Alexander Peters

The job of the CIO in the age of the customer

Forrester’s Alexander Peters resumes the evolution of the job of the CIO from (quote) “something like “show me the business process, and I will help you automate it” to “here is what we need to do to streamline our business capabilities and increase the firm’s level of engagement with customers and partners.” 

Engagement with customers and partners. It’s more than a mantra in the age of the customer. The shift in the CIO’s role is clearly towards being, what Josh Bernoff called, “customer-obsessed”. Aligning business capabilities and better serving customers is increasingly the CIO’s focus, Peters writes.

It’s a long way from the previous model from aligning IT and the business. In his article, Peters refers to Andrew Bartel’s research arguing that IT has seen three waves of innovation with a fourth wave on the way: mainframe computing, personal computing, network computing and, next, smart computing, each related to a different focus: manufacturing, distribution, information and, finally, the customer.

Smart Computing


Streamlining business processes and developing new customer engagement model

While the first waves were characterised by a top-down approach and involved a reliance on IT, this is less the case than ever before. The information workers and modern IT-savvy executives today can embrace several technologies and devices, without the help of IT. Indeed, think mobile, consumerisation, BYOD, social and the cloud. In this context, the role of IT to keep applications running in a secure way and provide the necessary support, remains crucial.

However, at the same time, Peters says, CIOs can make a big difference when working with stakeholders to streamline business processes and develop new customer engagement models. He sees a repositioning of IT from a “traditional back-office role to the more strategic frontline in the age of the customer” and has four recommendations for CIOs. One of them is building processes to react quickly to market opportunities and customer-life-cycle needs.

You can read more in this post. However, the conclusions are clear, and it’s not the first time they are mentioned. So, what do you think about the role of the CIO in the age of the customer?

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