By Neville Levinthal, Head of Sales and Marketing, Braintree by Vox
Having grown accustomed to seamless experiences with their personal apps, business owners and managers are increasingly looking for business applications that integrate with each other, and use a shared data pool to provide users with real-time information or recommendations that helps them to do their job more efficiently - without being asked to do so.
The challenge for organisations is that traditional applications were built around the functionality they offered, and not the user experience. In addition, these systems often operate independently of each other, leaving employees with the task of manually moving data between applications. This leads to inefficiencies, increases the possibility of errors and even missed opportunities.
Modern applications change all of this by providing an end-to-end user-centric solution that is designed to make the workplace more efficient by presenting valuable information on demand, doing much of the mundane tasks, and allowing employees to focus on their core responsibilities - and this ease of doing business will be crucial going forward.
Using a common platform enables a digitally-driven environment that unlocks new ways of doing business. In Microsoft’s case, this means that applications from across productivity (Microsoft 365) and business tools (Microsoft Dynamics 365), as well as the cloud (Microsoft Azure) seamlessly integrate with each other. This enables easy sharing of data and switching between applications, while also laying the foundation on which third-party applications can be built.
As an example, Braintree’s CRM24, which is designed to help employees better manage engagement with potential and current customers with its "Activity Management" feature to assign tasks, send emails, schedule appointments and even select from built-in workflows and business process flows - all of which are synchronised with Microsoft Outlook and Teams.
Imagine how much easier it would be if your applications could automatically pull up documents or past emails to provide context, and allow you to easily switch between your emails and finance or CRM (customer relationship management) just by clicking on a invoice, purchase order or customer support ticket number. Or even having potential new business enquiries sent via email automatically captured to your CRM system and assigned to a sales person or team.
Cloud gives businesses computing clout
These developments in technology are being made accessible to businesses of all sizes as a result of the economies of scale of cloud computing. Rather than having to invest in infrastructure, organisations can leave that to specialists, and rather focus on how best to make use of the tools and functionalities - including artificial intelligence and machine learning - that they now have access to.
Furthermore, being part of a global multi-tenanted cloud provider like Azure means that business users stand to benefit from the customer and supplier insights that are gleaned from across all users, and not just within your own organisation.
Powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, companies can now get recommendations from their modern applications, such as your finance application telling you that a certain customer might have difficulty with payment, when you look to process their order.
While companies previously had huge capital expenditure costs in order to fund their infrastructure and software licenses, this is no longer the case. Switching to cloud means that they move to a consumption based model with a monthly subscription fee, which makes it far more scalable.
In addition, modern applications are built on a template-based deployment model, which cuts down on the lengthy lead times associated with traditional software of the past. In addition, vendors such as Braintree are also annuatising the deployment costs so that these can be paid along with the monthly subscriptions rather than as an upfront cost.
With more business transactions taking place online, companies will need to ensure a seamless process for both their employees and customers. Research shows that digital sales have grown by 18% in the first quarter of 2020 over the comparative period the year before. Furthermore, the share of traffic coming from social media increased to 8% in Q1 2020 as opposed to the 6% of 2019. This is highlighting the importance of being able to serve customers better in newer, more agile ways than pre-pandemic.
In order to respond to this need, organisations will need a solution that enables and empowers their employees by being proactive and presenting them with the right information, with the right context, in real time. That solution is turning away from traditional business software and toward platform-based modern applications.