Do Something Unique
Again, the question that I would ask an IT executive is this: Show me something in your strategy that will create something unique and give your company an industry advantage. Right now, CIOs all go to the same conferences, they all read the same magazines, they're all trading war stories, and that's fine, but it's bad for innovation. Shut up sometimes and don't share everything. Keep to yourself that completely unique thing that you're going to do. And know this: In an industry where strategies are largely undifferentiated, price becomes the only mechanism for competition. Any efficiency gain that a rival ekes out, then, will be devoted to lowering prices as a mechanism for keeping customers.
Which brings me full circle: CIOs need to help justify rising prices. They need to create customer value. We need to get the customer back in the middle of our discussions about e-commerce, and not in the sense of whether or not we're going to allow them to go online to check the status of their order. You get no points for doing that, everybody's going to do that. That's turning on the lights every morning. The big challenge is this: Do you have any insights that are deep enough in the customer experience that will enable your company to use IT in a completely unique way?
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