First in a two-part series.

At the recent MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, customer experience figured prominently into the agenda. In the opening panel, Peter Weill, chairman of the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research, highlighted the importance of customer experience in the future of the digital economy.

Customer experience has also been high on Gartner’s list recently. Last year, the research firm predicted that customer experience would become the new competitive battleground by 2016.

Although this heightened focus on the customer journey may seem like a “task of the moment,” business leaders shouldn’t discount it as another C-suite diversion. It’s not an isolated trend, but rather an important stop along the journey toward digital transformation that gained momentum a half a dozen years ago with a little thing called “consumerization.”

In other words, if customer experience and digital transformation are the fire, consumerization is the spark that ignited it.


Before “consumerization” and “BYOD” entered our lexicon, IT was a radically different shop. Work was done on company machines, with company software, and usually during company hours. Rules were in place and people generally abided by them.

if customer experience and digital transformation are the fire, consumerization is the spark that ignited it.

Early on, BYOD made its way into the enterprise slowly via executives, and was generally small enough in scale to remain manageable. But as devices became smaller, smarter and more powerful, IT faced a deluge of devices and consumer-like demands.

IT and business leaders began an unrelenting game of catch-up—they had to formulate new policies from scratch, set security and usage standards, find a way to manage the explosion of devices and take care of their usual tasks, while also keeping an eye on how BYOD could eventually—maybe?—benefit the business.

Fast forward to today—to the customer experience and digital transformation insurgence. Consumerization and BYOD aren’t the hottest issues for many business leaders anymore because they’ve embraced the challenges that technology has presented. They’ve taken steps to shift organizational priorities, and have begun to put policies in place.

Technology advances and a blurred line between personal and professional expectations have changed the way people work. Companies today are more flexible and focused. They’re adapting to meet employees’ needs, addressing how they communicate and collaborate, and assessing which devices they use and where they work. In addition, an increasing availability of data and improved technology enables leaders to make smarter decisions and to shift priorities more quickly.

Fundamental change is historically accompanied by uncertainty, but this transformation promises to be different. By taking the right steps, organizations can ensure they have a place smack in the center of the prosperous future.

For more detail about what those steps should be, stay tuned for part two as Paul Rigby, Vitalyst’s SVP of Business Operations, ponders punk’s visionary past and how it relates to business’ bespoke future.


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