As companies look to propel forward in the midst of a tidal wave of globalization and digitalization opportunity, C-suite executives are seeing their roles widen, often with a focus much larger than perhaps even their title suggests. We discussed this a few weeks ago when we highlighted the evolving position of the CIO, and how a more widespread and connected enterprise means that in addition to keeping the IT systems up and running for all personnel, this role now encompasses managing an ever-growing network of endpoints, and making sure that data access is consistently maintained.
In a similar vein, the responsibilities and challenges facing the CEO are likewise growing every day, with a spotlight on cultivating a more superior customer relationship and brand image—initiatives that take center stage, even over maintaining the bottom line.
In fact, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ January 2016 CEO Survey “Redefining Business Success in a Changing World” which surveyed 1,409 CEOs in 83 countries, 76 percent of global CEOs define business success by more than just financial profit. At the top of their list: figuring out how to properly leverage the tools at their disposal to give customers want they want. The survey states, “At the top of CEOs’ minds is the use of technology to better interpret the complex and evolving needs of customers in order to better engage with them.” Some of the top ways they’re looking to meet this challenge: Investing in data and analytics, and leveraging proven CRM systems capable of giving them the stakeholder engagement they need.
Learning the Audience: How CRM Delivers on Engagement Opportunity
You can’t help or be of service to your audience if you don’t know what they need in the first place, and being available and receptive to their needs is the chief way to win their business. Yet, while this is easy to say, it can prove much more difficult in practice. In fact, nearly a quarter (24 percent) of CEOs surveyed by PwC indicate that they don’t have enough information about what their customers or other stakeholders want, and another recent PwC survey found that 63 percent of global operations leaders cite “understanding what customers value” as a top-three challenge.
To extract and manage these insights, leading CEOs look toward data and analytics (used by 68 percent of respondents to PwC’s January CEO survey), and 65 percent depend on their CRM systems to help them identify and organize the data they need. According to the survey, these technologies led the way significantly in terms of generating the greatest return for engagement, beating out R&D and innovation, which came in third at 53 percent, social media communications (50 percent) web-enabled collaboration tools (44 percent), and online reporting technologies (33 percent).
Moving Forward: Making the Change and Meeting Expectations
PwC notes that while technology investment plays a critical role in a company’s innovation, it must be met with an equal commitment to an overall business model change. According to the CEO survey, the top area in which CEOs are making significant changes to meet stakeholder expectation is by examining how they use technology to assess and deliver on those expectations (referenced by 51 percent as a “significant change” and by 39 percent as “some change”). This goal came in before defining and managing risks, managing their brand, and determining potential partnerships (cited as a “significant change” by 49 percent, 48 and 34 percent, respectively).
Thus, keeping the customer front and center is a longstanding CEO initiative that will only grow stronger in 2016 and beyond, and one that, when met, will undoubtedly lead to greater change in other areas of corporate control—from risk mitigation to supply chain management. With the support of a proven CRM system, the first step is already in place, and it’s easier than ever to create an incredible journey—for both the customer and your business.
“Redefining Business Success in a Changing World”, PricewaterhouseCoopers, January 2016, p. 1, 20-21.
“Reimagining Operations: PWC’s 2015 Global Operations Survey,” PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2015, p.3.