Roulston Research Media Partner Mark Ramsey recently wrote an article about how Groupon is a destroyer of value and why businesses would be better off using deals over media outlets. Groupon allows customers to drop prices to razor thin margins through a database of people who sign up for the service looking for deals. This crowds out the customers who would have been willing to pay full-rate for the product or service except the very loyal consumers. Mark argues that coupons should exist only for a trial instead of a heavily-discounted way of life. The cut rate margins are a major reason why a recent study suggested that 82% of Groupon merchants were unhappy with the repeat level of business the promotion brought. He believes that deals attached to media entities have a wider mass appeal for potential customers and not just people interested in coupons. This gives companies a better opportunity to develop long-term relationships with customers. To read Mark’s full article please visit http://www.markramseymedia.com/2011/08/is-groupon-evil/.

 Mark Ramsey Media is one of the best-known research and strategy providers to media companies inAmerica. He has worked with several television and innumerable radio broadcasters over his career, including all the biggest names, from Clear Channel, CBS, Bonneville, Sirius XM, and Greater Media in the US to Corus and Astral Media inCanada. Clients from outside broadcasting have included EA Sports and Apple.

Roulston Research Energy Partner John Hofmeister has strong views on the United States tapping into its strategic energy reserves to deal with higher gas prices. The United States has over 700 million barrels of oil at an average cost basis of around $29-30 a barrel that if tapped could be in the market in 13 days. John believes that the reserve exists for national emergencies like shortages or outages, which we don’t currently have domestically with most refineries having ample supply of oil. Oil prices have risen over this past year because the overall supply demand situation is tightening from last August to present, growth in Asia along with the with the way they are contracting out future oil reserves, and not drilling in the United States. This causes fear of turmoil in the Middle East with people buying gas they don’t need in fear of rising prices along with some gasoline retailers constantly raising prices. Politicians use the strategic reserve as an excuse for why they haven’t been drilling in the United States. To hear John’s full interview please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BB8HVQPaB2U.

 

Upon retirement from Shell as President in 2008, John Hofmeister founded and currently heads the nationwide membership association, Citizens for Affordable Energy. This Washington, D.C.-registered, public policy education firm promotes sound U.S.energy security solutions for the nation, including a range of affordable energy supplies, efficiency improvements, essential infrastructure, sustainable environmental policies and public education on energy issues. You read more about Citizens for Affordable Energy and his recently published book Why We Hate The Oil Companies at his website http://www.citizensforaffordableenergy.org/

Roulston Research Technology Partner Michael Liebow recently created a posting about the value of effective Customer Relationship Management in closing more business for sales reps. Most organizations struggle with this though and Michael argues that the best solution is to detect the winning practices in real-time to guide reps and enhance sales procedures overall. New and established reps should be able to have the transparency and visibility to determine who the most effective sales contacts are in the pipeline. This will allow sales teams know where to spend there time and focus, provide predictability, and optimize the size of their quota. To read the full blog posting please visit Foretuit’s website at http://www.foretuit.com/2011/08/25/enabling-social-enterprise-x-ray-vision/.

 

Michael Liebow is founder of the newest approach to social business in Foretuit. Foretuit is the leader in predictive sales pipeline management by accurately predicting which deals will be won and which will be lost up to a quarter in advance, and notifies you if deals may slip. Foretuit combines your email, chatter, and other social feeds together with your opportunity history to create a deal DNA for every opportunity without manual data entry, so you don’t waste valuable time. Recently Foretuit was a finalist in the Salesforce.com 2011 AppQuest Challenge to get the opportunity to present at Dreamforce. Prior to Foretuit, Michael was CEO at Dexterra and Vice President of Business Development at IBM Global Business Services. At IBM he started the SOA-based IT infrastructure business and grew revenues to well over $4 billion in four years by creating new asset-based solutions and training 90,000 consultants worldwide. He also transformed IBM’s Intel Server business from a $900 million industry laggard to a $3 billion industry leader in 3 years.

Roulston Research Retail Partner Craig Johnson recently spoke about how the difference in Wal-Mart and Target’s sales reflects the current economic divide in America. Wal-Mart’s US same store sales declined for the ninth straight quarter while Target reported its best comparable sales performance in four years. Part of the reason for the wide gap in sales between the two companies is that shoppers at Wal-Mart are only buying basic necessities at cheap prices while Target is seeing higher discretionary spending especially in the apparel and home goods industries. Craig notes that Target is benefitting from a rebound in consumer spending along with getting a sales boost from frequent shoppers as a result of their rewards card. He thinks one way Wal-Mart will look to fight off the continued declining sales is to widen the pricing gap with competitors by absorbing some of the price increases caused by inflation. To read the whole article to see all of Craig’s views please visit http://supermarketnews.com/retail_financial/walmart_target_0822/.

Craig Johnson is President of Customer Growth Partners of New Canaan, CT, consultants serving the Retail and other Consumer industries. He has three decades of experience in consumer service industries, in both senior executive and consulting roles, and has advised institutional investors and private equity participants on opportunities in the consumer discretionary sector. He is cited as an authority on retail and consumer issues in publications such as Business Week, Fortune, New York Times, The Times (London), USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. His Retail clients have included firms such as BJ’s Wholesale, Crutchfield Electronics, JC Penney, Lands’ End, Lowe’s, Perry Ellis, Simon Group, Toys R Us, Walt Disney, Westfield America and Williams-Sonoma.

Roulston Research Technology Partner Keith Mallinson recently wrote an article for Fierce Wireless Europe about Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility. When Google announced plans to acquire Motorola Mobility for 12.5 billion many people thought the company was doing it primarily for the 17,000 issued patents and 7,500 pending ones. One of Google’s strategic challenges with the Android-based smart phones is that the company only has a small amount of patent holdings which has left the 40 Android licensees vulnerable to infringement lawsuits. The acquisition will likely help prevent future litigation against Android licensees. However, they have not prevented competitors Apple and Microsoft from suing Motorola in the past. The interesting part of the purchase of Motorola Mobility is what Google will do with the handset business. Android captured 43.4% of the smart phone market and Motorola only represented 5% of that market and 3% in handsets globally. Unless the company plans to move more toward a vertically integrated product like Apple enjoys with the iPhone then they will not likely see the growth it would like. Moving toward a vertically integrated product would potentially create major conflicts with existing licensees, which could cause some to seek other alternatives such as the Windows Phone. To read Keith’s full article please visit http://www.fiercewireless.com/europe/story/mallinson-what-will-google-do-motorola-mobility/2011-08-24.

Keith Mallinson is founder of WiseHarbor, providing expert commercial advisory to technology and services businesses in wired and wireless telecommunications, media and entertainment serving consumer and professional markets. He is also regular columnist with Wireless Week, FierceWireless Europe, and IP Finance. Prior to forming Wise Harbor Mallinson led Yankee Group’s global Wireless/Mobile research and consulting team as Executive Vice President. He currently forecasts the long-term outlook in mobile operator services, network equipment and devices to 2025 which is available to purchase on his website at http://wiseharbor.com/forecast.htmlhttp://wiseharbor.com/forecast.html

Roulston Research Partner Bart Perkins recently wrote an article on how more and more organizations are using video games that are designed to reduce training time while improving long-term information retention. This is a great idea because most IT staffers are often very experienced video gamers themselves and this makes the training experience more interactive and enjoyable. However, most lack the knowledge necessary to make a good training game that engages players, teaches job-related skills, limits costs, provides accessible interfaces and monitors progress of new employees. If the video game doesn’t meet all these needs it will not be effective because employees won’t be retaining the information that it was designed to do. This is a problem many Fortune 500 companies are dealing with right now because training related video games offer a major opportunity to increase efficiency and reduce costs. To read Bart’s entire article please visit http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/358227/More_and_More_It_s_All_a_Game_for_Today_s_Trainers

 

Bart Perkins has over 25 years experience leading IT efforts for major corporations and consulting firms. Former CIO of YUM! Brands and Dole Food Company, Bart developed technology supplier management systems to reduce risk, improve service levels and lower costs. Bart has been a Partner at KPMG Peat Marwick (Nolan, Norton & Co.), a Vice President at Technology Solutions Company, and co-founder of The Value Sourcing Group, an IT vendor management consulting firm. His consulting engagements span a wide range of industries. Bart’s clients include Marriott, Blockbuster, Thermo-Fisher Scientific, Diageo, General Foods, Kraft, Nabisco, IBM, Kaiser Permanente, PepsiCo, NCR, Thomson Reuters, Barilla, Boeing, Aetna, Georgia Pacific, and Heineken. Bart writes a monthly column on IT Management for Computerworld and is a judge for CIO Magazine’s CIO 100.

A San Francisco-based portfolio manager shared his thoughts on National Cinemedia (NASDAQ: NCMI, $14.00).  The stock has fallen 18% since mid June when the name was presented at one of our idea forums in San Francisco. 

The presenter stresses that his original recommendation would only change if we go into a recession.  NCMI is small, leveraged and operates in a cyclical space (tied to ad spending), leaving growth prospects and the equity price vulnerable to a recession.  Some of that scenario is already in the stock, but not all in the presenter’s opinion.

He notes that the industry fundamentals are as strong as ever, as is the company’s positioning.  His $30.15 target by 2015 is based on 1-3% GDP growth in the US through 2014.