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Fierce competition in today’s marketplace is pressuring retailers to scrutinize their business operations for areas where they can improve the customer experience. Not only are retailers fighting for customers, but they also face the challenge of delighting and keeping those customers. Doing this requires a deep understanding of customers and potential customers – who they are, what they need and want, where they are, when and where they need your goods, etc. The retailer who knows and understands customers at this level can be more effective in gaining a leadership position in the market. Those that don’t deliver may see customers head to competitors.
Successful engagement with customers requires an understanding of both historical and real-time data related to their wants and needs, so that retailers can make intelligent, informed recommendations and offerings for those customers. To understand this better, consider the following scenario.
A customer is on his way to a store. He's already checked the retailer’s web site and confirmed that the desired item is in stock, as well as double-checked the directions. Once in the store, the innovative retailer stays connected with coupons or cross-sell offers, guides the customer to the shortest check-out lines, or offers incentives based on buying patterns designed to attract the customer back to the store in the future.
Of course, the customer must opt-in to this level of personalization. To deliver this personalized service, the retailer must be able to accommodate an integrated set of inputs, data, applications, services and business processes to enable them to orchestrate the superior experience.
To better understand their customers, retailers need to have access to legacy data and understand its significance alongside incoming data in real time (e.g., big data in motion). Without this holistic and real-time view of the customer, the risk of missing opportunities, or offering a product that is mismatched to the wants and needs of the customer, increases.
Unfortunately, many IT infrastructures do not support the notion of a holistic view of a customer. Many different applications and business processes only have a partial view of each customer—likely the view provided by a closely connected database and input flow. The big picture is not accessible.
Delighting and engaging with customers in a meaningful way requires organizations to understand and provide what the customer wants, when she wants it, and how she wants it. IT is the catalyst that can turn this vision into reality.
The IT organization develops applications to serve customers in new and better ways. Most IT organizations struggle with a backlog of application projects. The right application platform can provide the flexibility, performance, and cloud-readiness needed to develop and deploy applications faster, translating into lower go-to-market times and costs. Once deployed, these applications can leverage an in-memory data grid to permit customers to enjoy a fast and uninterrupted experience, even during peak business times.
The application platform is only one part of the innovative retailer’s IT arsenal. The applications need data about the customer and situation. Manual integration and management of the data connections and format translations can have a significant impact on how quickly solutions can be developed, deployed, and adapted. Data virtualization and integration can address this need, providing simultaneous access to many data types and sources across the organization and making them available to applications in an easily consumable manner. This can be particularly effective for taking intelligent action in support of customer-facing business processes.
With accelerated application development and deployment, and the necessary data at their fingertips, retailers can begin to integrate the applications and build new and reusable services that provide IT and business process analysts with building blocks to create composite applications, BPM processes, mobile applications, and cloud services that serve the customer.
With the foundation of an integrated application, data, and business services infrastructure in place, retailers can add the capstone to their IT organization: automated business processes that serve the customer with intelligent information and offerings. A comprehensive business process management (BPM) suite can coordinate customer interactions through various devices and locations and automate the back-end processes that support the customer experience.
Retailers can delight and engage with their customers in meaningful ways when they have the right combination of tools and technologies in place. Red Hat offers a robust portfolio of technologies to help these businesses find their voices in the midst of fierce competition for the attention and loyalty of customers. The Red Hat JBoss Middleware portfolio includes technologies needed to build innovative and effective IT solutions that enable the real-time, personalized experiences that customers crave.
Whether it is accelerating application development and performance with Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform and Red Hat JBoss Data Grid, integrating applications, data, and services with Red Hat JBoss Fuse, Red Hat JBoss Fuse Service Works, and Red Hat JBoss Data Virtualization, or automating business processes with Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite, Red Hat’s family of lightweight, cloud-friendly, enterprise-grade products helps organizations innovate faster, in a smarter way. Learn more about Red Hat JBoss Middleware at http://www.redhat.com/products/jbossenterprisemiddleware.