Written by Silvana Buljan for Buljan & Partners Consulting
When it comes to Customer-Centric Leadership supported by sophisticated technology I have learned something new about the current standard of customer analytics. All of us agree that we need to analyze all the data we have available for our customers to give them a better service: transactional data, profiling, behavioral data, etc. And most of us agree about the enormous efforts made in customer analytics: after a complex process of parameterization and qualification of data it sometimes takes weeks for marketing professionals to receive target group segments in order to conduct personalized campaigns. It seems that this will be redundant in the near future with recent developments at big database technology vendors, who are all going for the same concept: in-memory storage. My reduced knowledge of database technology did not keep me from understanding the new functionality of the new SAP 360 customer application based on HANA at the annual SAP Sapphire event in Madrid. If what I have seen is really how it works, it is an amazing step towards “democratization” of the availability and analysis of customer data across the organization. Even marketing and service professionals will be able to segment unstructured customer data – in real-time – without having to make internal requests for data queries to their IT departments.
Are organizations ready for this? Developer experts say YES, but I have my doubts. I can still see an “information is power” culture (at least in European companies) – and a negligence of transparency– as one of the key pillars to create a Customer-Centric Organization. Even if a company can save lots of money and resources by investing in the right IT infrastructure, still user penetration for CRM applications oscillates around 20%, which is very low. Will the fancy design and enhancement in user experience drive a higher user penetration?
What I also see is the strategic orientation towards CRM and Customer Experience in the software industry. CRM is not considered an “add-on” application anymore, but a strategic differentiator even for ERP or database technology focused vendors, which is a good sign for our business environment. If software companies learn to be Customer-Centric, any company should and could.