Digitally empowered customers are forcing firms to redefine their engagement model to survive in the age of the customer. Data from Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets And Priorities Survey, Q4 2013, indicates that Indian CIOs’ top business priority is to address the rising expectations of customers and improve customer satisfaction; 87% of them told us that it is a high or critical priority.


Indian business leaders’ attitudes are changing; increasingly, they view IT as a means to better engage digitally enabled constituents, and this is fueling a fundamental shift in the way firms interact with customers. Business leaders expect their CIOs to contribute to business growth by winning and retaining customers. But targeting the customer experience requires IT organizations to radically shift focus. CIOs must alter governance processes, job descriptions, IT performance metrics, and even the culture of the technology management organization.

Forrester recently published Technology Management In The Age Of The Customer, which highlights how empowered customers are disrupting every industry and CIOs need to adapt tech management to these rapid changes. To meet this objective, CIOs must broaden their tech management priorities and carry two agendas:

  1. Managing infrastructure management and internal operations, which we call “IT.”
  2. Creating business technology (BT), which we define as technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers. CIOs, enterprise architects, heads of I&O, head of application development, and heads of security will all carry two agendas: Work on BT and work on IT. For instance, the BT agenda for application designers and developers can be directly linked with enhancing the customer experience.

What It Means For CIOs

CIOs must come up with a game plan:

  • Add a BT agenda to your team’s tech management metrics. While cost and efficiency will remain critical metrics for IT, BT needs new metrics. CIOs must adopt a specialized group of BT metrics to drive its efficacy:
    • Customer metrics that track technology’s contribution to customer creation and retention.
    • Financial metrics that link BT to corporate financial goals — especially revenue and profitability growth as a clear business outcome.
    • System-of-engagement metrics that track BT’s ability to sustain and serve customer connections.
  • Prepare to make tough decisions and pursue both agendas simultaneously. As you add a BT agenda to your tech management organization, you will discover some technology people whose technology orientation is so strong that they struggle to adapt to these new challenges. CIOs will need to retool their staff; we believe that only 60% to 70% of top tech management execs will be able to make the transition to the new “two-agenda” world.

Digitally empowered customers mean that a focus on the customer now matters more than any other strategic imperative. CIOs have a great opportunity to digitally disrupt their markets by applying technology to deliver targeted customer value faster, better, and cheaper. By building a BT agenda alongside the IT tech management agenda, CIOs will become truly customer-obsessed business leaders. CIOs who fail to make this transition will lose credibility within their organization: Marketing and business execs will build their own BT teams to acquire and retain digitally empowered customers, leaving CIOs behind.