As Chief Digital Officer for Cisco, nothing is more important to my work than listening to and understanding our customers. Digital disruption is a strategy driven by the voice of the customer and it means you must listen more intently than ever before.
This is why I hosted the March Cisco Beat—our monthly company employee meeting—from the corporate headquarters of Allianz, Deutschland in Munich, Germany. Hosting a Cisco Beat at Allianz underscored to Cisco employees just how important understanding our customers is to the transformation of Cisco’s own business. We need to take the time and make the effort to innately understand the impact of digital disruption on our customers, and then continue to transform our business to serve them even better.
This month’s edition was so full of important digitization insights that I want to share my top observations beyond the Cisco employee base.
I was joined by CEO Manfred Knof and CMO Bernd Heinemann of Allianz Germany who reiterated that digitization can only be successful if innovation and scale come together with the use and help of technology. Like Cisco, they are convinced the customer is at the center of our global agenda on change. This means the voice of the customer is driving the agenda and digitization is right next to it.
It’s not enough to know that digital transformation is real, you must know what it means to you. According to the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, an IMD and Cisco initiative, digital transformation is “Organizational change through the use of digital technologies and business models to create material performance improvement.” The key here is “business model enablement” because digital disruption requires companies to make money in new ways.
Digitization must be driven by a diversified C-suite actively working together to drive transformation. About 70 percent of the more than 25,000 customer visitors to Cisco every year aren’t directly involved with IT. This doesn’t mean technology is losing its importance. It means that the digitization conversation is holistic. These business leaders are saying, I don’t want to discuss technology, I want to talk about how technology can drive my business enablement.
Technology leads digital strategy. For example, company executives now want to know the implications of technology in enabling their new business models. This is a conversation about digitization, not technology. Over the past 12 months, my customer meetings have been focused on digitization holistically (i.e., where and how will technology enable innovation and business model change).
Allianz is a great example. Their executives have visited Cisco several times to find out more about how they can consume innovation from us while focusing on what they know best—their business and the insurance industry. Dr. Knof shared how delivering new services to their customers using technology means that they are capable of making every one of their customers’ lives better and easier.
The underpinning of any digital transformation is the network. At Cisco, we have a tremendous opportunity to listen to our customers to understand their businesses and then apply innovation around the network to drive their digital transformations. For example, because security is synonymous with innovation, Cisco is building security into the network so that customers like Allianz can have the confidence to continuously innovate to transform their organizations.
The voice of the customer is guiding our digital transformation and it will guide yours. You just need to listen more intently than ever before and then apply the concepts I’ve outlined. By doing so, you will be on the path to meaningful digital business transformation for you and your customers.