We have a client who makes food packaging machinery. If you ever watch the program called “Inside The Factory” you will surely have been impressed by the machinery that buzzes, whirs and packs food at up to 200 packs a minute. This is a business where innovation is important. People who buy food packaging machinery are always looking for more packs per minute, the ability to be able to flush the packs with nitrogen for longer life or to use materials which are sustainable. The packaging machinery companies thought that was their offer – to make more reliable, faster and cheaper machines.
The cloud has changed everything. We are not talking about those fluffy white things in the sky, we are talking about the ability to hold information “in the cloud” rather than on a computer in your offices. This ability to hold information in the cloud has changed the offers that many companies can make. Take food packaging machines for example. These machines collect a ton of information. They tell the operator how long they have run, how many packs they have produced, if there have been faults, the operator who was in charge and so on. This intelligence is fed into the cloud were the customer and the supplier of the packaging machinery can access it. The packaging machinery company can use the intelligence to work out a maintenance schedule, sort out a problem, or tell the customer how to operate it more efficiently. Their offer has now become much more than simply a whirring and buzzing machine.
Look around you. Microchips are everywhere. They are in your car, your cooker, your fridge, your phone, your central heating thermostat and they will be in many more things to come. It means that when you buy your car you are buying a re-programmable device. You are buying a machine where the supplier can stay in touch and hold your hand when you are in difficulties or help you out so that you don’t get into difficulties. For most of the time your product will perform as you expected but when it uses this store of intelligence to enhance the offer, it will impress you greatly. The cloud has brought many fresh ways for companies to please their customers. More and more companies will be looking at how the cloud can change the nature of their existing business and how they can steal a competitive advantage. In the customer experience world we shouldn’t treat this as an add-on, it should be a fundamental and major part of our offer. Eventually it will be a standard part of everybody’s offer but for those who are first movers it will be talked about by their customers in the pub. It’s a great way to win the hearts and minds of existing customers and be recommended to new ones.