When it comes to today’s marketplaces, there’s no doubt we’re operating in a buyers’ market. Consumers can buy anything almost instantly, from computer software through to the latest movies. We can easily find the information we need, compare and evaluate it immediately, before purchasing directly from the handheld device we’re using. Deliveries are increasingly taking place on the same day, and the whole purchase can be completed within hours.
Given this, it’s no surprise to see brands becoming increasingly customer-centric. Although interestingly, the most successful are likely to be those focused on facilitating the purchase process – empowering consumers to do what they want, when they want, how they want – rather than just improving the overall service delivered.
Building a Customer-Centric Cloud
IT is at the center of this new enablement, with cloud platforms being a critical component. An effective cloud solution will help deliver the flexibility and scalability your network requires to seamlessly address the demands of your consumers.
However, if you’re still finding your way with cloud, how do you know which model to select to build the best customer-centric cloud? We understand it can be a daunting process deciding where to host your infrastructure, the level of control needed, and the best-suited cloud provider to work with.
When building your customer-centric cloud, begin by asking yourself five simple questions:
1. Who are your customers and how do they behave?
2. Do you have enough timely information on your consumers, and are you listening to their needs?
3. Does your speed to market match the speed in which your consumers operate?
4. How secure does your IT network need to be?
5. Do you have the infrastructure and platforms in place allowing you to meet your customers’ needs?
Developing this understanding at the outset helps ensure you have the information needed to make the correct decisions when building your new cloud platform designed to win in the ‘Age of the Customer’.
The Hybrid Factor
Having answered the above questions, it’s likely you will have strong business cases for rolling out both public and private cloud platforms. For instance, private cloud provides the security you need to protect sensitive data, while a public model empowers you to rapidly respond to consumer needs. Therefore, building your customer-centric cloud on a hybrid cloud platform assists in providing you with the choice you need to facilitate pushing workloads and data to customers.
Encouragingly, as the cloud market has settled and technologies matured, cloud providers have increasingly looked to offer a portfolio of hybrid services covering most, if not all, business requirements. The security, flexibility and scope associated with hybrid cloud today is a significant improvement on the platform’s initial capabilities, which is why it is an appealing option and one for which support is growing swiftly.
Keep Customer Focused
Assist yourself to focus on the areas of your business that add direct value to customer service by adopting an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud solution. This helps enable you to outsource the more routine tasks involved in controlling your IT infrastructure, such as managing hardware, data, and services to external providers, so that you and your IT organisation can concentrate on providing services which meet consumer needs and grow your bottom line.
In fact, the main benefits of IaaS – helping to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance data insight – closely align with modern IT objectives, making it the ideal cloud solution in the ‘Age of the Customer’. Another key benefit of IaaS is that it transfers the capital cost from yourself to your cloud provider.
Similarly, the best IaaS vendors operate research and development operations enabling them to deliver a cutting-edge platform with a rapid and ongoing cycle of innovative new features. This empowers you to rapidly take advantage of the latest IT services – without having to upgrade the platform yourself – helping you get ahead of the competition.
Objectives and Capabilities Aligned
When selecting your customer centric cloud provider, be sure to choose one whose capabilities align with your business objectives. For example, if you have aspirations to expand your business into international markets, you will benefit greatly from choosing a vendor with a global presence to ensure a consistent consumer experience.
Finally, in the same way your customers demand a superior level of service, you should expect the same from your cloud provider. From user experience, end-to-end service management, and cloud integration, the service you receive must empower you to cater to the needs of your consumers’ buying habits. While hybrid cloud delivers the ideal platform for both provider and consumer in the ‘Age of the Customer’, a successful relationship must also be built on the vendor’s commitment to quality of service.
Across all sectors, competition for business is both fierce and increasingly international. Adopting hybrid cloud allows you to achieve the advantages of both public and private cloud, empowering you to get ahead of your competitors by delivering the service your consumers expect.
If you’re interested in finding out more then look at our new research whitepaper Customer-Centric Cloud – Hype or Hybrid? Which takes a deeper investigation into the subject.
About the author
Tom Homer is Head of EMEA and the Americas Enterprise, at telecoms business Telstra. Tom has over 20 years’ experience in IT and telecommunications, including 10 years managing relationships with multinational enterprises at AT&T combined with a range of senior roles at Energis and Reliance GlobalcomTom Homer argues that cloud needs to be designed as customer-centric from the get go otherwise it’s destined to fail.