A Digital Strategy = A Customer Strategy

In his blog entry, “A Digital Strategy is a data strategy,” Neil Ward-Dutton argues that data is essential to any Digital Strategy. As a CMO, I couldn’t agree more. However, I would argue that while data is important, it is not the center of a digital strategy. Rather, I belive that a digital strategy starts—and ends—with the customer.

At its core, digital means putting the customer at the center of your business, while building processes and optimizing all interactions with them over the entire life of the relationship. During a panel at our recent PegaWORLD event, Jessica Kral, CIO of Medicare & Retirement at UnitedHealth Group, discussed how UHG realized a few years ago is that we weren’t really member-centric; “we were really putting our members in the middle. And if you think about being in the middle, that’s never something that people think is a good thing to be. And so we really changed our strategy and thought how can we put our members in the center of everything we do and how do we make sure we’re thinking from their perspective.”

I agree with Neil that that data is paramount to making fact based decisions which are focused on the customer and the customer journey. Jeff Bezos, CEO & Founder of Amazon, is known to be an analytics and data zealot, making fact based decisions using the latest technical and algorithmic approaches. He sees data as a requirement to make the best decisions for the customer. Yet, he knows the customer is key to the company and has said:

We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”

That focus on the customer within all facets of the organization has allowed Amazon to grow its portfolio – granted it was supported by data. By focusing on the customer, they also have great customer support and recommendations. In today’s world, a company needs:

  • Mobile to engage customers on all channels
  • Devices to integrate with life events
  • Social to drive collaboration and to hear what customers are saying
  • Analytics to anticipate customer needs
  • Process and automation to ensure every promise you make is fulfilled

Data provides the most seamless path to drive the most connected, contextual and customer centric behavior. Using data to support and address customer needs and requirements will ensure that your company is able to provide the type of service that will differentiate you from the competition. But data is simply a means to an end: an better experience for your customer. Your first step towards digital is realizing that you are building a customer-centric strategy which absolutely needs to start with the customer. A digital strategy is a customer strategy.