With the term "digital transformation" invading corporate agendas over the past year, technology now firmly underpins all areas of an organisation, calling the role of the CIO (chief information officer) to the forefront.
Marketing is a key operational area where digital transformation has been a priority. The term "customer is king" has never been so apt – today's consumers demand to be recognised as the unique individuals that they are. This means that, throughout the entire customer journey, each touchpoint needs to be personalised and based on real-time intelligence.
The customer now guides the entire business ecosystem through their expectation of technology being invisible to their experience. Behind the scenes, there are a million little processes that come together in seamless integrations for omni-channel access, personalised content, relevant offers and more - all provided in-the-moment.
Our increasingly connected society has shifted digital marketing from a transactional exchange to a holistic customer experience. As a result, the role of the CIO has expanded to accommodate this change. The CIO now plays a leading role in considering, designing and actualising an effective digital platform that can meet these needs, alongside the CMO.
However, it does not stop there. Delivering a consistently tailored service across all channels also relies on each employee being equipped with complete transparency about a customer's previous interactions with the brand. We call this the relationship 'beyond the login'.
Many companies fail to share information about customer interactions with the appropriate employees, with negative consequences. This oversight results in lengthy hand-offs that can leave customers unnecessarily repeating information or answering the same questions.
Everyone has experienced calling an organisation, being greeted by an automated system that prompts for personal information and, when transferred, being asked for the same information again by the live customer service representative. Sometimes it ends there but often the call gets transferred again only to endure a similar process.
The solution is to provide every relevant employee with the appropriate, and consensual, customer data in order to be equipped with the information needed to develop the customer relationship beyond the login. As such, the CIO's focus must be on ensuring that personnel have the right tools needed to collaborate, as well as plan to meet increasing (future) needs based on business objectives.
Internalising social tools
A key to success for today's CIO is the implementation of open collaboration environments, social engagement tools and information exchanges based on 'social business'. Analyst firm Forrester defines this as: "An organisation that removes barriers between individuals and information while making it easy for people to find and engage with those who can help them solve customer and business problems."
Some may find that this falls out of the traditional scope of marketing but, in today's digital landscape, consumers increasingly expect real-time problem solving as an integral part of their relationship with a brand. As a result, internal users must have access to every tool and resource to do so. Customer-facing social technologies are already in mainstream use for lead generation, customer service and brand identity. However, less common are the internal applications of social technology.
Focusing solely on external technology without the context of internal user experience and capabilities needed for staff to do their jobs will cost organisations in the long run; instead, technology road maps must provide systems of engagement to surface fresh opportunities and in-house expertise, as well as to accelerate productivity and increase employee participation.
The bottom line is that social channels are changing the way that companies work internally as well as how they interact with customers. If the CIO does not engage socially, the technology – and organisation – will pay the price. The future of social business technology is a means for employees to access the relationships and resources needed to facilitate interactions in all their possible combinations, both internally and externally.
Breaking bad habits
Enterprise-class social tools help to eliminate habitual bad marketing habits such as siloed employee contributions, static websites and reliance on email for creative sharing. They also provide a much-needed social information layer that can easily merge corporate information.
With the right architecture and use of relationships, in-house staff can access the most relevant resources faster and easier in order to provide the best possible digital customer experience. By going 'social' in terms of perspective, strategy and technology workflows, the CIO becomes the hero who affects enterprise-wide digital transformation from the inside out.
Ultimately, the ideal scenario is that the CIO begins thinking like a marketer and understands that 'social business' is the new currency of effective team performance. When this happens, not only will organisations see their staff more engaged than ever before while creative collaboration improves, it will also ensure the business gives the end customer the enhanced, seamless experience they expect.
By Kevin Cochrane, CMO, Jahia