Digitalisation has revolutionised many aspects of modern life – our communication, shopping, banking, entertainment and work.
It is a major driver of business competitiveness and innovation – and for many organisations it has become a critical factor in remaining a market leader, writes Monique Williams, regional manager at Hyland Southern Africa.

The latest twist in the digital revolution is the demand for an ever more personalised product or service. This trend towards personalisation has the potential to accelerate sales and growth to the next level.

Personalisation has its origins in retail. It used to be that boutiques would employ impeccably mannered sales staff to dote on customers, offering a very different experience to mass-market shopping encounters. With the advent of the Internet and online shopping, retailers like Amazon are using the increasingly large amounts of information gathered on each individual customer to offer a boutique-like personalised service – greeting customers by name, making suggestions for purchases they might like and offering tailored discounts.

As the customer becomes more accustomed to personalisation, manufacturers are being drawn into the fray. Already manufacturers in the low-volume, high-market bracket are embracing personalisation. Premium automotive marques like BMW and Jaguar Land Rover are responding to demand by allowing buyers to choose every detail of a new car. The sales departments are working closely with the technical departments to devise new features with which to enthuse customers. Also, customer feedback is being integrated into the design process so that a new product closely resembles the desires of customers.

Where premium products have gone, higher-volume lower-margin products are set to follow. Personalisation can allow ambitious smaller firms to gain market share from bigger incumbents. For example, mobile phone manufacturers could use personalisation to challenge Apple’s dominance. Apparel makers could abandon their traditional seasonal range and opt for a more responsive approach, tailoring new lines to the latest craze.

Personalisation is also permeating as a trend in the information management technology sector, helping many industries gain access to information in context. This enables a more personalised service and faster incident resolution. For example, when a customer makes a claim on a policy, the claims adjuster must review and assess the claim, gathering all related information – from underwriting decisions to claim history. Quick and efficient access to all information – including first notice of loss documents, medical bills and correspondence – can fast-track a decision on approving the claim and equip the adjuster to provide better customer service along the way.

At a university, a digital student record provides an advisor with a full view of all the information surrounding a student, ensuring that they are able to provide the appropriate guidance students need and an enhanced student experience. In the healthcare industry, access to medical history assists clinicians in planning and coordinating patient support, resources and wellness services.

Personalisation is not only relevant to consumer-facing industries – it also allows far more integrated and accountable products to be offered to business customers, too, as they in turn expect their specific demands to be met. However, a personalised approach necessitates taking control of the data from customers and managing it effectively.

The necessary customer data is almost certainly already available, but lying idle. If a company hasn’t already, it should embrace full digitisation and introduce an information management solution. Digitised information can be harnessed, and effective information management allows it to be used strategically.

Information management assists in delivering relevant information to the appropriate people across an organisation at the right time, and then passing on their inputs to other key personnel. Information management also helps executives to spot and tackle inefficiencies and bottlenecks.

The implementation of an advanced information management application can be swift and need not be disruptive to overall business operations. Using a low-code approach, a system can be rapidly designed and developed, and fully rolled out to the workforce within weeks. And it does not have to force a new information technology on anyone. It works with existing programmes and core IT systems with which staff are already familiar.

Essentially, information management solutions allow companies to exploit the treasure trove of data for personalisation, supporting the drive towards better products, better customer service and ultimately, growth.