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New expectations for a new era

The 2013 C-Suite Study, “The Customer-Activated Enterprise,” identified three defining characteristics of successful future organizations:

  • Opening up to customer influence —breaking down barriers to extend collaboration inside and outside the organization, and bringing customers’ voices directly into the boardroom
  • Pioneering digital/physical innovation—fusing traditional activities with social, mobile and digital networks to create new products, services and business models.
  • Crafting engaging customer experiences— creating and enhancing seamless interactions that fulfill customer expectations and differentiate the organization.


Newly empowered and enlightened customers continue to expect more of the organizations they interact with, demanding instant communication, personalized service and opportunities for co-creation. The 2013 IBM C-suite study, “The Customer-Activated Enterprise,” delivers a clear message: the emergence of social, mobile and digital technologies is playing a significant role in the democratization of the relationship between organizations and their customers. Whether it’s a retailer competing for the hearts and minds of teenagers in Rio, or an electronics company in Dublin looking to stave off its global competitors, they both have a common objective: to better understand, involve and excite their customers in ways that differentiate them from the competition.

The essential bridge between the organization and its customers is the workforce. The ability to engage, develop, recognize and support employees will be critical in the decisive battle for customer loyalty. It is these individuals who represent the organization’s brand in the market, who interact with customers on a daily basis, who analyze changes in customer preferences and who develop and maintain the technologies that help connect the physical and digital worlds. And, therefore, a motivated and properly prepared workforce will be indispensable for success in the customer-activated world.

Given the importance of talent in this customer-activated world, is the HR function prepared to deliver the needed skills and capabilities for the business to succeed? Is HR ready and able to help organizations stay one step ahead in an environment where customers are becoming increasingly more informed, vocal and involved in the day-to-day operations of the organization?

Through our analysis of the C-suite study responses from 4,183 senior executives from 70 countries, we see companies taking important steps in developing a workforce that can compete in a customer-driven world. Included in this analysis is a deeper examination of the 342 Chief Human Resource Officers who participated in the study.

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Content provided by IBM Institute for Business Value
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