Edge as a Circle Of Trust is a booster dose for CX


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Data as a catalyst for Digital Transformation

How often have you as an executive, a business leader been told by your internal IT counterparts or vendors about the need to consolidate customer data, with a promise to arrive at that (cliché alert!) 360-degree view of your customers? The (not so) recent buzz around Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) is fuelling this fire further. CDPs, though critical, are not the holy grail to address all your challenges with customer data, to say the least. As I pen this down – undeniably, the overarching theme in the C-Suite is (another cliché alert) Digital Transformation. And although this transformation is very broad-based, data is a dominant catalyst in this endeavour. So, efficient, and modern ways to work with your enterprise, not just customer, data is an imperative that you must embrace whole-heartedly.

Technology as a catalyst for Digital Transformation

When working with data, thoughtful consideration must be given to data storage and compute technologies that your organization needs to deploy. Today, in this context, the ‘no-brainer’ de-facto option is Cloud. While the benefits of cloud are well-known, a single cloud vendor strategy could be bettered. Also, as you know, Cloud has clear cost implications, especially in the long-term. The cost of cloud is a Trillion Dollar Paradox after all, according to estimates. So, a multi-pronged multi-could strategy specific to your organizational need is recommended. This would typically include a Private Cloud footprint. Pulling this off is no mean task though as it requires a very capable in-house infrastructure arm that would guide technology expenditures of the future. So, with all the brouhaha around this – Cloud Computing, very few organizations are giving due attention to the promise of Edge Computing. However, the right mix of cloud and edge technology is a significant catalyst for long-term real digital transformation to happen.

Blueprint of the Present-Day

Let us now layer in the customer dimension. With full credits to Amazon for making customer obsession mainstream, business leaders of today have increasingly started to put their customer at the centre of the universe. In the simplest terms – brands are open-eyed and all ears, constantly trying to understand customer more and serve them better. As a result of this constant sensing, brand’s ability to work with loads and loads of customer data becomes a differentiation. And where does this data reside? As evident from the worldwide cloud expenditure skyrocketing, most (if not all) organizations are choosing to go this route.

This is a cumbersome and expensive blueprint because data from customer touchpoints is funneled up into the cloud where the compute happens for – for example, the Next Best Action which is then funneled down to the customer’s touchpoint. This clearly introduces latency and bandwidth constraints. With decreasing attention spans, this latency could mean the difference between a successful conversion, happy customer or an irate customer, abandonment, or worst case – churn. Additionally, your customer is aware that you’ve got some sort of Big Brother watching them as they interact with you, and they are totally fine to share their information but only on the promise of a value exchange, especially when consumer trust is on the decline.

And any value exchange must be built on trust.

Which brings us to the – Blueprint of the Future – one that must incorporate Edge and not just Cloud. If you think of it, the customer of today is always on the edge, not only figuratively – in terms of response times, attention spans. But also, from a technical standpoint – tons of data being generated at the Edge, on her own devices.

Some industry verticals, like Infrastructure and Travel, Transport and Logistics have very precise applications of Edge Computing where it offers tremendous business benefits. Think of autonomous vehicles, warehouse packaging/tracking and the likes. These are mostly B2B scenarios. However, although the benefits of moving compute to the Edge might not be obvious for B2C scenarios, these are aplenty. If you are a B2C Leader, ask yourself this question –

Is my customer critical to your company’s mission? Lo and Behold, we all know the answer to that!

With Edge Computing – being able to store and analyze customer data in-situ equips brands to make real-time-decisioning real. Any Personalization use case that you might be executing upon gets a steroid boost because of the Edge. Before we delve further, let me visualize this new paradigm for you from a customer’s perspective.

Technically, that golden inner loop represents moving compute to the Edge. From a business impact perspective, the loop to me represents an inner Circle of Trust. Trust, that your brand must establish with your customer. Trust that lets you cosy up with your customer with their consent. Trust that makes your customer comfortable in sharing her data. These data, including location-tracking and other kinds of personally identifiable information, are immensely valuable to companies to better understand the customer’s pain points and unmet needs. But this data lives on the Edge and in most cases, disappears off the Edge. Think of it as a face-to-face conversation you are having with your customer, without copious notes being taken. Information that needs to be persisted for posterity, for sure, can find its way through to the Cloud.

In the not-so-distant future, we will see lots of privacy-first companies deploy Edge Computing to give themselves the option to work with customer data in-situ and power real time decisioning use cases without the need to heavy lift all this data into the cloud. This would be win-win – for the bottomline – in terms of reduced cloud expenses by virtue of consuming less bandwidth and the likes and – for the topline – in terms of positive impact to the Customer Lifetime Value.

Imagine a time when a savvy (and the not-so-savvy) customer would have the power and the know-how to make her mobile or laptop function as a true edge device!

If your brand isn’t Edge ready, you would most probably be denied entry to that Circle of Trust, that is clearly, is a booster dose for CX.

Gaurav Srivastava
Gaurav has spent 15+ years in the industry focusing on Customer Experience (CX) and MarTech domains in multiple roles - Product Mgmt., Sales and Services Consulting as well as Product Owner of a Contextual Marketing Platform at a major bank. He advises leaders on how to positively impact their customer’s lifetime value (CLV) and better CX by the effective use of technology, process and people. He is the resident Customer Journey Management (CJM) Expert at Adobe for South East Asia, a certified Digital Marketing Professional and a proud alumnus of IIIT Hyderabad, a top 10 T-School in India.


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