Fortive Keynote Presentation: Growth Starts with Knowing the Customer

Last week I was honored to be the keynote speaker kicking off this year’s Digital Marketing Summit at Fortive (NYSE:FTV).

The three-day summit (designed and led by my industry colleague Glen Hamilton) brought together digital commerce and marketing experts from industry with global company leadership from Fortive’s major operating businesses including Fluke, Tektronix, Setra, Matco Tools, Teletrac Navman, and Kollmorgen.

Fortive is a newly public US$6B industrial technologies company created on July 5, 2016 as a spinoff of Danaher Corporation. Curiously this spin occurred just twenty days before CommerceHub (NASDAQ:CHUBK) began publicly trading (as a spinoff of Liberty Interactive) during my tenure there as Chief Strategy Officer.

Fortive is an incredibly interesting business at the intersection of some profoundly disruptive trends. As an industrial technology provider, Fortive is aligned with the rise of IoT (internet-of-things), cloud computing, advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence. As a product manufacturer innovating beyond the traditional channel sales model, the company stands to gain as digital commerce and marketing capabilities change customer expectations and arm the company to engage with every end-customer in new and value-added ways.

Delivering on new and great customer experiences starts with three strategic imperatives:

1.       Know the Customer. This means clarity on customer needs and preferences as well as the (customer equity) value of every end-user, buyer, ecosystem partner, and enterprise account. Market transparency created by platforms like Amazon Business force manufacturers and their distribution partners to rethink customer value, moving beyond features and price to embrace direct customer connections (the “how”) and higher-value products and services (the “what”). This starts by measuring marketing and sales performance differently, focusing on lifetime customer value and profits rather than new customer acquisition and annual contract value (ACV).

2.       Reimagine What’s Possible: Once you know your customers’ needs and value, growth comes from serving them faster and better than competitors can. Traditional lines between product design and manufacturing, marketing, sales, and customer service must give way to coordinated customer journeys (I hate that phrase but holistic and data-driven customer experience is good) that start with a prospect’s first touch of the brand or product and, hopefully, never end -- given training and education programs, repeat buying, subscription services, and so on.

Madrona Venture Group-backed Amperity is one of an emerging market of platform providers called Customer Data Platforms (CDP) that enable a true Single Customer View (SCV) incorporating all recent customer signals into an actionable record. Built on elastic cloud and machine learning, CDPs enable companies to engage customers in data-driven ways impossible even 12 months ago. For an industrial products company like Fortive, connected devices and cloud infrastructure become both data sources and orchestration channels for customer data, enabling new and differentiated experiences.

3.       Execute! Delivering great customer experiences requires both top-down engagement with strategic decision makers concerned with high-value, long-term partnership and grass roots digital awareness and engagement with users, built one end-user at a time. It’s a cultural shift to reorient a company to focus on long-term customer value. One that requires strong commitment from leadership, and investment in the tools that enable employees to execute. The ability for end customers (both buyers and users) to employ social media to amplify their sentiment – either good or bad – makes the right culture, tools, and consistent execution paramount to growth and success.

Eric Best