Geoffrey Moore coined the term “systems of engagement” to describe IT systems that support multiway communication and collaboration between businesses and customers. These are distinct from “systems of record,” or those IT systems (e.g., databases and management information systems) designed primarily for one-way, read access of structured data. In today’s highly competitive global markets, digital systems of engagement are an absolute necessity for enhanced employee productivity, partnership success, customer satisfaction and brand loyalty ̶ all of which result in revenue growth. In fact, a Deloitte Digital survey found that by the end of the year, digital interactions would influence 64 cents of every dollar spent in retail stores.
In its global survey for IBM, “Systems Of Engagement Demand New Integration Solutions — And A New IT,” Forrester Research reports how customer expectations of their business interactions are changing dramatically. What customers want most are easier interactions, the ability to deal with them via their smartphones and consistent treatment across all channels. And as any successful business knows, the customer is always right.
Companies that embrace SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) will be best positioned to deliver systems of engagement that meet these users’ expectations. For example, users want to engage with retailers, banks, and any other personal or business services via any device and any channel, from mobile apps on their smartphones, to tablets, social media and cloud-based e-commerce websites. Wearables are also increasing in popularity, with the Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc. reporting that 73% of online adults see “safety and wellness” as one potential wearable-workplace benefit.
Perhaps most important, users expect customized interactions, in which big data and analytics deliver the intelligence required to enhance user experiences and drive new revenue. For example, by targeting customers with personalized offers and suggesting relevant purchases, retailers leverage valuable customer data to encourage new sales. And the multiway interaction continues after the purchase. Customers are engaged in providing retailers with product feedback and chatter on social media about product quality, which the retailer then analyzes to gain insights for encouraging return business. Add the Internet of Things (IoT), and soon organizations will be engaging with cars, appliances and other purchased items, spurring new sources of service revenue that have the potential to last for years.
From the Center to the Edge
Moving to systems of engagement requires an Interconnection Oriented Architecture™ that can deliver a satisfying, real-time experience for any user, anywhere, on any device, via any engagement channel.
In an age of digital images, voice and video, more than fat pipes are required ̶ low latency is vital. Low latency comes from proximity, not only to the user, but also among the applications, data repositories, cloud services and other elements that drive the engagement experience.
That’s why successful enterprises are moving from a centralized interconnection architecture, with multiple long-distance MPLS, Internet virtual private networks (VPNs), and other connections emanating from one or two corporate data centers, to a more distributed interconnection architecture that harnesses existing, globally dispersed interconnection/colocation data centers (such as Equinix) that house multiple cloud services, network providers and partner ecosystems.
An interconnected enterprise leverages proximate, direct, high-speed interconnections among clouds, partners and other IT delivery systems for fast, low-latency interactions, bringing all of these services closer to dispersed global users. Rather than building multiple connections one by one, organizations can simply extend their network to the nearest interconnection access point.
With systems of engagement and data pushed to the edge, close to mobile users, the entire user experience on any device is transformed. Countless organizations have benefited from this transformative architecture, including these Equinix customers:
- A major multinational banking and financial services firm reduced latency by 45% by strategically deploying its banking applications in multiple global interconnection centers.
- A health care Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider achieved real-time customer service interactions by leveraging a globally dispersed interconnection architecture to securely deliver on-demand software updates.
The future is engagement, which means you need to get up close and interconnect.