CIOs must lead innovation or lose out in ‘age of customer’
“Good CIOs know how to reduce cost, and how to standardise — how to do IT well. The challenge is to use the unprecedented technology opportunities that we have and actually do new thing in the service of a company’s customers.
“To actually grow the top line, to engage new customers, enter new markets, launch new products and create new revenue — that is what is hard for CIOs.”
That is the challenge for IT leaders, according to Forrester Research VP, Laura Koetzle.
Koetzle has said there is a need for technology leaders to drive change within their organisation in an era where customers are often more empowered than the companies with which they interact, due to access to digital services. For example, customers entering a clothing store may find a better offer from a rival online through an ecommerce site.
This means investment in business technology to win, serve and retain customers is becoming vital, placing CIOs under increased pressure to anticipate and stay a step ahead of customer expectations.
“Any business and any CIO you can think of has this challenge in front of them. It might be comfortable to say that ‘as long as I keep all of the lights running and the business customers are ostensibly happy, everything will be fine’. That is just not so,” Koetzle said.
“If technology leaders are not engaging with what our company’s customer needs and trying to anticipate and to build those things, they are just going to end up in a really tiny irrelevant corer of the world, running a few internal systems, and everything else will happen externally.”
Part of the challenge – and opportunity – will be to adopt a more agile attitude to creating innovative services. This means taking a ‘start-up’ approach to creating new services – a strategy that can be tough for large businesses in regulated industries.
“If the most innovation you are getting out of your company is ‘what if we just make that shinier’ or something that effect, you are probably not getting the innovation that you will need to stay ahead,” said Koetzle.
“You can skip the pizza and foosball and free soda and all of that, but if larger companies can adopt one thing from small companies and start-ups it is the willingness to accept to accept failure,” she said.
“Every company can do this, you just have to have the will to do it, and you have to be willing to change your culture to do it. And you have to be willing to risks.”
Matthew Finnegan, IDG News Service