In an interesting article, E-consultancy recently highlighted the famous 2011 Wall Street Journal article “Why software is eating the world’.

Six years on from that article, we have seen how digital technology has driven a huge shift in our daily lives with a proliferation of data, online customer service, customised experiences, bigger expectations, machine learning, artificial intelligence and increased automation to name just a few.

Every one of these elements depends on data or as e-consultancy nicely puts it “torrents of data”.

Once upon a time, consumers were reluctant to share their details with brands for fear of bombardment and junk messages. Direct marketing was a dirty task, advertising on TV was not to be trusted and only ads that made you laugh or cry resonated.

Yet here we are in a digital world where consumers can now see the value in you knowing a bit more about them. Cookies are no longer a thing you eat, but a way for companies to help you get more out of your online journey. Most of us prefer messages that are relevant and timely and to have those, we accept that brands need to know more about us.

FACT about sharing information.

As consumers, we are driving digital transformation and we are accommodating the businesses who are shaping their offerings to meet that demand. And with one in three brits now opting in to brand communication (thank goodness with GDPR insisting on it), they are clearly expecting great things.

Digital transformation is well underway. So how is the journey going for you?

With GDPR looming ever closer, this is not just a polite reminder that you might like to think about your data infrastructure and marketing activity, it’s a plea to stop right now and consider how you’re managing and using all that data.

 

Five Steps for Better Data Analysis and Use

 

  1. Data Management

Data is only as useful as its storage and use.  Bearing in mind that GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) are on the horizon and come with large penalties, the right data infrastructures and processes are critical.  Your data environment needs to be GDPR compliant and allow you to capture individual interactions as they happen against one record.

 

  1. Connection

A Single Customer View will allow you to join the dots between online and offline customer journeys. Your customers will have a better experience and you will be able to use the data to spot opportunities and patterns within a client group. You’ll also see what is and isn’t working. As a result, ROI can’t help but improve.

 

  1. Deeper Knowledge

Customers expect you to know them. To know what they booked or did last, what they might want to do next and on what terms. You can’t do any of that without better use of data.

 

  1. More Creativity

When you know who you’re marketing to and what makes them tick, you can be more creative in your messaging, reflecting them in your materials and interacting with them more meaningfully on social platforms too. With the right system, you can then watch those interactions and manage them.

 

  1. Understanding your ROI

When you are operating a CRM system that has been carefully tuned to your business’ needs, people and processes, you will be in a better position to plot your customers’ journeys and attribute online and offline channel success.

 

Want to know more?

Take 20 minutes with us and discover what Digital Transformation means for your business and how you can create a better customer experience and journey.

Date: Thursday 17th August

Time: 12pm BST

Attendees: Sales, Marketing, IT and Data Officers who use (or are considering) CRM for data management, inbound marketing efforts and email marketing.

 

During the webinar, we will discuss:

  • What is Digital Transformation?
  • GDPR, a catalyst for positive change?
  • Creating a better customer experience and journey.
  • How Microsoft’s platforms and tools come together for unrivalled process, productivity and insight.
  • What areas of productivity and process your business could be considering now to ensure success and growth in the future.

 

Register now. It takes seconds and if you can’t join us, you can still register here and we’ll email you the recording to watch in your own time.

There are two ways to look at the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

For businesses already digitally underway, it’s another important tick in the box for compliance and best practice. They may even identify a few opportunities to enhance what they’re already doing.

However, if you’re in a business that’s been dragging its digital heels, it could be the difference between growth and being left behind. The businesses in your sector that identify the opportunities of GDPR will not only comply with it and avoid heavy penalties, they’ll reap the benefits of having been forced to look at their processes.

Yes, there will be those who simply just tick the boxes and essentially plaster over the cracks that GDPR has revealed but that is a massive missed opportunity. If businesses that are digitally behind don’t untangle their existing processes, they are adding knots and loops to deal with further down the line as more and more data sources demand more and more processes.

In contrast, the businesses who use the time between now and May next year to properly review their processes and systems can look at their overall digital fitness and get an edge over the competition who haven’t bothered.

Here’s how:

Mapping the policies and processes that surround how you use and collect data will give every department ideas for business development.

Better data means better relationships. Not only that, it will ensure a better start to your customer journey as people will be parting with their data with more awareness of exactly how it will be used. People who don’t want to engage won’t provide their data. So, no wasted time chasing, and no resentment before you even begin communicating.

Technology can power most of the internal change needed and can, in the case of Dynamics 365, join up all the disparate systems in a business. That brings a massive benefit; a 360-degree view of every customer. Suddenly it’s easier to engage with customers with the right information at the right time as well as have end-to-end data governance. When all that information is in one place with the intelligence of Dynamics 365 wrapped around it, it becomes more powerful.

Reporting and Decision Making become so much easier when the data can interact across departments on the back of active data.

Staff Adoption of the new GDPR processes could be the difference between compliance and a huge fine. It stacks up that the easier staff find the new processes, the less likely non-compliance is. So again, the businesses that look to consolidate their systems into one familiar space are already ahead of the game.

How much of an opportunity do you see for your business as we march towards the GDPR?

Watch our essential GDPR webinar for more information.

It’s only 11 months until the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations come into force (25th May 2018).

Our webinar this week is taking a look at how you can start your planning process for GDPR.

First though, here is a rundown of our 5 most frequently asked questions. If any of this is new to you, or this is as far as your knowledge already goes, please do join us on Thursday!

 

What is The EU GDPR?

Standing for The General Data Protection Regulations, GDPR is the EU’s regulation of data processing for its citizens. It applies to every country holding and using data of EU members and replaces the inconsistent and out of date approaches of individual countries. It’s a binding legislative act that will replace a 20-year EU directive that first came into place when web technology was still very new. The GDPR will address security vulnerabilities that have arisen due to the digital lives we all now lead. The big aim is to enable a secure flow of data that individuals have greater control and visibility over by improving consent processes.

The GDPR applies to organisations located within the EU as well as businesses out-with, that supply goods or services to (or monitor the behaviour of) EU data subjects.  It’s important to remember that this isn’t just about you and your systems. Your suppliers will also need to play by the rules or you could still be fined.

 

Does it apply to my business before and after Brexit?

Come May 2018, we’re still part of the EU. So it will apply to every UK business. After that, it makes sense to comply anyway. If you are selling goods or services to EU members/citizens then you need to meet your obligations. If you’re operating only within the UK, the UK government has said it will probably follow suit.

 

What are the main headlines?

Storage – You need to be able to clearly define what personal data is stored, how it’s collected and how it’s used.

Processes – Businesses will have to be able to provide evidence of what type of data processing is carried out, how data is used, the flow of data throughout and out-with the organisation, access to data and protections at each step.

Consent – Consent agreements must be separate, simple and dedicated and recorded against each customer. Double opt in’s will become the standard, opt-in boxes cannot be ticked by default, and soft opt-in’s will become a thing of the past. People must understand why they are giving permission and be able to revoke it easily (even that must be recorded back to the customer file). The ‘right to be forgotten’ falls into this category too. If your existing data meets the new consent rules, it should be fine. If you’re in doubt, you should inform your databases and give them their right to be deleted.

Privacy by design – Just as it sounds; data protection should be part of the foundation of designing data systems rather than an addition.

Data Protection Roles – Depending on your business, you may be required to appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) under the GDPR. Public bodies are included in this as well as businesses that carry out large scale systematic monitoring of individuals (e.g. online behaviour tracking) and businesses that process large scale data relating to special categories. Regardless of whether or not you are obliged to appoint a DPO, you will need to ensure you have the staff numbers and understanding that you need to meet your GDPR obligations.

 

What’s the price of non-compliance?

Substantial. Technical related non-compliance e.g. impact assessments, breach notifications and certifications will attract fines up to an amount that is the GREATER of €10 million or 2% of global annual turnover (revenue). Key provision non-compliance will attract fines up to the GREATER of €20 million or 4% of global annual turnover. And that’s before we talk about reputational damage.

Data controllers within your business will be legally obliged to notify the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) of any data breach within 72 hours of its occurrence.  Note that if you are a public authority or you regularly monitor data on a large scale, you will need to appoint a Data Protection Officer, something worth doing regardless.

 

Business v CRM Responsibility

The GDPR offers an opportunity for cleaner databases, better quality lead pipelines, lower cost per acquisition, more accurate forecasting and better ongoing CRM.

Your CRM system should meet GDPR standards by implementing privacy by design and default in build processes. However, it’s a joint responsibility. Whilst Microsoft (and we, as partners) should ensure your tech is GDPR compliant with access controls and privacy functions, you must also ensure your processes and people are also compliant.  Dynamics 365 is already well prepared in its set up for GDPR so speak with your Microsoft Partner for further support and information.

Watch our essential GDPR webinar for more information.

Redspire is a Microsoft CRM solutions specialist and a Microsoft strategic Partner, which means we are qualified and trusted by Microsoft to deliver their solutions.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a big focus for us right now. Less than a year away, it will replace The Data Protection Act and means significant changes for how businesses handle data not least the severe fines for non-compliance. Even when the UK is out of Europe, non-conformity and data breaches can result in fines of up to €20m or 4% of your annual worldwide turnover.

There’s currently a lot of IT complexity out there. GDPR is an opportunity to streamline that technology architecture. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is already well prepared and meets those needs, it not only helps you to comply but crucially, demonstrates that compliance.

Can your Microsoft CRM Partner support your business and people journey to GDPR compliance? The rules of finding a CRM partner still apply.

A good GDPR CRM partner should be:

  • Looking at the role of data in your organisation, finding the changes GDPR will enforce, and identifying the edits and customisations to enable them.
  • Advising on role, record and field-based security for your team, reducing the risks associated with administrative rights.
  • Helping you evaluate how you answer points on consent, data purpose, and data retention.
  • Reviewing what triggers may be required throughout your system to maximise Dynamics 365’s detection and data breach reporting.
  • Pointing out the areas where Dynamics 365 will maximise the opportunity of compliance with GDPR such as turning double opt-in and lower sign up volumes into better engagement and conversion.
  • Knowledgeable in every facet of GDPR, of your current system(s) and integrations.
  • Following a process for supporting you through GDPR based on experience of your sector.
  • Prepared to continue to work with you as you get to grips with how it works in practice.

Watch our essential GDPR webinar for more information.

Holiday season is almost upon us and the travel and leisure industry is booming.

More people are seeking new experiences than ever before. And 76% of them are buying online. Not only is this great news for digital marketing, virtual experiences and efficiency, it’s a data goldmine that lets you meet your customers’ needs. From the first time they click through to your website, your customers are already imagining their holiday.

 

How deep is your data?

People expect personalisation.  They want to be treated as an individual and like to feel unique. They expect you to meet their needs without having to spell it out to you. For example, a returning customer will expect you to recognise them as quickly as possible. They need you to understand their preferences and choices based on previous interactions and purchases and will want recommendations and suggestions based on that.  To do that for every single one of your customers, you need to have a record of their buying behavior – data.

The ability to capture information about each and every customer and their every interaction with your business is what Microsoft Dynamics 365 refer to as a Single Customer View. The fact that Microsoft allows businesses to feed information from every department into one view on one system makes that insight far more valuable.

Suddenly, your segmentation is more meaningful, data becomes easier to manage and the nurture stage of your marketing campaigns can be so much more informed. The result is a delighted customer, rather than a satisfied one. And with most customers now spending a vast amount of their time in the social media ecosystem, you really do need to see them as part of your marketing team. People trust people and you can’t afford to leave people underwhelmed.

 

What makes Dynamics365 Single Customer View Different?

The term CRM doesn’t cover half of what Dynamics 365 can do. Microsoft defines it as end-to-end intelligent business applications in the cloud. It’s CRM and ERP working as a team to bring customer service, sales, marketing, field service, finance and operations together.  It creates one big management, implementation and feedback loop around the database, keeping your customers firmly at the centre of your business strategy.  That means that Microsoft’s Single Customer View really is the complete picture and that gives you real power to work more productively and communicate more effectively to deliver the personalised experience that customers want. Your business truly becomes insight driven.

 

Here are the big wins:

 

Sales

With task automation where a conversation isn’t required, and full sight of how a customer, or a group of customers interacts with other departments in the business, sales can focus on turning them into bookings.

 

Customer service

Full sight of a customer’s relationship with every department means customer service reps can do a better job of handling bookings, managing problems and maximising opportunities.

 

Experience

With a more joined up approach, customers get a more consistent approach across research, booking and the product or service. They get a better sense of your brand, which, in turn, means a greater likelihood to recommend or review on social sites.

 

Marketing

Exceeding customer expectations is harder to achieve than it used to be. At one point it was enough to personalise an email. Now, it’s about connection and showing you know what makes them tick and going the extra mile to make their booking even more of an experience. It’s impossible without a Single Customer View and can only lead to positive customer reactions with insights from other departments.

As we become more aware of the importance of collecting data and how that can drive strategy, one thing to keep in mind is GDPR.  The General Data Protection Regulations come into force in May 2018 increasing the importance of how you store, manage and use customer data. Whilst it hugely tightens things up and may reduce your overall data count, it does mean that the data you have will be more meaningful. Whilst 83% of millennials are happy to have their habits tracked by travel brands in exchange for a more individual experience, your marketing team will need to work hard to ensure engagement so that they can keep their data on file.

If your organisation hasn’t thought about the implications of GDPR yet, you will find our upcoming webinar hugely helpful.

 

What now?

There are so many ways to talk to your customers, understanding how to reach them and where they spend their time is important.  Knowing everything you can about them enables product development and marketing strategies, but it also brings customer delight. In the social media ecosystem, the more opportunities to delight you have the better! It’s a guaranteed way to keep your brand alive in a sea of online results.

Does your Single Customer View do enough for your business? Download our free Complete Guide to Microsoft Dynamics 365 for more information or give us a call.

 

When you think of Industry 4.0, what springs to mind?

It’s the new buzz phrase for the combination of industry and the current Internet of Things (IoT) technology. First, there was Industry 1.0 (when water and steam power mechanized production), then 2.0 (hello electricity) and 3.0 (digital arrives) revolutions. This fourth revolution is moving at an exponential rate and is disrupting nearly every industry in the country. As with the previous industrial revolutions, manufacturing has been the forerunner for adoption making use of new technology for flexible manufacturing, 3D printing and self-regulating machinery (amongst many others).  The McKinsey Institute expects Industry 4.0 applications to create a new surge of factory productivity. So with AI, automation and supply chain technologies now part and parcel of ERP, what does Industry 4.0 mean for the rest of us?

eConsultancy reports that by 2020, customer experience will have overtaken price and product as a key brand differentiator. Companies are expected to deliver reliable customer service across channels 24/7. Technology is moving quickly to support it but the best results happen with human input.

 

Bots Are a Great Example

In a customer service context, bots can determine intent behind users’ questions. The addition of Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes deep learning from customer information possible so that bots can be further customised. But there are some situations when an automated response just isn’t good enough. So the answer is in understanding what the use cases are for either bots or people. The interaction of your people with the technology will teach it the tougher questions and it won’t be long until we see support products that will alert human operators when AI confidence is low. The big win is freeing up agents for the more complex situations making it possible to deal with more of those whilst the bots deal with the straightforward stuff and continue to learn.

 

Predictive Analytics Give Insight Humans Can’t Find

Predictive analytics is about finding patterns in a vast amount of data and getting actionable insight out of it.  New predictive algorithms can make something of the swathes of data that is sitting dormant across systems and provide the information that points the directions a business should be moving in whether that relates to cross sell opportunities, identification of a recurring problem or missed opportunities, estimating conversion from digital campaigns and making optimization recommendations, the analysis of social sentiment and profiles.  Of course, it works best when data from various departments is sitting on one system that can bring it together as a jigsaw.

 

Old School Values With New Technology

Customers increasingly value personal experience and digital technology has become the means to provide it. If you are reviewing your systems and software, make sure you are seeing the various parts of your business as a jigsaw. The most effective systems are those that can work for every department off one platform to allow bots, predictive analytics and automation to continually improve and provide that customer experience and business direction.

 

So do your homework. Create a strategy. Have the right team and the right tools. Focus on improving processes and then implement the new technologies that will best serve your strategy. Any software partner worth their salt will scope with you and really get to know your business. This isn’t just about comparing functionality, but understanding your customer journey and your business.

 

More questions?

Interested to learn more about Industry 4.0 and how it affects your business? Watch our Industry 4.0 webinar now.

When we meet our clients for the first time, there are usually five immediate discussions.

The first is about how Dynamics365 will make processes and people more effective. That’s an easy one. The next four questions revolve around data – big data (size isn’t everything), data management (management is not the same as insight), storing it (cloud, cloud, cloud) and understanding it (not the what, the how).

If you are creating marketing campaigns for a product or service with a relatively short customer lead time, the chances are you are selling lots of that product or service and accumulating vast amounts of data. Data counts mean nothing if you don’t understand them.  Some (from the old world of marketing) would describe it as transactional but as we all know, a transaction is informed by context and, regardless of lead-in time, every customer is a potential relationship or referral.

How do you make that transaction mean more?  It’s not enough to manage the data better. It’s true that data is only as valuable to your business as what you do with it. If it doesn’t ultimately help you make more confident, productive decisions, spot lucrative opportunities and halt underperforming activities, it’s holding you back.

It’s 2017 though. This is not fresh news.  So what gives?

Thanks to digital technology and the realisation of customer experience, marketing plays a huge role in the entire customer lifecycle. To be effective, marketers need access to a myriad of different data sources to connect to get the 360 view of the customer. The cross-business collaboration needed can be a struggle.

There are three key differences between the marketing departments of leading businesses and those that lag behind.

 

  1. The right data

According to Openrise, 54% of marketers would cite poor data accessibility as a key barrier to data management success. 44% cited poor data quality and as a sign of the times, 37% cited poor database integration. We’d argue that the accessibility and integration points are one in the same and can be remedied with the right platform and that in time, data quality could also be addressed.

 

  1. Knowledge and Skills

There’s no point having the right data in the right place without the right people to analyse it properly. It’s a difficult one as it’s only been the last few years that marketers have needed this data focus. A cross-discipline approach across the business makes sense with Business Analysts and IT contributing. That lets marketers focus on their main skill set instead of spreading their efforts too wide whilst we wait for the next generation of marketers to join the ranks.

 

  1. Creativity

Marketing is a creative process. Content is still king so the challenge is integrating the work being done to make marketing more data driven, with the work being done to engage customers with better experiences.

Introducing Dynamics 365 has taken our conversations up a gear. Even businesses with a huge amount of data lack information that ultimately delivers decision-making confidence. Eyes light up when the penny drops that the common data model means no more silos. Information to pinpoint future opportunities is more accessible; whether it’s marketing effort, sales pipeline issues, budget reallocation, product development or expansion into new markets.

Find out more information by watching our High Volume Marketing webinar.

Industry 4.0 Revolution Timeline Infographic

Please click here on image or here for high-res PDF version

The 5 Major Technologies Driving Industry 4.0

By 2020, customer experience will be more important than price. Businesses will remain cost aware but stuttering customer service won’t be tolerated.

Why? We live in the age of the customer.  Digital innovation has not only made it possible for businesses to deliver more, it has meant that customers know more and expect more.  It will no longer be enough to meet customer expectations but to predict them.  What does that mean for your manufacturing business?

 

  1. Adapt or Fail

To stay relevant in the future, you have to start now. Many companies are already laying the foundations. Others are stuck in the past and assume that high quality and good prices will be enough to survive. That isn’t the case. Imagine one of your customers decided to give another supplier a go for any reason at all. Now imagine the other supplier already has the systems, processes and data use in place to not only meet your costs, but to provide your customer with an experience that makes their own job easier. How much more can you discount your cost to compete? And at what point would you really just be buying business?

 

  1. Observe (but act)

Look around the manufacturing industry and you’ll hear talk of Industry 4.0, intelligent factories, artificial intelligence, robotics, cyber security, digital strategy, digital skills, simulation, cost reduction and automation to name just a few! What are your competitors already doing? What are other sectors within manufacturing doing? Are there any insights there worth exploring? Observe now and get a feel for what progression looks like for your business, then start board level discussion about it.

 

  1. Big Data is Key

Data is only as helpful as the insights it can provide you with and you can only see the most valuable insights when the whole organisation’s data is brought together to provide a full picture.  A set of data on its own can tell you a few things and could mislead you; wasting time, resource and opportunity. Data in context tells the truth and helps you to meet customer expectations with better products, services and prices.

 

  1. IT has never been more important

Who leads your IT strategy and how important is it to the board?  It’s crucial that digital innovation is not seen as back office issue focused on operational efficiencies. It’s a culture that threads through every facet of your company empowering employees at all levels of the company.

 

  1. Start at the beginning

If you are a business trading on customer service and value, what are you currently doing manually that is slowing down your progress? How informed and effective are your client interactions?  Are you turning information across the business into strategic opportunities and how are you currently going about that? Is there a better way? There is no point investing in any platforms, processes or equipment until you have answered all of those questions.

Take some time aside with your team and consider your current efficiency and effectiveness. Get an outside view of your systems, processes and corporate objectives. If you are looking at new systems, look at the bigger picture of integration of where you are now and where you plan to go. Scalability is crucial.

Once upon a time, in a land pre-digital, B2B data was a longed for resource.

Fast-forward to 2017 – data and technologies to handle it abound. So, why are senior marketing leaders still dissatisfied?

 

Problem No.1

A new study commissioned by the Martech Industry Council has highlighted that 25% of businesses are using over 20 tools to handle, process and use the data available to them.  No wonder they’re frustrated! That alone is a huge waste of precious time and the silos enormously restrict the ROI.

Problem No.2

How many marketers want to spend hours of their working week managing databases? According to the research, only 11%. So, at best, you could find your business data relegated to the ‘chores’ list.

Problem No.3

60% of marketing leaders are asking for a more accurate understanding of the buyer persona and person most likely to buy. It’s worrying that 60% don’t feel they have that currently. But it’s not surprising.  Data sitting in separate systems doesn’t tell you enough. It’s only once data is brought together into an integrated platform that it can tell you a full story about your buyers.

Problem No.4

75% of those surveyed said they’d like more time to develop and launch new campaigns. Tying in with problem no. 3 above, this suggests that marketers have to make assumptions about their buyer personas in order to get campaigns out within a time-frame. And as we all know, assumptions can be costly.

 

Here’s the solution:

In one word, integration. To be able to get truly actionable insights from data, it needs to be part of an ongoing loop that does the work for you.  For high-value products, the sale is dependent on a good journey from lead to conversion and then retention. Actionable insight from data helps marketers to identify what works at what stage but it only becomes actionable when it takes customer behaviour from other departments into account.

High-value product or service marketers know that good quality leads are their primary goal. To get those leads, you need to know what leads have previously converted and what the characteristics are of the ones that went on to become the most profitable for your business.

Since it launched in late 2016, Dynamics 365 has been described as a game changer for operational efficiency and customer experience. For the first time, the full workflow is on one system so that every interaction is informed, and every sale is creating data and insight to fuel the next wave of marketing.

Find out more information by watching on our High Value Marketing Webinar .