The role of the CIO in today’s digital age has changed dramatically. When the job title was first created, its main objectives were to keep all systems up and running, to keep insider information from getting out and viruses from getting in. As the use of technology in B2B businesses has expanded and evolved, so has the CIO’s role in leading digital transformation.
Whether a company veteran or a new member of the team, the CIO should prioritize strategies that best serve the needs and future success of the organization in the ever-changing B2B digital landscape:
- Ensure a holistic view of the customer. Traditionally, CIOs expended most of their energies on supporting the functionality of back-end office systems. The shift towards online commerce adds another layer of complexity to managing the customer experience, which is now in the hands of the CIO.
CIOs must now serve as the link to connect digital content with their organization, and prioritize technologies that help share and break down the customer data for each particular function of the organization. Whether it is the sales team wanting buyer preference insights or the marketing team looking for traffic conversion rate comparisons, CIOs should employ commerce technology that enables shared insights across the entire organization.
- Realize immediate results. It is no longer necessary to wait a year or more to bring a commerce system to market. In fact, implementation of a CRM-based SaaS commerce solution can occur in just a few short months, versus the year or longer it typically takes to deploy an on-premise ERP-based commerce system. Why wait to see measurable performance gains when a business can see returns on the investment almost immediately with a CRM-based commerce solution?
- Embrace innovation through SaaS. In order to stay competitive in an increasingly digital commerce environment, CIOs must adapt from the traditional, on-premise system approach to cloud-based commerce, or risk losing market share. Today, forward-thinking CIOs are choosing agile, scalable software as a service (SaaS) platforms instead of clunky, inflexible and outdated systems that prevent a company from addressing the changing needs of the industry. They must reinvest essential time and resources into SaaS platforms built on the cloud that allow quick deployment, easy iteration based on customer feedback, and personalization based on customer needs.
That said, innovation doesn’t have to break the bank. When it comes to choosing a solution, the most expensive options aren’t always the best. Whether in the Consumer Goods, manufacturing, or distribution industry, SaaS systems give a business a cost-effective solution that will enable it to be a leading digital performer.
- Put the customer first. B2B buyers have come to expect the same seamless buying experience they get as consumers. They won’t respond well to a commerce site if it is hard to navigate and doesn’t address their complex, industry-specific buying needs, such as mobile access, advanced pricing and storefront management options.
Traditional on-premise systems can take more than a year to update features and functions, requiring heavy coding and customization. By the time these systems are updated, it may be for nothing — some customers have likely already moved on to a competitor that was able to fulfill their needs sooner. On premise system are also not architected with modern technology. SaaS solutions value configuration or “clicks” versus customizations or “code”.
Choosing a SaaS-based platform instead allows for much quicker reaction time and makes it easy to customize and automate ordering and other customer-facing capabilities on the front end. Some SaaS-based digital commerce platform providers even offer “guided selling” where the internal team can personalize complex products and services in the platform without the need for back-office technical knowledge or the assistance of a support team from the platform provider.
A CIO with these priorities will allow an organization to reach its full potential. Through the support of an agile, scalable SaaS platform, not only will the organization have better insight into the needs of the customer, but it will also be better able to improve revenue and productivity. With this approach to digital innovation, a CIO can shape an organization from the inside out and always stay a step ahead of the competition.
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