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The CIO’s role in Customer Analytics

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The CIOs role in customer analyticsAre CIOs paying enough attention to capitalise on customer analytics? Is the new digitised CIO driving the customer analytics initiative? Are they going about it in an appropriate way in order to get the required ROI?

Given the connectedness of the world today, it is not surprising that CIOs are under increasing pressure to evolve, given that business requirements change faster and faster. As I have commented in previous blogs, in many respects, I believe that this has resulted in the modern day CIO becoming the lynchpin of the modern organisation. In my experience, the connected CIO needs to be the person who is able to identify those areas where the business needs to innovate. Well – customer analytics might just be one of those key areas.

I recently came across a paper from Forrester Research, which reveals that those organisations that best use customer data and analytics will have a major competitive edge in 2016. In fact, analysing data collected from customer’s behaviour is fast becoming an established practice in many businesses today. This practice can assist the business in better understanding their customer’s needs and wants – and when done correctly, it results in the business satisfying customer requirements much better and/or much quicker.

However, customer analytics needs to be approached correctly. The insights derived must be correct, appropriate and relevant. We have all heard the stories of creepy customer analytics too – the types of reactions to insights, however correct and valid they may be, that need to be avoided at all cost, in order to maintain brand loyalty and to avoid costly reputation recovery.

Critical success factors

The referenced Forrester Research paper also talks about 10 critical success factors for customer analytics. Below I have listed 5 of these factors, which I believe are critically important for businesses, and especially for CIOs to reflect on. I summarise these here, along with my own commentary and interpretation:

  1. Personalisation – this has never been more relevant than right now. The focus is all about the customer – the size of the ideal segment is one! Personalised experiences are setting organisations apart from the rest. Which means, if you want to make it personal, you need to analyse the customer data and derive that individual view that reflects what the customer truly wants – that is then what he/she would react to. As a CIOs you need embrace this – your analytics processes need to identify customers individually and target them with individual offerings that are particularly customised to their likes and needs.
  2. Customer Experience – the customer remains king, but this king now, due to technological innovations, is becoming very particular about experiences with brands, which of course is impacting brand loyalty. Thanks to social media platforms, the customer now has more power than ever before. On social media, a single bad customer experience can go viral within seconds. Businesses need to recognise and understand this, as it is shaping the way some businesses interact with their customers. CIOs need to be instrumental in re-moulding their business interaction models to cater for the experience customers now expect as default.
  3. Who leads matters – the role of the CIO is evolving, as mentioned above. But businesses are also starting to look at other roles, including that of chief data officer, chief digital officer, and chief customer officer. In some organisations this is done rightly to enable the effective processing of customer interactions and in order to get customer analytics right. However, in other organisations these roles are being created to bypass some dead wood and to change things up a bit. However, these roles are all valid today and should be explored. The true “leading CIO” will ensure he’s leading the revolution.
  4. Stand up to disruptors – given the rate at which technology is innovated, disruption is becoming the norm and is no longer seen as being ‘disruptive’. Like in the previous point, CIOs must be prepared for customer change and therefore leaders need to accept this and make the changes required to accommodate disruptions in a business. As with the previous point, a true CIO needs to fight back and LEAD.
  5. Analytics is a key competitor weapon – due to advances in technology, faster and more real-time analytics is now possible and 2016 will likely be the year where analytics gains considerable momentum in organisations. It helps unlock the power of data to the benefit of the business. With the focus obviously on customer analytics, the CIO needs to ensure that this discipline is not only enabled, but is seen through to meaningful conclusion.

Concluding remarks

CIOs who are open to this reality and who embrace customer analytics will be the ones that drive success for their organisations into 2016 and beyond. This is how you innovate.

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