#CSuiteStudy: The journey towards a Customer Activated Enterprise

Clients are the “new” business advisors to the Customer Activated Enterprise

It’s not an accepted practice you would expect to hear these days, but business leaders are actually looking towards their customers and clients to help them steer their business strategy. In days gone by, it was hard to imagine businesses actually inviting customers to the table while they make strategic decisions. We are clearly living in a new world and according to IBM’s latest C-Suite study, today’s leaders must make themselves much more prone to customer influence, tying it digital physical innovation and devise more engaging customer experiences. The big takeaway is that CEOs are now focusing on clients and customers as the future of their businesses.

The IBM study is titled the “Customer Activated Enterprise”, and is based on face-to-face conversations conducted with more than 4000 CEOs, CFOs, CMOs CIOs and other other C-suite leaders from various industries. All the major tech giants such as Google and Facebook, are pushing us towards constant real-time connectivity. Digitization and big data are hard to escape, perhaps this is why business leaders find themselves having to be more accountable and transparent to the customers. IBM is reporting that shift to reduce barriers and foster collaboration both inside and outside the firm. CEOs are now placing a higher value on customers in terms of the influence that they hold.

When posed the question who has more influence on your strategic vision and business strategy? 55% of the CEOs interviewed cited customers. In fact a large number of CEOs believe that customer influence should extend beyond the expected activities such as developing new products. More leaders are willing to relinquish control over internal affairs to gain viable customer insight into critical areas such as business strategy development, pricing structure and social and environmental policies. The report by IBM unearths a key correlation between the companies that succeed and their levels of external collaboration. Outperforming companies are 54 percent more likely to collaborate extensively with customers.

CEOs Share Control

No doubt, the business world has recognized the value of innovation and opinion that is widely disseminated on social media sites thought leadership blogs and Twitter. Smart businesses are beginning to utilize customer advisory boards to share best practice, and to understand the market in which they operate. What has changed from business practices in the past, is that the newly cleaned customer sentiment is disseminated and prioritized as a call to action. In order to become a customer activated enterprise, you need a deep understanding and forecasts and the customer as an individual person rather than a faceless statistic in a market segment.

The report says that we will see in the near future, 54% of C-suite executives to start targeting customers as individuals within the next 3 to 5 years. To achieve that these same leaders will embrace the use of digital channels in order to drive customer interactions. It’s not all smooth sailing however, as a key finding found a lack of cohesive social media planning as a major obstacle to an integrated digital physical strategy. Today’s CEOs simply don’t know how to get the right balance between digital social and the physical world with which they wish to interact more. Number crunchers will also find it difficult to analyze the return on investment if they simply bolt on social to their existing workflows. When it comes to digital channels and customer interactions, this year, 52 percent of C-suite leaders say that they are already there, marking a rapid increase in adoption.

To learn more, join the conversation on Twitter at #CSuiteStudy and #IBM.

Infographic: The Customer-activated Enterprise