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When it comes to the buying process, consumers and vendors don’t see eye to eye. Marketing teams work with discrete channels to touch customers via storefronts, mobile apps, Web sites, and social media, to name a few. Meanwhile, customers see a single brand and expect all their interactions with that brand to be seamless across all channels. Enter the omnichannel experience: enabling customers to be in constant contact with a company through multiple, unified avenues.
Workers have the same expectations; after all, they consume business applications all day, every work day. The modern workforce is more mobile and social media–savvy than ever before and stays connected to the office outside of working hours. Keeping workers productive—in fact, keeping them at all—requires an omnichannel approach as well.
As businesses push ahead with omnichannel initiatives, CIOs must integrate new capabilities with legacy back-office systems. The cornerstone of this effort is an enterprise integration strategy that exposes key functionality of transaction-processing systems using APIs. The enterprise platform must support virtually any mobile device and take full advantage of cloud resources, including software as a service (SaaS). Real-time analytics on large data sets will call for high-performance computing environments such as data grids. Meeting more stringent requirements for data archiving and retrieval will often involve re-architecting storage subsystems.
The potential payoff is enormous. An omnichannel experience creates brand loyalty that leads to customer retention and higher net promoter scores. Through continuous contact with customers, companies identify and respond to changing marketplace conditions. Strategic planners gain access to data that customers have collected, which is particularly useful for the coming wave of intelligent applications. The companies and CIOs that best implement omnichannel experiences will be the winners.
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