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Thought leadership

A new report from IBM’s Institute for Business Value shows that top CIOs are moving from a focus on the back-office to the front-lines as customer engagement and customer experience become key to future business strategies.

The report is based on conversation with more than 1,600 CIOs across 70 countries and 20 industries worldwide and shows CIOs want to devote more time to customer experience management (+15%) as opposed to sales and new business development (+6%) and marketing and communications (+2%).

“We have to think about customers more,” says Matthew Young, CIO of the European hotel group of Travelodge in the report, “not just the customer experience, but whether something mores the dial on customer consideration metrics.” And to do this, CIOs are using technology and data as the drivers. When asked what technologies they’re focusing on most to improve customer engagement, mobile comes first:

  • Mobility solutions: 84% (compared to 68% in 2009)

  • Business analytics and optimization: 83% (also 83% in 2009)

  • Cloud computing: 64% (compared to just 30% in 2009)

All Things Digital

CIOs know that engagement on more and more digital channels is a must, but they also understand that it’s not just being on the channels – it’s understanding what, anticipating and delivering what individual customers desire. For this reason, they have ranked the following in importance as enablers in creating a closer connection to customers:

  • Insights and intelligence: 84%

  • Front office digitization: 82%

  • People skills: 76%

  • Internal collaboration and communication: 72%

In the Know

CIOs say it’s not about collecting a customer’s data now (which were the three top priorities in 2011: master data management, client analytics, data warehousing); it’s about making use of it through sentiment mining, social network analysis and other analytics tools to “identify deeply buried behavioral patterns, predict new trends and prescribe the best responses.”

“The CIO’s job is changing,” says NIWA GM of Information and Technology Arian de Wit, “we have to be information stewards rather than heads of technology.”

“We want to create an integrated 24/7 customer experience across channels and services,” echoes a Netherlands banking CIO.

Across-the-Board Customer Focus

This new report confirms the growing sentiment that unites leading brands – that customer engagement is no longer just a function of the customer service or marketing departments, but a function of every department.

Notes David Cooperstein in the Forrester report, Competitive Strategy in the Age of the Customer, “a customer-obsessed enterprise focuses its strategy, its energy and its budget on processes that enhance knowledge of and engagement with customers and prioritizes these over maintaining traditional competitive barriers.”

For additional information on how customer-focused brands are achieving greater success, read 10 Things Customer-Obsessed Companies Do Differently.

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