PODCAST

Adobe Systems’ Kumar Vora on Empowering Customers

Web 2.0 technologies offer more opportunities than just sharing information with friends and family on Facebook or uploading user-generated videos on YouTube. The tools that help enable conversations between people on the Internet can also help corporations get closer to their customers. ECT News Network interviewer Renay San Miguel talks to Kumar Vora, Adobe Systems vice president for product strategy and enterprise marketing, about cost efficiencies enabled by Web 2.0 and whether its easy or difficult for software applications allowing instant feedback from customers to be placed on top of existing enterprise architectures. Vora also gives examples of how Adobe’s suite of Web 2.0 tools are helping corporations and government agencies cut down on process times while addressing security concerns.

Keeping customers engaged and loyal; that’s the mantra for corporations looking to take advantage of social media technologies. Vora says Web 2.0 can make the user experience much more fulfilling “as well as creating a sense of community. It’s the same kind of efficiencies we can bring through Software as a Service patterns.”

As you might imagine coming from Adobe, the company behind Photoshop, social media in the enterprise also means integrating media presentations into the mix, and not just to make a corporate Web site more “glitzy.” Streaming video as a function of the online help section of a Web site, real-time chats during transactions — “this results on a real return on investment and reduction in costs,” Vora says. It’s all designed toward self-help on the part of the customer and reducing the money spent by having a customer service representative staffing a 1-800 help line.

Vora adds that the tools available now, including Adobe’s Acrobat Connect Pro Web conferencing application, can be overlaid over existing infrastructures without breaking the bank for small and medium-sized businesses forced to keep an eye on their bottom lines in a tightening economy.


Listen to the podcast (20:57 minutes).


Here are some excerpts from the interview:

E-Commerce Times: When most people think about Web 2.0, the things that would come to mind would be blogging, would be Facebook, the kind of social networks that have allowed more of a two-way interactivity between the users and those they want to speak with. In the enterprise, I’m guessing that it’s a better way to connect with your customers, and I’m wondering if that’s pretty close to what you’re talking about here.

Kumar Vora:

It is. It’s how do you keep your customers engaged, customers loyal, increase the stickiness. The thing that we observe is that our customers, which is the large enterprises, have a lot of competition.

They have to be agile, they have to be responsive to their customers, and in our products we try to reflect that. How do we enable our customers to be more agile, to be more responsive to their customers and create the sense of loyalty, sense of community sense of stickiness in that relationship at the same time increasing some of the efficiency and reducing some of the costs they have in operating their businesses?

ECT: At first glance, you would think that there’s already if you’re using the Internet anyway, if you’re pointing and clicking to put in an order or to try to do all the processes that exist in a business-to-business framework, it’s already simple, there’s already a lot of paperwork that’s been cut off, a lot of trees that have been saved already thanks to the Internet, I’m wondering how you can make that even more efficient than the way things are right now?

KV:

It’s interesting that you put it that way, because when we went from the Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 paradigms for your average Web sites, we saw the same kind of nuances that you see in the businesses today that use our technology. Web 1.0 could do all the things that we’ve been talking about, except that it did it in a clunky way. Every page and every click, the page was refreshed. There was an added delay, the customer had to wait, and the user experience was not fulfilling. When you think about a transaction on an e-commerce site, the fact that it would take you five or six screens dissuaded a lot of customers and there was a high dropout rate.

So, what Web 2.0 did in terms of increasing the experience, as well as creating a sense of community, are some of the things that the businesses can avail of when they interact with customers. So it is the same kind of efficiencies that we can bring through the use of RIA technologies, the Software as a Service kind of patterns.

ECT: So, with rich Internet applications, the ability to go deeper into interactivity into more instantaneous type of feedback — did you get my order, I’m having some trouble with fulfillment, can I talk to somebody else in your infrastructure — the kind of Web 2.0 tools that you’re using and others are using are able to enable that more instant feedback?

KV:

Yes, instant feedback is one aspect of it. The other very important aspect in all of this is the integration of media elements into the customer experience. So for instance, being able to blend multiple media types, being able to chat in the context of a business transaction, being able to stream video as online help to a customer that is looking to get some help, this results in real, direct return on investment or reduction of cost.

We have a customer on the East Coast, a large financial institution, that is using some of these technologies in video streaming as part of their online presence, not from the perspective of creating a glitzy experience, but from the perspective of how do we have the customer self-help and do the transactions themselves and not have them call the 800 number and have the cost of a representative picking up the phone 24X7 and having staff to support all of that?

So the fact that they can push some of the business in a very efficient fashion, in a very user-satisfactory fashion, toward self-help and reduce the cost and increase the efficiencies of that is the real business benefit that drops straight to the bottom line.

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