An Interview with Outi Karhunen
The rise of ecommerce has meant that brands must deliver a flawless – and relevant – digital experience that mirrors their customers’ needs in order to uphold their brand reputation and ensure customer retention. In line with this, demand for IT consultants specialising in customer relationship management and engagement is booming.
To learn more about the importance of creating customer-driven IT solutions, we spoke to Outi Karhunen, freelance Senior Consultant (CRM) at Osito Consulting Oy.
Read her thoughts below..
Introduction to Outi Karhunen
After graduating, Outi worked as an online solution specialist, Project Manager, and CRM Consultant. Over the past few years, Outi has gone from Project Manager/ Senior Consultant working across MS D365-related software consultation and project management to her current freelance role at Osito Consulting Oy as Senior Consultant (CRM).
What have you been working on over the past year?
For the last 12 years, I've been working with the Microsoft Dynamics system and developing better customer relationship management systems. Last spring, when I was working as a Head of IT in a financial company, I established Osito Consulting Oy.
I worked in an administrative role and was eager to get back to defining and developing CRM systems and customer-related processes. Pretty soon I realized that I could share my knowledge more efficiently with different kinds of companies through entrepreneurship, and I enjoyed working as a freelancer a lot. Currently, I'm working in the financial sector as a CRM consultant.
What are some of the key challenges that have arisen over the past year (with the rise of remote working)?
The challenge for remote work is the lack of natural connection you get when sharing the same table and having lunch with the customer or co-workers. Social contact is essential, and usually, it's more efficient to have a conversation face to face than to ask everybody to join a virtual call. Small things matter, especially when developing the system; the developers and the customer need to understand each other, and it's sometimes harder in virtual meetings.
However, I think the COVID-19 pandemic has also done some good things; companies have realised that remote work is a possibility, not just a challenge. It has also made solutions like Teams, Zoom, etc, develop their systems faster.
Can you tell us about the interdisciplinary nature of implementing MS Dynamics across an organization?
MS D365 is a versatile and expansive product family. It's very scalable and suits the different sizes of companies. For example, you can start with the Sales application and handle the sales and the customer information in D365 and implement case management, marketing, business analytics, etc., later.
D365 has many ready-to-integrate applications, so it's possible to use the customer data, for example, for marketing and enrich the data with customer preferences. Enhanced customer data will add more value to your company and make you understand your customers better. In addition, implementing the sales processes in D365 gives the company better visibility of what's going on in the sales sector and makes it more measurable.
However, first the company needs to understand why they are implementing a CRM system, so the deployment and guidelines come from the executive level. Then, it's necessary to get the experts from the substance around the same table with the CRM experts (with enough decision-making power). These are the essential elements and gives the CRM project possibility to be successful.
In your experience, what have you seen come from this e.g. improving the relationship with an organisation's customer base?
When you think of any functions around the customer, up-to-date customer information is quite critical to success. Most companies wish to have a 360 view of the customer, and it's possible with a well-developed CRM system. In addition, the quality customer data will make the sales, marketing, case management, or financial processes more efficient.
Where does Automation fit in?
Automation is an out-of-the-box feature in MS Dynamics. MS D365 contains multiple ways to automate small or more significant processes, and it's normal to use these from the beginning. However, it's good to understand that automation doesn't need to mean big and challenging projects. It's possible to use automation to fill the form with default values and make work easier and quicker and of course, it's also possible to create larger and complex automation processes as well.
What articles/podcasts have you enjoyed recently that you would recommend to your team?
There are a couple of books I recommend for everyone: Hans Rosling's "Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World and Why Things Are Better Than You Think" and Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking fast and slow". Hans makes it easy to understand that the world is a better place than the media tells us. Thinking fast and slow gives you tools to know why you are thinking and acting in a certain way in different circumstances.
And podcasts: Nordnet's #rahapodi is entertaining if you're into investing. I also recommend Coffee Break French and Coffee Break Spanish; it's an easy way to learn a language. I also challenge everyone to change 15 minutes in social media to 15 minutes of language studies per day with the Duolingo app. Currently, I study Arabic, French, and Spanish, and it's an effortless and fun way to learn a language.
What does 'scalability' mean to you, when creating customer-driven IT solutions?
Scalability means that it's easy to add applications and users into the solution if the needs change or the business grows more prominent. A well-developed system is made with scalability in mind. MS Dynamics 365 contains multiple applications for the growing company, and there are a lot of applications that can be integrated into the D365. This also gives a possibility to pay only for the applications that are in use.
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