I think we can all agree that the last few months have been interesting. I can’t remember any other time where so much has changed this quickly. Pretty much every organisation – private or public sector – had to change how they are doing things in some way. Within all this change, one of the areas disrupted most is customer engagement.
Customer engagement has long been a hot topic for both private and public sector organisations. Businesses and government institutions alike, understand that they need to find ways to engage, inform and communicate with their audience to remain competitive and relevant. It’s also nothing new that digital technology can play a huge part in how organisations engage their audience.
However, what has changed over the last few months is the speed at which organisations are adopting new technology and changing the way they engage with their customers. Put simply, COVID-19 created the urgency to make stuff happen fast.
The ability to communicate and engage face-to-face disappeared virtually overnight. At the same time, for many businesses and government agencies, customer engagement became more important than ever. We were going through a global crisis. Things were changing fast. Organisations needed efficient ways to communicate those changes with their audience while also providing the emotional support many were craving. No one wanted to look like they are leaving their audience alone when support was needed most.
As a result, many organisations simply had no choice but to use whatever technology was available to them. When usually there would have been lengthy review and evaluation processes before a solution would be chosen and implemented, organisations were suddenly just skipping past all of that and jumped on the tools to make things happen.
I loved seeing so many businesses and public sector institutions respond in this agile fashion, and I hope they manage to retain some of that speed and flexibility even without the urgency of a global pandemic.
However, it also didn’t take long before some cracks started to show as a result of this quick response. For many organisations, these cracks where around data security and privacy.
While the public was initially very willing to share personal information in the name of contact tracing and the greater good, it didn’t take long before questions about privacy and data security started to be asked. We also all read about the security issues Zoom encountered, and reports of spam and phishing attempts become more prevalent.
Efficient customer engagement requires data, but with data collection comes security concerns. And that is by no means limited to times of disruption like we’re experiencing them at the moment.
Siloed strategies and data management, for example, has been a challenge since long before COVID-19. Customer engagement experts, rightly so, argue that they could deliver much more personalised communications and engagements if they had access to all the customer data available. However, sharing data across different parts of the organisation or between government agencies in a secure manner is a challenge.
So how can organisations find the right balance between creating engaging and personalised customer experiences and data security?
There is an obvious aspect of choosing well-designed solutions that meet the highest security standards. Of course, culture also plays a role in that the entire team needs to take security seriously and act accordingly. However, there is one other element that is maybe less obvious, and that is the connection between different systems – modern and legacy ones.
In most organisations, technology and the infrastructure around it are built up over time. New systems and capabilities are added when needed. Sometimes, systems are replaced, but more often, new solutions are added on top of what’s already there. These mixed environments of technology from different providers over the years and, of course, with varying standards of security, can be a real challenge.
Organisations who want to be able to leverage data to engage their audience better, while also keeping information secure, need to find ways to connect the different systems in a way that allows data to flow securely. At Forge, we have worked with numerous organisations across Australia and New Zealand to help them connect their new and existing systems in a meaningful, secure way via robust and well-designed APIs and microservices.
How are you currently connecting modern and legacy systems in your business, and how are you addressing the security concerns that result from wanting to leverage data for better customer engagement? If you feel you need some help with any of this, reach out to the Forge team, we would love to hear from you.