Customer First – An Edge(y) Perspective

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Customer First – An Edge(y) Perspective

This is a guest post by Mark Thiele, CEO and Founder of Edgevana.

It’s my perspective that edge is becoming the de facto method for interacting with, learning from, and providing experiences to our customers. What is Digital Transformation if not a means to align your business more effectively with customers? Yes, we still have phones, email, banner ads and billboards. However, capturing the hearts, minds, and potential contributions of customers won’t come from any of the aforementioned methods.

Edge is the touch, the embrace, the handshake of your business

Businesses in retail, entertaining, and gaming already see the value of building stronger relationships through deeper and more successful interactions via edge as the key to their competitive advantage. Yes, the ability to kill your opponent 5 milliseconds faster is a successful and heartwarming interaction for a gamer. A positive outcome for a retailer might be add-on sales or a better click/buy ratio and it could also mean direct and immediate feedback to product development.

The point is, edge gives the above businesses the ability to offer their customers a differentiated experience. In today’s world the customer expects to have a say and instant response to a click or offered suggestions. Edge gives the enterprise an ability to create experiences and form bonds of customer loyalty that a flat website or occasional email never could. In effect, edge can be your touch, embrace, and handshake with customers – the hand for the corporate body.

Of course, the customer is first, what’s so edge(y)?

Digital Transformation is about many little things that in the end all should focus on one thing: an improved customer experience. Yes, manufacturing efficiency is important and closing the books more quickly is nice, but no customer has ever asked for a company’s books to be closed more quickly. The customer isn’t a stockholder or investor; the customer is the person making your products and the person buying your products. Digital Transformation is and should be about DevOpsing (a technical term) how your business operates. It should be removing silos and doing tighter turns on customer feedback – these are the real “whys” for doing Digital Transformation.

If Digital Transformation is about the customer then….

That’s right, you guessed it. Edge will be the way companies big and small in almost every vertical will pursue stronger customer relationships. Walmart has 11,000 stores and will likely have a home-grown edge solution in every location. Not every company is Walmart; we don’t have a customer access point in 11,000 locations around the globe, but it doesn’t mean many of us shouldn’t. Who are your customers? Where are they located? Can you improve your competitiveness by building stronger ties to your customers? Google certainly did when they bought Nest. What, you thought they just wanted to be in the thermostat business? Any business that has a large, diverse and distributed customer base could benefit from providing those customers a better experience and edge is one of the clear opportunity areas to do just that.

Getting started

There isn’t a vending machine with different edge options you can buy and start using. The edge you need (or don’t) will be based on your products and services in combination with your customers and partners. You may find that you have multiple varieties of edge for your business. An edge (what used to be called on-premises IT) for your campus, an edge for marketing and sales and maybe an edge for customer loyalty or product use detail. Determine the why first and then if appropriate build or partner to deploy the edge that best solves for that why.

When reviewing the market, it always pays to know what you want before you ask others if they can help you and edge is definitely no different. Is low latency the biggest driver or is it in enabling cost savings by doing heavy data analytics closer to where the data is created? Depending on your criteria you might find a cloud service provider is the right approach. If you want to have more locations or flexibility than a public cloud will offer there’s always the build or partner approach with many companies out there to help you with everything from networking to stack development and infrastructure management at distributed scale.

Edge isn’t for the faint of heart, but the rewards are real

Remember that the customer is first and that should be the mantra of your Digital Transformation. You could be driving up employee productivity and work satisfaction or improving the odds a customer buys your product. The research done by the likes of Google and Amazon among others shows a strong correlation to customer happiness with things as simple as faster page load speeds.

According to Google’s latest research, the time it takes to load the average mobile landing page is 22 seconds. However, research also indicates 53% of people will leave a mobile page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load

Pinterest increased search engine traffic and sign-ups by 15%when they reduced perceived wait times by 40%

COOK increased conversions by 7%, decreased bounce rates by 7%, and increased pages per session by 10% (PDF) when they reduced average page load time by 850 milliseconds

Go forth and differentiate, be Edge(y).

About the author

Mark Thiele is CEO and Founder of Edgevana, a stealth mode startup focused on building a software-based marketplace for the infrastructure community. Thiele is an advisor to several startups and was previously working on edge cloud ecosystem strategy for Ericsson’s Edge Gravity. He also served as CIO and CSO for Apcera and has a background in data center design and ecosystem partnerships.

DISCLAIMER: Guest posts are submitted content. The views expressed in this blog are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Edge Industry Review (EdgeIR.com).

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