Consumers across Asia Pacific are using multiple touchpoints to obtain and share information and purchase products and services. Organizations — both public and private — are struggling to support and enhance these new customer experiences across rapidly evolving channels like application marketplaces and mobile devices that are increasingly contributing to revenue growth.

  • Customer relationships will continue to change faster than CRM tools. Organizations are unable to cater to non-traditional touchpoints using their legacy systems. They are beginning to understand how these new touchpoints are impacting engagement at every phase of the customer lifecycle and across multiple channels and touchpoints. Organizations that truly value customers will invest in social tools (and platforms) in 2012 to better manage relationships.
  • Organizations will increasingly be forced to evolve from "transactional" customer interaction methods to customer "engagement." Organizations across multiple industries like FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods), retail, professional services, and media & entertainment in Asia Pacific are already thinking about the customer lifecycle beyond legacy CRM tools — which were typically designed to support organizational processes, not customer ones. Over 2012, we expect organizations across Asia Pacific to expand their use of social technologies, mobility solutions, and analytics to improve engagement.
  • CIOs are beginning to respond to these challenges. As more companies begin to embrace social technologies, successful CIOs will be those who take an active role in prioritizing tool (and ultimately, platform) selection to better manage the evolution of customer engagement. In some organizations, IT will take the lead on such engagements, but in most they will be a key provider of advice, integration, and toolsets in order to enable the solution.

What it means for the CIO’s office: Over the next two to three years, successful CIOs will support the need to transform customer engagement into an approach that supports organizational outcomes while at the same time establishes ongoing and consistent dialogue with the customer using both traditional and non-traditional touchpoints. Social technologies play a critical role in this transformation process and allow organizations to establish a more personal connection with customers. To facilitate a consistent experience across touchpoints, IT organizations will integrate both horizontal and industry-specific applications that hold customer data with newer, typically cloud-based social technologies. Many mature organizations already leverage integration approaches using SOA (service-oriented architecture), BPM (business process management) and ESB (enterprise service bus), among others.

What it means for vendors: While many vendors have struggled in the past to monetize their social tools and mobility solutions, Forrester believes this is set to change in 2012. Leading organizations — particularly in emerging economies — are either planning or already implementing these tools in some form or another, and proactive vendors will reach out to organizations to handhold them. The challenge for many IT vendors will be in selling to a non-IT audience — while the CIO and her organization will be an important support function, they will not be the ultimate purchasers of such a solution or capability.