IT Takes an Active Role in Creating a Customer-centric B2B Experience

Historically, IT has been considered a support function – creating and maintaining back-end systems, network access, help desk support, and other critical functions for the operation of business. But providing only “back-room” maintenance is no longer sufficient. Today, successful companies expect their IT departments to advance the digital transformation of the firm, to enable a growth strategy, and to significantly contribute to that growth financially. A recent Network Computing article put it succinctly: “Business executives expect IT to provide well-functioning back-end systems to aid productivity; but now, they also look to IT to provide a competitive advantage for the business.”

IT is in a unique position to drive digital transformation because an IT department serves every aspect of the enterprise, with visibility across data and technology silos. We can identify opportunities to transform and extract the value of digitalization.

Customer-centric Experience: Transforming Intel’s B2B Digital Experience White PaperAs described in the IT@Intel white paper, “Customer-centric Experience: Transforming Intel’s B2B Digital Experience,” Intel IT recently led an initiative that did exactly that. Our efforts to connect marketing activity data to sales pipeline data and to unify and streamline Intel’s business-to-business (B2B) customer experience had the following benefits:

  • Enhanced Intel’s ability to scale to new markets and customers
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Created (as of the end of 2016) over USD 500 million in new revenue

Any IT organization’s involvement in business transformation includes the challenge to engage in areas that were not historically within IT’s area of responsibility. For example, our B2B customer experience transformation project involved its share of technical challenges—cleaning up and aligning thousands of data points, choosing and implementing a cloud-based marketing-automation platform, and unifying several design centers and other portals into a single, one-stop-shop Resource Design Center. But as important as these technical issues were, independently they would not have been enough to achieve success.

Our success was directly tied to our ability to align corporate culture and business processes with the new technical direction – and also to a robust change-management plan.

IT Shaping a Customer-centric Corporate Culture

As Louis Gerstner, former chairman of the board and chief executive officer at IBM once said, “I came to see … that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game – it is the game.” According to a 2016 Deloitte study, 82 percent of the respondents believe that culture is a potential competitive advantage. IT has an important role in shaping a corporate culture that matches the technology IT is putting in place.

As we deployed marketing-automation tools and began to design a B2B customer experience that focuses on the customer rather than on legacy processes and individual product lines, it was clear that using these new tools and embracing the customer-centric approach to doing business required a mind shift from the top down.

We worked to obtain top-level executive sponsorship for our strategy; in turn, these leaders educated their team members about the benefits of the new approach. Over time, traditional silos of data and processes are metamorphosing into a more consistent customer-centric culture across IT, the sales and marketing organizations, and Intel’s business units.

IT Aligning Customer-centric Business Processes

Technology is inanimate and has no value until it is used; business processes define how technology is used. Business transformation really starts when you dramatically change not only technology but also business processes.

To realize the potential of today’s marketing-automation tools and customer-centric experience, we helped Intel replace processes that had been in place for decades with new processes. Consolidating business processes and eliminating “business process debt” involved inventorying hundreds of business processes in use by sales, marketing, and product groups, then determining how to make them all consistent and aligned with the customer-centric experience. For example, if one business unit uses only phone-based customer support and has a 24-hour response guarantee, while another uses only chat support with a 72-hour response guarantee, the customer experience is not consistent.

As we created customer-centric business processes, we documented each process and identified process owners and responsibilities. We also established a governance model that helps ensure company-wide alignment of goals and processes and prevents data or functional silos from occurring. And while we realized it wasn’t possible to eliminate all business process debt at the same time, we used an Agile, iterative process to incrementally reduce Intel’s business process and technical debt, allowing us to realistically transform legacy systems over time.

IT Managing the Customer-centric Change

It’s a fact – humans are resistant to change. But it’s also true that change is necessary to evolve and get better at what we do. As C.S. Lewis once said, “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.”

A robust change-management plan was part of our customer-centric experience strategy. We understood that deploying a solution was only half the picture – we also needed to drive the behavior transformation for that solution. For example, regional marketing managers needed to change the way they planned and designed their experiences, their content, and their campaigns.

To enable this significant transition, we worked with teams from the marketing and sales organizations and the business units to heighten awareness of the new technology, business processes, and the value of customer centricity. We made it easy for employees to develop required new skills and understand why they needed to put the customer’s needs ahead of individual business unit needs. We evangelized the greater good – consistency for the customer.

But while we stressed the value for the customer, we also realized that a huge part of a successful change-management plan is to identify the personal value of the change. We wanted people to get excited about how the change was going to make their work lives easier. For example, a happy customer with a consistent, predictable experience is less likely to escalate issues. The ability to use a single login for all customer interactions with Intel means sales and marketing organizations and business units spend less time giving new customers access to Intel's environment.

Taking the Customer-centric Experience to the Next Level

We are currently defining a strategy to scale the streamlined B2B customer experience to all regions around the world. This includes continuing to mature our application development model so that we can quickly integrate new Intel products, new data, and new analytics capabilities. We will continue to create more connected datasets, conduct ongoing governance to maintain the consistency of the B2B customer experience, and augment and fine-tune our content personalization capabilities using new sources of data and emerging analytic techniques. We also intend to provide more B2B customer self-service capabilities, which will enable us to scale our solution rapidly as new solutions and new customers emerge.

Annual Performance Report
2016-2017 Intel IT Annual Performance Report

Read the IT@Intel White Paper on how customer-centricity is benefitting Intel and how Intel IT is playing a crucial role in the transformation, “Customer-centric Experience: Transforming Intel’s B2B Digital Experience.”

To get the full story on how Intel IT is playing a crucial role in Intel’s digital transformation, read our recently published 2016-2017 Intel IT Annual Performance Report, “Accelerating the Pace of Business through IT Innovation”. 

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Doug Childs

About Doug Childs

Doug Childs is a dynamic, visionary leader with an established track record in developing high-performing teams to drive transformational programs that deliver business results. Doug is currently serving as the Director of the IT@Intel Program. While this whitepaper was being written he was the Director of Customer Acquisition and Engagement in Sales & Marketing IT. Doug has led various marketing, sales, and product division functions, including new product development, digital marketing, and co-op advertising with the Intel Inside® program. He has expertise in marketing, brand strategy, advertising, product development, digital experiences, social marketing/selling, marketing automation, sales strategy, personalization, and customer experience. When not working, he enjoys several outdoor activities including kayaking, mountaineering, and snow shoeing. He also cooks fantastic Italian food.