Historically, the single biggest cost for most organisations has been customer acquisition. Yet today we have web-centric businesses such as Facebook and Google which seem to attract new customers and users by the millions at a cost so low as to be unthinkable for the likes of "bricks and mortar" firms such as banks and retailers.
For any business, technology - particularly the internet - offers a route to dramatically reducing the cost of customer acquisition, and equally of increasing the loyalty of those clients.
Why can't I use my iPhone?
The process of using technology to improve customer engagement is being mirrored with employees. The so-called "consumerisation" of technology means that we are not far from the point - in some firms we may already be there - at which business users know as much about their technology as the people manning the first-line helpdesk.
Users will expect the ease of use of an eBay, the flexibility and functionality of an iPhone, and the simplicity of a Google in their business applications and devices. This is already presenting a whole new set of challenges for CIOs.