The C-Suite Prepares for the Future

IBM 2013 Midmarket C-Suite SurveyOn October 7, IBM released their annual CxO study identifying opportunities for C-level executives in companies of all sizes. Since we talk about midmarket companies here, I’ll focus on the results from the midmarket portion of the study.  See the whole study here.

Three major takeaways from the study include:

  1. How CxOs are opening up to customer influence
  2. Thoughts on moving forward in the digital to physical world
  3. How CxOs are crafting engaging customer experiences

Since there will be lots of interpretations of this data I am going to focus on just a few things that really stood out – specifically:


The C-suite has the most influence in a company – we all know that. But who is next in line? The study showed that customers are next in line in influence – even before the corporate board or non-executive employees. Also, companies who were classified as “outperformers” in the global study more intensively collaborate with their customers.

9 out of 10 midmarket CxOs are going to involve customers even more in the future. The phrase that used to be tossed around, “customer-centric” is being replaced with “customer-activated”.

How is your company collaborating with customers? Are you listening to them?

Digital Transformation

CxOs see digital innovation – such as 3D printing as being critical to future competitiveness. Leaders want to overhaul integration with customers using technological advances.

Interestingly, more than ½ of the companies surveyed do NOT have an integrated digital physical strategy so there is a lot of work ahead.

In the midmarket, there are big hurdles, with lack of a cohesive social media plan being a big one (65% of respondents said this), better understanding of ROI from these efforts needed, and many competing priorities and initiatives going on.

Creating Engaging Customer Experiences

The third big area, crafting better experiences for customers seems to be one that every C-level executive wants to help push forward. It is a surprise that the CIOs responding want to be more involved in this too – 54% said they’d like to be more involved over the next 3-5 years.

In creating better customer experience the midmarket sector is lagging – only 36% currently engage in this way. Better digital strategies and planning can help bridge this gap.

Does your c-suite mesh together or clash with each other?

Tie a Bow on It

How to bring all of this together is the million dollar question for each of the 312 companies that IBM talked with.

The companies surveyed who are considered outperformers think that the members of their C-suite work well together. Companies with disjointed C-suites will need to improve in order to have competitive advantage.

Another key factor about the outperformers studied is that they work more closely with partners and suppliers.

What do you think?

How is your company working with partners and suppliers? Same as always?

What do you see changing for your business in 2014 and beyond?

Also of interest:

IBM State of Marketing Study 2013

IBM State of Marketing Study 2012

IBMThis post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I've been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Lori Richardson - Score More SalesLori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2013" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management for 2013". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.

Topics: B2B

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