How IT can gain more influence over CX tech

IT managers have less control over acquiring and utilizing customer experience technologies than they might think (or than they perhaps enjoyed in the past) , says a Gartner analyst. Here’s how they can make their voices heard on CX decisions.

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You probably won’t be surprised to see the types of IT tools that made Gartner’s latest list of top 10 strategic technologies for the customer experience.

What may surprise you, however, is how little influence today’s IT department has on acquiring and using those tools in enterprise organizations.

Ed Thompson, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, compiled the top 10 list by asking 189 CX managers which technologies have the most impact on their organization’s CX metrics, how often they use the technologies and how broadly they apply them across their organization. He presented the list during a recent webcast, ranking these technologies:

  1. voice of the customer
  2. business process management
  3. multichannel customer service
  4. customer analytics
  5. master data management
  6. content management
  7. personalization
  8. UX design tools and platforms
  9. loyalty management
  10. privacy management
  11. sales force automation

The inclusion of 11 things on a top 10 list was, admittedly, unexpected. What I found even more striking, though, was a suggestion Thompson made later on.

He argued that IT managers today have less control over acquiring and utilizing CX technologies than they might think (or than they perhaps enjoyed in the past). Take budget control over CX tech spending, for example.

“Who has the money for spending on these CX technologies?” Thompson asked. “What you’ll find is often marketing (departments have) a disproportionate impact on CX spending” compared with IT departments, he said.

Among the 189 organizations Thompson surveyed, the marketing department had the most control over CX tech spending, followed by the customer service department in second place and the sales division in third. Where was IT? It didn’t even make the top five, landing in sixth spot.

The reality for today’s IT managers, Thompson said, is that when it comes to CX spending “it’s not likely to be your budget.”

The idea that line-of-business (LOB) units are gaining more control over IT spending and strategy isn’t entirely new. But it was still interesting to see how the trend is playing out in an area of IT as specific as customer experience technology.

Besides internal LOB units, IT managers also have to compete with external players for influence over CX technology decisions, Thompson added.

His research found that when enterprises want to improve their CX technology, IT departments are still the first place they turn to. But his data also suggest that external players — outside IT vendors and contractors such as systems integrators, digital marketing agencies, UX firms and various consultants — are nipping at IT’s heels.

While internal IT departments were the first choice of 52 per cent of the surveyed enterprises, systems and applications integrators were close behind with 48 per cent. So were digital marketing agencies (in third place, chosen by 47 per cent) and strategic business consultants (in fourth place with 46 per cent).

If IT’s influence over CX tech strategy and spending is shrinking, how can IT managers make their voices heard on such decisions within their own organizations? Thompson offered up a few tips for them.

Don’t just look at what CX projects are already in place and how their impact is measured, he said. Find out specifically who’s running them, too. Once you know who’s in charge of overall customer experience at your organization, “get to know (them) well,” Thompson recommended. Finally, he urged IT managers to “make IT part of the CX leadership council” at their organization, if one exists.

For today’s IT managers, maybe it’s not “what you know” about customer experience technology that matters most. Maybe it’s “who you know” and, more importantly, knowing how much power those people really have to make your opinion count.

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

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