Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Transport for NSW reconfirmed its commitment to the use of CRM and smart apps as it looks to take the next step in its digital transformation journey, aiming to put the customer at the centre of everything.
Transport for NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance, told a crowd of more than 12,000 people at the Salesforce World Tour in Sydney, entitled ‘Be a Customer Trailblazer,’ that the government agency is now more customer focused than ever as it continues to use cloud analytics in order to gain intelligence and predictive capabilities.
Real-time analytics and big data are playing a huge role in shaping the transport network away from the traditional timetable way of doing things, to an on-demand response network that listens to customers and provides them with a connected experience.
“Transport is a technology business and we are very customer focused. People want a personal service, they want an on-demand service, no timetables," Constance said. "They just want to turn up and go and get there. And we’re trying to have transport at the speed of thought, here in NSW.”
Constance saw great potential with artificial intelligence (AI) as it moves towards its vision of delivering an intelligent transport network.
“I am very excited about AI and predictive analytics. We are making investments now for a 73 billion infrastructure program across the state. I want to make sure the investments today are able to cater for the needs of tomorrow. We want to make wise investments and at the same time it is underpinned by great customer service,” he said.
At the same time, Constance acknowledged there’s pressure to succeed. “There is a very real focus on making sure the investments are right. It is a growing city. Two million people are going to move to this town in the next 20 years, making congestion even more difficult,” he said.
Transport for NSW has 30,000 employees, he said, explaining digital transformation will require a massive cultural shift and change management efforts.
“Every member of the staff has to come along the transformation journey. We have 30,000 employees and we want everybody on this. It wouldn’t matter if you're sitting at a train station out in the outer suburbs through to our secretary department, everybody has got to think tech. And we are trying to drive that thinking across the whole organisation. We are an organisation full of engineers - but we have to become futurists, and that’s where we want to try and change that culture, and bring people with us.”
Salesforce CFO, Mark Hawkins, cited an enormous amount of innovation and “amazing local success stories” across Australia where companies are working to put the customer's experience first. He flagged the efforts of Transport of NSW as a prime example of an organisation already addressing the needs of its customers.
“The vision that the local leaders have about how to make it simpler, personable, streamlined, and they really care about that experience, is amazing," he said.
In a world where everything is connected - and has a growing reliance on cloud, social, mobile, IoT and AI - Hawkins said the customer has to be the main focus.
“We believe that you put the customer at the centre of everything, and then you wrap that technology around to help meet their needs,” he said, explaining customers want smart solutions that enable intelligence, speed, productivity, mobility and connectivity.
“How do I get closer in a world that is changing? How do I connect with my customer in a whole new way because the world is changing?”
Hawkins also praised the local innovation efforts of companies including Tip Top Red, Australia Post and L’Oreal for developing customer-led campaigns that take Salesforce technology and build local apps to cater to customer needs.
“Tip Top came up with a really clever idea. They took Salesforce platform technology and built a mobile app on it called The Daily Dough. Now what the sales rep does is they are right in the aisle with the end customer, seeing demand; they are right there understanding what’s happening with consumption and they are placing the order on a mobile phone.”
Similarly, Australia Post put the customer at the centre of everything by taking Service Cloud and applying it in such a way that service rep activity increased, as did customer service, Hawkins noted.
“Imagine one morning you woke up and you had 30 million social media interactions coming at you from everywhere and you needed to do something about it - well that’s what Australia Post was faced with.”
L’Oreal, meanwhile, created the Genius app that enabled predictive marketing, giving iPhone customers the ability to see themselves and “play and try" cosmetic products to their face across 28 brands.
“They can learn what this customer wants over the course of an entire lifetime. Why did they want this information? Because they want to send you something that you care about, something that is relevant to you and helps you on a lifetime journey on predictive marketing - and that is powerful,” Hawkins said.
Thanks to the response to customer demand, Salesforce is expanding its cloud infrastructure capacity in Australia thanks to its partnership with Amazon Web Servies.
“We have a partnership with AWS to expand our capability and capacity in our infrastructure, not only in Australia, but right here in Sydney,” Hawkins said.