Nearly every company is working towards a digital frontier and as we close out 2014, it’s important for companies to reflect on the strategic initiatives that will impact and accelerate customer success and business results for 2015. Innovation continuity is especially imperative in today’s changing business landscape and I predict several growth areas that, in my view, should be prioritized to lead enterprise transformation in the coming year, including:
You will win or lose customers based on your digital experience
Digital disruption — cloud, social, and mobile technologies — have reduced enterprise market barriers. This rapid innovation is empowering customers with more choices, information, and expectations for high quality experiences that are relevant, personal, and frictionless.
When viewed through this lens, all company initiatives become customer facing. As customers’ expectations around digital experiences continue to rise, make this the year you understand deeply how your customer interacts with your brand. Go undercover and pinpoint the areas where customer engagement can be enhanced, and evaluate if your traditional market and value frameworks need to be redefined to better meet customers where they are.
Employee engagement will only become more important
When it comes to new technology, companies have traditionally focused on driving adoption. It is time to shift this traditional top-down focus to a more holistic measure — employee engagement. If companies are going to react quickly to changes in the marketplace, they have to put more and more accountability, authority, and information into the hands of the people who are closest to the products and the customers.
Leading organizations realize that an investment in technology solutions that positively impact employees’ lives, naturally drives engagement and adoption. Giving employees the ability to collaborate across time zones in a central location and providing quick access to information via mobile device, or implementing internal programs that incentivize engagement boosts employee performance, efficacy, and their ability to maximize customer moments. To achieve this, ask them directly on measures that would improve their work processes, ride along with sales for a first-hand assessment, or submit your own support case to gauge engagement and your employees’ ability to drive the necessary customer experience.
Investments in predictive analytics and data intelligence will explode
Gartner reported that through 2015, predictive and prescriptive analytics will deliver at least 50% of the business value of business analytics projects. Organizations have long struggled to empower their customer facing reps with truly actionable insights, as traditional BI has often been overly IT focused, complex, and inflexible for most frontline business users. But today’s leading enterprises are looking to analytics to really know their customers and to optimize customer interactions every single time. They want to ability to transform the abundance of data into valuable insight, and deliver employees information that improve their human actions both across an organization and with customers.
Customize cloud investments — industries are unique, don’t expect to just implement
The need for CRM verticalization and going deeper with those verticals will increase. CRM solutions aren’t a one-stop-shop to solve every industry’s challenges, and industry expertise is no longer just a go-to-market differentiator — it’s becoming the standard to satisfying enterprise-wide deployments across key sectors.
Bluewolf’s 2014-2015 “State of Salesforce” report showed that companies that invest in industry solutions see three times more innovation potential (Disclosure: I am the CEO of Bluewolf). I foresee widespread focus into this strategy, as integrators needs to see beyond the broad objectives and understand the nuances of a particular vertical, including compliance, regulatory concerns, and the inner workings of specific business processes.