Gazala notes it has been three years since Forrester first claimed the world has entered the age of the customer. Since then, the urgency for change has only increased, he states.
The way to thrive in this environment is to be a “customer obsessed enterprise”.
This means companies focus their strategy and budget on the technologies, systems and processes that win, serve and retain customers, Gazala writes in the Forrester report Winning In the Age of the Customer.
He says organisations must embrace four imperatives – mobile, big data, customer experience and digital business – in order to compete in the new customer controlled world.
True innovation begins when the rank and file embraces customer obsessed ideas and implements them.
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He acknowledges the transformation will not be easy, and requires support from both the executives and staff.
“This transformation happens locally, from the bottom up, and globally, with the backing of the CEO, CIO and CMO,” he states.
An important step is to find a catalyst for change and embrace it. “The CEO must announce this change and hold the CIO and CMO responsible for making it, but the true innovation begins when the rank and file embraces customer obsessed ideas and implements them,” he writes.
His report highlights the need for the CIO and the CMO to share responsibility for this goal.
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Technology is an increasingly important element of marketing, but the marketer who makes technology decisions without the CIO’s collaboration will run up against limits, he states. As well, CIOs who continue to work on a model insulated from customer needs become an impediment in the age of the customer.
He says customer obsessed companies embrace the following imperatives together – with the most advanced ones applying multiple programs at once.
The mobile mind shift: "Mobile technology — in the hands of customers or employees — can improve customer interactions and generate loyalty more quickly than any other change a company can make."
Turning big data into business insights: "By building a continuous connection to customers and the analytical systems to act on the resulting data, enterprises can boost their knowledge of and responsiveness to customers. "
Transforming the customer experience. Acting quickly on customer experience improvements is a lot easier with a simpler structure, he states. "You cannot not manage your business if there are too many products, services, processes, and choices, and the customer cannot navigate it if she cannot figure it out."
Accelerating the digital business. Only digital transformation can create an organisation that flexes to address customer needs, he states. “Digital systems, built on software, enable flexibility.”
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