The customer’s customer: who is the customer for IT services now?
This guest post is by Neil Wilson, managing director and CEO of Oakton.
There is a lot of change happening in our industry right now. When I take a step back and look at the complexity and momentum of the change drivers such as the digital economy, cloud computing, mobility, social and big data it is clear that the rate of change will continue to accelerate strongly. In this context there is one key question that has been revealed and strengthened through these changes: who is the customer for IT services now?
The traditional sourcing of IT services has been undergoing its own shift from IT departments toward business side customers. This change to the role and power bases of CIOs and CXOs will play out in many different ways over the coming years. What is driving this change is the deep and growing recognition that strategic advantage from technology does not come from a long list of features and functions, but rather from intimacy with, and insight into the end-user of business services. We are organisationally and technologically shifting toward our customer’s customer.
This new customer’s customer is the front end of the supply chain, the person or entity that realises the value of the service and participates more seamlessly in both the definition and delivery of services. Each of us participates in this world where the boundaries between commercial, social and personal networks become increasingly blurred. Their ability to compare services, interact with providers and flip from channel to channel is unparalleled.
Our role as an advisor and supplier of services is also evolving quickly in this environment. In the past we would have gone to a corporate office, met with the head of IT to understand the requirements for a large project. We would then proceed to deliver a great result, on time and on budget, but we were not always aware whether we had truly understood and delighted the end consumer, which in many cases were not the people in those offices.
By developing a greater insight into our customer’s customer we have moved strongly toward user centric approaches, agile and highly engaging development, wrapping our IP into valuable solutions that are not the end point of a project but the commencement of an evolving roadmap founded on learning, innovation and ongoing change.
These approaches are delivering very different and positive results, not just in project delivery measures such as time to deliver, but in the level of excitement and engagement from customers. Whether it is a customer loyalty application for Vintage Cellars that manages live integration with back end system to deliver POS redemption of rewards, or a rail commuter application that provides real time updates on train arrivals based on live network integration, our ability to bring them to life by imagining a better customer experience and responding with our deep development and integration capability has been at the heart of our value to clients.
In the future these point solutions will expand to become more holistic customer experiences and require even wider and deeper intimacy with customers who will expect a level of service availability and integration that is several orders of maturity higher than many organisations are able to imagine in their current form.
I can easily foresee the current drive to mobility continuing to transform the expectations for universal experience across channels, starting with the mobile, call centre, in person interactions, and growing to include in-home devices and experience devices in stores and at work. The internet of things will play a key part in transforming this experience.
I believe that change and transformation have always been core capabilities of our organisation and our lasting competitive advantage will be the agility and creativity that we bring to the solutions that will change the shape of service delivery for our customer’s customer.
About the author: Neil Wilson is managing director and CEO at Oakton, an Australian technology and business consulting services company that helps some of Australia’s largest organisations meet their technology and business needs.