The business press has come alive over the past few weeks as companies as diverse as Delta, Facebook, and Tesla have publicly declared that they want to own software development for key applications. What should catch your attention about these announcements is the types of software these firms want to control. Delta is acquiring the software IP and data associated with an application that affects 180 of its customer and flight operations systems. Facebook is building proprietary software to simplify interactions between its sales teams and the advertisers posting ads on the social networking site. And Tesla has developed its own enterprise resource management (ERP) and commerce platform that links the manufacturing history of a vehicle with important sales and customer support systems. Tesla's CIO Jay Vijayan, in describing his organization's system, sums up the sentiment behind many of these business decisions: "It helps the company move really fast."
What these companies understand is something that all businesses must realize: Your employees' and partners' ability to serve customers is only as strong as the technology they depend on to learn about and connect with your customers. So as you think about redefining customer experiences and restructuring your organization and partnerships to deliver these experiences, know that you can't make these transformations without ensuring your technology can support these changes. For example, Ryanair — the notorious low-cost European airline — signaled a kinder and gentler approach to the market at the end of 2013. As part of this change, its lightning rod CEO Michael O'Leary has enthusiastically embraced technology, particularly social tools, as part of an emphasis on customer relationship management (CRM), declaring, "We'll be getting people to register and CRMing the hell out of them."
Ultimately, how an organization selects, deploys, and uses technology reflects its true values. In other words, if your organization declares that it values transparency to customers and speedy responses, do the underlying systems provide accurate, up-to-date information to customers and make it easy for employees to react to customer queries? This is how we will judge the effectiveness of decisions companies like Tesla and Ryanair are making. And this will drive a conversation I'll be leading at Forrester's Customer Experience Forum East.
At the forum I'll focus this conversation on the role the cloud can play in customer experience ecosystem transformations. And as part of that conversation, I'll also discuss what businesses should value in today's business environment. I hope you'll be able to take part in the event and join the dialogue.