The CIO and customer experience

The CIO’s strategic role in a great customer experience

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While THINKstrategies firmly believes delivering a positive customer experience is predicated on a well-coordinated end-to-end corporate effort, the most important responsibilities for achieving this strategic objective falls on the CIO. Our belief is based on the critical importance of utilizing tightly integrated customer engagement and e-commerce systems and software to ensure a positive customer experience.

Although having a well-motivated, customer-centric team is essential for success, properly targeting and successfully scaling the tasks associated with a positive customer experience isnt possible without the right systems and software in place.

Given the multi-touch nature of the customer experience in todays omnichannel environment, delivering a positive experience depends on integrating multiple systems, and collecting critical information and insights from their associated data flows. In many cases, this means upgrading existing systems and tying them together with a new generation of Cloud-based solutions to gain a 360-degree view of the customers preferences, needs and actual behavior.

The Harvey Nash 2015 CIO Survey in association with KPMG of nearly 4,000 IT leaders from more than 50 countries found two thirds (66 percent) of CIOs report digital disruption [change resulting from digital technologies that disrupt established business models] as a very significant change to their business, driving them to create new business models and bring new products and services to market faster than before.

In 2012, Gartner famously predicted that CMOs would play a bigger role in making technology decisions than CIOs by 2017.[2] However, the 2015 Harvey Nash survey found the number of marketing departments that exclusively own digital is down to 24 percent, from 40 percent last year. At the same time, the survey found the number of IT departments that own digital is on the rise, up to 18 percent, almost doubling its influence from last year.

It shouldnt come as a surprise that CIOs are regaining responsibility for finding, implementing and managing the software and systems necessary to support the customer engagement process. Although todays Cloud-based solutions have gained widespread acceptance because of their promise of a greater ease-of-deployment and use, the truth is that even the best Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) alternatives require significant skill and experience to properly integrate into existing systems and ongoing corporate operations. While marketing departments desperately want to utilize the new functionality offered by Cloud/SaaS solutions, they dont possess the skills to deploy these applications and dont want to invest in additional staff to manage them.

Given that achieving a positive customer experience depends on a deeper understanding of the customers preferences, it isnt surprising that nearly half (47 percent) of the Harvey Nash survey respondents identified business intelligence and analytics as their top technology priority.

But selecting the right solutions isnt the only challenge facing organizations today. Nearly a two-thirds (61 percent) said increasing efficiencies were their top operational priorities. However, cost-cutting has dropped in importance by 16 percent compared to 2013 according to the Harvey Nash survey as CIOs focus on building systems that support more scalable business processes.

Although some industry observers have suggested that CIOs will play a smaller role in the digital transformation process facing many organizations, the fact is that CIO is still best positioned to address the technological challenges associated with making this transition and providing the systems necessary to deliver a positive customer experience.


Jeffrey Kaplan
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January 21, 2016
Jeffrey Kaplan

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