Smart connected businesses — CIO’s role in helping catapult industries into long-term sustainable success

Woman using mobile phone Mike Kanazawa, Partner – Innovation and Digital Enterprise Strategy, Ernst & Young LLP, on how you can disrupt your business and delight your customers in new ways by becoming a smart connected business

Organizations and businesses in all regions, sectors and stages of growth are shifting toward strategies centered on making them smart connected businesses. Technology trends have created a capability to reinvent how we live and work through smarter, more connected, predictive and massively more efficient means.

The key question for every business leader is: “How can I disrupt my industry and delight my customers in new ways by becoming a smart connected business?”. Though the strategic transformation will be a difficult move for some, those who don’t adapt to this change might be made irrelevant in their own markets.

Smart connected businesses can develop an information advantage regarding customer needs, make faster and more accurate decisions, and can become innovative disruptors rather than competitive prey. Many businesses are approaching this change by acquiring start-ups, partnering with, or co-investing in new companies, or creating their own innovation centers to push the disruptive edge.

As technology leaders, CIOs can advise and inform their organizations on how designing new end-to-end customer experiences, monetizing, marketing and selling in a totally new way, can help scale up business.

This blog post will discuss the three key areas that can help in the transformation:

  • The go-to-market ecosystem: Smart connected businesses have moved from traditional forms of marketing to personalized marketing methods. CIOs can help their organizations know every customer properly, enabling multiple touch points and interactions throughout the customer journey, monitoring usage and eventually selling additional features and services. Software-enabled services and analytics are the foundation of any smart connected customer offering delivered through cloud or software as a service (SaaS) platforms. Businesses can realize more value from smart connected businesses by maintaining close engagement with customers, analyzing product telemetry data, monitoring customer usage and taking proactive steps to reduce churn.
  • The instrumented product: Businesses are moving toward real-time development of products that integrate across marketing, development, engineering and support in a closed-loop cycle. Development of an instrumented product — embedded with telemetry and intelligence —can monitor customer usage, automatically up-sell, cross-sell, troubleshoot, anticipate needs and make recommendations. The product becomes an autonomous marketing, selling and support engine that also creates a certain level of personal value to customers. This level of personal value creation can generate ongoing and ever-increasing customer delight with a product or service, which helps to maintain the loyalty of customers in the fast-paced innovative realm of smart connected business.
  • The smart connected operating platform: Many businesses are approaching the challenge of becoming a smart connected business by acquiring start-ups, partnering with, or co-investing in new companies. However, problems occur when they try to scale the acquired start-up on a platform that was never intended to sustain a smart connected business. The key challenge is running conflicting operating platforms together — one to run the existing business and continue generating profits, and the other to grow and fuel a smart connected business line. CIOs are well placed to help with this challenge, by supporting the business to explore the cost-benefit of the two options – performing a flash cutover to the new model to accelerate the change; or a more conservative option to run both platforms on a more slowly converging path.

The necessity of transforming to smart connected businesses is growing by the day and affects all industries. It is a change that places IT at the center of driving customer value and growth. CIOs already understand the impact of this change and can help lead the transformation initiative. The ability of companies to make this shift can determine who disrupts the market and who will be extinct in the next 10 years.

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