The Future's company develops with the assistance of the customer

By: trademagazin Date: 2008. 06. 20. 00:00

The enterprise of the future is capable of changing quickly and successfully, according to a summary of IBM's findings. “Instead of merely responding to trends, it shapes and leads them.


Companies struggling to keep pace with
rapid changes in products, markets and competition are now having to
cope with change in the arena most indispensable to their success:
their customers.

The ranks of consumers with passive and
predictable habits are thinning. And platoons of noisy,
Internet-savvy activists are emerging to lob feedback, challenge
established business approaches and clamor for a voice in the goods
and services they are being sold.

They represent not only a threat but an
opportunity, according to the results of a study of global chief
executives by consultants at IBM, working with the Economist
Intelligence Unit. The survey, which IBM says is the largest of its
kind ever, was based on interviews with the leaders of 1,130
companies and organizations from 40 countries in late 2007 and 2008.

Departing from traditional market
segmentation, it identified two rising classes of customers in which
nervous companies are investing. There are "information
omnivores" who demand a say in everything from product design to
aftermarket support, and "socially minded customers" who
will buy ethically and environmentally responsible products and may
be ready to pay more for them.

Businesses ignore these cantankerous
new customers at their peril, said Mark Chapman, the global leader
for IBM's strategy and change services consulting practice in
Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"CEOs are dealing with multiple
issues," he said. "But their primary responsibility is to
drive the growth of their companies. So reaching these customers
should be at the top of their priority list."

Indeed, the IBM survey found that chief
executives plan an average spending increase of 22 percent over the
next three years to serve their "more sophisticated and
demanding" customers, and a 25 percent increase to satisfy those
concerned about social issues. The investments will range from
customer-friendly innovations and sustainable products to Internet
programs that solicit advice from consumers.

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