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Customer care "key to enterprise success"

If security and privacy issues are not successfully resolved, customers could begin charging for the information they currently supply free of charge, an IT strategy conference has been warned.

James Canton, the president of the US-based Institute for Global Futures, issued the warning in his opening address to the CIO Forum on 9 September. The industry has so far made only incremental progress on the key challenges of security and privacy, he said.

"How about customers charging you for the personalised data that we now collect for free?" asked Canton. He added that customers may decide to "band together" in order to charge collectively for the use of the information. Users would expect discounts and other compensation for personal information. This scenario is likely "if we don't get there first", Canton warned.

Canton listed a number of other major challenges facing IT executives, which included: developing on-demand supply chains; CRM, which is a great opportunity and not "a black hole"; transforming the enterprise through e-business initiatives rather than e-commerce, and embracing nano-technology, which includes new IT building blocks that range from photons and Qubits to chips that may have one billion transistors.

The IT executive's role in all of this is "to challenge the assumptions about the future of the business," Canton said.

One initiative suggested by Canton during a question and answer session with more than 200 CIO-level executives was the development of "an internal think-tank", composed of product development managers and representatives from customer groups.

There should also be "monthly focus groups with leading customers", he said, adding: "Who else is going to lead you to the future?"

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