In a recent Microsoft blog focussed on 2015 predictions, where 15 expert forecasts have been collated, much of the analysis anticipates some important distribution trends. The distribution sector is an industry where your service proposition is more often than not what sets you apart from the competition.
In the blog, Tricia Morris explains that “customer expectations are changing and growing just as rapidly as the channels and technology.” It’s the pace of expectations versus the technology that is the key balancing act. And indeed how quickly distribution companies can embrace and adopt these new ways of working in order to delight their customers and attract new ones.
What are the distribution business trends most relevant to the industry?
So what are these new technologies covered in Microsoft’s blog and how do they relate in particular to the distribution sector? Let’s pick out a few.
The most relevant and over-arching to distributors is “By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.” This piece of research clearly states that organisations must adapt to the changing needs of the customer, or fail. Focussing on the B2B arena, the report urges us to stop reflecting back on the past and prepare for the future now; putting customers at the centre of our business. This is one of the most important distribution trends and definitely the key priority. 2020 is just five years away, and with typical business planning processes being 3-5 years as minimum, your strategies should be reflecting new approaches and processes now.
“By 2018, 50% of agent interactions will be influenced by real-time analytics and 5% of customer service cases will be initiated by Internet-connected devices.” These two predictions from Gartner illustrate the importance for customer service teams (both B2B and B2C) to have data interpreted at their fingertips in real time and for their inbound channels to be mobile-friendly; in order to engage customers in the right way. In a separate blog, Gartner discusses the influence of Big Data not just in terms of providing context to customer service but also within predictive analytics to inform personalised communications and business planning.
“Mobile search will generate 27.8 billion more queries than desktop search by 2016” according to a BIA/Kelsey report. A “mobile first” strategy will be the core principle behind many successful customer engagement models in the next few years – this is already here for many distributors and retailers.
“By 2017, the global social network audience will total 2.55 billion” – the rise in social as a channel of importance in both personal and business life means that enterprise applications such as Yammer can intuitively aid collaboration within business but also that tools such as Social Engagement from Microsoft Dynamics, which integrate with CRM and Parature, enable organisations to be proactive rather than reactive to the customer’s public voice.
Distribution business trends for 2015 reveal this is a year of opportunity in business process technology – where businesses can start to reflect what customers want and employees need – the personalisation trend that we see mentioned throughout these 15 predictions. With three new Microsoft Dynamics releases at its core: AX 2012 R3, NAV 2015 and CRM 2015, new updates provide benefits in cloud deployment, mobile connectivity (including IOS, Android and Windows devices) whether on tablet or smart phone.
Get ahead of the competition and consider how you can reflect these distribution trends within your business strategy. Speak to Prodware today about how we are helping distribution companies put the customer at the heart of their business.