and hundreds of in-house applications and partner applications. Such integrations can be complicated and need monitoring. Imagine the integration nightmare if ten loyalty programmes of ten different companies are brought on to a single application. Let us then extend the analogy to further hundred or thousand customer companies sharing a single loyalty software on the ‘cloud’. This is the sole reason why loyalty cannot move to real cloud anytime soon.
There are new technologies being implemented for integrating systems on the Web. However, such systems will require the applications connecting to the loyalty system to be Web-enabled for integration. There are other relatively less compelling reasons why loyalty is unlikely to be moving to cloud soon. Customer is the focal point for all consumer businesses and loyalty is a critical component in fighting competition.
Therefore, for most businesses, the ability to respond fast to dynamic customer market changes is a critical or core competency. Thus, many businesses will consider their loyalty application as core and hence demand ability to customise/modify the loyalty application to their needs. Customer intelligence held in the loyalty database is a gold-mine for the business to profile and target their customers with the most effective offers. Businesses with valuable data in the cloud will perceive this as a risk. There are no enterprise class rich loyalty applications cloud ready as yet, even though one could host applications like Oracle Siebel Loyalty for multiple customers to simulate ‘loyalty on the cloud’ in a limited manner.
The latest outage of Amazon cloud services and Gmail, data breaches like the Sony Playstation Network and AT&T security breach which exposed 100,000 email addresses of iPad 3G does not provide much confidence to those considering moving to cloud services. Incidents like these will push the timeline for loyalty moving to the cloud further away.
The writer is senior vice-president, ITC Infotech