Part 2: Cloud and the Customer Experience – The New Digital Era
89% of companies surveyed by Gartner believe that customer experience will be their primary basis for competition by 2016 (Source: Gartner report, Predicts 2015: Digital Marketers Will Monetize Disruptive Forces, December 2014). We are seeing more and more companies who are transforming the customer experience by innovating in digital interactions. Companies need to understand how their customers engage through digital channels and leverage the power of cloud technology to create better experiences. Here are just a few examples of how cloud and digital platforms can come together to change the way we work and live:
- Open-source technology allows patients and doctors at MIT to share critical medical information via tablets, mobile phones and computers to drive better health outcomes. At the MIT Media Lab, the New Media Medicine research group is shaking up the health care industry (see page 13 in this report). The group created an open-source technology platform that allows information-sharing across mobile phones, tablets and computers. Patients can access data points that once would have only been available in the doctor’s office from their own homes. They can also add their own new data points (diet, social support, alternative therapies, etc.) so that doctors have a more holistic view of their lifestyle and resources. Together, doctors and patients are leveraging this flexible, cloud-based model to exchange data, share perspectives and ultimately work towards better health outcomes.
- Cloud-based Google Maps transforms the experience for FedEx online customers. A blog by a FedEx IT Manager, Pat Doyle, talks about the impact of Google Maps on the customer experience: “To make it even easier for people to find the information they need online, we launched a new store locator site using Google Maps. Using Google Maps, and more specifically Google Maps Engine, allowed us to completely re-imagine FedEx.com. We turned to Maps Engine because it gave us a powerful platform to build and share our own FedEx maps. By integrating features that so many people use everyday, like Google Street View and driving directions, FedEx.com visitors can easily find the nearest FedEx. In addition to providing a much easier way to locate us, Google Maps Engine gives us another big advantage: global accuracy and consistency. Central to the cloud-based offering, we can rely on Google’s core infrastructure to host our always-changing and growing database of store information. By hosting attributes, such as street addresses, opening hours, holiday schedules and local pick-up times on Maps Engine, we can update details for nearly 50,000 retail touchpoints in real-time and share this information to FedEx.com visitors within minutes. This helped us replace a patchwork of region-bound store locators with a single, global site” (Source: Google Blog).
- A simple mobile app allows the City of Philadelphia to engage in meaningful, two-way communication with residents. If you think new digital experiences require significant financial investments, think again. The agility of cloud services allows organizations to create and build in ways that were unthinkable just a few years ago.
In the city of Philadelphia, it is estimated that 20-30% of residents do not have access to a computer in their household. However, 88% of Philadelphians ages 18-34 and 21% of those 65 and older use their smart phones to access the internet (Source: Pew Charitable Trusts study). Anxious to better connect with its resident base, the city of Philadelphia partnered with Salesforce.com to create a mobile “community cloud” app, which allows residents to log “into the platform to submit service needs, such as request a permit, file a noise complaint, note new graffiti, and more—from their exact location at that moment—similar to checking in on Facebook. Integrated websites and mobile apps give citizens clear visibility of the status of their inquiry as it moves through the system” (Source: Salesforce Blog). As a result of the cloud’s agility, one of the largest cities in the U.S. has found a new way to connect real-time with its residents.
Just a few years ago, business leaders may have been able to ignore the digital experience. However, it is quickly becoming a top-of-mind objective for leaders across the organization—marketing, IT, services and many others. Digital strategies require thoughtfulness and must stay focused on customer needs. Those leaders who expect to succeed in the digital landscape should seriously consider cloud technologies to ensure that their customer experience continues to be personal, relevant and exciting.
This is the second blog in a three-part series on how cloud technologies are transforming the customer experience and the ecosystem that surrounds it. Part 1 discusses how the cloud changes the dynamics of business strategies and both challenges and presents new opportunities for CIOs and IT organizations. Part 2 (this blog) illustrates the cloud’s impact on how customers and companies digitally interact with each other. Finally, Part 3 will provide insights on how the cloud changes the ways employees and partners shape the customer experience.