A few weeks ago a blog article from Forrester really got us talking. Ted Schrader’s article on the importance of customer focussed businesses making customer centred technology decisions identified four different kinds of systems which are critical to success. They are:
- Systems of engagement: the technology that customers and customer-facing employees touch every day, including web and mobile digital experience platforms. This includes the entire digital infrastructure for marketing, commerce, service. It's time to refresh and re-architect these systems. This will cost hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five years. And you must invest based on a belief as Blake Frank did rather than based on return on investment (ROI).
- Systems of insight: the business discipline and technology to harness insights to consistently turn data into effective action. Systems of insight marry big data, customer insights, and insights-to-execution in software and better engagement. It's a new team, a new operating model, and an enhanced technology portfolio. Expect to spend tens of millions of dollars, but tie that spending to more immediate returns like optimized digital marketing and sales conversions, more efficient customer self-service, optimized pricing, higher loyalty, better upsell and cross sell, and lower risk.
- Systems of automation and the Internet of Things: the technology to manage the connected products in your portfolio. Think about managing the software on a connected car, or filtering relevant data from thousands of sensors in a smart building, or automating repairs on a connected commercial refrigerator or pipeline or shipping container. Those are systems of automation. Learn now to scale later. Expect to spend tens of millions of dollars getting started. Fund this with service cost savings.
- Systems of record: the traditional technology that you operate the company on: finance, manufacturing, customer databases, transaction systems. Use the cloud, consolidate and refactor redundant systems, and relentlessly optimize the cost of operating these systems. Save hundreds of millions of dollars here over the next five years so you can afford to spend it on systems of engagement, insight, and automation.
We think this is absolutely right and this article explains how we work with these sorts of platforms at Quba.
1. Systems of Engagement
This is the bread and butter of everything we do. In our experience any web platform or system that does not have complete clarity on end users will fail. At Quba we spend a lot of time defining who the end users of our clients' systems are, this is important as designing interfaces and user experiences that support end users ultimately leads to a better result for our clients.
The above persona was developed in a recent project for our client Texthelp. Texthelp have a number of different persona groups and the new website will support a range of unique User Experiences.
By thinking about users in this level of granularity we can ensure that the decisions made in the design stage are motivated by real user needs. If we are not sure whether the user needs have been fully met we test with real users to validate prototypes before they go live. In fact we encourage all of our clients to have regular interaction through user testing and polls to highlight areas to continually improve the performance of the website.
2. Systems of insight
Most of the websites we create either send or receive information from a CRM. We do this because the businesses we work with want a 360 degree view of their customers to support sales and marketing campaigns. Why wouldn’t they? It really works.
B2B online marketers are perhaps more familiar with integrated and insight led lead or sales funnels but increasingly B2C marketers are looking at these technologies. In our experience web personalisation and marketing automation really comes into its own when you have a number of platforms all talking to one another at the same time. The below example shows a set of Macro conditions from a personalisation segment within Kentico.
In this example we are using insights based on:
The location of the user using a GEO-IP lookup
The profession of the person by looking at the contact type/group in the CRM
The buying and browsing habits of this customer through the built in user journey tracking software in Kentico.
3. Systems of Automation and the Internet of Things
Automated marketing and multi-channel digital publishing are becoming more and more commonplace for our customers. This can be as simple as automating previously manual processes through the use of web technology as we have for BM Trada (see below). This functionality allows certified BM Trada customers to self-certify work on an ongoing basis.
The exciting thing about automated integration and marketing is in the non-standard web outputs now available to us. A nice example, which we touched on last month is Uber who use location services to optimise and automate a whole range of processes which is fundamentally changing a business model which has held for almost a century. Like Ted says this is bound to become a big consideration for investment from many organisations in the next few years as smart investments can create an altogether richer experience for users leading to better brand advocacy and faster growth.
4. Systems of Record
I know that I have already mentioned customer databases in systems of insight but the great thing about CRM is that it has this dual capability. As a system of record CRM’s can be hugely useful;
They support business planning by allowing us to scrutinise past performance.
They enable us to forecast future work by understanding where prospective customer and new customer opportunities are in our sales pipeline.
They enable us to keep tabs on potential customers who are not currently buying from us and by gathering data over time we can re-target these customers in 6 months time with propositions we didn’t have previously.
Alongside CRM systems a number of our clients have product databases/catalogues or Enterprise Resource Planning platforms which allow our customers to understand the capacity and stock challenges affecting their business. For our client Rolawn, who have a product which needs to be harvested and has a complex delivery process running their business depends on this software system. We help them by integrating web orders and stock levels directly into their website. Similarly for Quba, we use a platform called Synergist which allows us to both interrogate the profitability of our projects and to understand the volume of work we are trying to deliver. In many ways Systems of Record are the most important of all business systems and the key is to ensure that the information they produce can be used for effective business planning and to lead marketing campaign planning.
Ultimately for ambitious businesses and professionals an awareness of how different technology can support growth and efficiency is becoming increasingly important. By plugging away with the same old systems without considering a more integrated top level approach you could be treading water rather than making waves.
About the Author:
Jon Eaton is Business Development and Partnerships Manager at Quba. His role is to work with potential new clients and with our software partners to continually improve the ecosystem of clients and technology in our business. If you would like to arrange a time to talk to him please email firstname.lastname@example.org.