Many big high-tech companies have evolved over time, so they have complicated infrastructures often made up of legacy and sometime incompatible technology. As new capabilities emerged over time, these various technologies were often adopted — or not — in opportunistic and haphazard ways.
At the same time, many of these same companies are courting disruption by stepping into a world driven by the “Everything-as-a-Service” model, the Internet of Things, and experience-based marketing. This evolution requires the ability to recraft business processes and manage enormous amounts of data coming from a huge variety of sources that, again, are varied and not always obviously compatible.
The obvious places to start are social and mobile channels, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. As companies move more and more into the cloud and offer customer-focused services, especially through the ever-widening Internet of Things, the complexity seems to grow almost exponentially.
For example, according to Bloomberg, GE is exploring the value of connecting lightbulbs. These connected lightbulbs could be used by retail customers like Wal-Mart to keep track of foot traffic through a store, by cities to monitor street lights, or even by the police to track the location and direction of gun shots so they can respond more quickly.
“The lighting industry has become somewhat commoditized,” said Beth Comstock, vice chair and head of the business innovations unit that includes lighting, in Bloomberg. “We like where we are, but the focus on our future really is on the smart, connected, commercial space for lighting.”
This kind of evolution is a monumental shift in complexity. And this is where purpose really matters.
Knowing that you’re innovating into the cloud, into services, or into the Internet of Things explicitly to deliver experiences with real value to your customers gives you a place to start.
“The smartest organizations focus their transformation efforts around the customer,” Martha Mathers, marketing practice leader at CEB, told eMarketer, “beginning with customer buying behaviors, and then use that understanding to shape strategy. Only then does the strategy guide technology investments.”
Starting with the value you can deliver to your customers makes it easier to prioritize the changes you need to make. For example, consider the following questions:
- Do you understand your customers well enough to know the experiences they need?
- Do you have the ability to design and deliver the right experiences through the right channel at the right time every time?
If you want to offer real value, you must be able to answer “yes!” unequivocally to both of these questions. If you’re not totally there yet, the next step is to figure out why not and take steps to fill those holes.
In many cases, one of those holes is technology. At the highest level, these questions are all about understanding the unique value you deliver to your customer, and there are organizational and cultural changes that allow you to make better use of these two pillars of experience marketing. But without the right technology, both are nonstarters.
The questions above can be easily restated with a technology focus — “Do you have the ability to gather, analyze, and act on good customer data?” and “Can you use that data to create effective content?” Data and content. These are the twin drivers of experience, and both rely on the right technology.