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Your customer is right. We already talked

How can "customer obsession" be the difference-maker for your business in the age of cloud computing and AI? Read on for our learnings from an executive panel discussion (feat. SCOR and Rockwell Automation), and let the obsession spark action in your business.


While many factors come into play in the success or failure of a business, it’s safe to say that one stands above all others: the customer.

For all the ways business has changed over the years, for all the technology advances that have radically transformed the economic climate, that one simple truism still holds. No business can survive without customers.

At AWS re:Invent last week in Las Vegas, Ollion hosted a panel discussion on “customer obsession” in the age of cloud computing and artificial intelligence. The setting was apt, given the way Amazon itself rose to global dominance through a relentless focus on satisfying its customers.

Panelists reaffirmed the importance of obsessing over their customers, of constantly improving their systems and refining their processes, and of making sure that every employee is on board and working together to become customer obsessed.

Successful companies use technology not just to drive outcomes for their customers, and their customers’ customers, but even – thinking boldly and ambitiously – for humanity as a whole.

“We work with some of the largest unicorns in the Asia-Pacific region, and what they got right was, they put the customer at the front of all of the business strategy,” my esteemed colleague Vishal Parpia, Ollion’s chief digital officer, told the panel. “They don’t just use technology for technology’s sake. When they think about an application they’re delivering, they’re thinking, ‘What was the customer coming into that business for?’”

What technology can do for customers

In addition to Vishal, our panel discussion, “Infuse Customer Obsession into Your Business Strategy,” featured Jeremy Campbell, VP of technology for Velogica, part of SCOR Global Life Americas, one of the world’s largest reinsurers, and Christina Moss, director of cloud services for Rockwell Automation, the largest global industrial automation and information company. They both shared deep insights into the concept of seeing customers everywhere – internally, externally and downstream.

“When you think about what customer obsession is, it is really manifested in a lot of different players,” Jeremy explained. “We are a reinsurance company. We don't have a direct relationship with an insured person. But that doesn't mean they're not our customer in the end. And the direct insurer is not our only customer. We have internal teams who are our customers as well.”

Relatedly, an important part of Christina’s job is helping the IT team see how their work impacts customers and drives the business. Many times, IT is in its silo and business people don’t show adequate respect, only giving IT tasks to do without explaining how vital those operations are to serving the customers.

Jeremy advised – and Ollion’s approach concurs – that leaders must think about how to remove the burden so business outcomes can be achieved more quickly and easily. Easier said than done, right?

Christina had some suggestions:

  • Have “lunch and learn” sessions to bring IT and the business side together. At Rockwell, this has led to little epiphanies, in which members of each group realized, “We're doing similar things and we have similar ideas. How can we work together?”
  • Cultivate positive relationships across the organization for a broader view. Christina shared, “One thing I've done a lot is just make a lot of friends in the organization and start calling people, talking to them about what they're doing. It’s good to see the things we could do to help.”
  • Hackathons are great ways to bring people together. This allows IT folks to work toward a common goal, fostering the acknowledgement of their impact on the business side. As Christina told us, this gets IT thinking, “This is something the business really needs. What are the things IT can do to help?” Bring in business leaders from legal, marketing, etc., as resources for the IT teams in the hackathon to further drive collaboration.

Transformative technologies, new opportunities

New technology can offer many ways to serve customers, but companies need to view it with a critical eye. People can be guilty of chasing the “shiny new thing” without keeping business value in mind.

In some cases, technology will help customers do things faster and more efficiently. Jeremy told how insurance decisions that once took three to four weeks could now be made in minutes, thanks to the ability to rapidly crunch huge amounts of data. The challenge, though, is observability. As a heavily regulated industry, explaining why somebody was denied a policy, for example, can be difficult using today’s AI models. However, this will continue to evolve and improve.

For Vishal, new technology is truly exciting in the way it can transform someone’s business. You could almost see that “shiny new thing” lighting up in his eyes! “I think some of the new stuff that's happening with – dare I say it – GenAI [generative artificial intelligence] is really pushing the envelope in what's possible,” he said.

Cutting costs, cutting customers?

I asked the panelists if, in lean economic times, when companies have to do more with less, does customer obsession take a backseat?

“No,” Jeremy said emphatically. “If you let it take a backseat, then your customers are going to go be someone else's customers.”

The key is to rethink your approach when working with less than you’re used to. Ceasing customer engagement is not an option because how can you then make sure you’re meeting customer needs? Jeremy suggested, “You have to figure out ways that you can get force multipliers like GenAI to work for you.”

Christina agreed that companies have to get creative about problem-solving with fewer funds. Think about the desired outcome (in this case, maintaining customer satisfaction) and how you can reach that goal. The path may not be direct, but the important thing is to keep what you’re driving toward in mind. “Maybe sometimes I have to zig-zag and go a different way, but I can still get to the end goal,” she affirmed.

Modernizing for greater efficiency

At Ollion, whenever we refactor an application and modernize it, bringing it into what we call “cloud-native mode,” clients end up getting a lot of budget back. Having win-win successes like that can energize a team.

SCOR is currently embarking on the modernization journey for their core business application. According to Jeremy, the application will be easier to maintain and will provide a platform for the company’s developers to innovate. He said, “The developers have been working on the same old application, just like we all have. They're developers. They want to do stuff. They want to grow and develop, too. This is an opportunity for that.”

Empowering teams, empowering customers

By making sure that each new implementation of technology has an impact on your customers, you’ll help send a message throughout your enterprise: It’s all about the customer. And every decision, person and piece of data matters.

In driving the need for customer obsession across your enterprise, you’ll find that employees will become more engaged in their roles. They’ll see the way their work has an impact on the core business function of delighting your customers.

They’ll see your company’s customers as their own customers. And they’ll start thinking about them in everything they do on the job.

They’ll be obsessed.

And your customers will be happy.

Learn more about Ollion here, including how we work to improve our client experience and, thus, their customers' experiences.

Lauren Dettloff, chief marketing and growth officer