Our overall brand perceptions are invariably shaped by our experiences. And loyal customer relationships can be severed in moments by a negative service interaction.
Digitising every aspect of business, as well as harnessing the data that comes from it for customer gain, are imperatives if organisations want to survive over the next three to five years, according to global CMO of enterprise information management vendor, OpenText.
“Digital is quick, it’s ubiquitous and no organisation is safe from it,” Adam Howatson told CMO during a recent interview and following the vendor’s annual Innovation Tour in Sydney. “You need to embrace it, understand it, and have a plan for it.
“Whatever your business may be, you have a supply chain, whether this be information, creative assets or distribution. If you’re not digitising it and you can’t interact in real time, you’re going to be at a massive disadvantage. And it will only amplify between now and 2020, which we see as the inflection point.”
Ultimately, digital is a better way to work, Howatson said.
“We can communicate more effectively and in real time, we have better record keeping, we can analyse the structure, content and a million other insights both from the work and end product, plus also the collaboration that happens digitally to achieve that product,”he said. “Most of the benefit for the organisation is in that collaboration and conversation and that’s why every part of the business needs to be digitised.”
Howatson noted the rise of the Internet of Things and huge volumes of information being created from emerging technologies such as wearables, connected homes and more. All of these are becoming both more important to customers, as well as to how organisations craft digital customer experiences.
“That digital customer experience, especially as we see the millennial demographic come into management and influential roles within organisations, it’s going to become more and more about to leverage that digital customer experience,” he said.
But building a robust digital customer experience isn’t just about the systems an organisation uses to interact with customers, it also incorporates data analytics, information governance and security, Howatson said.
“Digital customer experience unpacks a number of different things – it’s your communications and interactions, it’s the experience proper in your digital platforms, it’s analytics and prediction, and it’s security and governance,”he said.
“It even goes to the root of marketing and direct outbound campaign tactics and methods of engagement. Email and phone are still by far the two key methods of outbound marketing, particularly in B2B businesses, but it’s changing incredibly quickly. We’re seeing increased governance on communications on these channels, spam legislation and so on, that are forcing marketers to… leverage and embrace emerging channels, such as apps on wearable devices, social channels, progressive profiling, and a well integrated digital experience.
“Governance and security around customer and financial data is also being subjected to more legislation, and there are more compliance requirements around information management security. That, along with digital customer experience, are musts.”
Tackling its own digital transformation
Covering all aspects of digital experience, from direct engagement through to predictive and intelligence analytics and governance, is what OpenText is now striving to do with its own customer base. The vendor has been building out its technology stack in a bid to provide an end-to-end solution for managing digital experiences, and has integrated analytics capabilities through its acquisition of Actuate last January into its Suite 16 and Cloud 16 offerings, which launch in coming months.
OpenText Suite 16 and Cloud 16 consist of four offerings: Enterprise Content Management (ECM), Business Process Management (BPM), Customer Experience Management (CEM) and Analytics.
As the vendor celebrates its 25th year in business, Howatson admitted the company has also had to go through its own digital transformation. To do this, he’s spent the past year building on OpenText’s digital engagement and analytical capabilities, bringing together the customer experience on the support side, digitising them, and linking them to all Web properties.
“This is giving us information across all those activities,” he explained. “We’re starting to report and learn about customer purchasing propensities, starting to predict behaviour, it’s helping to inform our customer buyer journey, and that’s informing the way we deploy and integrate our systems. The next round of transformation for us is deeply integrating that with ERP and SAP.
“We’re increasing our implementation of OpenText Analytics, looking at digital properties and integrations for a seamless customer experience. The same is true for us as any other company – every once in a while we need to through our own transformation, and we are.”
Rise of the chief data officer
As data and analytics become the cornerstones of engagement, operational efficiency and innovation, Howatson also predicted the rise of more dedicated data chiefs.
“I do believe the chief data officer will become persistent and pervasive,”he said. “Not only do marketers need to follow through with a high ethical standard, but the chief data officer has to weigh in and be responsible from an overall corporate perspective on how data is maintained, shared, secured and used.
“Having that enterprise-wise oversight helps to bring unity around how data is used, what terms and conditions surround it, and what the standards are. I see that role becoming more important over time as it’s important for enterprise to have responsibility for that declaration of data use.”
Howatson expected the origin of data chiefs would vary by organisation.
“Initially, they’ll consider it part of IT, and you many also see it in legal or financial officer’s remit,” he suggested. “But mostly it’ll be placed in IT. Even finance and legal need to be aware of this digital disruption because new things will be asked of them as well.”
Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu