Illuminating the Customer Experience


For the past year or so I’ve been a loyal customer of a booming barbershop near the SYSPRO head office. I only realized recently that none of the barbers are able to speak English. It made me wonder how they had been able to build a successful business relying on clear communication with this direct impediment.

So on my next visit, I decided to watch their interaction with customers to see if I could find out what their secret is. What I noticed was that each of the barbers had mastered a handful of South Africanisms that they used when interacting with customers. When a customer walks in, he’s greeted by a loud “howzit, howzit!” (a casual greeting).  The haircut itself is then peppered with “ja’s” (yes) and “lekker’s” (fantastic) followed by a “cheers bru” (goodbye brother) when the customer is about to leave. This experience made me realize how small almost imperceptible things can change a customer’s experience making them feel more at home and comfortable in an environment.

You may be wondering how on earth this relates to ERP, but stick with me, we’ll get there.

The software world is rife with buzzwords such as big data, collaboration, the Internet of Things and even that old chestnut “the cloud”. It is however rare to see analysis about how interrelated these terms really are or how much of an overlap between them there is.

Things like collaboration, social media and the Internet of Things are the very engine that creates big data while this never ending stream of data would never be able to be feasibly processed without the power of the cloud.

My question is therefore how we can use this intersection to improve software and make a user’s experience more personalized by highlighting anomalies, adjusting information to meet a user’s needs (whether they know they want it or not) and adding a number of other features to make a user more productive based on their past interaction with the system.

To paraphrase the American sports caster, Vin Scully, statistics and, by extension the big data behind them, are conventionally used much like a drunk uses a lamppost – for support rather than illumination. As part of the product innovation team at SYSPRO it is our goal to use statistics, along with machine learning, neural networks and a number of other tools to provide illumination rather than simply support to SYSPRO users.

This goal, along with the intersection between big data, collaboration, social media and the cloud has formed the basis of our initial design and development of what we in the innovation department at SYSPRO have code named Project Harmony. Our intention is to make Harmony a natural extension to the SYSPRO product that not only allows users to collaborate inside the context of the SYSPRO ecosystem but also to use a combination of the data generated from this along with the vast data generated by the SYSPRO product to provide illumination and a more personalized experience to the user no matter where in SYSPRO they may be. In other words, Harmony should make users feel more at home and comfortable in SYSPRO. Just like the South Africanisms at the barbershop.

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