New technology is at the heart of creating unified conversations across all digital channels that manage customer data and make up the 360-degree customer view. Each of these technologies has its own unique challenges, but it’s the aggregate – the integration of all – that will determine a brand’s ability to compete in the age of the customer.
CTOs are being asked to work together with CIOs and CMOs like never before to solve the technology integration riddle in order to achieve the levels of engagement and personalisation required to drive loyalty.
Today’s customers demand an always-on, unified experience with the brands they follow. Whether they’re looking at a website on their mobile, tablet or desktop, they are looking for continuity in their experience. They want a continuous conversation. This may seem like a fairly reasonable expectation.
In reality, it is far more difficult to achieve from a backend IT perspective and companies need to draw on deep technical expertise to make it happen.
The omnichannel imperative
Why is it so difficult to achieve omni-channel capabilities?
Constantly changing customer preferences and the proliferation of channels are two of the biggest challenges. Tellingly, in a recent IBM study only 4 per cent of companies rated their own multichannel customer experience as "excellent."
Central to this is how projects are being managed. Technology initiatives are now being led by business leaders and supported by IT, where traditionally an IT Director owned the technology realm completely. This means that for the modern CTO it is imperative to learn how to collaborate with the CMO and the COO.
This is a major cultural shift, a shift in the dynamics of how projects are tackled – projects are no longer technology projects, projects are now business projects that include technology components that need to be aligned.
Business stakeholders, the CMO and COO, are creating the vision of a “future status”, a vision of how the company can achieve higher levels of engagement that impact the bottom line. The CTO is then delivering this vision by implementing a technology driven set of capabilities, by integrating a modern, future proof, SOA framework.
Getting all these different departments and their teams, who come from very different backgrounds, to talk a common language and collaborate to deliver results is key.
Core challenges faced in achieving this include:
With business stakeholders driving the demand for technology, a CTO is often flooded with a very disparate set of demands for IT requirements that are not always very clear. The options can feel daunting and CTOs need to have the right tools, such as RFI/RFP procedures and access to analyst research, as well as the right people, to shortlist the best technology options for specific business requirements.
With the technology landscape constantly changing it is also even more difficult to keep up-to-date making it imperative for CTOs to put in place the right processes, which can be easily optimised as the organisation matures.
Finding support on field experts
Accenture’s report "Turbulence for the CMO” highlights the importance of the expertise that alliance partners bring to the table to help CMOs make sense of this complex marketplace. Technology consulting partners can add real value by improving levels of effectiveness in the execution and delivery of technology. In addition, they also provide a broader set of know-hows and deeper integration and technical capabilities.
Given the complexity of the challenges faced today, CTOs and CMOs are increasingly relying on future-thinking technology consultancies and systems integrators – seeking guidance on tech strategy, infrastructure and eco-system design and execution.
But companies are also looking at internalising this expertise in-house. This is another big challenge, obviously this expertise is very valuable but can hinder heavily the speed at which a company can implement anything additional into the digital ecosystem of a company.
CTO’s decisions in this regard have to keep in mind two imperatives that drive an efficient and effective delivery – speed and quality.
Internalising know-how and expertise takes time and the quality of delivery can also suffer, as the people leading projects are “learning-while-doing”. Whilst they might be able to implement for current requirements they lack the expertise to foresee and anticipate future needs until fully up to speed.
CMOs and CTOs need to find reliable partners that can handle IT complexity on their behalf and look at achieving the right balance between outside expertise and know-how internalisation. At the centre of this are the ever-changing integration challenges. Companies that are building future-proof digital ecosystems are putting together SOA architectures that bring together the value of each solution. As a result, ‘integration continues to be a core value driver for top performing organisations’.
Niche consulting firms - such as redk - can help CTO’s deliver with speed and quality whilst helping teams to mature in the practice of CX and customer service excellence, which is what is going to create the differentiation factor to compete in the market place. SaaS based products – such as Zendesk or SugarCRM – are designed to solve many of these common issues and implement best practices.
CTO Success in the CX realm
Leading brands are focusing on building experiences that are deeply engaging that drive growth and impact on the bottom line. To create seamless and meaningful experiences CTOs, with their respective organisations, are faced with the challenges of digital transformation.
Underlying everything is the need to drive collaboration between IT and marketing, between the CMO – who now has a powerful technology drive – and the CTO/CIO, who provides the know-how, capability and deep knowledge of today’s technologies and tomorrow’s trends.
Companies that learn to work and find momentum in this new paradigm will be able to create differentiation, drive value and thrive in the digital economy. Companies need to ask themselves, what is the price of not doing it?
Hideki Hashimura, CMO, redk (opens in new tab)
Image Credit: Georgejmclittle / Shutterstock