Thought leadership


How customer-adaptive is your organization?


Reference Code: Customer Engagement Network

Publication Date: May 2013

Author: Jeremy Cox Principal Analyst CRM at Ovum



One of the biggest challenges facing enterprises is the ability to remain persistently relevant to customers when the only constant is accelerating change. An organization that can successfully rise to this challenge is referred to by Ovum as a customer-adaptive enterprise.

This ability to evolve at a pace that ensures continued customer relevance has become increasingly important, not least because of rising customer expectations, continuous technological and economic disruption, and the reality of globalization.

Ovum is conducting research to see how customer-adaptive organizations are today. Ovum invites the Customer Engagement Network members to take part in this research before 15th of June, we will publish a report that reflects the current state of organizations today, with highlights on those elements that are being tackled well and those which require more attention, with recommendations from Ovum. All responses are treated with the utmost confidentiality and no individual organization will be identified by name. To take part click on the link at the end of this introductory paper.

Eight attributes need to be orchestrated to become customer-adaptive

Ovum has identified eight major attributes which need to be orchestrated effectively if organizations are to become intelligently and creatively responsive to change.

Leadership attributes

Leadership is fundamental in establishing the conditions that enable an organization to become customer-adaptive. This includes a set of ethical values which act as guiding principles in decision-making, and a customer-centric vision which provides the reason for being. The old command-and-control hierarchical management approach of the industrial era worked reasonable well in a more predictable and supply constrained environment. Today’s unpredictable and dynamic environment demands an empowered workforce.

Workforce attributes

A motivated, empowered, and engaged workforce enables a customer-adaptive enterprise to execute with speed, create a superior customer experience, adapt and innovate faster, and develop more enduring relationships with customers.

Collaboration capabilities

The ability to collaborate across an organization and beyond with customers, and the supporting ecosystem of partners and suppliers, lends itself to speed as well as optimization of skills and knowhow.

Innovation capabilities

In Ovum’s report Creating an Environment for Continuous Innovation, we found that successful innovators generate more and better quality ideas by opening up the ideation process to the workforce, customers, customer communities, partners and suppliers. This is supported by leadership which fosters an innovation culture, including experimentation and risk taking, so that breakthrough ideas can surface.

Customer experience

As customer expectations continue to rise, the importance of the experience they receive has also risen. Organizations that are able to deliver a coherent multichannel customer experience will take a major step forward in becoming customer-adaptive.

Process management

The more advanced organization will have developed an optimized set of mission-critical processes that enable it to perform consistently at a high level. Feedback mechanisms will also be used to ensure continuous improvement and adaptation as conditions change.

Sensing and monitoring capabilities

The sensing capabilities of the customer-adaptive organization provide near-realtime insights into the customer’s environment and those factors that drive changes in behaviors, wants, and needs. The organization also has complete visibility into its operations and relevant elements of its suppliers and partners, enabling it to optimize performance and lower costs.

Enterprise architecture

Enterprise architecture provides a blueprint and roadmap driven by the vision and strategy for the enterprise and describes capabilities, processes, and supporting IT applications and infrastructure. In A Practical Approach to Enterprise Architecture, Ovum recommends that architecture is integral to the development of strategy and business capabilities, such as portfolio management, business process management (BPM), and customer relationship management (CRM), as well as being central to solution delivery and IT capabilities, such as IT service management (ITSM), and information management – be that master data management (MDM) or business intelligence. A customer-adaptive enterprise needs built-in flexibility so that it can adapt at speed, and the enterprise architecture should allow for this.

There is no “silver bullet” for success

There never has been a “silver bullet” that could propel an organization forward. CRM was supposed to do this but fell into considerable disrepute with talk of failure rates approaching 70%. There are some practical reasons for such failure, not least an inability to make distinctions between CRM as a business strategy and CRM software. In recent years this much maligned term has morphed into CEM, customer experience management, which again offers an enticing prospect of differentiation. The reality is that any advantages gained are likely to be fleeting, unless the organization has the ability to evolve within the compressed timeframes demanded today.


Ovum invites clients to participate in this research

We invite our clients to take part in this survey and benefit from the report due in May, as well as the offer of a one-to-one discussion with an analyst to help determine scope for improvement and priorities.

To determine the current maturity level of your own organization, simply follow the link below to the survey. All responses will be confidential.

Customer-Adaptive Enterprise Maturity Assessment.



Jeremy Cox, Principal Analyst, Software – Enterprise Solutions  Twitter: JeremyCoxCRM




All Rights Reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher, Ovum (an Informa business).

The facts of this report are believed to be correct at the time of publication but cannot be guaranteed. Please note that the findings, conclusions, and recommendations that Ovum delivers will be based on information gathered in good faith from both primary and secondary sources, whose accuracy we are not always in a position to guarantee. As such Ovum can accept no liability whatever for actions taken based on any information that may subsequently prove to be incorrect.

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