Digital innovation can be a key driver of differentiation in the market, particularly during a global lockdown. Omer Wilson writes about how IT infrastructure is inextricably linked to CX and why marketers must understand and champion the right technology solutions within an organisation.
Customer experience (CX) strategy is evolving at a rapid rate. Marketing leaders must now address ever-changing consumer demands to deliver a competitive business advantage in these unpredictable environments. Whether its personalised products or services, same day delivery or robust customer data protections, it is clear that customer expectations are at an all-time high.
According to Gartner, more than two-thirds of companies compete primarily on CX, which only continues to grow year-on-year. CMO’s are under pressure to deliver innovative results in response to changing expectations – one negative experience can have a significant impact on customer loyalty. The role of CMOs continues to expand in line with AI, machine learning, big data and other emerging technologies as key drivers for innovation.
This is particularly important when improving customer engagement, experience, loyalty and lifetime value. However, despite the importance placed on CX, many companies still face hurdles when transforming their organisations in order to create a customer-centric experience.
To deliver customer value consistently, a holistic and collaborative approach to digital transformation is required. MicKinsey & Company found that digital transformation with a focus on CX, can generate a 20-30 percent increase in customer satisfaction and economic gains of 20-50 percent.
To improve the end-to-end customer experience, marketers must work closely with other areas of the business. While this may sound clichéd, IT, innovation and digital specialists are essential to providing superior CX.
Reimagining your IT infrastructure
Organisations are facing a multitude of sudden and unforeseen changes in their operational landscape, including in customer interactions, supply chains and across the employee environment. COVID-19 has uncovered the urgent need for digital capabilities that provide resilience and agility. CMOs must now compete in a new environment which is pushing digital channels and remote work to the maximum.
In this new normal, IT infrastructure can support positive customer experiences by enabling digital transformation, optimising data exchange and powering sustainability initiatives.
For example, organisations are storing, sorting and interpreting increasing levels of data. As a result, data sets become clustered together making them difficult to move and action; a concept known as data gravity. This is often the biggest challenge faced by CMOs when it comes to digital transformation activity, as it directly impacts the customer experience in the form of latency issues, limited accessibility and more importantly, security breaches.
Gartner predicts that by 2022, more than 50 percent of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside of the data centre or cloud. The changing IT landscape has led to recent innovation within the data centre industry itself, in favour of decentralised models in order to accommodate distributed workflows – no matter where customers are located and what their specific needs are at any given time. This facilitates a flexible, integrated and personalised customer experience, further building customer trust and loyalty.
According to Salesforce, 76 percent of customers report that it’s now easier than ever to take their business elsewhere. Customers are now more likely to switch between brands in search of an experience that matches their expectation.
There are a variety of ways to improve the customer experience, from collecting and analysing consumer data to delivering personalised content, but it’s rarely highlighted just how heavily this activity relies on an efficient and well organised IT infrastructure. An organisation’s setup must be architected to facilitate digital transformation and optimise data management. This is crucial to remaining competitive in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
IT infrastructure at the centre of CX
No longer seen as just the domain of the IT department, digital transformation is now being widely accepted by all business functions as key to driving innovation and differentiation in the market. However, an ongoing challenge for marketers is utilising mass data sets to demonstrate ROI. Marketers must consistently distil the most relevant data for their organisation and ensure the campaign approach and targeting is adapted accordingly. Modern marketers are almost becoming data analysts in that respect!
As a result, marketers are adopting many tools and solutions to help them collate, sort and then analyse the data streaming into their organisation – from both internal and external sources. Despite using these tools to map out long-term objectives, many companies are still underutilising their data. This makes adapting to the emerging trends more challenging.
According to Altimeter, 51 percent of companies are now prioritising their digital transformation investments starting with their IT infrastructure. The ability to scale globally as customer needs evolve is the key to success. In order to serve customers across all channels and touchpoints, IT infrastructure must allow for data to be optimised in real-time. Thus, removing barriers to delivering on-demand, customised experiences.
A modern CMOs role is to innovate across the technology spectrum – they should have an understanding of what developments are occurring across their customers, and the marketplace as a whole – to ensure they remain relevant in the overall customer experience. In our globally connected world, modern organisations can no longer afford to work in a vacuum.
Culture of innovation and CX
Customer experience will continue to serve as the catalyst for digital transformation and maturity. In a world increasingly reliant on collaboration, marketing leaders can no longer drive and execute CX innovation in silo – CX demands a cross-functional, company-wide commitment.
To deliver exceptional customer experience, companies must utilise real-time data and analytics to understand shifting expectations and demands. A decentralised infrastructure that enables complete ecosystem connectivity and integration is crucial to achieving this goal.
As such, an organisation’s IT strategy very much sets the foundation for delivering an optimal customer experience.
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Originally published : https://www.marketingmag.com.au