Customer Engagement starts when business and IT collaborate
Personalisation, a uniform customer experience based on a single version of the truth, and a connected business are three prerequisites to optimising the customer experience. To achieve that goal, you must take – and maintain – control over all related systems. Doing so requires processes and IT systems that ‘communicate’ with one another, as well as an organisation in which teams collaborate and processes are streamlined.

Business and IT alignment

The idea of business and IT alignment is not new, and still there aren’t many companies that manage to achieve it. IT staff complain about an overload of requests from the business and don’t appreciate it when the business side purchases IT solutions on its own initiative, which it then expects IT to integrate. Business personnel, for their part, are under the impression that their colleagues from IT lack creativity, proactivity and speed as a result. 

 

How do you bring business and IT closer together?
It all boils down to the fact that business and IT have to work better together to make a customer engagement approach more successful. IT doesn’t have to wait for questions, and can instead look proactively at how other companies are solving problems. Their foci are the needs of the customers and the company’s strategic objectives.
 
The business, from their part, must understand that IT can be an enabler vs. merely a cost. A great integration will positively impact flexibility and time to market in different ways:
 
  • If you want to focus on the customers, customer journey mapping is a useful tool: bring all the stakeholders together and visualise every step your customers take – from orientation to purchasing and after-sales. This can be useful for determining the strategy, but also for identifying new products and services and outlining their development paths. Design thinking will then help you determine the best way forward in making a new idea into a viable product that suits both the IT and the business sides.
  • Another approach is business model canvassing, which implies looking for new business models: you map the link between your core activities, the characteristics of your target group, the value that you offer the different segments, your strategic partners, the cost structure, income flows and the available channels. In this way, you’ll discover where the company falls short or could offer added value and spot opportunities that have not been fully exploited yet.

Value Management Lifecycle
Whichever approach you choose you’ll gain new insights that are not merely IT- or business-driven. The customer strategy will lead to a vision, after which you can plot best practices and next steps related to transforming the organisation and its processes. You can then translate these solutions into the value they bring to IT and the business – the Value Management Lifecycle. You will continuously ask yourself if there are links, how you can optimally align IT projects, if there’s a business case and what your return is.
 
Business and IT alignment leads to added value in every organisation, not least in the field of customer engagement, which is very dependent on change. So, it is important to be able to swiftly respond to what competitors do or what the market demands. Pinpoint the most pressing pain points and work on addressing them together with all the stakeholders. Doing so will enhance the innovative power and resilience of the company, and will, in the end, ensure an excellent customer experience.