The way employees, customers and partners interact with technology is changing — and these changes are affecting processes, systems and cultures. And while most CIOs are aware of the evolution toward social business, it’s not always clear how to evolve their own business, and even the role of CIO itself.
Businesses are facing massive and unprecedented levels of change, thanks to cloud, social media, mobile technology, Big Data and the consumerization of IT. They have up to five generations in the workforce, from digital natives to digital immigrants, and often have to deal with stagnant or declining IT budgets.
Consumer-oriented business models are changing the role of the CIO; the three-year ERP project with a five-year projected ROI is a thing of the past. Technology is changing too fast, and business leaders want to see results in months rather than years.
“It’s pretty scary what’s happening with business models — they’re being created, being destroyed and being created every three years,” said Ray Wang, principal analyst and CEO of Constellation Research, at NetSuite’s SuiteWorld 2012 conference held in San Francisco last month.
“If you had a five-year IT plan in 2008, you would have totally missed Facebook, cloud and mobility, and you’d be sitting there with some ugly architecture,” said Wang. “These forces of consumerization are happening right now and happening very rapidly.” These forces go beyond an employee using their iPad at work. “B2B and B2C are destroyed — it’s back to people to people,” he said.
“I believe social, mobile and cloud is how all apps will work — if they’re not working that way today,” said Zach Nelson, CEO of NetSuite. Customers want to interact across myriad devices, whether smartphone, Facebook page or point-of-sale system, and the business has to recognize the customer across every one of those channels. Business users expect a business-to-consumer experience. Even retailers buying products from a supplier want that B2C experience.
“Apple defined a new set of experiences, and the consumer expects that from others,” said Nelson. That extends to business apps, including commerce. “The commerce space is going to change rapidly,” he said, adding that ERP, CRM and global capabilities (multi-tax and multi-currency) are the necessary building blocks for delivering this Apple-like experience in the business space.
At the conference, NetSuite announced its commerce-as-a-service offering, called SuiteCommerce, a commerce platform that supports any device and any business model, which is integrated into back-office commerce operations.
“It’s not ecommerce, it’s commerce — it’s a single website channel,” said Nelson. “There are so many (channels) there basically are no channels.” Commerce-as-a-service envisions many, many other touch-points, he added.