Wayne Gretzky has this great quote -
A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.
A few days ago I had a great conversation with a big retailer (and with many other customers since then) about engaging customers on the edge of the enterprise and think it's worth sharing.
Today our systems of record in enterprises are ERP and billing systems. That will continue to be the case but the problem is that all these systems of record represent where the puck has already been - what has already happened.
We'd like to predict where the puck is going to be. Today, lots of information can be gathered and analyzed quickly, and in real-time. So you can know what your customer is doing right now. Based on what they are doing now, or have just done, you can predict what they will do, or want to do next.
We're talking about figuring out how to play where the puck is going.
Imagine, you are a leading retailer. A customer walks into your retail location. If they check in (Foursquare, Facebook, Google+, . . on their mobile device), and you have their credentials, you can know their profile and recent history.
Where have they been? Did they just leave Walmart or Tiffany? Their spending patterns will obviously be different.
Can you know from their Twitter stream whether they were grocery shopping or anniversary shopping? Knowing this, and correlating it with what they've already bought from you, gives you a perspective and clues to their intent.
Imagine if you can make this information available to a sales person on the spot? Now you've provided that sales person a context in which to interact with the customer. They're equipped to provide a great and customized experience.
The only way to make this happen is if your enterprise is interacting with all of the different streams of data that are available and correlating this data with what you already have inside the enterprise.
Use it all - data in the core enterprise, from outside the enterprise and most importantly from the edge of the enterprise (mostly mobile apps) - to make context-sensitive interactions for customers.
That's what engaging customers on the edge is.