Infosys experts share their views on how digital is significantly impacting enterprises and consumers by redefining experiences, simplifying processes and pushing collaborative innovation to new levels

April 21, 2017

Salesforce: Changing Paradigm in Sales

Salesforce: Changing Paradigm in Sales

 

Sales has always been an engaging people to people contact process. We all being consumers and providers in our own right have been at one of the ends. Never thought that the physical engagement of speaking to an individual can and will go away one day. The world of technology has come a long way from room size machines to palm and wrist size computing marvels.

 

In the world of technology, we are seeing a paradigm shift from people based engagements to technology intrinsic processes, from hard sales talk to informed sales cycle. In this context, we see that in the world of tomorrow, consumers will purchase purely on being informed and connected. Convenience, speed and agility, information at fingertips, visibility and power to take own decisions will be crucial. There may be a gradual shift from people to people interaction in the sales cycle to being replaced with technology - gadgets, information....decisions.

 

The above is being implemented in various domains where Salesforce acts as the face of the product and service provider. Salesforce has an early cloud mover advantage which has shaken the COTS based application services. This is largely due to its highly customizable and interactive user interface, agility and speed to market as well as a robust availability of APIs which allows for seamless integration across the overall landscape.

 

A multitude of industries are moving to Salesforce as their 'FRONTEND' where their offerings are available on handheld devices, catalogs -products, pricing available at the point of sales, self-service options, increased user awareness and knowledge base leading to decisions being taken on the fly. Enhanced and intuitive UI through lightning ensures easy adoption enabling a user to take decisions on his /her own without any other intervention (read human). Taking a cue, reducing cost, ensuring these 'Apps' are available free for everyone to use on their devices, no physical stores or walk-ins, we may not need a sales person ----each customer will act as a Sales representative with information being knowledge, ensuring higher business volumes, reducing sales cycle, faster delivery due to real /near real time data dissemination and enhanced satisfaction with a phenomenal reduction of cost.

 

A key aspect of Salesforce leading the way and acting a true force multiplier for organizations in their sales cycle is a rich and vibrant AppExchange wherein the best in class solutions are available for easy adoption based on business needs. Each organization comes with its own unique requirements but one thing traverses across in today's times---Customer centricity. This is the basic tenant of Salesforce which has ensured a high level of customer acceptability of the product and its features. With easy rendering of the solution on Omni channel and handheld devices any organization's frontend is closer to the customer. Going forward, customers are taking control of their own requirements through intuitive UI and being facilitated through guided selling from being contacted to placing orders and payments....all through minimal clicks.

 

It is not long before organizations realize and exploit the true potential of Salesforce to harness their reach, availability of offerings and seamless integration capabilities to cut down on sales cycle, improve time to market, reduce Capex as well as optimize Opex and ensure an enhanced Customer Experience.

 

 

April 17, 2017

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Switch to salesforce or remain on-premise?

Some organizations have used on-premises customer relationship management (CRM) applications for over a decade. However, in an increasingly competitive and digital ecosystem, they need more robust solutions that offer agility and improve market presence.

Companies that work on decades-old application systems, end up investing a lot of money and resources to sustain the white elephant.  They face some typical challenges that include:

1.      Lack of visibility in product life cycle from product vendor

2.      Absence of consumer-friendly user interface

3.      Huge investments in infrastructure to support on-premises CRM

4.      Poor uptime of solution

5.      Lack of documentation about changes made to  the solution

6.      Gap in critical knowledge, caused by high people attrition, which causes issues in managing solutions

 

I think migrating to cloud applications like Salesforce CRM offers strategic advantages to customers because of the following:

 

1.     Fast response to change: Cloud-based solutions operate at lightning speeds. This helps customers to make quick changes to their business process and configure CRM with less downtime

2.      Effective social media presence: By leveraging social media cloud using Salesforce Marketing Cloud enables better management of marketing and social strategies

3.      Lower investment costs (infrastructure investment)

4.      Better versioning of the solution

5.      Improved data quality and lifecycle management

6.      Easy integration with various applications, by using various tools including Informatica Cloud

7.      Readymade connectors to support processes and solution mapping

8.      Effective integration tools that make it easier for an organization to use multiple cloud tools. For example, it has become easier now, if you want to use cloud security tool to run virus scan on all files before uploading in  Salesforce. In some cases, it will take two days to complete implementation and integration of cloud security tool with salesforce , if all licenses are in place.

9.      Quick access to several AppExchange Salesforce apps, where companies can find apps for their specific requirements 

 

Working in Salesforce environment should always be seen from the prism of business where organizations want new changes to be incorporated fast and execute new requirements in lesser time, so that revenues can flow in quickly.

 

Organizations can leverage Salesforce to quickly connect with consumers and understand sentiments -- what value and benefits they are looking for -- and take product / marketing decisions to reach out to end consumers faster.

 

Management cannot take decisions in silos anymore. Salesforce CRM strategies can be used across markets for better results. Below are few examples to show that be it any kind of business, there is always an opportunity to leverage Salesforce CRM to connect with your customer and deliver what they expect.   

 

  1. If you are a toy manufacturer, it becomes evident that you do various roadshows and campaigns, collect feedback, make product development iterative, and reduce turnaround time (TAT) to bring new toys to market and create better traction.
  2. If you are a bike manufacturer, you can reach out to target audience like bike riding groups and understand what they are looking for, and how to meet those values by leveraging marketing cloud.
  3. Service-oriented organizations can leverage service cloud to collect feedback and complaints from multiple sources and respond in a time-bound manner.

And of course, Salesforce components help to deliver quality in optimum time.

 

Time has come. Be the change ...

 

Service Agents to Knowledge Brokers to BOTs?

Traditionally, the objective of setting up a call center was to service the customer (provide information on Products, services and related support) over a remote channel. The complexity of the business processes got compounded by limited knowledge, limited resources to train and skill call center agents and limited decision making capabilities leading to large unresolved cases and Zero Customer Focus!

The Result - An Irritated Customer!

 Today the prime focus is our Customers and their overall experience

So what's the picture of our Customers today? A single device that is kept in their pockets reviews products, checks prices, shares purchases, requests coupons - and sometimes purchase products from one retailer's online channel while standing in a competitor's store!

Hence, the present Customer Service Agent services a Customer who is:

  •          Performing Around-the-clock-shopping
  •          Completely in control of their shopping experience
  •         Has visibility to Omni channel shopping
  •          A Content Customer
  •          Having a global experience
  •         A Collaborator
  •          Active on Social networking

The above requires different capability of Service Agents who understands customers need, anticipates their problems, resolve complaints quickly and courteously, and develop new, innovative services that fit into their busy lifestyles.

Hence the Customer Service Agent needs to solutionize by managing:

Call center reqs.png

 

Considering the above, today's call center is unlikely to be a central physical center. With cloud technologies ruling the roost, there would be a rise in remote call center agents.

Does this mean the traditional brick and mortar call center will vanish...Perhaps No...

Instead they would become Powerful Relationship Hubs where services would begin with adapted customer needs, leading to proactively telling the customers about the steps to be embraced, thus driving the very core of business strategy.

How can this be achieved?

-          Backed with information and intelligent thinking - Helping business development, sales and marketing with information around repeat purchasers, advocate essential data analytical points for product management and development.

-          Adapt to changes in technology - From utilizing the increasing range of data on their CRM system, to becoming experts in apps and social networks.

-          Become "Super Agents "or "Enterprise Knowledge Brokers" - Skill sets adapted to meet the demands of the future customer. Handle increasingly complex issues for digitally enabled and capable autonomous customers who resolve many complex issues themselves.

-          For this, the popular solution of today speaks about the much debated concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that has jumped out of 3D fiction movies and is ready to help perform the delta need that has come up today. AI with the help of Chat Bots will become the crux of self-help and resolve all of the repeatable standard queries and breakdowns with only the most complex problems ending up in a call center. This in turn would give the Customer the experience that is required

artificial-intelligence-facts_27830885.jpg

 

So will AI replace Customer Service Agents?

AI has proved its capability to bring faster results and resolution performing large data analytical tasks which was impossible for humans to do in accepted timelines (machine learning). Thus all of what a customer agent can do is done with accuracy, efficiency.

But will all consumers like the AI's service? Not necessarily.

Has 'Poor Customer Service' problem vanished with AI? No.

There is still an overwhelming need to get it right, which is why companies are willing to invest in customer service technology and training. As much as technology is developed to aid in customer service, sometimes in the short term it can complicate things.

The interesting league of AI development where the real Next Gen AI surpasses the previous assuring borderline of "can AI read human emotions and non-pattern behaviors" can bring in the real cause of concern to the future of Customer Service Agents! Examples in reality include:

·         IPSoft who uses AI that has a level of emotional intelligence to be able to adapt according to how the customer interacts. The response is linked to whether the customer is angry or frustrated, with the objective of being able to show empathy.

·         Inbenta is another example where AI is focused on developing natural language. In other words, on understanding the meaning behind what someone is asking and not just looking at the words used, using context and natural language processing.

Conclusion

Does the future mean the impression of the human touch (Agents/Brokers) -- whether in everyday life or customer service -- won't be as valuable as it has been in the past?

The definition of Agents/Brokers will change. They will be the key to creating the most important intangible in the industry - Customer Experience (A customers' perception will affect their behaviors build memories and feelings and drive their loyalty) - The key brand differentiator by 2020!

Hence we need to know our Customers very well to create and deliver personalized experiences that will entice their loyalty. But gaining this in-depth knowledge about customers isn't something that just happens. It's about collecting a lot of customers' data, analyzing feedback and bringing out valuable insights from that data with speed and precision (which the machine and AI can ace!). So, at the crux of the machine and AI will sit the Knowledge Brokers/Super agents who would build the logical skeleton of intelligence to collate, analyze and bring out the required customer experience!


March 28, 2017

Infosys Digital Breaks Out At Adobe Summit

 

Hello Infosys, fresh from my return from the 2017 Adobe Summit, which took place last week in Las Vegas, Nevada.  This year's Summit was a true breakout for Infosys because as a Platinum Sponsor we launched Infosys Digital to the 12,000+ digital marketing professional attendees. Other sponsors and speakers included our usual cast of competitors and partners like Accenture, RazorFish/Sapient, Deloitte, IBM, Microsoft, MRM, Merkle, Cognizant, TCS and others. 

But I repeat, this was a breakout Summit for us at Infosys.  Our new signage and messaging announcing Infosys Digital was the first thing that caused an immediate buzz.  Our discussions and presentations about evolving from a traditional SI that focuses on Systems Of Record to a Digital Partner that also provides Systems Of Engagement was hailed as truly unique and relevant to clients, analysts and partners.  And further, our tight approach to our Adobe Partnership, our Adobe Solutions, and our proven Adobe implementation expertise in Digital and Marketing Transformation were seen as truly best of breed among even our toughest competitors in the space.

One new Infosys Solution that garnered a lot of attention, and subsequent leads, is our new Infosys User Generated Services (UGS) offering.  In short, UGS paves the way for real-time, predictive product and service customization and selling through a superior customer experience across a much more mature and reactive customer data journey.  A common reaction from prospective clients was simply, "we need some of THAT!"  We'll of course be providing more detailed UGS materials in the coming weeks.

For our Infosys Speaker Session I was joined by one of our GSK clients to speak about our End-to-End capabilities with Adobe across what Infosys calls the continuum of Data- Logic- Experience.  The audience reaction was overwhelming, in fact many said that our continuum expressed the Adobe Value Proposition and our Infosys thought leadership and differentiation better than any other sponsor, including even Adobe themselves. 

In the coming weeks look for more exciting announcements and opportunities for our clients, including announcements on our Adobe practice, on a new and exclusive Infosys integration solution that links MicroSoft Dynamics to Adobe Campaign, and of course on Infosys Digital Factory and UGS.

Contact:

Henry Johnston is the VP, Group Practice Lead for Infosys Digital (DX) Sales and Go To Market.  He is based in the One World Trade Center office in New York City and can be reached at Henry.johnston@infosys.digital

March 27, 2017

Defining an effective JavaScript build system using cutting edge tools

Introduction

As front JavaScript developer, there are several tasks that need to be repeatedly completed within a project. Few of them are transpiling, linting, concatenation, minification of scripts, pre -processing CSS, optimizing images, running unit tests and moving files. If all these tasks are done manually then it leads to a tedious complex project.

Continue reading "Defining an effective JavaScript build system using cutting edge tools" »

March 22, 2017

How and where Salesforce trumps Competition - II

As promised, I am back with a more detailed point of view on things to consider while choosing your CRM on Cloud Solution. If you missed the first part, please do read here before delving into the below.

Continue reading "How and where Salesforce trumps Competition - II" »

How and where Salesforce trumps Competition

Now that I am all caught up in the arguments for and against Salesforce compared to other CRM on Cloud offerings in the market, I decided to pen down my take on the same, albeit with a bias towards Salesforce. A neutral view on this topic is too much to ask for given that all the Product stacks has their own pluses on specific areas and so it really boils down to what exactly the Customer wants to achieve in their line of business. My intent behind this blog is to wear the critic hat and try to identify where it is that Competition lacks in when it comes to Enterprise level transformation programs from On Premise to Cloud.

Continue reading "How and where Salesforce trumps Competition" »

February 3, 2017

Is SugarCRM a right choice for the Education sector?

Educational Institutions are always under pressures such as increased competition, decreased funding, inviting top companies for hiring drives, students dropping out etc. On the other hand, Students are facing challenges due to, increased tuition fees, tough job markets and developing newer skills to name some. To overcome the challenges in this digital era, we need a system to analyze trends from various sources such as social media, surveys and other resources. This system, most importantly must help to improve the relationship between Institution and student and provide 360° view of the customers' (Students) data to improve the service and benefit mutually.

Institutes require to build such a system in an economically viable fashion and must be delivered in a short duration just by doing some configurations set up with minimal code changes and the system should have the capability to extend the service with existing legacy systems.

Yes, SugarCRM would be the best fit available in the market that would satisfy all the above needs and will help institutions to improve their admissions and manage students and alumni in a better way.

The modules or components available in SugarCRM out-of-the-box (OOTB) are meant to provide support to improve business during the major phases of Marketing, Sales Automation and Customer support.

SugarCRM provides key modules for various stages involved in the CRM life cycle.  In addition, it provides out-of-the-box features such as calls, meetings, activity management, role management, access control, process/work-flow management and in-built Rest API to integrate with other systems, import and export features, different types of reports and a simple tool to administer and manage configurations and much more.

Marketing : Campaigns, Leads, Email Marketing, Web-to-lead form

Sales : Accounts, Contacts, Contracts, Opportunities, Quotes, Forecast

Support : Knowledge Base, Bugs, Cases, Self-service Portal

Let's design a customization for a University,  

Marketing - Campaigns, Prospects, Applicants

In this phase, campaigns would be capturing various marketing activities and the expenditure. It could be Road shows, Email marketing campaigns etc.. Similarly prospective student information and Application information would be captured specific to the level of information. Applicants may appear for pre-qualification evaluations; this information would be captured in the Applicants module.

Admissions - Enrollments, Courses, Payments, Academics

Applicant will become student in this phase, similar to how lead turns customer in general CRM flow. So the data related to Students such as enrollments, courses, payments would be captured in this phase.  This phase will have a 360° view of student data. In addition, this would capture on-going academic data.

Alumni - Alumni, Events, Donations

Post to graduation students will continue as alumni to the institution, Events can be planned and communicated to alumni, donations are most important to institutions to their development towards skill oriented research and operational cost.

Integration, Workflow/Process, Document management

In a case study, SugarCRM was successfully installed and being used at the FORDHAM UNIVERSITY, NY USA and it has over 15 service integrations including an ERP system.

Shaya Phillips, IT associate vice president, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY, says "Sugar's modular nature and ease of customization makes it ideal to integrate with other businesses and academic software"

Workflow or process management would help to automate the process, for example, fees notifications can be triggered if the due date is arriving.

Here, Students will have 360° views of various stages' data from Prospects to Donor. Staff, Student relationship with Institutions gets mutual support and benefits. In addition, integration tools are available to the extended solution by integrating different system with SugarCRM such as ERP, Billing System, Document systems etc.

Thus, SugarCRM accomplishes this vision with most of the features by 'OOTB configuration' and minimal custom code changes for extended modules and entities which would make customer (student) and University relationship extraordinary.

December 30, 2016

JavaScript - Today's Ruler of Web Application Development

Author: Smita Makwana-Technology Architect, Manufacturing-Application Design and Maintenance

Introduction 

Today, JavaScript is the most talked buzzword of Web Application Development. Open source JavaScript frameworks has overcome major browser fallbacks. JavaScript popularity has led to a very vibrant ecosystem of frameworks, libraries and technologies.

Continue reading "JavaScript - Today's Ruler of Web Application Development" »

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