Often when listening to a CIO talk about technology and top priorities, I have the feeling that I have been pulled through to the set of the wacky 1999 classic, Galaxy Quest. For those of you who might remember this bizarre but intoxicating film, a loopy bunch of over-the-hill sci-fi writers are abducted by aliens. The Aliens have watched the TV series about Outer Space written by the writers. The Aliens think the writers are brilliant, and they feel that with the help of the writers they can overcome their Space Nemesis, the Sarris.
About now you are wondering: are all of the wheels on the bus? You be the judge of that, but the point is, when I listen to a CIO who is convinced that Big Data and Mobile technologies, and Social Platforms are just the ticket to advancing business, at first it sounds compelling. Then, digging a bit further, one realizes that they are relying on a lot of technologists who have demonstrated over and over again that they have little empirical grasp of what a “Customer” or a “Prospect” or an “Influencer” is.
I was reminded of what great can look like reading an obituary today of John E. Karlin, the famous Human Factors engineer who did so much ground-breaking work on how to dial a telephone. We still use his basic layout when we dial a standard phone. He was just brilliant: a professional violinist, a doctorate in mathematical psychology, an electrical engineering. And more importantly, he was joined at the hip with the end consumer of technology. His teams always had real humans to probe and question and challenge them. He would watch them, listen to them, analyze their wants and needs and expectations.
Compare that to your CIO. Usually he/she has no respect for a term like customer relationship. Doesn’t think it can be managed. Doesn’t want to sit and talk to the customer. Well, hardly ever. Instead, 98% of the time is spent with folks removed from the day-to-day customer. And just as bad, cut off from prospects, or former customers who have defected. Or from the folks in Corporate Communications who listen and analyze the customer experience.
You know who the CIO’s frustrating CRM journey is most frustrating to? The end customer. And when you meet that exceptional CIO who really gets it, it is always the same: they are right there, rubbing elbows with customers. Like the great technologists at Fidelity Investments R&D centers, or at Starwood, or Amazon, or Tesco, Bank Leumi, and dozens of other places. They are bringing together ethnologists, psychologists, BI experts, Human Factors folks, and examining what makes a customer walk away with a feeling of satisfaction and trust.
Does this sound like you? And if you are not the CIO but the VP of Marketing, Customer Care or Social Media, are you working in tandem to create create processes? A ten minute conversation with a CEO basically answers that question: when she/he gets it, it happens. Otherwise? Otherwise it is Galaxy Quest.
By the way, after two years, we updated our research on creating a Social strategy for CRM: How to Establish a Social Strategy for CRM (if you are a Gartner client you can follow the link here: http://www.gartner.com/resId=2332115 ). Also, I hope to see some of you at the Gartner BPM Summit, 2 – 4 April 2013 at the National Harbor, in Maryland (http://www.gartner.com/technology/summits/na/business-process/). I’ll be speaking, and so will many of my favorite colleagues.