As cloud computing races to become the dominant platform for business, the cloud’s ability to completely revolutionize customer engagement and customer experience has become the dominant topic for the CEOs of many of the leading vendors in the Cloud Wars.
With the global digital economy forcing companies in every industry to become digital enterprises in order to be able to meet the growing demands of customers, the cloud’s modern and flexible architecture is allowing businesses to create elegant new ways to engage with customers following terms and conditions set by those buyers.
And it’s clearly become a top priority—perhaps even the top priority—for CEOs of some leading cloud companies.
At Salesforce.com’s massive Dreamforce event in San Francisco last week, co-CEO Marc Benioff told CNBC’s Jim Cramer that in today’s digital world, every single company is looking to reinvent itself in the image of its customers—and is using the cloud and other digital technologies to do so.
“Every company has to rethink who they are in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including Marriott, and that’s why CEO Arne Sorenson is here to participate in the keynote where we’re going to show a whole new vision for Marriott,” Benioff told Cramer.
“All the technology, everything they need to connect with their customers in whole new ways—and that includes, starting when you check into a Marriott, your digital key, right on your phone—and then the ability to talk to Siri and say, ‘Please order me my favorite sandwich.’ ”
And this wild new world is also requiring that businesses be able to develop trust with their consumers to earn the right to share those new engagements and experiences, Benioff said.
“In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, when everyone and everything is connected, how can you operate if trust is not your highest value?” asked Benioff.
“And I’ll tell you what’s going to happen: if trust is not your highest value—and you see it in our tech industry right now—your employees are gonna walk out the door.
“So you better decide—now!—that trust is your highest value. Because in this new world, as everything is changing, people want to know they can trust you.”
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, speaking last week at Microsoft’s Ignite event, said the ubiquity of technology offers remarkable new opportunities for businesses to connect with customers in new ways.
“This is an amazing time for us, in any industry, to think about digital technology,” Nadella said, “because computing is getting embedded everywhere in the real world: in the home, in the hospital, in stadiums, and everywhere you can imagine.”
In this new world characterized by “tech intensity” and with “everything getting intelligent and connected,” the big opportunity for businesses is “harnessing all of this awesome computing power to create the next generation of AI-powered business processes.”
Nadella cited numerous Microsoft customers that have jumped on this notion of “tech intensity” to create digital processes and digital businesses to meet the relentless demands of increasingly sophisticated customers, including businesses as well as customers.
SAP CEO Bill McDermott, whose company earlier this year announced a sweeping initiative to redefine the CRM market as a way to help customers find new and better ways to create beautiful customer-engagement models and ongoing customer experiences, joined Nadella at the Ignite event along with Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen to discuss a new alliance—the Open Data Initiative—to help customers gain access to all their data.
“We’re in the midst of a customer-driven growth revolution in which every single company is going through digital transformation because their consumers are mobile, they’re social, they have access to all channels, and they’re becoming geospatially attuned,” McDermott said.
“So data can’t be trapped in silos—businesses have to be able to connect end-to-end in real time. CEOs in boardrooms around the world are saying, ‘Give me a single view of my customer.’ ”
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Those thoughts from Benioff, Nadella and McDermott underscore why cloud computing has blown past all growth projections and has rapidly moved beyond tactical solutions to mission-critical operations at many of the world’s largest organizations: because it allows them to reinvent themselves in ways that digital consumers and digital businesses are demanding.
And it will be that type of revolutionary force that will continue to make the cloud one of the largest and most-influential growth markets the tech industry has ever seen.
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