It is the role of a technology leader to make the customer’s experience more personal. A project Icon Business Media, producers of Horizon, was involved in took the temperature of the UK business technology leadership community in a report and event programme. Are you making it personal (which you can download here), reveals the shared concerns of the UK business leadership community.
The commission from Amido, a leading UK customer identity management and cloud computing technology consultancy, was to really try and understand the environment that customer identity management exists within. Therefore the research doesn’t try and use a number to scare or prove a point, what Icon Business Media found is that technology leaders and marketing leaders are concerned that opportunities to explore customer identity management are not being met.
Icon Business Media and our partners in the programme Bright Innovation was able to speak to CIOs and CMOs across six key vertical markets; financial services, media, transport & logistics, retail, automotive and industry as well as utilities. Some of the most influential businesses in the UK such as Virgin, LV=, N Brown, Daily Mail Group, Haymarket, and Shell kindly supported the research and shared some frank views of the state of the customer identity management nation.
The research interviews demonstrated that there remain too many barriers in organisations and customer identity data is perhaps where these barriers become most apparent. Looked at through a technology lens, the research highlights that the need to sweat assets and maximise the return on investment (RoI) from legacy technology is playing a part in upholding that barrier.
Unsurprisingly to those in the CIO community, legacy is creating more silos of information. The majority of respondents felt that the organisation did not have a single view of the customer and therefore was unable to manage the identity of that customer and provide better services to that customer. The research demonstrates that organisations are moving towards a situation of data wealth, but information drought.
The report highlights some of the challenges technology and marketing leaders face. At the launch event for the report some of the UK’s leading business technologists debated the issue with me with a wide ranging audience of CIOs and CMOs. Simon Evans, CTO of Amido, the report sponsors, and Bob Strudwick CTO for online retailer Asos.com both talk of customer identity management as using technology and processes to build up a picture of a customer – an identity. It was clear during the research and in the debate that to leaders in the field, customer identity management is about using technology to understand the personality of an individual, just like, as business leaders, we have to try and understand our team members as individuals and work out the ways to motivate them. Mike Sturrock, CIO with logistics firm DX and Ian Cohen, CIO advisor and Non-Executive Director to a number of leading fast growth technology firms added that customer identity management is being responsive – a topic Cohen spoke about at the Innovation Leadership Summit and recently raised in his blog.
Responsive and understanding are very different to having a data set of a customer. A fascinating side story to this research and the debates I have been involved in since, is how many in technology and marketing think online retail behemoth Amazon is a leader at customer identity. Evans and Strudwick in particular vehemently disagree and believe that Amazon is really just showing you more examples of items you have already bought and that their proposition is not compelling.
So organisations need to change their culture and move from being product centric to customer centric and a number of CIO and CMO respondents were bold to admit this.
What is becoming clear is that CIOs and CMOs must work more closely together, but that the power comes from using information to understand an individual and to personalise a service to that individual. CIOs from automotive, retail, utilities, travel and media are just some of the sectors who have shared with me how important personalisation is becoming to their sector. Personalised comes from truly knowing the identity of an individual. So for innovation leaders, the opportunity is to be like that partner or child that writes a card or note that really hits you with that “they really understand me” message. The data consumers share on social media – something Strudwick and Asos are very engaged in – and behaviours in the receipt of service are all opportunities for our community to learn about a customer, identify them and deliver a service that is personal.