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How Well Does Your Company Integrate Demand and Supply?

  • Blog
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An online questionnaire by the authors of the MIT Sloan Management Review article “Integrating Supply and Demand” helps users assess how well their company's supply chains are helping meet product demand — and serve key customers. The self-assessment lets users rate their companies in five areas in the demand and supply integration spectrum: relevant value focus, integrated knowledge sharing, strategic resource allocation, integrated behavior, and capacity and demand balance.


Why Social Engagement May Be More Important Than Marketing

  • Interview
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In a Q&A, Carlos Dominguez, president and COO of social media management company Sprinklr, notes that while marketing is about getting people to want to talk to a company, customer service is about interacting with someone who is already invested in the brand. His goal: get companies to blend those tasks in “ways that are radically different.”


Telling Data’s Story With Graphics

At the alcohol beverage company Constellation Brands, graphic presentations of data are making it easier for sales people to see how they’re performing. In an interview with MIT Sloan Management Review, Joseph D. Bruhin, the company’s CIO, says that measuring marketing and sales efforts is a particular challenge in the alcohol industry — but one that his team has come up with a solution to. “Visibility of data is a critical piece,” he says. “We came up with a solution that’s really driven predominantly by information technology.”


Marketing In Five Dimensions

Computers, scanners, mobile and wearable technology have made it both easier and harder for companies to find their customers. Easier, because there’s so much more data about consumer behavior; harder, because analyzing that data is a significant challenge (never mind deciding how to act on the analytics). Companies like Epsilon are stepping up to help businesses to figure out what the data tell them about their customers — and what to do with that knowledge. In a Q&A, Epsilon’s CEO Andy Frawley describes some of the challenges his company works through on a daily basis.



Creating Online Videos That Engage Viewers

The Holy Grail of modern online marketing is video content that “goes viral.” So how does it happen? New research shows that engagement with online video content depends less on what the video shows than how the video shows it. A study of viewer reactions to online videos suggests that the key is to juxtapose content elements in incongruous combinations or to create original or exaggerated content that makes an emotional connection with the viewer — to create emotionally surprising videos.

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One Critical Strategy New Products Often Overlook

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“New industries are characterized by an early period of confusion and uncertainty about use and meaning, which brings about a proliferation of category labels that attempt to describe the new products,” write Fernando F. Suarez and Stine Grodal, both of Boston University School of Management. Ideally, companies want to time their entry into a new industry to when a dominant category label emerges, but not every product can enter the market at the ideal time. Three strategies identified by Suarez and Grodal can help new products make the most of any timing.


The Other Talent War: Competing Through Alumni

Companies increasingly recognize the value of maintaining good relationships with former employees. Recent research, however, reveals a new insight: It’s also wise to pay attention to what your competitors’ former employees are up to. "Many managers don’t typically think of previous employees in competitive terms (if at all), and have virtually no tools or frameworks to help them wage this talent war," write the authors.

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How to Tee Up Choices: The Upside of Default Rules

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How much choice do people really want? Asking people to make their own choices requires time and focus — there's all those options to consider. Harvard Law School professor Cass R. Sunstein writes that default rules, which establish starting points for everything from rental car agreements to health insurance plans, can save people time and keep them from being overwhelmed by too much choice.


Adapting to the Sharing Economy

Instead of buying and owning products, consumers are increasingly interested in leasing and sharing them. New strategies can help companies embrace this “collaborative consumption.” For instance, Ikea and Patagonia have found that helping people resell or give away products both enhances the companies' reputations and helps customers create space in their homes for new Ikea and Patagonia items. Companies have also found value in embracing opportunities to share existing assets and capacities.



The Case for ‘Benevolent’ Mobile Apps

Smartphone apps that provide consumers with helpful information — instead of simply pushing product sales — can improve users’ preference for a company. As well, mobile apps that are about useful information, what the authors call “benevelance,” can significantly impact sales at a low cost and thus improve profitability. “A benevolent app can build trust, which in turn can lead people to consider purchasing your product,” write authors Glen L. Urban and Fareena Sultan.


Customizing Social Media Marketing

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for social media marketing. Instead, companies need to tailor campaigns to fit their products. Recent research suggests that one key question that can guide the approach is whether a company’s products are primarily useful or fun. For instance, consumers expect to encounter messages about fun products on platforms like Facebook. In contrast, they will only glance over recommendations for useful products. Because reactions differ, so too should the social sharing mechanisms used to promote these products.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Phil Roeder.
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Will Customers Be Fair When They Pay-As-They-Wish?

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The obvious risk of pay-as-you-wish pricing is that customers may be tempted to offer unreasonably low payment. But organizations as diverse as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wikipedia and Humble Bundle have figured out how to manage that risk and make pay-as-you-wish work.


Can You Really Let Employees Loose on Social Media?

At Mitel, a $1.2 billion communications technology company, employees tweet about the company and are proactive on LinkedIn with only one rule: “Use your best judgment at all times.” Martyn Etherington, the company’s chief marketing officer and chief of staff, has no problem with that. “We have to enable the majority and not hold them back by implementing catch-all policies that are aimed at a few.”


How Effective Is Location-Targeted Mobile Advertising?

New research shows that mobile advertising targeted to consumers based on their locations can be effective. This is particularly the case with customers who have shown a high level of interest in the type of product being shown to them. Researchers also think that some users might simply need more time to evaluate the trustworthiness of an app or offer — suggesting that marketers might see delayed responses to location targeted mobile ads.


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Why Your Company Is Probably Measuring Social Media Wrong

If a teenage girl retweets you in Japan, will your video go viral in Brazil? Social business expert Jerry Kane argues that it might — because social media is a complex system, where small or seemingly unimportant factors can converge to produce large or unexpected effects. The challenge for managers in the social arena is to consider the unexpected instead of the linear “X means Y” thought processes. Managers should pay attention to four characteristics of social media that can affect outcomes.


How to Win in an Omnichannel World

Retail customers now readily use both online and offline retail channels. To thrive in this new environment, retailers need to reexamine their strategies for delivering information and products. Companies that are successful at navigating the omnichannel environment take a customer perspective and view the activities of the company through two core functions: information and fulfillment. They also consider hybrid online-offline approaches, including inventory-only showrooms and “buy online, pick up in store” options.

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Why Social Media Will Fundamentally Change Business

Of you haven’t yet jumped on the social media bandwagon, you may want to hurry up and join. Social media is not a passing fad, but a permanent, transformative technological change to how companies conduct business. Social business expert Jerry Kane explains how social media is likely to fundamentally alter the business environment in the near future.


The Upside to Large Competitors

New research suggests that a smaller company can benefit by making consumers aware that it competes against bigger corporations. In six lab and field studies, the authors explored the effects of having a large, dominant competitor and found advantages in highlighting a competitor’s size and proximity. “Small brands see consumer support go up when they are faced with a competitive threat from large brands,” write the authors. “This support translates into higher purchase intention, more purchases and more favorable online reviews.”


How Facebook is Delivering Personalization on a Whole New Scale

As Facebook becomes more mobile-centric, it’s also becoming adept at laying its customer data over brand data and third-party data to create uniquely customized experiences for its users. In a Q&A, Blake Chandlee, vice president of global partnerships at Facebook, details the power that comes from being able to overlay all that customer information. “Historically, we’ve never had the ability to have the scale of a mass media along with the personalization that digital provides,” says Chandlee.

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