Can A CIO Make The Company More Successful By Sharing?

Sharing company data with customers can grow the business
Sharing company data with customers can grow the business
Image Credit: ryancr

As the person with the CIO job, you are sitting on a mountain of data about your company’s customers. Every time they purchase your product, call your support department, or even just visit your website because you understand the importance of information technology you collect more and more data about them and about what they are looking for. If your company is like most companies, then your marketing department attempts to use this data to create marketing programs that will connect with your customers. However, is there something more that could be done with all of that data?

Tell Your Customers What They Don’t Know

Let’s face it, as the person in the CIO position you know that there is a whole world of problems when it comes to using the customer data that your company has collected. On one hand you believe that your customer data contains valuable insights that your competition would love to get their hands on if your aren’t careful. Likewise, there are the ever present security concerns with too much detail on your customers somehow slipping out the doors. However, at the same time we need to realize that all of this customer data may hold value for our customers.

What your company wants to do is to find ways to distinguish itself from the other firms in its industry. In order to accomplish this, one thing that they can do is to allow customers to access their own personal data in innovative ways that provide customers with more value when they buy your company’s products. A great example of this would be the cable company that could tell me how much of what shows each of the members of my family have been watching. If I discovered that my kids had been watching too many hours of television, then I would have something to talk with them about.

As you can well imagine, when I started talking with my children about their excessive television watching habit, they are going to push back and tell me that “everyone does it”. Once again, this is where the cable company could provide me with valuable information by telling me how many hours of television families that are similar to mine watch on average. That might shorten my conversation with my kids! Another area where company data could be shared with me would be in regards to my food shopping. Right now I use a rewards card when I shop for food and I get the occasional discount. Wouldn’t it be nice if the grocery store could send me an email and let me know that my milk was probably just about used up and that the bananas that I bought last weekend had another day before they would start to go bad?

It’s All About Aggregate Data

Getting personalize data is great, but as CIO you know that there is a lot more that your company can do. Specifically, the data that the company has collected has a value in aggregate. Each of your customers would be interested in what you have to tell them about all of your customers who are using the same products. This information can be communicated in infographics, blog posts, press releases, and even reports. In all honesty, getting this kind of information would be much more interesting than the traditional marketing material that companies send to their customers.

As an example of how this could be done, if you were streaming movies from an online movie company, they might generally tell you what movies are currently popular. However, you’d be much more interested in what movies you might be interested in. The company could tell you what their customers who are your age are currently watching. If the company has a rating system for the movies that are watched, you could get even more information about what people just like you like to watch. By using the IT department you can create this kind of information that can be used by the marketing department.

The important point for CIOs to understand is that we go to a lot of effort to acquire, maintain, and secure all of the customer related data that the company is collecting every day. Just sitting on this data will not do the company any good, what we need to do is to find different ways that the data can be used in order to help the company build a deeper relationship with their customers. No matter if we use it to create personalized messages or use the data in aggregate, there is value in the data. By carefully sharing customer data, we can help the company to attract new customers while at the same time offering more value to the customers that we already have.

What All Of This Means For You

One of the major tasks that every CIO is responsible for is managing the company’s customer data. All too often we manage this data and only allow the company’s marketing department to access it occasionally in order to create marketing material. Since we spend so much of our time and IT budget on storing and securing this data, perhaps we should find ways to get better use out of it.

One way to go about extracting more value from the data that your company is storing on its customers is to start to share that data with your customers. There are a number of different ways to go about doing this, but providing personalized usage information is one of them. You know when and how your customers are using your product and you can offer them suggestions on how to get more out of your product by changing how they use the product. Additionally, you can aggregate the data and share with customers information on how other people are using the product. This can show them things that they can do with the product that they may not have thought of.

As the company’s CIO you are required to provide storage and security for the company’s customer data. Since you are spending the money to manage your customer data, you should also be looking for ways to maximize the value of that data. Creating customized contact with your customers or aggregated marketing material will start to get value out of all of the data that you have. Start to use your data to move the company forward today!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that you should start to use all of the data that you have stored or just start things off with a small experiment?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Ah, the process of getting older. Each one of us is doing this every day and, with a little luck, we really don’t spent all that much time thinking about it. However, with increasing age comes more time for us to think about all of the things that have happened to us during our lives. We start to review our lives and there’s a very good chance we might not like everything that we see. What’s the person with the CIO job to do?