Please share some insights from IBM’s C-Suite Study?
According to our Global C-Suite Study 2013, the largest of its kind ever, and tenth in series, conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value, based on face-to-face conversations with over 4,000 C-Suite Leaders across 70 countries and 20 industries, CEOs are opening up to customer influence, fusing the digital with the physical and crafting superior customer experience. These predominant themes are merging to create competitive advantages for early adopters of what we call the Customer Activated Enterprise with customers being “new” business advisors. The study reveals that three out of five C-suite leaders look to direct, meaningful and fundamentally different view customers engagement to drive their agendas and 90 percent of senior leaders expect extensive collaboration with customers within the next five years.
What change in mindset do organizations need to succeed in this new era?
It’s all about open collaboration and delivering superior experience. At the core of this lies a deep understanding and focus on the customer as an individual, rather than as a category or a market segment. This is much more than customer centricity and requires a change in mindset, culture to operations that dwells on high level reciprocity and commitment. This goes beyond being trusted partners and being “essential.”
Increasingly, leaders are viewing customers as key stakeholders in determining their future and embracing a more dynamic and collaborative model of working. Today, while about 43 percent of the CEOs include customers in the development of business strategies, this number is expected to reach 60 percent in the next 3 to 5 years. In search of innovation and transparency, over half the C-suite executives plan to embrace open, collaborative models beyond their company’s borders with customers, and actively engaging customers, - beyond products and services – up to assisting in the development of corporate business strategy.
Any major business shifts leaders are witnessing?
One of the key shifts leaders are witnessing is that the intersection between the digital and physical world is fast becoming the leading edge of innovation. Leaders are realizing how important it is to blend these two worlds, to win and succeed in the new normal. While successful organizations are fusing the digital with the physical to transform their organizations, only 36 percent of enterprises have an integrated strategy in place. The good news is large number of C-Suite leaders intend to use
digital channels more extensively to engage with customers in the future, and they’ve already embraced the shift.
What role does collaboration play in this new connected era?
Our research shows strong correlation between companies that succeed and
their levels of external collaboration. 54 percent leaders believe customers must be understood and engaged as individuals rather than categories or market segments. 76 percent of CXOs hope to understand their customers much better in the future. Some organizations are literally pulling customers into their boardrooms to drive stronger collaboration. Customer Advisory boards are gaining popularity as a means to involve customers set strategic direction, share best practices, better understand market segments and fine tune business models. Increasingly, these boards serve as an instrumental vehicle to provide direct input across the
customer lifecycle, from defining the customer opportunity to influencing
go-to-market plans. To forge customer intimacy, businesses are relying on
digital technologies to boost engagement, create dialogues and provide a
What is the biggest stumbling block for C-suite leaders?
According to the research, the biggest stumbling block for C-suite leaders is Big Data and social media. Research indicates there’s a struggle in how to strike the right balance among the social, digital and physical worlds. Lack of a cohesive social media plan and competing initiatives are the two biggest barriers preventing CMOs from implementing their strategies in an increasingly connected world. Both CMOs and CIOs overwhelming indicate that they intend to make great strides to overhaul and reinvent the way they work with their customers. Significantly, 83 percent say they
plan to digitize their front office within 3-5 years to better align with their customers. C-suites intend to use digital channels much more extensively to engage with customers in the future – and they’ve already embraced the shift.
Any interesting findings the study reveal about CEOs?
The speed at which CEOs are opening the doors to enable collaboration is
extraordinary. A significant number have taken steps to make their
enterprises more transparent in the past 12 months. And more than half
claim customers now have a major influence on their organizations. That
influence goes far beyond a say in developing new products and services;
its input into the strategy of the business. Yet a full third of CEOs worry
that the rest of their C-suite is out of touch with customers. CEOs heading
outperforming enterprises are less anxious on this score, but it’s still a
source of concern to 23 percent. What we discovered underlines how rapidly
change is sweeping across business and society as C-Suite leaders transform
their organization resolving some of the old challenges with new
technologies and new possibilities in the world of data, beginning entirely
new relationship with their customers.