Reinventing business operations to enable greater customer-centricity and top line growth

David Millen

Cloud computing, mobile, big data wearable technology – these are a few of the technological trends driving today’s businesses. They sound cool. They’re transforming the way we do business. But underneath all the technology buzzwords, it’s all about one thing: delivering exceptional customer experiences.

That’s according to David Millen, Vice President of Smarter Process at IBM. In this interview, Millen discusses these key technology trends and how they’re reshaping business operations and processes.

Editor’s note: this is a transcript of a video interview. Watch the original video interview here.

PEX Network: Businesses have been confronted by a lot of changes - both technological as well as competitive and economic - over the last couple of years. What do you think are some of the major new technological trends that will be driving business process in the year ahead?

David Millen: I think the first trend is the continued convergence of mobile and cloud as a platform. I think that this will continue to change the way people work and interact with their processes. Processes still drive businesses today, but being able to leverage cloud to do things like speed up that ability and/or account for some of the limitations of memory, storage, and computer capacity as part of a mobile platform will really afford businesses a new opportunity to bring these platforms together.

One of the other trends is the ability to easily operationalize big data. Now clients have the ability to realize continuous insights by collecting data, and applying insights to that data. These insights can now help with complex systems, like payment provider networks.

By doing this, clients actually gain new insight and are able to put together data aggregates that allow complicated things to be simplified to keep running totals of important KPIs. This actually affords them new insights into the business that they already have running.

Then I think the last trend that is picking up a lot of momentum is wearable tech, or process digitization notion. This is where we have some clients either creating devices, and/or creating applications that collect data and feed into their processes. For instance, they can collect data that allows them to determine simple things like an enhanced personal training programs or other personal information that allows them to maybe target offerings more directly for individuals.

PEX Network: What impact are these technological trends having on the way that people work within enterprises?

David Millen: When we think about the cloud in mobile opportunity, this is speeding up the way businesses work. Not only is it speeding up business based on the attributes of cloud, but also because mobile affords a highly contextual and personalized experience to be delivered to clients. Delivering that experience enables workers to focus more directly on customer needs and customer interactions, thus lifting up the business that is around them.

For the second trend - easily operationalized big data – this is allowing more intelligent systems to be created. These more intelligent systems allow businesses to more easily handle unpredictable circumstances and/or accelerate the actual insight that they're gaining on their business at large.

PEX Network: Taking it back to business processes and operations, how are these trends changing where your customers are placing their focus?

David Millen: One thing that’s critical in today’s climate is being able to focus on clients and customers. The way you do business with a customer is very revealing. Their first interaction with your company - the way they first actually step into the order of management system - affects how they will feel about the rest of the process and products that they interact with.

So being able to really engage in a customer experience and enable your processes to support that, is critical to being successful today.

The process implications are that you can no longer view your processes just as cost optimization or cost-cutting exercises. Instead, you now must adjust them to account for growth opportunities and focus on your clients. By doing that you enable your front office folks to focus on simplicity and putting time into developing those customer relationships and those customer engagements that drive your business.

PEX Network: So, it sounds like this notion of customer centricity is really one of the core drivers behind this push to process simplification. Is that right?

David Millen: Absolutely. It's critical that you not only engage, but that you also retain your clients. The clients that you have today may not be your clients tomorrow if the experience that you deliver out to them is not fully satisfying.

Experience is really a key driver in rationale and reasoning behind why customers do business with a particular service provider. As service providers, across many industries, decipher the complexities within their businesses, it gives their knowledge workers and their business experts, an opportunity to spend more time engaging with the clients.

PEX Network: What is IBM’s approach to re-inventing business operations, and how do you help customers become more customer-centric?

David Millen: We’re seeing our clients really step into these engagements with an understanding of not only balancing the cost-cutting optimization side, but to really focus on reinventing their processes to uplift and engage more directly with their clients.

These levels of engagement are driving business to simpler, more intuitive, consumer experiences. So, between mobile cloud and customer-centricity, we see process making its way into an evolution of business that helps them drive an engagement more directly with clients.