IT is now about dealing with people: Salesforce

Salesforce.com vice president for strategy research Peter Coffee has warned IT employees that dealing with people is becoming a focus of IT's role in the business.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

The discussion has now moved beyond the "cloudification of traditional IT", and instead, the focus for Australian enterprises is about how they can use technology to connect and build relationships with customers, said Peter Coffee, Salesforce.com vice president for strategic research.

"If you got into IT because you didn't like dealing with people, I have uncomforting news for you," Coffee said.

"Your ability to add value is now largely about getting inside the head of customers to figure out what they need from the technology because you can longer just raise your hands and say 'I kept the servers up 99.9 percent and what a good boy I am'."

Coffee believes the reason why there is a shift in conversation is because the business and customer relationship has flipped, where consumers are now dictating the conversations that are being had.

But according to Coffee, consumers prefer to communicate with businesses indirectly, such as through social media networks, including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

"People are going to engage with brands through social sites where they can usually get independent validation about a brand from people who have done business with them," he said.

In order for businesses to take advantage of this shift, Coffee suggested there are two ways to go about it, but ultimately how businesses connect with their customers must be complementary and value adding to a customer's existing experience.

"One is to have a genuine presence on these social sites, and actively monitor and support communities who are contributing their opinions and forming behaviours," he said.

"The other is to understand your app is really the most valuable point of interaction a customer can have with your brand; it should be a vehicle, not just a tool for promotion the value of a relationship."

Coffee cited the Commonwealth Bank of Australia as one business in the regulated industry that has been able to  transform what is often a "frightening and complex experience" into a customer-facing, value-adding experience where they are engaging proactively with their customers.

"They understand the mobile device in the customer's hand can become a welcoming portal to their services," he said.

"This is compared to traditional pictures of having to deal with a lender where people are often sitting across the desk from a lender, who has a stern look, and is probably going to say no three times before they say yes.

"But the Commonwealth Bank has turned that perception around. They want to come to you and they use their mobile app to help you do all the things you don't do very often, or that you're terrified of doing wrong."

Disclosure: Aimee Chanthadavong travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Salesforce.

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