By Nishit Rawat
These are exciting times that we live in. The pace at which technology is evolving is unprecedented. There is innovation all around – from companies like Salesforce and Amazon that are leading the charge in the cloud, to solid startups like SteelBrick that are simplifying complex business processes, to solutions that are making unbelievable leaps in extracting actionable insights from large datasets in ways that seemed impossible only a few years back.
For enterprises this comes as a mixed blessing. The tools to solve some of the more complex challenges are becoming increasingly available without prohibitive costs. What seemed like wild goose hunts not so long ago are much more realistic goals now. At the same time, some of the evolution that technology is bringing forth is disrupting their core business models. The way companies understand, interact with and serve their customers is all changing very quickly. Technology is empowering the customer in ways like never before. The new digital customer is more demanding and can quite literally switch from one vendor to another at the click of a button, or the swipe of a finger.
In the space we operate in, we see a few trends that will define success in the next few years for our customers – typically large and medium sized enterprises:
Digital customer experience
The bar is constantly rising on the way enterprises interact with their customers at any time – be it during marketing, sales, post-sales service, billing, shipping, returns. Besides the products that a company can offer, what distinguishes winners is the customer experience at every interaction. This often means smarter tools that enable enterprises to provide a differentiated customer experience; tools and technologies that allow enterprises to get a single view of their customers; tools that are easy for internal teams to use so that they can truly focus on wowing their customers instead of struggling with incomplete information and unintuitive user interfaces. The commerce platforms that form the backbone of such interactions have evolved over the last decade, but the next wave of advancement is happening now. Smart technology solution providers are now more easily able to build products on platforms such as Force.com. And, at the same time, technology vendors are making their applications simpler to use in response to savvy users who are demanding the simplicity of design in Apple’s products in their enterprise applications.
Data, Data, Data
We are seeing an increasing commitment from enterprises to invest in ensuring their data is right. On the one hand, there is a rush to capture the value of big data, the promise of being able to mine large swathes of data to gain meaningful insights that ultimately translate into hard dollars. All the same, there is a realization that all of this would come to naught unless the foundations of data are laid correctly. We are seeing companies focus more on their master data management initiatives, while also exploring creative new ways to solve older problems. For example, for one of our clients, we are cleaning up their customer linkages data to help provide a single customer view by crawling the web to find publicly available information and applying data science, statistical techniques, and predictive data analytics. With the vast increases and declining costs of computing power, the application of data science and machine learning concepts like neural networks, random forest, support vector machine and gradient boosting is increasingly becoming a real and practical way to solve complex business problems.
Even greater interconnectedness
Two distinct trends – the ubiquitous movement to the cloud and an increasing set of interconnected devices – mean that technology ecosystem for enterprises is becoming more interconnected than ever before. In the cloud, there are multiple applications to satisfy different workflows – CRM, CPQ, Billing & Invoicing, Contracts, Sales Compensation and more. The movement of data between these systems is quickly emerging as a big challenge for large corporations. Along with that, companies are exploring ways to collect data from all sorts of devices and ‘things’ – from servers and data storage devices with automatic support feeds to sensors used for tracking of merchandise interest across shopping aisles in stores to usage data from cars and medical devices. All this means a much more complex world where data from these systems must be managed in ways that they ultimately lead to hard benefits. This is a rapidly growing space in which our partners such as MuleSoft and Apigee are taking the lead.
At Fresh Gravity, our view is that the future belongs to ambitious enterprises that embrace this change and lead from the front. These will be companies with deep insights into their customers’ needs and behaviors, and the ability to delight their customers consistently. And technology will be a significant enabler. Our clients are those bold leaders who are transforming their industries. And, we are committed to championing, promoting and advancing our clients’ endeavors.