Guest Post: How Cloud-Based Predictive Analytics Gives Companies a Competitive Marketing Advantage

Monitoring and fine-tuning analytics are becoming essential to stay competitive in today’s marketplace. Case in point: Business intelligence analytics software sales will reach $18.3 billion in 2017, a 7.3 percent increase from last year, Gartner projects.

By 2020, the market will be worth $22.8 billion and analytics will be mainstream, Gartner forecasts. This means your competitors will be using analytics. Here’s how getting on board with cloud-based predictive analytics now can help you gain a lead on the competition and increase your bottom line.

Optimize Your Marketing

A great advantage of analytics software is that it gives you the ability to objectively measure the effectiveness of your marketing by tracking key performance indicators, explains Silvon Software director Pat Hennel. Some KPIs you can easily track include:

  • Sales revenue
  • Cost per lead acquisition
  • Customer lifetime value
  • Online marketing ROI

Tracking KPIs enables you to see which of your marketing campaigns are generating the best return on investment so that you can reallocate resources to those efforts rather than non-performing ones.

Similarly, you can identify which marketing channels are yielding the best results so you can focus on those media. You can also see which demographics represent your best customers to emphasize those target markets and gear your sales themes toward benefits that will appeal to them.

Refocus Your Sales Efforts

Another benefit of cloud-based analytics tools is the ability to combine them with customer relationship software to better leverage your sales efforts. By analyzing your organization’s lead database, you can better identify which prospects are qualified leads in order to deploy your sales reps accordingly. From there, you can identify which prospects are furthest along in the sales cycle and more likely to convert into a sale.

You can also analyze customer sales history to identify which customers represent your biggest revenue sources and best repeat buyers. You can then prioritize these customers and develop sales strategies specifically geared toward them.

Personalize Your Sales Presentations

Combining cloud-based predictive analytics with CRM tools can also help you personalize your sales presentations to make them more persuasive to individual customers. In fact, you can review a customer’s history of past purchases to see what types of products and services they prefer.

For example, Amazon displays offers based on what the customer has previously browsed or purchased and what types of products have been purchased by other people who browsed or purchased the same items.

You can also study individual purchase patterns to identify their shopping style and what types of factors influenced their previous buying decisions. For instance, one customer might be more likely to respond to a certain type of added-value benefit, while another might be more likely to respond to a lower price. You can then supply this information to your sales representatives so they have a better idea how to appeal to that particular customer.

Increase Customer Satisfaction with Superior Service

Cloud-based analytics can also enhance your sales and marketing efforts by allowing you to track the performance of your customer service teams, which is key in achieving repeat business and referrals. Cloud-based contact center platforms, including Aspect Zipwire, let you track your customer service performance across multiple channels (e.g., phone, email, online chat and more), giving you a comprehensive perspective so you can make any necessary adjustments and improvements.

To track your customer service performance, you can then set up KPIs. Customer performance KPIs you can track include overall satisfaction, the number of resolved issues, average resolution time and complaint escalation rate.

 

About the Author

Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance writer who helps select clients write quality content to reach business and technology audiences. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies and bestselling authors. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing, and career planning.

 

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Guest Post: How to Run Your Business Exclusively in the Cloud

Choosing to move your business exclusively to the cloud isn’t just a matter of being in good company, as a majority of organizations start making the shift. Working in the cloud, though, will also become the norm for your clients, who are accustomed to doing everything from holding meetings to managing projects with cloud-based tools. Now, moving to the cloud doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are five ways to leverage the cloud to benefit your business.

Back Up Your Data

Data loss due to hardware failure, hacking or human error are pervasive threats for any small business. Don’t leave yourself open to data vulnerabilities and profit loss. Set the standard for safety and organization by creating a data backup policy. Instead of relying on your own team to back up data and perform test restorations, outsource it to a third-party cloud provider.

A service like Mozy offers varied pricing for small businesses and enterprise companies alike to protect valuable workplace data, while helping to grow their business. Mozy also allows users to create an automated backup schedule to keep their data safe and ready to restore when needed.

Dominate Your Marketing Game

Marketers have long used the cloud to create and schedule social media posts with tools like Buffer. But creating podcasts in the cloud can also raise awareness for your business and attract new customers. According to a survey from Edison Research, fans of podcasts listen to an average of five on-demand presentations per week. As podcasts grow in popularity, they represent untapped opportunity to market to new audiences who are looking for business advice, insights and non-traditional entertainment.

Small-business owners can use podcasts with tools like Skype to interview guests and Audacity to edit their audio. These podcasts can be used to promote your products and/or interview delighted customers. Speaking directly to your target market every week can also quickly build credibility and trust to expand your marketing efforts.

Onboard Virtual Employees

Finding employees on sites like UpWork and Guru.com is the easy part. Figuring out how to onboard and train employees so they can immediately jump into their new roles isn’t always an intuitive process. Give new hires a face-to-face welcome with cloud-based tools through video chat or a group meeting with services like Redbooth.

Next, give your new employees access to online project management tools like Google Docs and Asana to help outline their responsibilities. But, unlike employees who physically work in the office, virtual employers tend to miss out on the social aspects that a traditional workplace affords. Looking for ways to make these employees feel like a bigger part of the team? Combat the negative side effects of isolation with weekly checkins to keep your employees engaged with your business and their work.

Collaborate Online

Cut down time spent on project management and collaborate online instead. There’s no need to schedule in-person or video meetings with employees and freelancers. Instead, use a cloud-based collaborative tool like Trello to set up a visual dashboard that will help to better manage your projects. Assign teams to specific tasks, upload images and videos, and stay in touch on project deadlines without leaving the Trello system.

Meantime, Slack offers users the ability to conduct real-time messaging and upload projects as well as stay on task and maintain their productivity. Through Slack, workplace teams get a completely transparent view of a project from start to finish and can make calls right from the platform to ask questions or follow up on a task.

Let Clients Find You

Working exclusively in the cloud makes it easier to find clients and start earning revenue immediately. Creating a company profile on LinkedIn is just the first step. Next, use LinkedIn’s publishing platform as another avenue to post your company’s content marketing pieces in order to directly target your next dream client.

Optimize your website to attract clients with videos explaining your services and products, offer unique content to prospects in exchange for their contact information, and routinely host an industry podcast. But there are other ways to find clients when they need you most. For example, expanding your reach by signing up as a consultant on a site like Guru.com can also help put you in front of clients who need you most.

Deciding whether to run your business in the cloud shouldn’t even be a debate. But finding the right tools and processes to help run your business can overwhelm even the best of decision-makers. Start by focusing on the tools you need most and expand as your company grows.

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Genesys & Interactive Intelligence Acquisition Is Complete

Genesys has completed the acquisition of Interactive Intelligence. Why acquire Interactive Intelligence? The idea is that the addition of Interactive Intelligence will enable Genesys to accelerate its mission of powering the best customer experiences in more industries and more countries – over any channel in the cloud and on premises. The acquisition also means that Genesys now has over 10,000 customers in more than 100 countries supporting over 25 billion customer interactions per year. Genesys will continue to offer support and invest in best-in-class solutions, including PureCloud®, Communications as a Service℠ (CaaS) and Customer Interaction Center™ (CIC), in addition to our core Genesys products.

In terms of how the company is run, Paul Segre will continue to serve as CEO, providing leadership that best supports the needs of customers, partners and employees. Genesys will maintain its headquarters in Daly City, as well as key offices in Indianapolis, Indiana and Durham, North Carolina.

This acquisition is one of many that are being seen in the customer service and customer experience world. It gives Genesys a larger customer base and integrates many of the features and functions Interactive Intelligence brought to the table. As customer experience becomes one of the most important differentiators in a brand’s overall experience, choosing the right vendor to deliver on complex customer service and customer experience interactions will be key. While there are vendors that are part of a larger marketing, sales and service suite, there are other vendors who remain focused on the customer service marketplace. Time will tell how organizations see the need to go with solutions that service part of an organization vs having the capability to connect to the back office as well as other lines of business.

Below is a snapshot of Genesys’s capabilities:

Overview of Genesys

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

www.constellationr.com

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Constellation ShortList™ for Customer Experience (CX) Services: Global

The Customer Experience (CX) Services Global List acknowledges leaders in driving customer experience excellence in organizations. The Constellation ShortList presents vendors in different categories of the market relevant to early adopters. In addition, products included in this document meet the threshold criteria for this category as determined by Constellation Research.

This Constellation ShortList of vendors for a market category is compiled through conversations with early adopter clients, independent analysis, and briefings with vendors and partners. A systems integrator (SI) or customer experience (CX) service provider brings together solutions into an overall customer experience hub. They work with all functional departments, such as marketing, sales, customer service, supply chain, e-commerce, IT, digital performance management (DPM) and back-office systems.

With SaaS solutions, the SI’s role is changing to focus on strategy, tactics and choosing technology. Customer experience SIs guide brands’ CX journeys on all channels (e.g., email, chat, text, websites, phone, social networks) and devices (e.g., phones, tablets, desktops), and optimize each to make the experience flawless. With options to order on a website and pick up in a store or ship to an address, front-end experiences need to be great, along with top-notch supply chain/ERP so inventory is current. In addition to customer journey mapping and choosing omni-channel technology, they focus on DPM to ensure websites load quickly and shopping carts don’t get hung up or abandoned, while mitigating lost revenue.

CX SIs have a set of best practices, strategy design, optimal delivery, and testing methodology to guide clients to obtain an optimal CX from a customer’s point-of-view. These firms often perform a gap analysis (comparing the current and future state of the customer experience to find gaps). SIs use gaps to create a long- and short-term road map, emphasizing low-hanging fruit and large ROI. SIs often incorporate organizational change management.

Constellation considers the following criteria for these solutions:

  • Best practices methodology
  • An assessment tool
  • Create strategy and technology roadmap
  • Customer references
  • Differentiated IP
  • Customer success management
  • Operating in three continents.

Constellation evaluates over 100 solutions categorized in this market. This Constellation ShortList is determined by client inquiries, partner conversations, customer references, vendor selection projects, market share, and internal research. Enterprise Service Providers / System Integrators / Management Consultants include:

  • Accenture
  • Bain
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • Capgemini
  • Deloitte
  • Ernst & Young
  • IBM Global Business Services
  • Infosys
  • McKinsey
  • SapientNitro
  • Wipro.

For more information about this short list, please see the Constellation Research website.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Customer-facing Applications

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Constellation ShortList™ for Digital Performance Management

Digital Performance Management provides companies with the analytics to determine if their customer experience is optimized. The Constellation ShortList presents vendors in different categories of the market relevant to early adopters. In addition, products included in this document meet the threshold criteria for this category as determined by Constellation Research. This Constellation ShortList of vendors for a market category is compiled through conversations with early adopter clients, independent analysis, and briefings with vendors and partners.

Mastering digital performance management (DPM) is one of the leading challenges of the digital economy. Often referred to as application performance management (APM), it requires a joint effort between many functional departments, such as marketing, sales, customer service, e-commerce and IT. It is no longer just about IT looking at the performance of the technology stack or the management of the infrastructure or cloud that delivers customer experience.

Today, it’s about the collaboration between the lines of business and IT to measure and manage the end-to-end transaction delivery and translate it into actionable information that a brand can use to optimize customer experience, as well as the performance of the technologies used to deliver it. When DPM is optimized, companies can deliver an engaging digital experience, maximize revenue and improve brand loyalty. DPM vendors help both the business and engineering teams to not only define conversion and revenue goals but also make sure they are reached.

They make sure the application’s performance doesn’t become a roadblock to optimal customer experiences and reaching business metrics, including conversion rates, high availability and high user experience indexes. The goal is to monitor and measure to eliminate all revenue barriers with a strong focus on digital performance to ensure that the road to conversion is quick and easy; the customer experience is smooth; and customers remain loyal as a result.

Constellation considers the following criteria for these solutions:

  • Monitoring of each customer’s journey and business transactions, using intelligent analytics
  • Proactive application monitoring for quick problem resolution and maximum availability
  • Full insights into each customer’s journey to make better business decisions
  • Connect the dots between customer experience, application performance and business outcomes
  • Full technology stack monitoring with deep operational insights into the user’s application environment
  • Big data monitoring and data visualization
  • Mobile application monitoring
  • Cloud, server and mainframe monitoring
  • Load testing, virtualization and network monitoring
  • Customer behavior analytics.

Constellation evaluates over 25 solutions categorized in this market. This Constellation ShortList is determined by client inquiries, partner conversations, customer references, vendor selection projects, market share and internal research. These are the best-of-breed vendors that provide applications and services without bundling into another platform:

  • APM+
  • AppDynamics
  • Dynatrace
  • NeoSense
  • Oracle
  • SAP
  • SOASTA.

For more information, please see the Constellation Research website.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, Covering Customer Facing Applications

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Constellation ShortList™ for Customer Experience (CX): IOT Platforms

Customer Experience (CX): IOT Platforms are the platforms that make IoT come to life. The Constellation ShortList presents vendors in different categories of the market relevant to early adopters. In addition, products included in this document meet the threshold criteria for this category as determined by Constellation Research. This Constellation ShortList of vendors for a market category is compiled through conversations with early adopter clients, independent analysis, and briefings with vendors and partners.

Developing products for the Internet of Things (IoT) is a complex endeavor. Because most organizations lack the resources and skills for custom app development, successful projects require development on an IoT platform or solution. IoT data solutions offer a place to start by combining many of the tools needed to manage a deployment from device management to data prediction and insights, all into one offering. For customer experience offerings, Constellation has identified a range of platform providers, including pure-play third-party platforms, hardware vendors, connectivity providers and system integrators. Having an end-to-end ecosystem strategy means a company doesn’t have to develop their own modules, network stack or cloud on-boarding.

Constellation considers the following criteria to be considered an IoT Platform for CX. One of the key characteristics is to be able to connect data from every device, sensor, website, etc. and is built on a scalable event processing engine designed to ingest and analyze billions of connected events:

  • End-to-end ecosystem strategy
  • Reliably scale to billions of devices and trillions of messages
  • Manages up to 500,000 assets and 100,000 device messages per second
  • Cloud infrastructure as a white-label subscription service
  • Web-scale processing, analytics and machine intelligence
  • Ultra-low latency
  • Augmented reality integration
  • Messaging broker supports connections using native MQTT and WebSockets MQTT.

Constellation evaluates over 25 solutions categorized in this market. This Constellation ShortList is determined by client inquiries, partner conversations, customer references, vendor selection projects, market share and internal research. The list includes:

  • AWS IoT
  • GE Predix
  • Google Cloud Platform IoT
  • Microsoft Azure IoT Suite
  • ThingWorx
  • Salesforce IoT Cloud
  • Lively.

For more information, please see the Constellation Research website.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, Covering Customer-facing Applications

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The Business Phone System Reinvented: The Next-Generation Cloud Communications and Collaboration Tool

The only way to build a truly innovative and collaborative culture is to give everyone a voice. In working with Dialed, I just completed some ROI research to understand how quickly, easy and affordable it is today to plug every employee into your business with a very innovative phone system. They way it works is that Dialpad turns all of your devices into your business phone, letting you make high-definition calls over Wi-Fi or your carrier network from anywhere. And businesses can let their  remote workers and global offices feel like a part of HQ with peer-to-peer HD video. This is especially great for field service, where video often can solve the problem like no other solution because you can SEE the issue. In these new systems, modern business communications integrate seamlessly with the productivity apps that employees use every day, making it easier than ever for them to collaborate with docs, emails, and calendar invites.

With this system, a brand can move a phone call from their WiFi to their carrier or from a desktop to a mobile device very easily, so in essence it is very easy to switch calls from device to device (phone, tablet, desktop…) It is also easy to transfer calls between colleagues or departments simply by looking up a name in the directory.

In the ROI research we interviewed two companies, Vivant Solar and a large communication services provider to see how they transformed their on-premises telephony systems to a purely cloud-based communications solution using Dialpad. The change, depending on the situation, resulted in six- to seven- figure cost savings. Both companies previously had legacy, on-premises PBX (Private Branch Exchange) technology, which is a private telephone network used within a company.

Dialpad provides a secure, enterprise communications cloud solution that incorporates traditional PBX features into a modern cloud-based, business communications VoIP system. The solution integrates with Google Apps for Work and with Office 365, with a user interface built to satisfy the needs of a modern workplace but without the typical costs of traditional enterprise, on-premise telephony systems.

The platform offers messaging, voice, video, conference calling in the cloud, attributed call transfer, auto-attendant, IVR, business SMS, MMS, and group messaging, call recording, live-call device switching, international outbound calling, local telephone numbers, multi-device functionality, toll-free numbers, visual voicemail, contact profiles, a company directory and fax support as well as core social profile applications, such as LinkedIn and Twitter for context about the caller. In case you are wondering, has anyone else discovered this service, Dialpad’s customers include 60 percent of the Fortune 500, high-growth enterprises, and forward thinking organizations and start-ups. The service is built on the WebRTC framework and runs on a redundant global network of nine data centers on four continents.

CUSTOMER ROI CASE STUDY: VIVINT SOLAR 

In the evaluation of various technology infrastructure systems, Mike Hincks, Director, IT Infrastructure at Vivint Solar, found that traditional IT voice systems come with hundreds of thousands of dollars of yearly infrastructure and hosting costs, all designed around employees using desk phones. The catalyst for change was to use a system not tied to a desk phone. One of the many interesting features was that Dialpad had no upfront capital expenditures or maintenance costs, which made it easier to get the technology approved by senior leaders at Vivint Solar.

In addition, Hincks looked at the money the sister company was spending on long-distance contracts. With Dialpad, there were no long-distance carrier costs. Hincks also looked at the cost of the team he would need to hire in order to maintain an on premise, hosted solution. The sister company had had a five-person team to manage voice applications. In addition, Hincks would have needed to schedule the IT team’s time to provision a new phone for each employee, with at least one hour of training per employee and some additional time from the IT team for troubleshooting. Dialpad required less than one full-time equivalent employee.

Another one of the biggest conveniences was that Dialpad integrated with Google for Work without any authentication process. “I found the Millennial workforce wants technology to work right away. They don’t want to set up an application, have to go through training or troubleshoot it. They want to click on an app and see it work immediately,” said Hincks.

The positive feedback about Dialed from Vivint Solar’s more than 4,000 mobile workers includes:

  • Improving the ease of signing up and using the communications technology
  • Increasing agility to work anytime and anywhere on any device with technology that doesn’t get in the way of productivity
  • Increasing productivity by being able to use a simple user interface
  • Boosting the ability to make bigger sales at a faster rate.

The ROI: Costs were reduced by several hundred thousand dollars, year over year. Savings came from:

  • No upfront capital expenditure and maintenance costs
  • No long-distance carrier costs
  • No need to hire a team to manage the cloud based communications
  • No need to train employees or engage the training department
  • High user adoption rate because of the simple user interface
  • Improved ability to attract talent by reducing recruiting costs and increasing retention of top talent

A GLOBAL COMMUNICATION SOLUTIONS AND SERVICES COMPANY

In the second company, the Director of Digital Workplace Technologies set up a proof of concept (POC) with Dialpad. He found that the best way to meet the needs of workers in the modern enterprise was using cloud technology. He wanted to re-conceptualize how communications services could be presented to users and to eliminate deterrents to productivity, especially for the geographically distributed workforce that used telephony systems. The Director of Digital Workplace Technologies said, “It was important to look at an IT project as an organizational change management project. We learned this lesson when we moved our users to Google Apps for Work. Technology changes that affect how productive workers are should be seen as organizational change projects. If you can’t find something you are looking for, it makes you less productive and frustrated. So we always overlay organization change management with our IT rollouts.”

DON’T FORGET ORGANIZATION CHANGE MANAGEMENT

The company needed to have a new communications system that could be completely up and running in minutes, compared to months or even years required for deploying global on-premises systems. Applications built in the cloud reduce costs because they are more flexible, extensible, and easier to work with while making collaboration intuitive. And this company found organizational change management was a key element for a successful implementation of this new communications system.

The ROI

Using Dialpad, the company was able to retire several of its old telephony systems and realize millions of dollars in cost savings by reducing:

  • Maintenance agreements
  • Infrastructure
  • Service and support for the infrastructure
  • Phone lines from service providers.

Today, the company has deployed about 6,000 VoIP lines on Dialpad, which cover about 40 percent of its global employee base. It is looking to expand coverage every quarter. The company’s savings were several million dollars, year over year. Savings came from:

  • No upfront capital expenditure
  • No maintenance costs
  • Reduced reliance on IT helpdesk
  • No long-distance carrier costs.

GIVING EMPLOYEES MORE CHOICE, RESULTING IN HIGHER PRODUCTIVITY

After implementing Dialpad at just one large site, the global company reduced the site’s cost per minute of call time by double digits. In addition, the new system offered features that the old telephony systems could not. For instance, the PBX system had been tied to a particular device – the desk office phone. However, most people are now mobile, working from various devices and remote locations. Clearly, workers could not take their desk phones outside of their offices. When workers were away from their desks, they had to use cell phones or other alternatives – from multiple phone numbers – that created additional costs for the company.

Dialpad, however, allows employees use to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony. When the company moved to Dialpad, employees could use their computers to place calls, essentially replacing desk phones. They could also use the Dialpad application on their Android or iOS mobile devices. To the person receiving the call, it all comes from the same phone number, whether the VoIP call is made from a computer or from a mobile device.

Employees could also become more productive. With the ability to communicate from any place, using any device, while still being accessible from a single phone number, people could connect with each other more easily. As collaboration was made easier, the ability for teams to work more effectively with remote employees was also improved. In essence, the company had a new potential to increase the agility and adaptability of its workforce. Employees could be more productive, collaborative and feel more connected to each other using Dialpad.

MODERNIZING THE WORKPLACE 

The new technology enabled the company to modernize its workplace. The company realized that it needed to give employees – as well as new hires and interns – technology tools that are modern, intuitive and easy to use, unlike traditional enterprise tools. The company found employees could easily pick up how to use Dialpad because they were familiar with Google Apps for Work. While moving to Dialpad, the company was also able to shift a portion of its traditional help desk activity to a self-service and community-supported model. In the community, users can ask influencers an guides questions.

WHAT YOU SHOULD CONSIDER IN CHOOSING NEW TECHNOLOGY

Hardware costs and desk phones traditionally have driven the voice communications industry. While struggling for decades to bring down hardware costs, providers attempted to shift to a software model that yielded some feature and cost improvements. However, these changes have not significantly reduced costs, improved scalability, boosted agility or simplified use. In contrast, a revolutionary, exponential change occurs in the telephony industry from using a 100 percent cloud based system designed with the user in mind that is extremely easy to deploy and use while slashing operating costs, eliminating call charges, and offering rapid, unlimited and affordable scalability.

GIVING EMPLOYEES THE RIGHT TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY RESULTS IN BETTER CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES

At the end of the day, it’s really the employees that create the customer experience. And employees can’t do that unless they are given the right technology. It’s up to companies to evaluate the technology they are using and to provide them the latest technology that allows them to be their best. For information about this research study, you can find it here.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Creating Great Customer Experiences By Empowering Employees

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