The CIO and CMO to form dynamic partnership that will enable customer-led innovation in the future
By Carsten Bruhn, Executive Vice President, Commercial, Ricoh Europe
As the methods to gather customer insight for research and development continue to evolve, the CIO will play a key role in helping the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and the company move even closer to its customers. Traditionally customer opinion was gained through activities such as focus groups, feedback forms and telephone interviews and was viewed strictly as a marketing discipline. Today ideas for future products and services can be gained in huge volumes through online communities, social networks, loyalty schemes and personalised marketing.
Such changes are being driven by customers and employees who are more empowered than ever before by technology. By 2020 customers will be the main source of new product or service ideas, with online communities in second and R&D in third place. That is according to 30 per cent of business leaders across Financial Services, Education, Public Sector, IT and Manufacturing industries.*
This is in contrast to today’s perception where customers are the second main source of ideas and the R&D team is in first place . However, the main source of ideas for improvement of business processes will continue to be employees, with 34 per cent of business leaders placing them in the top spot and continuing to predict that this will still be the case by 2020.*
The volume of data generated is also predicted to increase by 40 per cent each year.** Already, approximately 293 billion emails*** are exchanged each day across the globe and companies with more than 1,000 employees store, on average, more data than is contained in the world’s largest library, the US Library of Congress, which has approximately 29 million books and currently holds 235 terabytes of data****. Yet this is still not the entire picture - large volumes of hard copy or paper information are still used as a part of a business’s critical processes, with 43 per cent of European organisations relying on manual processing for their business critical document transactions.^
Gartner’s U.S. dollar growth forecast for global IT spending in 2012 has been revised downward from 4.6% in the previous quarter to 3.7%^*, so significant business advantage can be gained through more collaboration between the CIO and CMO. As McKinsey found in its report, the rewards for better management of data are significant overall, with a prediction that a retailer, for example, could increase its operating margins by 60 per cent if it harnessed it to the full.
One essential action for the CIO and the CMO to support this new era of customer led innovation is to first streamline its information processes. By doing so, it can ensure that all customer feedback in both paper and digital format is easily collected, digitised and integrated into the business to be accessed by other divisions via a secure archive for business intelligence purposes.
Some of the technology required to do it is already inside almost every organisation today. Businesses have become used to multifunction devices that print, copy and scan documents. However, few are using these to their full potential or realise the central role these devices can play in building innovative information processes. By coupling Managed Document Services (a service that manages how information enters, travels through and exits an organisation) and the right software, these devices are transformed into a communication hub that connects to ERP systems, managing the information that is entered, stored, shared, and distributed inside and outside the organisation. They can digitise critical hard copy documents, transfer information directly to a central server or file, recognise text from documents to make them easy to search, and even convert them easily into different formats – for example from a pdf into an excel spreadsheet. Confidential data is secure, with the ability to trace, restrict or audit any changes or copies made.
The end result of this dynamic partnership combined with optimising the right technology and implementing integrated information processes is a winning combination of customer-led product innovation and employee-led process innovation. In addition, customers are influencing future products and organisations are better equipped to manage the increase in information. In turn, this will allow them to be more agile in responding to customer and market needs and focus on generating business value from the data, instead of worrying about information overload.
* Economist Intelligence Unit. Executive Summary - Frontiers of disruption: The next decade of technology in business. Sponsored by Ricoh. October 2011. www.ricoh-europe.com/thoughtleadership
** McKinsey Global Institute. Big Data: The Next Frontier for innovation, competition and productivity. May 2011.
*** http://royal.pingdom.com/2011/01/12/internet-2010-in-numbers - 107 trillion emails sent on the Internet in 2010. The share of emails that were spam was 89.1%.
**** McKinsey Quarterly, Are you ready for the era of big data? October 2011.
^ Coleman Parkes Research, The Ricoh Process Efficiency Index, June 2011
^* Gartner, Forecast Alert: IT Spending, Worldwide, 2008-2015, 4Q11 Update, Richard Gordon, 3 January 2012.