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4 Trends on CIOs' Minds in 2016

— As we near the end of 2016, a few digital consumer trends remain at the forefront of CIOs' biggest concerns. An in-depth look at these trends can help us understand where the trends might lead going into 2017.

By Clint Patterson
Posted: September 06, 2016

men evaluating digital business trends

Today’s world is a competitive one. Companies battle for consumers' attention, mindshare, loyalty, dollars, and data. The ongoing challenge of growing and retaining customers is a difficult one that keeps CIOs awake at night.

Nearly every part of our lives are digitally connected which provides both challenges and opportunities for organizations trying to reach consumers. Organizations that can mine data, gain insight from it, and use that insight to serve up highly personalized experiences, in context, lead the way in the market. Everyone else has to play catch-up or become irrelevant over time.

The constant pace of change, the vast amounts of data that need to be translated into actionable insights, and the high expectations of customers would be enough to keep anyone in a leadership role awake at night.

Below are a few trends that are on the minds of CIO’s as we near the end of 2016.

Connected Experiences & Complex Back-End Integrations

The Age of the Customer brings high expectations for organizations to provide more connected and contextualized experiences than ever before. 

Translation: whether a consumer is using a website on a desktop, mobile app, smart device, wearable, or even switching between any of those devices, they expect companies to be aware of their specific context and be right there with them providing tailored experiences. 

From the consumer’s perspective the experiences are easy and fluid, but from the organization’s perspective providing these seamless experiences is quite complex. Connecting and integrating these systems requires expertise and time.

A recent Forrester report quoted:

 “Early digital strategies typically focused on creating new and better bolt-on digital experiences — from websites and mobile apps to smart devices and wearables. But as experiences become more contextualized and connected, they demand new operational back-end processes — what Forrester calls the customer experience ecosystem. In 2016, CEOs will align their digital strategies across multiple functions, which, besides marketing and technology, will also include logistics, manufacturing, and human resources” (Source: Forrester, "Predictions 2016: The New Breed of CIO")

Focus on the “new operational back-end processes” portion of that quote. For experiences to be seamless, data has to be free flowing between multiple systems and applications. Those back-end processes often need planning, strategy, and technical prowess to successfully integrate. These are the type of adjustments organizations have to make to stay relevant simply because of elevated customer expectations.

Security to the Forefront

Digital consumers are providing more and more data to organizations who provide these contextualized and personalized experiences. Security is always important, but with vast amounts of user data on hand, security is critical for sustained success.

Remember the Target security breach from 2013? Target is now paying out over 10 million dollars in damages, and that’s only the financial aspect of the breach. Perhaps the loss of trust may cost even more in the long run. Another memorable hacking example was at Sony. The Sony data breach of 2014 cost the company tens of millions of dollars, public embarrassment, and cost a few of the top executives their jobs.

It goes without saying that data breaches are of great concern.  

The same Forrester report noted:

“As companies drive investments into digital, they expose their brands to much greater risk of failure. In response to wave after wave of hacking scandals, boards of directors will finally learn that security is their responsibility. Nothing erodes shareholder value as quickly as exposure of personal customer data as a result of criminal hacking. 

In 2016, top management will require all business departments to provide extensive documentation of their risk management approach with a clear definition of personal accountabilities as part of their digitized business strategies.”

If a company gets hacked, consumers and the market lose faith. In short, security breaches can equal stock price decreases and as such, discussions about security have found their way into the boardroom. Security concerns can easily keep you awake at night.

Customer Obsession: The New Norm

Plain and simply put, organizations that will thrive are the ones that become obsessed over every detail of the customer journey. Time spent architecting customer experiences is time well invested. 

At Arrow, we spend lots of time getting to know our clients business models, their consumer’s motivations, and the experiences they hope to create. This requires time and research but is well worth it.
  

The Forrester report referenced earlier also noted, “CIOs who get customer experience are the heroes of digital transformations — while other CIOs watch,” and they predict that “the Customer-Obsessed CIO will become the norm in 2016.”  

Moving to the Cloud

The cloud is becoming synonymous with speed, reliability, redundancy, auto-scaling, connected systems, and lower costs. The cloud provides several advantages and every year more and more services, customers, and organizations are relying on the cloud for their systems and operations.

When companies couple the cloud with connected devices, they create “ubiquitous, continuous, and expeditious experiences” (Source: Forrester, "Four Things that Cloud Companies Know About Customer Experience" )

Consider some of the leading and disruptive companies that are leveraging the cloud to provide these type experiences. Companies like Amazon, Dropbox, Uber, and Airbnb just to name a few are providing consumers with these new experiences because they are leveraging the cloud.

The new experiences equal new expectations from consumers and as such, the transition to the cloud is another trend that is on the minds of CIOs.

We Help Ease CIO’s Fears

Are you a CIO who has these trends on your mind? Creating connected experiences is our specialty! We’ve architected complex system integrations that create great experiences for customers. Contact us for more info. We’d love to learn about your upcoming projects.