The problem with changeEmerging technologies and customer expectations are the driving forces of the digital disruption many companies are now faced with. While cloud applications, analytics, mobile, social and the Internet of Things (IoT) offer unique business opportunities on their own, the sudden adoption of these technologies has left many with a new problem.
Businesses have unwittingly set themselves up to fail by investing in disparate systems that only meet certain business goals or fulfil specific strategies. Without looking at the wider picture, the value of these technologies is significantly diminished. Any business can use social or mobile in their customer experience model; using these technologies in a unique way, however, is the key to competitive advantage.
Transforming the digital approachMany are realising that integration is the key to unlocking the full potential of these technologies. It’s no secret that the more data you can access, the more insights you have, the more you can do. Integrating technologies can deliver connected digital services that span internal and external ecosystems. Data synchronisation and connected technologies enable businesses to reveal valuable insights and set up game-changing workflows. The common goal, as always, is to deliver unique customer experiences and solutions.
Integration presents some interesting business opportunities, and many are making moves to adopt this agile approach. In a recent study for Dell Boomi, 88% of IT decision makers agreed that getting their business more connected would be a key to growing revenue. Unsurprisingly, the level of connectivity for these businesses is expected to reach 78% by 2020, up from 41% in 2014.
Achieving integrationA relatively new kid on the block, Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) is quickly becoming the number one integration tool of choice for businesses. Harnessing the power of API’s, an any point integration service like Mothercloud can connect your various cloud applications to enable data sharing and workflows. This single platform cloud solution is the perfect choice for modern businesses with a focus on agility. It has the same versatility and scalability that have made cloud applications so popular in the first place, and integrating these technologies significantly increases their value to your business.
Added value to applications, scalability and even affordability are just a few of the basic benefits of iPaaS. Together, they enable businesses to take on the advanced digital strategies that are slowly becoming essential to maintaining a competitive advantage in today’s digitally transformed markets.
Superior customer experiencesOmnichannel is becoming big business for retailers with an off and online presence. Inspiring engagement through personalisation and targeting with the help of superior CRM software is the foundation of this, but it takes more to deliver a truly superior customer experience. Today’s stand out companies are creating a seamless experience at every step of the customer journey with the help of integration.
Brands like MAC and Nordstrom are excellent examples of companies that are pioneering this strategy. Their advanced CRM software and harnessed ecommerce data develop a detailed beauty profile for each customer, enhanced with information from the shoppers themselves. As part of their omnichannel experience, this information is fully integrated into their point-of-sale (POS) systems. Each employee is armed with all the information they need to deliver the same highly personalised online experience in-store
As well as being useful in-store, employees can use email and other channels to reach out to customers with relevant information, for example when a product they like is back in stock or if a relevant event is coming up.
There are also many retailers that have begun to optimise their inventory, order fulfilment and delivery services for a superior omnichannel experience; all through integration. Offering real time inventory online and enabling customers to remotely look up inventory in stores are both features that can help reduce the number of customers who go elsewhere to find the product they want.
This type of cross-channel inventory management is also the backbone of advanced order fulfilment. Shipping a product from store can help to fulfil orders that would otherwise be missed if the product is out of stock in the warehouse. Additionally, this real-time data synchronisation means you can fulfil click-and-collect orders from stock that is already held in the relevant store. Customers can collect quicker, while retailers save money on unnecessary courier costs.
Strategies that focus on the customer should always be a priority for businesses, but customer satisfaction isn’t the only benefit to these strategies. While it shouldn’t be the main concern of businesses, customer-centric strategies are also beneficial to operational efficiency and costs. Meeting customer demands with a synchronised omnichannel approach often helps to streamline many businesses processes.
Time for a digital makeoverFor the truly innovative company, integration and the digital transformation it promises can also open doors to completely new services and opportunities. Some companies are now augmenting their current offering with digitised services and products. One extreme example of this is the traditional manufacturing company GE who are using integration with two key drivers of digital transformation, IoT and analytics.
Using the fairly recent power of IoT, GE has focused on complete connectivity with products that now collect data for their customers and the company. This data is used to monitor how products are used and perform so that they can be serviced, diagnosed and improved. This is beneficial to customers as well as the company itself, informing them on how to use products more efficiently and get the best out of their purchases. For GE this is an unlimited pool of data that can inform every part of their production and operation, from creating better products for the future to improving how they communicate with customers.
Of course, you don’t need to invest in connected products to transform your business. Data from any off and online customer interactions can be used to help inform business decisions and create new products, services or simply engaging content. Integrating all the applications that handle these interactions will give a completely holistic view of customer behaviour, and provide better insights to help you improve every area of your business. This could be anything from providing better marketing collateral to guide buying behaviour, to opening new lines of communication with messaging services to connect to customers on their terms.
Looking at the bigger pictureEmbracing a variety of innovations doesn’t simply mean adopting everything that’s out there. Leveraging the power of API’s can transform the way businesses use digital in their operations and offering, but it all starts with an understanding of existing assets and capabilities. Reviewing your end-to-end experience may reveal gaps and opportunities that these technologies could fill, or there may be processes that could be improved and turned into a key competitive differentiator. Only by taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture with integration in mind can businesses hope to take on true digital transformation.
It’s also important to remember this is an ongoing process. Rather than simply connecting your data or setting up automated workflows and leaving it at that, keep crunching the numbers. Measure the outcome of improvements and continue to look at what’s working and what isn’t, as well as any opportunities your customer data may highlight. This type of continual improvement will help to cultivate a culture of innovation within the business with a focus on adapting and improving for competitive advantage.
If you want to unlock the full potential of your current applications, why not book a demo with Mothercloud today and see digital transformation in action.