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CIOs increasingly "getting their teeth into" customer experience - report

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28th Mar 2014
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CIOs are really getting their teeth into customer experience, a new study from IBM has found. It is the area which most CIOs want to invest more time in (+15%), followed by sales and new business development (+6%), and marketing and communications (+2%). Almost two thirds are pushing to be more involved in these kinds of frontline activites, challenging the CIO's traditional behind-the-scenes station. In turn, IT itself is set to shift within the business structure to get cosier with customer-facing departments. 

IBM’s findings, which come as a result of interviewing over 1,600 CIOs based in 70 different countries, also reveal that priorities have changed when it comes to data. In 2011, when IBM conducted the same survey, data management was the a top CIO top priority, now it’s client analytics - data must start proving its worth. The top dogs of the tech departments want to improve their understanding of the consumer by way of sentiment mining, social network analysis and other analytic tools, in order to uncover behavioural patterns and provide foresight. This is an essential practice in creating a tailored and successful experience for their customers, and is reasoning behind many CIOs’ desire to invest in new technology.

Although CIOs are expanding their professional repertoire, the nitty-gritty area of IT still needs as much attention as ever. “You’ve got to get the basics right: things like the data centre, office automation, architectural standards and policy framework,” asserted one European government services CIO. Indeed, only a minority of those questioned thought they had the tools in place to effectively manage Big Data, while half reported that their Big Data platforms were not scalable. There was an undeniable correlation between getting these basics right and being an outperforming business, found IBM.

Risk is another nuts-and-bolts component of IT  which CIOs cannot afford to turn their back on for new endeavours. The average organisation is subject to 1,400 attempted security breaches each week, according to IBM. This situation is likely to intensify too, as more resources are moved outside the firewall and more sensitive customer data is being collected.

The role of the CIO, then, are on the move within the corporate hierarchy, with many believing traditional organisational structures are duly adapting themselves. Their levels of authority and influence are on the rise, allowing them to collaborate more closely with the rest of the C-suite. These developments are positive ones for CIOs, but the toughest challenges perhaps still lie ahead of them in their attempts to assume a more strategic role while not forgetting their fundamental responsibilities; they must negotiate between the back office and the frontline.

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