The time is now!

By Graeme Frost, CEO Brilliant Software

The digital world is white hot. Technology gives us new ways to engage with our customers and is deployed and adopted at breakneck speed.

For companies that have traditionally focused on management information systems, change happens carefully and slowly with their need for absolute reliability and accuracy.

Deploying new customer engagement models slowly is no longer an option. Yes, there are risks to moving fast, but today’s technology and methodologies have reduced that risk considerably. Besides, the strategic risk of moving slowly is high and increasing all the time with faster moving competitors or start-ups looking to eat your lunch.

Why is the risk so much higher now?

More than ever, consumers are loving technology. Almost all of us have smartphones and love using them. But it’s not just about mobile – most of us work with a screen in front of us, and using online services is just so easy.

Large companies like airlines and banks have moved their business online so they can reduce costs, grow market share and boost profits. Recent start-ups like Uber, Airbnb and Spotify all attacked existing markets with new technology-based customer engagement models – and have grown rapidly.

Consumers want to engage with suppliers online. Who still walks into a bank or waits on the phone to speak to an airline? We now want all the information we need at our fingertips when we need it. We want to be in control of the transaction without waiting to talk to customer service people who will try to pressure us into a decision.

It’s a lot about speed. What happens if hundreds or even thousands of people want to interact with your company at the same time? You need to be able to service them. Quickly. In addition, you also need to recognise that people have different information needs and assimilation speeds to make a buying decision. A well-designed customer engagement system can serve everyone’s needs allowing users to go as fast or as slow as they feel comfortable with.

Business-to-business is the same. Business is run by people, and they want to get information, place orders, see their order status, receive invoices and pay online. You may think personally engaging with your customers gives you upsell opportunities, but the reality is they’d rather engage with your website. It has to do the upselling.

OK – so what’s the good news?!

If you are an established business, you don’t have to be the coolest kid in town. You can’t always out-innovate the innovators at speed. People are actually quite loyal and prefer to continue to deal with people they know and trust. You may not be able to completely match your new online competitor, but closing the gap with them quickly makes it easier for your customer to stay with you.

The technology is ready. One of the biggest risks with moving quickly used to be that the technology didn’t always hang together. The technology available now is very reliable. And cloud-based software allows you to rapidly expand and contract your platform to handle peaks and troughs in usage.

Rapid iterative development methodologies massively reduce the risk. It used to be that the requirements specification had to be “full and final” which made true innovation impossible. Modern iterative development techniques accept that the requirements will evolve as the software is written.

It’s cheap! While there is an initial investment, servicing an unlimited number of customers is cheap as chips. Customers do most of the work for you – and love you for it! It’s the ultimate win-win!

You don’t have to do it alone. I don’t like turning these posts into blatant advertisements – but designing and developing highly innovative software is Brilliant Software’s particular speciality. Just saying…

To summarise, here’s a quote from a recent post by Geoffrey Moore, one of the world’s most read technology marketing strategists:
“Time to face brutal facts… Time to bite the bullet, now. No studies, no three-year plans, no spreadsheets laying out the cost benefits. There is no need for ROI justification when you are in an ROE situation (Return on Existence). Step up. It’s Nike time. Just do it.”
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