The New Reality for Customer Engagement
The single most critical practice is to coordinate demand for new and enhanced business capabilities via a well defined, well understood and consistently employed demand management process.
Many requests for new or enhanced business capabilities have common or overlapping solution elements, but CIOs only discover these commonalities if they can analyze enough of the aggregate demand to see the patterns. One of the best practices here is to be proactive--to get out into the business and talk to business managers about what they need, and in the language they use.
This isn't always easy (IT isn't always welcome), but it's essential to get a broad picture of what the business needs, immediately and in the long term, across as may functional areas as possible. That way CIOs avoid or at least minimize solving problems or providing solutions in silos, and they get opportunities to leverage the solutions they provide or plan to provide to other business users.
In addition to talking to business managers, CIOs should seek out information about business strategy and desired business outcomes to get a high-level picture of business goals. That will help assess priorities and, therefore, allocate resources effectively.
Competitive intelligence is another rich source of ideas to take to the business, because it uncovers the capabilities a business's rivals think are important enough to invest in. It's often easier for IT to gather and analyze this kind of information than it is for the business. That's because technology vendors often talk openly with their customers about the projects they're doing at other companies, and even though they don't usually say explicitly what technologies are being implemented or why, savvy CIOs can often make good guesses.
Another best practice is to assess the demand for new or improved business capabilities that could be based on emerging or established but not yet widely deployed technologies. However, it's important not to jump straight to technical solutions, which is too often what technologists do.
It's better to understand what capabilities are needed and only then look at solution options. So, for instance, business executives who want to know which employees are in the office and whether each person is busy at any given time want presence and identity services, though they may have never even heard of such services or understand the terms that technologists use to describe them.
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