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The biggest mistake CIOs are making today

technologyEdward Kiledjian2 Comments
"more than they can chew" Image by  JD Hancock  used under Creative Commons License

"more than they can chew" Image by JD Hancock used under Creative Commons License

First we saw digitization, then came appification, then gameification, then personalization and now we enter the era of hyper-personalization. 

Every consumer wants to feel loved, understood and wants to feel special. Being understood and being special means companies must understand the individual likes/dislikes of each consumer then tailor the consumer's experience during each interaction. 

This is done through signals and large companies have spent billions building and buying heavily used apps/service so that they can collect more. More signals means better tools for making hyper-personalization possible. 

When you open your Facebook news feed today, you often see elements that are of little interest to you. Facebook learns every time you choose to hide content and tries to do a better job next time. This is personalization. Hyper-personalization means the service will automatically know what it shouldn't show you and your feed will automatically be "clean".

This trend is spilling into other fields including medicine. If you are ill today, you go to one of the larger medical guidance sites, enter your symptoms (as best you can) then the site provides a laundry list of possible causes. It's better than rushing to the clinic every time you feel a little hot, but hyper-personalization demands more.

The Scanadu Scout is a health monitoring, tracking and recording device. It is designed for you will hold it to your forehead and it will scan your vitals then provide customized hyper-personalized recommendations on what to do? 

We are seeing pharmaceutical companies working on genetics based medicine in an effort to reduce negative side-effects and provide more effective treatments based on each person's genetic makeup (this is hyper-personalization of medication).

But what about the enterprise?

Most companies I have worked with still do not see the tidal wave about to hit them. Even though there are thousands of signals they can collect from employees, partners, suppliers and customers, most simply do not and waste valuable information that could lead to building a substantially more profitable organization. 

The hyper-personalized enterprise could design more efficient employee systems that pro-actively provide the right information to the right person at the right time using the right medium. 

If you are a car company, you can equip each of your cars with a car monitoring system that records and uploads millions of sensor data to the manufacturer every evening (when the car is parked in the driveway.) The car manufacturer can then tailor the service maintenance schedule per car based on distance driven, driving style, weather conditions, etc (instead of the generic oil change every x miles). Not only can it be used to generate custom maintenance programs but it should also know where the customer works/lives, where and when it is most convenient for them to take the car in and proactively call the customer with a proposed reservation. 

Shifting role of CIO

When I consult with large organizations or start-ups, my first recommendation is to source all commodity services from the cloud (where legally possible). Every dollar you save on non-value generating commodity services can then be used to drive these new hyper-personalization services. Using cloud services also means your hiring strategy will be much more evolved. Instead of hiring 12 employees to manage your email infrastructure, you hire 1 person to manage the vendor relationship and commit the 11 other hires to these new emerging value generating activities. 

Many CIOs will not be able to handle this radical shift we are asking them to make. Change is inevitable and pushing back will only force the business unit heads (which see the need for these new services to keep up with the competition) to build the missing pieces themselves [without IT] causing inefficient silos.

A modern CIO will see this as his/her opportunity to become a huge value driver within the organization, instead of the cost centre most IT departments have become. 

This modern CIO not only has to have the desire to change and evolve, but must also have a background in general business (finance, supply chain, legal, manufacturing, sales, strategy, etc) and understand the shifting nature of computer science (advanced computation, machine learning, etc).

Rewarded will be the organizations who see this shift coming and adapt quickly. The shift has already started, where does your organization stand?