IBM Study Highlights the Importance of Customer Engagement

Business is about people. It is about the people you hire, and the people you serve. Without people, your business ceases functioning. If you nurture the people element of your business, your business will grow and lead the way into the future.

Of course, our technologically driven modern world often neglects people in the equation. For that reason, the team at IBM decided to study just how important people were in the growth and success of modern businesses. What they discovered is causing those in the C-suite to change the way they do business and approach clients.


The study was a comprehensive global survey involving more than 1,600 CIOs, 880 CEOs, and 1,600 corporate officers who were asked to define the changing relationships between their businesses and their clients around the world. The insights and experiences they shared provide a reliable overview of the way they are rearranging their priorities.


The survey revealed that leaders are shifting their priorities from intra-enterprise efficiency and productivity towards more transparency, collaboration, and communication with their clients. What the survey also revealed is that this shift is being driven by the clients themselves. As technology advances, the collaborative technologies being utilized within our modern, 24/7 mobile workforce have empowered clients as never before.

Key findings:

  • Approximately 80% of CIOs are planning to digitize their front offices over the coming years so that they are in sync with their customers. This will lead to even more collaboration and greater efficiency.
  • The majority of CIOs say they are focusing on two key initiatives: Gaining deep insights from both structured and unstructured data via analytics and implementing cutting-edge technologies, tools, and processes within the front office. They hope to better understand their clients’ needs and remain in sync with their requirements.
  • CIOs acknowledge that obtaining meaningful actionable insights from the information they collect requires vastly improved information architecture so they an leverage the data they are gathering.
  • 84% of CIOs plan to or are currently investing in mobility solutions, business analytics, and optimization.
  • 64% of CIOs are investing in cloud computing, internal collaboration, and/or social networking.
  • Of participants, 70% of CIOs are planning to incorporate cloud technologies in an effort to improve collaborative processes with their clients.
  • CIOs want more collaboration with CMOs. This is because many are beginning to see that customer experience, sales, new business development, marketing, communications, supplier/vendor management, and IT operations are impacting the CIOs responsibilities.
  • CIOs are planning to implement more technologies designed to encourage and improve collaboration with clients, which will improve the overall customer experience. Chief among these plans is the incorporation of mobile technologies, which will be coupled with improved analytics models, to drive success.

The crucial role of technology

In the end, it has become clear to modern CIOs that these customer-related initiatives are critical to the success of their businesses. Leveraging technology is the best way to manage this and help businesses develop stronger bonds and relationships with the people they serve.

This is a trend that will continue as the technology that clients depend on continues to improve, and clients demand even greater access from mobile platforms, cloud technologies, and advanced business management software solutions.

The CEO might be the head of the company, but it is the modern, mobile customer that is the savvy new boss that companies need to pay attention to.

Creating Strong Partnerships Between CIOs & CSOs

The complexity of technology means that organizations need their technology and security teams to work together to develop and implement solutions. In particular, companies need their CIO and their CSO to work in collaboration to achieve the company’s objectives. Here are some ways they can achieve this.

Have both parties share their similarities in roles.

One of more common issues between the CIO and the CSO is their approach to the job. While CIOs enjoy taking risks with new platforms, CSOs have to look at the security risks involved with new programming, which can lead to miscommunication between the two departments. Instead of butting heads on differences in job responsibilities, Jo Stewart-Rattray, who is the director of information security and IT assurance at BRM Holdich, recommends that both parties discuss the similarities in their jobs. By doing this they can accomplish two things:

• Both parties will notice many similarities in what each position entails and the differences they discover won’t be as far as first perceived.
• It sets a healthy framework for collaboration by both parties. When each examines the other’s position with an open-mind, it develops the foundation for collaboration.

Open communication throughout the organization.

In a security survey conducted by the Global State of Information, respondents noted that their biggest obstacles to security are a lack of strategy from a security standpoint and a lack leadership that understands how innovations of future business needs impact the company’s security. Simply, this means there’s a lack of communication between the executive, information, and security departments. This represents a significant concern because without open communication from all parts, it can make it difficult to achieve future business objectives. This is why it is imperative that there is open communication between the CIO and the CSO.

By doing so, they can open a healthy flow of information and collaboration between the security and information technology departments that way during new implementations IT isn’t vulnerable after they consider all security risks.

Both parties need to report to each other.

Another area of disconnect in organizations is when the CIOs or CSOs report directly to the CEOs instead of to each other. The problem with this is it can create rift between both positions because it inhibits the flow of information to each department. This is why it is vital in an organizational structure that the CIO and CSO work in collaboration with the CEO or executive board.

By doing so, it opens a dialogue between all parties involved. Benefits are these:

• The executive committee knows security risks for new technology.
• The IT department understands the vulnerabilities associated with new platforms.
• The security department is able to evaluate risk on new platforms.

The result is open communication whereby each part works together to achieve the company’s objectives in a safe manner.
Overall, CIOs and CSOs must work together. When they do this, they create a partnership where both departments collaborate during the designing and implementation process to make new transitions smooth and safe.