Just yesterday I wrote a post in which I featured several insights from my recent interview with Jason Mittelstaedt, chief marketing officer for RightNow Technologies. Mittelstaedt suggested -- and I agreed -- that the cloud has the potential to help companies offer a more cohesive customer experience by promoting a less siloed approach to customer data. He told me, in part:
Many organizations have a history of spending a lot of time and money in the back office. It's important, but I think the customer experience imperative is the customer-facing experience.
With our conversation fresh in my mind, I was interested to read about a company that appears to be doing exactly that, British insurance broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson. In a silicon.com interview, Jardine Lloyd Thompson CIO Ian Cohen discusses how the company is integrating its Salesforce.com CRM system into its contact center operation in an effort to get a clearer understanding of what Cohen calls "the entire lifecycle of all our engagements." The eventual goal, Cohen says, is to "assembl[e] timely and client-specific and relevant content, and then deliver this in the form and format that is of most use to the client."
JLT is also using the cloud to help it standardize its risk assessment processes. According to the article, JLT worked with Xactium to develop a risk manager application on Salesforce's Force.com cloud platform that creates a framework for collating risk assessment information across the entire group.
This resonates with me because I think it helps illustrate a couple of points I find myself making fairly regularly, and that Cohen or someone at JLT seems to have embraced.
One is that cost reduction is only a small part of what the cloud can do. Instead of looking at the cloud primarily as a way to lower infrastructure costs, companies need to assess how it can help them transform the way they do business. I like how JLT recognized opportunities for doing this with both its internal and customer-facing processes. (In fact, Cohen says the cloud won't help companies reduce overhead as much as they might think, given that it will almost certainly drive demand for more IT services.)
The second point is how combining CRM with business process management may be the best way to improve the customer experience. While it isn't explicitly spelled out in the silicon.com piece, this seems to be the direction in which JLT is headed with its "lifecycle" approach to customer relationships. This was the mega theme of a Pegasystems user conference I attended earlier this year, during which the Pega CEO said that BPM and customer relationship management "share the same DNA."
Not coincidentally, Pegasystems offers a cloud BPM platform called the Pega Cloud.