Competititve Advantage News BlockAs global competition continues to intensify, it’s becoming ever-more difficult for companies to compete on products or price. Start-ups and rival firms can easily duplicate a company’s products. Meanwhile, pricing isn’t a sustainable competitive advantage and only serves to erode profit margins over the long term.

However, a competitive differentiator that’s held by each company is the unique information it holds about its customers. This includes the distinctive data that each company collects regarding customer transactions, their digital behaviors, as well as the feedback that customers share.

The insights that can be extracted from a customer’s expressed interests and needs can be used by companies to provide customers with personalized and relevant experiences that can differentiate a company in the eyes of a customer. This helps explain why 89% of companies expect to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience by 2016, according to Gartner.

There are a number of ways that the CIO can position the company to exploit customer data and insights productively. The first is by ensuring that the organization is managing and combining multiple sources of customer data effectively from across the enterprise in order to gain a 360-degree view of each customer.

Thanks to their unique view of how business units and organizational functions are interconnected across the enterprise, the CIO is in a prime position to identify parts of the business where customer data can be better shared or utilized.

For instance, in many companies, customer data that’s gathered in the contact center isn’t used by other customer-facing functions such as sales and marketing. Feedback that customers may share in customer support interactions about their interest in a company’s products or services can be flagged using speech or text analytics and then shared with the marketing and sales organizations for lead nurturing and upsell/cross-sell opportunities.

The CIO can also help the company to deliver more seamless experiences to customers that can help strengthen loyalty. By using customer data, analytics, and customer journey mapping tools, companies can plot the steps that customers take to gather product information or to receive support and identify any hurdles that customers are encountering in their paths to purchase or to resolve issues.

In addition, the cross-channel behavior that customers demonstrate can also help to reveal the marketing campaigns that influenced targeted customer segments the most. This includes correlations that can be made between digital and physical advertising that can be used to adjust and optimize marketing strategies.

CIOs can also help companies to look beyond transactional data to identify the next logical step to take with a customer and deepen the customer relationship. For instance, marketers for a wireless service provider can use analytics to determine which high-value customers are at risk of churning and proactively offer service plans that are a better match for each customer. This type of take-charge approach that’s geared towards addressing a customer’s best interests can help to strengthen customer trust and loyalty while boosting long-term customer value.

Ultimately, it’s about providing organizational leaders with the data and insights that can enable better, more efficient decision-making. “Part of the challenge and opportunity for IT is actually to unleash the data that exists within many of our systems of record – our ERP systems, our general ledgers, etc.,” said Doug Smith, Principal, WGroup, in an HMG Strategy video. “We have to find ways to make that data available to these new systems for these data and analytics professionals to create models and then derive insights” that can then enable decision-makers to become more efficient and effective.

Key Takeaways

  • A competitive differentiator that’s held by each company is the unique information it contains about its customers.
  • Thanks to their unique view of how business units and organizational functions are interconnected across the enterprise, the CIO is in a prime position to identify those parts of the business where customer data can be better shared or utilized.
  • The IT organization needs to provide company leaders with the data and insights that can result in better, more efficient decision-making.