The Internet of Things – CRM set to become pervasive
Kathy Gibson reports from Reimagine 2015 in Johannesburg – The Internet of Things can mean different things to different people, but the definition that Tertius Zitzke, CEO of AccTech Systems, uses is “building systems of intelligence that help enable intelligent customer engagements plus intelligent operations”.
With much of the focus in the last few years being on front-end systems and devices that change the way people interact with companies and with one another, the spotlight is now moving to the back-end systems that help to make the new way of interacting with technology a reality.
Zitzke believes that Microsoft is going more than most organisations to build a connected eco-system that enables this end to end digitalisation.
And an important part of the end to end story, he says, is the new buzzword of the Internet of Things.
“The big thing about the IoT is about the system learning the habits of the consumer in order to better predict their behaviour.”
In fact, Zitzke sees the IoT as the connectivity of systems, and typically it will take place in the cloud, he says.
The end to end connectivity goes beyond the customer-facing systems and reaches deep into the back end of manufacturing and industrial processes, Zitzke adds. But the important thing is that all processes keep one view of the customer, maintained by the CRM system.
“When it comes to IoT, the question I ask is: what to do you want to achieve in order to delight your customers. Because if you delight your customer, he will stay with you and you will grow.”
He stresses that while CRM is the catalyst for connecting with the customer, an app is the ideal way to make sure your offerings are always in the customers’ hands.
“The app must offer the customer more than just the product. It must include other things that are important for the customer’s environment. You need to start hooking on other services so that the customer will use the app and use it often.
“The success of the app will be determined by the connected world that plugs into it, and the correct data analysis that allows you to push the right offerings to the user’s profile.
“We need to think out of the box to create this ‘wow’ thing that will delight the customer,” Zitzke adds.
For manufacturing and distribution to get that “wow factor” back, he says they need to do a lot of things better than their competition. “They need to look at things like providing security, better product quality or even an improved
product return policy. And a good CRM system can assist you with these and issues like a quicker turnaround time.”
There’s been a lot of talk about smart supply chains and, while it’s possible to achieve this, Zitzke warns that it’s not east. “A smart supply chain is hard work,” he says.
“The biggest blocks are always going to be security and getting good integration into the other systems operated both by your organisation and all of your partners.”
This is where the cloud offers a great solution, he says, giving organisations a range of options for integrating from a secure place to share information to full visibility into partners’ systems.
A CRM system implemented properly into manufacturing can offer quick turnaround and design on the fly, Zitzke says. “You could even offer your competitor’s products to make sure you are the one stop shop for everything your customer needs.”
CRM is the glue that allows companies to become customer-centric through all their processes, he adds. “Processes need to work together in a way that connects all the business functions together, and that follow the customer’s journey through your organisation. In fact it’s not so much CRM as XRM.”
Acctech has implemented CRM on customers’ HR systems and in their accounts payable, Zitzke says. “You can put it on just about any business application.”