Anticipate Your Customers' Future Desires

CIOs need to gather meaningful customer data and turn it into business intelligence that informs our future business decisions.

mobile phone usage

By Larry Bonfante

I often ask my coaching clients if they would consider driving their car while focused on staring at the rear-view mirror. Of course, they quickly realize this behavior is a recipe for disaster, with the most likely outcome being an automotive accident in their near future. However, many organizations look at data analytics and business intelligence in just this manner. I am reminded of the warning provided by most U.S. investment houses that past returns are not an indication of future success!

What we need to do is gather meaningful data and turn it into business intelligence that informs our future decisions. What trends are we seeing? What patterns of behavior are our customers exhibiting? Perhaps most importantly, who are the prospects that seem to fit the profile of the type of people who we think would value and benefit from our products and services? We also need to understand what types of opportunities these people seem to gravitate toward so we can tailor our future offerings to what the market most values.

We also need to drive toward a deeper level of individual engagement with our customers by understanding what makes them tick and personalizing their engagement with us. Think of examples such as Amazon’s approach to "customers who purchase the Best of Cream also bought Crossroads by Eric Clapton" or Netflix's recommendations of films you may enjoy based on what you have already watched and how highly you rated these movies.

Netflix, as a matter of fact, has taken this approach to the next logical step. Having identified audiences for certain genres of entertainment, they have started to produce content to fill these needs. Take, for instance, House of Cards with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. It is a perfect example of how we should be leveraging customer data to identify consumers' interests and using this information to provide products that address these desires.

So, the next time your management asks you to track who did what on a dashboard, remind them that this information is of limited business value if you use it to only track how your current offerings are faring in the marketplace. As the old quote says, "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it!"

About the Author

Larry Bonfante is a practicing CIO and founder of CIO Bench Coach, LLC, an executive coaching practice for IT executives. He is also the author of Lessons in IT Transformation, published by John Wiley & Sons. He can be reached at Larry@CIOBenchCoach.com.

To read his previous CIO Insight article, "Why Flexible Work Arrangements Rule," click here.

This article was originally published on 08-05-2014
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