Prepare for change – Dynamics 365 Unified Interface is here!

Prepare for change – Dynamics 365 Unified Interface is here!

Prepare for change – Dynamics 365 Unified Interface is here!

Your experience with Dynamics 365 is about to change – the Unified Interface is here. This responsive experience for Dynamics 365 is becoming the primary and only experience for users, replacing WebClient. Here are the five things you should know about the sleek new Unified Interface to help you adapt to this change.

Unified Interface features

  1. Consistent responsive experiences

You now have consistent and equal functionality across all channels, from your computer through to mobile. What you see as an experience on your mobile device will be what you see and access on your computer. This consistency allows you to manage your client relationships and processes at any time, and on any device.

  1. Enhanced timeline control

Timeline control replaces the activities wall within your forms. You can configure the timeline control to only show the information you want to, such as only notes or only phone calls. While the visual filtering capability allows you to drill down into your data, giving you a quick and accurate view of your client interactions.

 

  1. Visually engaging dashboards and charts

You can display and access information in visually rich dashboards and charts to better engage with your business. This visualisation through custom controls adapts across all devices, giving you easy accessibility to valuable client information.

  1. Tabs have made a comeback

The Unified Interface is moving back to the tabbed experience for easier navigation. Having these tabs visible at the start of the form’s loading is a huge help – especially with forms that are heavy with data and client information.

  1. Upgrades to suit needs

The Unified Interface will be constantly updated with new features and optimised for enhanced client experiences. These upgrades are automatically made, so keep a lookout for new features.

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Better service from a bot? How A.I. is remaking customer service

Better service from a bot? How A.I. is remaking customer service

Better service from a bot? How A.I. is remaking customer service

For years, the human touch was considered the cornerstone of great customer service. Friendliness, a helpful attitude – it’s easy to imagine.

But can machines augment this and help make customers even happier?

A recent study from McKinsey identified marketing and sales as among the top areas that will soon be transformed by A.I.:

‘A.I. technologies are finding applications across the value chain, but some parts of the value chain are getting more attention than others… customer service as well as operations and product development, all tend to use the most commonly cited A.I. applications.’ 1

Many think A.I. is still an aspirational technology, but the numbers reveal that it’s a revolution already up and running. Consider some of the numbers:

78% of brands say they have already implemented or are planning to implement artificial intelligence … by 2020 to better serve customers. With regards to chatbots, which are in many ways the most recognisable form of A.I., 80% of sales and marketing leaders say they already use these in their CX or plan to do so by 2020.’ 2

 

‘By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human.’3

 

A.I. and, in particular, machine learning not only helps make self-service interfaces more intuitive but anticipates specific customer needs by learning from context, chat history and preferences.

Getting down with data

A major reason for A.I.’s edge when it comes to keeping customers smiling? It’s all down to data – and the ability to process and make sense of it rapidly.

Simply put, machines can locate and process information far quicker than we can. Given the vast quantities of both incoming and outgoing information a typical customer service department has to deal with digital tools provide a genuine edge.

Audio calls. Live chats. Troubleshooting queries. Service scheduling. Maintenance requests. Machines can do it better and faster – and they don’t need any breaks.

More than this, A.I.-enabled customer service tools can:

  • Gather and learn from information
  • Define customer behaviours
  • Identify customers’ frequent decisions and preference types
  • Provide solutions and suitable products based on feedback
  • Provide proactive alert messages
  • Suggest personalised offers and discounts for each unique customer
  • Offer real-time support in the form of uniquely curated FAQs or blogs
  • Help lessen customer complaints and abandon rates

Personalisation perfected

Today, all great customer service centres on personalisation. It’s based on understanding a customer, their history with a company and their unique needs. This means being reactive to both what’s happened in the past, as well as understanding how to help shape the best outcomes for that customer in the future. But its also about maintaining an ongoing, value-adding relationship, and not just coming into the picture when its time to make a sale.

With complete access to customer information and buying history, A.I. helps make this process – of building and maintaining relationships – smart. More than this, A.I. is always 100% brand consistent. So customers know what to expect, every time they make contact. A real trust builder.

Future forward

Today, companies can no longer focus only on customer satisfaction post-sale. It’s about providing ongoing, meaningful and helpful interaction, and crafting amazing, personalised and highly relevant experiences. A.I. is the driver behind that personalisation process. The more relevant an offer or advice is to a customer, the more cared for that customer feels.

In this way, A.I. helps turn everything from a quick query to the sales process itself into a great customer service experience. Why? Customers are presented with a range of tailored options that speak intelligently to their unique needs.

Today, get customer experience wrong and you push your customers into your competitors’ hands. Do it right and you build brand advocates.

It’s about keeping up, keeping an open mind, and listening to what today’s consumers want. And when it comes to a better, more personalised service, A.I. technology is what you need.

Want to see how you can deliver exceptional customer service? Check out an A.I.-infused customer service solution.

 

References
1.https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Industries/Advanced%20Electronics/Our%20Insights/How%20artificial%20intelligence%20can%20deliver%20real%20value%20to%20companies/MGI-Artificial-Intelligence-Discussion-paper.ashx
2.  https://www.oracle.com/webfolder/s/delivery_production/docs/FY16h1/doc35/CXResearchVirtualExperiences.pdf
3. http://www.gartner.com/imagesrv/summits/docs/na/customer-360/C360_2011_brochure_FINAL.pdf

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Marketing Automation is What Your Business Needs, Right Now

Marketing Automation is What Your Business Needs, Right Now

 

Marketing Automation is What Your Business Needs – Right Now

 

$25 billion! If you are not part of this spend chances are your competition is! An April 2018 report from global research agency Forrester concluded:

‘As digital marketing complexity increases, more marketers are embracing automation tools to improve efficiency and speed to market. In our first Marketing Automation Technology Forecast … we expect global spending on marketing automation tools to surpass $25 billion by 2023, implying a 14% annual growth rate.’1

 

Personalisation, reactivity, relevance: words like these get thrown around a lot in marketing today. The reason: giants like Google, Facebook, YouTube and Amazon are changing what customers – including yours – are coming to expect from their daily digital experiences. Gone is the one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. In its place: relevance and reactivity – with a high degree of personalisation.

The Forrester report highlighted:

  1. Spending on marketing technology is increasing – 55% of global marketers planning to increase their expenditure on marketing technology in 2019.
  2. Personalisation enhances customer experience. More than that, it is now the norm:

‘Customers reward firms for personal, relevant, and value-added individualized experiences. As personalisation becomes the standard, consumers now expect this level of engagement across channels and digital touchpoints. Marketing automation technologies can help marketers scale their personalisation efforts.’

Slick, speedy, insightful and intelligent, top-tier marketing automation tools are remaking how marketers both reach and talk to their customers.

What is marketing automation exactly?

At base, marketing automation is a customer relationship management (CRM) solution that allows companies to run massive marketing campaigns with ease. No mess. No fuss. No unnecessary admin. More than that, marketing automation means companies can track and nurture leads at the touch of a button, sync customer information into a centralized hub and reach prospects in new, tailored, automated ways.   In a nutshell: gone are manual processes. Ditto for misaligned marketing and sales goals. In their place is a single solution that handles all elements of the marketing process, leaving marketers free to focus on the creative and relationship-based elements of their roles, not the admin burdens.

What can I do with a marketing automation tool?

It’s all about accuracy and ease. Marketing automation covers:

  • Social marketing
  • Landing page creation
  • Campaign management
  • Prediction and scoring
  • Lead management
  • Social marketing
  • Email marketing

More specifically, marketing automation is about:

  • Reaching out to prospects – With automated, customized messages across email, web, social media, and text.
  • Qualifying leads – Understanding where customers are in the purchase journey, and providing relevant information.
  • Suggesting the right products at the right time – By storing purchase histories, customer information and methods of contact, marketing automation means customers receive relevant suggestions – not the same old shot-in-the-dark product recommendations.
  • Information sharing between marketing and sales – By sharing insights gathered during the marketing process with sales teams, the entire organization becomes more reactive, responsive and attuned to customers’ needs.
  • Running multichannel marketing campaigns with ease – Marketing automation allows organisations to set up orchestrated email marketing, web landing pages, webinars, phone calls, events and more.
  • Leveraging the power of social media – More and more of our time is spent on social media channels. Marketing automation helps companies not only build up a robust social presence, but source new leads, and engage meaningfully with prospects.
  • Hand over sales-ready leads – Marketing automation allows companies to identify which leads are ready for sales engagement, with lead scoring and sales readiness grades.

Customer journeys are the sum of individual personalized experiences with a brand. With marketing automation, companies can tailor every interaction based on customer data to create resonant, seamless journeys through every brand touchpoint.

Upping the upside

The benefits of marketing automation are many, but here’s a snapshot:

  • The ability to both automate and streamline the segmentation process to find the right audiences rapidly and at scale.
  • Messaging and landing pages are tailored automatically using customer profiles.
  • Creating relevant and personalised experiences becomes possible, with a few simple clicks.

A great marketing automation tool’s other great feature is what it lets marketers know about campaign performance. Integrated analytics allows companies unprecedented insight into how their campaigns are performing. Meaning ROI is never murky, and the result of campaign spending is always crystal clear.

The sum-up

With marketing automation, companies can effectively and meaningfully connect with customers through their purchasing journey, no matter how far along they are, be it acquisition or advocacy.   Providing great, relevant content to customers in the way they prefer not only drives sales, but helps turn prospects to brand advocates.

Best of all, it’s automated. And happens in a snap.

Do you want to learn more about marketing automation? Read what our marketing automation solution offers you.

References 

1 https://go.forrester.com/blogs/global-marketing-automation-spending-will-reach-25-billion-by-2023/

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Power BI: Microsoft is the BI and Analytics leader –  Gartner Magic Quadrant 2018

Power BI: Microsoft is the BI and Analytics leader – Gartner Magic Quadrant 2018

Gartner 2018: Microsoft No.1 for BI & Analytics

Microsoft’s been innovating in analytics and business intelligence for a long time. However, Gartner’s 2018 BI and Analytics report ranked PowerBI as the no. 1 product in terms of both vision and the ability to execute. This put Microsoft ahead of 10+ niche tech firms. But it also put it well beyond the established big players, including SAP, SAS, Salesforce, Tableau and IBM.

2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms*

 

Why is this so exciting? The top spot in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms can be claimed only by a company with huge amounts of both vision and grit. A company that can see the future – and then make it happen. For real.

It’s no big surprise. For 11 consecutive years, Microsoft has come out as a leader in the Gartner rankings. And for 3 of those, it has claimed the spot for having the most complete vision of in the BI and analytics space. All testament to the calibre of Microsoft’s global leadership and unceasing drive for innovation and excellent execution.

What is Power BI?

At its core, Power BI is a suite of business analytics tools to analyze data and share insights. The technology enables decision makers to monitor their business and get answers quickly with rich dashboards available on every device. It’s built on the same data model as Office 365 and Dynamics 365 so it has deep integration there, but it also has hundreds of data connectors, making it very simple to bring in your data and start giving you the insights you need. 

The Magic of Microsoft

Hundreds of thousands of businesses are already plugged into Microsoft’s BI solutions. And the reasons include everything from cost-effectiveness (the professional license is only $9.99/user/mth and is often bundled in many Office 365 plans) to how comprehensive the end solution truly is. 

It’s also great for multinationals with offices across the globe – Microsoft guarantees great performance and security everywhere in the world.

Check out the experiences of some of Microsoft’s major clients:

“We use Power BI in Office 365 to turn data into insights, so we can ensure our place in the future of the luxury car industry.” 

– Andrew Palmer, Chief Executive Officer, Aston Martin

“With Office 365 E5, we’re delivering an intelligent workplace, where employees gain self-service access to interactive, graphical reports and dashboards through Microsoft Power BI … It’s easy to use Power BI to analyze real-time sales data and fine-tune our marketing activities to drive sales.”

– Markus Petrak, Corporate Director, Henkel

The solution is both scalable and flexible, too. Power BI allows companies to tap into architecture allowing easy and rapid integration with both Microsoft and 3rd party products. Moreover, businesses only pay for the capacity they need, meaning no wasted spend – but plenty of room to grow.

Rave Reviews

At The CRM Team, our own customers rave about the insights they receive. These insights have led to higher lead conversion, reduced customer churn and better engagement. Whenever we do a Dynamics 365 implementation we always leverage PowerBI to provide incredibly rich and relevant data visualisations. It’s such a great product and it enables us to add a lot of value to our clients. 

All businesses search for that ‘edge’ over rivals. Microsoft is no different. It is determined to remain a leader and visionary in the BI platform environment. And it looks like Microsoft is getting it right – delivering modern BI and analytics solutions for a variety of users, and getting rave reviews in the process.

Why? Not only does the technology behind Power BI enable users to create and share insights in real time, but Power BI lets users create develop rich, compelling stories. These stories perfectly visualise data, allowing decision makers an at-a-glance understanding of how their business is doing. Custom visuals only add to the magic and personalisation.

What new heights Microsoft will reach from here is anyone’s guess. The company is on a rocket trajectory – who knows what tomorrow may bring?

Want to get more information what a Microsoft CRM solution could do for you? Check out our solution’s page. All of our solutions incorporate Power BI to enable incredible data visualisation and reporting. 

 

*This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Microsoft (The CRM Team is a strategic partner with Microsoft). Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organisation and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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4 Ways a CRM Solution Helps You Close Customer Service Cases Faster

4 Ways a CRM Solution Helps You Close Customer Service Cases Faster

4 Ways a CRM Solution Helps You Close Customer Service Cases Faster

Customer service – the term calls to mind rows and rows of headset-wearing agents working through hundreds and hundreds of queries and, yes, complaints. They’re an operations director’s bugbear – running customer service can be a massive expense.

Customers do need a way to get in touch and get help. However, inefficient, people-heavy contact centres are (thankfully) on their way out. In their place are arising lean, tech-powered, data-rich powerhouses – where queries and service requests are handled seamlessly, rapidly, and at a minimum of expense.

Frustration and repetition, meet reactivity and results

The average customer service representative receives the same queries and requests over and over on any given day. Many of these are incredibly simple to resolve. A problem with how to use a product or system, for example. A service call-in. Reporting a known bug in the system.

Though each query may be quick to resolve, getting of hundreds of them on a daily basis begins to drain an agent’s time massively – and jam up the waiting queue.

There’s also the customer’s perspective to consider. For many of us, the thought of dialling into a call centre often provokes dread. Too many experiences with agents who failed to understand our problem didn’t have the right info, or couldn’t resolve the issue have meant many of us now prefer to self-serve – if we can.

Customer Service 2.0

CRM solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365 make great self-service options a reality. But they also make interactions with agents more efficient and effective.

When it comes to customer service, every company – and customer – wants accuracy, helpfulness and speed. Closing customer service cases faster not only means happier clients – when done intelligently, it means lower costs too: less time, fewer resources.

Here’s how a CRM solution helps companies close service cases faster:

 

  1. The data powerhouse effect

Gone are the days of customers needing to wait while agents search for the information they need – often only to find it’s not there. Good CRM solutions collate all the information your company has with its customers. That single datastore is a goldmine. With access to all the data they need, agents are enabled to provide rapid, relevant information.

With a visual interface tailored to an agent’s role, all the guidance, data and tools each agent needs are in one place. Even third-party information can be integrated.

More than this, CRM solutions allow agents to view all customer engagements – from chat to social to telephonic interactions. With every customer interaction recorded and centralised, case handover becomes seamless.

 

  1. Streamlining for success

Your customers want information – and they want it fast. They’re busy. Maybe they’re tired. With scripting and intelligent recommendations, agents can follow the best route to assist customers. So they can do it faster, too. More than that, by integrating personal customer data into every interaction, agents can provide service that’s not only more efficient but more meaningful. Customers become more than just cases.

More than that, CRM solutions allow for knowledge compounding. With access to information about how other agents solved similar cases – along with forms, manuals and FAQs – the service department just gets better and better. It learns from itself.

 

  1. Keeping an eye on the clock

With access to real-time insights into every case, SLA timers and entitlements, agents can make sure that service level agreements are always met.

Collaboration tools also help agents connect – both with each other and with subject matter experts. So the right answer is always at hand. If an agent’s initial answer isn’t on the mark, cases can be automatically escalated to a specialist able to solve the problem.

 

  1. Stellar self-service

This is where CRM solutions really come into their own. Today, many people would rather solve their issue alone than contact an agent. CRM solutions make self-service seamless. Moreover, they keep people costs down. By leveraging searchable databases and community support options, customers are equipped to solve their issues in the way that suits them.

Live chat is a key component of the self-service revolution. Bots are a great way to engage portal and web customers. Intelligent systems guide users to the solutions and information they need. The result: customers not only feel cared for, but they no longer need to get in touch with contact centres, keeping costs – and queues – down.

 

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Digital Transformation – Everything’s Changing

Digital Transformation – Everything’s Changing

Digital Transformation – Everything’s Changing

Kevin’s face went white! He just realized he’d left his phone in the taxi. An older man at the bar was confused. ‘Is it insured?’ ‘Yes’ he replied. ‘Then why’s it a big deal?’

When people get more freaked out about being separated from their phone than their cash you know a paradigm shift has occurred.

Yellow Cabs in New York City

Look what happened to the taxi industry. In less than seven years, Lyft and Uber have turned the industry upside down. Yellow Cabs in San Francisco and Chicago both filed for bankruptcy recently. They were the big players in their cities. They had the infrastructure, the cars, the drivers, the connections. They should have beaten new start-ups easily. But they adapted too late.

Here’s the rub: like Yellow Cabs, your company may be late in embracing digital transformation – but your customer’s aren’t. They’ve already digital and they’re looking for businesses who understand how they operate and who talk their language.

Here’s another example: My business partner recently took his wife away for a long weekend. He went all out. Do you know where he stayed? In an AirBnB. He booked his beautiful, luxurious getaway through an app on his phone. The Marriott or Hilton didn’t get a look in.

Franschoek Villa

Don’t get confused. Digital transformation isn’t just connecting with customers over apps and cell phones. It’s about using digital technology to find better, easier ways of doing business. Many people confuse digital transformation, with having a digital strategy. But it goes far deeper than that.

Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, who’s carried out his own digital transformation, says this:

… [Digital Transformation] isn’t just about procuring a CRM, ERP, or office automation system. It requires building out… systems of intelligence — digital feedback loops that help you better engage with your customers, empower your employees, optimize your operations, and reinvent products and business models…. they will ultimately define your competitiveness and ability to change the landscape of the industries you participate in.”

Engaging your customers… empowering your employees… optimizing your operations… reinventing your business models – this is nothing new. Every great business leader in history has been on top of these. The difference nowadays is that the pace of technological advance is so great that if you don’t keep up you can quickly become a dinosaur – and you won’t even know it until it’s too late. Save & Exit

Aman Chowla, CEO of Prudential BSN Takaful Berhad puts it simply:

“Organizations must embrace a digital culture now or be embarrassed by it later.”

How is your industry doing in the realm of digital transformation? Could your industry be the next one to be disrupted by a tech-savvy start-up?

Last year, Accenture Interactive commissioned a Forrester survey of 396 organisations (minimum 1000 employees or more). They found:

  • Only 5% of organisations feel they have mastered digital to the point of differentiation from their competitors.
  • 58% now look to digital to help them sell profitability.
  • 63% of them plan to improve their online customer experience’ this year.
  • 88% of them use third-party providers for at least one component of their digital transformation.

Taken from ‘Digital Transformation in the Age of the Customer’

So. You’re aware of the threat/opportunity. What should you do?

The first thing you need to do is take Braden Kelly’s advice:

“You must look at your business and your industry in the same way that a digital native startup will if they seek to attack you and steal your market.”

Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. What aspect of their interaction with you feels old fashioned or clumsy? What are better ways of doing this? If you were a start-up and looking at things from a fresh perspective, what would you do to disrupt the industry?

For the Huffington Post, an online newspaper founded in 2005, that meant using the web, rather than print, to take on the big newspapers of the day. It sounds straight-forward, but HuffPost has also embraced marketing automation technology and has a highly-developed social media strategy.

But in doing so, it’s been successful. In 2011 it was acquired by AOL for $315m. In March 2016, the British national newspaper The Independent followed it’s lead and also became an online-only newspaper – halting its print run, that at its peak, had a daily production of 97,000 newspapers. The newspaper industry is in a fast-paced digital transformation.

A look at what’s possible

You might be saying ‘this is great, but I don’t actually know what is possible in my industry?’ This is understandable, but in the digital age, it’s become the job of every business leader to be familiar with the latest technology trends. It might give you just the advantage you need over your competitors.

Have a look at what is trending currently:

  • Machine LearningGet supercomputers to work for you. Imagine taking the data you’re collecting, analysing it and automatically adjusting your business processes in response to the results. The more data the system is fed, the better its predictions become. For example, in the insurance industry machine learning is helping companies better predict which offers certain customers will respond to. As the customer data is fed into the call centre program the salesperson will be prompted with certain deals. If the deal is taken, the system learns that deal is a good fit for that customer. If not, it adjusts it algorithm and tries a different deal next time, evolving with every iteration.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT)Imagine the benefit you’d obtain by connecting the assets you own to the cloud. Each vehicle or piece of machinery you own can have its own IP address. You can monitor and make interventions in real time, from anywhere in the world. For example, machines can generate their own service tickets so that repairs happens before things go wrong. Weather data can be combined with automated irrigation machinery so that only the crops that need watering actually receive it. The options are endless.
  • Bots – You may already have interacted with these without realizing it. These are pieces of software designed to run automated tasks (scripts) for you over the internet. Typically, they are designed to be as conversational as possible. For instance, there is a medical bot that you can type in your symptoms and it will suggest relevant medical websites to go to. Facebook already has 11,000 bots ready to launch with its Messenger service. Siri, Cortana and Google Now are very advanced bots hosted on your cell phone, tablet or computer. The popular company communication app, Slack, has been using bots for a while. And Microsoft is preparing to launch bots in conjunction with Skype, and Office 365
  • Integrated Business Applications – Most companies already use Microsoft Office 365 to optimize employee productivity, but Microsoft’s announcement of Dynamics 365, means that businesses will be able to give their employees continual access to the software they need, wherever they are, from any device. Cloud applications have done away with the need to dial into company servers, and with Dynamics 365 built on the same data model as Office 365, multiple sets of customer data will be a thing of the past.

Beginning the Digital Transformation Journey

Of course, you don’t even need to use these technologies for your company to begin the journey of digital transformation. You need to see a new way of operating and adopt the technology that helps you do that. Technology is simply the tool that you use.

Let’s talk

Whatever your industry, here at The CRM Team we are helping many companies take their first step (or next step) along the digital transformation journey. Whether it’s as simple taking your sales team off Excel, or more complex projects, such bringing consistency with the way you engage with your customer over the four customer touch points, we can help. And of course, we’re also geared up to help you use some of the trending tech such as IoT, Machine Learning, Integrated business apps, bots etc.

What opportunity will digital transformation create for your business?

What risks does it pose?

We’d love to assist you to take your next step. And in a digital world, it doesn’t matter where you are based. Why not arrange a conversation about it today?

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    How a CRM Solution Can Fix Your Sales Forecasts Sweaty palms? Nervousness? Fingers hovering over the keyboard, afraid to commit to a single figure? Sales forecasting can rattle even the most seasoned sales director. When forecasting – for the month, quarter or...

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