We hear a lot about technical debt, which leads to the storage of data in closed-off legacy systems. These include on-premises servers, databases, applications, and workloads that are defined by departmental and divisional silos.
Without the ability to share data across your business (using security and access constraints), it’s impossible for an SMB or enterprise to work cohesively to deliver new services and products. The goal is to use data to anticipate—not just respond—to customer experience demands across customer-facing applications, web portals, and all channels. But many businesses cannot achieve this goal due to data silos.
How Data Silos Stop Customer Service Innovation
An organization’s tech stack comprises IT and operational technology (OT) built on applications, computing power, storage, and workloads. Without the integration of cloud services, this all becomes unmanageable, serving as a barrier to competitiveness and an ideal customer experience. It’s common to have on-premises apps that don’t connect to other systems or applications.
For departments that use unintegrated apps from marketing to sales, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to develop:
Cohesive marketing campaigns
Effective sales strategies
Streamlined and innovative R&D
Responsive and transparent supply chains
Optimized CX in customer/IT support and call centers
Despite these obvious challenges of data silos and limited access, many businesses across all sectors are still hesitant to strategically embrace cloud services.
The Slow Embrace of Cloud Services by Sector
Retail, healthcare, banking, and manufacturing are all sectors that produce vast amounts of data every day. To properly leverage this data, you have to store and analyze it, something traditional data solutions can’t achieve due to their siloed approach.
Most businesses have built their technology stack based on a single present need to remain competitive but without a long-term view of how that technology may bring technical debt that prevents cloud integration and endless CX possibilities. They often hesitate about utilizing cloud services for fear of a rip-and-replace fallacy that would be truly costly and disrupt the business.
Cloud in Banking and Healthcare
The digital banking and digital healthcare sectors have countless regulatory compliance requirements that make them reluctant to embrace cloud services. Not only do they have to deal with strict regulations, they also fear that a move to the cloud will lead to cyberattacks and compromised personal or corporate health/financial data. Furthermore, legacy systems and the technical debt of mainframes unnecessarily stop many businesses from a more strategic use of cloud services due to fears of integration and migration challenges.
Cloud in Manufacturing and Retail
Manufacturers and retailers have the same concerns that slow cloud services adoption. But they additionally have performance concerns when running applications in the cloud. However, as we’ll later explain, the exact opposite is actually true, as cloud services can deliver more effective and faster data access. In digital manufacturing, the cloud can help businesses in terms of robotics and digital twins, process automation, machine monitoring, and preventative maintenance, among others.
While the pandemic has sped up cloud services adoption, with the retail sector leading the pack, adoption worries remain. New research shows that 32% of business and IT decision-makers say security concerns hold them back from embracing cloud and digital technology faster, according to the Cloud Industry Forum. Meanwhile, businesses cite legacy integration issues (44%) and budget limits (34%) as the two biggest reasons for dragging their feet.
Customer Service Innovation: How Hard Can It Be?
A cloud services strategy can enable a business to absorb technical debt and give them ways to migrate to the cloud gradually or via a big-bang approach. Enterprises can do both cost-effectively with major cloud services based on pay-as-you-go models.
By strategically using cloud computing services, enterprises can move their data to multi-cloud environments to take advantage of edge computing, create a holistic data access strategy, and simplify their IT architecture. The cloud services options available today, along with support from experienced cloud service providers, can eliminate these concerns and help develop a path to innovative CX across sectors.
There is no need to struggle to leverage the cloud for improved CX. CIOs that can speak the language of both the cloud and business outcomes are needed to show how cloud experiences drive digital customer experiences.
How Cloud Services Drive Digital Customer Experiences
In a recent report, Gartner sees worldwide end-user spending on public cloud hitting $494.7 billion in 2022, an increase of 20.4% over the $410.9 billion reached in 2021. But a major point of confusion for those reluctant to adopt cloud services is how to match them to CX outcomes.
The answer to this lies in a rudimentary understanding of infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), software as a service (SaaS), and automation.
IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, and Customer Service (Experience)
IaaS is a way for businesses to avoid the costs of hardware like physical servers, networking, and maintenance. Cloud services can provide this via IaaS, which provides compute, storage, and networking resources on demand via a pay-as-you-go model. This gives your business scalability while lowering CapEx. IaaS makes it easier to:
Collect and analyze massive volumes of data on customer behavior
Accurately project ROI
Increase scalability to meet seasonal market demand, saving on costs while also meeting CX needs
Rapidly innovate products, services, and operations
PaaS is a key part of application development, a major part of the CX for customer-facing services and product innovation. PaaS helps internal development teams build, test, and iterate their software in purpose-built cloud environments, helping to streamline operations and save on costs.
Meanwhile, SaaS enables companies to access applications in the cloud on a subscription basis, virtually eliminating the cost of maintaining an application while maximizing availability for users anywhere, anytime, across the globe.
The Role of Automation in Cloud Services for CX
Automation drives cloud adoption in many ways, from the migration process to efficient business operations. The impacts of automation on CX can manifest in:
Business process automation
Robotic process automation (RPA), which can eliminate manual processes and provide customer service agent support to speed up and improve customer interactions
Consolidation of data from different locations
Creation of business intelligence dashboards
Support for cobots (robots that collaborate with humans in manufacturing, shipping, fulfillment, and more)
These are just some of the ways that businesses can use cloud services to drive an optimized CX. The picture becomes even brighter when looking at its impact in real-world use cases across business sectors.
Business Outcome Benefits of Cloud Services
Cloud services are a means to many ends, which each business must define as part of a cohesive cloud strategy. With those looking to revolutionize CX, there are countless ways that cloud services can have real-world impact across sectors.
The banking, insurance, and healthcare sectors share enormous data generation, regulatory compliance needs, and customer demands for services and products. They need ways to deliver, track, scale, and improve those services—while making sure the financial and healthcare needs of consumers are met.
Cloud services are crucial to achieving this goal by bringing:
Data processing and analytics
Regulatory data protection compliance
Elimination of technical debt of mainframes via cloud-native app integration
Loan processing and underwriting analysis
New banking and financial planning services and products
Medical device data management and MDR regulation
Retail and manufacturing often have intertwined needs, as many manufacturers provide goods and equipment to retailers. They also have enormous B2C and B2B customer bases that have increasing CX demands in the digital age including:
Point of sale
Retail shopping experience via AR/VR, and other product support
Supply chain monitoring and fulfillment
IoT platforms that provide insights on products, devices, machines, and production lines (via digital twins)
All of this is possible via cloud services, which can profoundly change CX across manufacturing, retail, life sciences, and other sectors, whether it's B2B or B2C.
Ways Cloud Services Improve UX
While there are countless ways to improve the customer experience with cloud services, it’s all about improving the human experience. When they are part of a holistic cloud strategy, cloud services can deliver:
More visibility into into the customer journey and personalized experiences via use of data and analytics
Simplified data management
Prioritized data protection through robust backup, disaster recovery, and encryption (on-premises, cloud, and beyond the network’s edge)
Centralization of data from diverse sources; freed-up storage and increased access across departments
Improved data governance and regulatory compliance
Researchers claim that 80% of customers will regard the world as "all-digital" in 2022, according to Forrester. It seems we’ve already arrived in a post-pandemic world where cloud services are imperative for every business to compete in the digital age. But understanding how to best leverage the cloud for revolutionizing customer experiences has been far more challenging.
It often takes a partner skilled in all aspects of cloud services and cloud strategies across industries to help a business shape the right plan to revolutionize its CX.
To learn how Mimacom can help your business reach this goal, visit our cloud solutions page.
Located in Stuttgart, Germany, Fabian is our Head of Cloud Innovations in Germany. As a Software Engineer, he leads strategic Cloud Foundry implementations at Mimacom and is known for his passion for code quality, automation and simplicity.