Collaboration: The Currency of Business

Bennet James Bayer, Strategy & Development Officer, EarthLink
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Bennet James Bayer, Strategy & Development Officer, EarthLink

The rational for running a successful business today includes knowing how to run customer-led personalized engagement in today’s connected digital environment. For me, success in technology business and product marketing is building bridges across various (sometimes warring) constituents and an ever evolving need to become closer with the digitally connected customer. To facilitate these relationships and foster communication with a minimum of complexity across multiple market segments and product lines is the goal of collaboration, which therefore becomes the currency of business.

Collaboration as business currency needs to go beyond the tradi­tional Unified Communications and Instant Messaging technologies; to start, look to “business social” solutions mixed with technologies the CIO (and CMO) can bolt on quickly. Connections, Jive and Moxy are examples of core business social platforms; or think of LinkedIn Groups with communications and SharePoint integrated in, plus other elements to map and monitor the interactions between members and their efficiency. By doing this, mission-critical applications such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) become revenue positive; collaboration focuses everyone on building trusted relationships with customers and each member of the organization and distribution channels with timely response and relevance.

To spend this currency of business I think of the col­laboration solution as a series of concentric circles starting with each product or service team; the “what” a business does. This is replicated across each product/service man­aged. This group connects with the engineers and developers of the OEM team (eventually even with suppliers). Then the solution extends to the frontline sales teams and customer care by organization region and then with each distribution channel partner. Once these teams have been integrated the last component is to extend the solution with your customers and potential ones.

  ​Collaboration makes customer journey mapping come to life and become measureable   

Again, think of each product and its chain as a series of connected LinkedIn groups; communication flows from the customer across organization matrixes to product builders and owners enabling a more expedited, detailed and person­alized response. Communication can be focused between two individuals, with one distribution partner or all. Market com­munication is greatly enhanced even to include social media. Care is also more personalized and distributed and all receive a higher visibility with faster response to customer needs and inquiries. This is where the power of business intelli­gence, dashboards and visualization can really be leveraged and quantified.

The solution methodology is overlaid with communica­tions, especially unified communications, mobile, instant messaging and social media. CRM becomes enabled and self-funding, social media and customer inputs become measure­able across channels and all these touch points of customer experience are monitored by mapping the customer journey.

Collaboration makes customer journey mapping come to life and become measureable. The compelling reason is the changed nature of customer relationships. The connected digital customer is now 40percent more likely to change their allegiance and can shift their spend with another 25 percent devel­oping that mindset (Forrester).

The benefits of this collaboration go beyond getting everyone on the same page. Using collaborative tools around customer ex­perience and managing campaigns and communications enable:

• Seeing where and when the customer experiences sat­isfaction or pain points, moments of truth and barriers to forward movement.

• Visualization to develop metrics on the effectiveness and value of member interactions. Visualization also shows how the customer is using the products/services across each department and business silos.

• Highlights what is most important to your customers and what contributes to, or detracts from what they value and drives their loyalty.

• Marketing measurement of actions, offers and redemptions af­fecting members.

• Demonstration of operational processes and methodologies in a given area impact the entire organization.

Using tools to do brainstorming is also beneficial, (sticky note collaboration) virtually saving the organization time and money. Automation is required, the traditional way to map a customer journey is lining sticky notes around the wall; fortunately tools are coming to the market (SuiteCX, Jornaya and Genroe come to mind) to help. Tools bring quantifiable measurements of:

• Information consolidation–a single place for performance and operational, rational and even emotional data, and attachment of data and content to collaboration.

• Visualization–collaborative and social interactions on behav­iors and processes accessed by multiple users enable management of the path from discovery and purchase through fulfillment along with filters for various needs.

• Dynamic vs. static–enabling continuous adaptation driving strategy, planning and tactics; a live, configurable dashboard to tract trends and progress.

Embedding communications and customer journey mapping tools into the organization collaboration solution provides renew­able benefits and a part of continuous improvement culture within the business and channels as directed by customer needs.

Tangible benefits include documentation of each interaction point, a holistic view of the company, employee, partner and customer experience; getting to see what works, or not with data drives specifics along with the gaps and opportunities between each. The overall purpose is to see what is working and what is not. This is driven by the data used to measure each collaboration, the extent to which each person contributes, or obstructs. Finding these gaps is one key to business management in the digital age.

This is the point at which adding gamification comes to play. Rather than scoring points, as in gaming or online marketing, gamification for collaboration tracks each member’s contribution, value, frequency or lack thereof. Ideally this has become a Human Resource tool rewarding incentive for success; to the customer this can be applied as discounts and recognition for all.

There are intangible benefits as well. Engagement of key stakeholders across the organization, the means of breaking down silos, rationalization of company, employee and customer needs, in short, “innovation” can be measured, executed and rec­ognized. Not to mention emotional buy-in for everyone through visual storytelling.

The digitally connected customer and worker are constantly multi-tasking. By mapping the journey of the customer, overlay­ing CRM and communications with measurement to collabora­tion solution, you can understand and create relevant currency for business in the connected age.

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