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5 Reasons Your Business Needs a Digital Platform

2014-15-July-Ace-Frehly-Platforms.jpgThink of how many ways a customer can interact with a company with just one mobile device. Text messages, phone calls, social channels, web browsing, e-commerce — the list goes on. Whether phones, tablets, wearables, connected devices, etc., each offers an opportunity to deliver an experience based on the context.

The need for consistent experiences across these digital mediums leads to opportunities and challenges in delivering a consistent, seamless and compelling user experience across channels.

Digital transformation is about identifying the opportunities that these digital mediums offer for sales or service delivery in a well-orchestrated manner. This enables the user to naturally progress from one stage to the next, whether that transition is between digital mediums, between home and store or between self-service to rep-assisted service, without having to compromise on the experience at any stage of the transaction.

Why Digital Transformation?

Five factors are driving the push for companies to transform:

  • Omnichannel — Customers who start transactions on the web and then move to complete them on mobile phone or tablet want a seamless experience throughout the transaction. Companies need to transform their digital environments to enable omnichannel experiences
  • Service Driven Sales — Customers use digital channels for sales and service. Integration between the digital frontends, customer support backend systems and e-commerce systems will be required for service-driven sales experiences.
  • Integrated consumer and employee experiences — In locations such as stores, banks or hotels, the interaction between consumer digital devices and employee digital devices generate a number of opportunities for innovation. For example, consumers can check-in with a mobile app at the bank which alerts the teller through a proximity-enabled mobile teller tablet. The teller can then have a personalized conversation with the customer, based on the intelligence provided by the tablet based on data provided by the consumer app during check-in.
  • Integrating with external data -- Organizations often rely on social login to render socially personalized experiences. But given the fact that only a small fraction of customers login socially, the digital platform has to make up the difference. It must be capable of brokering, capturing, tracking, analyzing and leveraging the social interactions of customers with the company including likes, shares and tweets, regardless of channel. For example, once a banking consumer registers a social affinity towards a mortgage product, the next time he or she enters the bank, the beacon in the bank should alert the onsite mortgage specialist about the opportunity.
  • Advent of wearables and connected devices — Connected devices will change the dynamic between customer and business once again. For example, as you enter your home, the beacon-powered air conditioner knows what temperature to set the thermostat to. As you wake up, the coffee maker starts brewing. When you are driving away from home, the garage door knows what to do. The world is now revolving around you. The need to integrate connected devices to your backend will require your digital stack to be upgraded.

Transforming Digital Environment

A digital platform will act as the foundation required to enable digital transformation. What's a digital platform? Each of the digital mediums we discussed above are merely front ends that service the end user. What powers that front end with the much needed intelligence is a backend platform that deeply integrates with the backend systems that in many cases may be a legacy system.

This digital backend platform is channel agnostic and uses every bit of information including just in time data from multiple channels, big data analysis, social channel and more. These can't be disparate, stove piped backends that don't connect the dots with what happens in other digital mediums. On the contrary, this backend is an integrated common digital backend that powers all the digital mediums and centrally orchestrates the customer journeys across these digital mediums.

The digital platform is not about upgrading or replacing an existing backend to perform the needs of a digital enterprise. It is a new digital layer that is capable of serving up the digital mediums working with the legacy backend systems. The real question is whether such digital platforms are available as off the shelf products or if they should be built on premises.

In most cases, we should be starting off with a product but the answer lies in the current state of the enterprise as well as the ambitions of the enterprise on the digital runway. Some enterprises may be able to implement a product and use out-of-the-box features to embark on their journey of digital transformation, while others may have some customizations to be done before the digital platform can perform to its full potential. Advice from a platform implementation partner is strongly recommended to help with platform selection and to perform relevant customization to get the digital platform up and running.

Title image by Anthony Catalano (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license 

About the Author

Ansar Kassim is director of customer experience and global head of mobile solutions at Virtusa Corporation, a global IT services company based in Boston. Ansar's areas of specialties include mobile solutions, digital transformation and omni channel transformation. At Virtusa he advises clients on how to leverage existing legacy infrastructure to provide a transformed next generation digital experience to both customers and employees.

 
 
 
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