Consumerization of technology: What CIOs need to consider

Technology can turn a mediocre business into a great one, but it can just as easily do the opposite.

Let's face it - technology has made us impatient. And ironically, it is our own personal technology that we are most impatient with. This makes customer service hugely important for tech companies who are constantly dealing with a malfunctioning product or service. Leave a customer's problem unsolved for more than a day, or even an hour or a few minutes, and you run the risk of losing him or her to a competitor. Everyday it seems like a friend or colleague is leaving their cable or internet provider or swapping their phone or mobile service for something better. In other words, ensuring an excellent customer experience is not just important for an organization, it's crucial.

The good news is technology has made it easier than ever for companies to deal with their customers' problems. It's no secret that a superior customer experience bodes well for revenue; but, if you need proof check out this Forrester report which shows that customers are likely to buy more after a good experience, less likely to switch to another company and willing to spread the word about their good experience.  The takeaway: Technology can turn a mediocre business into a great one, but it can just as easily do the opposite.

These trends are perhaps most relevant to the company's CIO, whose focus is changing from cutting costs to driving future growth.            In today's market, CIOs must play a lead role not only in operational areas, but also at a strategic level. It's important that they understand that competition is becoming fiercer, customer needs are changing and technology is continuously evolving.

We came up with a list of five key drivers of today's market that are emerging because of evolving technology. These are the trends that CIOs must start thinking about in order to be successful.

  1. New age consumer - Demanding, eager, and tech savvy, today's consumer know what they want before going in the store. In other words, technology is changing the way consumers spend and save. Consumers have already scavenged five websites and read a dozen reviews before making a purchase. If they make the purchase and like the product, chances are the consumer will help you out in return, by posting reviews on those same sites. Be warned, though - a negative review is often much more influential than a positive one.
  2. Mobile workforce - Customers aren't just happy to see a company have the latest technology at their disposal; they expect it. And particularly Gen X and Gen Y. Click here, to see how Citi, a leading global bank offers an example of how its employees from around the world are using social media to work together. The mobile workforce is popping up across all industries, and with this trend, comes challenges as well as opportunities.
  3. Social collaboration - Customers are no longer limited to just their friends or neighbors for product and service reviews. With the advent of social networking, the decision to buy a product is usually influenced by someone you've never met before. According to Gartner, it will be a combination of smart technology and smart business that will enable a company to be successful.
  4. Newer technology platforms - Mobility, cloud computing, virtualization - these are just some of the technologies forcing companies to change how they operate. With the click of a button on his mobile phone, a customer can send money anywhere, anytime. And, even in the last decade, most people thought this was not possible. In other words, sooner than you think, the fictional, augmented reality scenes in sci-fi movies will become reality. The question is, can your organization not only keep up with this evolution of technology, but drive it?
  5. Convergence of technologies - Soon a person's computer, iPad, mp3 player and mobile device will all share storage content in a single wireless space -- the cloud. All you'll need is an internet connection. Already, mobile platforms are seeking to converge process and data so content can be delivered and published on one device. No doubt we'll continue to see the converging of technologies, and those organizations that understand this, support, and embrace it, will be successful.

These five key items are likely to have an enormous influence on the businesses of tomorrow. Take note, CIOs: each company will find its own way to use technology. Taking technology and using it to improve the customer experience would be the wisest decision. Companies that do this will become more agile, efficient, and consumer friendly; those who don't will likely falter and flail. Now more than ever, it's crucial that you identify and implement the best way for your company.

Samir Dhir - is Senior Vice-President and Global Delivery Head of Virtusa Corporation.