Recently, Mark Bartlett, Chief Experience Officer at FPX, was interviewed by Frank Sohn, President and CEO of Novus CPQ Consulting Inc. for Sohn’s CPQ Podcast. You can check out the first part of the podcast here, where Mark discussed the importance of listening to the customer and how the role of Chief Experience Officer has evolved over the years.
In this breakdown of the podcast, we learn how CPQ is leveraging new technologies, what the customer can do to prepare for a CPQ project, and the future of CPQ integration.
With different developments emerging, including AI, natural language processing, etc., there’s a lot of opportunities for CPQ. How are you leveraging these new technologies?
What those technologies help to do—they’re very much a part of our predictive analytics suite—is to continue to enhance offerings with the power of cognitive computing and machine learning. In so doing, we’re enhancing those best practices through automation and continually shortening the amount of time from the observation and analysis of a behavior to a recommendation, action, and measurement based on said behavior.
Additionally, the ways in which end users can provide feedback and interact through these customer journeys are enhanced by conversational interfaces. All of these technologies are key to our success and to the evolution of engagement we’re trying to create between users and technologies.
The old adage in B2B used to be “If we build it, you must use it” because it was a part of the job function. While this is still somewhat true, our end users (especially millennials and digital natives) have much higher expectations for digital experiences. Therefore, we have to meet and exceed those expectations while quickening the input and the outcome.
These technologies are future-looking and help us better create engagement, but we also have to look towards different channels and modes, placing CPQ in a larger context of digital interaction and the way in which users interact with enterprises and do their jobs. It’s no longer a siloed function of direct sales enablement and SFA or tightly coupled only to CRM. It’s time to extend CPQ technology out into commerce and self service because it’s perfectly positioned to solve complex buying and selling problems that the B2B landscape presents.
What can the customer do to prepare for a CPQ project?
We advise our customers to not think of this as a siloed technology project but to think of CPQ initiatives as part of the larger digital transformation mandates that are often coming down from the C-Suite. A lot of the impetus and pain points are felt further down in the organization with sales and tech leaders looking for a solution to the problem. We believe that solution should be put into a larger digital transformation context because, while it has to be a tech conversation, it equally has to be a business and strategic conversation. It’s important to ensure the goals of your digital transformation agenda are making room for an experience transformation around the buying and selling customer journey.
This type of consultative collaboration with prospects and customers requires that we ensure our expanding ecosystem of partners, experienced consultants, and digital transformation experts understand how CPQ in particular fits into the larger consultancy or strategic endeavor.
From a complete end-to-end view, I’ve noticed this type of project usually starts on the CRM side and ends on the ERP side with CPQ in the middle.
We believe the journey starts with some of the earliest touches between end users and enterprises or between customers and brands. We firmly believe that CPQ can play a role “way up” in the front-office all the way to the traditional positioning of CPQ in the back-office/integrated into the ERP.
In the last 15 years the CPQ conversation has been tightly coupled to CRM and now we feel we’re on the brink of the next evolution, with CPQ moving further out to the front, to the product catalog, brochure, or where commerce is playing a role. CPQ can cohabit the front office experience and really be one of the primary first touches that enterprises have with their end users.
As Carsten Thoma of SAP Hybris said, the past 30 years were the evolution and transformation of the back office (with the ERP and the rise of SAP), and the next 30 years ahead of us will be the evolution of the enterprise front office.
But wait, there’s more! Stay tuned for part three of this interview coming soon. Can’t wait? You can listen to the entire podcast here.