INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY | Contributed Content, Singapore
Ho Chye Soon

Customer service is giving way to customer experience


Rapid technology innovation in Singapore has made digital disruption the new normal as once safe, stable, and secure industries begin to fully acknowledge the scale, speed, breadth and depth of digital transformation.

A joint report by PwC Singapore and CPA Australia revealed 83% of respondents’ organisations had been, or are on a digital transformation journey, and expect more significant investments in this area in the near future.

As a result, internal organisational silos are disintegrating as enterprises become flatter and more collaborative. Tried and tested business models, responsible for decades of corporate growth, are now being reclassified as outdated, whilst cumbersome “set and forget” infrastructure gives way to new technologies. Enterprises everywhere are looking to re-define their businesses in the digital economy.

The new normal
Today’s business customers expect a consumer-like experience which delivers personalised and tailored services where they want, when they want and the way they want. Their demands dictate speed of action, rapidly changing requirements, bespoke offerings, and all of it at scale. Customer service is giving way to customer experience – and technology is making that possible.

From the boardroom to the production line, the demands of the consumer are now also becoming the demands of enterprise leaders. Digital enterprises, built to deliver the personalised, anytime, anywhere, “just for you” service to their customers, are ramping up to keep up.

So how is technology transforming service into an experience?

The current, traditional IT infrastructure that helped build and sustain many businesses is creaking. Big, heavy, expensive and inflexible “set and forget” technology is being swept away by software. And just as the iPhone and wearables have “atomised” the personal computer, software and hybrid cloud are fast displacing the datacentre.

The most precious of all gifts
As software replaces hardware, it is returning a precious commodity to the business IT function – time.

Whilst it’s clear technology is disrupting the workplace, how this disruption is releasing and diverting resources is less certain. Digital enterprise staff are not constrained by technology but empowered.

According to a recent study with Vanson Bourne, 90% of Singaporean organisations surveyed suggested that just simplifying workload mobility across infrastructure systems would immediately solve many of their problems. By removing the inflexibility and unpredictability from traditional infrastructure, IT departments can now divert most of their attention from operating and maintaining infrastructure, and focus on providing strategic counsel to the business.

It frees minds. Traditional infrastructure was the exclusive domain of discrete specialists who often showed greater allegiance to the product they maintained, than the company they served (think Cisco certified). They also promoted and revelled in the total obfuscation and ambiguity of the datacentre.

Cloud and software eradicates that, providing a much simpler, user-friendly environment. It is freeing personnel to focus on providing a superior experience for internal customers, and innovating to improve the business. As software reduces the need for siloed specialists, it enables the era of generalists. The technical knowledge required to operate, maintain and scale general workloads and applications is lowered.

Out with silos, in with expansive minds. And we haven’t even got to the crux of the new customer experience yet.

Instant gratification
Because hyperconverged infrastructure is so simple, flexible, and scaleable, it is meeting the desires of increasingly sophisticated customers for bespoke solutions, consumer quality, and immediate response and gratification. Suddenly, new ideas or services can be developed, piloted and rolled out in days instead of months, and spikes and urgent demands can be mitigated or actioned immediately, even by the customer. Automation of the first line service, can reduce escalation calls dramatically.

It gets more exciting when combined with technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Financial services giant, Prudential, recently announced a partnership with machine learning platform, DataRobot, to explore solutions that improve the customer buying experience.

Prudential seeks a better understanding of its customers’ evolving needs over different business life stages, and propose the right solutions to help them meet their financial goals.

As the customer changes, so does the automation, analytics, and intelligence, matching them at every stage and anticipating their every request.

The setting sun
The consumerisation of enterprises is accelerating, and traditional, inflexible infrastructure is already struggling to keep up. Like the dreadnoughts of old, traditional infrastructure is quietly being replaced by more responsive, simple and flexible solutions.

It is this new infrastructure that will drive the future of the digital enterprise. As our dependency on data increases, the ability to connect, manage, access and interpret will become even greater, and our need for simplicity and flexibility in a complex and cluttered digital world will only increase.

Get ready for the consumerisation of the enterprise
Customer service has evolved over the years, but it will be nothing compared to the customer experience leap that is set to become the norm.

To accommodate this paradigm shift, companies will need to realign to deliver – and that will begin with re-evaluating and re-designing their current technology and infrastructure to prepare for tomorrow.

The consumer experience is now coming to business customers. The question is, are businesses ready? 

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Ho Chye Soon

Ho Chye Soon

Ho Chye Soon is the Country Manager for Nutanix Singapore. With more than 25 years of IT&T industry, Sales, Channel and Management experience, he is responsible for driving Nutanix’s growth and ambitions in the country. Prior to Nutanix, Chye Soon was the Asia Pacific Channel Sales Director for HP Enterprise, HPE, and was responsible for increasing the channel business mix and expanding the channel footprint.

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