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Digital Transformation: Customer Engagement

Helping a business grow and evolve in the face of technological change has never been easy. Today’s business executives and thought leaders find themselves riding an unprecedented wave of innovation that shows no sign of abating. We have entered a deflationary period with respect to information technology as the price of computer cycles, communication, and collaboration plummets thanks to the rapid proliferation of cloud based technologies, open source platforms, and browser based applications that don’t require expensive, proprietary hardware and software. While this new environment is ripe with opportunities, it is also fraught with risk and business leaders must constantly wrestle with the question of when and how to invest their IT dollars.

Last spring, we began this series with a post titled Digital Transformation: A Practical Guide. Over the summer, we followed up with a post on Digital Transformation: Business Operations. In this post, we will take a closer look at the importance of leveraging technology to engage and build relationships with customers. Along the way, we will provide examples showing how you can use technology and data to better serve your customers.

A Networked World

Human beings are social by nature and the drive to connect with others is fundamental to who we are. Innovations that radically advance our ability to connect are game changers; think the printing press and the telephone. Like these revolutionary predecessors, digital networks have transformed the way in which we interact with one another and organizations across the globe are scrambling to harness the power of an increasingly networked world to build and strengthen ties with their customers. Some key aspects of customer engagement that anyone looking to maximize the power of social networking and the web should consider:

  • Trusted, secure and seamless identity management.
  • Connecting with audiences through their preferred methods and communities.
  • Delivery of a harmonious experience across devices.
  • Leveraging data analytics to provide meaningful content and interactions.
  • Intelligent systems that are predictive, personalized, and empowering.

Identity Management

With the web fast becoming the dominant platform for disseminating, managing, and consuming information, the need for secure, seamless identity management has never been greater. Today’s tech savvy users expect fast, easy, reliable access to sensitive information without having to worry that their credentials might be compromised.

It's common for organizations to rewrite legacy applications in order to keep up with consumer expectations and identity management is usually a key concern during the design phase of the upgrade. Organizations moving from a desktop platform to a web-based solution can often leverage their existing federated identity management systems to implement single sign on, seamlessly authenticating users behind the scenes rather than relying on a clumsy, error prone manual login process.

Preferred Methods and Communities

The variety and availability of digital platforms that enable online collaboration and file sharing have seen explosive growth over the last decade. The traditional shotgun approach to marketing (cold calls, direct mail, broadcast mediums) is being supplemented, and in some cases supplanted by the ability to target likely customers and engage with them when, where, and how they choose. In addition to heavyweights like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, there are literally hundreds of alternative social media platforms ranging from Pinterest and Instagram to niche sites such as Catster and Untappd. Social media affords organizations unparalleled opportunities to connect with their target audience and failing to make it a key piece of your marketing strategy is to risk appearing outdated and out of touch.

In 2013, Wendy’s announced the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger to great acclaim. Soon afterward, marketing analytics revealed a great deal of positive chatter around the new product on various social media sites. Marketing specialists at Wendy’s seized on the trend and launched a campaign featuring playful music videos with lyrics composed of comments posted on social media platforms. The campaign quickly went viral and the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger became the most successful product launch in the company’s 40 year history, a compelling testament to the power of leveraging online communities in one’s marketing strategy.

Harmonious Experience

Recent advances in the fields of user experience and user interface design have led to new standards for usability when it comes to digital devices and the applications that run on them. As a result, users have come to expect their digital experience to be intuitive, fluid, and accessible from a wide variety of devices. Organizations that fail to continually invest in digital assets will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage to those who can offer a more contemporary integrated experience.

Consider the popularity of online banking. Many major financial institutions have invested heavily in technology that enables customers to check balances, make transfers, send money, locate ATMS, and even apply for loans with a few clicks on a smart phone. Customers shopping around for a new bank now take such conveniences for granted and often won’t consider signing on with an institution that fails to provide them.

Data Analytics

What you don’t know can hurt you. Modern consumers are bombarded with information at every turn and most of us don’t have the time or the inclination to sift through content that has no relevance for us. Research has shown that we are far more engaged by content that is tailored to our needs and interests. Fortunately, there are a plethora of data analytics platforms that allow organizations to assemble profiles of their user base and deliver content that is both meaningful and relevant.

Many organizations wish to deliver highly targeted content and/or phone and email communications to current and prospective customers. A company in the higher education space may, for example, wish to deliver tailored content based on a number of criteria such as a prospect’s income, education level, and degree of interest in beginning or continuing their education. By partnering with a cloud-based analytics platform, the marketing department can better understand its user base and use profiling data to deliver timely communications and targeted content across the web.

Intelligent Systems

Today’s web-based information systems have attained a level of sophistication that was difficult to imagine just a decade or two ago. In addition to providing a next level platform for communication, collaboration, and information sharing, today’s web can learn and adapt to better serve us and consumers increasingly expect a high degree of personalization when interacting with online services.

Anyone who has used Netflix or another online provider of streaming content has seen the power of a predictive algorithm to suggest content that a user is likely to be interested in given their viewing history. Similarly, retailers like Amazon have invested heavily in technology that predicts which products are likely to appeal to a shopper based on the contents of the consumers shopping cart or past purchasing history.

In Conclusion

It's not a stretch to say that there is no industry that has not been disrupted by the sweeping technological changes that have occurred over the past two decades. Organizations of all shapes and sizes have had to adapt marketing practices, communication channels, and customer relationship management in order to stay relevant in a rapidly changing, increasingly competitive landscape. Successful companies see opportunity in this technological ferment and continually seek to invest in new ways of engaging with their customer base.

Stay Tuned!

This is the third in a four-part series where we will explore how sdg helps our customers embrace digital transformation. In the final installment, we’ll take a deeper dive into the role products and services play in digital transformation. Watch for the next segment this winter!