Customer experience drives digitisation
By Jiten Lala, Head of Sales: Solution and Portfolio at T-Systems in South Africa
The world of technology remains saturated, as always, with on-trend buzzwords. The Cloud “revolution” is here to help connect the Internet of Everything (IoE); while Big Data stacks up alongside wearables, location-based services, biometrics, predictive analytics, virtualisation, sensoration, near-field communications and gesture tech.
However, these new technologies, converging in these new ways, often distract us from the most important reasons for it all: adding value to our lives, solving problems, and creating opportunities. Too often technology companies are engineering-driven – building new innovations from new technology and then squashing it to fit into a consumer segment or demand. This is the reverse of how it should work. The best companies (the likes of Apple, Tesla, or AirBNB) start by understanding a customer need, an unmet desire, and build solutions from there.
More recently, we’ve started seeing nuanced changes in the way this process happens. From the beginnings of an idea, we’re seeing the spirit of crowdsourcing becoming more and more of a mainstream reality, with many companies calling on a community of close partners, stakeholders and customers to co-create with them – refining and evolving the idea until it becomes a polished, final product. The wonders of modern technology also leads us to want to overcomplicate things. By constantly repeating the mantra of ‘simplicity, simplicity, simplicity’, product and solution developers can continually pare down every aspect of a solution to its raw essence, its most important features.
Consider, for example, the simple nature of consumption. Do people really want to buy a drill? Do they want to buy a very expensive drill? Or a drill that has been marketed in a flamboyant manner? The reality is that all the consumer wants is, in fact, just a hole in the wall. By over-engineering and over-thinking, we often forget these simple bytes of reality.
From a business perspective, technology should be employed to simplify the customer’s experiences. Today, excellent customer service should be merely a hygiene factor, and no longer a differentiator. Digitisation allows an organisation to mould itself in new ways, to engage with specific customers in different channels. All of this in real-time, and with low levels of disruption, frustration, or error. Using the form factor of a mobile app is rising to the fore as one of the most convenient engagement mechanisms for Generation X, Gen Y, and Millennials. But it isn’t enough to simply create a mobile app.
One needs to look towards creating sophisticated apps that consider context, location, need, and the nature of the customer. With advanced analytics and a clever tracking of user behaviour, companies can present themselves with different cultural nuances – creating the kind of “human touch” that many are forgetting about. For example, an organisation can cleverly integrate customer purchasing data to provide more personalised sales service. A hospitality company could use location-based marketing to send personalised mobile coupons to customers as they near a facility – and then track the uptake in real-time, and make adjustments to improve the success of the campaign.
The companies of the future will lead transformation through mobility – enabling enhanced, mobile-first experiences, and then managing complexity with a range of automation tools. Ultimately this will allow the organisation to focus on strategic tasks, and delegate real-time transactional data analysis to technology. Our heritage was built on outsourcing and we are leading the transformation to the digitisation for enterprises leveraging our enterprise “IT factory” that provides secure, stable, scalable, IT services enabled through agile, productive and innovative solutions.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”