By: Ben Geller – VP Marketing, Troux
According to Kerry Bodine and Bobby Cameron at Forrester, we’ve entered the age of the customer (http://tinyurl.com/9jauwhg). “In this new era, past sources of competitive advantage have been commoditized in the face of customers who are empowered by information. In this age, the only source of competitive advantage is the one that can survive technology-fueled disruption: an obsession with customer experience. And this obsession must extend into the CIO’s organization.” 1
Good news: it appears CIOs and IT professionals see eye-to-eye with Forrester’s view. Recently Troux conducted an opinion poll of IT professionals (http://resources.troux.com/tsurvey12). Our poll asked respondents to rank the priority of 5 investment areas:
- Investments that help retain exiting customers and attract new ones
- Investments that increase efficiency
- Investments that help increase profitability
- Investments that help maintain a competitive advantage
- Investments that help expand into new markets or geographies
The results…more than fifty percent of all respondents agreed; investments that help retain
existing customers and attract new ones are most important when it come to IT priorities. This sentiment also matches those of CIOs that participated in the Gartner-Forbes CIO Survey2 conducted earlier this year.
It’s now clear to the corporate IT community at-large that the customer experience (CX) is the last bastion of differentiation and ultimately will determine the difference between market leaders and also-rans. But the role IT will play in improving the CX will be a difficult one. Bodine and Cameron state “Although it can sometimes be difficult to see the connections between the customer experience and the systems, processes, and policies that exist — deep behind the scenes — it’s critical for CIOs to understand them.”
For CIOs and IT professionals ready to take on this challenge there is good news. Enterprise Portfolio Management (EPM) solutions can help. EPM can help CIOs illustrate these relationships and ensure the right investments are being made. EPM can help shine a bright light across the complex model(s) that define the customer experience and as a result uncover and expose the relationships between:
- the business architecture/capabilities that support a company’s customer experience goals and strategies,
- the applications that support the customer experience business architecture,
- the technology that underpins the applications that support the customer experience and
- the information that flows between these applications
With the understanding of the connection between the customer experience and the systems, processes, and policies that exist, CIOs will be in an ideal position to guide and counsel other business leaders with the empirical data that is needed to ensure the right customer experience investments are being made.
In order to ensure good CX investment decisions are being made, Bodine and Cameron state, “[CIOs] must understand [the] customer experience ecosystem – the complex set of relationships among [a] company’s employees, partners, and customers that determines the quality of all customer interactions. The dynamics of the customer experience ecosystem are such that every action and decision of every employee and external partner affects the customer experience in some way. Now consider the extent to which employees and partners rely on technology to do their jobs, and you can quickly draw a line from information technology to customer experience.”
Successful CIOs need the ability to draw (and re-draw) the line from information technology to the customer experience to truly see the connection between technology and business goals and strategies. This ability will help all executives better prepare for Age of the Customer and the good news is… EPM can help.
1 Kerry Bodine, Bobby Cameron, “How CIOs Can Help Companies Survive the Age of the Customer,” Wall Street Journal CIO Journal (18 September 2012).
2 Jorge Lopez, Mark Raskino, and Dave Aron, “Board of Directors, CEO and CIO Survey Comparisons Point to Actions That CIOs Must Take Now to Prepare,” (28 June 2012).