Guest Column | May 2, 2017

What IT Departments Should Know For 2017

BSM Brad Gillespie, Octiv

By Brad Gillespie, Chief Marketing Officer, Octiv

Advances in technology have armed companies with more resources and power than ever before. Technology offers companies the ability to connect with customers and prospects whenever and wherever they want. It also opens doors for sales and marketing teams to gather valuable data and buyer insights. The non-stop development of sales and marketing automation in recent years has made daily tasks easier for salespeople and marketers.

But there are some bigger trends emerging for 2017 every department — including IT — need to know before making decisions for buying technology.

The Future Of Digital Business
Today’s buyers are distracted, and it’s affecting more than time management. In 2017 and beyond, we’ll see competitive businesses embracing a “less-is-more” approach to technology to avoid the productivity paradox or belief that, despite rapid tech advancements, overall productivity is declining.

But as smartphones and mobile devices become primary screens for business, devices that discourage their owners from using them seem like a waste of money. Companies must learn to combat this with technology that streamlines interactions instead of creating more of them. The best solutions provide user experiences that are intuitive, frictionless, and consistent across devices. The future of digital business must include interfaces that increase productivity by requiring as few intentional touchpoints as possible.

How To Leverage Automation To Enhance Personalization
While automation has simplified repetitive, more tedious tasks for sales and marketing, it shouldn’t be used solely for that purpose. If that’s the focus, then the human element is lost. The rapid rise of automation and the excitement of innovation have pushed personalization to the sidelines. The challenge companies will face in 2017 is figuring out how to embrace the future of tech while keeping customers — the people — at the center of their focus.

There is a way to leverage automation in order to enhance personalization in the sales process. It will, however, require salespeople to leverage information across every department to paint a clearer picture of the prospects they’re pursuing. Here, sales technology like predictive analytics can give salespeople the ability to team up with other departments and gather data on their ideal prospects.               

Leveraging automation and technology also can bring personalization back into the picture in a bigger, more significant way.

Data: The Not-So-Secret Weapon
The tech giants of the world already have access to rich Big Data mines. But for companies that build solutions to support and accelerate business interactions, using that data to streamline routine processes is the weapon that can defeat app fragmentation. Integrations that fade into the background of a user experience can save time not just by requiring less attention, but by leveraging data from other systems to make communication, negotiations, and document generation distribution nearly instant.

Solutions that can gather data from a variety of sources, and allow users to plug data into different types of documents or other interfaces, will move digital business one step closer to simple communication. This also means companies must consider how they fit with other products in their market, as well as how they can help businesses declutter their tech stacks.

Accelerating Business With Digital Document Workflows
Email attachments and PDFs are still the most widely used way of sharing documents, but for decades businesses have chased more modern methods of sharing documents and information. Fortunately, technology has enabled sales and marketing teams to develop stronger workflows.

With more than 200 touchpoints each month for sales teams and more than 15 percent of the sales cycle spent on internal approvals, businesses can lose opportunities to close deals and build customer relationships by moving too slowly. With the introduction of digital document workflows into the business process, companies can do more than accelerate sales cycles, approvals and onboarding: they can also standardize processes and ensure accuracy. That translates to a better experience from end to end, for both companies and the customers they serve.

As technology continues to advance, thrive and change the way we do business, teams across all departments have to keep advancing as well. If companies can leverage technology and work proactively toward creating a more seamless experience for both buyers and sellers, 2017 will be a year for the books.

For more sales trends to watch for in 2017, get Octiv’s guide here.