Customer influence and customer experiences are key for enterprises

IBM C-suite Study has come out with three major themes- Open up to customer influence, pioneer digital-physical innovation and craft engaging customer experiences for enterprises.

With consumers engaging more directly with businesses through mobile and social media, more than 60 percent of CIOs will focus more heavily on improving the customer experience and getting closer to customers, according to a new report released by IBM.

More than 80 percent of CIOs report they are shifting their focus to the front office where marketing, sales and service managers work directly with customers. To do so, they are investing in new technologies to gain deeper insights into customer data. Examples of these items include sentiment mining and social network analysis to identify unique behavioral patterns and reliably predict critical trends.

As customer engagement becomes a critical driver for CIOs, cloud computing has soared in importance with 64 percent of CIOs naming it as part of their visionary plans compared to 30 percent in 2009.

Likewise, mobility solutions have also experienced a similar jump in importance with 84 percent saying it’s their top focus compared to 68 percent in 2009. With these as a main driver, two-thirds of CIOs are now exploring how to better serve and collaborate with customers using cloud computing and social networking tools.

In an era of abundant connectivity, endless information and ubiquitous digitization, the new economic equation favors transparency. More than half of CxOs expect to open up their enterprises – bringing down barriers to extend collaboration inside and outside. Their most radical shift may be a new view on what it means to collaborate with customers.

In fact, CEOs commented that customers come second only to the C-suite in terms of the strategic influence they wield. When asked, “Who has the most influence on your strategic vision and business strategy?” 55 percent of interviewed CEOs cited customers.

This report focuses on how the 524 CMOs we interviewed help their enterprises become more “customer-activated.” CMOs are wielding more power in the boardroom, as CEOs increasingly call on them for strategic input. In fact, the CMO now comes second only to the CFO in terms of the influence he or she exerts on the CEO.

A growing number of CMOs are also liaising closely with CIOs – with remarkably positive effects on the bottom line. Where the CMO and CIO work well together, the enterprise is more likely to outperform in terms of revenues and profitability. On the other hand, very few CMOs have made much progress in building a robust digital marketing capability.

Only a small percentage have set up social networks for the purpose of engaging with customers, even though online input is a crucial part of the dialogue between a company and its customers.

The percentage of CMOs who have integrated their company’s interactions with customers across different channels, installed analytical programs to mine customer data and created digitally enabled supply chains to respond rapidly to changes in customer demand is even smaller.

“The study reveals the emerging reality that there is no longer any real distinction between the customer experience and contemporary business strategy,” said Peter Korsten, global leader, IBM Institute for Business Value.

“The quality and nature of the front-end experience has become the point of entry to the most valuable information any enterprise can possess — information about its customers, employees, or any other relevant constituent group,” added Korsten.

The report, entitled “Moving from the Back Office to the Front Lines – CIO Insights from the Global C-suite Study” is based on face-to-face conversations with 4,183 leaders in 70 countries of which more than 1,600 CIOs. The research, conducted by IBM’s Institute for Business Value, reveals that customers drive CIOs to turn their focus to the front lines.

The company spoke with a cross-section of C-suite executives in more than 20 industries and focused on chief executive officers (CEOs), chief financial officers (CFOs), chief human resource officers (CHROs), chief information officers (CIOs), chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief supply chain officers (CSCOs).

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: