News has not been kind to US headquartered technology companies over the past year. From an erosion of faith because of a company’s geographic location, to a series of high profile breaches that are calling into question trust in your IT systems. Technology providers and governments have a vital role to play in rebuilding trust. And so do customers—who need to demand more from their technology providers.
In my recent trip to Europe, and speaking to some balanced, thoughtful, and concerned public officials, it got me thinking. Why do we trust the products we use? Is it because they work as advertised? Is it because the brand name is one we implicitly believe in for any number of reasons? Is it because the product was tested and passed the tests? Is it because everyone else is using it so it must be okay? Is it because when something goes wrong, the company that produced it fixes it? Is it because we asked how it was built, where it was built, and have proof?
That last question is the largest ingredient in product and service acquisition today, and that just has to change. Our customers are counting on us to do the right thing, and now we’re counting on them. It’s time for a market transition: where customers demand secure development lifecycles, testing, proof, a published remediation process, investment in product resilience, supply chain security, transparency, and ultimately – verifiable trustworthiness.
We saw some of this coming, and these are some of the principles I hear customers mention when they talk about what makes a trustworthy company and business partner. Starting in 2007, with a surge that began in 2009, we’ve systematically built these elements into our corporate strategy, very quietly, and now we want the dialogue to start.
I’m challenging customers to take the next step and require IT vendors to practice a secure development lifecycle, have a supply chain security program, and a public, verifiable vulnerability handling process.
I recently recorded the video blog above discussing what it means to be a trustworthy company. I hope you will share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section.
As Cisco’s chief marketing officer, an important part of my role is to build and maintain the trust of Cisco’s customers.In fact, “brand promise” ultimately relies upon the trust consumers have placed in a brand. Customers who are loyal to a brand will trust that the next product or service introduced under that brand will fulfill the brand promise. However, trust can also have more widespread impacts that affect an organization’s ability to compete and to provide the innovative customer experiences required in the Internet of Everything (IoE) era.
This week at the National Retail Federation’s “Big Show” in New York, Cisco released a new study that uncovered some unique insights about shopping behaviors and attitudes among U.S. and U.K. consumers in the digital age. The findings point to the need for retailers to provide “hyper-relevant” shopping experiences that deliver value to the consumer in real time throughout the shopping lifecycle. Hyper-relevance comes with the ability to dynamically compare real-time customer information with historical data, and the resulting insights allow retailers to improve operations and the customer experience. At stake, according to our research, is an estimated profit improvement of 15.6 percent for an illustrative $20 billion retailer that builds agile business processes for turning these insights into value.
Our research shows that consumers are looking for retailers to deliver hyper-relevance via three value proposition categories: efficiency, engagement, and savings. In the area of efficiency, for example, 77 percent of respondents said they would be “somewhat” or “very likely” to use a solution to optimize the checkout process. In terms of savings, 79 percent indicated a willingness to take advantage of in-store offers provided via digital signage, while 73 percent said they’d like to receive special offers through augmented-reality solutions. And, in the area of engagement, 57 percent indicated a desire to learn more about products in the store by using augmented-reality capabilities.
One of the points I found particularly interesting is that consumers are relatively willing to provide certain types of personal information to retailers—such as name, age, past purchasing history, interests, and hobbies—in order to get a more personally relevant shopping experience. But beyond this basic information, there is a “trust cliff,” a steep drop-off in willingness to share certain types of personal information. A significant 16 percent of respondents were not willing to share any personal information at all.
This trust cliff presents an interesting conundrum for retailers. On one hand, our study shows that customers want personalized and contextually relevant shopping experiences. But on the other hand, they are reluctant to share the very information that can help provide these “hyper-relevant” experiences.
“Mike” may be an avid golfer who enjoys meandering through the sporting goods section of his local retailer. But he would be a very different shopper the morning his plumbing fails and threatens to flood his basement. In such a context, efficiency rules, and it is critical for the retailer to speed his shopping journey — from product research to fast checkout and payment. Friendly, by-name greetings offering prompts for new golf products on Mike’s smartphone would seem irrelevant at best, and intrusive at worst.
Checkout optimization, in-store sensors, augmented-reality solutions, and real-time analytics at the “edge” of the network are just a few of the capabilities that could give the retailer a clear picture of Mike’s shopping habits in that particular context — time, place, and situation — while helping Mike meet his plumbing crisis in a timely and efficient manner.
In effect, Mike is one customer, but he can be many different shoppers. And retailers need to know them all. Technology — specifically Internet of Everything (IoE) solutions that connect people, process, data, and things — is the way to do it.
To better illuminate the competitive dynamics and opportunities for retailers, Cisco this week shared its fifth annual retail consumer survey. Released at the National Retail Federation (NRF) “Big Show” in New York, the study includes a survey of 1240 consumer respondents from the United States and United Kingdom. Later this year, Cisco will release the complete global findings from 6,000 respondents across 10 countries.
At NRF, we also met with retailers from around the world, who shared their successes and challenges. Technology, of course, can be a headache for retailers. From disruptive innovations to rapidly changing customer behaviors, today’s retailers are challenged on multiple fronts. As the Cisco study found, however, IoE-enabled solutions offer retailers an opportunity to provide their customers with hyper-relevant experiences that blend the best of online shopping with the advantages of the in-store experience.
The key is to gain insight into the real-time nuances and context of the many shopping journeys available to consumers. That requires investments in the right technology. But how can retailers avoid the kinds of investments that have not paid off in the past?
In the Cisco study, we tested 19 IoE-enabled shopping experiences, spanning all stages of the shopping journey and addressing many maturing digital enablers, including video, mobility, and analytics. Overall, consumers indicated that they are very interested in using these applications to get more value. The table below illustrates our respondents’ interest level in the 19 individual concept tests, along with the financial opportunity from each of three value proposition categories: efficiency, savings, and engagement. Our economic analysis revealed that roughly two-thirds of the total potential opportunity (or $208 million for an illustrative retailer with $20 billion in annual revenue) comes from applications that deliver greater efficiency for consumers.
In the United States, disruptive innovators (e.g., Groupon, LivingSocial, Gilt) have successfully targeted consumer savings, which has served to exacerbate margin compression for retailers in some categories. We are now exploring these trends in Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. We find that most incumbent retailers, by contrast, are investing heavily in solutions that engage consumers at all points of their shopping journey, including bringing them into the store and cross-selling and up-selling to them (indeed, this is the underlying strategy of today’s discount wars).
Consumers have always been preoccupied with savings. So it is no surprise that savings remain the area of most interest to our survey respondents. Efficiency, however, is a close second in terms of interest. When asked about the areas where they would like to see improvements, 39 percent of our respondents identified the process of selecting and purchasing goods, showing a need for greater ease and efficiency. By contrast, only 13 percent sought improvements that would create a more personalized shopping experience.
In this year’s survey, consumers made it clear that experiences must be efficient, contextual (that is, reflecting a shopper’s individual situation, real-time environment, history, and so forth), relevant to real-time needs, and easy in which to participate. In the retail environment, such situational awareness is essential to creating a better customer experience. Retailers must increase the value to the consumer throughout the shopping journey, demonstrably providing a combination of efficiency, savings, and engagement.
By exploring these solutions today, retailers can begin to realize a new level of innovation and competitive dynamism. And customers like Mike can look forward to getting their plumbing fixed ASAP (and maybe even return to the store later that day to try out some of those new golf products).
As I’m sure most of you know, Jon Stine presented this morning at NRF on the results of his fourth “Catch ‘Em and Keep ‘Em” survey, which is a highly respected study done each year to identify how shoppers are responding to retail technologies. As a followup to his NRF Big Ideas session, I’d like to reproduce here Jon’s blog on his findings and thoughts. Thank you, Jon!
Want Your Share of $100 Billion? Build Customer Trust
By Jon Stine
Trust. It’s a powerful human emotion that often drives our behavior. The level of trust, or lack thereof, between a retailer and its customers can literally make or break the business. Given the importance of trust, many retailers are asking: How much do customers trust retailers? What are the benefits of increasing trust? How do retailers gather the information needed to provide the personalized experiences many customers want, while maintaining and even building trusted relationships?
These questions are especially important given the critical juncture at which we find ourselves—the convergence of people, process, data, and things called the Internet of Everything (IoE).
To help retailers build customer trust in an increasingly digitally connected world, Cisco Consulting Services surveyed 1,174 consumers in its fourth annual Digital Shopping Behavior survey.* From a behavior perspective, shoppers are becoming more digital. In fact, eighty percent of respondents are what we call Digital Mass shoppers—people who research, browse, and purchase digitally. Within this group, Über Digitals, who almost always use a smartphone to shop, increased from 11 percent last year to 18 percent this year. Clearly, your customers are digital.
Before we discuss “how,” it is important to understand “why.” Our research showed $100 billion of IoE value was available for retailers in the United States to capture in 2013 by offering more personalized shopping experiences. If you missed your share, don’t worry. This number is expected to increase slightly in 2014. Realizing this value, however, isn’t easy.
When it comes to trust, retailers are starting from a low base. When asked, “How much would you trust these companies/institutions to protect your personal data and use it to provide something you value?” respondents ranked retailers second to last, at 31 percent—behind government agencies (37 percent), and ahead of Internet companies (18 percent).
Even so, shoppers want personalized experiences. When asked, “Which personalized experiences do you prefer?” respondents ranked promotions via touch-screen or smartphone first (Digital Mass: 46 percent; Über Digitals: 53 percent). This was followed by personalized products, personalized shopping lists, and personalized service.
So, how do we solve this dilemma between a lack of trust and the desire for personalized shopping experiences, which require the collection of personal information? For answers, let’s look at a few of the research findings.
Shoppers want personalized offers that are easy to use – Most people want to receive personalized offers via email at home. This suggests that shoppers — even Über Digitals — start the shopping process while they are in their home environment. The vision of in-store offers may simply not be in sync with the reality of shopper decision making and in-store behavior.
Shoppers are willing to share information – Both Digital Mass and Über Digital shoppers are willing to share past purchase history and basic personal information (name, age, etc.) with retailers to receive a more personalized shopping experience. Topping the list of acceptable information for retailers to use are time spent in the store, location in the store, and products you try but don’t buy.
Based on our experience working with many of the world’s leading retailers, there are three key takeaways and actions when it comes to building trust:
Shopper trust must be earned. Retailers can do this by delivering a clear data policy and making the benefits of providing personal information transparent and easy to understand.
IoE is already here. To capture your share of the $100 billion value at stake, develop a strategic plan that takes into account the information above.
Über Digitals are too important to ignore. Selling to these shoppers requires an architecture and infrastructure that can support their increasing expectations for connected, digital shopping experiences.
To gain even more insights into developing trust in an IoE world, take a look at:
* This year’s Cisco Consulting Digital Shopping Behavior survey includes responses from 1,174 consumers who are representative of the United States broadband population by age, income, and region. It is the fourth in a series of popular “Catch ‘Em and Keep ‘Em” studies by Cisco Consulting Services.
In the past couple of years, cloud-based solutions have gone from the status of a brave new technology to a mainstream vehicle for delivering storage, application, infrastructure and other services. From a security point of view, consuming cloud-based services usually involves delegating security for the service to the service provider. This does not need to be as scary as it sounds – as long as you approach the service engagement with your eyes open, and arm yourself with pertinent requirements for the service provider to provide appropriate controls to protect your organization.