APJ CEO TALK Interview News

Goal is to Drive Great Customer Experience.


It is no secret that customer experience transformation is a very important piece in the digital transformation strategy for any organization. In the entire puzzle, customer communication is very important. Today, organizations are strongly pursuing the path of innovation to drive great customer experience. We spoke to James Brown, CEO, Smart Communications to understand his strategy. An excerpt.

What is the role of communication in the entire piece of Digital Transformation?

Communications are really the backbone of a great customer experience. We believe at Smart Communications that what lies behind a great experience is a great conversation. So traditionally these perhaps would have been one-way communications between a bank or an insurance company and their customers but now what we’re seeing is those one-way communications are becoming two-way digital on demand and Omni channel conversations. They can be initiated by the customer they responded to by the institution. We genuinely look to establish a true conversation between the company and their consumers. So, it is a huge change in the way that companies interact with their customers.

How communication has changed amid this pandemic.

We have heard it many times that the pandemic has really driven digital transformation – really by necessity now. Communications that may have been static one way in the past have now become digital and on demand. They are very interactive. I think customers are comparing the experience they get with a bank or an insurer with the experience they may get from an online retailer. So, I think our customer experience has become the battleground for differentiation for brands. So, we have seen a huge adoption of our cloud based conversational communications. They are really trying to drive great customer experience.

“Our multi- tenant cloud architecture is a very strong attraction for the CIO that we are talking to.”

James Brown, CEO, Smart Communications
What is the competitive advantage of Smart Communications? What is your strategy of growth?

We see ourselves unique. We really are evolving beyond communications into conversations. We have created a platform called Conversation Cloud. Conversation Cloud allows companies to collect information about their consumers through interactive two-way interview type forms of transformation to communicate in very robust personalized ways to collaborate on platform and to coordinate the entire conversation within our Conversation Cloud platform. So, we have got these key capabilities that we are building out within the platform. Interestingly, we have seen an enormous shift to cloud, and we are the only multi-tenant cloud platform in this category. We have been really at the forefront of driving these conversational communications in the cloud.

So, it is a very exciting place to be in terms of our longer-term growth strategy. We are very focused on continuing our growth organically. We are focused on key regulated industries. So, industries like insurance, financial services and healthcare are most focussed categories. Globally, we recently made the acquisition of Swiss- based company called Assentis Technologies having expertise in customer communications management area. That has expanded our footprint and also given us a deeper financial services expertise as well. So, it’s a combination of really emphasizing the Conversation Cloud being very specific about the vertical industries that were focused on and expanding geographically as well. In fact, in Australia today we have a large installed-base, and it is just part of our wider Asia Pacific growth strategy.

“We see a strong desire to simplify and have one enterprise platform managing the conversational communications.”

What was the rationale behind acquiring Intelledox in Australia?

Intelledox acquisitions was very important to us as it gave us capability to transform static forms-based processes into genuinely two-way interview like interactions, which is very personalized interactions with consumers. It allows companies to collect data about their consumers. So Intelledox acquisition gave us the great collect capability. We now call that SmartIQ. It sits alongside our SmartCOMM communications platform. It is a very powerful part of the conversation cloud. I think as we go forward, we will continue to look for innovative, exciting technologies that we think augment the conversation cloud and offer our customers a better way of building great customer experiences.

What are the major challenges the CIOs are facing today from the communication standpoint? How do you try to mitigate these challenges?

We are seeing a lot of companies are trying to remove the complexity. Many companies have got a lot of legacy platforms – some of it are homegrown and some are legacy platforms. We see a strong desire to simplify and have one enterprise platform managing the conversational communications. The other big dynamic we are seeing is that how you drive costs from the organization and move to a multi-tenant cloud platform – away from hosted applications within the on-premises environment.  Surprisingly, moving to an enterprise platform like Smart Communications with our multi- tenant cloud architecture is a very strong attraction for the CIO that we are talking to. 

Government sector is also trying to modernise communication platform and is a big sector, how do you address this market?

We have around 50 government agencies here in Australia. They use our smartIQ platform for a whole range of processes that involve interactions with citizens. I think the government space is a very interesting one. We have undergone our certification here in Australia so we can put our capabilities in the cloud for our government customers and alongside the core verticals that we’re focused on. We also see big opportunities in Telco and Utilities also. So, anywhere you see the industry is highly regulated and complex, we are seeing an opportunity of customer engagement and a real desire to have great conversations with the end consumer.

Any geographic expansion that you are planning this year?

We are certainly seeing the investments that we’ve made in in the mid Europe region. But with the acquisition of Intelledox in 2019. We can see very rapid expansion in the Asia Pacific region. North America has always been very important to us. Similarly, we can see a great traction in Canada as well. So, for a business like ours, which is very fast growing, we have got big ambitions in terms of expanding internationally.

As a CEO, what is your vision for next 5 years?

We want to be absolutely at the forefront of driving great customer experience. We believe that our platform really is the conversational layer that sits around all the customer engagement and digital experience platforms that that companies are building. And we think that by building out these powerful and compliant conversational communication. We’ve got a very important role to play as we see industries around the world continue to embrace the digital transformation. We have seen so much acceleration over the last couple of years that we want to do that by really focusing on successful customers and making sure that where we implement our platform, customers see really great success, and expand across their enterprise. So, we are really focused on very strong growth but at the same time making it profitable as well.

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