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Spotting the Next Market Transition – My Decision to Join the Sprinklr Board

John Chambers

September 21, 2017  •  5 min read

Early in my career, I had a meeting with Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric. I asked him what it took to make a good business a great one? He said: “a near-death experience.”

It’s a simple piece of advice that has molded my view of the world and business, including my 20 years at the helm of Cisco. Great companies have the ability to catch and lead in market transitions but also have the culture to deal with major setbacks which will inevitably happen. Our growth has been defined by a willingness to reinvent ourselves – by our ability to anticipate, capture, and rise through numerous market transitions.

In today’s digital world, I see another market transition taking shape. A potentially near-death experience for every company out there that few see coming. And this time, the transition is being driven by the customer.

The Next Market Transition

There was a time when phone-based support was the best way to solve customer issues. Yet in the early 1990s, our customers started telling us they wanted an easier way to get their questions answered. So, we put technical problems and their corresponding solutions on our website. By the late 90s, over 85% of customer inquiries were handled on the web. Today, it’s hard to imagine a world without online troubleshooting.

Customers are once again being direct about what they want from businesses. Informed, connected, and empowered like never before because of social media, today’s customers want to be served on-demand and on their own terms. They are forcing global companies to rethink the way they do marketing, advertising, research, commerce, and care.

A New Approach to Customer Experience Management

The direction your business takes in this new Digital Era will not be defined by you, or even by your competitors – it will be defined by your customers. That shift in power – from the brand to the customer – is the reason why Sprinklr exists, and the inspiration behind today’s news.

I’m proud to announce that I’m deepening my relationship with Sprinklr – the first unified customer experience management (CXM) platform for the enterprise – by joining the company’s Board of Directors. This is an evolution of my current role as Sprinklr’s strategic advisor, and a personal honor to help shape the next major market transition.

With Sprinklr founder and CEO Ragy Thomas (left) and President Carlos Dominguez (right).

Sprinklr’s Three Defining Characteristics

I first heard about Sprinklr as the de facto social media management platform for the enterprise. As I learned more about their long-term vision, I realized this is not just a platform for managing social, it’s a platform for managing the future.

Sprinklr is focused on helping brands future-proof their business by delivering unparalleled customer experiences. I’m confident that Sprinklr is built for the long haul because it has the three defining characteristics necessary to position itself at the forefront of the next wave of disruption and innovation:

1. Leading a Market Transition

To be successful, you have to have the courage to change from doing “the right thing too long” to doing “the next big thing.” Sprinklr recognizes the transition taking place from brand-centric to customer-centric. Driven by social media, Sprinklr knows that it is not what the company says that matters anymore – it is what the customer says. And what customers choose to say is shaped by one key factor: their experiences – the sum of how they feel across each interaction with a brand.

Purpose-built for a customer-driven, digital world, Sprinklr understand that CXM needs to start with social. The company has taken advantage of the customer-first market transition, and is poised to be a huge player in the CXM industry in months and years to come.

2. World-Class Leadership

As the most successful companies and leaders know, it is not enough to just recognize and keep pace with market changes. You must see around corners to anticipate where the market is headed and reinvent your business today to lead tomorrow. This means you will need a strong leadership team that encourages employees to think differently to deliver customer value.

Most successful startups have a world-class product-driven lead – Ragy Thomas is clearly that – or they have a world-class sales business lead, like Carlos Dominguez. Sprinklr is lucky to have both – and more. This type of visionary leadership is necessary to create a sustainable, forward-thinking company.

3. Valuable Customer and Investor Relationships

Throughout my career, I have talked with a lot of people, ranging from business partners and investors to customers – and when we talk, I listen carefully. Customers will tell you what you are doing right (and wrong), and what your challenges are in the future – and they are uniquely suited to do so, given they are the ones with frontline knowledge about a product or service in action.

Staying close to your customers and interacting with them every day is vital to understanding and keeping a pulse on changing business and industry landscapes. It may be basic, but it is hard to master, and Sprinklr is really succeeding in this.

With more than half of the Fortune 50 and 1,200+ large enterprise customers, Sprinklr is building a close relationship with some of the largest, most valuable organizations in the world. Additionally, the company has a $1.8 billion valuation in the last financial round, from blue-chip investors like Wellington, Temasek, and Iconiq, and deep partnerships with leading enterprise vendors like Deloitte.

Successful leaders listen to their customers and partners, and focus on solving problems. I recognize that same focus on value creation with Sprinklr and the company’s leadership team. It is an exciting time to be working with Sprinklr and I am committed to the company’s continued success as it empowers global companies to redefine the customer experience.

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John Chambers

Founder and CEO JC2 Ventures

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