There has been lots of fingerpointing about the digital technology problems behind Healthcare.gov. If I had to net it out, I'd say that government leaders blamed it on technology contractors and the technology contractors blamed it on each other. And everybody acted surprised that this could happen.
But seriously people, Healthcare.gov was doomed to fail at launch:
No Web site ever worked perfectly on the first day! There are always glitches. It's always true with complex technology. Nasa didn't shoot a rocket to the moon first. It tested a monkey in space and went through a decade of learning before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.
It's impossible to test a Web site with 250,000 users before launching. The only practical way to have launched Healthcare.gov would have been to do it a little bit a time, perhaps starting with a few counties in 5 or 6 states. This is what Amazon and Facebook and Google and Twitter do.
Serendipitously, IBM this week released its global study of 4,183 CxOs from around the world. The title? The Customer-activated Enterprise. The study carries irrefutable evidence that we already live in the age of the customer, which we define as "a 20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers." Here's my analysis of IBM's data:
First, CxOs see customers are a critical influence on their company's strategic vision and business strategy. Over half of global CxOs place customers ahead of all other influencers except the C-Suite itself as a strategic influence on the firm. And they don't mean the company's perception of what customers need. They mean customers themselves: eighty-two percent of CEOs believe they include customers in defining new products and services today. That's a ubiquitous desire, folks: CEOs want customers themselves to define the firm's new products and services.