Enterprises learning to act in real time

Written by Sudhir Chowdhary | Updated: Oct 21 2013, 14:03pm hrs
Theres a major transformation happening between enterprises and their relationships with their customers. The phenomenal uptake of smartphones and tablets is driving huge change, and the need for change, in the ways enterprises interact with the new, in-control consumer. In the wake of this, CEOs are opening up to customer influence, fusing the digital with the physical and crafting superior customer experience. According to the Global C-Suite Study 2013, conducted by IBM, three out of five business leaders look to direct, meaningful and fundamentally different customer engagement to drive their agendas and 90% of senior leaders expect extensive collaboration with customers within the next five years.

This is the largest study of its kind ever, and tenth in series, conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value, based on face-to-face conversations with over 4,000 C-Suite leaders across 70 countries and 20 industries. Jeby Cherian, vice-president and managing partner, Global Business Services, IBM India & South Asia, says, One of the key shifts leaders are witnessing is that the intersection between the digital and physical world is fast becoming the leading edge of innovation. Leaders are realising how important it is to blend these two worlds, to win and succeed in the new normal. While successful organisations are fusing the digital with the physical to transform their operations, only 36% of enterprises have an integrated strategy in place. The good news is large number of leaders intend to use digital channels more extensively to engage with customers in the future, and they have already embraced the shift.

Some interesting highlights from the IBM study: CMOs plan to increase focus on their digital strategy by a factor of four in the next few years. 21% of CMOs say their organisations collaborate with customers today using social networks; 78% expect to do so in the next 3-5 years. 16% of CMOs say their organisations have a digital strategy that crosses all physical and online channels; 87% expect to have them in the next 3-5 years. Just 36% of enterprises have a fully integrated digital and physical strategy in place. 54% respondents believe customers must be understood and engaged as individuals rather than categories or market segments.

According to research, the biggest stumbling block for business leaders is big data and the social media. Research indicates theres a struggle in how to strike the right balance among the social, digital and physical worlds. Lack of a cohesive social media plan and competing initiatives are the two biggest barriers preventing chief marketing officers from implementing their strategies in an increasingly connected world. Both CMOs and CIOs overwhelming indicate that they intend to make great strides to overhaul and reinvent the way they work with their customers. Significantly, 83% say they plan to digitise their front office within 3-5 years to better align with their customers. They intend to use digital channels much more extensively to engage with customers in the futureand they have already embraced the shift, informs Cherian.

So, what is the mantra to succeed in the market place Its all about customer activating enterprise, open collaboration and delivering superior experience, says Cherian. At the core of this lies a deep understanding and focus on the customer as an individual, rather than as a category or a market segment. This is much more than customer-centricity and requires a change in mindset, culture to operations that dwells on high level reciprocity and commitment.

Customer experience is definitely on the move in a digital economy!