Today we are seeing a lot of companies doing really smart things with social media, the cloud, mobile and big data analytics, that probably would have been hard to imagine just a few years ago.
In the fourth post in our four-part series on digital transformation, we discuss how companies can use these new technologies and platforms to make stronger connections, with more customers, and in more markets.
Previously we discussed the role new digital technologies can play in driving top-line growth, especially for small to medium sized businesses that may not be very far down the road when it comes to things like mobility, unified communications and cloud-based sales and marketing platforms.
Likewise, SMEs are also seeing potential to make their core business processes more efficient, better able to talk to each other and more-closely aligned with the goals of the business. Of course digital transformation has completely changed how people approach and think about work, promising to unlock still more value by having more engaged, productive and happier staff.
But let’s get back to the customer.
Faster wireless networks and more powerful smart devices means they can now browse, shop and share information, such as product reviews or special offers, from anywhere.
Meanwhile, clever geolocation technologies allow companies to track potential customers according to where they are and when, and deliver highly-targeted and personal marketing messages.
Bigger, smarter customer data everywhere
We’re already seeing this in shopping malls and precincts, with retailers, bars and restaurants pinging people over wi-fi networks then collecting and crunching location and other data wherever users are.
Instant messaging and ‘chat-bots’ create still more channels for companies to interact and collect data from customers.
These enormous repositories of information offer the tantalizing prospect of uncovering powerful market insights to better understand individual customers and what they really want.
But this is a lot easier said than done, and there are many important questions companies need to ask themselves.
Where to put all of this data?
Should your data be stored on premise, or in the cloud? Or perhaps your best option is to maintain a hybrid environment depending on security, or other data polices that apply to your organisation.
And then there’s deciding who gets to access company information, over which networks and via what devices.
On the one hand, you want to ensure that all staff – especially those on the road – have access to real-time customer information to support them in their jobs.
But this needs to be balanced with strong authentication and security settings that see you meet more stringent laws and regulations around data privacy, while avoiding the inevitable damage to your business and your brand in the event of a breach.
Gone are the days when companies maintained multiple separate data repositories. Cloud and virtualisation technologies mean you can store and access your information any way you chose, and at a minimal cost.
Am I too small for big data?
Meanwhile, the lower costs and better usability of data analytics software means any company is able to garner valuable insights into customer behaviour and market trends, and apply them to improving marketing, sales, and ultimately the bottom line.
But with so much change happening so quickly it can be a challenge keeping up at the same time as managing the day-to-day running of your business. Your IT systems need to be best-of-breed while being constantly monitored and updated as situations change.
For example, it’s one thing to run a successful marketing campaign that attracts large numbers of customers to your website. But without having the requisite scalability and redundancy built-in you might not be able to meet demand. And of course, that’s just bad for business, and bad for your brand.
The next step in your digital transformation
It’s important to approach digital transformation as it relates specifically to your business, what you’ve trying to achieve and what you’ve already got to work with. This is not something you do for the sake of it.
The right frameworks and polices need to be in place to ensure you reap the full benefits of your investment while suffering minimal disruption at different points of the cycle. At the same time, you want the new digital systems to integrate with those supporting your core business functions including accounts, supply chain management, HR and payroll.
Questions about where and how you house these systems and the data within them will become more important over time too.
Brennan IT’s team of specialists can help you develop an effective strategy for introducing the right digital technologies that make the most sense, and deliver the greatest benefit to your organisation. Don’t hesitate to give us a call and ask for our advice on 1300 500 000.