First, I must apologise to my readers for the lengthy hiatus since my last post. I was working on a rather complex assignment for a financial services firm with strict NDAs in place and I didn't have the luxury of airing my thoughts in public for almost a year! The time spent away from writing posts and focusing on a complex, strategic initiative made me wonder on the next emerging waves in the technology - business axis and this article is about three of them which I think are critical for business to leverage for their next phase of exponential growth.
One of the key aspects of my life as a technologist and strategist has been working on exponential improvements in productivity. In the past decade or so, some of the key drivers for exponential improvements in back office performance have been business rules & process orchestration technologies leading to significant automation, the rise of the internetworked telecommunication infrastructure that underpinned cheaper communication models, the rise of the globally disparate delivery model driven by cost arbitrage and cheap telecommunications and channel independent contact centre technologies that significantly reduced cost to serve.
However, they have all impacted primarily the back office, reducing costs and improving human productivity. Some paradigm shifting technologies like integrated contact centre technologies impacted and significantly improved customer satisfaction scores and social media provided a new channel for businesses to understand, appreciate and use effectively but then how many industries actually are able to measure the benefits from such path breaking technologies?
That brings us back to the question - what next? What could be potentially a disruptive force? Technologies have already reduced the entry barriers for some industries like insurance and retail beyond imagination; they have driven most arbitrageurs and middlemen out of business and driven an economy that is driven by knowledge, global mobility and accessibility. I shall focus on three areas where there is clear and demonstrated business leverage.
1. Trends 1: CRM++ - as someone who had the privilege of driving one of the largest & global CRM practice for big five India-based service providers, I have always been astounded with what one can do with a quality CRM application. I am not going to delve into what makes a good CRM system or how one goes about implementing one but I shall focus on how to deploy and use one effectively in the very near future. For me CRM++ & CRM are much like C++ & C, an enhancement on an existing platform - not developing a new coding language!
Most of the customer specific and product specific data exists in a standard and reasonably well implemented CRM application. CRM++ thus refers to the way one uses the data for customer experience. Let's take an example: a customer buys a product X manufactured by Company X from a warehouse chain Y. This information is fed to the data marts at both X and Y. Y then uses this data to send a mail to the customer on day one thanking for the purchase and sending additional information on usage, documentation etc. along with a copy of the invoice for easy archival purposes. On day seven, the company X sends another mail to the customer asking for feedback on the product and if there are areas they believe the product can be improved further. Two to four weeks later another mail is sent (if the customer responds positively) asking them to 'Like' their product on Facebook. A few days later the customer gets a mail asking if they would want to suggest their product to any of their friends - thus the movement from a prospect to a customer to a user and further on to an advocate can be completed in one seamless cycle.
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