It can be argued that one of, if not the, truly revolutionary aspects of mass adoption of the Internet has been the impact it has produced in altering historic buyer/seller relationships. The advent of customers having instantaneous access to detailed information about alternatives, and the opportunity to act/transact on that information has given real meaning to the word “disruptive.” Markets have been commoditized or overthrown completely. This has, to state it mildly, put a premium on providing compelling experiences as a major competitive differentiator. The genie is out of the bottle.
Indeed, customers having more perfect information, along with the viral capabilities of social media to dramatically impact brand stewardship, are a driving force behind the growth of Big Data and sophisticated analytics. In fact, I have noted previously that creating better customer profiles is how sellers are trying to catch up and be more customer-friendly.
Interestingly, this need to create a better understanding of those whose organizations interact with applies equally when it comes to employees. It has become an important consideration in creating an environment to retain them. The problem, as revealed in Oracle’s new report “The Era I Enterprise: Ready for Anything,” is that most organizations seem ill-equipped when it comes to leveraging technology to create the individualized experiences customers and employees don’t just expect but demand.
Time to get personal
Oracle surveyed C-level executives across 10 industries to understand how prepared organizations are to address the fact that consumers—whether transacting, communicating, working, or simply enjoying leisure time—want a compelling personalized experience. As noted, this “customer-centricity” is not new. In fact, in the past few years the fast growing C-level title has had the word “customer” in it, and annual reports a replete with references to how upper management has made customers their prime focus.
While it may have taken some time for organizations to realize the full impact of being more customer-centric, including the empowerment of their employees with the right tools, the good news in the report is that 84 percent of respondents say their organization have experienced a trend toward customers wanting a more individualized experience and 70 percent have experienced this trend from employees. The not so good news is that fewer than 20 percent give their organization an “A” in its ability to offer those experiences.
“Today, whether shopping for an item, making reservations, examining a bill, evaluating projects, or viewing medical information, the digital age has brought us to a point where we now expect the ability to make real-time decisions, transact, and customize options at the tap of the screen. In the new service-driven economy, innovative enterprises must focus on two things: taking care of their customers and taking care of their employees,” said Bob Weiler, executive vice president, Global Business Units, Oracle. “Our study reveals that organizations are unprepared to manage the need for personalization in Era I, but those seeking a competitive advantage stand to gain tremendously. Those that invest in their customers and employees will reap the benefits now and into the future.”
A few key findings are worth a pull out.
Inability to Individualize Reduces Competitiveness, Leaves Money on the Table:
Nearly two-thirds of respondents—across the Communications, Education and Research, Engineering and Construction, Financial Services, Healthcare, Hospitality, Life Sciences, Public Sector, Retail, and Utilities industries—say the shift is a growing challenge in their ability to compete effectively. Estimates are that if they were able to successfully offer customers and employees a highly personalized experience, they would earn an additional 18 percent in annual revenue. For a $1 billion company, that is $180 million a year.
Cloud Will Help Organizations Get Ready for Anything: To gain the flexibility needed to succeed in Era I, nearly all organizations (97 percent) believe IT investments—from business intelligence tools to customer experience solutions to industry-specific applications—will play a vital role in improving their ability to offer individualized customer and employee experiences.
In addition, 81 percent believe there is an important link between cloud-based IT solutions and their ability to offer an individualized experience. In terms of benefits, managers believe personalization will lead to greater customer and employee retention. In fact, organizations believe they could increase employee satisfaction by 94 percent if they were to offer a highly individualized employee experience and more flexible, industry-specific applications that help them to thrive on the job.
Leaders Get Personal: The study found that organizations that have increased their revenue by more than 10 percent in the last year are significantly ahead of the curve when it comes to offering individualized experiences.
Mind the gap
Unfortunately, awareness is just the first step in being truly on top of getting more personal. There may be a lot of great talk, and some organizational musical chairs in most companies, realities are Oracle has identified, as the chart below shows, a significant gap when it comes to what is a major experience gap that needs to be closed with some sense of urgency.
Source: Oracle, The Era I Enterprise: Ready for Anything,
As Doug Suriano, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Communications told TechZone360 in a discussion of the results, “Particularly in the communications sector where companies are dealing with a very fickle subscriber base with high expectations, they need to close the experience gaps and the best way to do this is by moving to the cloud. It allows CSPs to be more agile and flexible in how they interact with core customers and empowers employees at the same time. The trick is to deal with a solutions partner who understands that all of the requirements of having a five nines operational environment. In short, taking the best of IT and combining it with the best of networking as the two converge. It is the path to creating personalized, differentiated, and sustainable value.”
He added, that this holds true both internally and externally, and that while technology is an enabler, the transformations required are cultural as well. As Suriano concluded, “The differentiator really is going to be the cloud. It is the way we are all going to be able to realize the potential of the path to personalized services. The faster we get to the cloud the faster we can deliver on the promise, and the study highlights the benefits.”
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