Coronavirus has placed unprecedented pressure on companies to digitalise their operations. Smart businesses are prioritising process excellence with customer-centric, omni-channel offerings that combine in-store with online experiences
COVID-19 has created radically new realities for businesses, driving an urgent need to learn how to continue serving customers and operating efficiently while balancing the demands of mandatory physical distancing and multiplying online processes. With intensifying pressure to differentiate, omni-channel experiences combining online and in-store offerings, such as click and collect, are increasing.
“It has been a fast, painful, even furious change for companies that are not primarily digital, but have suddenly needed to offer a full range of online services,” says Greg Ouillon, chief technology officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa at the software business New Relic. “Even the smallest businesses have needed to digitalise entire customer journeys, realigning processes and redefining flexibility.”
Meanwhile, businesses of all sizes that were already primarily digital have faced challenges, with many experiencing five to tenfold increases in web and mobile traffic. Weaknesses in ways of working and in technological processes were quickly exposed.
Customers’ online and mobile needs must be met, alongside their expectations of a seamless experience. This has driven substantial changes in working across sectors, from local retailers offering click and collect, to airports offering touchless interactions for everything from check-in to boarding, to manufacturers operating in more agile ways with fewer people on factory floors. Quick adaptation has become a matter of survival.
Marrying systems and processes
A key challenge for businesses in meeting new demands lies in resolving the complex web of systems they operate and shedding work silos and disjointed processes.
According to Ouillon, delivering an engaging and trustworthy digital customer experience requires unifying data across disparate systems. Only then can businesses obtain a full view of their digital business performance.
“Outdated set-ups don’t serve customers or staff well. They erode loyalty and trust, and worsen how information is communicated internally and externally,” he notes. “For example, if your ecommerce site and in-store stock management systems are disconnected, you’re going to run into problems resulting in frustrated customers and employees. Digital systems need to offer a real-time shared awareness for every person and system involved in each customer touchpoint.”
The smartest businesses are achieving digital and overall operational progress by employing cloud technologies for agility and scale, combining IT operations with software engineering practices (DevOps) to swiftly address issues when they arise, and employing best practices around the digital customer experience (DCX). These businesses also understand the value of observability, a method of understanding the full picture of a business’s systems, including problems that might ordinarily go unseen, but can result in outages and competitiveness issues.
Real-time observability provides businesses with a fully connected view of all software telemetry data in one place, enabling them proactively to master the performance of their digital architecture, accelerate innovation and software velocity, and reduce toil and operational costs. It also enables deeper and shared insights that improve transparency across teams.
Then there is the contextual aspect, where data is enriched and correlated to build a complete understanding of how the system behaves. Using this information, the technology deploys visualisations so organisations can understand data much more clearly and comprehensively, query it, and know how to action improvements quickly and proactively.
According to New Relic research, businesses with the greatest digital maturity, resilience and data visibility integrate their data on system performance with information on end-user web and mobile performance, compared to only a fifth of companies that lag behind in technical maturity. Six in ten of the mature firms polled say these capabilities lead to more perfect software and unlock better staff collaboration. Nearly half can fix problems more quickly and 36 per cent can count on faster innovation.
Observability in practice
Businesses across industries are using New Relic’s observability software to derive fast analysis on all their systems and improve how they operate. “Out of the box, they can extract all the necessary data and compile it into analysis dashboards, detecting anomalies, correlating incidents and demonstrating how well new services and code will function,” Ouillon explains. “If businesses can proactively detect and resolve issues, they can better focus on creating value and innovating.”
Observability typically spreads throughout an organisation, beginning with IT and operations management, then often expanding to production, sales, marketing and finance as the results are demonstrated.
Among the companies using New Relic tools is Pharmacy2U, whose online NHS repeat prescription services faced unprecedented demand in the initial phase of the UK’s coronavirus lockdown in spring 2020. Patients were told to help stop the spread of the virus by staying home, which brought Pharmacy2U’s services sharply into focus. Handling the rapid upsurge in demand presented the UK’s biggest online pharmacy with major logistical and operational challenges.
Using the observability software, Pharmacy2U was able to move from 650,000 to more than one million medicines delivered a month through the course of 2020, saving patients over three million unnecessary trips to collect their prescriptions. New Relic supported this growth by quickly resolving technical obstacles, scaling up with cloud architecture and maintaining customer experience throughout the surge in demand.
Large enterprises have long sought to refine their digital processes, but the scope, speed and affordability of observability means companies of all sizes can compete with reliable digital excellence. Furthermore, many consumers are more keen to support their local businesses. Such firms have a golden opportunity to improve how they operate and prepare for future uncertainties.
Observability will support local demand and other emerging customer needs. “One big shift this year has been a desire to support local businesses and do so via digital channels,” says Ouillon. “Identifying where these companies can drive good performance and enhance their digital propositions with observability will quickly translate into profitable outcomes and delighted customers and users.”
To find out more about using observability to deliver digital process excellence and customer success please visit newrelic.com
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