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The customer's in control: What does it mean for enterprises?

A mixture of improving market confidence and big data technology is forcing companies to reassess how they interact with their customers. Some consumers are intimidated by the amount of information that is collected from them on a daily basis, but the majority of individuals are realizing that they're the ones ultimately dictating business outcomes. 

While social media has given people the opportunity to quickly share opinions regarding specific organizations, mobile devices have enabled them to compare and contrast different services simultaneously. Essentially, individuals have realized that they have more than enough options to choose from, which has forced enterprises to leverage technology to develop stronger customer relationships. 

No longer in 'control'? 
Enterprises have always been at the mercy of the masses, but it wasn't until recently that people became more cognizant of the digital environment around them. Now more than ever, people are visiting two or more websites in search of a single brand. Choosing an e-commerce outlet to purchase a specific item from depends on what kind of offers and experience the retailer provides to the consumer. 

According to Forbes, 1,500 business and technology leaders recently assembled at Oracle Industry Connect in Boston to discuss how empowered customers are dictating how important decisions are made by executives involved in numerous industries, from utilities and health sciences to financial services and retail. Cloud computing has enabled organizations to collect massive amounts of data, but professionals such as Executive Vice President of Oracle's Global Business Units Bob Weiler noted that individuals want to be reciprocated for their contributions. 

"People want to learn, borrow and understand what other industries are doing to solve similar problems," said Weiler, as quoted by the source. 

Using what's available and what's to come
In other words, customers are even aware of the software and systems leveraged by companies to aggregate digital intelligence pertaining to their shopping habits, preferences and product usage. Forbes outlined a few technological trends that will help enterprises attract, entice and retain important customers:

  • When hosted on a cloud server, CRM solutions featuring applications that empower consumers can help foster more favorable relationships. The more involved a person feels, the more he or she will actively participate. 
  • Research and development is being reinvigorated by executives looking to maintain pace with consumer technology. Forbes noted that out of the $1 trillion spent annually on IT-related products, businesses contribute to only 18 percent of that figure. 
  • CIOs and their subordinates are becoming more enterprise-savvy, getting more in touch with corporate strategies and branding.
  • As opposed to adopting multiple solutions at once, organizations are executing patience and launching projects one at a time. 

Before getting started 
Esther McMorris, a contributor to Real Business, noted that keeping an open mind and exercising caution will help professionals implement new systems. More often than not, technology is used to resolve basic or complex business problems, so it's important that executives state which issues they would like to resolve. Next, expenses should be assiduously examined - cursorily looking over costs can lead to disastrous results. 

After a budget is established, leaders should figure out which solution best fits their organizations' criterions. For example, if employees want increased access to documents, files and other forms of data, cloud storage may be a viable option. Will workers be accessing the environment through mobile devices? Is a public or hybrid deployment more appropriate? These and any other necessary questions should be asked. 

Finally, executives need to plan for the future. Start with assessing the basics and then figure out how particular systems will change a business over a long period of time. If stakeholders are involved, it's imperative that their viewpoints and concerns be taken into account. 

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