October 23, 2014

Who is the new consumer and how do I get more customers?


The digital consumer has blurred the separation between the use of technology and customer behavior.  This is quite a powerful statement, yet very apparent for any organization that quickly continues to react to the ongoing demand for information. 

Within today’s business world, the digital consumer has become supreme, and marketing quickly adapts in unlocking the potential purchasing power.  Information Technology departments everywhere are forced to learn new skills and become proficient in new areas simply in order to support the business.

In the past, consumer power resided in where a purchaser chose to spend their almighty dollar.  Unless accompanied by a weekly flyer, there was no such thing as “price-match guarantees”.  If you wanted to pay a cheaper price, your choice was to shop around brick-and-mortar stores hoping you would find what you were looking for. 

The revolution did not occur overnight, however thanks to advancements of the Internet, as well as mobile technology, yesterday’s voiceless consumer has been granted the ability to provide product and service opinions to a very critical and captive audience.  Combine that with the ability to buy anything from anywhere in the world and now the purchasing public controls the outcome of a product or service rather than commercialism dictating what we can have and when.  This ideology is backed up by Forrester who published in 2000, 12% of all airline tickets where purchased online.  In 2013, this had increased to 62%. 

Companies and enterprises have recognized this shift in power, but embracing it is another thing.  The key issue at hand in order to do so, is the massive technology requirements driven by eCommerce, customer analytics, marketing automation, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, and of course, mobile technology.

“By 2017, nearly a third of all US corporate and government tech purchases will be business technology.  Spending will rise by 10 percent or more per year, and business technology will compromise over half of new product purchases in 2015.  In contrast, traditional IT spending will grow by only 2 percent to 4 percent per year through 2017.” – Forrester

So what is the end result for companies?

Simply put, marketing and technology departments need to work more closely together.  Enterprise technology must remain within the IT Department but without close consultation with marketing or communications departments, they will never completely understand customer behavior and how customers use technology.  Furthermore, CIO’s and IT Directors alike need to help the enterprise change the way they think about technology.  IT can no longer be seen as a cost centre, or a means of which to simply conduct business.  The paradigm shift now needs to focus on a customer first, top-down approach, where the associated cost is a direct result of doing, and improving, business.  Not an easy task by any means.  Essentially CIOs and IT Directors need to build a business technology agenda for the organization, and have it accepted.  To become and remain successful, organizations will quickly realize this new approach.  The enabled consumer is dictating this new methodology.  Organizations will quickly see the returns in better sales, once technology leaders are a part of the corporate solution.  Today, software and mobile technology is not simply one method of doing business.  It is your business.

I’m Mike M.