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Embracing the Internet of Customers - Relevance to Corporate IT

Embracing the Internet of Customers - Relevance to Corporate IT

One of the key benefits of talking about the “Internet of Customers” rather than the  “Internet of Things” is that it helps us shift focus from devices to people, and specifically to customers. I was struck by how impactful the simple act of putting in a presentation a picture of an actual customer - sounds simple but just the visual of a customer changes people’s thought process and reaction.

As an experiment, for your next large business/IT program kick-off, on the first program slide start with an actual picture of the program’s “customer”. It’s amazing what an effect it has when you remind people that it’s all about the customers versus starting with the classic program ‘Goals and Objectives’ slide.

That’s the beauty of The Internet of Customers. It isn’t just a simple word change. The Internet of Customers reminds us that everything we do is designed to benefit our customers - ultimately we are all trying to better connect with our customers. This means interacting with them in ways that THEY choose, not the ways WE choose.

The Internet of Customers is made up of customers who are using Social and who are in effect saying “LISTEN TO ME!”. It’s made up of customers who are using Mobile who are in effect saying “ENABLE ME!”. It’s made up of customers who are using Cloud who are in effect saying “ACCELERATE ME!”.

I remember back when certain companies only supported Microsoft IE browser - not because that was the only browser being used, but because it was easier for the companies to support only one browser. The obvious question would be “what exactly is the message that you are sending to your customers who want to interact using other browsers?”. Are you connecting with customers in the ways THEY choose or the ways YOU choose?

There is an analogous situation happening today with respect to “connecting with customers”, except now the number of permutations of “how” a customer wants to engage has exploded. For example, browers (Firefox, IE, Chrome and Safari), operating systems(various flavors of Windows and MacOS), devices (laptops, tablets, smart phones, wearable devices), media/content (photos, graphics, video, text). Some people like to chat, some like phone calls, some like texts, some like tweets, some like to use post & comment solutions, etc.

A true “Customer Company” requires corporate IT to step up and enable social and mobile connections for customers. In my opinion, this is very much about changing people’s mindset and less so about technology. The corporate IT organization needs to understand the business more than ever before; they need to understand how Sales, Marketing, Support, Finance, Legal, HR, etc are all trying to change to support this shift to become a Customer Company.

But probably most important is that corporate IT needs to understand and embrace the Internet of Customers and how customers want to connect. Corporate IT needs to proactively recommend options to their business partners to enable this operational transformation. The IT organization that fights these changes, does so at their peril… and the peril of their company.

As a company, becoming a “Customer Company” changes the classic approaches. It puts Connected Customers front and center. It drives an attitude that you will make them the centerpiece of your focus.

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