Forrester: "Age of the Customer" Defines Business for Next 20 Years
October 22, 2013
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In the "Age of the Customer", only organizations that focus first and foremost on winning, serving, and retaining customers will survive, according to Forrester. This era will define the next 20 years of business, with the marketing department gaining increased power over the overall success of a company.

But what happens to IT? As marketing takes greater ownership and responsibility for tech investments, its confidence in the technology management organization drops: Nearly one-third of marketers believe the technology management group actually hinders the business, according to new studies by Forrester.

Moreover, out of all business units, marketing is the most aggressive in planning to spend money on technology, increasing its "private" technology spending two to three times faster than IT overall.

Forrester VP and Research Director David Cooperstein says: "Executives who lead customer-obsessed enterprises must pull budget dollars from areas that traditionally created dominance — brand advertising, distribution lockup, mergers for scale, and supplier relationships."

According to the new research, they need to invest in four priority areas:

- Real-time actionable data sharing

- Contextualized customer experiences across touchpoints

- Sales efforts tied to buyers' processes

- Content-led marketing and customer interactions

Of equal importance is the role technology management groups play in retaining and serving customers. It is Forrester's contention that technology management splinters off into two vital agendas for the CIO.

"We believe that tech management must embrace two agendas: IT and BT," says Forrester CEO George F. Colony. "The CIO and team must continue to manage and improve IT (infrastructure) — the supply chains, financial systems, HR systems, and production systems that operate the corporation. But in addition, the team must take on the business technology (BT) agenda — building technologies, systems, and processes to win, retain, and serve customers. The CIO and team are best qualified to manage the complexity of emerging BT systems. As an example, systems of operation that contain critical customer data must be transformed to become agile systems of engagement capable of serving mobile customers with the right content, in the appropriate context, with the highest possible convenience."

According to the new research, BT investments must include key capabilities for four key imperatives:

- Engaging customers undergoing a mobile mind shift

- Providing superior customer experience in all customer interactions

- Understanding customers through big data and analytics

- Adapting to — and ideally driving — digital disruption

Can the CIO and CMO work hand in glove in the age of the customer? If they can't, it may well mean the death of well-established brands and companies we are all familiar with.

Related Links:

Forrester Report: Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer

Forrester Report: Technology Management In The Age Of The Customer

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