CEOs are increasingly looking to their customers for the development of business strategies, according to a global study of C-level executives, in which CIOs responded overwhelmingly their focus was on front office digitisation.

While technology retained its position at the top of the CEO agenda for the second consecutive IBM C-suite survey of more than 4,000 CEOs, CIOs, CFOs and CMOs, chief executives revealed they were concerned that their colleagues are out of touch with customers, and subsequently they plan to directly engage their customers and proactively apply what they learn to set their business agendas for the next three to five years.

IBM UK and Ireland chief executive David Stokes said: "In today's digital era, the customer is empowered by technology and transparency and is accustomed to a personalised experience.

"Our survey results clearly indicate that the most successful business leaders are those who recognise and embrace this shift in customer expectations."

Collaboration within the company was cited as one way of achieving this, with business leaders tending towards a collaborative approach to boost bottom-line performance.

CIO at commercial property management specialists Jones Lang LaSalle David Johnson said: "Taking an outside-in approach to innovation, we prioritise input from customers to stay aligned with their values and needs.

"Through collaboration, we aim to deliver more relevant services that help us develop satisfied, lifelong customers."

With 35% of CxOs responding they do not understand their customers well today, 88% responded they would use digital channels extensively in the future to engage with customers.

Indeed, CMOs echoed the focus of CIOs, indicating they intend to make great strides to overhaul and reinvent the way they work with customers.