Understanding the ecosystems of your customers and their brand experience with your company, as well as your own systems, is the key to creating connection for mutually-beneficial digital enterprise. The Internet of Things (IoT) means that a customer can order a ride from their wrist and their refrigerator can create their grocery shopping list. The customer translates these kinds of digital experiences personally into the “Internet of Me” – a powerhouse clue to your customers’ ecosystems.
As for organizations, there is one key question that must be asked (and answered) to assure success and differentiation in today’s saturated marketplace:
Is your enterprise ready to deliver seamless customer- and user-centric experiences?
To begin at the beginning, an ecosystem is a system – or a network – formed by individual parts through interaction to form a community. This community is interdependent on each of its’ parts.
Smaller ecosystems make up larger ones. For example, the algae feeds the fish which populate the water which feeds the plants which oxygenate the planet… people live in houses that are in neighborhoods that create communities… the light bulbs in houses are powered by local power plants that are connected to regional power grids that create a national network of electricity you can see from space… the people around a table who collaborate on a project that generates new opportunities and revenues by delivering value to customers that power a business… in short, ecosystems are everywhere.
What are Digital Ecosystems?
An ecosystem is a system, or a group of interconnected elements, formed by the interaction of a community of individual elements with their environment. In this case, we are talking about societal, individual, technical and brand ecosystems. The confluence and streamlining of these systems is the desired outcome of Digital Transformation.
Ecosystems influence customer – and employee – expectations and experiences. The result of how these ecosystems connect in your business, as well as how effectively you streamline your operations, ultimately decides the fate of your company.
Why? Because if any part of your business’ ecosystem is out of alignment, your business is losing opportunities, customers, and revenues to your competition. It’s the natural law of enterprise. Deliver better experiences for more customer value through innovation, efficiency, and systems – or your competitor will.
Brand experiences are now measured by the last best experience a customer had with ANY brand so enterprises of all sizes and levels of maturity are competing on a level playing field. Is Ikea doing something amazing? How about Dell or Canon or Amazon or one of the big banks or a major healthcare system? Those are now the benchmarks by which your customers are evaluating their experience with your brand.
The customer ecosystems centers around their priorities – buying insurance, getting pet care, booking travel, etc. What a brand does is make their priorities happen faster, easier, smoother, more affordably, etc. If the brand doesn’t do that, or the customer has a negative (or even marginal) experience or, worst of all, their trust is broken, the customer votes with their dollars.
Each brand and buying experience becomes an ecosystem within the customer’s ecosystem. This might be the secret to capitalism – if your brand ecosystem is better than anybody else’s brand ecosystem, your gets to live in your customer’s ecosystem.
The Customer Buying Journey and the Brand’s Ecosystem
Here’s what is happening for customers when they are buying a solution to solve a problem or meet a need. That customer first becomes aware of their need and look to find a solution. When they find a viable potential solution, they evaluate it by trying it (or a few) out. When they like what they experience, they buy the solution and start using it. Lastly, when they’re successful because of that solution, they want to share how they did it so they become brand advocates. That’s what we enterprise folk would call nirvana.
Anyway, this is the customer buying journey. Once the customer becomes an advocate, you still have to continue to earn their business and be worthy of their trust. So you don’t get to nirvana and coast… remember, nobody gets to coast now.
The customer determines the value of a brand as a solution provider. That means the brand is always dancing to meet customer perceptions while maintaining all their systems and structures and processes.
Let’s consider business ecosystems… for the brand, the customer is everything (which is the exact opposite for customers who don’t care so much about brands.) The business ecosystem includes everything from keeping the lights on to serving customers to facilitating employee performance to working with partners to meeting regulatory compliance and much, much more.
The brand is promising and delivering value, taking into consideration all kinds of factors throughout operations – from keeping technology current to planning for the as-yet-unknown future.
Even more, the brand has a second pool of customers to keep happy – internal employees and users. Happy employees mean greater profits because of reduced turnover, reduced recruiting and training, and more longer-term benefit from experience and training.
At the same time, employees need to continue to deliver on their value – because, in today’s fast-paced business environment, nobody gets to coast anymore.
Anyway, a lot of this is behind the scenes as customers and users don’t see all that goes into the business ecosystem. Also, this does not include AI or 3D printing or virtual reality or any of the fast-developing technologies that are going to have a big impact on business in the future. This is just focusing on what is working now.
So the big business ecosystem is about the customers’ ecosystems and their buying journey combined with the brand’s ecosystems, structures, processes and considerations. The pressure is on the business because it must seamlessly meet the customer where they are in their buying journey to cultivate a relationship. And that happens through technology, based on data, which must be gathered responsibly and then converted into actionable insights.
If the business has legacy technology investments – which might be an aging customer relationship management system or, well, an aging anything – there might be problems extracting the data, maintaining the system or integrating it with newer technology. It can get quite messy for the IT staff, and it isn’t particularly pretty for the line of business and marketing people either.
The next big question for enterprises:
Is your big business ecosystem in good working order?
7 Questions to Assess Your Brand’s Experience and Ecosystem
To assess how your brand is doing in terms of preparing for and delivering a great customer experience from within your current ecosystem, we’re going to run through seven specific ways for you to consider answering that question.
1. Can your business meet real-time demands?
Business happens fast – and brands need to not only respond but anticipate faster. Customers are savvy and expect real-time, personalized service. Business departments – marketing, business development, customer relationship managers, customer experience managers – need real-time information to be as proactive as possible. Customer service needs real-time information to be as responsive as possible. Leaders need real-time performance information to make business growth decisions.
Real-time data is no longer optional – it is a necessity.
2. Is your data clean?
There is nothing worse than having bad data, which is especially true when extracting legacy data from aging systems. Why? Because your data holds the keys to sustainable business success. In other words, your business insights (and resulting actions) are only as good as your data.
The data you gather should be usable and not corrupt other systems. And you need to have data governance policies and processes (for starters) in place to ensure on-going data quality.
Make sure your data is integrated so you get robust actionable insights from it, regardless of source.
3. Is your brand experience consistently awesome?
Customer experience is your only sustainable advantage in business. It’s not just about what you do and how you do it but how the customer perceives and experiences your brand.
- Your brand offers value through core capabilities, innovative solutions and customer relationships.
- Technology delivers the brand experience, including sharing the brand promise through social marketing. This is differentiation in digital enterprise.
- Your brand experience should be consistently awesome across all channels, regardless of touchpoint, access device, location or time of day.
4. Is your company using cloud technologies?
Cloud-based solutions offer unparalleled scalability that matches your business usage and needs. They are proving to be cost- and resource-effective because you pay for and use only what you need… no more servers, no more staff time spent maintaining and upgrading, no more expense for hardware. Cloud-based solutions are always current with no need to deploy IT resources to update or maintain them.
Your technology should be able to expand to as-yet-unknown business needs; cloud-based solutions optimize such possibilities.
5. Are employees able to deliver peak performance?
As mentioned earlier, external customers are not the only customers of your organization – so are your staff. Users need to be able to do their jobs without friction so the organization gets the full benefit of their contributions. That means that users must be able to access their digital workspace from any device, anywhere, anytime.
Systems should support user-friendly access and intuitive navigation to minimize the learning curve and compress the time spent between onboarding and productivity. Users need to be able to collaborate easily, without worrying about version control or getting into systems without proper security and permissions. Processes need to support users in contributing their best work vs. using workarounds or being frustrated with systems. In other words, employee work, permissions, and workflows should be frictionless.
6. Is your technology built for agility?
Agility means flexing with opportunities. Here are some of the ways you can know your technology is built for agility:
– Modules need to be extendable so you can build on them over time.
– Apps and processes should link into a larger network (think ecosystem) that can evolve with your business growth.
– Your business needs to be scalable to serve more customers, partners, and stakeholders as you attract them.
– You need to be able to innovate, then deliver, new solutions to meet changing customer conversations.
– Your IT staff needs to be able to reuse apps to leverage your time and software investment.
7. Are you making the most of your data by connecting apps and systems?
If you have fragmented information because data is not integrated, it can cost your organization opportunities, customers, partners, and revenue.
Data exchanges need to be seamless so you have unified communications and a full picture of what’s happening in your organization. You want to streamline your processes as well as save time and potential for human error by ensuring one software or interface can access all the necessary systems to get the data you need.
You can select what data you want to share with what process. You can get better, more robust insights from which to make informed decisions for business growth. You can see – across all departments – the results of individual and team performance. Connect your data sources to uplevel your business ecosystem.
The Ecosystem of Technology
Demand, technology, implementation, expertise
First, there is a demand that technology must meet. But technology products alone cannot deliver on demand.
That technology requires implementation with your organization’s IT infrastructure. But implementation alone doesn’t serve technology.
Quality implementation requires understanding the business goals as well as applying expertise to the implementation process. Therefore, technical expertise – with experience, credentials, proven track record and savvy grasp of business outcomes – is the key to meeting customer and user demands.
With the range of products and exponential configuration of existing systems, along with new technologies, that kind of deep expertise is not usually available in-house. That’s where XTIVIA makes life easier for enterprises.
Over the last 25 years, we have made it a priority to attract and hire the most talented technical experts available.
Deep expertise * Credentials * Continuous learning * Savvy in business outcomes & how to achieve them
Our experts go the extra mile for XTIVIA’s customers, regardless of project complexity. XTIVIA can:
- Connect APIs (experience, process, and system APIs)
- Develop Mobile apps
- Create reports and dashboards for analytics
- Get user-friendly visibility for sales, marketing, and customer service
- Handle Data Warehousing
- Handle database support and managed services
- Oversee Master Data Management and Data Governance
- Support web portals/CMS/Digital experience
- Power up digital design/UX/UI
Basically, if it’s enterprise technology, XTIVIA’s experts can make ‘it’ happen.
XTIVIA goes the extra mile because 1) they’re super smart people who ‘get’ business outcomes and how to achieve them, 2) they are nice people who really care about our customers and 3) they have a passion for what they do – they are fierce in their commitment to deliver.
By the way, passion is sometimes an unclear way to describe a situation or relationship because everyone has their own definition of what passion means… for XTIVIA, it’s a deep and profound commitment that creates unwavering and relentless movement toward innovation and creating the best possible outcomes from any technology scenario.
Companies now have their DNA (Digital Niche Advantage) in play. The questions now are: can they scale, lead their industry and anticipate customer needs to innovate solutions?
XTIVIA’s experts can help you answer that question for your organization. So often enterprises need specialty expertise or 24/7 monitoring but don’t have those resources in-house – but when you are working with XTIVIA, we have your back.