Social, Mobile and Cloud are Not Enough

I just got back from CRM Evolution 2012 and wanted to share one of my biggest observations: people are getting tired of hearing about social, mobile and cloud.  They are ready for the next big innovation that is going to drive their business to faster, more profitable growth by delivering a better customer experience, and by doing it at a lower cost.  I could sense it in the customers who attended – they pulled themselves up to the table for a big meal of how to improve the customer experience and they walked away still hungry for something more.  Don’t get me wrong. Social, mobile and cloud are extremely powerful and incredible sources for innovation,  but after attending a number of presentations, talking to a number of analysts, and visiting several vendor booths it confirmed my belief that each of these by themselves is not the solution.

Initially I was frustrated because the social discussions and showcased capabilities were highly focused on listening and analyzing.  That is, understanding what your customers and employees are talking about, what makes them happy, what gets them angry and their suggestions for improvement.  The majority of the presentations I attended (with the exception of Analyst Bill Band from Forrester) left out the most critical part: once you have gathered this incredibly valuable feedback and had meaningful exchanges about how to improve you need to take action.  You need to change the offers you make, how you respond to service requests, and which products you position in which sales situations.  Companies are struggling to convert all this insight into action, and vendors continue to focus on gathering more insight – with no guidance on how to take action.  Think about it this way: you’re standing on the train tracks, you see the train coming, and the only thing you can do is send a report to someone to tell them you are about to be hit.

Mobile was equally frustrating.  Many businesses have made the effort to create some incredibly slick apps, but those apps have been built in isolation.  While they look nice and have some powerful features, companies need to figure out how they can realize the full potential of mobile and make it a core part of their business and not another disconnected channel that is expensive to support.  There was little talk about how to combine the power of the company’s existing data and processes, and adapt that for the mobile device.

Then, there’s cloud.  The bottom line on cloud is, it has arrived and it is the right option for many companies in many situations, but not all companies in all situations.  Companies should be able to choose what is right for them on a project by project basis and should know that the cloud it there, available, reliable, secure, scalable to be leveraged in the right situations.

I felt some of the most valuable capabilities were left out of the discussions. Every offer, sale, and service request ultimately involves a product or a service, and the lack of integration to the actual product/transaction system and process leads to an incomplete and ineffective customer experience.  To be effective every marketing offer must be fulfilled, and nearly every customer service request must be resolved – whether it involves a bill, a claim or a dispute they must be addressed.

Enough with all this negativity, though. I still came away from the show incredibly excited.  Why?  Because I am thoroughly convinced that Pega uniquely enables a new wave of innovation.  With our technology, companies can rise above social, mobile and cloud and focus on the holistic customer experience, a personalized experience that is fast to deploy, easy to adapt across channels (including social and mobile) and organizations.  Specifically, I’m talking about the ability to convert insight to action and deliver the holistic customer experience that can be continuously improved.  It is about listening to all the great social insight from customers, partners, employees combining that insight with management’s goals and taking action, implementing continuous change to drive more value for the customer and the business.  It’s about delivering multiple strategies simultaneously, testing them with select audiences, choosing the most effective strategy and then testing another.  It’s about sitting down and mapping out the customer’s journey through their relationship with your company across all phases of the customer life cycle (marketing, sales, service), across all communication channels (social, mobile, web, branch, call center), across product silos (including the front and back office) and directly capturing that journey in your system’s execution.  And doing it in a way that addresses the biggest immediate challenge and then easily specializing it for each channel, product, and organization.  

Let’s take the mobile experience as an example.  As the customer journey is captured in the system, the interaction on a mobile device becomes one dimension of how you deliver the overall experience. You can use so much of what exists and tailor the experience to take advantage of the uniqueness of that channel (same approach with social, branch, etc.).  It’s about ensuring the customer experience extends beyond the front office all the way through the back office so as a company you can efficiently fulfill your promise to your customer eliminating unnecessary work and automating wherever possible – adjusting the claim, delivering the promised product/service reconciling the dispute, etc.

Pega enables companies to deploy wherever is best for them in their specific situation, on-premise, cloud or a combination, so they can pick the best solution that will deliver the most long term value for their customers and their business.

Social, mobile and cloud serve as incredible sources for innovation, but it is time to move beyond listening and take action. It is time to break down silos, it’s time to stop worrying about where you deploy and become a customer-centric enterprise that your customers and your shareholders will love.