small toy and a coffee cup
Small tokens of affection, frequent interactions and new experiences drive customer loyalty, Accenture reports. PHOTO: Alexas Fotos

New ‘languages of loyalty’ have emerged, driven by brands experimenting with creative digital experiences — and they've changed the dynamics of customer loyalty, according to a new survey by Accenture Strategy.

The report, “Seeing Beyond the Loyalty Illusion: It’s Time you Invest more Wisely,” found organizations that stick to traditional approaches to drive loyalty “risk draining profitability and pushing customers away, even when they have the best intentions or are following their historical playbook. It’s time for organizations to take a fresh look at loyalty.”

Based on an online global survey of 25,426 consumers, the report was authored by Accenture’s Robert Wollan, Phil Davis, Fabio DeAngelis and Kevin Quiring. More than half (54 percent) of the 2,532 US consumers responding have switched loyalties in the past year and nearly 20 percent confirm their expectations around brand loyalty have completely changed. 

Accenture Strategy suggested companies and brands adopt five “languages of loyalty.” They include:
  • Tokens of affection: 59 percent of US consumers feel loyal to brands that present them with small tokens of affection, such as personalized discounts, gift cards and special offers
  • Get to know me: 41 percent of US consumers are loyal to brands that offer them the opportunity to personalize products
  • Thrill seeker: 44 percent of US consumers are loyal to brands that actively engage them to help design or co-create products or services
  • If you like it, I like it: 23 percent of US consumers are loyal to brands that partner with celebrities, and another 23 percent are loyal to those that partner with social influencers, such as bloggers and vloggers
  • Hook me up: 39 percent of US consumers feel loyal to brands that connect them with other providers, giving them the ability to exchange loyalty points or rewards

These strategies work, particularly among US millennials, the survey found.

“An appetite for extra-ordinary, multi-sensory experiences, hyper-personalization and co-creation, are changing consumer dynamics around loyalty and forcing brands and organizations to shift their approaches and programs,” said Quiring, managing director of advanced customer strategy for Accenture Strategy.

In other technology news ...

Businesses Still Believe in ‘Cloud-First,’ Intel Says

Intel Security study
Intel Security study.

Organizations want to get their IT applications on the cloud — and soon — according to a study released this week by Intel Security.

In its second annual report, “Building Trust in a Cloudy Sky,” Intel researchers found organizations envision their IT budgets will be 80 percent cloud-based in about 15 months.

Intel surveyed 2,000 IT professionals.

“The ‘Cloud First’ strategy is now well and truly ensconced into the architecture of many organizations across the world,” said Raj Samani, EMEA chief technology officer of Intel Security. 

IT professionals are starting to trust the cloud infrastructure more now, too. Those who trust public clouds now outnumber those who distrust them by more than two-to-one. About 62 percent of companies store personal customer information data in public clouds.

Is there anything stopping organizations from moving to the cloud? Almost half of the organizations surveyed said a lack of cybersecurity skills has slowed adoption or usage of cloud services.

IT professionals also remained concerned over “shadow IT” services, where cloud services get commissioned without the involvement of IT. About 40 percent of respondents said cloud services get commissioned this way. Most IT pros (65 percent) feels this interferes with their ability to keep the cloud safe and secure. 

What types of clouds do organizations deploy? 

  • Fewer private clouds: dropped from 51 percent to 24 percent over the past year
  • More hybrid clouds: increased from 19 percent to 57 percent

Hybrid private/public cloud architectures require the data center to become a “highly virtualized, cloud-based infrastructure,” researchers found. 

About 52 percent of an organization’s data center servers are virtualized. And 80 percent are using containers. Most expect to have the conversion to a fully software-defined data center completed within two years.

Employee Culture Drives Success, CultureIQ Finds

Great corporate culture drives competitive advantage for companies, resulting in higher engagement levels and a stronger brand.

That's the conclusion of nearly three quarters of the 579 human resources professionals who responded to a survey about employee culture sponsored by CultureIQ and HR.com.

“Streamlining company culture is an ongoing process and HR departments and C-suite executive leadership are critical components in forging an engaged and productive culture,” Greg Besner, CEO of CultureIQ, said.

Other findings:

  • 52 percent said leadership buy-in is the biggest obstacle to strengthening culture
  • 40 percent rated their company culture as above average, while 33 percent rated it average and 27 percent rated it below average
  • Lack of senior management and not enough resources were selected as the top two reasons why organizations do not actively manage culture

Couchbase Updates Data Platform

Mountain View, Calif.-based Couchbase updated its data platform that powers web, mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) applications for digital businesses. Officials at the company, which specializes in NoSQL databases, said the release is designed to produce better global application deployments, security capabilities and development flexibility. 

Couchbase

The latest release of the Couchbase data platform includes:

  • Couchbase Server 4.6: Global application deployments, application performance, security options, built-in support for data structures including lists, maps and sets and integrated .NET application development
  • Couchbase Sync Gateway 1.4: Scale for mobile and IoT applications using the new Sync Gateway Accelerator
  • Couchbase Kafka Connector 3.0: Kafka Connect support for streaming between Apache Kafka and other systems, as well as a new Sink Connector
  • Couchbase Spark Connector 2.0: Support for Apache Spark 2.0 and its structured streaming API

Avanade, Akumina Partner for Workplace Experiences                                          

Cloud service provider Avanade is partnering with digital workplace provider Akumina to deliver digital workplace solutions.

The partnership brings together Avanade’s expertise with Microsoft technologies and Akumina’s digital workplace framework for delivering digital experiences on top of Office 365 and other cloud technologies, officials said.

Avanade will leverage Akumina’s digital workplace software.

Akumina offers partners like Avanade an ongoing managed service offering in enterprise use-case such as global corporate intranets, executive dashboards and collaboration spaces.

Kokinos Out as Fuze CEO  

Colin Doherty
Colin Doherty
Fuze has named Colin Doherty as its new CEO, replacing co-founder Steve Kokinos, who will serve as executive chairman.

The announcement today comes just a week after the cloud-based Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) provider announced a $100 million investment for the second straight year.    

Doherty joins Fuze after 10 years of holding CEO positions at software-defined networking (SDN) provider BTI Systems and DDoS and security solutions provider Arbor Networks. Most recently, Doherty served as CEO of Dyn, a Manchester, NH-based DNS company, which was recently acquired by Oracle.

Fuze is located in Cambridge, Mass. The company’s total funding is more than $300 million. 

In the last half of 2016, Fuze appointed Brian Day as chief financial officer, Mary Good as chief people officer, Laurie Harrison as general counsel and David Johnson to lead services and support.