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The Age of the Customer – the changing face of IT

According to Forrester* we are in the Age of the Customer, a “20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers”.  With research undertaken over several years in this area, Forrester believes that the stock value of organisations that invest in transforming themselves to be “customer obsessed” outperforms the stock value of organisations who do not, by over 70%.

Apps are everywhere – or are they?

With over 1.3 million Android apps available to help us with everything from mobile banking to deciding where to eat; the expectation for on-demand, highly specific, highly intuitive gateways to data and services has become pervasive.  Except in the Enterprise.  This is because every CIO knows that developing a tight little app for your local coffee shop is entirely different to delivering a self-service tool for the finance department, but in the eyes of the users - it’s all the same.

For CIO’s this presents a real headache.  Business users are becoming more vociferous about their expectations but are unaware (and let’s face it, uninterested) in the challenges inherent with legacy systems, pressure to change and diminishing budgets.  With 80% of CIO’s planning to digitise their front office within the next few years (source: IBM CIO Insights) it’s clear that they want to provide the best possible Customer  Experience, But CIO’s have another set of customers, the internal users of IT services, who also need better experience.  IT organisations that willingly transform IT and provide a better service at the right price will thrive in the same way organisations who continually improve Customer Experience thrive.  But how do you do this when 50% of CIO’s interviewed by Logicalis, felt that their current infrastructure needed a complete overhaul? And with skill sets and experience that don’t include User Experience models being at the heart of their design process.

Changing the conversation

CEO’s are now sold on the importance of transforming Customer Experience. It is now the job of the CIO to convince the business the importance of transforming the IT User experience. Forrester survey report showed that over 70% of consumers prefer to self-serve, to go online to find information and solve their own problems,  employees are no different, which is why so many use non IT approved SaaS services.  IT needs to transform their customer experience and provide self -serve applications with clear costing. Services need to be available on demand and scaled up or down based on business need.

So where to start? This is a journey, the first step is to define the vision and sell it to the business. We need to win the hearts and minds of the CEO, CMO and CFO. We need to show them the journey IT is taking and how the destination will transform the business. We need to show the value of each service in terms of cost benefit and improved productivity.

Moving IT to being considered a provider of business services, rather than a custodian of assets or a cost centre, and transforming the infrastructure to deliver scalable services on-demand, offers the opportunity to consider new financial models such as moving costs from CapEx to OpEx and there isn’t a CFO who isn’t interested in that conversation.  Demonstrating the power of IT to give an organisation greater ability to plan, flex, influence and respond to the needs of customers and employees puts the CIO in a better position to be part of, and contribute positively to, the budget allocation process.

Finding an ally

We think there’s a natural ally for the CIO when planning to position business technology transformation.  If we look at where most organisations start when it comes to transforming customer experience, it’s marketing.  The role of the CMO is evolving and they are increasingly being given budget and resource to develop engagement and outreach programmes designed to enable customers to interact with the business on their own terms.   This includes funding for technology and, crucially for the CIO, the CMO will have a strong understanding of how this kind of transformation investment can impact the company’s bottom line.  By leveraging knowledge already present in the business, the CIO can work with his or her peers in the management team to create a vision that builds upon existing ‘to customer’ strategies in order to provide the same quality of experience, and benefits for internal business users as they do for end customers.  With IT also expected to provide back office services to support engagement tools commissioned by marketing, it makes sense for these two parts of the business to work closely together.

The vision sounds great – now what?

What comes next is a balancing act which requires the CIO to walk a tightrope of managing the existing infrastructure whilst leading change.  We’ll talk about it more in the next blog but for a sneak preview, have a look at our infographic here


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