Technology Companies: A Rapidly Changing Environment Demands a Customer-First Business Strategy
The less-heady reality of the current economy demands that companies increase focus on their current businesses in real time. In today’s world, the traditional five-year strategic business plan has been replaced by a five-month plan that is constantly being revised in the face of changing markets, better informed customers, new opportunities, and new threats. While many companies have adopted an agile mindset in application development, their approach to key functions like marketing, customer retention, and operations often remain static.
Fortunately, while managing the process of customer conversion and operations optimization has become much more complex, the analytic tools available to generate insights, drive business strategy, and improve every aspect of the customer experience have more than kept pace. Companies, therefore, should view digital transformation as an exciting opportunity to bring an innovation orientation to all that they do. As Boston plays a pivotal role in the current wave of technology innovation – bolstered by GE’s announced relocation to the city in 2016, joining other leading tech companies with offices in Boston, including Intel, IBM, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as home-grown companies like OneView Commerce – remaining a vital and active source of innovation for the region centers on successfully managing digital transformation.
The process of digital transformation can be easy to do incorrectly, even for technology companies. Digital transformation requires enterprises to rethink, at a very fundamental level, what it is they are trying to accomplish and why – especially when the default approach in business often is to focus immediately on how to get something done.
The result is that sometimes very little is given to underlying questions, such as how the lives and expectations of customer personas are changing, and which digital strategies can bring us closer to becoming a critical part of the customer experience in real time.
There are two significant “customer first” digital strategies that smart companies are now employing:
With the continued rise of Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media outlets, consumers are taking a more proactive approach in sharing certain types of personal data with each other and the companies with which they do business. In response, companies have begun to execute permission-based data collection protocols on their websites and other digital communication tools.
When a consumer is offered the opportunity to log onto a company website using a LinkedIn profile instead of typing in a username and password, the company is granted permission to access a wealth of information about that consumer. What is their education level? What is their current employment position? Which associations do they belong to? Where do they align politically? What is their age and family status? By gaining access to this kind of lifestyle information, companies can better target their product and service offerings to the consumer’s specific background and degree of influence. Companies such as Salesforce.com and Gigya are enjoying new levels of success using these approaches.
Omnichannel Digital Commerce
Today’s consumers live in an omnichannel world. And with this, consumers have seized back considerable power from businesses. With mobile phones or tablets in hand, customers want the ability to move seamlessly among channels. It is essential for companies to engage with their customers through multiple avenues. Digital commerce once meant shopping cart conversion, e-coupons, and online payment tools. Today, digital commerce has evolved into creating and fostering online communities with customers, using tools such as video chat for assisted selling, social network product reviews and brand advocacy, and service taking a role in multi-channel lead management. But it is not enough to just be present in those channels. Rather, businesses must leverage data analytics to deliver integrated and tailored experiences in a seamless fashion to the satisfaction of each customer.
“Using analytics to get deep insights from Big Data, businesses can begin to really see who the whales are — their best customers — and differentiate them from the minnows. They can see what makes the whales different and then build their business around them,” says Peter Fader, Wharton marketing professor and former co-director of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative.
Companies such as Burberry and Leviev Jewelry are growing and outperforming their competitors using personalization and omnichannel 2.0 digital strategies to create lasting relationships with their customers. These and other innovative companies, like Boston’s own Wayfair, are leveraging digital transformation at the highest level – reinventing the way companies sell to, and retain, their customers. Adopting such an approach will enable technology companies to experience sustainable growth potential, thereby taking an active part in continuing to cultivate the region as a leading technology haven.