Magazine article CRM Magazine

Omnichannel Strategy Begins with Platform: The Technology That Changed Business Is Now Being Changed by Business

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Omnichannel Strategy Begins with Platform: The Technology That Changed Business Is Now Being Changed by Business

Article excerpt

CRM IS LOOKING more like a homogeneous mass of business processes that fold into each other like a hot plasma of data, channels, and applications, morphing from one thing into another. That only sounds like science fiction. The rapid evolution of the front office aided by cloud technologies, social media, and powerful analytics has rewritten what it means to do business today. But it is also folding back on itself, and the technology that changed business is now being changed by business.

Perhaps the most profound change is in how we consider applications and how they interact. Not long ago, businesses operated on a transaction model. Systems recorded transaction data, and most of the business processes dealing with customers could be considered transactions, even when that was not wise. In my experience, vendors think in terms of transactions but customers think in terms of process--and the two ideas exist harmoniously in our minds, often without our conscious realization.

Yet, since the advent of social media, the drive to enable better and more workable business process support in the front office has only accelerated, and this is where technology-influencing-business-influencing-technology comes into play. The tools and techniques used to build transaction applications are becoming inadequate for the needs of true business processes. Real processes need if-then-else logic between each step, and they sometimes need people to smooth out the rough edges. They need access to work flow, collaboration, social media, analytics, and code-generating capacities that make apps for any operating system.

It is no longer useful to think of these things as bolt-ons for conventional transaction systems, because that leads to complexity. We need the opposite of complexity to turn over applications quickly when they no longer support our evolving processes. In short, we've entered the process age, a time when business processes can and do move in multiple directions, crossing technology, department, temporal, and regional boundaries at the speed of light. This places tremendous strain on transaction systems, and this strain is visible.

It's easy to see which businesses do a great job of supporting customer processes and which ones are still mired in transactions. Just go to any sentiment site on the Web, and if you look carefully, you will see that the customer complaints nearly all relate to some process or other run amuck, a situation in which a transaction system was installed where a system of engagement should have been. …

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