With all the articles you’ve probably read on cloud, all the hype and all the talk about cloud – you’d think that every business was now at least 90% in the cloud. Yet apparently there’s still some way to go. Here’s a little round of some of the latest predictions, stats and figures relating to the cloud industry. We also think there’s a great opportunity for innovative startups in the enterprise IT and cloud market to disrupt the status quo for cloud migration and enterprise hosting services. What do you think?
So what’s the state of cloud in 2017?
74% of tech CFOs believe cloud computing will have the most measurable impact on their business in 2017. Is this the year that things get done? The year in which those large scale moves to cloud happen and central business applications finally tip over the edge into the cloud abyss? Perhaps… (Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2017/04/29/roundup-of-cloud-computing-forecasts-2017/#2e4fa41631e8)
Enabling top performers
A report from IBM showed that the top-performing companies in the banking sector are 88% more likely than underperforming banks to implement a hybrid cloud strategy. We’ve always had an inkling that the best performing companies have embraced cloud where it makes sense, but it’s good to see it in stats and facts! (Source: https://enterprisersproject.com/article/2017/8/hybrid-cloud-10-notable-statistics)
Cloud spend 6 times the rate of spend as traditional IT
Still pushing against the pull of cloud and refusing to budge? Apparently cloud compute spend is growing at 4.5 times the rate of IT spend – and that rate is expected to increase to 6 times the rate of IT spend between 2016 and 2020. Is your IT reseller still telling you to buy on-premise or ignore SaaS tools? Maybe 2017 is the year to reconsider your supplier strategy. (Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2017/04/29/roundup-of-cloud-computing-forecasts-2017/#5834998231e8)
The hybrid cloud market is expected to be $91,740,000,000 in 2021, raised from an estimate of a comparably feeble $33.28bn in 2016. With such a huge increase in the market size, we’ll be paying close attention to who the big players in the hybrid cloud market are – surely it’s going to be an attractive play for many existing cloud providers and startups? (Source: https://enterprisersproject.com/article/2017/8/hybrid-cloud-10-notable-statistics).
Global IT-as-a-Service spend
Deloitte believes that in 2018 the global spend on ‘IT-as-a-service’ will be $547bn, up from $361bn in 2016. With such an increase in spend, we are predicting that providers will be bringing evermore innovative solutions to market to make it easier for the larger organisations with complex ERP systems and on-premise legacy environments to move over. We haven’t seen much innovation in the arena of cloud migration services and taking legacy apps to the cloud – maybe this is an area for startups to focus on in the future to harness the uptick trend in as-a-service spending? (Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2017/04/29/roundup-of-cloud-computing-forecasts-2017/#5834998231e8)
I believe that many of these cloud statistics offer a lot of possibility for newer market entrants to capture a piece of the cloud pie – customers are looking for something different; they want simpler systems and easier paths to migration. Who will own the market for easier migration to a hybrid cloud environment?
One of the top books I’ve read over the past few years is “Made to Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath – and although most of the book and ideas are focused around how to make new products ‘stick’ in a particular market, I think some of the ideas can be applied to sales.
I’m always looking for new and different ways to reframe how we apply learning in the world of sales, and looking for new ways to explain why customers buy and what we can do as sales teams to improve how we align with those buying patterns.
So, if we look at the core ideas below from Made to Stick – you can instantly see how these ‘rules’ can be applied to sales activities.
Made to Stick – the ‘Succes’ formula
- Simple – find the core of any idea
- Unexpected – grab people’s attention by surprising them
- Concrete – make sure an idea can be grasped and remembered later
- Credible – give an idea believability
- Emotional – help people see the importance of an idea
- Stories – empower people to use an idea through narrative
(Heath & Heath)
Finding the core of any idea
What’s more frustrating than speaking to a sales rep who tells you hundreds of facts, figures, stats, and points about their product. Not many sales execs are good at finding the core of an idea – they make propositions too complicated, and they include too much info. We are simple beings, and we need simple messages.
Grabbing your audience’s attention
The reason why most of our customers have chosen to partner with us is because we are unexpected. They didn’t expect our sales guy to visit them over the weekend to help them wire up their new datacentre, and they didn’t expect the Jonathan Palmer Race Day experience invite. It’s not just about unexpected gifts, but it’s also about taking a different approach to how you sell. Be unexpected, delight your customers – make them smile.
Make your idea memorable
Once you’ve done your presentation and you walk out the door, that customer you’ve just met goes back into their world. That world might include catching up with voicemails missed during your meeting, or dealing with a problem that’s keeping them up at night. How does your message break through all of that so that they remember it? If it sounds vaguely similar to most of your competitors, then it’s unlikely they will be able to differentiate between you and your competitor a week later. So instead, think about how you can simplify your message down and present it in a way that sticks.
One of our best sales reps mapped out a customer’s new IT solution using coasters, pens and whatever was to hand in a meeting – as a way of visualising a new solution for a customer. This was memorable as it required the customer to physically engage in designing their own solution – it was an interactive process whereas a traditional PowerPoint presentation is often a one-way conversation from presenter to audience.
Give an idea believability
How do you demonstrate credibility to your customer? Could it be by sharing interesting customer anecdotes (and we’re not talking about a boring case study) – or inviting an existing happy client to come along to a meeting with a new customer? Or perhaps get a customer to record a quick personalised video message in preparation for your meeting? Customers want to feel reassured that they are making the right choice, don’t make it difficult for them to find the info they need to make that choice.
Help people see the importance of an idea
In sales, it’s important to develop an emotional connection between what you’re selling and your buyer. Your product or service will have a business impact on your customer’s organisation and job, but it will also have an emotional impact on your buyer – they have a very important choice to make. If they make the wrong choice, it will have both business and personal ramifications for them. They might not be put in charge of selecting a new supplier in future, or perhaps their confidence in managing large projects where they are the decision maker will be dented. Understand the emotional impact of your service, but also the emotional opportunity of your product. What could they achieve with your product? What would it mean for them personally?
Empower an idea through narrative
Perhaps the most important one of all: stories. We talk a lot about story-telling in sales, but do you actually do it? How could you shake up your traditional customer presentation by making it story-centric – could all the same points be told by telling your customer a story about how you helped someone before and talk them through that particular story? Moving away from information overload, and to a valuable story that captures your customers’ attention is the only way to form true connections with buyers and help them to better understand your business, your product and your value to them.
What do you think? Have you read Made to Stick? Do you think it applies to the world of sales?
Customer loyalty has historically been formed largely through face-to-face interactions. However, with the advent of online shopping, retailers have found it significantly harder to build brand loyalty, instead focusing on factors such as product selection, convenience and lower prices to drive revenue.
There’s no doubt that ecommerce channels present many advantages to retailers and consumers alike, particularly given the rise of mobile and the added accessibility and convenience it brings. At the same time, being spoiled for choice has also had its effect on the consumer market – there is now so much competition that it’s easier to lose customers than ever before.
Transforming new customers into brand ambassadors can be challenging when you’re working with a medium as impersonal as ecommerce. Nonetheless, by guaranteeing customer satisfaction and taking steps to acquire their trust, you’ll be in a better position to turn a new customer into someone who will happily spread the good word about your business through social networks and other platforms.
Customer Loyalty Is Declining
Being spoiled for choice in an often extremely competitive marketplace, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that customer loyalty is dropping steadily. In fact, conversion rates have dropped by 28% in the last seven years. The rapid rise of comparison shopping and the relative ease of finding alternatives online have also made it more difficult for brands to hold onto existing customers. As such, many consumers don’t even consider brand loyalty to be a significant factor in their purchase decisions.
To overcome this trend, retailers need to work harder to better accommodate their customers through personalized loyalty programmes and excellent online content. After all, no longer is customer loyalty just about face-to-face interactions and competitive prices.
How Mobile Commerce Influences Customer Loyalty
Mobile commerce is rapidly catching up with desktop commerce, with more than 40% of online transactions now occurring on the small screen. Online stores that don’t provide an optimal experience on smartphones will likely be losing out on a great deal of potential revenue. Additionally, some digital loyalty programmes are not nearly as effective as they’re only tailored towards desktop users, or those using physical loyalty cards.
Studies show that 70% of consumers will develop a better impression of a company that allows them to save a loyalty card to their smartphone. From the consumer’s perspective, mobile loyalty programmes are far more convenient, since they can present things like personalized discount cards and digital loyalty cards in-store rather than having to print something out or carry around an additional card.
The same study also found that 83% of consumers appreciate a personalized approach whereby they receive specific rewards and promotions for events such as birthdays and anniversaries. By demonstrating to new customers that you’re aware of their individual needs and desires, you’ll be in a much better position to retain their business. If, on the other hand, a customer feels like nothing more than just another sales statistic, they’re not likely to feel any sense of loyalty to your business.
The Importance of Online Content for Building Brand Loyalty
One of the biggest challenges with building a highly visible online brand is getting heard amongst all the noise. However, according to NewsCred Insights, 62% of millennial consumers consider meaningful online content to be a major driver in brand loyalty. Every day, millions of people, particularly those belonging to the millennial generation, turn to the web to find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. That’s why content marketing, especially social media, have become so important. Nonetheless, many companies have yet to embrace the potential of quality, engaging and relevant content to increase their brand’s visibility and influence.
Millennials generally aren’t interested in receiving sales messages, hence the rapid decline of traditional advertising in recent years. Instead, they want actionable content in a variety of formats, such as social media updates and blog posts, that helps them to fulfil their goals.
Building an ecommerce empire is no longer about sending sales messages – it’s about building loyalty through a strong, consistent and genuinely helpful online presence. From personalised loyalty rewards to value-adding content, online retailers need to do everything they can to build and retain audiences in an increasingly crowded marketplace. It’s about a two-way, engaged conversation between retailers and customers.
While adopting a mobile-first approach may require an extensive overhaul of your website, the benefits are undisputable. Thanks to the increasing ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, interactions with potential and existing customers can happen anywhere at any time instead of being restricted to the desktop.
Mobile traffic overtook the desktop around three years ago, and around 90% of consumers now keep their smartphones with them around the clock. The mobile share of the ecommerce industry continues to skyrocket, profoundly effecting the industry to the extent businesses are now more likely to talk about ‘m-commerce’ rather than e-commerce. Mobile is now the defining platform of the online shopping experience, as these trends and statistics prove:
Just a few years ago, using a smartphone for online shopping was fraught with frustration as consumers struggled to navigate the average website on the small screen. Today, mobile accounts for well over half of all web traffic, and more than 40% of e-commerce transactions now take place on smartphones or tablets. From the consumer’s perspective, mobile is more convenient for shopping, since they can browse online stores, add items to shopping carts and make payments no matter where they are.
Shopping Cart Abandonment
People abandon online shopping carts for all sorts of reasons, such as a lack of preferred payment and delivery options. However, easily one of the biggest impacts on shopping cart abandonment is the user experience. Try navigating an online store that’s designed primarily for use on a desktop device, and you’ll quickly see how fiddly and frustrating the experience can be. Nonetheless, despite the unprecedented rise of mobile, many e-commerce stores are still woefully outdated when it comes to user interface and functionality.
Studies show that almost a third of mobile shoppers will abandon their shopping carts if the experience isn’t optimized for the small screen. Given the fact that mobile commerce is growing, this clearly isn’t an opportunity that retailers can afford to miss out on.
Online shopping has very much become an omnichannel experience, and while desktop devices aren’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future, there are now more ways to access the web than ever before. Mobile now plays an important role at every stage of the buyer journey from initial discovery to making a transaction. In fact, the latest statistics show that sixty percent of consumers have made a purchase on a mobile device, either to pick up an item in store or order online.
What this statistic demonstrates is that different people like to shop in an increasing number of different ways. For example, many consumers still use mobile devices only for initial research, hence the growing popularity of mobile-friendly comparison shopping, while leaving transactions themselves to desktop devices. Others, however, prefer to use the mobile for the entire buyer journey right up to making an order. In fact, the mobile-only consumer, who doesn’t even use a desktop device, is rapidly becoming commonplace.
Black Friday Sales
Despite being an American tradition, Black Friday sales are rapidly gaining ground in the UK and elsewhere in the world. In the US last year, shoppers spent $3.34 billion on online shopping during Black Friday, with $1.2 billion worth of those transactions taking place on mobile devices. That presents a 33% increase over the previous year, yet again exemplifying the fact that mobile commerce is already a big thing.
Online shopping is now an omnichannel experience with a strong focus on the availability and convenience afforded by mobile devices.
Enterprise resource planning is rarely seen as one of the more glamorous sides of modern business. However, contrary to popular belief, ERP is not just about managing your operations. While data and processes may sound boring, they define the way modern business works. In fact, there’s a good chance that data is the most valuable asset your company owns. With the right technology at your disposal, you’ll be better equipped to leverage this data to increase sales and reduce your overheads. ERP is not just about the boring side of business – it’s also a core lead generation tool and helps you to better connect with customers.
Know Who Your Customers Are
All digital processes, from online transactions to customer support requests, generate data. Making sense of this data allows you to learn more about your customers, and that’s exactly what a modern ERP solution does. An ERP suite provides a centralised database containing information about your customers, such as their purchases, the amount of revenue they generated, the number of support requests they’ve filed and more. By making this information more accessible, you’ll have everything you need to adapt future marketing and sales campaigns to better cater to the needs and habits of your customers.
Provide Better Customer Service
Poor customer support is one of the most common reasons for consumers and businesses alike to look elsewhere, particularly now that a company’s reputation is now very much at the mercy of online reviews. Great customer service, on the other hand, creates brand ambassadors who will happily spread the good word about your company, in turn leading to increased revenue. Since a cloud-based ERP solution provides a centralised database with information about everything from customers’ past purchases to what’s in stock over at the warehouse, it allows you to provide a timely service with far more effective real-time communications.
Seek Out New Market Opportunities
Without scalability, future business growth will be severely stunted by the limitations of your existing IT infrastructure. However, modern ERP systems provide an unprecedented level of scalability, since they’re not reliant upon on-premises servers and other expensive and bulky hardware. The data such a system generates, as well as the way this data is stored and accessed, allows you to quickly identify new market opportunities and proactively respond to changes in the market. A modern and flexible ERP solution also makes it easier to expand into other locations or even to other countries.
Agile Service Delivery
The agile software delivery model is all about adaptive planning, continuous improvement and evolutionary development in accordance with the release of new technologies. By their very nature, modern ERP suites are agile, since the systems are maintained and updated constantly by vendors rather than by an in-house team. As such, ERP allows for the early delivery of business value without having to worry about the unforeseen impacts of major software or hardware releases. Other advantages include greater visibility, management and control and faster recovery from failure, all of which ultimately translate into increased revenue.
You might not think of ERP as one of the more glamorous elements of business but, by making it the central lead-generation tool of your company, you’ll quickly see just how beneficial it can be as a sales engine to drive your business forward. At C24, we strive for continual improvement of your business through an agile approach to ERP. To find out more, speak to one of our experts today.
A recent customer situation which resulted in the renewal of an existing customer’s ERP contract, made me think about why customers come to us. We signed a huge tech deal with a client but we hardly spoke about technology. In short, it got me thinking about how we work with clients. We are a technology company, but people come to us for more than just tech.
Understanding our clients
The first thing that comes to my mind is that we understand our clients. We understand their business and how their supply chain works. To be able to provide the best service, it’s fundamental that we fully grasp their inner workings. From that understanding, we then build close relationships, so that they can be confident that we are there for them; to support them in every step of the journey.
Guide, help and advise our clients every step of the way
As specialist application hosting providers, at C24 we understand that implementing ERP systems correctly is critical within a business. We get that. The ERP system is often the pillar on which most organisations are built; it is fundamental to success and a business cannot run without it. It underpins everything.
When an ERP deployment goes wrong, it affects the business as a whole: supplier payments can’t be made on time or even made at all, invoices go to the wrong people, product manufacturing is affected by delays; and confusion and mistakes become the two main players. In short, all operations of a business can be compromised.
Getting an ERP project wrong can create huge issues for clients’ own customers and suppliers, ultimately leading to customer dissatisfaction. We get it and we know what it takes to make ERP implementations risk free and secure. We know how to make the process of migrating to a new ERP, or having an ERP platform installed for the first time, as painless as possible.
Our expertise in deploying ERP solutions is vast, and because of that we can help businesses to choose the right ERP solution for them. For example, not long ago, we created an ebook about Hybrid ERP (1) and developed a list of 9 things to know about Hybrid ERP, where we explored the ways in which cloud is disrupting the traditional approach to ERP deployment (2). We don’t just deploy ERP, we talk about it, we research it, we study and we write about it. At C24, we partner closely with ERP integrators to deliver the hosting and underpinning infrastructure most suitable to our clients’ existing IT environment and operations. When everything is set up and running, we don’t just disappear from the face of the Earth, we are always available and ready to guide, help and advise whenever needed. We could say we are a ‘partner for life’.
The key to it all
All of this thinking makes me realise once more how important relationships are. If businesses can’t build close relationships with their clients based firstly and foremost on trust, both parties lose. Without trust, and a commitment to truthfully understanding our clients’ needs, we won’t be able to keep that relationship going for very long. Good tech is in fact the bare minimum. Relationships are the key that take that technology to the next level.
Moreover, when you win a contract, it is you against a number of other suppliers. However, when you renew a contract, it is you against the world. You have to prove why you are still the best choice for your customer. Renewal is about the relationship you have built and continue building with your client; it is about understanding them, NOT the tech you provide. It is about strengthening that relationship time after time.
As I said at the beginning of this reminiscence piece, we recently signed a huge tech deal but we hardly spoke about technology. This tells you a lot about who we are and how we like to do business.
We thought we would do a roundup of a few of the top ERP news stories over the past few weeks that caught our eye. Here is our ERP news roundup.
Cloud or nothing
Firstly, Forbes reported that many people find the headache of upgrading or implementing newer versions of their ERP systems (and the associated customizations that go with it) so painful that they decide to remain with their existing software rather than change.
However despite this reticence to change, Gartner reports that alternative procurement models to on-premise licence purchases now account for more than half of new software deployments. Maybe this suggests that when companies are electing for change on their ERP systems, they are moving to cloud or SAAS platforms.
Read the full article here.
Oracle’s Cloud Solutions for Manufacturers
Oracle has announced that it has released the industry’s first new software as a service product for the manufacturing industry in years with the introduction of its Manufacturing Cloud solution.
Oracle has said its new solution will enable the design of manufacturing processes and standards, management of work orders and the monitoring of shop-floor status – all delivered as a service rather than an on-premise licence. Manufacturing and warehouse management solutions have traditionally involved large scale purchases of expensive onsite software licences that require chunky hardware to maintain and run the applications. Oracle’s plan to deliver more of these enterprise applications within the cloud mean that companies can start to diversify how they pay for and consume their applications depending on what makes the most sense for their business.
Despite the new announcement, analysts highlighted the fact that changing applications in this sector is usually triggered by a change in overall manufacturing equipment, which then requires a software upgrade. This suggests the market is led more by the underlying manufacturing hardware systems rather than by the vendors bringing new and improved functionality to market.
Read more here.
Microsoft reorganising its ERP division
Microsoft has recently made changes to its Cloud and Enterprise business unit, bringing enterprise software teams closer to the cloud division. It has moved around teams in order to bring its Windows Server, SQL Server, Dynamics CRM and ERP teams into the vendor’s cloud organisation, to hopefully encourage more cross-divisional sales of enterprise applications into the Microsoft cloud.
Microsoft is betting on its commercial cloud revenues soaring, which includes Azure and Office365, so is trying to better integrate the range of enterprise applications that businesses can purchase through its cloud solution.
Are companies ready to put all of their enterprise app eggs into the Microsoft cloud basket?
Read the article in full here.
ERP: Departmental or just IT?
A recent study has found that despite ERP affecting many different departments and often sitting within the control of the manufacturing and production teams, 80 percent of business leaders deferred to their CIO or IT leaders for advice and strategy about moving ERP functions to the cloud.
This is perhaps the opposite of what can be seen in other departments where cloud often enables departments to circumvent IT in order to deploy a new application or service.
In reality, changing such a business-critical application such as ERP should involve all stakeholders, especially if the ERP system is highly integrated into other periphery tools and data vaults across the organisation.
The research also highlighted that 60% of companies are concerned about their dependence on an external vendor when choosing a cloud solution, yet 53% recognise that the scalability offered by cloud solutions is one of the key benefits for ERP deployments.
Read the full press release here.
Highly sensitive: Highly cloudable?
Verizon have published their State of the Market: Enterprise Cloud 2016 report which suggests that companies are now becoming more open to transitioning ‘highly sensitive’ workloads to the private cloud (which Verizon terms as a private cloud within a hosted datacentre, not on premise).
The report goes against Gartner’s wider prediction that hybrid cloud was still some way off being a mainstream method of IT resource consumption for enterprises.
The full article in Computer Weekly is available here.