Understanding and meeting the needs of the customer is a primary concern for marketing and technology leaders, finds research carried out by Horizon publishers Icon Business Media and sponsored by Amido a leading consultancy in cloud computing, search and customer identity management. With all vertical markets expecting to see an increase in direct involvement with the customer, chief information officers and marketing leaders are focusing increasing amounts of time and investment into customer identity.
Business technology and marketing leaders from across six vertical markets expect to see their market disrupted by digital entrants with a direct to the customer model and therefore many are preparing their organisations to become increasingly customer centric.
As a result these organisations are disrupting the existing intermediary business models. However, the research paper finds that across all vertical markets many enterprises continue to struggle with customer identity management and a single view of the customer. Multi-channel business models have in many cases made a single view of the customer harder to achieve. The research also reveals an overall lag in the adoption of technologies to realise the value of customer identity management. Leaving organisations unable to look at their customers individually and study their needs.
Alan Walsh, CEO of Amido indicates that customer’s attitudes to identifiable information is changing and providing opportunities: “One of the biggest changes we have seen in recent years is the breaking down of the boundaries between data that customers are happy to share and the data that organisations hold about their customers. This has created a new world of information management, where the consumer is in control of their data and whom they share that with. Businesses have to bring together their data with the information that consumers are sharing about themselves, across a multitude of different channels.”
This research discovered that vertical markets that already have a strong direct to the customer model are being challenged by the increasing cost of customer acquisition, while markets that may not immediately appear to be ripe for digital disruption expect an Uber type business model to enter their market and are therefore preparing to disrupt the market themselves.
Utilities providers are being disrupted by changes in the regulatory market that increases the level of competition in their business-to-business channels, which in turn means Utilities business will compete in new and larger markets and therefore disrupt each other. Retailers and media organisations are struggling to turn a direct to the customer model into a loyal customer base as digital retail and media enables the consumer to have greater choice, driving down loyalty and in manufacturing and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) organisations are having to become increasingly information centric to explore opportunities, meet retailers demands and satisfy new information needs from customers.
Whether developing a direct to the consumer business model or having to improve information and services to retailers or intermediaries, how organisations capture customer identity information and deploy identity management technology differs widely, Amido found in its research. Just one organisation in the research had a strong single view of the customer, in its opinion.
This research identifies that contrary to hype from other quarters of the technology and marketing sector, business technology and marketing leaders are troubled by the same business challenges when it comes to using customer identity information more effectively; however this research shows that the two leaders and their teams are not always working as closely together as they could. Examples of collaboration best practice exist, but for organisations to really put the customer at the heart of the business in today’s digital economy, technology and marketing can no longer remain separate departments. A blurring of divisional lines or the creation of overlapping customer teams must be created.
Opportunities from understanding customers
All organisations interviewed see customer identity information as a rich resource. How the resource was processed to create value and revenue generation for each vertical market of course differed according to the needs of that market. Media organisations are capturing and mining social media customer information which increases personalisation and improves the yield it can extract from its core customer base, advertisers. Logistics organisations are mapping and mining customer information to reduce operational costs and create a greater understanding of the recipients of its services, thus creating a rich information resource it can either sell or utilise in its relations with customers.
CMOs in marketing said that mobility is a challenge and an opportunity. Interestingly, the CMOs do not see mobile as about the mobile, but the concept of mobility.
IT industry analysts Gartner believe that by 2018 half (50%) of IT and identity and access management programmes will be focused on both enterprise and customer facing identity management infrastructure as the two spheres become one.
“The online environment has transformed the way consumers engage with businesses, and made them far more demanding. For consumers today it is not just about what they want, but about when, where and how they want it. For any business looking to engage with consumers, the challenge is daunting,” added Walsh at Amido.
A number of organisations from markets such as the media, retail and financial services report that customer identity information is critical in the growing need to retain an existing customer base in the face of stiff competition from rivals, aggregators and market entrants. A challenge cited by these three vertical markets and the utilities sector was that digital channels and weaknesses in their customer identity management strategies and technology deployments reduced the opportunities to engage with the customer. Two CIOs in the financial services sector are actively assessing how customer identity management creates opportunities to create content or events that trigger engagements with the consumers, which in turn should benefit the retention of customers.
“If information is spread across multiple applications and different parts of the business, simply having the data is not enough,”
Walsh adds. “The most valuable insight into customers comes when this data is visible in one place so you can begin to understand the relationships that exist between different sets.”
Organisations that had customer identity information at the core of their development have found it easier to capture information and derive value. First Utility, a challenger energy firm, has a data rich customer enrolment exercise that teaches the organisation a great deal about the customer, but also is used to create an information service and dialog with the consumer to their benefit.
“Ultimately this business is about the customer engagement strategy. To most consumers the only engagement they have with their energy providers is when the billing takes place,” Bill Wilkins, CIO of First Utility told the report author in an interview.
“To maximise the value of customer data, organisations need to integrate their systems,” Amido’s Walsh says. “This builds on the basic customer knowledge to get a deeper understanding. This integration informs decision-making and allows organisations to target more effectively. It makes marketing activity more focused and increases revenue from existing customers; which products to suggest they buy, what articles they might find interesting.”
You can download and read the full Amido sponsored report at: https://www.amido.com/landing-page/are-you-making-it-personal/
Amido a leading consultancy in cloud computing, search and customer identity management, is hosting a debate, chaired by the report author and editor of Horizon Mark Chillingworth on Thursday October 6 at Soho Hotel with leading CIOs from retail and financial services speaking in a debate.
[aesop_content color=”#ffffff” background=”#ff0080″ width=”60%” height=”800″ columns=”2″ position=”none” imgrepeat=”no-repeat” floaterposition=”left” floaterdirection=”up”]To join the event register at: https://www.amido.com/landing-page/are-you-making-it-personal-event