Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Turbulence is the new constant: Expect and embrace change

IBM just released a sneak peak of the 2008 CEO study based on 1,130 interviews with CEOs of leading companies around the world. The goal of the study is to understand what’s on CEO’s minds, where they are investing, and what the enterprise of the future will look like. This global survey provides invaluable insight market that we can draw some strong conclusions from.

The common theme is that turbulence is the new constant. Coping with change is nothing new. What's different is the head-spinning rate of change today and the fact that it's coming from so many different quarters. In 2004, CEOs worried about market factors. In 2008, while the market still dominates the agenda, executives now face additional socioeconomic, geopolitical and environmental challenges including people skills, technology advances and environmental concerns.

48% of survey respondents indicate that market factors have had the most significant impact to their organization. CEOs around the world realize that the key to success in these rapidly changing markets is to listen to and collaborate with their customers. “These new—and existing consumers—are more demanding and knowledgeable than ever. With the billion-user Internet, customers can broadcast their opinions about a product. They can link up with like-minded consumer groups and sway public opinion, not to mention company behavior.”

This is the intersection of customer centric commerce and corporate strategy. The web provides ample opportunity to solicit customer input and even amplify and extend that input. I was first a bit skeptical when read Kelly Mooney’s book The OPEN Brand. Let me clarify this… I’m a huge fan of Kelly’s and firmly believe in the power of active participation and the “iCitizen”. The piece that I was skeptical about was the depth that companies would invite customers into the design and branding processes. I didn’t think today’s brand managers would evolve into brand shepherds enabling customers to define the brand experience. This skepticism was fueled by companies’ resistance to change, lack of executive support, and the inability to put the systems and processes in place to embrace today’s customers. The CEO study proved me wrong.

The only way this will happen is top-down. The key takeaway from the CEO study is that customer centric strategies are recognized as critical to success and are being driven from the top. This promises many new innovations in customer centric strategies and an accelerated innovation of the way brands evolve and present themselves. I look forward to receiving my hard copy of the study once available later this month (
register here for your own copy)


add said...

Getting customer survey to share their insights has long been a challenge for companies. Surveys can be intrusive and time-consuming to administer while market research panels are expensive to organize and do not provide the immediacy required by the real-time economy.

Anonymous said...

Did Obama take part in this interview?

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