Peter Cerrato is a principal consultant for Forrester's Business Technology consulting practice.
A very strange and sudden thing happened 66 million years ago. A comet crashing into the Mexican Yucatan peninsula near Chicxulub put an end to the long reign of the dinosaurs. But not so fast. We now know that some of those dinosaurs survived the massive Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event: the smaller, faster, feathered and headed-toward-warm-blooded early ancestors of our eagles and hawks.
Digital technologies have shifted control into the hands of your customers. Your customers are now independent, active agents in everything, from selecting the channels and platforms they prefer, to the very definition of your brands. As CIO, you’re in an enviable position and are more essential to your firm’s success than ever. You have the technology know-how to tap into these digital technologies. And together with your CMO, you can lead your firm to become customer obsessed and create the digital experiences that win, serve, and retain customers. But you have to be willing to change the way you work.
CIOs of customer obsessed firms must embrace an accelerated pace of change and reinvention, for themselves and their organizations. But years of radical IT outsourcing have denuded many technology management organizations. In fact, Forrester's Q1 2015 Digital Experience Delivery Survey found that the top barrier to success was a lack of resources. So your first order of business as CIO? Invest heavily in new skills:
Software engineering.Software (and how well it does or doesn’t perform) underpins the brand for digital businesses, making core software development and delivery skills paramount to your firm’s future success. Agile methods, continuous-delivery techniques, and product management skills will be critical – not just in pockets, but scaled up to address all software engineering needs.
There are some simple guidelines to help measure where you are on the journey:
Where is your innovation happening? Innovate at the point of customer interactions – digital value is determined by how used the innovation is. There is no better way for CIOs to be part of the age of the customer than to deliver digital innovation when and where the customer needs it. The complexity of how to build enterprise-wide digital engagement can only be answered by having a strong BT agenda powered by BT professionals who think and act in an agile, iterative manner. Your customers will engage your enterprise in many different ways: if you are not building an adaptive experience for them they will move on no matter how good your products may be. This type of measurement approach is critical to realizing the effect of the digital experience you are building. In the end, the only thing that truly matters is how your customers are engaging your enterprise.
At Forrester’s Forum For Technology Leaders in Lisbon (June 2-3), Marcello V. Ronco, Senior Vice President and Head of Core Banking Production Line of UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions (UBIS), will be speaking about the bank's BT transformation journey and, in particular, its mobile banking initiative. Marcello is co-leading with Marketing Directors within the organization the restructuring of UniCredit Retail in Italy, Germany and Austria, to realize the company's ambition to become a truly digital omni-channel bank. In his session, Marcello will explain how to change a traditional IT department so that it is set up to support a modern multichannel bank, and why IT plays a strategic role to ensure the right level of customer service through mobile banking.
As I prepared for my role as Forum Chair, I spoke to Marcello about his views on the age of the customer and the impact it has on financial services organizations such as UniCredit. Here is what Marcello shared with me, and I hope you will enjoy his answers as much as I did.
Q: How is the age of the customer impacting your industry (financial services) and the solutions provided by UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions?
Empowered customers, armed with ever-increasing digital capability, increasingly expect any information, any service, at their moment of need. We call this the age of the customer. Innovative brands, from Delta to Southwest, T-Mobile to Verizon, Home Depot to Walgreens, and Caterpillar to Rolls Royce, are sharing with Forrester how they are disrupting the way they work to meet their empowered customers’ needs, to become customer-obsessed. Becoming customer-obsessed gives you, the CIO, an unprecedented opportunity: to overcome the nagging frustration of IT gravity that suppresses your and your team’s ability to influence the direction of your business, to build new competitive advantage. But you have to be willing to change the way you work.
You’re in an enviable position and are more essential to your firm’s success than ever. Together with your CMO, you have the best overall knowledge of your customers and the technology know-how to deliver a superior customer experience and drive growth.
We’ve begun to identify how leading firms change their operating models to deliver more value and become truly customer-obsessed. Much of that change falls on the CIO to drive. This research is ongoing, but the actions leaders take to shape their customer-obsessed operating model — focused on customer loyalty, innovation, and most importantly, growth, and fueled by customer insight — are becoming clear:
Risk professionals aren’t prepared for the age of the customer. Empowered consumers and changing market dynamics are upending longstanding business models and lines of operation, but risk professionals largely stand pat, and continue to neglect risks related to their organizations’ most critical asset – company reputation. Yesterday we published a report on "Brand Resilience" that will hopefully help you change that legacy risk mentality.
Corporate Reputation Is Increasingly Valuable…
Companies today rely on their reputation to generate greater portions of their revenue, attract new customers, and retain existing ones. This is why we see:
What’s the top imperative at your company? If it’s not a transformation to make the company more customer-focused, you’re making a mistake. Technology and economic forces have changed the world so much that an obsession with winning, serving, and retaining customers is the only possible response.
We’re in an era of persistent economic imbalances defined by erratic economic growth, deflationary fears, an oversupply of labor, and surplus capital hunting returns in a sea of record-low interest rates. This abundance of capital and labor means that the path from good idea to customer-ready product has never been easier, and seamless access to all of the off-the-shelf components needed for a startup fuels the rise of weightless companies, which further intensify competition.
Chastened by a weak economy, presented with copious options, and empowered with technology, consumers have more market muscle than ever before. The information advantage tips to consumers with ratings and review sites. They claim pricing power by showrooming. And the only location that matters is the mobile phone in their hand from which they can buy anything from anyone and have it delivered anywhere.
This customer-driven change is remaking every industry. Cable and satellite operators lost almost 400,000 video subscribers in 2013 and 2014 as customers dropped them for the likes of Netflix. Lending Club, an alternative to commercial banks, has facilitated more than $6 billion in peer-to-peer loans. Now that most B2B buyers would rather buy from a website than a salesperson, we estimate that 1 million B2B sales jobs will disappear in the coming years.
We all know that empowered customers expect brands to deliver contextually relevant experiences based on their individual preferences for content, timing, location, and channel(s). How do customer insights (CI) professionals decide the appropriate course of action – not just for a single customer, but for all customers? How do they then execute on those decisions and measure the impact? Systems of engagement like Real-Time Interaction Management (RTIM) provide answers.
Forrester defines RTIM as: Enterprise marketing technology that delivers contextually relevant experiences, value, and utility at the appropriate moment in the customer life cycle via preferred customer touchpoints. In my latest brief “Demystifying Real-Time Interaction Management,” I explore evolving RTIM requirements.