We’ve all heard the sayings “put the customer first” and “the customer is always right.” According to Forrester Research, the days of manufacturing, distribution, and information being the primary ways successful companies dominate their industries are gone, and the new “age of the customer” is here. Newly empowered, informed, and demanding buyers are radically redefining the conversations, strategies, and planning of top IT leaders around the world. This year at the CIO Summit hosted by Cisco, I had the privilege to engage with seventy-eight Chief Information Officers from large enterprises and organizations who shared similar sentiments.
I always look forward to this event because it’s one of the best opportunities to listen to our customers—their success stories and remarkable innovation, as well as their challenges and goals. This year, as I reflect on my key takeaways, there really is one common thread throughout all of the conversations—the empowered customer.
1. Cost Management—Organizations are looking for ways to cut costs in running the business in order to reinvest those savings for generating new business.
2. Security—IT needs a distributed model for security to easily identify users and control access. The solution must balance the cost of security with the complexities.
3. Integration of technologies coming together—CIOs want to adopt an architectural approach in everything they are doing.
4. Collaboration—Many are still defining collaboration for their respective organizations. Above all, CIOs want high interoperability (ease of use) among collaboration tools. They want to increase productivity through top-notch communication and collaboration.
5. Data Center—CIOs have bought into Cisco’s Unified Fabric Data Center approach and want more information about how to implement it as the foundational architecture to build all other transitions on.
6. Speed—Customers want solutions faster so they can realize the innovation from these technologies and deliver them sooner to customers.
IT is being asked to partner with the business more than ever before and it’s clear that the end customer is shaping the strategies of each of these priorities. Even when a priority like collaboration may seem to be company focused, it’s still about enhancing the employee, partner, and customer experience. In short, the customer/client obsession has permeated all of IT strategies to the point that it is part of the fabric and no longer inseparable.
So what does this mean for the future? IT organizations that are truly customer-centric will continue differentiating and separating themselves from the pack. And in the final say, the customers will have the last word!