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Cybersecurity: Is it Time To Change Our Mindset?

Mark Testoni

For years, the standard approach to cybersecurity has been to build bigger and bigger walls to “keep the bad guys out.” But as the threat of cybercrime has evolved over time, this approach alone is not enough. Here, we look at the growing cybersecurity challenge and key imperatives facing CIOs.

As the Internet has pervaded all aspects of business and personal life, so has the list of cyber threats that could impact your enterprise. It’s not just rival companies looking to steal ideas. Currently an attack on your network could come from a wide range of sources. Your company could find itself under siege from organized crime, terrorist groups, and even foreign governments.

State and commercial interests are merging, with the networks of private companies now seen as key targets when countries are in conflict. For this reason, many corporations are adopting the same cybersecurity strategies as our national security organizations.

The enemy within

A data breach event could potentially cost millions of dollars, leaving your corporate reputation in ruins. With so much at stake, how do you protect your organization and its intellectual property from all attacks?

This is the challenge. Technological developments have moved so fast in recent years that few networks could ever claim to be 100% impenetrable. And as fast as IT security experts establish barriers to their systems, technologically advanced hackers find ways around them.

Rapid detection, agile response

So, how can commercial companies respond to the evolving cyber threat?

What we need is an entirely new mindset when it comes to cybersecurity. We should assume that hackers can and will access our networks. To complement the evolution of perimeter defenses, we need to shift our focus to detecting and acting on attacks as quickly as possible.

If this approach is to be successful, speed is essential. It is not enough to look in the rear-view mirror to understand what happened yesterday. We need a “front windshield view” to analyze, understand, and respond to threats as they occur.

Revolutionary new approach

With traditional computing approaches, companies simply cannot react fast enough to respond effectively to cyber attacks as they take place. These companies are often only able to determine that a cyber attack has already occurred and attempt to limit the damage to their operations and customers. The prevalence of this can be seen in the number of companies issuing reports about data breaches and offering credit monitoring to their compromised customers. Companies need a way to detect attacks as they are happening, and before the attacker has an opportunity to cause damage.

Sophisticated in-memory computing solutions are enabling this revolution in the way we approach cybersecurity. In an environment where there will never be one, single cyber-product answer, we need to bring the best of all worlds together in an integrated, high-performance manner. For example, with our strategic partners SS8, ThreatConnect, and Babel Street, we are leveraging SAP HANA as a high-performance hub to integrate real-time cyber-situational awareness and threat context. This enables the enterprise to understand the threat, find it, and act on it in real time.

This high-performance computing platform can achieve speeds many thousands of times faster than traditional data architectures. This enables the processing of huge data sets in seconds rather than days and allows analysis at true cyber speed. Companies using this capability can detect and stop cyber attacks while they are underway and before their data can be compromised.

Setting priorities

From the outset, we need to understand that breaches are possible and not all targets can be protected equally. Instead we must identify the high-value targets that are most likely to be attacked and prioritize the areas where a security breach would be most damaging.

For example, finance operations and critical infrastructure are key for most organizations. In addition, personal information is a high-value commodity that cyber criminals are increasingly targeting.

Managing security risk

The Internet has given us the greatest opportunity for economic expansion since the Industrial Revolution. And when you consider the fact that e-commerce accounts for trillions of dollars each year, losses due to security breaches seem minimal.

However, cyber crime is evolving and the threat is growing.

There is no absolute solution or quick fix. The imperative for CIOs is to deploy their available resources effectively to close the aperture of risk as much as possible, and re-evaluate their strategy on an ongoing basis. They need solutions with speed to detect and stop attacks while they are underway. And they must use the latest in-memory technology innovations to stay one step ahead of the cyber criminals.

Threats to your organization can come in many forms, including Supply Chain Fraud: Theft That’s Hidden in Plain Sight.

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Mark Testoni

About Mark Testoni

Mark Testoni is president and chief executive of SAP NS2. He is one of the nation’s leading experts in the application of information technology to solve problems in government and industry, especially in the U.S. national security space. With more than 15 years of IT industry experience, 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, and 30 years of public sector management experience, Testoni is a sought-after business strategist and thought leader, with a proven record of rebuilding under-performing organizations and converting visionary ideas into reality. record of rebuilding under-performing organizations and converting visionary ideas into reality.

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CIO , cybersecurity

Leading The Shift To A Digital Business With Determination

Carsten Linz

Part 6 of the “Leading through Digital Transformation” series 

Digital transformation is still a blurry topic of varied definitions and diverse mindsets – but a wealth of potential. Essentially, it is an organizational change that happens when new digital technologies are used to enable innovation and next-generation business models to gain, or regain, a competitive edge.

This view is very similar to how many small and midsize businesses perceive it – namely as a chance to adjust their processes and renew their customer experience. Some are even innovating their operating model or creating entirely new business models.

In a recent study “Digitizing IT: Catalysts for Growth,” The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) revealed that 63% of senior executives from companies with annual revenue between US$250 million and US$500 million consider digital transformation to be the highest or relatively high in strategic priority.

Of the top digital initiatives undertaken in the last three years, these ranked highest:

  • Addition of new customer-facing digital channels (61%)
  • Launch of new products or services made possible by digital technology (63%)
  • Promotion of digital collaboration among employees (57%)
  • Prioritization of digital marketing over traditional forms (50%)
  • Application of digital technology to improve internal operations (41%)

From a company-wide leadership perspective, 49% believe their IT department should lead (29%) – or, at least, take an active role (20%) – in managing business model change enabled by digital technology. Surprisingly, though, only 19% see management of business model change as the most critical success factor of their organization’s digital initiatives.

True digital transformation challenges the status quo

There are many cases of initiatives that digitize existing processes, but only a few are adding game-changing customer value. In fact, only 17% of respondents surveyed in the EIU study consider their digital initiatives over the last three years to be highly effective. It appears that many small and midsize businesses make the mistake of just automating what they have, instead of redefining current business processes – no matter if they are strategic for new revenue streams or will likely cease in a couple of years.

As the host of a recent SAP CIO Summit event in Frankfurt, Germany,  I had an inspiring conversation with Peter Gantner, CIO of MAPAL Group. Like many component parts (C-parts) suppliers, the precision tool manufacturer recognized a significant challenge two years ago: How can MAPAL remain relevant in the long-term when the digital quality of its products are becoming increasingly important, at least as important, as their physical qualities? Moreover, how can it ensure the long-term continuance of the company?

To address these concerns, the MAPAL senior management team decided to approach digital transformation holistically based on the three work streams:

  • Digital lean: Geared towards efficiency gains due to digitalization and internal process automation, this work stream includes all activities needed to secure interconnectedness and consistency for significant data throughput. Existing lean programs were integrated into this approach, as well a focus on generating high-efficiency results.
  • Digital twin: To create value-add and differentiating capabilities effectively, MAPAL created a digital twin of the real work stream – created and maintained just like the digital lean version. Aggregating all relevant information for technical descriptions and handling, as well as commercial and lifecycle data, helped evolve MAPAL into a data content provider on top of their traditional hardware business. The digital twin is the heart of the company’s digital strategy to significantly improve the production process. If the machine knows the ideal cutting speed of a tool, the workflow can be optimized towards cutting performance. If the machine is aware of the cycles a tool has already performed, the remaining operating distance can be predicted. The digital twin becomes the prerequisite for meeting the requirements of external partners and process contributors.
  • Digital services: This mindset focuses on the development and implementation of new business services through a platform business model. MAPAL developed an open, cloud-based approach for the efficient handling of their tools and tool-related digital services by building on the vast and growing volume of available master, process, and inventory data generated from every product. For example, the entire lifecycle of their inventory of tools can be tracked and optimized for performance through mobile devices. With this insight, operations managers can determine the best time to regrind their tools. Production site managers can also analyze how and why local production approaches differ from other company sites worldwide – such as which cuts lead to lower tool wear. As a result, best practices can be productized, shared, and rolled out across the globe with real-time machine data.

Lessons learned from MAPAL

There are many lessons we can learn from MAPAL’s digital transformation approach. First, technology investments should always enable the reimagination of business processes, operations, and business models. Second, strategies may call for better access to real-time, accurate insights; actionable decision-making; or streamlined processes; but ultimately, a scalable, reliable infrastructure is needed to power it all.

Digital transformation does not mean that a company must replace existing business operations entirely. Such a decision will only disrupt cash flow and upset customers. Instead, organizations must assess how emerging opportunities and risks can be addressed through agility, technology-driven intelligence, and ambitious innovation to pave the way to untapped incremental revenue streams and additional competitive advantage.

Based on my learnings from more than 150 CxO meetings on digital transformation each year, I can recognize a successful leadership pattern in a small and midsize business with the ambition to remain a champion over the long term. Separating digital leaders from digital laggards is the combination of making a strategic bet and executing with determination.

The changing role of the CIO

The challenges posed by digital transformation are opening the door for IT leaders to prove what they have known all along: Technology is the enabler, not the motivator. Moreover, as executives scramble to meet the demands of an increasingly digital present and future, the CIO’s value becomes even more apparent. According to the EIU survey, 44% of respondents cite that the ideal role for IT is to help devise and implement a digital transformation strategy.

The sole purpose of IT can no longer reside in the development, implementation, and maintenance of technology. Otherwise, the CIO and his team would only be regarded as a back-office role while others lead the company’s digital journey. By combining so generated technology expertise with the business side of the executive table, CIOs can provide valuable insights and ideas that enable the entire executive team to map the best course for revenue generation and proactive, disruptive innovation.

By embracing entrepreneurial and transformational leadership, CIOs have a unique reason to rise into prominence as they spearhead competitive innovation, create a unique value proposition for the brand, and set a clear road map that delivers the full promise of digital transformation.

To learn how your business can embrace the promise of the digital economy, check out The Economist Intelligence Unit’s recent report “Digitizing IT: Catalysts for Growth.” Be sure to check every Tuesday for new installments to our blog series “Leading through Digital Transformation,” to explore the various leadership roles in today’s growing small and midsize companies.

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Carsten Linz

About Carsten Linz

Dr. Carsten Linz is an entrepreneurial leader with more than twenty years of business experience and a proven track record for driving innovation, growth, and transformation. As the Business Development Officer at SAP SE, he repeatably leads the build-up and scale-out of new businesses. In his role as Global Head of the Center for Digital Leadership, Linz acts as an advisor to other CIOs and C-level executives by showcasing next-generation digital innovation and transformation approaches. He also serves as advisory board member, coaches CEOs of fast-growing companies, and is an active member of the investment committee of Europe’s largest seed stage fund. As senior lecturer, he teaches in executive education programs at top-ranked business schools, publishes books and articles in renowned journals, and is a sought-after keynote speaker. He supports social innovators as advisory board member of Social Impact Berlin.

Social Collaboration: A Secure, Cost-Efficient Path To Digital Transformation

Steve Hamrick

Every CIO’s worst nightmare is waking up to headline news broadcasting their company’s critical business data was lost or stolen. Unfortunately, CIOs are a no-win situation. Business units are demanding more from IT than ever before. And if IT is ever viewed as an inhibitor to business success, individual business units may elect to diverge from officially endorsed systems and solutions – putting an entire company’s critical business data at risk. That deviation from IT-supported solutions makes a potential nightmare headline about lost or stolen business data an even more significant possibility.

For example, it’s not unusual for businesses to turn to cloud collaboration apps and solutions such as Dropbox, Slack, Google Docs, WeChat, and WhatsApp. At face value, many organizations and business unit leaders believe that it makes sense to adopt such free and freemium-based applications that enable collaboration to get work done. However, CIOs and IT organizations view the adoption of free unsanctioned collaboration solutions as a potential liability that leads to critical business information and data that is stored in silos, compromised security, and unpredictable operational costs.

CIOs should do more than selecting technology based on a checklist of requirements. They need to assess how people – workers and consumers – are taking advantage of technology, what risks they’re introducing, and which solutions can enhance the employee experience.

Deliver social collaboration that won’t break your CIO’s budget and investments

It’s generally well understood that a connected workplace is a more productive workplace. At the same time, every CIO wants to do what’s best for everyone in the company – from the CEO to the store associate – without putting the company data at risk. But is it possible to ensure that business data and systems are protected while driving lower IT support costs, too?

According to Forrester Consulting’s 2016 study, The Total Economic Impact of SAP Jam, an enterprise-wide social collaboration platform may be the answer to these challenges. In the report, Forrester Consulting revealed that centralizing social collaboration not only helps employees find and share information with the ease and speed they need, but also decrease costs and security risks typically associated with conventional software and business processes such as onboarding new hires, training users, and responding to support issues.

Is a social collaboration platform the best choice for your business? Check out these results from the Forrester Consulting report to find out.

20% reduction in license fees from redundant, poorly adopted collaboration tools

Whenever ad hoc tools are used in pockets of the business, there are at least two or three that are used the same way and/or provide the same functionality. All too often, they are used for only one project or just a few months before the team moves to another popular application.

Granted, there may be reasons why a line of business may not be fully consolidated with the platform, such as varying geographies and unique collaboration needs. But if most employees access the same social collaboration platform that embraces the latest and popular technology, an organization can save upwards of 20% annually. This social network can provide a unified work experience that every employee craves – bringing together people, processes, information, and applications needed to engage in productive problem-solving, decision-making, skills development, and innovation. Delivery as a single, secure, cloud-based foundation across the business and all functions eliminates organizational silos and ensures everyone has everything they need to drive impactful business outcomes.

15% decrease in time to access information and expertise means higher adoption

While IT runs best with greater simplification and system security, an enterprise-wide solution will always result in low adoption if it isn’t compatible with workforce needs and behaviors. The most compelling benefit from a social collaboration platform is the ability to get information when and where it’s needed – without disruption.

In the Forrester Consulting study, employees saved a significant amount of time without having to search for information and expert advice hidden, in high volumes of e-mails. Plus, increased efficiency is magnified when teams cross geographic and departmental boundaries. By collaborating socially through one source, employees can get the expertise and answers they need to get the job done without delay.

Social collaboration: Building the digital enterprise through a culture of sharing

It’s no secret that organizational culture guides the behaviors and technologies adopted to get work done. In fact, most CIOs and their fellow IT decision makers are keenly aware that social collaboration tools – whether short-term mobile apps or long-term software – are playing a dominant role in how employees work together.

This new reality shows us that the workforce is more open than ever to digital transformation. More important, employees won’t wait for an enterprise solution; instead, they will find a way to do what they need, even if a variety of unintended consequences puts the business architecture at risks.

Isn’t it time that your entire business follows the same path to digital transformation? Find out how an enterprise social collaboration platform can help your business tap into this growing popularity of digital work styles. Read the Forrester Consulting study The Total Economic Impact of SAP Jam.

 

 

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Customer Experience: OmniChannel. OmniNow. OmniWow.

Jamie Anderson, Volker Hildebrand, Lori Mitchell-Keller, and Stephanie Overby

The lines between the digital and physical customer experience today are largely artificial. Customers shop in retail stores with their devices at the ready. They expect online-like personalization and recommendations in the aisles. They’re looking for instant gratification and better sensory experiences from digital channels. It’s an omnichannel world and companies must figure out how to live in it: delivering a superior customer experience regardless of the entry point.

Luxury fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff, for example, opened its first three retail stores with the intent of taking customers’ best online experiences and bringing them to life. “In the past, you had this brick-and-mortar experience, and you had the online experience,” says company president Uri Minkoff. “There were such great advantages and efficiencies that emerged with shopping online. You could get recommendations, see how something should be styled, create wish lists, access user-generated content. In the store, it was still just you and the product, and maybe a sales associate. But [unlike online] you had all five of your senses.”

Rebecca Minkoff’s new stores still stimulate those senses while incorporating some of the intelligence that online channels typically bring to bear. Each store features a large interactive screen at the entrance, where customers can browse products or order a beverage. Shoppers can interact with salespeople or they can make purchases on a mobile app without ever talking to a soul. Inside a fitting room, RFID-tagged merchandise is displayed on an interactive mirror, where customers can request new sizes or the designer’s recommended coordinates (a real-life recommendation engine).

The company has found that 30% of women ask for additional items based on the recommendations. It has also sold three times more of its new ready-to-wear line than it anticipated. “We were an accessories-dominant brand,” says Minkoff. “But we’ve been able to build this direct relationship with our customers, helping them with outfit completers and also getting a better sense of what they want based on what’s actually happening in our fitting rooms.”

Each piece of technology adds to the experience while capturing the details. Rebecca Minkoff’s integrated systems can remember a customer’s previous visits and preferred colors and sizes, and can enable associates to set up a fitting room with appropriate garments. On the back end, the company gets the kind of visibility into in-store conversions once possible only in digital transactions. “The technology gives us the ability to create the kind of experience each customer wants. She can shop anonymously or be treated like a VIP,” says Minkoff.

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Build Around a Big Idea

Rebecca Minkoff’s approach is a bellwether. It’s not enough simply to provide continuity or consistency from one channel to another. Customers don’t think in terms of channels, and neither should companies. Rather, it’s about defining the overarching experience you want to deliver to customers and then building the appropriate offline and online elements to achieve that intended outcome.

As more goods and even services are commoditized, companies must compete on the experiences they create (see The ROI of Customer Experience). That means coming up with a big idea that drives the design of the customer experience. “Every great experience needs to have a theme,” says Joe Pine, consultant and coauthor of The Experience Economy and Infinite Possibility: Creating Customer Value on the Digital Frontier. “That’s the organizing principle of the experience. It’s how you decide what’s in and what’s out.”

For example, Rebecca Minkoff serves as an image consultant to its Millennial customers, who expect personalization, recognition, and tech innovation, using a mix of online and offline techniques. To stand apart, companies must come up with their own unifying idea and then integrate data and systems, rework organizational models, and rethink key strategic metrics and employee incentives in order to integrate the physical and digital worlds around that idea.

Here are some examples of companies that have created a theme-driven experience using online and offline elements.

Nespresso: Imparting a Sense of Luxury

At the most basic level, Nespresso is a manufacturer of coffee and coffee machines. But the company has successfully turned what it sells and how it sells it into a very specific type of experience. Nespresso strives to impart a feeling of quality, exclusivity, even luxury in a host of ways.

sap_Q316_digital_double_feature3_images2The company has created the Nespresso Club, which maintains direct relationships with thousands of customers. Its customer service centers are staffed by 1,000 highly trained coffee experts who don’t just push products but offer advice and guidance as a sommelier might do with wine. Its 450 retail stores (up from just one Parisian in 2000) are called boutiques; the largely inventory-free showrooms are built around tasting and learning.

Online, the focus is on efficiency and service. Customers who prefer digital interactions can order through the web site or mobile app, which offers the option of courier delivery within a two-hour window. The company also recently introduced a Bluetooth-enabled coffee machine, which when paired with a smartphone app, can track a customer’s usage, simplify machine maintenance, and as Wired pointed out, enable remote brewing.

Success didn’t happen overnight, but today Nespresso is one of Nestlé’s fastest growing and most profitable brands, according to Bloomberg.

QVC: Using Online to Complement the Experience

The theme that has driven television-shopping giant QVC’s customer experience for decades has been “inspiration and entertainment.” Traditionally that was delivered through the joy of spontaneous discovery while watching the channel.

Matching that experience online has been difficult, however. At a digital retail conference in 2015, QVC’s CEO explained that in the past the company had failed to deliver the same rich interactions online that it had developed with its TV audiences, according to Total Retail. So the company decided to rethink its use of digital tools to focus on complementing the experience it delivers through TV screens, according to RetailWire.

For example, after enticing TV viewers with products, QVC introduces the next step in the buying journey—“impulse to buy”—in which viewers are spurred on with televised countdown clocks or limited merchandise availability. Online, the company has been experimenting with second-screen content (for instance, recipes that compliment a cooking product being sold on TV) to further propel purchases. The QVC app features the same item that is on-air along with a prompt that reveals all the items featured on TV in recent hours. On Apple devices equipped with Touch ID, customers can check out in less than 10 seconds with the fingerprint-enabled “speed buy” button. The third phase—“purchase and receive”—is complemented by a simple and reliable online browsing and purchasing platform. The last stage—“own and enjoy”—is accompanied by follow-on e-mail communication with tips on how to use products.

Last year, the company reported that 44% of total QVC sales came from online channels (up from 40% in 2014), and nearly half of those were completed on a mobile device. In fact, QVC is currently the tenth largest mobile commerce retailer in the United States, according to Internet Retailer.

Domino’s: Focusing on Speed and Convenience

sap_Q316_digital_double_feature3_images3Domino’s Pizza built a fast-food empire not necessarily on the quality of its pies but instead on the experience of getting hot food delivered quickly. What started out as a promise to deliver a pizza within 30 minutes to customers who phoned in their order is now a themed experience of efficient food delivery that can be fulfilled a number of ways. Domino’s AnyWare project enables customers to order pizzas from their TV, their Twitter account, their smartwatch, or their connected car, for starters. The Domino’s app features zero-click ordering functionality: Domino’s will start fulfilling the usual order for customers who opt in 10 seconds after opening the app.

Domino’s Australian stores are piloting GPS tracking whereby employees begin working on an order only when the customer enters the “cook zone”—a dynamically updated area around a given store that results in the customer arriving to a just-prepared order. The tool builds upon previously developed GPS-based technology for tracking delivery drivers, according to ZDNet. And the company that came up with the corrugated pizza box and the Heatwave Bag to keep pies warm is now building the DXP—a delivery car with a built-in warming oven. All in the name of the fast- and hot-food delivery experience.

Mohawk Industries: Using Social to Streamline Customer Interactions

Mohawk Industries grew to become a US$8 billion flooring manufacturer by relying on customers to visit its dealers’ retail locations to see, touch, and feel the carpet, hardwood, laminate, or tile they planned to purchase.

sap_Q316_digital_double_feature3_images4Today, instead of waiting for customers to find Mohawk, it has redesigned its experience to find them. It has adopted new technology and reworked its sales processes to reflect that new focus. The company’s 1,200 sales representatives have access to a 360-degree view of each customer, complete with analytics and sales tools on their tablets, enabling them to capture and follow through on leads generated through social media engagement.

By analyzing online discussions in real time, representatives can jump into the conversation and help customers find the product they may be searching for and direct the consumer to a retailer to finish the sale. In one episode, a woman was posting about her interest in a particular leopard rug on Twitter. Mohawk’s team surfaced the tweet, passed it on to a channel partner who contacted the woman and closed the sale within two minutes. Today, the company boasts an 80% close rate on sales started and guided in social media and has made $8 million on 14,000 such social leads. Mohawk Industries expects an increase of $25 million in sales year-over-year, thanks to its new customer-centric approach.

Customer Experience Design: Where to Begin

Developing a unique, valuable, and relevant customer experience that combines the best of offline and online capabilities is a huge undertaking. All corporate functions, including marketing, customer service, sales, operations, finance, and HR as well as product or business lines—all of which typically have competing metrics and agendas—must buy into the experience and collaborate to make it happen. And the ideal mix of digital and physical components will vary by company. But there are some best practices to get companies started on their own journeys.

Start at the Top

Without leadership buy-in, changes will not happen. “Customer experience is not a feature, it’s not a shiny button. It’s a concept that sometimes is tough to grasp. But we believe that if done right, it will keep customers loyal. And so we put a lot of effort into it,” says Kevin Scanlon, director of total customer experience at tech company EMC. “That’s why having that top-down support is paramount. If you don’t have it, you’re spinning your wheels. It’s going to give you the resources, the focus, and the attention that you need to design that consistent experience.”

To demonstrate its commitment, every VP and above at EMC has a customer experience metric as part of their quarterly goal.

Begin with the End in Mind

Companies can take a page from the design-thinking approach to product development, starting with the experience they want customers to have with their company and then putting in place the people, processes, and systems to make that happen across various touchpoints. Uber didn’t start by buying 1,000 cars. It started with a completely new customer experience it wanted to deliver—straddling the digital and physical—and then built the organization around that. Uber ultimately leveraged people, process, and technology to bring that to life, but it started with a unique customer journey.

Design for the Customer, Not the Company

sap_Q316_digital_double_feature3_images5To date, most corporate processes have been designed for internal efficiency or cost savings with little consideration for the impact on the customer. Companies that want to design for consistent experiences have to reexamine those business processes from the customer perspective. In order to deliver a standout and consistent experience, enterprises must bring together an assortment of data from a variety of systems—including POS transactions, mobile purchases, call center activity, notes from sales calls, and social media.

The average retailer has customer data in more than a dozen different systems. But it’s not just the front-end customer-facing systems that need orchestrating; back office systems and processes, from your supply chain to fulfillment to customer service, must be designed to deliver the intended experience. For example, Nespresso has to orchestrate a number of back-end and front-end systems to offer customers premium courier delivery within two-hour windows.

Put Someone in Charge

Companies that are truly invested in creating integrated, standout customer experiences often create a centralized function that can bring together the people, processes, and technology to bring them to life. Sometimes there is a chief customer officer or head of customer experience. But unless these people are really empowered, they’re toothless.

EMC’s Scanlon is empowered. He heads up a function that has been transformed from focusing on product quality into a centralized customer experience center of excellence staffed with 60 full-time professionals. The center has translated into “more focus, more energy, more insight to our customers,” says Scanlon. “And we can deliver that insight to our internal stakeholders, which trickles down to our account teams and lets them have more meaningful conversations that benefit our customers—and benefit the company over time.”

Centralize Customer Data

Even if there is no central customer experience function, there needs to be a central data repository and analytics system: a digital foundation that everyone can use to improve their piece of that experience. EMC’s customer experience group has a data governance function that maintains a single source of customer truth. “They’re able to pull all relevant data sources into one location and get past the typical customer data challenges,” says Scanlon.

Invest in People

Companies that care about the customer experience invest in the people who deliver it. Human beings are the clearest signposts on the customer journey. Companies must hire the best, train for desired outcomes, and reward based on experience metrics: for being brand ambassadors and for going above and beyond on behalf of the customer.

sap_Q316_digital_double_feature3_images6Rethink Metrics and Incentives

One major bank was having trouble driving adoption of its online banking tools. The customers that used the tools loved them, but the tools weren’t getting traction. The problem? The branch managers had no interest in promoting digital banking. They wanted to drive as much traffic as possible to their physical branches because this was one of their key performance metrics.

The solution was to change the compensation approach in order to reward employees for the entire customer experience, including online banking adoption. Branch managers were measured on online and offline customer behavior in their regions. That became a single and critical KPI, and it boosted the desired behaviors and improved overall customer satisfaction.

Create a Single View of the Company

For years, companies have talked about the importance of understanding the customer. And that remains true, particularly when it comes to delivering a valuable customer experience online and off. But successful customer experience design is just as much about giving customers a clear understanding of the company through coordinated experiences that deliver on the brand’s theme and bring it to life in various ways in bricks and mortar, through devices, in online interactions, and everywhere in between. D!

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.

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Is The Internet Of Things And Wearable Technology The New Black?

Fred Isbell

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a classic hype cycle phenomenon. Besides forecasts of high growth, it is capturing a large share of interest and overall mindshare.

One thing is clear: The elements of the IoT are here to stay. Once we get past the definition of IoT, which is commonly referred as sensor-based devices and machine-to-machine communications, businesses can open themselves to enormous potential.

When trying to understand new things, I prefer to embrace them as a part of my daily life. When tablets first emerged, I didn’t go anywhere without my trusted iPad. In fact, I sometimes leave my laptop home knowing that I can do most of what I need on this device. And based on that experience, I took my own advice when it came to wearable technology recently – and the results were eye-opening.  I’m now onto my second-generation wearable device, showcasing just how quickly this is all changing.wearable-1

But first let’s jump into the time-travel machine back to February 2015. I was attending the MIT/Sloan School Sports and Analytics conference in Boston, and it seemed that everyone was mentioning wearable technology. The buzz was verified weeks later when I attended the IDC Directions Annual conference, where wearables made the short list of technology ubiquity. A year later, I returned to the MIT/Sloan School Sports and Analytics conference in Boston a little bit wiser. At that point, I invested in a Fitbit and started tracking my own personal statistics for exercise, sleep, and more. Needless to say, the geek in me was in full force as I wore both a Fitbit and a sports watch at the same time. I didn’t want to miss anything, and my middle-aged eyes appreciated the help.

One of the benefits of working for a tech company is the opportunity to adopt new technology in every aspect of my life. My employer, SAP, kicked off a new wellness program, incorporating wearables in how its employees track their health and wellness. I took advantage of this opportunity, replacing my sports watch with a second-generation Fitbit and consolidating two devices into one.

My wearable journey is certainly not complete yet, but it’s become integrated into my life in a very nonintrusive way. Just as my tablet has become an extension of me, so has the wearable device. I even exchange screen shots of my results – such as when I rode my first charity JDRF bike ride over the summer – to friends so we celebrate our achievements.

Very soon, our interactions with the IoT and wearable will become the norm, and we won’t think twice about it. But at the same time, it’s becoming a big business. Market watcher CCS Insight sees this as a US$14 billion market growing to over US$40 billion by 2020. All of these devices will generate even more data, making Big Data bigger than anyone could have predicted.

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All of that data will generate increased demand for applications – especially analytics – to understand, interpret, and use this information. And if you think about it, my Fitbit app on my phone is really a personal business intelligence tool and the ultimate example of the consumerization of IT.

Not surprisingly, tech leaders such as SAP talk about the fusion of business-to-business (B2B) and business- to-consumer (B2B) into what some call “business-to-business-to-consumer” (B2B2C). The proliferation of wearable technology is a great example of this. The market for applications and solutions will increase exponentially – supported by cloud-based delivery and unprecedented demand for the infrastructure to deliver real-time intelligence and much more.

Wearables are indeed the new black as it becomes mainstream and part of society. I’ll come back shortly with a further discussion of how we can apply this technology in sports and analytics. In the interim, I need to head to the gym to get my 10,000 steps and the fitness equivalent to make my Fitbit – and me – happy!

For more on the impact of connected devices, see How Tech Changes Up Health In The Workplace.

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Fred Isbell

About Fred Isbell

Fred Isbell is the Senior Director of SAP Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP. He is an experienced, results- and goal-oriented senior marketing executive with broad and extensive experience & expertise in high technology and marketing. He has a BA from Yale and an MBA from the Duke Fuqua School of Business.