The traditional business model to date has been an IT department serving a group of internal customers, and the rest of the business focusing on serving the external customers. This model usually involved the IT department dictating what technologies the employees had to use to get their jobs done.
The model is changing. Factors like pricing and the product lines a company offers are becoming less important than the customer’s experience with the company. Today’s customers are much more informed and knowledgeable about the products they are shopping for and are taking charge of the experience they achieve with the companies they do business with. This is forcing IT to evolve, moving its focus from the internal customers to the external. The new model involves IT blending in with the company as a whole.
Shifting the Focus of IT
In many businesses, IT is integrating into other functions and departments around the organization. For instance, instead of a dedicated IT staff whose job is procuring and maintaining technology, there are tech workers integrated into the marketing and sales departments, operations, finance, human resources, etc. These workers help determine what technologies best meet the needs of the organizations — particularly as it serves the end customers.
The goal of IT is to service the customer, and the technology isn’t the end goal any longer. One retail chain has seen a 15 to 20 percent improvement in their daily sales due to this newly shifted focus. By placing large touchscreen interfaces in their retail stores offering products beyond what is stocked on shelves and racks in the physical stores, customers are able to get a more complete shopping experience.
Shifting the Operations of IT
In other organizations, the IT workers are hired based on their ability and attitude towards customer service, not just because they have the technical skills required to work the IT help desk. IT is no longer just a command and control center, it is an important means by which the company serves its customers.
One airline has completely done away with its customer check-in process. Management determined that this process offered no value to their customers. Instead of arriving at the airport and having to stand in a long line answering dumb questions, customers of this airline get to the airport and board their plane. The check-in process is handled before customers even arrive.
IT achieved this by shifting their focus from what the airline wanted or needed out of the transaction toward what the customer wanted and needed. It resulted in a better process for everyone, and a drastic improvement in customer service levels.
By the year 2020, the most important factor in a customer’s decision to buy (or not to buy) from a particular brand will be their shopping and buying experience. Can your IT service desk shift focus off the buying process onto the customer experience in order to remain competitive?