What’s Ahead for Businesses in the Age of the Customer?

For the second article in our Customer Experience Counts series, we look to the near future, at some of the big-picture dynamics affecting businesses. Understand the driving forces of CX and it’s easier to spot opportunities for your own business. There is a lot to talk about so this will be a blog in two parts. In this part, we will focus on business and people. In part two, we will look at trends in cyber security, supply chains and future technology.

We are now in the ‘Age of the Customer’ as Forrester puts it. Businesses, from SMBs to the Enterprise know their competitive position relies on aligning their offer to what customers want. Your customers are certainly grappling with what CX means for their operations. In this piece, we will highlight key areas where this could signal change or opportunity for your business.

“Every business needs to be an experience business1”

These were the words of Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe Systems, at the 2017 Adobe Summit in Las Vegas in March. He also said that “As businesses, we’re struggling to keep up, and racing to stay ahead… and just when we think we’ve figured out our digital strategies, new experiences emerge, competing for our customers’ attention.”

This frames the link between digital transformation and CX perfectly. And underlines the point that what customers find acceptable today won’t be good enough tomorrow. The market is on the move towards a unified customer view and seamless omnichannel experience. Technology is at the heart of this, but to capitalise on technology, some human aspects need to change.

Break it to make it: the structure of businesses will change

In a push to prioritise CX, businesses will restructure to get rid of operational siloes. Forrester2 predicts that one-third of companies in the B2C space will change their business structure to create a more fluid, customer-centric approach in order to compete effectively on the basis of customer experience.

Expect new departments, teams and, in some cases, new business units to emerge to drive CX through the whole value chain.

For resellers, this could open up new opportunities as companies look for support through the transition and technology partners who understand their new goals.

Spending power, decision-makers and what they want to buy

 Whether or not companies officially restructure, there will be a shift in who holds sway in the Age of the Customer. The rising stars will be the tech-aware Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and a new breed of Chief Information Officer (CIO). Rather than coming from a traditional IT background, these CIOs will bring knowledge of the new digital dimension, and what businesses and customers are seeking from technology.

Resellers can expect to see more budget diverted from traditional IT spend to technologies that help drive customer experiences. And that may mean engaging with the CMO and CIO, rather than the Head of IT. And this raises the question – is your portfolio aligned to what the new power players want to buy?

Forrester predicts that turnover of business heads will double2 as CEOs appoint leaders with both digital and customer competencies.

Cloud will continue to reign supreme

Among all this change, one thing remains certain – cloud computing will continue to be at the forefront of delivering customer experience improvements. Cloud now has the power to deliver the full array of digital capabilities and Forrester predicts that Cloud will accelerate faster than ever in 20172. Businesses will look to leverage cloud ecosystems that connect all the players involved in delivering CX – employees, supplier, partners, vendors and devices – with the customer. It’s key to achieving the seamless omnichannel experience demanded by the customer as well as the unified customer view sought after by organisations. This means a goldmine for resellers able to demonstrate how cloud capabilities can help businesses achieve their CX goals.

Forrester predicts in 2017 “Large enterprises will move to cloud in a big way, and that will supercharge the market3.”

Read part two of this blog in the next issue of our IM Advisor publication – The Age of the Customer Continues. In the meantime, if you have any comments or want to share trends you’re seeing in the marketplace, please email us at imadvisoruk@ingrammicro.com

1 Adobe Summit: http://summit.adobe.com/na/sessions/summit-online/#17720
2 Forrester Report:  https://www.forrester.com/Customer-Experience
3 http://blogs.forrester.com/charlie_dai/16-11-03-forrester_predictions_ten_key_developments_in_cloud_computing_shape_the_industry_in_2017

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