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Six-in-10 consumers shoppers say smartphones critical for Black Friday

BY Dan Berthiaume

Nashville – Almost six-in-10 (58%) adults say their smartphone is very important for Black Friday shopping. A survey of nearly 1,000 adults by technology protection services vendor Asurion, also reveals 49% of shoppers will make Black Friday purchases from their smartphone.

For 46% of those responding, the smartphone will be their shopping assistant, providing a wealth of product information. Once that must-have holiday gift is found, 35% of those surveyed said they’ll use their smartphone to save money by finding discount codes and coupons. Smartphone owners surveyed by Asurion said they already have three or four shopping applications from popular retailers on their device. Sixty-two percent say they will use those apps to make their holiday purchases

"Technology should make our lives easier and it looks like smartphones will do that this holiday season," said Bettie Colombo, Asurion spokesperson. "It’s another example of the mobile lifestyle we live today. With our smartphones and tablets we can be connected from almost anywhere. On Black Friday, shoppers and retailers alike will take advantage of that connectedness."

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Verizon identifies key enterprise tech trends for 2014

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — Enterprise users will gain unprecedented control over their technology environment in 2014. This is the overarching theme of the key enterprise technology trends Verizon has identified for 2014.

In brief review, the trends include:

The Customer of One Comes of Age
The ability to tailor a customer’s experience to best meet personalized, individual needs will increasingly be a brand differentiator. In 2014, enterprises will refocus on customer touch points, recognizing that integrated omnichannel connections across online, mobile, broadcast and in-store can make customers feel valued at every step of the purchase and experience lifecycle.

M2M ‘as a Service’ Simplifies Path to the Connected World
Ubiquitous 4G LTE wireless service and the availability of machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions “as a service,” on demand, over the Internet and ready to use, coupled with strong security will overcome the issues that have previously prevented many organizations from fully embracing M2M.

The Shortage of Security Expertise Forces Changes to Cybersecurity Management
Continued targeted attacks and high-profile security breaches impel corporate boards of directors to demand substantial increases in security investments in 2014 , and rethinking of traditional approaches to cybersecurity management. Enterprises will develop and execute hybrid cybersecurity-management models that combine an agile staff of in-house security-minded business experts with trusted managed security services across a broad range of capabilities such as identity management, security analytics and cyberintelligence, and governance, risk and compliance.

IT Decentralizes
Organizations embracing the new information technology world of cloud, mobility and M2M will see IT increasingly decentralized. IT will be core to every business function. As a result, IT will work more closely with individual business units and focus on developing tools for seamless process enablement that empowers employees and customers.

Providers Add Gravity to the Cloud
In 2014, adding software and services to the cloud will be a key focus for cloud providers seeking to attract customers, adding gravity and encouraging user stickiness. Integrated cloud offerings will increasingly enable mashups of fixed and mobile networks; systems, ideas and solutions; people and things; and intelligence and information. Providing systems and tools to transform these data into insights in the cloud and on demand will transform the customer experience.

“We are experiencing the democratization of enterprise technology,” said David Small, Verizon Enterprise Solutions’ chief platform officer. “Mirroring what has happened in the consumer technology space, enterprise technology users look for services to be delivered on demand, to a time and place of their choosing, and in the way that they want. In 2014, enterprise success will be measured by how well organizations are able to use technology to meet user expectations and harness individual innovation.”

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S.Kumar says:
Dec-05-2013 12:27 pm

Hi Dan Berthiaume, No one can deny the inevitable enterprise tech trends for 2014. And I agree with all the points you mentioned in this article, we need to pay more attention to “Add Gravity to the Cloud”. Enabling software and services to the cloud will help us transform the customer experience through insight, intelligence and information.

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Williams-Sonoma sees revenue growth across all brands in Q3

BY CSA STAFF

Home improvement retailers are reaping the rewards of a healthier housing market and so is Williams-Sonoma. The company reported strong third quarter results and raised its fourth quarter outlook as a result.

Comparable brand revenue growth in the quarter increased 8.2% on top of 8.5% in the year-ago quarter. The company saw revenue growth across all its brands, but results were primarily driven by West Elm, which saw revenue jump 22.2% compared to 13% last year, and PBteen, which saw revenue jump 16.7%, compared to 2% last year.

Meanwhile, Pottery Barn’s revenue increased 8.4% for the quarter, compared to 11.1% in the year-ago quarter. Williams-Sonoma’s revenue increased 1.4%, compared to 0.8% last year. Pottery Barn Kids increased 3.9%, compared to 10.1% last year.

“Our strong third quarter and our performance year-to-date illustrate the power of our business model and the relevancy of our brands. We delivered an 11% increase in revenue and EPS growth in excess of 18%,” said Laura Alber, president and CEO. “Importantly, we delivered this revenue growth and accompanying operating margin expansion while simultaneously investing in our multifaceted growth initiatives.”

Direct-to-customer net revenues for the quarter increased 14.5% to $512 million from $447 million in the year-ago quarter, with growth across all brands, primarily driven by Pottery Barn and West Elm. DTC net revenues generated 49% of total company net revenues in the quarter, compared to 47% in Q3 12.

Retail net revenues for the quarter increased 8.5% to $540 million from $497 million in Q3 12, once again primarily driven by Pottery Barn and West Elm. Including five net new stores within the third quarter, retail leased square footage increased 1.6% from the end of the year-ago quarter.

As a result of its third-quarter performance, the company is raising its EPS guidance to a range of $2.76 to $2.83 and expresses confidence in its position as it heads into the holiday season.

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