While most Indian organizations focus on driving customer experience (CX) excellence, the chief customer officer (CCO) role is still nascent. For my recently published report chronicling the rise of the CCO in India, I studied 79 public profiles of CX leaders across organizations doing business in India to better understand their job title, their tenure as a CCO, and their background and experience. My research revealed that the CCO is a role newly added to most of these professionals’ résumés: Almost all are first-time CCOs and majority have been in the CCO role for less than two years (see figure below). I also found that nearly all (99%) organizations have only recently added this business role to their cluster of C-level executives; the CCO role has existed, on average, for 2.7 years.
Even though the CCO’s job is held by experienced individuals with an average of 16 years of work experience and extensive leadership background across varied business disciplines, their past experience has limited relevance to their current CX position. New CCOs are bound to face challenges that are common to weakly established business functions; abilities acquired and lessons learned in prior roles will have limited relevance to the CCO role. This will be amplified by the lack of structured processes at their organization and the inertia they will face in trying to break down existing process and operational silos across the CX ecosystem. However, it’s not all bad. By looking beyond the obstacles, there is upside for both CCOs and their organizations in this seemingly challenging situation. They will gain:
While analyzing the survey results for my recent report on the state of customer experience management in India, I noticed a fundamental flaw in the way that Indian organizations approach reporting structures for their customer experience (CX) teams. About a fifth of the organizations we surveyed rely on their customer service department to lead the charge for CX initiatives.
This is detrimental to the growth of CX, as there are basic differences between the scope of work and the skill sets of the two teams. Specifically, customer service teams have limited capabilities and exposure across:
People. While both CX and customer service teams work toward enhancing the experience across the customer life cycle, the customer service team has a somewhat myopic view of customer engagement, focusing predominantly on handling client complaints and resolving queries.
Processes. Forrester defines customer experience as how customers perceive their interactions with a company. The contribution of customer service teams to this process is limited to supporting customer tasks in a few phases of the journey.
Tools. Customer service professionals are responsible for the experience delivered via multiple touchpoints, such as IVR systems, contact centers, and social media. However, other equally important customer interfaces, such as mobile applications, digital kiosks, and eCommerce platforms, fall outside their purview.
Forrester’s survey data shows that the vast majority of Indian CIOs (87%) consider addressing rising customer expectations and improving customer satisfaction to be their top business priorities. Soaring customer demand is putting pressure on businesses to invest in customer experience (CX) initiatives. For my recently published report, The State Of Customer Experience Management In India, 2014, we surveyed 89 CX professionals in Indian organizations and asked them about their spending plans for 2014. Here's what we found: 60% of them expect to spend more on CX programs this year.
While this increased spending on CX by Indian organizations is encouraging, their initiatives too often lack alignment with business goals. We asked the same set of CX professionals about their key CX practices and found that 44% don’t regularly model the influence of CX metrics on business outcomes, while 49% don’t consistently consider alignment with CX strategy as a criterion for project funding and prioritization decisions.
These findings highlight the disconnect between organizations’ commitment to boosting CX and the impact of these initiatives on business outcomes. In the long run, this disconnect has two implications for organizations and their CX teams:
Lack of business alignment with soaring customer demands will result in dissatisfaction and churn. While business investment in CX is growing in India, initiatives that don't align with desired business goals will fail to result in desired business outcomes, thus creating a gap between market demand and the business offering.
No longer just a science fiction fantasy, holography technology is set to fuel major innovation in both business and consumer applications. Offering superior visual experience and support for interactive and intuitive applications, holography is already being leveraged in various scenarios, while the capabilities are also driving development of innovative applications across multiple industries. For instance, holography is being tested for simulation-aided training applications, as humans tend to notice patterns better when they’re presented in three dimensions. The US Army Research Laboratory collaborated with Zebra Imaging to test the success of digital holography for medical training purposes and found that students retained about 30% more information from holography-enabled training compared with textbook-based training. Holography is being successfully deployed in a variety of contexts. We found that:
Holography is gaining traction across industries. Organizations are deploying holography for a variety of consumer and business applications, ranging from entertainment to design and exploration. Moreover, the technology’s usefulness is being tested for critical applications such as surgery — where it presents images of human organs in an interactive three-dimensional environment that allows the surgeon to manipulate these images in real time, making the procedure less invasive.
I am currently in the process of wrapping up a report on implementing cloud collaboration solutions in Asia Pacific. For this report, I interacted with technology vendors, collaboration service providers, and customer organizations to understand the current state of cloud collaboration adoption in Asia Pacific and the drivers and key criteria that organizations need to consider when evaluating a solution and service provider. Three distinct business scenarios emerged as the most appropriate for cloud collaboration services deployment:
To reduce the total cost of ownership. Compared with an on-premises infrastructure, public cloud deployments offer a lower total cost of ownership to individual companies, as multiple customers share the service provider’s infrastructure and associated costs such as hardware, software upgrades, and IT maintenance. While it’s beneficial for organizations across all segments, it’s especially advantageous for small and medium-size businesses with limited IT budgets and small IT teams.
Implementation in greenfield projects. Existing legacy communications infrastructure investments discourage customers from adopting cloud solutions. But this works well for newly established companies, as it offers better flexibility and efficiency at a lower operating cost — a critical business requirement, especially during the first few years of operation. Furthermore, lower upfront expenses help customers boost business agility and utilize funds for functions that are critical to operations and help them gain a strategic advantage in the marketplace.
In the first week of December, Cisco India held its analyst summit to share its 2014 strategy. Given low market morale following the sharp decline in Cisco India’s Q1, FY 2014 revenues, the event was timed well to reinforce Cisco’s ongoing commitment to the Indian market. Amongst many forward-looking statements made at the event, one message stood out – target the rising midmarket (which Cisco defines as companies with 100-1000 employees) to drive growth in India. Following are the key initiatives that the company outlined to grow its mid-market business:
- Expanding channel network in tier 2 and 3 cities. Cisco is focusing on expanding its channel ecosystem in two ways – working with independent software vendors (ISV) to jointly develop vertical-specific solutions aligned to midmarket needs; and promote Cisco’s cloud-based offerings through hosted collaboration services (HCS) partners. This is a solid strategy given the physical proximity and influence that these local partners have on firms in smaller cities.
- Incentivizing partners and equipping them with tools to boost sales. Cisco is offering handsome incentives to its channel partners focused on midmarket. Cisco is also offering a mobile customer dashboard application to partners that provides key details regarding the account, such as organizational information, past purchase history, preferences, etc. to help ensure an effective sales engagement.
I attended Cisco’s annual Collaboration Summit in the US two weeks ago and would like to share my three key takeaways from the event with you. Cisco told the audience that it’s going to:
Focus on mobility. Cisco announced the launch of several new products that support its “mobile first” strategy and aim to reduce the complexity and effort required to securely connect a remote user to the corporate network. The products that the company unveiled include:
Intelligent Proximity: a mobility solution for connecting corporate communications equipment with mobile devices. The solution will automatically connect a company’s videoconferencing equipment with users’ smartphones whenever the two come in close proximity, providing users with a host of multimedia collaboration capabilities.
Expressway: a network edge gateway that recognizes and automatically authenticates external connections with Cisco devices and applications without the need for a VPN or device registration.
My colleague Manish Bahl is wrapping up a report on midmarket IT budgets and spending trends in India for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which runs from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014. I analyzed the survey data for collaboration-related trends and noticed something interesting: 68% of the Indian midmarket firms (those with 400 to 2,500 employees) surveyed have already adopted or are planning to adopt software-as-a-service (SaaS) for collaboration in the next one to two years (see Figure 1). In fact, collaboration-as-a-service (CaaS) tops all categories by a considerable margin.
This data reinforces the key findings from my recently published blog post highlighting the growing importance of cloud collaboration services in Asia Pacific. While the popularity of CaaS is growing across all industries, it’s interesting to note that traditionally cloud-wary verticals, such as financial services and insurance and the public sector (including education and healthcare), are starting to warm up to cloud-based collaboration services: 80% and 67%, respectively, of the surveyed midmarket organizations in those verticals are either already using or planning to adopt CaaS over the next one to two years.
According to Forrester’s Forrsights Combined Budgets and Business Decision-Makers Survey, Q4 2012, 61% of Asia Pacific (AP) organizations are currently using or actively planning to implement software-as-a-service (SaaS) for collaboration, which puts AP adoption ahead of both North America and Europe (see the figure below). I believe that the increased rate of adoption of cloud-based collaboration services is mainly due to three key factors:
The consumerization of IT, changing social behaviors, and AP end user communication preferences are compelling organizations to consider deploying enterprise collaboration solutions. To this end, cloud collaboration services are gaining traction among organizations seeking to extend collaboration capabilities to their employees, while also minimizing the costs associated with both hardware and operational expenditures.
The easy provisioning and simplified maintenance of cloud-based collaboration services allows organizations to quickly operationalize new sites and individual accounts with minimal IT effort.
The strong focus from service providers like Orange Business Services and Verizon Business in building and strengthening their regional capabilities in cloud collaboration services is leading to an abundance of service options for customers that are competitively priced and packaged to align with their requirements.
In the age of digitally empowered customers, advancements in the ubiquitous, multimedia web collaboration space will gain momentum, riding on the developments in web real-time communication (WebRTC) technology. While still nascent in Asia Pacific, according to WebRTC Stats, as of March 2013 more than 11% of the video calls in Asia Pacific were made leveraging the technology.
At the platform level to eradicate the need for codec download to establish the connection between different web browsers, as is the case today.
At the application level to allow multimedia sessions to run simultaneously on the same connection.