An explosion of data is revolutionizing business practices. The availability of new data sources and delivery models provides unprecedented insights into customer and partner behavior and enables much improved capacity to understand and optimize business processes and operations. Real time data allows companies to fine tune inventories and in-store product placement; it allows restaurants to know what a customer will order, even before they read the menu or reach the counter. And, data is also the foundation for new services offerings for companies like John Deere or BMW or Starwood.
My recent report, “Driving Toward Communications Sourcing Excellence,” looks behind the scenes to find out why Formula One (F1) sourcing professionals enjoy such a great customer experience from their network providers. It’s a two-way street: Providers ensure that the F1 team’s network is reliable, always available, and delivers peak performance when needed, and F1 sourcing pros provide the guidance, insight, and support to make sure providers know what teams need. This is as much a concern for CIOs as it is for sourcing pros in their quest to win, serve, and retain customers.
Matt Cadieux, the CIO of Infiniti Red Bull Racing, said, “AT&T has a dedicated F1 account team that I meet for regular account reviews to discuss our requirements and plans. In the rare event of a problem, we also have excellent relationships with AT&T’s top executives. AT&T has consistently delivered projects when required; for example, in 2014 it provisioned new access networks in England and France and at racetracks around the world. These circuits have been fully operational — we show up and they just work.”
What It Means
My colleague Tracy Stokes believes that a consistent customer experience builds a trusted brand, and I couldn’t agree more. It also leads to:
This morning, BlackBerry announced the release of the BlackBerry Z3 Jakarta Edition. This new device is targeting the lower end of the market in Indonesia with lessened technical specifications and a reduced price point. It is unclear if the new device will be successful with the Southeast Asian buyer; however, I don't think it matters much to the US-based enterprise.
In the United States, BlackBerry has lost its hardware brand cachet. Over the last five fiscal quarters, BlackBerry total revenue has decreased by 64% from $2.7B to $976M. If we break out the revenue into separate streams -- hardware, software, and services -- we see that all three segments slowed in that same time period. The hardware revenue stream continues to be the boat anchor that is pulling down the other revenue segment, with a loss of 78%, while the software revenue stream only lost 15%.
Salesforce.com has two unequal brothers in the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) space. While force.com is the basis and natural extensibility platform for the core CRM system, the Heroku platform acquired at the end of 2010 addresses developers with open source stacks. The two of them could not be more different. Force.com is an application-centric PaaS that attracted a huge ecosystem building add-ons around Salesforce.com’s Sales, Service, and Marketing application. They all work together somehow because of the very limited freedom for developers. All apps usually start with the same canonical CRM data model, use the same data object store, use the same proprietary programing language (APEX), and use the same user interface techniques. That’s why force.com apps or add-ons fit nicely into the business buyer's perspective.
Lexmark’s acquisition of Readsoft is part of a continued effort at Lexmark to balance mature and stable printer HW revenues with faster growing software and services businesses. This acquisition is one of many in the last two years, and is consistent with consolidation in the mature capture and content market. And it works for me.
Readsoft provides more software depth in Europe then Lexmark has, and is stronger than Lexmark in financial process automation (purchase –to-pay and order-to cash although mostly the former) with strong integration with SAP and other ERP vendors. Perceptive Software, the core technology within Lexmark’s software division, is more content then transaction oriented, a strength that Readsoft adds.
There is also synergy across analytics. For example, Brainware, acquired by Lexmark, is very strong in analytics for forms processing – one of these being invoices. This should add smarts to ReadSofts front end.
As always, success is determined by how integration talks place over time and whether an integrated platform can emerge with minimal customer disruption. It would be good to see acquisiions in the services area to more quickly balance revenue with the tradition business.
Governments face an alphabet soup of digital transformation with eGovernment and mGovernment mandates. Do I hear an sGovernment, anyone? The trend in engaging via new digital channels is clear: 52% of US online adults have engaged in one or more government related activities. For example, 19% have renewed a driver’s license or vehicle registration online, and 16% have paid a bill such as a traffic fine or utility payment. In the age of the customer, government organizations must understand and address the needs of their citizens. For governments, it's the "age of the citizen," with demands for greater transparency and accountability, improved efficiency, and, above all, better service delivery. Citizens no longer accept the shoulder shrug and age-old excuse that government is "like that" when service quality isn't as expected. And, part of that service quality for some is to be able to embrace a mobile moment to look up information or complete a task. Some government organizations hear the call and are making great strides to embrace and enable new mobile delivery channels — where appropriate. But many struggle to invest in what they do consider a strategic initiative. Of those who consider mobility a strategic priority, only 30% in government have increased spending on mobile projects, compared with 51% in other industries.
“The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed.” This popular quote hit home at the Global Mobile Internet Conference panel on meeting the challenge of global connectivity that I moderated this week. Internet.org is a global partnership between technology leaders, nonprofits, local communities, and experts who are working together to bring the Internet to the two-thirds of the world’s population that don’t have it. Founding partners include Facebook, Ericsson, Qualcomm, Nokia (now Microsoft Mobile), and Opera.
What it means
The age of the customer is everywhere. This point was cemented at the conference. Device makers, network infrastructure providers, and app developers have to work with telecom providers to leverage existing 2G/3G assets to tap unconnected subscribers or miss out on business opportunities. Governments also need to help by, for example, providing consistent electricity to homes. Improving the customer experience can help businesses grow.
It’s no longer just your marketing team that uses social media for business purposes. Employees across the entire organization use social media for personal and professional reasons, leveraging social to drive real business for your company. The opportunities to enhance your brand, deepen customer relationships, and glean new customer insights are all too valuable to ignore -- but the risks are real too.
Moreover, the legal and regulatory landscape is evolving rapidly, complicating the ways in which you can manage social media and the myriad reputational, security, and privacy risks (among others) that expose your organization. To take advantage of these opportunities and still protect your company, you need new tools and technology to do this effectively.
On May 5, 2014, Target announced the resignation of its CEO, Gregg Steinhafel, in large part because of the massive and embarrassing customer data breach that occurred just before the 2013 U.S. holiday season kicked into high gear. After a security breach or incident, the CISO (or whoever is in charge of security) or the CIO, or both, are usually axed. Someone’s head has to roll. But the resignation of the CEO is unusual, and I believe this marks an important turning point in the visibility, prioritization, importance, and funding of information security. It’s an indication of just how much:
Security directly affects the top and bottom line. Early estimates of the cost of Target's 2013 holiday security breach indicate a potential customer churn of 1% to 5%, representing anywhere from $30 million to $150 million in lost net income. Target's stock fell 11% after it disclosed the breach in mid-December, but investors pushed shares up nearly 7% on the news of recovering sales. In February 2014, the company reported a 46% decline in profits due to the security breach.
Poor security will tank your reputation. The last thing Target needed was to be a permanent fixture of the 24-hour news cycle during the holiday season. Sure, like other breached companies, Target’s reputation will likely bounce back but it will take a lot of communication, investment, and other efforts to regain customer trust. The company announced last week that it will spend $100 million to adopt chip-and-PIN technology.