Happy Birthday, iPad! (A Cautionary Tale for Businesses)

Can you believe it’s only been five years since the iPad graced our lives? I struggle to remember a time when I was without mine. The idea that I used to sit on my sofa and ‘Google it’, or ‘YouTube it’ on anything other than my tablet seems almost unbelievable now.

On the day of the launch, 300,000 iPads were sold. Within a month, the iPad had reached the one million-sold milestone–half the time it took to sell the same number of first-generation iPhones. By summer 2014, we collectively owned 200 million iPads.

Their convenience and intuitiveness is inescapable. A device that people once thought was reserved for the technorati has achieved mass adoption.

Back in 2010, it was hard to imagine how anything could top the iPhone. Quite content with the little handheld that had already transformed our existence, many people (including me) couldn’t fathom why they would need something that sat uncomfortably between the laptop and the smartphone.

Like the iPad before it, many people have dismissed the Apple Watch–and wearables generally–as a fad that will never catch on.

But if there is one thing we can learn from recent history it is that consumer appetite for new technology shouldn’t be underestimated and that Apple is rarely wrong! Like its older siblings, this new technology will become an indispensable part of the family, and an essential part of our lives.

For consumers, the Apple Watch and its plethora of copycats will give us our own portal to unlimited information, our social calendars, and entertainment, all strapped to our wrists: the ultimate in functional convenience.

For businesses too, the convenience and functionality of wearables shouldn’t be underestimated. Five years ago, smart businesses were quick to see the huge potential benefits of the iPad. Within its first 90 days on the market, the iPad managed to penetrate half of the Fortune 100.

With consumers increasingly choosing convenience over price, wearables provide a huge business opportunity to deliver a genuinely differentiated and personalized customer experience.

With permission, companies will be able to gather personal data directly, discreetly and immediately based on the customer’s movements, location and habits. Companies can use that data to proactively deliver personalized service that fits naturally into the customer’s life. That concierge-level service will foster the kind of customer loyalty and engagement that will be hard to break and difficult to emulate.

As with the iPad, there are many compelling applications for wearable devices that have the potential to touch every industry. As with the iPad, it will also be the nimble and the savvy that capitalize on wearables first. In this light, it will be the absence of a wearables strategy that will make a business stand out, and for precisely the wrong reasons. I’ll see you in the queue!

For more business insights and examples of how to grow an engaged business follow our dedicated midmarket LinkedIn page.

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Join us for the Transformational Journey: Avaya Evolutions is Now #AvayaENGAGE

For over 11 years Avaya Evolutions Mexico has been the milestone event for Mexico’s technology market, with over 3,000 visitors in each edition. This year Avaya Evolutions transforms into #AvayaENGAGE Mexico. Following Avaya Engage events in Dubai and Las Vegas, this is the third and final location on our tour, and the largest thought leadership event in Latin America. This must-attend event brings together top senior executives, industry leaders, technology innovators and key decision makers to reimagine the possibilities of Digital Transformation and Cloud.

In the past, Dr. Zedillo, Former President of Mexico; Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, former President of Mexico; Jose Fernandez, NASA’s first Mexican American Astronaut; Steve Wozniak; and Guy Kawasaki have all been a part of Avaya Evolutions.

Evolutions began in 2006 in Mexico as the annual premiere technology forum before expanding internationally in June 2010. The Evolutions tour gathered over 30,000 attendees in 15 different cities across the U.S., Central America, and South America, receiving the Internationalist’s Innovation Global Media Award in 2012. The success of these global events was made possible by the continuous commitment and support of our partners and sponsors.

When customers join us this June in Mexico City, they will be introduced to the latest concepts on smart digital economies from forward-looking organizations. At the Digital Transformation Lounge, customers can experience innovative demonstrations and view software solutions live.  

Join us to learn how the experience is everything. Gain knowledge and insights to make informed decisions to support your digital transformation journey.

We are bringing together an exciting lineup of keynote speakers at #AvayaENGAGE Mexico. We’re featuring Kevin Kennedy, Avaya CEO; Morag Lucey, Avaya CMO; and Gary E. Barnett, Avaya Senior Vice President and General Manager, Engagement Solutions. You can find us on Twitter @Avaya. Follow us in early May as we announce our very special guest speakers.

Join us in Mexico City on June 21 for a can’t-miss next-gen experience. I hope to see you there!

Winning the CX with Apps, Integrated Data Views, Custom Agent Desktops

An estimated $6 trillion in global revenue is up for grabs due to dissatisfied customers constantly switching providers, seeking a better customer experience—CX. From finance to retail to hospitality, it seems virtually every industry is grappling with above-average customer churn. Why? Technology has evolved to a point where there is now an inconceivable number of ways for customers to engage with brands, creating a communications environment that many companies simply aren’t set up to handle.

Think about it: if customers aren’t connecting with a brand using one of their three personal mobile devices, they’re leveraging a myriad of other channels and connected platforms to research, communicate and engage. Consider that 150 million emails and 2.4 million Google search queries were sent last year per minute. In that same 60 seconds, almost one million customers were logging into Facebook, and almost 350,000 new tweets were being posted. Over 50,000 apps were being downloaded per minute through the Apple App Store, and over 20 million messages were being sent via communication apps like WhatsApp.

If these statistics show us anything, it’s that experience is everything. The average consumer today uses a combination of the above channels to engage with his or her favorite brands. In fact, in 2014, over 40 % of customers were already using up to seven different service channels including live chat, email, social media, SMS and traditional phone.

The Entire Organization Contributes to the CX

In this next-generation communications environment, a series of unique interaction touch points are created to form a dynamic, inimitable customer journey, as Avaya’s Bernard Gutnick discusses in his blog “Customer Journey Maps Help Strengthen Relationships.” This journey extends across an entire organization, regardless of business line or function. It transcends the limitations of time and space. Conversations continue where they last left off and are routed to whoever is best fit to help, regardless of where that expert resides within the organization. As mentioned, however, many companies aren’t set up to handle this kind of environment from an architectural standpoint. Just consider companies in industries like government, where 71% of federal IT decision makers still use old operating systems to run important applications

Communications-Enabled Applications

To create this revolutionary environment, businesses must operate on open, agile infrastructure that enables them to build any communications-enabled application organization-wide. In today’s smart, digital world, companies need the speed and flexibility to design, build and run unique applications to meet constantly changing customer needs and business requirements. This open environment supports businesses with a contextual, 360-degree view of the customer journey—a view that seamlessly extends across all teams, processes and customer touch points to deliver unparalleled brand experiences.

These apps need to be easy for IT to create, deploy and manage, and they must be agile enough to serve multiple departments to improve ROI and TCO. Driven by the right tools and strategies, every employee must be empowered to do his or her job at maximum potential each day. As we’ve mentioned time and again, gaining a 360-degree view of the customer means serving both contact center and non-contact center environments within a company. This is exactly why best-in-class companies are 30% more likely to align their entire organization around the customer to ensure consistency and contextualization.

Integrated Data Views and Custom Agent Desktops

Here’s how this next-generation communications environment specifically works:

  • A full library of customer engagement capabilities for contact centers—plus team engagement APIs to build business apps for almost any computer environment (i.e., Mac, Windows, iOS, Android and Javascript)—enables businesses to continually reinvent the communications experience, thus reimagining CX possibilities and business outcomes. This is how any expert can be made available for any customer inquiry or issue regardless of their location within the organization.
  • Companies can build their own contact center apps, or embed specific functions into their existing apps, to customize the agent desktop for any unique customer configuration. This ability to instantly innovate customer communications enables organizations to anticipate and respond to the speed of the consumer. Keep in mind that virtually anyone should be able to oversee these customizations, be it the company’s development team, system integrators, or the provider’s professional services team.
  • To know where your customers want to go, you must first know where they’ve been. With CRM information directly integrated within its interface, a web-based application empowers agents with a single, integrated browser view. This enables employees to view all data—both historical and real-time—across every fathomable interaction channel. This means an agent seeing that a customer communicated with a chatbot twice over the last two days about a billing error, for example. Agents will never have to wonder what steps were taken prior to their interaction with a customer, and consumers will never have to repeat the same information or be transferred across multiple different agents. Also keep in mind that this move to a web-based application offers contact center operators more flexibility to leverage general purpose browsers on a range of computers such as Macs, PCs and Chromebooks. This not only eliminates the need to upgrade client apps, but allows companies to customize the layout of each contact center so that information matches the requirements of each individual operation.

As technology continually evolves, businesses will have no choice but to press forward if they wish to perform at the speed of the consumer. Experience is everything, and organizations need a new way to design, deliver and manage customer engagements. With customers now using more digital channels than ever to engage with the brands they love, it’s clear that customer-based business applications have won the war.

Interested in learning more or chatting about transforming your environment? We can help enable you to compete and win the hearts and minds of your employees and customers. Contact us. We’re here to help and would love to hear from you.

Call it what you will: Multi-channel, Omnichannel—It isn’t about the Contact Center!

At this point, we know that most companies are competing exclusively on the customer experience (83%, according to Dimension Data). McKinsey Insights shows that effective customer journeys are impactful: increase revenue by up to 15%, boost customer satisfaction by up to 20%, and turn predictive insight into customers’ needs by up to 30%. The issue isn’t that companies fail to understand the importance of the customer experience (CX). The problem is that over half of companies today fail to grasp what is arguably the single most important driver of a successful CX strategy: organizational alignment.

This isn’t to say that companies aren’t taking the necessary steps to strengthen their CX strategies. Looking back five years ago, 92% of organizations were already working to integrate multiple interaction channels—call it multi-channel, omnichannel, digital transformation—to deliver more consistent, contextualized experiences. The needle is moving in the right direction. However, companies will find themselves in a stalemate if they limit the customer experience to the contact center.

Customer Experience is the Entire Brand Journey

That’s right, the customer experience is NOT about the contact center. In fact, it never was. The customer experience is instead about seamlessly supporting consumers across their entire brand journey regardless of where, when, how and with whom it happens. This means supporting not just one business area (i.e., the contact center), but the entire organization as one living, breathing entity. This means supporting not just one single interaction, but the entire experience a customer has with a company from start to—well, forever. After all, the customer journey never truly ends.

Are companies ready for this future of the customer experience? Perhaps not: 52% of companies currently don’t share customer intelligence outside of the contact center, according to Deloitte.

Executives are planning for not only contact channels to expand but most are expecting these interaction journeys to grow in complexity. It’s clear that a contact-center-only structure doesn’t cut it anymore. At today’s rate of growth and change, it’s easy to see how a CX strategy can miss the mark when the entire customer journey is being limited to the contact center. Imagine how much stronger a company would perform if it supported the customer experience as the natural enterprise-wide journey it is? A journey where interactions take place across multiple channels and devices, unfolding across multiple key areas of business (i.e., sales, HR, billing, marketing)?

Imagine, for instance, a hospital immediately routing an outpatient to the travel nurse who cared for him last week, although she is now on the road to her next location. Imagine a bank being able to automatically route a customer to a money management expert after seeing that the last five questions asked via live chat were about account spending. Imagine a salesperson knowing that a customer attended a webinar last week on a new product launch and had submitted three questions—all before picking up the phone. Imagine a retail store associate knowing you walked in and that you were searching online for formal attire.

Contextual Awareness is Critical

Today’s CX strategy is no longer about asking the right questions: it’s about having the right information at the right time to drive anticipatory engagement. It’s no longer about being able to resolve a customer issue quickly. It’s about building an authentic, organization-wide relationship based on contextual awareness. In short, this means companies being able to openly track, measure, and share customer data across all teams, processes, and customer touch points. This ability either makes or breaks the CX today.

So, are you near the breaking point? Consider that nearly 40% of executives say their agents’ top frustration is that they can’t access all of the information they need. Less than 25% of contact centers today enjoy full collaboration on process design with their entire enterprise. Connected customer journeys and the overall CX are now top areas of focus as most organizations support up to nine channel options. CX will encounter a dramatic shift of reimagined customer engagements that will be able to incorporate technologies such as artificial intelligence, IoT, analytics, and augmented reality and virtual reality.

The bottom line is this: organizations must support an enterprise-wide customer journey to support the future of the CX now! They must share contextual data inside and outside of the contact center, and they need seamless and immediate access to that data anytime, anywhere, under any given circumstance. Above all, organizations need the right architectural foundation to support this anytime, anywhere ecosystem—otherwise, even their best moves will always result in a draw.