A 720-Degree View of the Customer

The 360-degree view of the consumer is a well-explored concept, but it is not adequate in the digital age. Every firm, whether it is Google or Amazon, is deploying tools to understand customers in a bid to serve them better. A 360-degree view demanded that a company consults its internal data to segment customers and create marketing strategies. It has become imperative for companies to look outside their channels, to platforms like social media and reviews to gain insight into the motivations of their customers. The 720-degree view of the customer is further discussed below.

What is the 720-degree view of the customer?

A 720-degree view of the customer refers to a three-dimensional understanding of customers, based on deep analytics. It includes information on every customer’s level of influence, buying behavior, needs, and patterns. A 720-degree view will enable retailers to offer relevant products and experiences and to predict future behavior. If done right, this concept should assist retailers leverage on emerging technologies, mobile commerce, social media, and cloud-based services, and analytics to sustain lifelong customer relationships

What Does a 720-Degree View of the Customer Entail?

Every business desires to cut costs, gain an edge over its competitors, and grow their customer base. So how exactly will a 720-degree view of the customer help a firm advance its cause?

Social Media

Social media channels help retailers interact more effectively and deeply with their customers. It offers reliable insights into what customers would appreciate in products, services, and marketing campaigns. Retailers can not only evaluate feedback, but they can also deliver real-time customer service. A business that integrates its services with social media will be able to assess customer behavior through tools like dislikes and likes. Some platforms also enable customers to buy products directly.

Customer Analytics


Customer analytics will construct more detailed customer profiles by integrating different data sources like demographics, transactional data, and location. When this internal data is added to information from external channels like social media, the result is a comprehensive view of the customer’s needs and wants. A firm will subsequently implement more-informed decisions on inventory, supply chain management, pricing, marketing, customer segmentation, and marketing. Analytics further come in handy when monitoring transactions, personalized services, waiting times, website performance.

Mobile Commerce

The modern customer demands convenience and device compatibility. Mobile commerce also accounts for a significant amount of retail sales, and retailers can explore multi-channel shopping experiences. By leveraging a 720-degree view of every customer, firms can provide consumers with the personalized experiences and flexibility they want. Marketing campaigns will also be very targeted as they will be based on the transactional behaviors of customers. Mobile commerce can take the form of mobile applications for secure payment systems, targeted messaging, and push notifications to inform consumers of special offers. The goal should be to provide differentiated shopper analytics.

Cloud

Cloud-based solutions provide real-time data across multiple channels, which illustrates an enhanced of the customer. Real-time analytics influence decision-making in retail and they also harmonize the physical and retail digital environments. The management will be empowered to detect sales trends as transactions take place.

The Importance of the 720-Degree Customer View

Traditional marketers were all about marketing to groups of similar individuals, which is often termed as segmentation. This technique is, however, giving way to the more effective concept of personalized marketing. Marketing is currently channeled through a host of platforms, including social media, affiliate marketing, pay-per-click, and mobile. The modern marketer has to integrate the information from all these sources and match them to a real name and address. Companies can no longer depend on a fragmented view of the customer, as there has to be an emphasis on personalization. A 720-degree customer view can offer benefits like:

Customer Acquisition

Firms can improve customer acquisition by depending on the segment differences revealed from a new database of customer intelligence. Consumer analytics will expose any opportunities to be taken advantage of while external data sources will reveal competitor tactics. There are always segment opportunities in any market, which are best revealed by real-time consumer data.

Cutting Costs

Marketers who rely on enhanced digital data can contribute to cost management in a firm. It takes less investment to serve loyal and satisfied consumers because a firm is directing addressing their needs. Technology can be used to set customized pricing goals and to segment customers effectively.

New Products and Pricing

Real-time data, in addition to third-party information, have a crucial impact on pricing. Only firms with a robust and relevant competitor and customer analytics and data can take advantage of this importance. Marketers with a 720-degree view of the consumer across many channels will be able to utilize opportunities for new products and personalized pricing to support business growth

Advance Customer Engagement

The first 360 degrees include an enterprise-wide and timely view of all consumer interactions with the firm. The other 360 degrees consists of the customer’s relevant online interactions, which supplements the internal data a company holds. The modern customer is making their buying decisions online, and it is where purchasing decisions are influenced. Can you predict a surge in demand before your competitors? A 720-degree view will help you anticipate trends while monitoring the current ones.

720-degree Customer View and Big Data

Firms are always trying to make decision making as accurate as possible, and this is being made more accessible by Big Data and analytics. To deliver customer-centric experiences, businesses require a 720-degree view of every customer collected with the help of in-depth analysis.

Big Data analytical capabilities enable monitoring of after-sales service-associated processes and the effective management of technology for customer satisfaction. A firm invested in being in front of the curve should maintain relevant databases of external and internal data with global smart meters. Designing specific products to various segments is made easier with the use of Big Data analytics. The analytics will also improve asset utilization and fault prediction. Big Data helps a company maintain a clearly-defined roadmap for growth

Conclusion

It is the dream of every enterprise to tap into customer behavior and create a rich profile for each customer. The importance of personalized customer experiences cannot be understated in the digital era. The objective remains to develop products that can be advertised and delivered to customers who want them, via their preferred platforms, and at a lower cost. 

What is a Private Cloud?

The private cloud concept is running the cloud software architecture and, possibly specialized hardware, within a companies’ own facilities and support by the customer’s own employees, rather than having it hosted from a data center operated by commercial providers like Amazon, IBM Microsoft, or Oracle.

A companies’ private (internal) cloud may be a one or more of these patterns and may be part of a larger hybrid-cloud strategy.

  • Home-Grown, where the company has built its own software and or hardware could infrastructure where the private could is managed entirely by the companies’ resources. 
  • Commercial-Off-The-Self (COTS), where the cloud software and or hardware is purchased from a commercial vendor and install in the companies promises where is it is primarily managed by the companies’ resources with licensed technical support from the vendor.
  • Appliance-Centric, where vendor specialty hardware and software are pre-assembled and pre-optimized, usually on proprietary databases to support a specific cloud strategic.
  • Hybrid-Cloud, which may use some or all of the about approaches and have added components such as:
    • Virtualization software to integrate, private-cloud, public-cloud, and non-cloud information resources into a central delivery architecture.
    • Public/Private cloud where proprietary and customer sensitive information is kept on promise and less sensitive information is housed in one or more public clouds. The Public/Private hybrid-cloud strategy can also be provision temporary short duration increases in computational resources or where application and information development occur in the private cloud and migrated to a public cloud for productionalization.

In the modern technological era, there are a variety of cloud patterns, but this explanation highlights the major aspects of the private cloud concept which should clarify and assist in strategizing for your enterprise cloud.

Related References

What is cloud computing? 

Cloud computing is a service driven model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on demand network access to a shared pool computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal administrative effort or service provider interaction.

Related References

A Road Map For Migrating To A Public Cloud

Cloud Migration
Cloud Migration

A Road Map for Migrating to A Public Cloud Environment

Today, most organizations are looking for ways to cut down their sprawling IT budgets and define efficient paths for new developments. Making the move to the cloud is being seen as a more strategic and an economically viable idea, that is primarily allowing organizations to gain quick access to new platforms, services, and toolsets. But the migration of applications to the cloud environment needs a clear, and well-thought-out cloud migration strategy.

We are past the year of confusion and fear on matters cloud environment. In fact, almost everyone now agrees that the cloud is a key element of any company’s IT investment. What is not yet clear is what to move, how to move, and industry best practices to protect your investment in a public cloud environment. Therefore, a solid migration plan is an essential part of any cloud migration process.

Here are a few things you should pay close attention to when preparing a cloud migration planning template:

  • Data Protection

When planning to migrate to the cloud, it is paramount to remember that it is not a good idea to migrate every application. As you learn the baby steps, keep your legacy apps and other sensitive data such as private banking info off the cloud. This will ensure that, in case of a breach on your public cloud, your sensitive data and legacy systems will not fall into the hands of unsavory individuals.

  • Security

Security of the data being migrated to the cloud should be just as important as on the cloud. Any temporary storage locations used during the cloud migration process should be secure from unauthorized intrusions.

Although security can be hard to quantify, it is one of the key components and considerations of any cloud service. The very basic security responsibility includes getting it right around your password security. Remember that, while you can massively increase the security around your applications, it is practically very different to deal with on-cloud threats and breaches since you technically don’t own any of the cloud software.

Some of the security concerns that you’ll need to look into include:

  • Is your data securely transferred and stored in the cloud?
  • Besides the passwords, does your cloud provider offer some type of 2-factor authentication?
  • How else are the users authenticated?
  • Does your provider meet the industry’s regulatory requirements?
  • Backup and Disaster recovery strategies

A backup and disaster strategy ensure that your data will be protected in case of a disaster. These strategies are unique to every organization depending on its application needs and the relevance of those applications to their organization.

To devise a foolproof DR strategy, it is important to identify and prioritize applications and determine the downtime acceptable for each application, services, and data.

Some of the things to consider when engineering your backup and disaster recovery blueprint include:

  • Availability of sufficient bandwidth and network capacity to redirect all users in case of a disaster.
  • Amount of data that may require backup.
  • Type of data to be protected
  • How long can it take to restore your systems from the cloud?
  • Communications Capacity enablement

Migrating to a cloud environment should make your business more agile and responsive to the market. Therefore, a robust communications enablement should be provided. Ideally, your cloud provider should be able to provide you with a contact center, unified messaging, mobility, presence, and integration with other business applications.

While the level of sophistication and efficiency of on-premise communications platforms depends on the capabilities of the company IT’s staff, cloud environments should offer communication tools with higher customizations to increase productivity.

A highly customized remote communications enablement will allow your company to refocus its IT resources to new innovation, spur agility, cut down on hardware costs and allow for more engagements with partners and customers.

Simply put, cloud communications:

  • Increase efficiency and productivity
  • Enables reimagined experience
  • Are designed for a seamless interaction.
  • legal liability and protection

Other important considerations when developing your cloud migration planning template are compliance with regulatory requirements and software licensing. For many businesses, data protection and regulatory compliance with HIPPA and GDPR is a constant concern, especially when dealing with identifiable data. Getting this right, the first time will allow you to move past the compliance issue blissfully.

When migrating, look for a cloud provider with comprehensive security assurance programs and governance-focused features. This will help your business operate more secure and in line with industry standards.

Ready to migrate your processes to a public cloud environment? Follow these pointers develop a comprehensive cloud migration planning template.

Related References

Public Cloud Versus Private Cloud

Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing

A public cloud strategy refers to a situation where you utilize cloud resources on a shared platform. Examples of shared or public cloud solutions include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and Google cloud. There are several benefits associated with cloud solutions. On the other hand, a private cloud strategy refers to a situation where you can decide to have an infrastructure which is dedicated to serving your business. It is sometimes referred to as homegrown where you employ experts to run the services so that your business can access different features. There are several advantages of using a public cloud over private cloud which you should know before you make an informed decision on the right platform to invest. Some of the benefits of the public cloud strategy include the following:

Availability and scale of Expertise

If you compare the public cloud and the private cloud services, the public cloud

allows you to access more experts. Remember the companies which offer the cloud services have enough employees who are ready to help several clients. In most cases, the other clients whom the service providers serve will not experience problems at the same time. It implies that human resource will be directed toward solving your urgent issue. You can as well scale up or down at any given time as the need arises which is unlike a case of private cloud solutions where you will have to invest in infrastructure each time you will like to upgrade.

Downgrading on a private cloud system can expose you to lose because you will leave some resources underutilized.

The volume of Technical Resources to apply

You access more technical resources in a public cloud platform. Remember the companies which offer the public cloud solutions are fully equipped with highly experienced experts. They also have the necessary tools and resources which

they can apply to assure you the best technical solutions each time you need them. It is unlike a private arrangement where you will have to incur more costs if the technical challenges will need advanced tools and highly qualified experts.

Price point

The price of a private cloud is high when compared to a public arrangement. If you are looking for ways you can save money, then the best way to go about it is to involve a public cloud solution. In the shared platform, you will only pay for

what you need. If you do not need a lot of resources at a given time, you can downgrade the services and enjoy fair prices. Services such as AWS offer great cost containment across the time which makes it easy to access the services at fair prices. For any business to grow, it should invest in the right package which brings the return on investment. The services offered by the public cloud systems allow businesses to save and grow. You should as well take into consideration other factors such as ecosystems for cloud relationships before you make an informed decision. There are some business models which prefer private cloud solutions while others can work well under public cloud-based solutions.

Related References

Major Cloud Computing Models

 

Cloud computing enables convenient, ubiquitous, measures, and on-demand access to a shared pool of scalable and configurable resources, such as servers, applications, databases, networks, and other services. Also, these resources can be provisioned and released rapidly with minimum interaction and management from the provider.

The rapidly expanding technology is rife with obscure acronyms, with major ones being SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. These acronyms distinguish the three major cloud computing models discussed in this article. Notably, cloud computing virtually meets any imaginable IT needs in diverse ways. In effect, the cloud computing models are necessary to show the role that a cloud service provides and how the function is accomplished. The three main cloud computing paradigms can be demonstrated on the diagram shown below.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

In infrastructure as a service model, the cloud provider offers a service that allows users to process, store, share, and user other fundamental computing resources to run their software, which can include operating systems and applications. In this case, a consumer has minimum control over the underlying cloud infrastructure, but has significant control over operating systems, deployed applications, storage, and some networking components, such as the host firewalls.

Based on its description, IaaS can be regarded as the lowest-level cloud service paradigm, and possibly the most crucial one. With this paradigm, a cloud vendor provides pre-configured computing resources to consumers via a virtual interface. From the definition, IaaS pertains underlying cloud infrastructure but does not include applications or an operating system. Implementation of the applications, operating system, and some network components, such as the host firewalls is left up to the end user. In other words, the role of the cloud provider is to enable access to the computing infrastructure necessary to drive and support their operating systems and application solutions.

In some cases, the IaaS model can provide extra storage for data backups, network bandwidth, or it can provide access to enhanced performance computing which was traditionally available using supercomputers. IaaS services are typically provided to users through an API or a dashboard.

Features of IaaS

  • Users transfer the cost of purchasing IT infrastructure to a cloud provider
  • Infrastructure offered to a consumer can be increased or reduced depending on business storage and processing needs
  • The consumer will be saved from challenges and costs of maintaining hardware
  • High availability of data is in the cloud
  • Administrative tasks are virtualized
  • IaaS is highly flexible compared to other models
  • Highly scalable and available
  • Permits consumers to focus on their core business and transfer critical IT roles to a cloud provider

IaaS Use Cases

A series of use cases can explore the above benefits and features afforded by IaaS. For instance, an organization that lacks the capital to own and manage their data centers can purchase an IaaS offering to achieve fast and affordable IT infrastructure for their business. Also, the IaaS can be expanded or terminated based on the consumer needs. Another set of companies that can deploy IaaS include traditional organizations seeking large computing power with low expenditure to run their workloads. IaaS model is also a good option for rapidly growing enterprises that avoid committing to specific hardware or software since their business needs are likely to evolve.

Popular IaaS Services

Major IT companies are offering popular IaaS services that are powering a significant portion of the Internet even without users realizing it.

Amazon EC2: Offers scalable and highly available computing capacity in the cloud. Allows users to develop and deploy applications rapidly without upfront investment in hardware

IBM’s SoftLayer: Cloud computing services offering a series of capabilities, such as computing, networking, security, storage, and so on, to enable faster and reliable application development. The solution features bare-metal, hypervisors, operating systems, database systems, and virtual servers for software developers.

NaviSite: offers application services, hosting, and managed cloud services for IT infrastructure

ComputeNext: the solution empowers internal business groups and development teams with DevOps productivity from a single API.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a service model involves the provision of capabilities that allow users to create their applications using programming languages, tools, services, and libraries owned and distributed by a cloud provider. In this case, the consumer has minimum control over the underlying cloud computing resources such as servers, storage, and operating system. However, the user has significant control over the applications developed and deployed on the PaaS service.

In PaaS, cloud computing is used to provide a platform for consumers to deploy while developing, initializing, implementing, and managing their application. This offering includes a base operating system and a suite of development tools and solutions. PaaS effectively eliminates the needs for consumers to purchase, implement and maintain the computing resources traditionally needed to build useful applications. Some people use the term ‘middleware’ to refer to PaaS model since the offering comfortably sits between SaaS and IaaS.

Features of PaaS

  • PaaS service offers a platform for development, tasking, and hosting tools for consumer applications
  • PaaS is highly scalable and available
  • Offer cost effective and simple way to develop and deploy applications
  • Users can focus on developing quality applications without worrying about the underlying IT infrastructure
  • Business policy automation
  • Many users can access a single development service or tool
  • Offers database and web services integration
  • Consumers have access to powerful and reliable server software, storage capabilities, operating systems, and information and application backup
  • Allows remote teams to collaborate, which improves employee productivity

PaaS Use Cases

Software development companies and other enterprises that want to implement agile development methods can explore PaaS capabilities in their business models. Many PaaS services can be used in application development. PaaS development tools and services are always updated and made available via the Internet to offer a simple way for businesses to develop, test, and prototype their software solutions. Since developers’ productivity is enhanced by allowing remote workers to collaborate, PaaS consumers can rapidly release applications and get feedback for improvement. PaaS has led to the emergence of the API economy in application development.

Popular PaaS Offerings

There exist major PaaS services that are helping organizations to streamline application development. PaaS offering is delivered over the Internet and allows developers to focus more on creating quality and highly functional application while not worrying about the operating system, storage, and other infrastructure.

Google’s App Engine: the solution allows developers to build scalable mobile and web backends in any language in the cloud. Users can bring their own language runtimes, third-party libraries, and frameworks

IBM BlueMix: this PaaS solution from IBM allows developers to avoid vendor lock-in and leverage the flexible and open cloud environment using diverse IBM tools, open technologies, and third-party libraries and frameworks.

Heroku: the solution provides companies with a platform where they can build, deliver, manage, and scale their applications while abstracting and bypassing computing infrastructure hassles

Apache Stratos: this PaaS offering offers enterprise-ready quality service, security, governance, and performance that allows development, modification, deployment, and distribution of applications.

Red Hat’s OpenShift: a container application platform that offers operations and development-centric tools for rapid application development, easy deployment, scalability, and long-term maintenance of applications

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software as a service model involves the capabilities provided to users by using a cloud vendor’s application hosted and running on a cloud infrastructure. Such applications are conveniently accessible from different platforms and devices through a web browser, a thin client interface, or a program interface. In this model, the end user has minimum control of the underlying cloud-based computing resources, such as servers, operating system, or the application capabilities

SaaS can be described as software licensing and delivery paradigm that features a complete and functional software solutions provided to users on a metered and subscription basis. Since users access the application via browsers or thin client and program interfaces, SaaS makes the host operating system insignificant in the operation of the product. As mentioned, the service is metered. In this case, SaaS customers are billed based on their consumption, while others pay a flat monthly fee.

Features of SaaS

  • SaaS providers offer applications via subscription structure
  • User transfer the need to develop, install, manage, or upgrade applications to SaaS vendors
  • Applications and data is securely stored in the cloud
  • SaaS is easily managed from a central location
  • Remote serves are deployed to host the application
  • Users can access SaaS offering from any location with Internet access
  • On-premise hardware failure does not interfere with an application or cause data loss
  • Users can reduce or increase use of cloud-based resources depending on their processing and storage needs
  • Applications offered via SaaS model are accessible from any location and almost all Internet-enabled devices

SaaS Use Cases

SaaS use case is a typical use case for many companies seeking to benefit from quality application usage without the need to develop, maintain and upgrade the required components. Companies can acquire SaaS solutions for ERP, mail, office applications, collaboration tool, among others. SaaS is also crucial for small companies and startups that wish to launch e-commerce service rapidly but lack the time and resource to develop and maintain the software or buy servers for hosting the platform. SaaS is also used by companies with short-term projects that require collaboration from different members located remotely.

Popular SaaS Services

SaaS offerings are more widespread as compared to IaaS and PaaS. In fact, a majority of consumers use SaaS services without realizing it.

Office365: the cloud-based solution provides productivity software for subscribed consumers. Allows users to access Microsoft Office tools on various platforms, such as Android, MacOS, and Windows, etc.

Box: the SaaS offers secure file storage, sharing, and collaboration from any location and platform

Dropbox: modern application designed for collaboration and for creating, storing, and accessing files, docs, and folders.

Salesforce: the SaaS is among the leading customer relationship management platform that offers a series of capabilities for sales, marketing, service, and more.

Today, cloud computing models have revolutionized the way businesses deploy and manage computing resources and infrastructure. With the advent and evolution of the three major cloud computing models, that it IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, consumers will find a suitable cloud offering that satisfies virtually all IT needs. These models’ capabilities coupled with competition from popular cloud computing service providers will continue availing IT solutions for consumers demanding for availability, enhanced performance, quality services, better coverage, and secure applications.

Consumers should review their business needs and do a cost-benefit analysis to approve the best model for their business. Also, consumers should conduct thorough workload assessment while migrating to a cloud service.

What Is Machine Learning?

Machine Learning
Machine Learning

Machine learning is Artificial Intelligence (AI) which enables a system to learn from data rather than through explicit programming.  Machine learning uses algorithms that iteratively learn from data to improve, describe data, and predict outcomes.  As the algorithms ingest training data to produce a more precise machine learning model. Once trained, the machine learning model, when provided data will generate predictions based on the data that taught the model.  Machine learning is a crucial ingredient for creating modern analytics models.