By Bridget van Kralingen
A recent survey of cable customers showed that the industry’s brand vulnerability rates running 50% to 70% higher than other consumer-facing industries. On top of that, more than half of those surveyed said they would switch providers if they had a choice.
But what if a cable or telecom provider could transform the quality, efficiency and the nature of the technical service interaction — polishing their brands, earning new customer loyalty and, at the same time, improving the job satisfaction of their employees?
This is the kind of impact IBM and Apple envisioned when we came together this year to develop a new class of mobile apps – apps made for business, and designed to transform industries and professions.
When we announced our collaboration, the focus was on bringing our two companies together to achieve things that neither could do on its own. We combined Apple’s expertise in user-centric design with IBM’s deep knowledge of business, data analytics, cloud and enterprise-scale software. Together, we committed to create the same kind of empowering and delightful mobile experiences for people at work that they enjoy elsewhere.
Today, we’re delivering on that promise by announcing the first 10 mobile apps that will come to market–the first of many that we have on the drawing boards. I’m impressed by the ability of teams from the two companies to collaborate to produce beautiful, elegant, smart apps, which also have the chops for serious business. These apps – or more accurately, these solutions — address high-priority opportunities within industries and make professionals more proficient at what they do. The apps make work faster and simpler, and I don’t mind saying it – more fun – at the same time they place the power of big data analytics at our fingertips.
How do we develop the apps? We begin by studying industries and professions, drawing on years of experience, so we can identify the top “pain points.” Then we consider the key differentiating capabilities of iPhone, iPad and iOS – like iBeacon or FaceTime, along with GPS, mapping, or a microphone. And we infuse the solution with the analytics to improve decision making — with context, in the moment, at the point of customer contact.
Our Expert Tech app demonstrates the potential productivity gains, and customer satisfaction improvements possible – shrinking appointment windows from a standard of four hours to 1 or 2 hours; and radically reducing instances of expensive follow-up home visits.
Armed with the new mobile app, field technicians can prepare better for every appointment; ensure they have the right inventory on their truck; take recommendations on what else they need from the warehouse before starting the day; optimize routes; more accurately diagnose problems when they find them, or even use FaceTime to get another level of technical support in real time.
Once the job is done, the consumer provides a digital signature on the app screen and has the option of filling out a short customer satisfaction survey.
This is just one example of how the new apps will change the way work is done.
Imagine the difference when:
• Every retail associate – even the newest employee – can provide expert advice and recommendations based on transparent access to inventory information, correlated with historical customer information, and that customer’s selections or questions on any trip to the store.
• When brick-and-mortar retailers can expedite shipping by turning their existing stores into mini-warehouses and product pickup depots.
• When flight attendant can rebook you at 30,000 feet when they can see that you’re in danger of missing a connection.
These apps don’t just translate already-existing applications from a desktop to a mobile device. By taking advantage of the distinct characteristics of iOS, with IBM business analytics, they enable us and our clients to re-imagine existing work flows; or simply imagine the next great possibility.
What’s next? We’re creating suites of these business solutions for a wide range of industries. We began with telecommunications, transportation, financial services, retail, and apps for governments and airlines; with plans to expand to healthcare, utilities, consumer packaged goods, and more.
We believe we’re at the threshold of the next great wave of business change – creating new value for organizations, for individual business professionals, and a smarter, easier, better experience for all of us in our interactions with all the institutions of the world.