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Decision Brief

Shifting Customer Preferences and Organizational Agility

Hank Marquis, Global Knowledge Practice Director


I know cloud helps IT, but how can cloud computing help my business?


Customers demand mobile and social integrations. Companies must adapt or risk becoming irrelevant. Organizational agility means the ability to adapt swiftly to these changes. This brief examines how cloud (social, mobile, analytics) improves agility and what it means to your business.


The average lifespan of a company listed in the S&P 500 has decreased by more than 50 years in the last century, to just 15 years today1. Digital upstarts — those that leverage changing customer demographics and shifting customer preferences via social mobile and analytics — are taking customers from those that don’t and creating new business imperatives. Customer preferences today are all about being social while mobile. To remain competitive, businesses need to meet these new requirements with innovative and digitally personalized customer experiences that leverage location and social preferences. These same customers have been conditioned to provide their preference and location information willingly via mobile devices and social media. IT has to tap into this information and then lead the charge (with business sponsorship) to use digital technologies to maximize the value of IT investments and drive new business growth. Understanding how cloud features interlock to deliver organizational agility from social, mobile, and related analytics is critical to a successful cloud adoption and business success

1 According to Professor Richard Foster from Yale University

What You Need to Know:

Cloud computing has removed the previous barriers to entry that kept competitors out, allowing a pace of innovation never before seen. Established firms must also use cloud computing to meet these new customer requirements as follows.

  • Reduce IT complexity, allowing more focus on business outcomes and customer experience vs. the operational aspects of keeping systems functional. The sole purpose of IT is business process support. Making your cloud efforts focus on improving customer experience is the first step toward becoming agile.
  • Increase efficiency through improved asset utilization, aggregating demand and accelerating consolidation. These actions lead to improved productivity in development, engineering and operations. It also reduces administrative costs. Cloud frees resources to develop and deliver new digital business and process solutions.
  • Decrease time and cost to market by shifting IT funding from capital to expense budgets. Cloud provides emerging technologies and tools that further speed time to market. On-demand access to a large marketplace of metered cloud resources is the heart of agility.
  • Facilitate innovation by substantially lowering the cost of experimentation and failure risks. It opens the door to low-cost trials, pilots and other potentially high-yield approaches to new business requirements.

What You Need to Do:

To deliver digitally personalized customer experiences you need to drive your cloud efforts around marketing and related business process improvements, specifically toward customer preferences expressed via social media, mobility and location awareness.

  • Shoulder the responsibility for leading your team to focus on personalized customer experiences that leverage social/preferences and mobile/location-aware improvements.
  • Focus on understanding how social and mobile integrations and customizations can enhance or simplify your customer experiences. Examples include loyalty applications that remember your favorite hotel foods; or offer a free meal “on the house” if you lose at the gaming table.
  • Make sure that you also mine the preferences (social) and location (mobile) information generated by your products and customers. Use this data to drive marketing. Customers willingly provide this data. Collect it, analyze, look for patterns and empower marketing and sales and other business users to access this data. To do so you need to build this capability into your applications.
  • Stay in touch with your customers, peers and marketplace. Over time customize your features to your specific environment using the information mined from customers as well as non-customers in your marketplace.
  • Put in place a cloud-first policy if you haven’t already done so. See for information on the value and use of a cloud-first policy.
  • Look over your cloud plans. Be sure you're leveraging cloud computing’s features appropriately. Understand what these features are, how they produce benefits and why those benefits are good for your firm.
  • Look for where cloud features can facilitate the ease of adding or modifying business process capabilities, allowing your firm to respond quickly to opportunities and challenges in the marketplace.
  • Follow the approach in the decision brief "How to Confidently Decide to Adopt Cloud Computing."
  • Get going today, work with key non-IT business areas (sales, marketing, production, operations, etc.) to identify your marketplace and understand your customer social and mobile preferences and patterns. Follow these steps to develop and capture a strong return on agility.

Learn More:

For more information about how our training solutions can improve productivity, enhance efficiency and sharpen your competitive edge, visit Global Knowledge Organizational Solutions .