When CMO Chip Coyle joined Infor, a $3 billion software company serving 70,000 customers, the management team was focused on fundamentally transforming the company’s approach to product development and integration. Their goal was to institutionalize a customer-oriented perspective and drive product design and development from the outside in. But just how does a 13,000-employee company accomplish this type of change?

Coyle described the following seven practices for orchestrating a technology transformation:

1. Be unconventional. Coyle created his own in-house design firm, Hook & Loop, to focus on the user experience. They set the operation up in NYC to host customers in a creative agency environment and staffed it with 50 designers, copy writers, and user experience technologists, who are part product development and part marketing communications. They focus on how their software is used and visualize the applications and data. For example, they are developing new ways to communicate traditional spreadsheet data with dynamic graphics that can be drilled into.

2. Rethink marketing. Coyle’s 450-person marketing team is changing their marketing approach to make the best use of digital interactions. They understand that their prospects are already 57 percent of the way through the buying cycle before they ever engage with a human being. With the initial product investigation done online, companies need to improve the online environment.

3. Align product attributes with brand attributes. Moving to an outside-in approach to software design required driving change throughout the entire organization. In doing so, it was important that Infor’s brand was consistent with the product attributes. To ensure consistency in the software, they brought all the developers together across the many different product lines. The result was that the developers embraced the transformation whole-heartedly.

4. Deliver speed-to-value. Implementation is at the core of Infor’s strategy, so they avoid putting customers through long implementation cycles. Their product design provides flexible deployment options that give customers the choice to run their businesses in the cloud, on-premises or both. Marketing focuses on agility so that campaigns have a much quicker turnaround. Coyle notes that having a great relationship with IT is critical, as marketing heavily relies on infrastructure, including marketing automation tools, electronic publishing, and their website.

5. Invest in your products. Through technology and user interface investments, Infor has been able to unify products spanning the enterprise and roll them into full suites for all industries. The new product line offers deep industry-specific applications and suites, engineered for speed, and with an innovative user experience design that is simple, transparent and elegant.

6. Make use of digital interactions, but don’t lose face. While customer engagement can be accomplished with fewer human interactions, Coyle firmly believes that there is no replacement for face-to-face customer discussions. Infor blends face-to-face experience with real-time digital technology such as digital polling, tweeting, video, and leveraging the website for pre-and-post event momentum. They host field events and are visible in the places where their customers congregate.

7. Measure results. In a multi-touch, multi-device world it can be challenging to deliver integrated campaigns and track the impact of each touch to drive the next purchase or to trigger the next offer to a prospect. Coyle believes that ROI of user experience-focused products can be measured by analyzing the sheer volume of emails in an organization. In a highly-productive organization, communications are accomplished in a more efficient way than email.

In closing, Coyle advises CMOs to avoid the marketing hype of the moment. “It’s not all high tech these days. Don’t forget the high touch and the importance of face-to-face interactions. It’s a CMO’s job to balance high tech with high touch to deliver maximum value to customers.”

(Watch the full interview with Chip Coyle.)

Published on: Jan 24, 2014
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