Chris Weston
Chris Weston (Principal, European Client Advisory)
Marc Dowd
Marc Dowd (Principal, European Client Advisory)

I believe that many digital leaders have a problem with customer experience; in fact, I see it as the Achilles heel of many CIOs. I spend my time absorbing the research that IDC analysts produce and making that applicable to our clients in their own context. What I see is a growing challenge for technologists in large organisations.

As my colleague, Chris Weston pointed out: customer experience is like a brand; it happens anyway, but it’s how you manage it that counts. Many leading companies claim to be driven by customer obsession/focus. The best customer experience at scale is powered by technology. What does that mean for you as a Digital Leader? Is there a difference between what you are doing and what you could be doing? Only you can answer that question, but we can look at the state of CX and the technology/data that enables it.

The state of data-driven Customer Experience

There is a gap between the CX of some firms and others. Some we celebrate for their customer experience and most we do not. This gap is growing.

Customer Experience at scale is now a technology-based sport. Some companies have led an evolution from segments to personas and, thanks to technology, on to “segment of one” and “real-time contextual marketing”. It is about the flow of the interactions… or the journey to becoming a supporter of the brand… or latterly the experience of the brand. The ability to measure interactions, and to some degree sentiments, at scale is leading to the ability to test and refine what the “next best action” should be. This is done in real-time and measured for effect. If it drives the desired outcome that data is used to inform the next interaction.

But what about the impact on the role of the Digital Leader? For one thing the process flow has become less static or linear. The need for insights to power the “next best action” means wider ranging more accurate data delivered in real-time. And it’s not just focused on the customer-facing front end. If the promise of a slick effective website is not matched by a slick and efficient process in all parts of the business, then there is a problem. The initiative will get bogged down at best or abandoned when social media gets a hold of the flaws.

The Reality for the Digital Leader

So, we are talking about CX as driving perfection across the organisation. However, many organisations are not striving for perfection. How much digital transformation is enough – enough to get a decent return from the assets and the capital might be what the CEO would say.

As Digital Leaders the cost of gathering and processing data is huge. It entails vast changes to organisations and frankly many organisations are really low on the IDC maturity scale of data excellence. There is a long costly way to perfection. And that is not to mention the struggle to keep up with legacy technology change and business as usual.

So that raises some questions that Digital Leaders should consider:

  • Is good enough, enough?
  • How well does my organisation really need to know our customers?
  • What is the real increase in ROI compared to getting the perfect data to the right place at the right time at the right granularity and quality?

To conclude: Great CX is wonderful but is it for you?

As a company, you could close down the debate by looking at how you differentiate in the market and how that could or should change. If advance CX would make a difference you should consider it.

If you have the data and can make all the processes work at the requisite speed, then it might make sense. I do worry about companies who go into digital transformation initiatives without a clear plan of the ROI of the changes they are envisaging. Often the lack of direction is because they cannot articulate a clear simple goal. Which, by the way, is hard.

So much for the organisation. As a Digital Leader you may not believe that it is possible to change the culture of the organisation fast enough to embrace advanced CX. Successful digital leaders are realists. You do not take on wars you cannot win. Bleeding edge CX may be a series of battles that might be your undoing.

What do you think?

The IDC European Digital Leadership Community is gathering on the 4th of March in the afternoon to discuss all aspects of:

“Customer Experience: Technology is increasingly driving leading CX – is that a challenge for you as the CIO?”

Would you like to have your say? Come and join knowledgeable professionals and IDC subject matter experts for what promises to be a great session? There is no charge and we meet on different topics every two weeks.

You can sign up at: or email me at

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