My last post, “Digital transformation isn’t what you think it is,” has been met with exceptional response. I took that as a hint that I need to write more about marketing and sales technology and the opportunities for new business models that new technologies offer, and to keep publishing stories about digitalization in practice. So, this is the start of a specific series of posts on using technology to win new customers.
Can technology be your competitive advantage?
From the business perspective I see technology as doping, but without the limitations and restrictions. If you can afford technology early enough, when the competition doesn’t have it yet, you can create a competitive advantage for yourself. If you’re too late, you’ll have to introduce it anyway to keep from lagging behind the competition, which has broken away from the pack and increased its lead in the meantime. Of course, the technology has also gotten cheaper and easier to introduce effectively. Unfortunately, when introducing new technologies, the late adopters usually only try to minimize the pain and hardly ever make any progress on the market in the absolute sense. It seems to me that the global economy works this way.
The most technologically advanced environments create the greatest added value and reinvest in technology the most. We’re in some sort of a vicious spiral in which followers can only become leaders if the leaders make a big mistake or if the followers produce an innovative new product and use it to create a temporary monopoly or gradually change their rivals on the market. I don’t want to go too much into limiting the use of technologies as a survival method of “traditionalists” here. I find this approach pretty narrow-minded, bureaucratic, and European.
The “wow” moment: from automated to intelligent processes in practice
In addition to the feedback I received on my last post, this time around my reflections on technology were also prompted by a few other things that have happened to me recently. At work I suddenly became aware of a new technology that has crept into my business life uninvited—that is, on my smartphone and PC, and as part of the services I use on both these devices and get from my current cloud computing provider.Automated intelligent processes for increasing productivity are no longer science fiction. Click To Tweet
More than half of FrodX’s turnover comes from doing business with international clients. Even the few Slovenian companies we work for are actually subsidiaries of international corporations. Accordingly, a significant portion of our business correspondence takes place in English. So a couple of days ago, I received an English e-mail from a client that wants to expand our solution for the Adriatic region to some of its branches in Central and Eastern Europe. As they were preparing teams to roll out our solution onto additional markets, they asked us to send them some of our instructions, so they could add them to their in-house presentation. No big deal. But this was the first time that I noticed a new icon in my online e-mail client. Next to the icon for linking this e-mail to a person or sales opportunity in the CRM system, there was also an icon announcing that this email was very likely connected with a task I had to accomplish (an action item). Out of mere curiosity I clicked on the icon and a message popped up saying what activity the sender expects me to complete and by when. Yes, someone else had read my e-mail and the system automatically assigned me a task that it had inferred from the e-mail message. An even bigger surprise followed after I confirmed it. This task appeared not only in my Outlook, but also in the CRM system with the concrete customer and the related sales opportunity. It even included the deadline, which could be deciphered from the context of the message.
We gave up privacy long ago
At first this gave me a terrible feeling. But not for long. Yes, I do want someone else to read all those 300 emails I get every day and single out those in which the sender demands or expects something from me. And to put all the ones referring to current clients in order by priority (evident from our CRM system) and to rank those with reference to potential clients by their purchase readiness or sales potential (evident from our marketing information system).
Can you imagine how my efficiency would increase if someone processed all 300 emails I get on a daily basis? And how much the service would improve for our clients if the system selected priorities intelligently, based on mathematical criteria? If only it worked as perfectly in Slovenian, too!We gave up privacy long ago. Click To Tweet
Now I could also write about how surprised I was the first time my smartphone sent me a message based on a calendar entry in the CRM system that I should get going if I wanted to be at the meeting on time because there was some heavy traffic on the freeway. Or about a handful of other technological innovations that actually save me a lot of time and make my work environment much more comfortable. Ultimately, they allow me to be more efficient at what I do. But this only has an impact as long as the competition isn’t operating the same way or even more efficiently.
P.S. What technology do your sales and marketing departments have at their disposal? Do you know what new advantages the “smart” sales tools offer compared to the CRM systems we’ve known for the past ten years? FrodX’s new manual presents key new technological solutions that can help companies win new customers. Check them out.