Who Is The Customer

I was reminded this week about the value of what we do in Information Technology.

The Value to the Customer.

In the world of data warehousing this is often confusing.  Is it the IT project that our data supports, the marketing or operational group that leverages our IT system or is it the Customer who pays the bills?  The challenge we have is that all of the above is true, they are all our customers, but from a priority point of view it is the person who pays the bill.

It is very important to balance this sort of thinking though as it can skew behaviour in the wrong direction.  Mainly because that person is often not there to represent their interests.  Let’s take an example.

A marketing group wants to build a campaign to target some new customers.  So they engage IT to build a new process/system to help them do this.  IT then engages their data warehouse team to provide the data as a basis for the analysis that will be used for the campaign.  In this case how do we remember that the customer is the new customer not Marketing or IT.  What do we do to always be thinking about that new customer first.  I saw one IT executive bring life size cut-outs representing the customer and saying to people, what would Susie or Joe say.  This is an interesting approach, but often we forget that we are a customer.  In Finance we all have bank accounts, mortgages and the like, in Utilities we have power and water, in Telecom we have phones and cable.

The reality of the situation though is that these various stakeholders all need to align to the new customer as opposed to imposing themselves as the customer at each level.  As an external Consulting firm we often have a customer who is paying the bill and they are King, but if we really want to add the level of care and added value we should be following the ecosystem to who their main customer is, not to be confrontational.

Back in the Web days we often had a hard time explaining to companies that wanted to build web-sites that they are more often built for what their customers want not what they want – Your customer is our customer.

Is this technical?  No, but our success in being IT professionals is on learning to work within the world we support.

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