Customer-centric revolution unleashed by the Cloud

By Nagendra Venkaswamy, Vice President, India and SAARC, Riverbed Technology

We are living in an era of massive disruption driven by the increasingly ubiquitous nature of digital technologies across every aspect of commerce and living. This disruption has created challenges and opportunities for nearly every business (public and private) and has heightened customer expectations around service, delivery and communications.

The idea that customers don’t know what they want until you show it to them has long been influential in marketing. But these days, companies are starting to question their own ability to know without solid metrics to guide them. The recent surge in analytics adoption might demonstrate a turning of the phrase: “We don’t know what customers want, until the data shows us.” Taking a data-driven look at what your customers are trying to accomplish and how successful they are at achieving their intent is the beginning of re-engineering the customer experience.

The reason for this shift is largely in response to customers being empowered by technology in the first place. Today, customers are well informed and have an unprecedented amount of insight at their fingertips when it comes to making purchasing decisions. This puts them in a superior position, and to win them over, businesses need to stay on their toes. This means producing better insights, and keeping apps and campaigns fresh,

Take Future Group for example, which has played a leading role in the transformation of India’s retail industry with its customer focused strategies. Time and again, the retail conglomerate has evolved and taken on competition in a cluttered market. Recognizing the need  to increase customer-centricity,, Future Group accelerated its focus on analytics and data insights, and embraced what the company itself calls ‘a culture shift within the organization’ – one that embeds IT into the business, and leverages insights to devise a customer-centric approach to marketing, merchandising, operations. This is part of the group’s strategy to battle ecommerce companies that are steadily increasing their share in the nation’s $500 billion retail market.

While it’s tempting to imagine these kinds of trends and paradigm shifts as the result of collective human brilliance, the truth is they are often spurred by more fundamental technological advances. There’s no question about it; the ability to process and understand data has been sparked by cloud technology and applications within. This revolution, like any good historical drama, comes also with its own complications.

Know the cloud

Business leaders are increasingly relying on cloud technologies to gain a competitive edge in today’s global markets. In fact, companies are expected to leverage the cloud to deliver business-critical applications and services in the next few years, spurred by the need to be more efficient, find better ways to engage and understand their customers, and continuously enhance their operations. CIOs and other IT leaders are tasked with delivering these expected benefits quickly and reliably, while also increasing their own speed and capacity to deliver projects of value to the business.

But while cloud adoption has hit the mainstream, IT leaders still encounter several challenges when moving applications to the cloud. This is partially due to the complex nature of today’s hybrid enterprise where organizations are managing a mix of on-premises, cloud, and SaaS apps, running across a combination of private MPLS links and public Internet transport. A CIO’s ability to navigate these architectural complexities is crucial to ensuring a smooth migration and harnessing the powerful benefits the cloud offers.

So, what should a company’s best weapon be to drive optimal app performance in the cloud? End-to-end visibility is the ultimate solution. Achieving visibility of the app performance will enable the IT department to continuously monitor the performance of networks, apps and end user experience with rich, granular, actionable data and analytics. This will also help IT to pinpoint the sources of bottlenecks that may create performance issues, detect and fix problems instantly.

In this brave new world of software-defined everything, IT teams finally have a chance to be proactive, to precisely and dynamically scale infrastructure capacity up and down, and to leverage the instant provisioning and elasticity of the cloud to reroute around weak spots and continually strengthen the infrastructure that powers the business.

Find the missing link

In implementing any technology, whether it lives up to its potential depends on usage and management. This is the missing link that many are searching after in their desire to be truly customer-driven. It’s the ability to make cloud applications perform optimally. So it might make sense to return to our original phrase and revise it: “We don’t know what customers want, unless the applications function well to make sense of their data”.  To truly place the customer first, there’s no better way to say it.

 

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