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Welcome To The Year Of The Customer

by Simon Tate, Area Vice President for Commercial Business – Asia, Salesforce

Waitress serving customers

The coming Year of the Monkey looks set to be a year of change, not just in the technology sector but in every industry, with technology embedded in everything we do. The rise of mobile and social technologies has made end-users more empowered and knowledgeable than ever before. At the same time, enterprises today can leverage the cloud to make faster, more efficient software changes; use social media to connect with customers; deploy predictive analytics to determine what their customers will want and connect and control devices via a central point with the Internet of Things (IoT).

Enterprises need to recognize the increasing role technology plays in their business or risk becoming laggards when connecting to today’s tech-savvy customers. What are the latest trends that businesses need to take note of in the coming year to engage with their customers?

Connecting Internet of Things to Internet of Customers

The combination of mobile, social, sensors, wearables and cloud technologies has triggered a deluge of data. More than 90 percent of the world’s data has been generated over the last 2 years. With IDC predicting that the number of connected things in APEJ is set to increase exponentially from 3.1 billion to 8.6 billion by 2020, the volume of data and the opportunities this presents are expected to grow exponentially. This connectivity between all things or IoT is often seen as a buzzword, and will continue to remain so for many unless organizations are able to act on the information collected.

Specific verticals, such as sales and marketing, will definitely stand to benefit from leveraging the data collected from the Internet of Things to make predictions, effectively set targets and tailor their go-to-market messaging to understand their target audience better. Organizations need to embrace technology that helps them connect data from IoT, digital content and customer information, give context to that data and make it actionable – all in real time. By collecting such data, businesses would be better able to connect to their customers in real-time, with a personal and proactive service based on their registered preferences.

Intelligence-Enabled Workflows

While enterprises are provided with even more raw materials to sell smarter, IDC found that companies are still struggling to extract the right data and deliver the data driven insights to help them appeal to today’s customers. Although there is much discussion on the need for emotional intelligence in the workplace to navigate the corporate jungle, more discussion needs to be around relationship intelligence.

Relationship intelligence – a technology solution that automatically captures, analyzes and surfaces information relevant for the customer relationship from email, calendars and more – will grow in importance in 2016 as more enterprises look for a way to mine data. This Jarvis of the workplace will seek out the patterns needed to provide insights into future outcomes, proactively recommending courses of action to build stronger relationships with prospective or current customers.

Increasing Emphasis on the Customer

The digital journey is transforming the way customers get introduced to and engage with brands. Customers now interact with brands through multiple communication channels and devices. Additionally, industry disruption from innovative enterprises has become the norm. In this competitive, ever-changing business environment, IDC advises businesses to move out from their comfort zones and leverage technology to address the gaps in customer experience.

More than ever before, organizations of every size and industry are looking for solutions to transform how they work and engage with customers to drive growth. 2015 may have been the year of new terms such as IoT or wearables – but 2016 looks set to be the year when the discussion moves beyond technology to how technology is a means to a customer-centric end. This means that enterprises won’t just want to talk about IoT or wearables, but rather how wearables can contribute to the overall customer experience. The businesses that put the customer at the centre of everything they do in 2016 will be the ones that succeed.

 

Simon TateSimon Tate is a 20 year IT veteran and is currently Vice President of Commercial Sales Asia for Salesforce. He has held previous roles with companies like NetComm, Gateway Computers, Hummingbird / Opentext, EMC, and SAP. Simon is also an independent company director and has served on a number of advisory boards with technology focused companies in early stage (A or B) funding.

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