The age of the customer offers a unique opportunity for CIOs to own their destiny.  The role of technology and information in helping enterprises win, serve and retain clients has never been more important.  As the leaders of the digital agenda for their enterprises, CIO and CTOs are the key drivers in improving how customers engage with your enterpriseWe call this focus the Business Technology (BT) agenda and there is a major shift going on to invest in both human and technical capital to address it. 

There are some simple guidelines to help measure where you are on the journey:

  • Where is your innovation happening?  Innovate at the point of customer interactions – digital value is determined by how used the innovation is.  There is no better way for CIOs to be part of the age of the customer than to deliver digital innovation when and where the customer needs it.  The complexity of how to build enterprise-wide digital engagement can only be answered by having a strong BT agenda powered by BT professionals who think and act in an agile, iterative manner.  Your customers will engage your enterprise in many different ways: if you are not building an adaptive experience for them they will move on no matter how good your products may be.  This type of measurement approach is critical to realizing the effect of the digital experience you are building. In the end, the only thing that truly matters is how your customers are engaging your enterprise.
  • Do you have the right skill sets in place?  What we have learned over the last 40 years is that technology will always evolve to the people who buy it. In the Age of the Customer, this is still true: today’s systems are much more easily adopted by the broader user community.  Where great CIOs have had success is in the development of their human capital.  In the age of the customer, technology leaders must be customer obsessed and use an outside-in approach to measuring themselves.  They can no longer claim success by running great systems – those systems must have impact.  Leaders need to help their teams look at outcomes not process. Gone are the days that you must upgrade because your vendor told you so; instead, the reason you invest in a new technology is for the outcomes your team can drive with it.  Winning technology organizations are adaptable. They can drop the facade of having to have all the right technical answers, and still win by partnering and riding alongside their business colleagues by helping them leverage technology in smaller consumable moments.
  • Are you running from the fray or creating the chaos? Building experiences for customers is much different than building them for internal resources.  Gone are all the organizational controls that we could hide behind when things did not go well.  You must embrace this, for it is here that the CIO/CTO will find her greatest value.  If you are waiting for the perfect project plan to start, you will miss the party.  Being agile and adaptive is the only way to answer the needs of your customer.  Spend time with your enterprise’s customers: learn how they want to engage then build them an experience that exceeds expectations. 

Being a CIO/CTO in the age of the customer is a great place to be.  In owning the BT agenda, you are uniquely positioned to build the digital engagement experience for your customers. But be forewarned: run with the opportunity and do your job – because if you don’t jump into the leadership role with both feet, someone else will.  Partner with your Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Sales Officer to drive integrated digital engagement with your customer because if your customers do not see that from your enterprise, they will from your competitors.