The “Real Time” Business
There are many critical dimensions to how businesses operate in response to the competitive pressures that they face today. This has fundamentally changed from where we were 10-15 years ago. Let’s briefly explore this: renewing your car insurance required a trip to your local high street insurance outlet and once the terms were agreed, you would often trust the advisor to offer you the best deal to retain your custom or at a push you may walk further down the high street to the next insurance dealer and brace yourself for the same set of questions. On many occasions the quotations were sent via the post a few days later.
Let’s take a similar example from the mortgage sector: Again, not so long ago, we were required to visit our bank manager to arrange a mortgage deal and once we had completed our interrogations, we would be sent the mortgage proposals by post. Both of these industries and the associated customer experiences have been fundamentally transformed through the advent of Information Technology. We now leverage one of many different comparison engines where we can tweak the final product to meet our specific requirements and the computational engines are then able to accept these parameters to provide us with a plethora of recommendations and do all this within a matter of seconds. This includes our ability to tweak and iterate our selections and therefore the consequent product.
Clearly, these are both extreme examples of business models that have undergone a complete renewal. However, they do have a relevance and lesson for many more businesses. This marks a new level of customer intimacy and the need to respond to individual customer demands rather than a mass marketing approach: the segment of one as we have come to know it.
I feel that Information is the conduit and how effectively you leverage information will determine how successful you become in this new age. To my point earlier, this customer intimacy and responsiveness is a journey for most organisations. I often hear about the need to keep the lights on whilst we work under the lights to innovate and transform the business. Organisations need to grow and evolve at a pace and in a manner which is fitting for their customers, stakeholders and their culture. This begins with a deeper understanding of your customer. Customers are providing every opportunity for us to do this; whether it’s transactional data describing the buying behaviour, social data indicating sentiments and preferences, buying signals determined by how customers are navigating your websites/stores or feedbacks and complaints that are being submitted by your customers. All of this provides a rich data ecosystem through which we can better understand our customers and our effectiveness to serve them.
With SAP, you have the technology solutions which would allow you to process these different data formats and deliver real time insights. At the first instance, these could be used to understand the mix of your customer base and your effectiveness to address the market needs but you can then advance to identifying customer segments and unique behaviours and opportunities within these segments. The next step in this journey could become the formation of bespoke marketing campaigns based on buyer behaviours and propensity to purchase complimentary products when a given product is purchased. Such functionality could also be baked into your websites and point-of-sale systems. In parallel to this, your research and design efforts can be advanced by leveraging the self-service capabilities which allow your analysts to ask infinite questions of your data and leverage the many different algorithms to bring to the fore insights which may not be obvious but present a phenomenal business opportunity.
In summary, the way we transact is fundamentally changing and successful organisations must adapt to remain relevant in this increasingly competitive world. Information is the bedrock of this renewal. SAP offers a comprehensive solution which automates and simplifies much of what I have raised above. I would love the opportunity to meet and speak with you to determine what this could mean for your business. I will be presenting at the up-and-coming Analytics Summit taking place on 23rd February in London. If you are currently running SAP BusinessObjects and share my passion for Business Intelligence, please register here.
I look forward to meeting you and of course continuing our discussion on Analytic innovation.