IT’s ALL About Business Outcomes And Customer First

HandshakeI’ve been living out of a suitcase for the past few weeks, in the midst of a five-vendor-conference road trip, and while the vendors ranged from IBM (Infrastructure Matters) to Unisys (Services Matter Too), there have been two constants: analytics and business outcomes/customer first. Sure, they all talked about the major topics driving IT today – cloud, mobility, Big Data, social and analytics – but at the end of the day, those are largely just means to an end, and the end is: How do I make my organization more successful AND keep my customers (users/constituents/partners/etc) satisfied?

IT’s ALL about business outcomes and customer first. Customers pay the bills, and if they don’t see the desired business outcomes, they are unhappy-and-soon-to-be-ex customers.

According to a recent Teradata survey, the largest marketing organizations have concluded that enhancing customer relationships best supports sustainable growth and reliable retention. Almost two thirds – 62%  – view improving customer satisfaction as the top reason to invest more in technology, and becoming more customer-centric is a top-two priority for 49% of respondent organizations.

Business has always been about the customer, and that has become even more critical in the information economy as the importance of the customer experience (CX) gains momentum. Customer satisfaction – or dissatisfaction – is a growing issue:

  • by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator;
  • the revenue impact from a 10% improvement in a company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion;
  • in 2013, 62% of global consumers switched service providers due to poor customer service experiences, up 4% from last year;
  • 67% of US online consumers say they’ve had unsatisfactory service interactions in the past 12 months; and,
  • 53% of customers say they have experienced very poor, poor, or just okay service.

Regardless of where you fit in the reader spectrum, technology with a business focus, or business with a technology focus, you can’t  – REPEAT, CAN’T – separate the two. Whatever your business focus, your primary concerns are about generating additional revenues and reducing costs. Even the public sector has to confront the harsh realities that there are increasing demands and decreasing resources and doing more with less is the order of the day.

Which brings me to analytics, which have been around forever, but are about to undergo a major transformation.

Advanced analytics is a top business priority, fueled by the need to make advanced analysis accessible to more users and broaden the insight into the business, according to a new report from Gartner. “While advanced analytics have existed for over 20 years, big data has accelerated interest in the market and its position in the business,” said Alexander Linden, research director at Gartner. “Rather than being the domain of a few select groups (for example, marketing, risk), many more business functions now have a legitimate interest in this capability to help foster better decision making and improved business outcomes.”

Gartner breaks analytics down into four categories: Descriptive (what happened); Diagnostic (why did it happen); Predictive (what will happen); and, Prescriptive (what should I do). The No. 1 use case for big data initiatives is enhancing customer experience (68% of respondents). This is the third year customer experience has been a top business problem to address.

A recent Accenture/General Electric survey states that 84% of enterprises believe Big Data analytics will change their industries competitive landscapes in the next year, and 87% believe they will redefine the competitive landscape of their industries within the next three years. The great majority – 89% – believe that companies that do not adopt a Big Data analytics strategy in the next year risk losing market share and momentum.

Companies that make data-driven decisions are more effective – 5% more productive and 6% more profitable – according to an MIT study, stated Teradata President and CEO Mike Koehler at a recent conference. “The competitive battle field can be won or lost by analytics”, he stated.

“That’s enormous,” said Teradata’s Bob Fair. “You can’t survive long if your competitors are beating you by 5-6% on the bottom line.”

Sounds like a data-driven business focused on the customer just makes sense.