When at a mega conference like Dreamforce where you’re surrounded by so much new technology that is built to solve specific problems, it’s sometimes beneficial to take a few steps back and look at the larger, more strategic picture.
One particularly valuable strategic session I attended, led by Forrester CEO, George Colony, was called ‘Age of the Customer.’ I was particularly interested in this session, having worked at Forrester about 10 years ago, and always finding George to have a clear and concise way of delivering useful information. He’s still got it.
Mr. Colony spoke about a major power shift in the marketplace over the past 40-50 years. This shift from the institution to the customer has resulted from the abundance of information now available to the customer that was not available to previous generations. The example he used was the consumer journey for buying a car. Previously, you would just look at the sticker price and know that was what you should expect to pay for the car. Now, due to connected devices, the cloud, social media, and any other variations of available technologies that consumers are using, there is more information out there about what you’re buying. This gives you ‘the power to price.’ You also have access to read reviews, get ratings, consult friends, family, and others you don’t even know, which gives you the ‘ability to critique.’ Customers also have the ‘ability to buy’ anywhere which further opens up competition. He referenced that 18% of the United States has made a purchase outside of the US in just the last three months. Mobile further gives the customer more power with access to information anywhere at any time, and the expectation that you will always be able to get any information at any time.
Institutions are realizing this shift and are starting to make adjustments both in their budget allocation between traditional technology and business technology, along with investing in new skills in the evolving shape of their organizations. Customer Insight and Customer Experience positions are expected to be added as critical parts of their Technology Management organizations. Traditional technology budgets are expected to shift to business technology budgets between 2014 and 2020.
The ideas coming from this session, paired with any number of technological advances that I learned at Dreamforce help tie it all together for me as a consulting professional and as someone who helps businesses optimize how they sell to and service their customers. Due to the transparent nature of competition in the marketplace today, it’s critical to understand how customers are making buying decisions. It’s also imperative to understand how institutions will need to evolve their selling and service approaches to better reach their target audiences and address their needs in this new age of the customer.