IBM SVP makes the case for CX to extend into ‘enterprise experience’

Mark Foster is getting feedback from customers like Delta Airlines that fine-tuning the customer journey needs to involve multiple parties

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Companies will be in the best position to deliver a strong customer experience by using artificial intelligence, cloud computing and other tools that aim for a broader “enterprise experience,” according to the senior vice-president of IBM’s Global Services Business.

Speaking at CXO Conclave, an event hosted by the France Canada Chamber of Commerce Ontario at Sidewalk Labs this week, Mark Foster said the notion of an enterprise experience is already permeating throughout Big Blue, particularly within his own team.

“What used to be done in terms of designing mobile front ends for websites is now shifting to transform the whole experience using design thinking,” he said. “It feeds into the story an enterprise is telling about itself, and creating more of an ecosystem approach that’s focused on radical collaboration.”

Foster gave the example of Delta Airlines, where an executive told him there is “no point” in creating a great customer experience while passengers are on a plane if what happens when they leave from or arrive at an airport is terrible. That means companies like Delta need to consider how the CX of its partners measure up to its own, he said.

Part of what complicates matters is the fact that technology is radically changing processes that affect CX, Foster said. This is why IBM is advocating for more “intelligent workflows” based on AI that can support what the company calls a cognitive enterprise. That doesn’t mean automation will take care of everything, of course.

“You’re going to need to elevate human-technology partnerships, which also means thinking about what skills you need to create,” he said. At IBM, this means Foster has to look across all his 250,000 people within IBM’s GSB and consider which not only where to boost the capabilities of people, but which areas will require reskilling, as well as the areas or roles where skills are becoming completely obsolete.

“I would say eery company has a version fo that (situation),” he added.

IBM has been trying to get the CX community to think about the idea of an enterprise experience for some time. The company’s research arm, the Institute For Business Value, published a study featuring interviews with CX leaders from organizations like  Clorox and Manulife Financial. Among the report’s six recommendations were shifting corporate cultures to focus on empathy, boosting employee experiences and demonstrating a commitment to innovation.

“Think like a control tower — you’ll need an office that keeps track of all these moving parts,” Foster suggested. “This is not like an SAP project where you waited five to finally plop the thing in. This is coming in weekly, monthly bursts of implementation activity. Change management is back on the table in a very massive way.”

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