Archive for the ‘Amazon’ Category
Thursday, April 17th, 2014
By Rich Karlgaard
Blow up your bureaucracy and replace it with teams of 8 to 12 people. This is not as radical as it sounds. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos calls it the “Two-Pizza Rule”—a team should be no larger than can be fed by two pizzas. In today’s fast-evolving business climate, two-pizza teams can be your organization’s best strategy for success. But how do you go about selecting and nurturing team members for maximum efficiency?
Here are 12 tips:
Work your way to the smallest number, then subtract one. This advice has been borne out by numerous business leaders. The “minus one” philosophy forces the remaining team members to be creative. That’s where you start. Lean and hungry. Fewer than a dozen if you can manage. You can always add later.
Go with your gut—even when someone isn’t the “obvious” choice. In 1989, FedEx knew that it needed to update its old, slow technology. Its unconventional strategy was to ask Judy Estrin, a young Silicon Valley technologist, to join its board. At 36, with no experience as a CEO or on a large company board, Estrin wasn’t an obvious choice. But she was, as FedEx CEO Fred Smith noted, “blindingly bright.” The point? Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb if you believe an “unconventional” choice would be best for your team. Who is your Judy Estrin?
Choose people who are passionate. These are the ones who will spend extra hours on a project, who will think about that problem or product on the weekends, in the shower, wherever they go. Without passion, your team is likely to be a gaggle of clock-punching automatons.
You can generally recognize passionate people by what they do, not what they say. Consider the approach taken by Mike Sinyard, founder of Specialized Bicycles. Sinyard hires only employees who love biking and watches to see who does lunchtime group rides to separate the “talkers” from the “riders.” Is this fair? Why not? It’s a bike company.
Look for grit
Look for grit, too. Grit is the ability to overcome adversity. Look for individuals who have proven they can do so—those who don’t shy away from a challenge. Avoid those whose first move is to look around for someone to help them when they’re in a jam. Remember, a big part of what makes two-pizza teams tick is an intrepid, entrepreneurial spirit that isn’t daunted when the going gets rough.
Avoid needy prima donnas and self-aggrandizing MVPs. Yes, “team players” has become a business buzzword, but there’s a good reason for that. You really do want to staff your team with individuals who are willing to share, serve, and give credit where credit is due.
You can also borrow the strategy of Eric Edgecumbe, COO at Specialized Bicycles, who asks, “Did you play any team sports in high school or college? Tell me what you liked about being on a team and what you didn’t like about being on a team.” Individuals’ answers can tell you a lot.
Aim for cognitive diversity. In other words, go beyond “shallow, legalistic” definitions of diversity. Cognitive diversity encompasses a broad range of variables—generational differences, educational and skill variation, and social and cultural elements, including, of course, race and gender. Cognitively diverse teams will come up with ideas and tackle problems in a variety of ways. Some members will trust their guts; others will crunch numbers. Some are analytical and logical; others are creative and intuitive.
They will all think, feel, and see the world in unique ways, leading to the broadest range of ideas and solutions.
However, don’t emphasize your team’s differences. This can result in unhelpful pigeonholing. Instead, focus on finding common ground and providing what the group needs to move forward. For instance, all employees want a chance to be respected, to be challenged, and to grow.
We all need credible leaders: people who encourage us and listen to us. We all want to learn more and receive training that helps us do a better job and get to the next level.
Give the gift of high expectations.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos came up with the two-pizza rule for team-building.
Encourage tough conversations. Easily won consensus isn’t always the hallmark of effective two-pizza teams. Sometimes, arguments need to happen. Tension needs to be addressed. It may be messy, and there will very likely be misunderstandings. But stay the course and urge people to speak up and have difficult conversations. In the end, their differing opinions and interests will sharpen the company and result in better products and services.
Give the gift of high expectations. Don’t be afraid to drive people, cajole them, and push them to find that last 1 percent of team performance. This motivates them far more than vague or easily met goals. When a team leader has high expectations, he or she is paying the team members a compliment. And when those expectations are met, the feeling of success not only becomes normative, it begins to grow and multiply. A virtuous cycle begins, and you institute a natural deterrent against the inertia that dooms so many companies and careers to mediocrity.
Be very clear about goals and boundaries. Don’t leave room for doubt. Don’t be passive-aggressive. When team leaders are as clear as possible in setting boundaries, people actually feel freer to express thoughts or make mistakes than when boundaries are vague.
Lead with real-world optimism. Great team leaders simultaneously drive and reassure people. Base this reassurance on the genuine belief that good things come from working hard and following a system. This kind of real-world optimism is more than hope—it’s the ability to approach your task as an opportunity. Let your team know that if they stay positive but alert and a touch paranoid—just a touch!—they’ll have a shot at achieving something bigger and better.
Keep a loose grip on the reins. Valuable team members will want some control over their own environments. If they have to run every detail by you, they’ll lose initiative. Provide support and mandate accountability, but leave the lion’s share of the decision-making with the people who will be eating those two pizzas. Don’t sacrifice productivity for the sake of bureaucracy.
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About the Author:
Rich Karlgaard is author of The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success (Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint, 2014, ISBN: 978-1-118-82942-4, $28.00, www.richkarlgaard.com). He is also the publisher of Forbes magazine, where he writes a column, Innovation Rules, known for its witty assessment of business and leadership issues.
For more tips on business best practices, digital marketing, and the most effective ways to use technology, consider attending the upcoming Digital Summit Atlanta May 20-21, where you’ll not have the chance to hear and network with top brand thought-leaders from Google, Bing, Huffington Post and many others, but also get to see Apple co-founder and tech icon Steve Wozniak.
Thursday, July 25th, 2013
Things are changing in the digital world as tech companies jostle each other for top position. IBM has bumped Microsoft out of the top spot in the Booz & Co. second annual ranking of the world’s top 50 Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies that provide the building blocks to increasingly digital businesses.
Oracle held fast at #2, while IBM leapfrogged from #3 to claim the top spot, fuelled by its strong product and service portfolio and global presence.
“This volatility is not surprising given the vast changes sweeping this sector.
These companies are being forced to rapidly transform their business models, product portfolios, service offerings and global footprints in order to stay one step ahead of their clients’ needs in the evolving digital world.. Add to this financial pressures in an uncertain economy, and the fact that boundaries are gone and more players are competing for overlapping, converged markets, and it’s no wonder new winners are emerging,” says Richard Bhanap, partner at Booz & Company.
- Software and Internet companies and hardware and infrastructure providers are dominating the ICT industry, claiming the majority of spots in the top 20
- Integrated solution models are continuing to gain ground over IT services, especially those IT service providers with more traditional outsourcing and managed services businesses
- Several software and Internet businesses are making big advances, including SAP, which jumped three spots, to #4, Google, which moved up to #8, and Amazon, which debuted in the top 50 for the first time at #13, driven by its rapidly growing cloud services business
- Dell and HCL took the biggest falls, each dropping five spots, to #20 and #18, respectively
Market going through dynamic change
“This market is going through dynamic changes; primarily because so many companies are expanding and reshaping their portfolios and pushing for global scale and reach at the same time. As a result, many smaller IT service providers are under pressure, being acquired or disappearing completely. On the other hand, ‘digital first’ players like Amazon are coming in with integrated solutions or compelling cloud offerings. We will see even more convergence in the future, and the winners will be those who can build integrated solution ecosystems around an innovative software or hardware core,” says Richard Bhanap.
- This year’s Global ICT 50 companies took in total revenues of US$2.07 trillion, a 3 percent increase over the prior year’sUS$2.01 trillion, and a slight slowdown in growth compared to the previous year. Average margins remained steady at 15 percent. Software and Internet companies (e.g., Adobe, Google, Microsoft, SAP) and offshore IT service companies (e.g., TCS, Infosys, HCL, Cognizant) were the only two groups to achieve double-digit revenue growth for the fifth straight year
- The same two groups saw stagnating to declining EBIT margins, albeit on a very healthy >20% level, which suggests early signs of business model maturity and increasing competition
- Hardware and infrastructure companies claimed the middle ground in financial performance, achieving continuous margin improvement and stable growth over the past five years
- Global IT service providers and telecom companies were the weakest performers and the only groups whose growth and profitability remained almost flat in 2013, although they did manage to stabilise their margins
Google ranks number one among MBA students asked to name ideal employers.
In addition to assessing financial performance, portfolio strength, go-to-market footprint, and innovation and branding for company rankings, the study also identifies six business models to create value in the ICT industry. This analysis reveals that players that base their value creation approach on innovation (like Apple and Google), global sourcing (such as Infosys), and digitisation models (including SAP) are the most successful financially, followed by large market consolidators such as Oracle.
Read the full study here.
Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
Tablet ownership as of May 2013 is closing in on a majority of Americans who are online, 8 to 64, across the United States, with 44% of the population owning a tablet in their household – up from 30% in 2012 which is a 47% growth rate in one year. Already a majority of online Americans (54%) ages 18 to 34 own a tablet.
Smartphone ownership has now broken the majority barrier and reached 61% of online Americans as of May 2013. Over 79% of all online Americans 18 to 34 now own a smartphone.
The rapid growth of tablet use suggests that many of us want bigger screens than most smartphones have for many of our mobile device activities. We wouldn’t be surprised to see hybrid devices with screens 5 inches to 7 inches becoming increasingly popular.
America is now a mobile connected country
Mike Vorhaus, President of Magid Advisors, a unit of Frank N. Magid Associates, Inc. says, “America is not just a connected country now, but a mobile-connected country.”
Magid has just concluded their 2013 Magid Media Futures study including a section dedicated to tablets and smartphones. The study covers a nationally representative population of 2400 respondents who are 8 to 64 years old and have access to the Internet.
Over half (53%) of all tablet owners in the U.S. have Apple’s full-sized iPad, steady since last year. When you also include the ownership of iPad minis, 59% of tablet owners have any iPad.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire has risen to 31% of tablet owners vs. 28% in 2012. Personally, here at the TechJournal, we love our Kindle Fire, but it does have distinct lacks compared to both the Google Nexus 7 (with a new model allegedly coming in July) and the Apple iPad Mini. It lacks a microphone and dictation software – which we believe is the future of mobile device interfaces. So we’re considering the upcoming new Nexus model as our next tablet purchase.
The Samsung tablets now account for 19% of tablet owners vs. 13% in 2012 – the highest growth rate among tablets this last year. A third (32%) of tablet owners have multiple brands of tablet devices in their household. We were not crazy about the 10-inch Samsung model we tested, but they have made advances.
Android now a majority in the US
Android smartphones now account for a majority of smartphone owners in the U.S. at 53% vs. iPhones at 41%. Samsung captures the largest group of Android owners at 50% (26% of all smartphones).
Just under 1 in 10 (8%) of smartphone owners own multiple brands of smartphone devices. See charts attached for owner adoption and market share data.
App spending was up huge in both the tablet and smartphone markets over the last 12 months.
Tablet app spending growth
Tablet spending on apps grew 42% year-to-year, while smartphone spending on apps grew 44% year-to-year. Tablet spending on apps in the last 12 months was $2.3 billion among American tablet owners. For smartphone owners the app spend in the last 12 months was $1.7 billion.
“The smartphone has become a mini-TV for many consumers,” Vorhaus said, with 38% of smartphone owners regularly watching video on their smartphones and almost 40% of those consumers are watching full-length movies and TV shows on their smartphones (16% of all smartphone owners).
Tablet users are also big fans of watching video on their tablets with 63% of tablet owners saying they regularly watch video on their tablets. Much of this tablet viewing is full-length movies and TV shows with 69% of all tablet video viewers regularly watching long-form video, which is 42% of all tablet owners.
In the year ahead Magid anticipates major growth in smartphone and tablet penetration in the U.S. By this time next year Magid estimates that 67% of online Americans, ages 8 to 64, will have a smartphone and 54% of online Americans will have a tablet. That represents a 10% YOY predicted growth rate for smartphones in the U.S. and 20% growth for tablets.
Friday, June 7th, 2013
Google ranks number one among MBA students asked to name ideal employers.
MBA students no longer see the financial industry as the golden path to riches, apparently. It has seen a steady decline in the ranking of ideal employers by Universum Global since 2009.
The 2013 rankings saw just one bank, Goldman Sachs; hang on to its coveted Top 10 spot – no other bank made the Top 10. Of the students who still consider banking a top industry, one of the top three employer attributes attracting them is prestige.
Technology is still an attractive industry, if the MBA student rankings of their ideal employers is a guide. Among the top ten are Google, Apple, and Amazon.
The most preferred industry for MBA students, Management and Strategy Consulting, sees prestige as the 10th most important attribute, behind others such as leadership opportunities, a creative and dynamic work environment, and challenging work.
Consulting secures the top industry title
Management and Strategy Consulting is the top industry of choice for MBA students and elite strategy consulting firms McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company and The Boston Consulting Group have all retained their Top 10 positions this year, but broader professional services firms are gaining ground.
“What is interesting as you look at the data is that the elite strategy consulting firms have stayed stable or decreased in the rankings; however, other professional services and consulting firms (Deloitte, IBM, PWC, Accenture) have all risen in the rankings,” saidMelissa Murray Bailey, Universum President of the Americas.
“As leadership opportunities are one of the key attributes attracting MBA students to this industry, this trend could be a result of the larger firms’ concerted focus on offering a greater variety of career paths than before.”
Strong consumer brands make an impact
Apple’s MBA ranking stayed steady at #3 this year and Amazon was right behind after having jumped two ranks from #6 to #4. Nike, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, LVMH, and Unilever also featured within the 2013 Top 30. Similar to Management and Strategy Consulting, the attributes attracting MBA students to Consumer Goods (the second most preferred industry) are leaders who support development, leadership opportunities and a creative and dynamic work environment.
While all of the Top 30 consumer goods organizations obviously have strong consumer brands, this doesn’t always correlate with a strong employer brand.
“A strong consumer brand is a blessing and a challenge when it comes to managing an employer brand,” advised Bailey. “I would go as far as to say that when a company has a strong consumer brand, it needs to work even harder to make its employer brand known to potential candidates.
“Otherwise, there is the risk of disappointment and high turnover when students have jumped to the wrong conclusions based on what they know about an employer brand. The two can and should complement each other, but the messaging needs to be focused and deliberate to ensure success.”
Top 10 Ideal Employers for MBA students:
1. Google, 2. McKinsey & Company, 3. Apple, 4. Amazon, 5. The Boston Consulting Group, 6. Bain and Company, 7. Nike, 8. Walt Disney, 9. Deloitte, 10. Goldman Sachs. Please visit CNN Money for full list:http://money.cnn.com/news/economy/mba100/2013/full_list/
Wednesday, May 1st, 2013
Who’s your competition in online retailing? It’s probably Amazon.
With total sales that grew year over year 27 percent to $61.09 billion and North American sales that increased 30 percent to $34.81 billion in 2012, Amazon continues to dominate the ranks of America’s biggest web retailers, according to Internet Retailer’s 10th anniversary Top 500 Guide.
It ranks the 500 leading e-retailers in the U.S. and Canada based on their annual web sales and other key metrics.
Amazon has remained the top-ranked e-retailer in the Top 500 Guide for a decade and built on its market leadership in 2012 by singlehandedly accounting for 15.4 percent of all U.S. e-commerce sales of $225.54 millionand 28 percent of all collective Top 500 sales of $216.17 billion, according to the 2013 Top 500 Guide.
“Besides being the only real growth segment of the retailing business, e-commerce has also changed the very nature of retailing, fundamentally redefining how products are marketed, how markets are defined, how shoppers interact with merchants and how goods are delivered to consumers,” says Jack Love , Internet Retailer chairman and chief executive officer.
“It’s amazing to think of the ways in which e-commerce has evolved since 2003. And the Top 500 Guide has kept its analytical finger on the pulse of the industry the entire time.”
The Internet Retailer 2013 Top 500 Guide® is available in a 448-page print and digital version.
Thursday, April 11th, 2013
Brand experiences matter, but some experiences matter more than others, according to a survey recently completed by hawkeye.
In a national survey, conducted in March 2013, hawkeye compared some of America’s best-known brand “experiences” for consumer awareness, participation, favorability and influence on purchase.
All the programs surveyed were from major brands and have been praised within the marketing community.
The “experiences” surveyed included Amazon Prime, American Airlines AAdvantage, Disney FASTPASS, the Kroger Plus Card, McDonald’s Happy Meals, My Starbucks Rewards, Walmart’s Pick Up Today and others. The results?
As the following chart indicates, the “experience” that consumers view most favorably and most influences purchase was the Amazon Prime loyalty program. For $79 a year, consumers receive free and/or upgraded shipping, free streaming videos and some free Kindle books to borrow.
The Amazon Prime program is unusual for both the affinity and influence it enjoys and the fact that it charges a fee. Clearly, it is a win-win for the company and its customers.
We used Amazon Prime for a year, and while we enjoyed the free two-day shipping and borrowing free Kindle books, it really was not worth the $79 to us. Most, if not all the free streaming TV shows and movies were already available to us though Netflix or other services.
The runner-up programs in terms of purchase influence were Walmart’s Pick Up Today initiative and the Kroger Plus Card.
On the favorability side, McDonald’s Happy Meals and My Starbucks Rewards came in second and third. The grandfather of unique branded experiences/loyalty programs, American Airlines AAdvantage, still enjoys solid customer appreciation, too. Experiences that did not score as well included Progressive Snapshot, Sony Rewards and American Express’ Link Like Love.
According to John Tedstrom , hawkeye managing director of Insight & Strategy, “Brand experiences that are more visibly and frequently apparent at the time of purchase tend to be more valued.
To customers using these winning programs – Amazon Prime, Walmart Pick Up Today, the Kroger Plus Card, McDonald’s Happy Meals and My Starbucks Rewards – there is a strong understanding of the tangible benefit they are receiving or will receive soon. Brands should look to create programs that leverage these characteristics when contemplating ways to build brand affinity.”
Lawrence Kimmel , hawkeye executive director, added, “We’re clearly living in a post-advertising world where brand experiences trump brand expression, so it’s essential that brands seek to develop remarkable experiences that consumers will remark about.”
Friday, February 15th, 2013
Amazon Web Services’ Redshift, a powerful, fully managed, petabyte-scale data warehouse service in the cloud, is now broadly available for use, the company says.
Redshift is currently available in the US East (N. Virginia) Region and will be rolled out to other AWS Regions in the coming months.
With a few clicks in the AWS Management Console, customers can launch an Amazon Redshift cluster, starting with a few hundred gigabytes and scaling to a petabyte or more, for under $1,000 per terabyte per year.
Since Amazon Redshift was announced at the AWS re: Invent conference in November 2012, customers using the service during the limited preview have ranged from startups to global enterprises, with datasets from terabytes to petabytes, across industries including social, gaming, mobile, advertising, manufacturing, healthcare, e-commerce, and financial services..
Lowers the cost of data warehousing
Traditional data warehouses require significant time and resource to administer. In addition, the financial cost associated with building, maintaining, and growing self-managed, on-premise data warehouses is very high. Amazon says that Redshift not only significantly lowers the cost of a data warehouse, but also makes it easy to analyze large amounts of data very quickly.
Amazon Redshift uses a number of techniques, including columnar data storage, advanced compression, and high performance IO and network, to achieve significantly higher performance than traditional databases for data warehousing and analytics workloads. Redshift is fully managed, automating all the common tasks associated with provisioning, configuring, monitoring, backing up, scaling, and securing a data warehouse.
Customers discuss its advantages
Hundreds of customers participated in the Amazon Redshift limited preview, and the benefits most frequently cited were significantly lower cost, substantially improved performance, and freedom from having to manage the pain and undifferentiated heavy lifting of operating an on premise data warehouse.
HasOffers records and reports billions of desktop and mobile interactions for performance marketers. “Amazon Redshift introduces a major opportunity to improve the performance of our real-time reporting, allowing us to run queries up to 50 times faster than our current OLAP solution,” said Nick Sanders, VP of Engineering at HasOffers.
“On top of that, Amazon Redshift reduces overhead for managing our own stack and drastically simplifies our sharded schema design through distribution and sort keys. Fundamentally, we believe the combination of price and performance provided by Amazon Redshift will shake-up the data warehousing world.”
Photobox is one of Europe’s leading on-line photo service providers. “We started using Amazon Redshift immediately after it was announced and we obtained crazy performance, especially in loading data,” said Maxime Mézin, Data Scientist at Photobox. “It took just 5 minutes to load a dataset that previously took days to extract on our side.”
Kongregate’s gaming portal provides thousands of free online and mobile games to social gamers. “Kongregate was able to realize exponential gains in performance by rolling one of our largest data tables off our main database and onto the Amazon Redshift platform,” said Jim Greer, CEO & Co-Founder, Kongregate. “Amazon Redshift has enabled us to perform traffic analysis at a scale that was previously impossible.”
Accordant Media provides over twenty billion impressions per day for digital marketing campaigns. “After testing many relational and non-relational database and data warehouse options, Amazon Redshift is our clear winner,” said James Rooney, Vice President of Platforms at Accordant Media. “Accordant requires both speed and efficiency when handling the massive data generated by our advertising campaigns, and we have been tremendously pleased with the performance, price, and ease of use of Amazon Redshift.”
Scribol recommends content to publishers based on their readers’ interests. “Amazon Redshift enables us to rapidly analyze and identify data points across our audience of millions of users and billions of actions,” said Tomek Klas, CTO, Scribol.
Digital marketers see advantages
In the ten weeks since Amazon Redshift was announced, AWS technology software partners including SAP, IBM, Informatica, Tableau, Attunity, Actuate, Pentaho, Talend, Birst, Roambi and Pervasive have joined MicroStrategy and Jaspersoft in enabling customers to continue using the tools they do today.
A growing number of these partners’ solutions that leverage Amazon Redshift are available from the AWS Marketplace for 1-Click deployment with pay-as-you-go pricing. Technology consulting companies including Capgemini, Cognizant, and Full360 have consultants ready to help customers with their Amazon Redshift implementations.
“Digital marketers have seen an explosion in the amount and variety of customer data,” said StrongMail CTO Jeremy Sterns. “Working with AWS to leverage Amazon Redshift with our next generation data model, will give StrongMail’s enterprise marketers enormous cost, performance and ease of use advantages for executing better targeted, more effective, insight-driven marketing campaigns. These technologies open up new possibilities that are unavailable to those offered by legacy email service providers with siloed databases.”
Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Amazon is on a roll. In addition to topping a list of 25 retailers with the best mobile satisfaction ratings during the recent holiday shopping season, it also edged out Apple as America’s most reputable company, according to the 2013 Harris Poll RQ Study which engages over 14,000 members of the general public to measure the reputations of the sixty most visible companies in the country.
And companies can learn from how the leaders gain their stellar reputations.
This is Amazon’s first time earning the top ranking, but the fifth consecutive year with a great reputation score. The Walt Disney Company, Google, and Johnson & Johnson complete the top five. This is Google’s eight consecutive top five appearance, an incredible achievement for a fourteen year old company.
AIG and Goldman Sachs return to the bottom two reputation positions on the list of the most visible companies, joined by Halliburton, American Airlines, and Bank of America. With a full six point increase in RQ score though, Bank of America had the highest year-over-year increase in the 2013 study. Best Buy and Honda experienced the greatest decline in RQ scores, 6.76 and 4.73 points, respectively.
RQ measures six dimensions that comprise reputation and influence consumer behavior.
The dimensions and the 2013 leaders are:
- Social Responsibility – Whole Foods
- Emotional Appeal – Amazon.com
- Financial Performance – Apple
- Products & Services – Amazon.com
- Vision & Leadership – Apple
- Workplace Environment – Google
Amazon’s reputation strength runs wide and deep as it ranked in the top five in five of the six dimensions of reputation. Amazon had a five point advantage over any other company in the study in the dimension of Emotional Appeal, despite an entirely virtual relationship with the public. Amazon also achieved the top rating in the dimension of Products & Services.
Amazon earned nearly 100 percent positive ratings on all measures related to Trust. More than 50 percent of respondents also recall discussing Amazon with friends and family in the past year, and nearly 100 percent of these conversations were positive.
“Our results show that Amazon has managed to build an intimate relationship with the public without being perceived as intrusive,” adds Fronk. “
Nine of ten would recommend it
And as the company that is so widely known for its personal recommendations, more than nine in ten members of the public would recommend Amazon to friends and family.”
The results for Apple and Google are equally as impressive as those for Amazon and continue a compelling trend that has been developing for the past few years – companies that begin in the technology sector, which is by far and away the highest-rated industry when it comes to reputation, absorb the reputation equity from the industry, then transcend the industry to become a more multi-faceted business.
Companies that are able to do this are perceivedto “Play A Valuable Social Role,” a characteristic, which according to the RQ study, has become a key driver of reputation.
The Kindle’s eInk technology frees you from LED glare and eye-strain – and you can make the fonts as large as you like.
As a longtime Amazon customer, we can understand why it has such a great reputation, despite moves such as encouraging “showrooming,” viewing products in stores to buy later online.
It’s customer service is beyond first rate. We dropped and broke our first Kindle e-reader when it was out of warranty and they still replaced it free, overnight, and we didn’t even have to pay postage. When a large package of books went awry and never showed up, they simply resent the order.
Banking industry shows gains, still low ranked
The banking industry is not so lucky. It showed some encouraging signs in 2013. Positive ratings of the industry are now 25 percent, a more than 50 percent increase from 2012.
Wells Fargo became the first of the four big banking companies in the past four years to move from negative to positive equity in the dimension of Emotional Appeal. Harris’s fourteen years of conducting the RQ study show that a company cannot build or maintain positive reputation without this positive equity. Wells Fargo also received significantly higher marks on attributes related to its people and work environment, and it is possible that these may be the first signs of a bank once again being seen as trusted.
But in our conversations with sources, the banking industry is still most often cited as having abysmal customer service and is viewed as frequently predatory. The continuing mortgage default problem hasn’t helped.
What can companies learn from the 2013 Harris Poll RQ Study?
Companies need to evaluate and understand the increasing importance that playing a valuable social role has on reputation, purchase consideration, advocacy and positive word of mouth. This is about a business having a purpose, not just checking the box on social responsibility or sustainability.
Additionally, companies need to adapt to a major trend in consumer behavior. More than 60 percent of consumers now “pro-actively try to learn more about how a company conducts itself” before they are willing to consider that company’s products or services. This group, which Harris calls Seekers:
- Proactively engage in conversations with others about what they find out about a company;
- In 60 percent of cases, decide NOT to do business with a company because of something they learn about that company; and
- Actively try to influence friends and family on whether to do business or not with a company based upon what they have learned about that company’s conduct.
Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
Technology companies claimed half the slots on Ponemon Institute’s annual top 10 list of the most trusted companies for privacy. Hewlett Packard ranked second, Amazon, third, IBM, fourth, eBay ninth and Intuit tenth.
American Express (AMEX) continued to reign as the most trusted company among the 217 orgazations rated.
New tech entries on Ponmon’s top 20 most trusted list included Microsoft at 17, and Mozilla at 20.
In addition to ranking the most trusted companies, the Ponemon study reported that only 41 percent of consumers feel they have control over their personal information, down from 45 last year and an overall drop from 56 percent in 2006.
Identity theft a top concern
The survey also noted that identity theft is a top area of concern among consumers with fifty-nine percent of the respondents indicating that fear of identity theft was a major factor in brand trust diminishment, while 50 percent said notice of a data breach was a factor.
That could give impetus to the changes in U.S. immigration law proposed by a bipartisan group of Senators this week, although it’s identity card idea is already meeting with opposition from some.
The Ponemon rankings were derived from a survey of more than 100,000 adult-aged consumers who were asked to name up to five companies they believe to be the most trusted for protecting the privacy of their personal information.
Consumer responses were gathered over a 15-week period concluding in December 2012 and resulted in a final sample of 6,704 respondents who, on average, provided 5.4 discernible company ratings that represent 25 different industries.
Monday, November 26th, 2012
Although Black Friday usually conjures up images of people waiting in long lines at retail stores, this year it was also the heaviest online spending day to date, according to digital measurement service comScore.
In store sale, in comparison, were down as many shoppers avoided those lines to do their gift-hunting online.
For the holiday season-to-date, $13.7 billion has been spent online, marking a 16-percent increase versus the corresponding days last year.
Black Friday (November 23) saw $1.042 billion in online sales, making it the heaviest online spending day to date in 2012 and representing a 26-percent increase versus Black Friday 2011.
Thanksgiving Day (November 22), while traditionally a lighter day for online holiday spending, achieved a strong 32-percent increase to $633 million.
“Despite the frenzy of media coverage surrounding the importance of Black Friday in the brick-and-mortar world, we continue to see this shopping day become more and more prominent in the e-commerce channel – particularly among those who prefer to avoid crowds at the stores,” said comScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni.
“With Black Friday online sales up 26 percent and surpassing $1 billion for the first time, coupled with early reports indicating that Black Friday sales in retail stores were down 1.8 percent, we can now confidently call it a multi-channelmarketing phenomenon.”
Fulgoni added that Thanksgiving Day itself, usually a lighter online shopping day, is gaining steam as well.
Today, Cyber Monday, is expected to be the heaviest shopping day of the season with sales approaching $1.5 billion or more.
ComScore says Amazon led the online sales parade so far this year, followed by Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Apple.
We think this is a bit of a surprise: digital content and subscriptions were the top-growing online retail product category, up 29 percent from a year ago. The proliferation of smartphones, tablets and e-readers is driving the demand for digital books, audio & visual content, says comScore.
Toy are also doing well, gaining 27 percent, followed by Consumer Packaged Goods (up 23 percent), Video Game Consoles & Accessories (up 18 percent) and Consumer Electronics (up 18 percent).
Monday, October 15th, 2012
The Kindle’s eInk technology frees you from LED glare and eye-strain – and you can make the fonts as large as you like.
By Allan Maurer
We received this from Amazon in our email over the weekend:
“We have good news. You are entitled to a credit for some of your past e-book purchases as a result of legal settlements between several major e-book publishers and the Attorneys General of most U.S. states and territories, including yours.”
State attorneys estimate the credits will add up to .30 cents to $1.32 for each eligible Kindle book bought between April 2010 and May 2012.
The credits are a result of the ruling by a federal judge in September of the US Justice Department’s settlement with Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Shuster, which it accused of conspiring in a price-fixing scheme.
The ruling also requires the publishers to drop the pricing system they created with Apple ahead of its iPad tablet release in 2010. The publishers will provide the funds for the Kindle credits.
The Amazon email added:
“Under the proposed settlements, the publishers will provide funds for a credit that will be applied directly to your Amazon.com account. If the Court approves the settlements, the account credit will appear automatically and can be used to purchase Kindle books or print books.”
It also said, “n addition to the account credit, the settlements impose limitations on the publishers’ ability to set e-book prices. We think these settlements are a big win for customers and look forward to lowering prices on more Kindle books in the future.”
The credits may not amount to much for many customers, but if you buy as many e-books as we do, they might buy you one or two more – especially now that prices have returned to the lower range Amazon prefers.
There has been a lot of argument in the publishing industry that while e-books may not cost as much as printed books to produce, the major costs of acquiring, editing, and paying writers and staff remain much the same.
Personally, we think ebooks should be substantially less expensive (Amazon’s $9.95 seems fair for most).
Then again, if you read many of the free or really inexpensive self-published e-books out there, you can see the publishers’ side of the argument, because the unedited books are often full of typos and many are barely worth reading past the first page.
What do you think?
Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduces the Kindle Fire HD.
Have you looked at the features in the new Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7″ tablet? Amazon is doing some aggressive advertising of the device on TV, but in a survey of more than 2,000 consumers, 45 percent said they were “unimpressed” with the new device.
More than half of those surveyed by couponcodes4u.com already own a tablet: 45% said they owned an Apple iPad device, while 19% said they owned a Google tablet. 16% of respondents who owned a tablet said they’d opted for a Samsung branded device, while 13% said they already owned a Kindle/Amazon branded tablet and 7% said they owned another type of tablet, such as the BlackBerry PlayBook.
Personally, we’re happy with our original Kindle Fire tablet model and Wifi Kindle e-reader, so we’re waiting for the tablet wars to thin the offerings or considerably improve them before buying another. The original Kindle Fire does have drawbacks – no microphone, no memory card slot (it’s not alone there), and poorer screen resolution than more current models of several other brands.
We’re mostly interested in improved dictation features, however – using a virtual keyboard is torturous and even using an external one doesn’t make doing much writing easy on a 7″ screen.
We’re convinced that a tablet (or smartphone) device with very accurate voice recognition is eventually going to change the tablet/phone environment.
In the survey, when shown the features and specs on the new Kindle Fire HD, 55 percent liked the look of it – with the majority approving of the price, 27 percent liking the connection to Amazon’s content library, and less than a tenth (9 percent) citing overall specifications. (See a review of the new Kindle Fire HD.)
Respondents who said they were unimpressed by the new Kindle Fire HD were asked to explain why, to which 45% admitted that they preferred a “larger screened tablet”, while 39% said that the Kindle tablet didn’t blow them away due to ‘not matching up to competitors’. In addition, 11% of consumers said the tablet “didn’t offer enough apps” to keep them interested.
When all respondent were asked whether or not the new Kindle had enough to hold their interest if and when the iPad Mini was released this year, 39% of respondents said it would. However, 54% of respondents said they would be more likely to opt for the iPad Mini when it is released, while 7% of respondents admitted that they would “consider” both tablets.
Mark Pearson, Chairman of CouponCodes4u.com, said, “Another day, another tablet release! With the popularity of Amazon and the Kindle tablet driving the small tablet revolution, it is no wonder that consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to personal gadgets. As the Kindle is very different from other tablets, we wanted to see how consumers have reacted to the latest release of the Fire HD and if they had the chance, and obviously the funds, whether or not they would trade it in for the iPad Mini.”
He added that it’s surprising that even many who like the look of the Kindle Fire HD would consider an Apple iPad mini. “While many people have voiced a negative opinion about Apple and the products of late, you cannot deny the power of their marketing campaigns and products.,” he said.
Thursday, September 13th, 2012
Brick and mortar stores once had a clear advantage over online retailers when it came to “convenience” purchases of items costing less than $15, and higher priced items tended to be cheaper online. But a new comparison of price points between online and in-store retailers reports a “dramatic shift” from previous findings.
The fourth installment of a bi-annual pricing study (Pdf) produced by Anthem Marketing Solutions sees increased competition between brick and mortar stores and online retailers,
By comparing online and in-store prices of widely available products across a range of commonly purchased categories, Anthem discovered that online seems to have an advantage only for moderately priced goods between $15 and $45.
No advantage for either in most price ranges
For items higher and lower than that range, no clear advantage is evident for either channel.
In an interesting reversal from previous studies, offline stores no longer had a pricing advantage for convenience purchases, defined as purchases with a low ticket price and high need for immediacy.
Another difference from previous studies was identified for planned purchases, those that tend to be infrequent with a higher price tag. Right now, online retailers have an advantage for considered purchases, but Anthem says “this might not be the case much longer,” due to competitive in-store pricing.
Offline retailers successfully combating “showrooming”
Online had always had a clear price advantage in this category, which has now disappeared. This substantiates the efforts offline retailers are making to counter the ‘showrooming’ trend in which consumers use their mobile phones while in-store to find better pricing online.
The report notes that while Amazon has been encouraging “showrooming” via a price-checking phone app, some manufacturers, such as Adidas, Nike, and Asics have said they will pull their products from Amazon and eBay to keep lower online prices from devaluing their brand. Others, such as Best Buy, replace standard bar codes with those that can’t be scanned for comparison purposes.
There are categories in which either in-store or online has advantages, however. Anthem’s researchers say entertainment products have an online advantage, while consumables are cheaper in-store.
Low shipping rates still a draw
Realizing product pricing was not the only factor affecting consumer purchase decisions, Anthem decided to also discuss the implications of shipping costs. Shipping costs remain an important factor in the minds of the consumer for free shipping would entice the majority of consumers to increase basket size.
Some studies suggest that free shipping can entice 93 percent of online customers to add items to their cart.
Thursday, September 13th, 2012
Long considered the standard bearer for online customer satisfaction, retail giant Amazon’s dominance extends to the mobile platform, according to a new index measuring the customer experience of websites and apps on Internet-enabled mobile devices.
Avon and Apple round out the top three companies on the inaugural release of the ForeSee Mobile Satisfaction Index.
“The mobile platform is maturing much faster than the web in its early days, and more consumers are interacting with companies and brands via mobile devices every day,” said Larry Freed, President and CEO of ForeSee.
“Customers experience the web differently on mobile devices, and companies that do not measure the mobile experience miss an opportunity to solidify customer loyalty and risk losing customers to companies that do.”
Overall satisfaction with the mobile experiences of 20 of the largest online retailers registers 79 on the Index’s 100-point scale, with scores ranging from 76 to 84.
Amazon sets the bar
Almost half of the measured retailers score 80 or above, which ForeSee considers to be a benchmark for excellence. Amazon sets the bar at 84, followed by Avon (83) and Apple (82).
ForeSee, which measures satisfaction across multiple channels, finds that the mobile web experience for retail lags traditional retail web satisfaction significantly. Websites appear fairly uniformly across standard PCs and laptops.
But among mobile devices, there are dozens of different screen sizes, operating systems, hardware specifications, and loading speeds. This reality makes it difficult for companies to provide a uniform standard experience to its customers across platforms.
Top retailers do better on websites than mobile
In a comparison of mobile satisfaction scores to web satisfaction (as reported on ForeSee’s Online Retail Satisfaction Index in Spring 2012), nearly all of the top retailers perform better on traditional websites.
“Consumer expectations of the mobile experience are set by their experience on PCs and laptops. But where there are limitations on screen size and configuration, there are advantages to the touchscreen interface first popularized by Apple’s iPhone and iPad,” said Freed.
“If companies can innovate and optimize the mobile platform, there’s no reason the mobile experience can’t surpass the Web.”
When compared to dissatisfied customers, satisfied customers are 69% more likely to make a purchase using their mobile device, 72% more likely to to recommend the retailer, and 58% more likely to visit the mobile website or app again.
“Satisfaction is the most important customer metric companies can track because it is forward looking and a key driver of behaviors retailers care most about: purchases, recommendations, and loyalty,” said Eric Feinberg, ForeSee Senior Director of Mobile, Media & Entertainment.
“The ForeSee Mobile Satisfaction Index will be measuring other industries with a strong mobile presence, establishing a uniform benchmark for the mobile experience and indicating which companies need to do more to increase satisfaction that will result in desired consumer behavior that impacts the bottom line.”
Other key findings from the retail edition of the ForeSee Mobile Satisfaction Index include:
- App users were slightly more satisfied (80) than mobile web users (79). 68% used a retailer’s mobile website, while 32% used a retailer’s app.
- The highest app usage among measured companies was for Netflix (59%), eBay (53%), Groupon (52%), and Walgreens (48%).
- First-time users of a mobile site or app tend to be less satisfied with their mobile experiences as they learn new layouts, navigation, and functionality. First-time visitors score 77 compared to 80 for repeat visitors.
- Customers already familiar with a brand are more satisfied than people who were driven to the company’s mobile site or app via search engines or shopping comparison sites.
- The most popular tasks performed on mobile retail sites and apps were: looking up product details (28%), looking up price information (19%), and checking stock at a store (17%).
- 76% of those surveyed used mobile phones, while 24% used tablets.
The report is based on 4,500 customer surveys collected in August 2012.
Thursday, September 13th, 2012
In the startup world in particular, you hear a lot about Amazon’s cloud services. But according to a new Evans Data survey of more than 400 developers, slightly more than one-third (36%) are using Microsoft’s Azure Cloud Platform.
That’s enough to give it the edge over competing services such as Google Storage (29%) and Amazon Web Services ((28%), in a fragmented market.
Conducted in July, the independent survey also found that more than half the developers who work within a specific cloud service also deploy their apps to that service. Only 27% deploy to a different service, while 10% use a hybrid model that includes an on-premises element.
“Microsoft was very aggressive with its introduction of Azure to the development community a few years ago and that has paid off,” said Janel Garvin, CEO of Evans Data Corp.
“Additionally, the large established MSDN community and the fact that Visual Studio is still the most used development environment are huge assets to Microsoft in getting developers to adopt the Azure platform.”
She added, “However, Cloud platform use is still very much fragmented with lots of players laying claim to small slivers of share. It will take more time before a clear landscape of major Cloud vendors shakes out.”
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