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Customers today wield more power and have a wider choice of vendors than ever. Organizations that persist in pushing an "inside out" perspective risk losing to those that articulate a clear customer-centric view, that is, from "outside in." Vendors must transform to meet new, rising customer expectations to remain relevant.

Tech vendors must transform for the era of digital business

I've observed a common theme in some vendor presentations: "Use our product or service as we are the best in class (or similar)." As tech budgets increasingly shift to line of business (LoB) leaders, my bet is that these vendors will struggle to be relevant to the customers they serve. Why? They didn't articulate how they were trying to solve a business problem, as opposed to a technical one.

Here's how vendors can better engage LoBs:

  • Be customer adaptive. A customer-adaptive enterprise is able to sense and respond rapidly to change, especially that which impacts customers' behaviors, wants, and needs. Vendors will become trusted advisors, for example, if they can help businesses grow their revenues. IBM's "Smarter Planet" campaign comes to mind.

  • Commit to, and drive, change. The leadership in vendor firms must attract and retain the right people, forge the right processes, and use the right tools to enable them to become customer adaptive. At heart is a customer-centric culture that permeates throughout the organization.

  • Enhance the customer experience. Vendors must continually enhance the customer experience. Rich customer data proffer new insights into what LoBs need. In the digital era, these insights become more critical for vendors to compete as suppliers. Service providers (SPs) could also become critical go-to-market channel partners, helping vendors fine-tune the customer experience.

Vendors and SPs that are customer adaptive will thrive in the era of digital business. Stay tuned as I further explore this in future reports.


Further reading

The Customer-Adaptive Imperative, IT0020-000091 (March 2015)

"Service providers must tune in to digital business transformation," TE0005-000826 (July 2016)

"If you are not customer-adaptive your survival is at risk," IT0020-000178 (February 2016)


Clement Teo, Principal Analyst, IT Services

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