Five Habits of Highly Successful Digital Companies

By Samuel Greengard

Here are five habits of organizations that are thriving in today’s digital business environment:

Know thy customer. In an era of cookies, web beacons, databases, social listening, surveillance cameras and more, it’s laughable that so many companies—retailers are among the worst culprits—can figure out who I really am. Knowing who I am means having some serious smarts about what I buy, when I buy and how I buy. It means serving up web pages that are at least semi-customized to my preferences, a la Amazon, and sending out marketing e-mails that land somewhere in the universe of things I would consider. If I’m a male, this probably doesn’t mean skirts and blouses.

Build a single app that does it all. Too many companies have somehow accumulated multiple apps for handling different tasks. News flash! This is a total pain for your customers! Get the CMO, vice president of operations and everyone else together for a meeting and figure out how to integrate all your customer-facing activities—marketing, product database, sales, returns and loyalty program—into one streamlined app. The best example today is Starbucks.

Integrate multiple channels. Today, CIOs must work with other business leaders to tie together departments, services and disparate systems. It’s increasingly critical that functionality and workflows extend across departments and devices—within an enterprise and out to customers. This means plugging in cloud offerings, APIs, responsive design techniques and more to weave together a seamless framework for customer interactions across digital devices.

Provide information electronically. It’s remarkable how few retailers, health-care providers and others send out product information, documents and receipts via e-mail or make them available through a Website or app. Despite excellent e-signature solutions, such as Adobe’s EchoSign and DocuSign, many continue to push out paper. Electronic interactions are faster, cheaper and far more efficient for everyone involved. At the very least, they should be an option for customers.

Reward customers for their loyalty. I’m constantly amazed that so many companies consistently treat their best customers worse than their worst customers. Need proof? You subscribe to cable TV for five years and pay more than the person who just cashed in on a new subscriber promotion. Only when you threaten to cancel do you see any discounts. How about rewarding long-term customers with perks, deductions or added features? Big data and analytics are your friend in this endeavor.

Do you know any other ways that digital companies and CIOs get it right? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments.

About the Author

Samuel Greengard is a contributing writer for CIO Insight. To read his previous CIO Insight blog post, “Are You a Digital CIO?”, click here.

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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