A better engagement with customers in the digital sector and IT departments has been cited by several CIOs as a way developing the business strategy.

The only responsibility to increase in a CIO’s workload is customer communication, up by 15% since 2013, according to the 2016 Harvey Nash survey. In the 2016 CIO 100 list only 20% of CIOs have delivered a customer-focused digital strategy, with the University of Westminster and NHS Property Services the only organisations currently developing a strategy for 2017.

While increasing customer engagement has remained a focus for CIOs and organisations in their business strategy. CIO UK looks at how CIOs are communicating with customers through the use of digital platforms, face-to-face meeting and investing in digital technologies to reflect the customer’s needs – and nine CIO’s and business technology executives are using their digital expertise to improve customer engagement within their organisations:

We are now looking more at our CRM platforms and how we can engage digitally more with learners than our traditional market and colleges.

The world of vocational skills and apprenticeships are changing in the UK with far more public funding around and increasingly there is less of that with the government looking to employers to fund apprenticeships more.
They are actually introducing a levy with employers that they have to put in a certain fund or training. We are moving from a business to business type organisation where the learner was via training and learning education college as we are now a group company we are increasingly going to have more business to consumer site relationships.
Alan Crawford, City & Guilds CIO


I have combined a highly regarded customer engagement approach which has been driven by automation, artificial intelligence and constant innovation.

The customer service delivery team is investigating better contact management technologies across digital and voice channels, extending to artificial intelligence systems which can allow us to respond more quickly and accurately.

The digital retail team is constantly looking at how to promote new business processes to our online platform, improving the experience of customers by reducing contacts and improving response times.
Bill Wilkins, First Utility CIO & CTO


Key to an IT team's success is engagement with its customers, partnering to share a problem and build a solution.

Sometimes one has the luxury of a specific role; often it is a question of identifying the people across the IT organisation, at all levels, who have the customer focus, vision and network needed to succeed and understand the business fully. By recognising the importance of relationship roles, I encourage people to spend time on building trust and knowledge. This is the best way for IT to keep an eye on trends and disruptions that affect our customers.

Having a regular (weekly) team meeting that brings together all senior IT leaders – which includes designated business partners – enables us to discuss the trends affecting our customers so we can work out together an IT approach that aligns to the business strategy and operations, based on our joint understanding of our customers and on individual discussions the business partners have had with their customers. This approach is imitated in microcosm by the project managers delivering a portfolio of work for individual business areas – such as estates and facilities.
Carolyn Brown, University of Westminster CIO


In terms of improving flexibility, customer service performance, efficiency and financial savings, a new cloud telephony service has been implemented. This has enabled Symphony with savings on hardware, calls and lines alone while delivering some £200k annually, with efficiencies yet to be realised expected to deliver a further £700k, thus 0.5% of revenue.
Neil Beckingham, Symphony Housing Group CIO


Ovo Energy has grown from 400k customers to 650k, with the team having completely rebuilt all of our customer facing interfaces which has increased conversion and customer engagement more than 50% in some cases. We have built a 5 star mobile app, which has been best rated in the industry while having continued to increase our NPS thanks to digital technology.
Mariano Albera, Ovo Energy CTO


The IT at Axa is regularly included in face-to-face meetings with customers. I, too, meet personally with customers as I find there is no better way to understand how our products and services can impact them in both a positive and sometimes less positive ways. The insight from our customers can provide is more powerful in helping us to understand how emerging technology could benefit them as well as their friends and families, which is useful in helping to bring back to the development table.
Kevin Murray, Axa Group COO & CIO


In being asked to apply for the director of business transformation role for NMC, I guess the turnaround from a cultural piece has been recognised. We now have a team who want to deliver, who know how to engage with our customers and actively want to.

From a customer segmentation perspective, we have started to look at our existing registrant data to assess which sorts of customers would respond better to digital services – eg our 200,000 millennials. Other basic information we have reviewed relates to the devices our customers use to engage with our digital services – browsers, operating systems, etc. The bulk of our users are now coming in via mobile devices and tablets, which is a huge shift from last year and is starting to have us think about developing mobile applications.

Mapping our customer Journey has enabled us to better understand the physical and digital touchpoints of our customers with the NMC. This was absolutely an unknown piece for IT previously and, although known in individual silos, the business was not 'fluent' from a holistic perspective.
Rachel Murphy, Nursing and Midwifery Council CTO


I have launched new services (mobile, blogs, ecommerce) which have supported the move to digital marketing and has improved the overall customer engagement through the use of technology. Digital marketing and social technology has overall led Wood MacKenzie to an increased customer engagement, higher brand awareness and a better understanding of our customers.

Through educating my fellow Execs on the art of the possible brought by new technology, opening up new markets for our business (such as ecommerce), delivering our data and services in new ways to our customers while also moving our product development towards a nimble, incremental delivery.
John Linwood, Wood MacKenzie CTO


Talking to people more or less and here because we are in one campus I can make the point of going out and talking to people. I love to know what’s working and what’s not, what are the opportunities while also getting a good feel of what the challenges are for Red Bull Racing.

We also test products and customer engagement services to fellow partners and eliminate any challenges people may find. By doing this, we can see how can we help solve this problem in working as a team to communicate better to our customers putting them at the core of the strategy.
Matt Cadieux, CIO Red Bull Racing