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Customers and the Cloud in Focus: Top 3 takeaways from Propulsion 2020

October 28, 2020

We know that being responsive is key to winning in today’s competitive market, but what does it look like to be customer centric while staying resilient in the face of disruption? Here were the main takeaways from the summit.

It’s hard to believe that Propulsion 2020 has already come and gone! From October 13th to 15th, nearly 500 manufacturing professionals, customers, investors, partners and thought leaders joined us for our inaugural virtual summit. We couldn’t be more grateful.

At Propulsion 2020, we heard from top industry experts and business executives on how customer-centricity and business resiliency are key factors in addressing two business objectives: growth and acceleration.

We know that being responsive is key to winning in today’s competitive market, but what does it look like to be customer centric while staying resilient in the face of disruption? Here were the main takeaways from the summit.

Nail the customer experience first

One thing’s for sure, we’ve entered the age of the customer long before COVID-19 so it’s more important than ever to put your customer at the center of your product strategy. Zone to Win author Geoffrey Moore said it perfectly in his keynote: “In the digital services era, the focus is on customer success [when the business outcome is achieved] instead of customer support.” 

Today’s empowered customers have more options than ever before, which means creating customer loyalty is more important than ever before. Gaining their complete trust requires more than just being first to market. You have to meet your customers’ evolving expectations while maintaining quality interactions with them.

Based on research conducted by Gartner, customer experience drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty, outperforming brand and price combined. The obvious truth is that customer experience takes precedence over all other categories of how an enterprise defines a digital business.

“Consumers expect companies to adapt to their behavior and transform how they behave, but 59% of customers say it feels like they’re communicating with separate departments, not one company.” — Tiffani Bova

Takeaway: The key is to invest in the right technology and use that to redefine your processes around the end user. That way, you can ensure your employees have access to the information they need in order to serve and delight the customer to the best of their ability.

Embrace a cloud-first business model with connected workflows

In the past era, the internet changed life as we knew it. Now, cloud computing and mobile are at the forefront of the digital economy. If you don’t have a good cloud strategy, chances are you’ll get left behind. Although, it’s not enough to just implement that kind of technology. Propel founder and CEO Ray Hein spoke directly to this in his opening keynote: “It’s not just about moving to the cloud, but it’s about leveraging the cloud for integrations and the collaboration aspect.”

Achieving success in today’s environment requires closing the alignment and execution gap between your teams, business processes and technology infrastructure. Historically, paper-based processes have always created obstacles that slow time to market. With all signs pointing to the cloud, there’s a new problem: having multiple processes and systems that aren’t integrated correctly. This type of situation creates unnecessary bottlenecks and decision-making roadblocks for everyone, increasing the likelihood of errors and inconsistencies. 

Takeaway: Bringing all data points together from cases, complaints and customer issues enables you to close the loop on quality, ensuring your whole value chain can make informed decisions.

Lead your company to success with empathy and awareness

2020 has undoubtedly been a year that’s disrupted markets, your company, and your own personal life. If it feels unique, that’s because it is — lobbyist Bruce Mehlman explained that 2020 is the only year in the US since 1900 that has had a pandemic, social unrest, a recession and an intense election all in the same year. Not only is your organization weathering this storm, but your employees are living through this historically disruptive year as well.

"2020 is the only year in the US since 1900 that has had a pandemic, social unrest, recession and an intense election all in the same year. It’s a historically disruptive year." — Bruce Mehlman

The way leaders respond to this disruption will matter for years to come. With this summer’s social unrest after the murder of George Floyd once again illuminating systemic issues of racism and inequality in the US, empathetic and mindful leadership is more urgently needed than ever before. 

Today, with minorities slated to become the majority of the US population in a few decades, how well you’re able to address these employees’ needs “could be a career-ending issue,” said Wall Street Journal reporter and author of the forthcoming memoir Nobody’s Slave, Lee Hawkins.

“It’s not just lack of personal sensitivity that is dangerous — but how you treat employees, and how you’re aware of things across your company happening under your watch,” he added, saying, “on a personal level, your employees are affected by what they see on TV,” impacting their work. 

Takeaway: Empathetic leaders are able to thoughtfully address external stressors when they occur, not only in business decision-making, but in how they communicate with employees as well, to ensure a well-functioning company during a crisis.

Missed Propulsion this year, or want to relive the experience? All sessions are available on-demand in our resource library. Watch keynotes and thought leadership, manufacturing sessions and health and life sciences sessions anywhere, anytime.

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Sutton Ryan

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