A Critical Path for Customer Relevance, Part 1 by briansolis


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									A Critical Path for Customer Relevance, Part 1
By Brian Solis, industry-leading blogger at BrianSolis.com and principal of research firm
Altimeter Group, Author of the highly acclaimed books on social business The End of Business
as Usual and Engage!

A key objective for senior executives over the next several years is to use disruptive technology to
get closer to customers, to improve relationships, and enhance experiences. It is a considerable
move and the result will usher in a new era of adaptive and empathetic business models. However,
this is a move that is easier said than done., especially when vision and execution are two sides of
different coins. This is a critical path where businesses must not only commit to new technology and
goals, but also invest in the methodologies, systems, processes, and people to bring about change
from within before it can effectively engage outside.

Like in anything, businesses are measured by actions and words, where outcomes reveal true
progress. In 2012 and 2013, businesses will prioritize efforts that bring the organization closer to
customers while also performing against the metrics that are constant, including revenue, market
share, increased efficiencies and improved margins. The difference now is that today’s company
faces a formidable customer that is connected, empowered, influential, and most notably elusive. To

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis
earn their attention, their business and ultimately their loyalty and advocacy, the customer journey
must be reconsidered, redesigned and individualized.

In a survey of over 1,700 CMOs in 2011, IBM found that the intention of customer engagement was
certainly present, but that executives were unclear in how to assess and integrate new technology in
managing and leading customer relationships. Of the 13 key market factors below, an alarming 50+
percent of respondents are under prepared to manage all but two key changes, Regulatory
Considerations and Corporate Transparency.

Certainly, the model for tomorrow’s business is under development today. What’s clear is that the
answers to lead change and chart new directions are unclear. And, this represents both a challenge

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis
and opportunity. Determined businesses will not sit idly while the market is defined by new
technology and corresponding customer behavior. Nor will enterprising businesses adopt every new
trend that comes along as a way of surfing waves of short-term relevance. Leaders and change
agents will develop a process and taskforce to assess new technology against corporate vision,
customer expectations, and market direction to prioritize investments in the following areas:

1. Integrated strategy and execution toward business objectives
2. Renewed, unified and consistent branding
3. Organizational structure, alignment and the empowerment people
4. Operations and supply chain
5. Improved processes
6. Collaboration
7. Customer service and engagement in new channels
8. Risk and reputation management
9. Integrated experiences – Mobile/Tablet/Digital/Social
10. Syndicated commerce
11. Metrics and value systems

These areas of focus represent the trends in transformation as expressed through the aspirations of
executives who hope to get closer to customers and the expectations of the customers they hope to
reach. This is as much about technology and vision as it is about reducing friction, inside and out. In
the end, the convergence of disruptive technology, business processes, and customer experiences
forces any organization to examine and re-examine everything. Every effort today carries
opportunities for optimization or complete overhaul. The end result is increased relevance, improved
experiences, and escalated results.

Some of the key areas of focus for any business in this convergence will include:

1. Big data and the necessary algorithms to make sense out of sheer volume and noise – the net
result is intelligence to set the foundation for Adaptive and Predictive business models

2. Social and mobile media as it relates to customer influence, the customer journey, and post-
commerce activities

3. Contact centers and the unification of democratized channels such as Facebook, Twitter and
Google+ and a managed customer relationship system

4. Metrics, ROI, and meaningful outcomes that look beyond today’s limited KPIs that focus on
friends, fans, followers, views, etc.

5. The relationship between CMO and CIO and how together, they will need to invest in innovation
and scalability for a new breed of employee, consumer, and an unending array of emerging and
disruptive technology

While these reflect only part of the trends requiring transformation, they collectively contribute to
customer and employee preference and ultimately competitive advantage. This is the year when we
must take a step back to cut through the fog of hype and identify the gaps between business
objectives, customer expectations,the important technology channels that separate businesses and
customers, and the capabilities and prowess to effectively engage and lead experiences across the

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis
In further reviewing the IBM CMO Global Study, CMOs are prioritizing new technology investments
as it relates to increasing engagement and improving customer relationships and experiences.

As you can see above, the examination of disruptive technology and the exploration of revising
internal processes are aligning to…

1. Enhance customer loyalty/advocacy

2. Design experiences for tablet/mobile apps

3. Use social media to engage customers…their way

4. Use integrated software to better manage customer relationships

5. Listen and learn

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis
This list should be viewed as a checklist for leading important conversations that contribute to a
strategy roadmap. Where businesses are and where they will be next year and five years from now
will not be predicated simply by social media. Customer expectations and the capacity to translate
trends into actionable market opportunities requires a syndicated, but integrated approach, one
where all channels are considered and weighted based on behavior and educated predictions. The
true opportunity for customer engagement and scalable profitability lies in the architecture of not only
a more social business, but a holistic enterprise that operates under a united front. But to get there
requires the difficult first step, acceptance. Second, businesses need to assemble capable
stakeholders who can organize the necessary treatise between social media champions, change
agents, and leaders to organize a distributed movement that empowers employees, engages
customers optimizes experiences, and adapts to new opportunities for growth and earned relevance.

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(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis
Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm. Solis is
globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published
authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and
influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and
culture. His current book, The End of Business as Usual helps companies rethink
business strategies to lead, not react to, the new consumer revolution. His previous
book Engage, is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to build and
measure success in the social web.

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