Jeff Kremer and Andrew Cadwell of CDW speak at the CDW Executive SummIT: Delivering Better Outcomes Through IT.

Jun 20 2022

CDW Executive SummIT: Elevating the Customer Experience to Meet New Needs

The pandemic, a move to multicloud environments and continually evolving customer demands all require innovative responses to recurring IT challenges.

Digital transformation remains the name of the game for organizations wanting to stay competitive in a post-pandemic world. Along that journey toward a fully realized digital future, an improved customer experience has become a top priority for many organizations.

The pandemic brought about many changes to the way we interact online, from remote and hybrid work environments to a dramatic increase in online shopping, all of which are here to stay and have altered user expectations for employees, partners and customers alike.

In an opening keynote at the CDW Executive SummIT: Delivering Better Outcomes Through IT, CDW’s Andrew Cadwell, vice president of digital velocity solutions, and Jeff Kremer, digital velocity solution specialist, shared their thoughts on how organizations can uncover a competitive advantage by offering new and improved customer experiences.

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Modernized Apps Create Disruption in the Best Possible Way

Cadwell highlighted some CDW customers to demonstrate how successful companies are using modernized applications to deliver experiences that have disrupted their respective markets. For example, McDonald’s was an early disruptor in the restaurant industry, PayPal disrupted credit card payments and money transfers, HBO reimagined movie distribution models and Netflix drastically changed the face of video consumption.

Some of these companies disrupted their markets long before the advent of the internet or smartphone. But in each case, these businesses recognize that customers are now primarily using their personal devices, and they’ve acknowledged that apps have become central to the customer experience.

Kremer offered a CDW customer success story as an example. A global big-box retailer was facing multiple challenges, many of which centered on problems with its online retail experience. The company knew it needed to modernize its customer experience to meet the expectations of a post-pandemic market.

RELATED: Find out how cloud migration can help small businesses modernize their apps.

“The other challenge was cloud migration,” Kremer said. “They didn’t have the skill sets to get where they needed to be to be efficient and modern. So, the solution that the client and our engineers came up with is we looked at specific in-store, line-of-business applications, and we migrated those over to cloud-native or rebuilt these cloud-native Azure apps — much more performance, scalable, easier to maintain. Then we built an agnostic cloud center of excellence approach.”

The changes enabled significant growth for the customer. “Some of the outcomes were very impactful year over year, approximately 76 percent growth,” Kremer stated. The company also realized other efficiencies in IT savings, which enabled easier innovation. “And then the omnichannel experience is going to allow the client to basically be efficient and to gain market share even in a down economy.”

Multicloud Platforms Provide a Better Customer Experience

The examples presented are just a few of the many organizations that are leveraging the cloud to transform the way they do business. The entertainment industry looks vastly different from just a few years ago because music and video are being delivered in the cloud. The financial services industry also is enabling its customers to perform transactions in the cloud.

“To build these great experiences, many more institutions are building their own applications. Many of you are building your own applications. And then you must modernize your other existing applications along the way,” Cadwell explained. “Most organizations will modernize their application stack using cloud-native approaches.”

Cadwell pointed out some of the benefits of cloud platforms over more traditional, on-premises platforms. “Because this is old technology, operating patterns aren’t agile enough to support all of this change. Everything’s so much faster right now, it must support their internal customer in new ways. Cloud models are far faster and far more agile,” he said.

Andrew Cadwell
Automated interactions can personalize the customer experience at scale, and customers are getting used to this and expect it.”

Andrew Cadwell Vice President of Digital Velocity Solutions, CDW

“Almost all of you will have a multicloud environment if you don’t already. How do you continue to operate them? Things are becoming more complex,” Cadwell said. “We’re using prediction of our businesses to address customer behavior before they buy. And customers expect hyper-personalization; what’s good for Jeff isn’t good for me necessarily. Automated interactions can personalize the customer experience at scale, and customers are getting used to this and expect it.”

Internal Changes Exemplify Improvements to the Customer Experience

Frequently, the customer experience conversation focuses on external users, but internal users have similarly elevated needs and expectations. Employees have become accustomed to apps that provide both convenience and reliable functionality.

Cadwell shared that over the course of some recent acquisitions and its own rapid growth, CDW experienced systems sprawl that had degraded its internal customer experience. He acknowledged that CDW employees were left “wanting a better experience from CDW — better online capabilities, better self-service capabilities, better reporting capabilities.”

As its circumstances shifted, CDW realized the need to modernize its digital customer interaction portal. “Internally, we transformed our IT organization. Internally, we built a framework for better performance. And internally, we’re adopting agile-based DevOps approaches that allow for these rapid changes and our sort of continuous integration and continuous delivery code releases in days versus weeks, which was kind of the old way at CDW.”

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Photography by Joe Kuehne

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