Lack of a cohesive social media plan and competing initiatives are the two biggest barriers preventing CMOs from implementing their strategies in an increasingly connected world, according to “The Customer-Activated Enterprise."
Based on face-to-face conversations with 4,000 CEOs, CMOs, CFOs and CIOs across 70 countries and 20 industries, the study explores how
organizations are breaking the mold in how they engage customers to help guide their business strategy and future decisions, such as new product development.
Despite expressing an unprecedented commitment to direct customer influence on their business decisions and operations, one-third of CEOs worry that the rest of the C-suite is out of touch with customers.
One way that companies are activating their customers is by pioneering new digital-physical innovations, according to the report. By blending their digital and physical strategies, companies can deliver an integrated approach to meeting the needs of their technology-empowered customers.
Both CMOs and CIOs overwhelmingly indicate that they intend to make great strides to overhaul and reinvent the way they work with their customers.
There is a massive shift in how companies are tapping their customers as new business advisors, with 90% planning to collaborate more extensively with their customers in the next five years. About 60% of C-suite leaders plan to directly engage their customers and proactively apply what they learn to set their business agendas in the next three to five years -- up from 43% of CEOs who now include customers in the development of business strategies.
The study also examines which factors are driving leaders to increase transparency, openness and collaboration within their organizations; how priorities within one office of the C-suite compares and contrasts with others, and why leaders are looking outward to ignite big changes.
Organizations have steadily shifted to embrace more open, collaborative and reciprocal models, said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, IBM Global Business Services.
"Today, CEOs recognize that they can't do it all alone," Van Kralingen said in a release. "They're opening up their organizations, breaking down barriers and actively engaging customer -- providing customers a seat at the table to help shape their business model and strategy."
Being a customer-activated enterprise requires a deep understanding and focus on the customer as an individual, rather than as a category or a market segment.
As the business landscape changes, 54% of C-suite executives want to target customers as individuals within the
next three to five years. To close the customer intimacy gap, many businesses are relying on digital technologies to boost engagement, create a one-to-one dialogue and provide a superior
IBM’s research finds that C-suite leaders are quickly embracing the use of digital channels to drive customer interactions. Last year, 57% of CEOs expected digital channels to become one of their company’s key means of interacting with customers within the next five years. In 2013, 52% of C-suite leaders say that they are already there, marking a rapid increase in adoption.