Jim MacLennan, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Idex, shared his thoughts on digital transformation and its impact on the voice of the customer during his keynote presentation to Argyle's CIO membership at the 2018 Information Technology Leadership Forum: Data Strategy & Innovation in Chicago on February 28. In his presentation, "Voice of the Customer: How IT Can Participate – and Make an Impact," MacLennan offered tips to help IT professionals build customer relationships.
According to MacLennan, organizations of all sizes and across all industries are focused on going digital. Yet few understand exactly what it takes to drive digital transformation.
Ultimately, communication and collaboration are crucial for organizations to maximize the value of digital technologies. If IT professionals understand what it takes to connect and collaborate with different departments within their respective organizations, they can foster a digital culture that stretches across all levels.
"A digital business will only succeed when it understands how to connect with people," MacLennan stated.
MacLennan indicated there are five components of a great digital strategy: automating internal operations, getting close to customers, adding information as a new and differentiating feature, using data and developing a team that leverages internal processes and serves customers in any way possible. Although many organizations implement some of these components, few rely on IT professionals to build an extensive digital strategy from the ground-up.
Today's IT professionals are difference-makers in organizations around the globe. If IT professionals showcase the value they can provide to their respective organizations, they could become key influencers within their organizations.
"IT is a very important and functional part of the business," MacLennan noted. "We need to define and see ourselves as part of the business."
Project management often dictates IT's success. An IT team is tasked with taking a complex idea and transforming it into reality. With proper project management, IT teams ensure that an organization can achieve the best-possible results.
"A digital business will only succeed when it understands how to connect with people."
If an IT team uses a consistent project management process, it may be better equipped than ever before to set realistic expectations for its day-to-day efforts. Then, this team can help an organization set the right goals and effectively manage the time and resources at its disposal.
"There are many different flavors of the same basic project management process, and all project management follows the same basic process," MacLennan indicated. "With project management, you have an idea, you build it and you test it. But the number one thing you are doing … is managing expectations."
IT teams should establish checkpoints as they take an idea and try to implement it. There is no surefire way to make sure that all ideas will result in successful solutions. But IT professionals who plan ahead may reduce the risk of encountering problems when they test possible solutions, including those related to the voice of the customer.
"You need to plan the work and work the plan," MacLennan pointed out. "There are going to be some level of checkpoints … and there should be a process of validating your objectives."
Analyzing the voice of the customer is a top priority for many organizations. IT teams can help their respective organizations collect and review customer data. These teams also can help organizations automate customer data retrieval and evaluation.
"We want to figure out how to get the voice of the customer. We want to understand what our customers need and build a solution to support them."
Automation alone won't allow an organization to optimize the value of all customer data, at all times. Conversely, IT professionals must deploy simple-to-understand processes that help business departments make sense of structured and unstructured customer data sets. By doing so, IT professionals can minimize complexity and help their respective organizations realize the full value of customer data.
"It is easy to say that we're going to automate stuff, but we all know that automation is specific," MacLennan said. "You need to have a way to communicate that complexity."
IT professionals should focus on the voice of the customer in all that they do. If IT professionals deploy a customer-centric approach to their everyday operations, they help an organization bridge communication gaps with its clientele.
"We want to figure out how to get the voice of the customer. We want to understand what our customers need and build a solution to support them," MacLennan noted. "Listen to your customers and understand what they want and what they will pay for."
Understanding the voice of the customer requires an organization-wide effort, and IT professionals can drive this effort. As organizations search for ways to learn about their target audiences, IT teams can build successful data analysis strategies. As a result, IT teams offer organizations insights they need to understand all aspects of the customer journey.
James P. MacLennan is SVP and CIO at IDEX Corporation, a manufacturer that sells highly engineered products in a variety of markets worldwide. James has responsibility for Corporate IT services for IDEX’ portfolio of business units. He also drives innovation through initiatives that leverage Information and Technology as growth drivers for the industrial manufacturing space.
Jim has an Electrical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame, and a Marketing MBA from DePaul University. He regularly publishes his observations and insights on the intersection of business and technology - check out his work at www.cazh1.com.