Culture, Not Technology, Stands in the Way of Omnichannel Integration

Notes and Observations from Chicago Executive Dinner Hosted by CI&T, Google Cloud, and Sensormatic

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Posted on Oct 31, 2019

Leading technology executives from the metropolitan area gathered at the Soho House in Chicago for an interactive executive dinner discussion on evolving customer engagement strategies in an omnichannel environment. Expert panelists from Google Cloud, Sensormatic and CI&T provided insights on how the most successful organizations are connecting -- and integrating -- communications with customers and users across physical, digital, mobile, and voice platforms.


While the issue of omnichannel strategies has received a significant amount of coverage, the panelists suggested -- and the executive audience agreed -- that most organizations remain highly siloed. As a result, consumers are experiencing avoidable frustrations as they struggle to interact with providers of products and services that have not integrated the different modes of engagement.


The culprit, however, is not technology. Panelists pointed out that tools, services and other resources are available to better manage the customer journey across different channels.


The real issue is culture and poor strategic vision.


Executive participants in the audience all agreed that organizational charts and leadership attitudes have not evolved to create the inter-disciplinary working relationships necessary for ensuring a seamless experience for consumers who start the buying process in one channel and conclude it in another. Myopic focus on functional capacity in specific areas of activity, such as networking, storage, call center or facilities management, remain stubbornly in place in many environments across industries.


The key to addressing this challenge is to revisit the "metrics that matter" when measuring the success or failure of functional activities. The panel suggested that an enterprise-wide consensus on how each department contributes to the overall customer experience would go a long way toward aligning the interests of diverse team members across internal organizations. For the many industries (including healthcare, retail and financial services) that depend on effective collaboration with trading partners outside corporate borders to achieve mission-critical objectives, similar alignment initiatives should be executed on an inter-organizational level.


Over the course of the evening, executive participants and panelists explored the new skill sets that should be nurtured to become effective customer-centric organizations across the different channels of engagement. Beyond developing the capacity to manage increasingly complex hybrid infrastructures, was the challenge of managing the deluge of data that is pouring in from Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices and sensors. The volume and complexity associated with these trends can have the effect of driving teams to focus on their specific functions. But that is a mistake. To address this challenge, panelists pointed out the need to engage with executives responsible for business outcomes. It is one of the reasons there is growing participation in the technology decision-making process from non-IT executives -- such as Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Experience Officers and Chief Revenue Officers.