How Avnet enhances customer experiences with Microsoft Azure
By Microsoft in Business Team on January 12, 2018
Filed under Microsoft in Business
|Focus on: Empower Employees, Transform Products, Engage Customers
Avnet is a leading global technology distributor, and provides design services and integrated solutions. Through the years, Avnet has built strong, collaborative relationships with customers and suppliers in 125 countries around the world. These relationships enable Avnet’s more than 15,000 employees to guide companies of all sizes through various stages of product development and production and bring differentiated technology solutions to the global market.
Among the defining characteristics of Avnet’s unique value is the company’s ability to bring together a comprehensive network of hardware and software suppliers to meet the needs of more than 2.1M customers for the microchip, control board, software and/or other embedded digital solutions required throughout each phase of the technology lifecycle. In addition, Avnet’s distinct supply chain and logistics expertise ensures these components are in the right place and right time to support production anywhere in the world.
As the tech industry evolves, Avnet continues to future-proof its expansive service and distribution offerings with an industry leading digital infrastructure. Nishant Nishant, head of Avnet’s digital strategy, and his team have been instrumental in shaping the company’s digital transformation, propelling the organization towards a more modern, streamlined digital enterprise capable of supporting customers’ growing needs for responsivness, flexibility and edge-to-enterprise solutions.
Navigating company expansion while driving customer value
This transformation has been crucial to enabling Avnet to fulfill its vision of supporting customers throughout the entire product lifecycle – from shaping the design of a product, to crafting prototypes, ramping up full-scale production and post-sales warranty and service.
To maximize the opportunities presented by these enhanced digital capabilities, Avnet expanded its capabilities and acquired two companies. These strategic moves enable Avnet to connect with customers earlier in the value chain, support technology development and build relationships across every phase of the technology lifespan.
As its digital footprint grew, Avnet recognized the importance of maintaining a superior customer experience across its diverse, extended enterprise. In response, Avnet created “Ask Avnet,” a customer-facing digital brand ambassador developed to guide customers through their online journey and ensure they could readily find the precise products, service or technical support they need.
Developing a consistent customer experience vision with Azure technology
Ask Avnet leverages the Microsoft Azure scalable architecture and cognitive services as a framework. The intelligent agent guides customers throughout Avnet’s various online properties, and provides around-the-clock online support. “Ask Avnet is a more intelligent way for our customers to engage with Avnet across our digital ecosystem,” says Nishant.
Azure’s flexible platform serves as the ideal foundation for Ask Avnet, enabling Avnet to deploy a functional pilot in just six weeks. The platform allowed Avnet to build a digital solution that fit the company’s specific needs, while encouraging employee innovation, such as the development of new applications and expanded uses for existing platforms. The streamlined support system also empowers customer service staff to redistribute their time towards higher value customer service solutions.
Leveraging the latest technology to provide unique, meaningful interactions, the Azure-based intelligent agent is part of Avnet’s overall strategic vision for best-in-class customer service. “At the core of our digital transformation effort is a desire to provide the best customer experience in the industry,” says Nishant.
User experience (UX) throughout Avnet’s digital properties is further bolstered by Microsoft’s Cortana Intelligence Suite, which utilizes advanced analytics to provide strategic online guidance. Rather than simply automating customer service, the Ask Avnet intelligent agent reimagines how Avnet understands and delivers customer support, while maintaining and complementing the human component.
“In this new digital business environment, UX must go beyond look and feel,” explains Nishant. “Our digital solution is dedicated to the user journey. It’s not just about ease of navigation, but adding value to every visit.”
In addition to Azure’s advanced technology, Microsoft’s holistic understanding of the high-tech supply chain allowed them to offer strategic guidance and consultation to Nishant and his team during the Ask Avnet platform development and rollout. “It wasn’t just about the technology. The Microsoft team demonstrated exactly the kind of value-added customer support that we aim to provide our users,” explains Nishant.
Becoming an industry leader with digital innovation
Traditionally, companies think of digital transformation as a system-focused process that prioritizes internally facing platforms, software and applications. But according to Nishant, companies should start with the customer experience, and then work backwards to redesign enterprise infrastructure where necessary.
“We approached this effort just as we do for the development of any other product of service – starting with the challenges that our customers face and then working backwards to create a solution that would alleviate those pain points,” Nishant notes. “Time and again history has shown us that technology for technology’s sake is ineffective. But, when we leverage technology to solve a customer’s problem or enhance that customer’s solution, we strengthen our relationship with these customers, which ultimately translates to greater brand loyalty and long-term success for our customers, ecosystem partners and Avnet.”
As Avnet’s brand vision advances and digital strategy matures, digital experts like Nishant continue to harness their experience and knowledge to coordinate with business leaders and partners in the development of innovative technology solutions that support enterprise goals. “It is a really exciting time for the IT profession. Previously isolated technology and IT roles, once confined to coding and background engineering, have evolved into active, collaborative positions,” says Nishant. “And with best-in-class technology like Microsoft’s Azure, our IT team can continue to develop robust, truly value-enhancing services such as the Ask Avnet intelligent agent that will streamline the customer experience and help keep Avnet at the forefront of our industry.”