I don’t get enough opportunity to meet with CIOs. A part of that is because I am working closely on issues focused on generating revenue and creating loyal customers while spending less doing it. These are the basics of a great customer experience. Companies on the order of Amazon.com have IT asking the questions of anyone seeking technology: “how does this advance our goal of creating profitable customers for life?” In great companies, the CEO and the Board are asking the CIO to demonstrate, through empirical evidence, that the projects they lead and support directly tie to revenue and profit goals. Not about saving money, and not about being more efficient – but in moving the business forward.
I am down at our Gartner US Symposium this week in Orlando. There are CIOs from all over the world. As soon as a conversation gets started, it is easy to tell the movers and shakers from the followers. The leading CIOs – and they represent a growing percentage of who attends this Symposium – are looking for ways to measure the value of an IT project beyond speeds and feeds. They are asking about key performance indicators such as change in lifetime customer value, brand recognition, trust, affinity, and level of customer engagement. From there they are working backwards to see which initiatives might drive improvements in these dimensions.
The move away from the NEXT BIG THING – like Cloud for Cloud sake, or mobility, or virtualization, or Social Networks – and towards the question of what, if anything, these initiatives will do to improve the business, is palpable. The software vendors and service providers are feeling the impact of this shift, and creating new messaging that aligns with business value.
One obvious area of interest: analytics in all of its forms. Like location based analysis, buying pattern analysis, level of involvement in a site, and real-time relevant advice based on customer intent. I’d say that analytics will be a more critical area in 2011 than “Social Networking” despite the latter grabbing far more of the headlines.
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