Tag Archives: Value


The Friday Update 8: Developing a great customer experience in a digital age

Online shopping has changed our expectations around customer service and bricks-and-mortar retailers are changing in response. On behalf of ZDNet, I recently attended the Rethinking Retail Technology event, organised by Rackspace in London, and discovered how individual high street stores are adopting distinct strategies.

Take Oliver White, ecommerce director at Heal’s, who says the furniture specialist likes to offer customers a large amount of personalisation. The firm recently completed a proof of concept trial for in-store tablet technology. Customers were able to use mobile devices to engage with furniture via near-field communication. White says each access point provided additional information on products, such as dimensions and materials:

“It allowed customers to build a digital wish list, to discover product information and to check availability. What we’ve learnt through the trial is that customers want access to the detailed information they can get online, but they also want to come in store to touch and feel the products.”

Nick Hopkinson, CIO at Devon Partnership NHS Trust, faces a different kind of challenge in regards to customer service. I recently interviewed the experienced IT leader for Computer Weekly and discovered how he is directing his attention to transformation at the trust, which was established in 2001 and supports 18,000 people across Devon and Torbay.

The required focus on great technology can be a challenge in the current cash-constrained environment. Hopkinson recognises that every pound that is attributed to IT – and, therefore, not spent on direct healthcare – must lead to big increases in the quality of patient care:

“As technology professionals, we need to work beyond the walls of the traditional IT department and become part of wider business planning decisions, so that the importance of digital transformation is articulated and understood.”

The challenge around customer service, then, is unlikely to diminish any time soon. In coming weeks, I’ll be analysing other key concerns for modern CIOs, including the rise of other roles – such as the CDO – and the importance of new cross-European initiatives. If you’d like to get involved in some of the articles I’m putting together, just drop me a line at mark.samuels@gmail.com or mark@samuelsmedia.co.uk. It would be great to hear from you.

Defining innovation

CIOs talk a lot about innovation. Actually, it’s often all they talk about – along with a bunch of related concepts, such as value, efficiency, globalisation, leadership and partnership. But what is innovation?

It’s a question that’s being analysed in a number of ways by CIO Connect and I’m putting together a special feature, speaking to CIOs and senior researchers at blue-chip businesses. Early conclusions? CIOs – and other business executives, more generally – often wrongly focus on the ‘blue sky’ element of innovation.

‘Blue sky thinking’, as well as being a bloody awful phrase, is only one tenet of innovation. It covers the research and development part, the creativity. But there’s another area of innovation that is probably more important, especially in the current economic climate.

Innovation is not just about developing something ‘new’, it is also about the re-use of existing assets in different and exciting combinations. Basically, it’s about regeneration and making good with something bad – ‘brown-field site thinking’, if you will (to borrow and manipulate the phrasing of geography).

Now, which is better – ‘blue sky thinking’ or ‘brown-field site thinking’?