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Assuring Top Performance for the 'Moment of Truth'

Business leaders are increasingly focused on expanding their organizations' digital footprints. Why the growing attention? Because these leaders know strong digital capabilities will help their companies better engage with customers, be more competitive, and radically improve performance.

A fundamental element of any digital transformation is unified communications technology. In fact, a recent study by Nemertes Research found the most successful companies are increasing their spending on UC solutions more than any other area within IT (see related post, "Turning the Gears of Digital Transformation").

The reason for that is clear. Customer experience is at the heart of UC, and UC is at the heart of digital transformation. Savvy businesses understand the need to use technology to transform the customer experience for the better -- to make the most of those defining moments in the customer journey that make or break a relationship.

CRM & UC Working Together
That's why CRM is now a $50 billion market, and why UC tops $65 billion annually, according to Gartner. Actually, the two strategies and underlying technology -- CRM and UC -- increasingly work hand in hand.

The first generation of CRM was all about using structured and unstructured data to get to know customer habits, likes, and dislikes. With that task well in hand, the focus has shifted. As Gartner reported in its 2016 CRM Vendor Guide: "CRM leaders no longer focus on the CRM application itself, but on how it transforms interactions with customers, partners and other parties to increase revenue or increase customer satisfaction."

It is now a matter of using those customer insights to drive value at the moment of truth -- the moment when the organization is interacting with the customer. And at that moment of truth -- during that interaction -- the entire investment in CRM either delivers or fails.

So how does that relate to UC? Well, as I just noted, the new generation of CRM focuses on the moment of truth in customer relationships. That moment can happen when you're interacting with customers on the Web, on social channels, in video conferences, even in the store. And these are all fundamental UC channels.

Here's a good example, among many. Financial institutions today want to offer personal banking to every customer. So how can they do that? One, by establishing video conferencing facilities in every branch so that customers can personally connect with financial professionals outside the branch in real time. Two, by delivering that same personalized experience to the home. Three, by delivering it to mobile devices, too.

Every one of these interactions happens via a UC channel and every one of those channels can only work successfully if the underlying systems and infrastructure are operating as they should. This is easier said than done. In every UC interaction, entire ecosystems of technologies need to work together to deliver the experience. UC systems now sit on top of these very complex digital ecosystems -- ecosystems in which problems can come from a thousand possible directions and are virtually impossible to anticipate, detect, or fix manually.

Maximizing the Moment of Truth
Your business spends a lot of money on CRM and UC systems, all to maximize those moments of truth with your internal or external customers. Those moments are the highest-touch, highest-value interactions you will have with your customers. But they can go horribly wrong.

What if the video system at your bank is not working properly? The audio is cutting out or the video is lagging? The customer, who's looking to purchase, say, a new retirement savings plan, is getting more and more frustrated. This is that moment of truth we've been talking about, the high-value interaction. And now, as it happens, your tech is not up to the task -- and all the money you've invested to get to this point is... wasted.

This is partly why the outlook for digital transformation is bleak. Gartner forecasts that, while 70% of companies will have digital transformation initiatives underway by 2020, only 30% of them will be successful.

Seeking more insight to this digital transformation breakdown, IR recently surveyed 511 senior IT decision makers in the U.S. What we found surprised us. One-third of respondents think their existing infrastructure is not ready to support the high traffic resulting from the new productivity and collaboration tools that will drive their digital transformation.

Guaranteed Reliability
This is not the way it has to be, at least where UC systems are concerned. You can guarantee the reliability of your UC system by implementing an instrumentation solution on top of it. This will give you the power to pursue your digital transformation knowing that all your customer interactions, at least, are successful.

With an instrumentation solution, if something goes awry during a video conference, during a Web chat or mobile interaction, solutions can operate in real time to look across your entire digital ecosystem and find the issue -- pinpoint the needle in a field of haystacks -- then understand what the root cause is and fix the problem in real time before any damage is done.

It's a simple solution that is surprisingly overlooked. As I write, organizations are investing billions on their digital transformation initiatives but they're not ensuring the basics needed for delivery are in place. They are not implementing the monitoring and management tools essential to the success of their transformation initiatives.

It's easy to dismiss performance-management tools as another pesky infrastructure upgrade cost. Easy but foolish. Gartner notes that UC-specific monitoring and management tools are a fundamental prerequisite to the success any UC project -- and thus any digital transformation.

So ask yourself this. Is performance management just an infrastructure play? Or is it a key enabler of your entire digital footprint? Here's a hint: It's the latter. It's essential protection and enablement for every moment of truth in your business. It's a simple way to ensure that your digital transformation investment pays the dividends you expect.