Here’s a statistic that should get your attention: Fewer than half the companies that were in the Fortune 500 in 2000 are still on that list today. This tidbit from Forrester CRM Analyst Liz Herbert, who I had the pleasure of meeting at a recent dinner hosted by Cloud Sherpas. Our group talked about how CRM systems and digital disruption are reshaping all kinds of industries, from beverages to transportation.
Her statistic made a big impression on me. It shows just how quickly massive changes are taking place, toppling established players and creating new success stories. What’s behind it? My best guess: The disrupting influence of digital business, especially through our mobile devices.
Today we’re living and doing business in the Age of the Customer, a 20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers.
The Age of the Customer requires businesses to transform the customer experience by turning Big Data into customer insight, becoming a digital disruptor and embracing the mobile mind shift. It requires companies to both create new sources of value for customers and increase operational agility in the service of customers.
Think about the Coca-Cola Company. How has it stayed at the top of its industry for 70+ years? Coca-Cola continues to provide new ways to quench the business needs of customers, as well as consumer thirst. Some of the latest innovations include mobile wallets, so having cash isn’t a requirement for purchase from a vending machine. Coca-Cola now enables consumers to buy its product using a downloadable app on their smartphones.
“Innovation is the key to growth,” said Coca-Cola’s Director of Vending Strategy, Dan Avenick. “Enabling technologies and consumer trends, especially the widespread adoption of smartphones, are converging to create a sweet spot of opportunity to reinvent vending.”
Digital is disrupting every industry, from established leaders like Coca-Cola, to startups like Uber car service. You might be surprised which private companies are considered ‘Disruptors’, according to the 2015 CNBC Disruptor 50 list. But we’re happy MongoDB and GitHub made the list.
The Age of the Customer demands changes. Big ones. To be able to respond to business and customer demands quickly, companies must retool their technology strategies so they can maintain, and even grow, their competitive edge. Speed and agility are the new imperatives. Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings such as Salesforce Service Cloud and Oracle Eloqua for Marketing can help. Tools, platforms, people, vision – and a relentless focus on the customer experience. Not such a tall order, is it?