The Digital Disruption Tour: A Brand’s Challenges to Meet Customer Experience

Fresh off the first of the digital disruption tour events, I am reflecting on the wonderful conversation that Ray Wang lead with his keynote speech, really defining this new era of business. If you want to really understand what he’s talking about, you not only must see him speak — he draws such a clear picture of the future, but to really allow what’s happening to infiltrate your department or functional area or your own leadership, his book, Disrupting Digital Business, is very helpful — with examples and details.

For customer experience professionals, that was my roundtable discussion, we talked about not only this new era of business, but the requirement of company’s to change their business models to be able to deliver on the promise of whatever customer experience they are offering. Doesn’t matter if it’s B2B or B2C or B2B2C- customer’s have expectations. Why is it so different today than its ever been? For many of us at the roundtable discussion– we’ve been talking about customer experience, customer service, customer success management for most of our professional lives. It’s not new. And it’s not really a new topic inside of companies.

What is new and what does require something different of organizations is the transparency of how the customer experience affects a business’s customers. In the old days, the customer experience might have been between a contact center agent and a customer. And depending on how empowered that agent was (which generally they were not) that empowerment or lack there of, generated a certain customer experience. It was also dependent on technology as well as processes that were either well defined and implemented or not. If it was a bad experience, that customer would often tell 10-20 people within their circle of influence.

Today, customer loyalty and advocacy is different. Why? Because today the world can see, in an instant, what a brand’s customer experience is and because customers can easily speak to other customers, often going around the brand, brand’s have to walk their talk. And while the Directors of Corporate Communication, PR, the CMO and marketing spend tireless hours and hundreds if not millions or more in budget to create a “brand” — whether that “brand” ends up living up to expectations is dependent on so many things; it now requires we change how we do business so nothing falls through the cracks.  It requires collaboration between all functional departments and the back office.

Ultimately, a brand ends up being expressed as the experience a customer has with that brand. And because there are so many people, departments, touch-points — at any point in that customer’s interaction with that brand, the brand may not uphold its promise. And because of the nature of social networks, that “good or bad” experience, can be expressed for millions to see, in a nano-second, often lasting a long time (think of “online posts” like cave paintings – they last millions of years…) The expression of a brand from a customer can be very personal and emotional. And often times the expression from the brand’s side is through content. And the number of people and budget, just for content marketing, has really shifted how we must think about how we do business. Business has changed. Period.

I really want to thank each and every person who participated in the customer experience roundtable. What our roundtable discussion concluded where several things:

1. Good customer experience starts with strategy. It’s not just about implementing the technology. It’s about looking at your business processes from the customer’s point of view and making changes to what does not make sense. It’s about examining the commitment from the senior leadership team to allow for budget so that the people, process and technology required for great customer experiences can be delivered.

2. Good customer experience also requires something new of the internal aspects of a company – culture, leadership, employees, training, attitude… and while most of what I write about is that “external” customer-facing experience, the truth is that – that customer experience can’t be good if the internal capabilities of an organization are not optimized. It is something that is often underestimated and rarely spoken about, but at the end of the day, it’s employees who are driving the customer experience in one shape or form. So it’s my feeling that this part of the conversation can no longer can be ignored. And in some cases, it maybe the first step in generating great, external-facing customer experiences.

The Panel Discussion One of the panels was on the customer experiences created in the financial services area. Financial service companies  often think of themselves at limited to change things because of all the regulations they face. When Ray was asked about this he explained, “While there are many regulations, smart companies are looking at those regulations, often written years ago and asking if they make sense today. If they don’t, smart companies and governments are taking the time to question them and transform whatever it takes to make things work better.”

Wipro (who sponsored this SF part of the tour) talked about the ideas behind banking 1:1. Even in a highly regulated and competitive marketplace, banks must examine every possible idea and strategize about the advantages it can use to meet and to exceed customer expectations. This is truly, for all industries, where companies will differentiate themselves from the pack, now and in the future. Banks can’t offer simple and automated banking services. To build loyalty and drive profitability, banks need to offer a non-stop interactive banking environment and to increase their business agility by anticipating customer needs and offer an engaging user experience.

I vowed to keep writing about customer experience and customer service / success management – the ability to use data to understand our customers better to provide better experiences – as well as technology, people and processes. But I also asked that each one of the people in my roundtable take it upon themselves to hold the torch to generate excellent customer experiences. That’s because transforming businesses today, to provide great customer experiences, takes a village; it’s not a one person job. It takes collaboration across functional departments and strong leadership from all of us.

So as you read this, I ask you to also hold the torch for great customer experiences and for what the “transparency and digital disruption” means and requires of each of us – i.e., that what we are really talking about is that we all have  to change our business models (or how we do business.) And together, I believe we can transform business. It’s something that has been a long time in coming. It’s here. It’s now. It’s something I want to see in my lifetime. How about you?


Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Dedicated to the people, process, technology and data, to provide great customer experiences.


The Digital Disruption: Is Your Brand Ready?

Many clients ask about what all the fuss is about the digital disruption; why do I need to be concerned about this? Is this really new? Haven’t we been dealing with this for a while. And the answer, at least in my opinion, is that most brands have missed the point of the digital disruption. Many think it’s about having a Facebook Page or a Pinterest account or counting the number of “Likes” they have or improving the SEO on their website or the content….

The digital disruption is really a new way to approach business. It incorporates some tried and true business concepts like, “Listen to your customers” — only now you really have to do it and not give it lip service. The consequence of not “listening” could be a failed PR campaign or some other rumor or issue — that gets picked up in social, gets posted about on blogs and reviews sites (digital) and becomes a trending, online topic. Listening in this context means using some sort of online listening tool. That’s only part of the tactics of it. But it also means listening to what your contact center agents are hearing about your products and services, taking survey’s and focus groups seriously… It means listening to your customers and your employees and then taking action.

And once you have that feedback, it’s really about doing something about it – whether it’s improving the product or the service or both. It’s really about changing how you do business. And in a world that is now very transparent (meaning that when a company doesn’t respond, an online and offline conversation starts and as we know from the book, the Cluetrain Manifesto, markets are conversations.) What people think and say about your company can determine the success or failure of the brand. Edward Deming spoke about this back in the 1950’s, only what they now call listening back then was quality control. Nobody cared much for it back then. At least not in the US. Japan did take Deming’s teaching to heart and transformed how they did business. And that’s what everyone needs to do now.

So if you want to learn more about businesses that are doing this and what you can start thinking about if you have not already, you can come here a distinguished group of people speak about it in San Francisco, May 4 at the W at 181 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103. If you are wondering who should attend, here’s a short list below – and if this conversation is appealing to you – you’ll find many more like-minded people there to hang with… people that want to talk more about this topic include:

  • Innovation-minded business and technology executives
  • Corporate strategy and development executives
  • Board members seeking input for annual planning
  • Executives who use disruptive technologies and digital business models

Space is limited. Complimentary seats are reserved for qualified executives and typically include Directors and above. and others are included at Constellation Research‘s discretion. The event hours are 2:30 pm – 8:00 pm. And the event is powered by the Constellation Executive Network. You may want to make reservations!

Hope to see you there! I’ll be speaking!

VP and Principle Analyst, Constellation Research



Capgemini is Named a 2015 SAP® Pinnacle Awardee for Services Transformation Partner

One of the most important things about technology is that it works and delivers on it’s promise. But it can’t do that without the ability to have it implemented well. And often it’s not a matter of just implementing it well. Today implementing technology means that you are looking at transforming the organization and how it does business. That must be done to use the new systems of engagement and systems for the future of how work gets done.

That’s why it’s notable that Capgemini received a 2015 SAP® Pinnacle Award as the Services Transformation Partner of the Year. This award recognizes Capgemini’s outstanding contributions as an SAP partner. SAP presents these awards annually to the top partners that have excelled in developing and growing their partnership with SAP and helping customers run better. Winners and finalists in 22 categories were chosen based on recommendations from the SAP field, customer feedback and performance indicators in the following umbrella categories: Exponential Growth, Cloud, Platform and Value Creation.

Capgemini has Delivery and Solution Design Centers devoted to work related to SAP software, which leverage its Intellectual Property solutions for the Cloud, Mobility, Analytics and the SAP HANA® platform, its OnePath pricing and licensing models and its preconfigured industry solutions. Capgemini’s solutions and implementation methodologies for SAP software can be tailored to companies of all sizes, and build on its deep industry experience, particularly in Consumer Goods and Retail, Energy and Utilities, Manufacturing, Public Sector and Financial Service.

Congrats to Capgemini!


VP and Principle Analyst, Constellation Research


Content Management Best Practices in Staffing

Often times when I talk to marketers they are finally realizing they are becoming publishers. Most brands started out with some sort of website, though it was mostly a brochure, it had content. But with the advent of so many new channels via social and digital – the need for content has gone up exponentially. In fact a brand or an individual can build their reputation and trust amongst their customer base, based on the content they create and distribute. B2C marketers, when asked in a survey (1) said they wanted content to be able to help them:

  1. Become better at converting visitors on website: 65 percent
  2. Create more engaging/higher-quality content: 62 percent
  3. Become better storytellers: 61 percent
  4. Optimize content: 61 percent
  5. Organize website content: 61 percent.

In the B2B world, marketers said measurement is a key area in which they are struggling. Though, those that used LinkedIn as a distribution channel 94 percent found it to be the most used and the most effective social media distribution platform for placement of their content. (2) That makes sense, as LinkedIn is the business social network for many people.

As we talked to content marketers, another thing was clear. It’s not free. It takes money and time — and that means staff with particular skill sets to accomplish the various aspects of creating, editing, distributing and measurement of the contents effectiveness. As a result of this need for content and the need for senior leadership to understand how important content management is, we created a report that covers some best practices when staffing up a team to deliver on a brand’s promise. The link to a snapshot of the report can be found here.

As you are creating your content management strategy, don’t forget about the people. Yes, it’s important to have technology, but you also need process and people to make it all work!


VP and Principle Analyst, Constellation Research




ThinkBig and Teradata Partner for Data Consulting

With all the data and all the opportunity, it’s really necessary to have someone focus on getting most out of that data. Otherwise, as other’s have coined, you end up with a data lake – a bunch of data but not in context and not useable in providing great, continuos customer experiences. And at the end of the day, what companies need is to have the data actually to help them run their business better. So the announcement today solves some of these issues, i.e.,  Think Big, a Teradata (NYSE: TDC) company, announced the immediate expansion of its big data consulting business.

They have announced a dashboard engine to be able to have drill down capability and get to the insights using ingestion patterns and infrastructure. Think Big embraces a range of vendor-neutral, open source options and recommends the best combination to complement existing, proven technologies based on each customer’s unique business needs.

Think Big assists clients, across industries, to gain measurable business value from big data through implementation and integration of open-source technologies such as Apache™ Hadoop®, Apache Spark™, and NoSQL databases (i.e. Apache HBase™, Apache Cassandra™, and MongoDB).

Hadoop and its fast growing ecosystem of open source projects have quickly become first-class technology assets, regardless of the organization’s size or geography,” said Rick Farnell, co-founder and senior vice president International, Think Big, a Teradata company. “Think Big’s international expansion will allow us to effectively share our expertise and support our customers. To support its growth, Think Big is aggressively recruiting talented individuals to fill a variety of positions in sales, data engineering, data science and project management.”

Will be very interesting to see how the partnership evolves and the case studies that result. Remember – send your clients to the enter into the Super Nova Awards to be considered. It’s a great honor and Constellation Research is looking for innovators who are disrupting business models and using data to do that. Especially in click-stream data.


VP and Principle Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Marketing, Sales and Customer Service to Provide Great Customer Experiences


The Social Selling Index: What’s Your Score?

If you are in sales, which in some capacity we all are, you really must begin the road down social selling. As I have worked on research on this topic, I’ve gotten comments that range everything from “What’s social selling?” to “Social Selling is the best thing that has every happened to sales!” So if you don’t know what social selling is – here’s a paper that will help you understand some of what you need to know: How Sales Leaders and Sales Reps Can Create a Social Selling Organization. When I was at the LinkedIn’s Social Selling Conference, I was given my Social Selling Index (SSI). What is that? The Social Selling Index is made up of 4 pillars:

4 Pilllars of the Social Selling IndexThe Social Selling Index is measured on a scale of 0-100. Each area has a total possible score of 25. What are the drivers of the Social Selling Index? And why should salespeople care about improving their SSI? Here’s some stats that may surprise you below. LinkedIn Research looked at the people who filled out their profile and it showed that SSI leaders have 45% more opportunities per quarter and are 51% more likely to hit quotas than SSI laggards.* (*Source: LinkedIn Global Survey of 5,000 Sales Professionals, October 2013)

Stats on Social Selling Index natalie petouhoff LinkedIn

Those with a high SSI score were promoted 17 months faster than those with low SSI. Those with a higher SSI could reach VP level 41 months faster than those with a low SSI.

Promotions to Club natalie petouhoff LinkedIn

If you are not sure if social selling is for you, you might want to shift that thinking. Otherwise you might be left behind. Wondering who has already adopted Social Selling Index? Here’s some stats:

Who is using the social selling index natalie petouhoff LinkedIn

Create a Strong Personal Brand

Improving your SSI means that you have to understand each section of the SSI. The first part is about creating a personal brand. I was fortunate that when I began my career I did a lot of writing and established myself as someone who often wrote about the leading edge of what was going on in tech and software. That helped. What also helped was that I had bosses who realized the importance of a strong personal brand. At the time I was a management consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers. The partner I worked for explained to me that the reason businesses buy from PWC was, and it was in this order: 1. Who I was (my personal brand, the work I’d be doing and the expertise I’d bring to the table 2. The actual work we would do 3. the fact that we were from the firm PWC. At the time PWC was a 150 year old brand. To me, having a well established brand recognize the importance of personal branding was pretty unusual and astounding. But I went with it and it has served me well. Flash forward 15-20 years and now personal branding is — well let’s just say — “in fashion!”

How do you create a personal brand. Part of that can be done on LinkedIn. Research shows that 81% of people are more likely to engage with someone with a strong, professional brand. When I was at the LinkedIn Social Selling Conference, they gave each attendee their social selling index. Mine is below. What you can see is that I score very high (21) in creating a professional brand. However, I score lower in the next two sections of the social selling index. That makes sense because I am an analyst, not a sales person. I score better on building strong relationships, because that is something that is important as an analyst. So if you have not tried social selling, I highly recommend it. It’s truly where the future of selling is going. And note that it may require that you and / or your team get training. It’s important to understand some of the best practices so you can maximize your social selling success!


LinkedIn Profile Dr Natalie Social Selling Index3

And here’s a link to a paper on some best practices on social selling that I put together: How Sales Leaders and Sales Reps Can Create a Social Selling Organization.


VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Marketing, Sales and Customer Service to Create Better Customer Experiences.


Microsoft Convergence Conference Day 1

What I found most interesting is the emphasis on people. And the acknowledgement that technology is there to empower people. There’s been, as many of you know, this rub between the “business” and “IT” and their differing agendas. A couple of examples of customer’s at the Microsoft Convergence Conference showed today clearly that there are companies that have overcome the rub between these two differing parts of a business.

When we were in the analyst and press meeting I asked, “Do you see the rub between IT and the business still in the clients you work with?” They answered very honestly. They told us in clients that “get it” that IT and the business do partner. And often the CIO is the Chief Digital Officer or is truly tapped into the business. And what I loved  the results that you see when that happens.

An example of that was how AccuWeather used the business intelligence to know where trains could avoided tornadoes & Eddie Vedder avoided a lightning strike based on AccuWeather intelligence. This example showed how it’s possible to really make the leap of the digital disruption. Another example was Wash Laundry with 900 employees & 70,000 locations. They are improving their ability to collaborate. Both used Microsoft products.

They also said that they still see some companies not “getting it.” And these companies I worry about. The digital disruption isn’t that you have a Facebook page or a mobile app. It’s that you have truly changed the way you see your business, how you have constructed your business model and found budget to transform the customer and employee experience to be the best they can be. This take organizational change and strong leadership.

Which camp does your company fall into?


VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research Covering Marketing, Sales and Service to Create great Customer Experiences


#AdobeSummit WOWs With a Ton of Announcements

The #AdobeSummit has begun and the news below, for the 6,000 digital marketers and senior leaders from the world’s top brands is being digested, while sharing best practices and networking. As a marketer, there never seems to be enough time to learn everything, but soak it up. It’s all here! And if you are here in person or not… here’s a round-up of what’s happening here:

  • Adobe Pushed Boundaries of Marketing at Summit 2015 – At Summit 2015, Adobe is showcasing a range of innovation across its Adobe Marketing Cloud, including the unveiling of two new Adobe Marketing Cloud Solutions – Primetime and Audience Manager. Press Release
  • Adobe Brings Digital Marketing to Internet of Things (IoT) – Adobe Marketing Cloud extends personalized experiences to physical spaces and machines; New IoT SDK enables brands to measure and analyze engagement across IoT devices. Press Release
  • Adobe Streamlines Mobile Marketing and App Development. – Adobe is unveiling significant enhancements to Adobe Mobile Services, a Core Service across Adobe Marketing Cloud, that include a fully integrated mobile app framework. The new mobile app framework delivers the complete, integrated solution in the industry for developing and managing apps, and is the first to eliminate marketers’ dependence on an array of disjointed point solutions. Press Release
  • Adobe Marketing Cloud Unites Data-driving Marketing and Ad Tech – Adobe is unveiling a new algorithmic engine and advances in Audience Core Services that enables brands to connect massive audience and behavioral data from a broad range of sources, while a new set of algorithms allow them to reach those audiences through Adobe Media Optimizer. Press Release

Joint Partner Announcements:

  • Adobe and IBM Interactive Experience Announce Global Partnership – IBM Interactive Experience will build specialized enterprise consulting capabilities for Adobe Marketing Cloud. Combining the capabilities of Adobe Marketing Cloud with the design, digital and technology expertise of IBM Interactive Experience, enterprises can comprehensively integrate all the touch points of a consumer’s journey. Press Release.
  • Accenture and Adobe Create Innovative, Pay-Per-Use Digital Marketing Service to Drive Greater Marketing ROI – Today Accenture and Adobe expand their alliance with the launch of Accenture Customer Engagement, a cloud-based managed service that simplifies the development, execution and measurement of digital marketing. Accenture Customer Engagement features digital marketing services from Accenture Interactive wrapped seamlessly around Adobe Marketing Cloud solutions. Press Release.

Partner-Issued Adobe Marketing Cloud Announcements:

Adobe Blogs Provide Additional Information on the Latest News from Summit:

If you want all Adobe Summit announcement highlights, videos, images and more, you can go here:

And you can follow the Twitter feed using the hashtag: #AdobeSummit

As you can see Adobe is addressing many of the issues that plague marketers, working to simplify, while giving marketers more control and options. As marketers are called to do more than just “push” messages and rather engage customers, more and more capabilities are required. The future is here, now. Digital Marketing education is not only necessary, it should be a requirement in every university!


VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Marketing, Sales, Digital, Social and Customer Service to Create Amazing Customer Experiences


The Year of the Customer: Research Points to the New Focus Must Be The Customer

Over the years I’ve covered Marketing, Sales, Customer Service and Support, Customer Success Management – all of which end up providing the brand or company the ability to deliver on a promise and make good on that promise or somewhere along that customer journey or do something that creates an unpleasant experience and drives the customer away from the company and to a competitor. We’ve known for over 25 years, its less expensive to keep current customers happy and continuously buying from a brand, yet companies are still not getting the value in perpetual customer experience. What I mean by that is that – it’s not just one experience that matters. Its every single interaction – and from the customer’s point of view. But it’s not that simple. It’s every single interaction from every single customer – perpetually.

Often people have argued with me whether social / digital makes a difference in customer service and customer loyalty. If you consider the 1-9-90 rule — which means that 1% of the population posts, 9% respond and 90% just lurk or read what the 10% posted — there are literally millions, if not billions of people who have read posts by that 10%. And even though that 10% is the tip of the iceberg of the total customer population, they are very influential. Consider that a good percentage of that 90% reads what the 10% writes. They could read about how horrible a brand’s products and services are, and without even engaging with them, a brand could make the decision to never buy from them. And consider if this is the case, there will be companies that look up one day and their customer base is gone and they will wonder where it went. It went to your competitors.

I thought I would provide a list of the research I’ve been working on – just to give you an idea of the various things I think about and where I see the world going. One of the best things about being an analyst is that you get to see the world from a collected set of experiences – from vendor briefings, conferences, speaking engagements and advisory – and you start to see patterns and that helps to shape your point of view on the world. Truthfully, while there’s some things changing, it’s still should be a customer-focused world. No Customers, no business. It’s that simple.

Here’s some of my thoughts on these topics below. @drnatalie

VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Marketing, Sales and Customer Service and Customer Success Management to Create Great Customer Experiences


What Are the 4 Pillars Of Social Selling? What Creates Social Selling Success?

My latest report is a best practices guide for sales leaders and teams looking to use social to transform their average-performing sales teams into top performers (1-2). Did you know that seventy-eight percent of salespeople who use social media outsell their peers? (3) Nearly sixty percent of a typical purchasing decision—researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking pricing, and so on—happen before the potential buyer even has a conversation with a supplier. (4) Research into actual use of social selling has revealed that sales professionals who use social selling are fifty-one percent more likely to exceed quota, three times more likely to go to a special sales event for top sellers and get promoted to vice president seventeen months faster. (5)
Your social media presence will allow you to demonstrate your expertise and helpfulness to your potential customers. The result? They’re a warm prospect before your first personal interaction! The idea of using social to boost sales may seem like a no-brainer to you, but the reality is that many sales organizations feel they:
  • Could use social better
  • Experience difficulty with adoption, or
  • Unsure of how to start their social selling initiative.

This report addresses the concerns of the weary social selling novice to the experienced sales leader seeking to improve the efficiency of their social sales team. Here’s an excerpt from the report:

Four Steps to Creating a Social Selling OrganizationWith billions of pieces of information being shared each week in social channels, you will want to organize and operationalize your approach to social selling. Use Constellation’s Social Selling Assessment to focus on four key steps:

1. Create a personal brand – Each sales team member should build a complete profile on key social networks.

2. Find the right people – Once you set up your professional brand, start using it with a network

3. Engage your prospects with insights – Read, participate and contribute in social networks
4. Build strong relationships – Cultivate prospects and people within your company.
Read more about my report How Sales Leaders and Sales Reps Can Create a Social Selling OrganizationA snapshot of the report and the table of contents is available here:
VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research
Covering Marketing, Sales and Customer Service to Create Great Customer Experiences

(1) The Sales Management Association survey, organization

(2) Brian Fetherstonhaugh, Chairman and CEO, OgilvyOne Worldwide,”The Future of Selling”,

(3) Mike Volpe, “Your Sales Strategy Shouldn’t Rely on a Cold Call”, Mashable, October 8, 2014,

(4) Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, Nicholas Toman, “The End of Solution Sales”, Harvard Business Review, July 2012, https://hbr .org/2012/07/the-end-of-solution-sales

(5) LinkedIn research surveys and analysis of using social selling tools, with LinkedIn data from 2014 and 2015