I recently hosted two amazing CIOs: Ross Ballendine, VP of IT, Trimac Transportation and Derek Cullen, CIO, Stikeman Elliot LLP in a fireside chat as part of our C4 CIO Insider Series. We discussed the rise of marketplaces as Cloud continues to accelerate in the Canadian IT marketplace. We touched on various areas in our conversation, and some themes that genuinely stood out struck me as truisms yet are more critical now than ever.
Know your customer before you meet them. These are hectic times, and the pressures on time and technology to deliver high-performance work environments whether in a boardroom, desk, cab in a fleet vehicle, or airport, are higher than ever. Do not place the burden of the sales cycle on the customer, DO YOUR HOMEWORK!. Executives are willing to offer their time and trust more readily if you approach them knowing about them, their industry, and how their company is positioned. Even better, invite them into a forum with other relevant customers you have so they can see and hear about the excellent work you have done from their peers and understand the context. Use cases shared by your customers are powerful tools!
Be an advocate for your customers. While always searching for the best solution to give their company a competitive advantage, CIOs must balance the risk of transitioning to new platforms with the dangers of that change. Along with Cloud, recurring revenue is the new mantra of the technology industry. While this creates more predictability for customers, partners, and manufacturers, change does not come without its challenges. Change that feels coerced does not win trust or the right to be seen as an advocate for your customer. Perhaps all paths will eventually lead to software, Cloud, and marketplaces, but all customers are at different places in their journey. As stated, it is critical to “get to know your customer before you meet them.” Equally, active listening and demonstrating your ability to align with your customer’s success vs. convincing them to “buy something” will go a long way to building a trusted relationship vs. being a supplier.
Outcomes are everything. The CIO’s mission is to lead the organization’s agenda to leverage technology to create value and, ultimately – a competitive advantage. This agenda can span deploying solutions to support growing sales, increasing productivity, reducing churn, and lowering risk, to name a few. What these have in common is that they are outcomes. Technology is the toolkit, not the outcome. That said, do not underestimate the CIO’s desire to deeply understand the technology you wish to present to them, which means: know your stuff! If you cannot explain both the technology/services you are positioning, AND how they will affect the outcome, your odds of success will be low.
Furthermore, having a clearly defined path to how these technologies will continuously add value over time is fundamental. The shift from Capex to Opex is in full swing in an increasingly recurring revenue-driven industry. The bill that shows up every month is a reminder of what it costs to have this technology. A strong customer experience (CX) offering should empower the CIO’s team to grow their skills and maximize the impact of the platforms they have chosen.
We covered much ground on what is genuinely a vast topic. The hour we spent absolutely flew by! On behalf of C4, I’d like to thank Ross and Derek for spending their time with us, and I look forward to our next CIO Insider session. Until then, stay well, everyone.