.

Businesses undergoing digital transformation are each, in their own way, creating new processes, forming new business models and teams, and investing in new technologies and systems to work in ways that are more relevant to the state and evolution of today’s markets. In doing so, they’re leveraging digital transformation to become more customer-centric, more human, and renewing their culture for a new generation of customers and employees.

There’s so much more to the report. Please take a moment to download it here and also share your story with us.

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