Managing Cross Channel Touch Points Through Open Platform Strategy

By Suvrata Acharya, VP and Vertical Delivery Head , NIIT Technologies Limited

Customer-centricity is always the focal point of all the successful enterprise. New technologies such as mobile, social engineering, analytics and clouds are forcing every enterprise to re-think their strategy related to customer-centricity. Customer is looking for augmented service to be delivered at their point of relevance. About 30 percent fortune 500 companies have moved from product-centric structure to customer-centric structure and it will touch 52 percent in next two years. The new structure is pushing on investment on building new platforms and modernizing their existing platforms.

New startups and Fintech companies are pushing innovative solutions in the market to grab customer’s mind space. They are smart enough to identify new touch points across multiple channels and building business model to capture the market around those touch points. For traditional business entire transformation is taking much more time and impacting the return on assets(ROA). As per industry estimate, ROA is going down by 39 percent for the first 3 years of the transformation. This is forcing companies to look for innovation in their product and service strategy. They are adopting open platform strategy to enable development of personalized products and services. 

New Cross Channel Touchpoints

According to the definition in Wikipedia, “Touchpoint” is business jargon for any encounter where customers and business engage to exchange information, provide service, or handle transactions. Each channel can provide a number of touch points depending on how a particular customer handles that channel. 
Companies are leveraging the advanced technologies in the area of cloud, embedded system, social media, mobility and big data in their service strategy. However,they are facing a number of challenges while realizing the potential in these new technologies.

• Lack of interoperability of systems and coordination among business units, companies are unable to create a unified strategy to serve the customer around a touch point.
• It is difficult to analyze the customer processes in the new multi-channel world before defining a unified strategy for them.
• Running the existing preferred channels in a cost-effective manner.
• Building a true ‘pull strategy’ which creates a pull in the minds of customers by giving them superior quality of service in least possible time at best possible price.

The open platform strategy is helping companies to build the flexible business blocks that can be customized and integrated with new technology backbone to generate relevant cross-channel touch point experience.

Open Platform Strategy

According to Wikipedia definition, an open platform describes a software system which is based on open standards, such as published and fully documented external application programming interfaces (API) that allow using the software to function in other ways than the original programmer intended, without requiring modification of the source code. Using these interfaces, a third party could integrate with the platform to add functionality.

With the surge of cloud computing and mobile, the collaboration landscape is changing very fast. Leading platforms such as Google, Salesforce, Amazon and Facebook are already providing API platforms so that augmented services can be built on top of it. New business models are thriving on API economy. Traditional product based firms are re-launching their products and services based on new API model. 

The traditional vertically integrated model which extensively uses internet based applications focuses mostly on monolithic platforms and applications. Later, Service oriented architecture helped connecting applications with each other and share information. Today, the organizations are moving towards horizontally integrated model. Products and services are being re-architected and redesigned based on customer experience on specific touch points. 

Using APIs to develop new touch point experience

Today, a number of companies are investing in building APIs that is enabling the organization’s core assets and services to be extended so that it can be used as a business model driver. According to Deloitte, leading companies are making API management and productization as part of their business strategy. Public APIs have been doubled in last 18 months. Even government is making budget to provide public services through API. One example is OpenFDA API program by US Food and Drug Administration.

Since a touch point is a point of interaction involving a specific need of costumer at a specific point and time, APIs can be used effectively along with social networking and analytics to build customized service dynamically.

As the trend suggests, new services are being designed by using new technology power. Hyper-localization is now extended beyond marketing to transaction and security. The companies will be forced to cannibalize their existing service models to make a way for new service model based on APIs. This will also help the innovators to build different outcome based service models. In future when volume of touch points will increase because of Internet of Things (IOT), the communications between devices will be enabled faster and cheaper through API. 

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