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84pc of CIOs intend to invest in mobility: IBM

While executives are still experiencing some difficulty embracing mobile, digital and social, the future looks promising with 84 percent of chief innovation officers planning to invest more in mobility in the next few years, according to a new report from IBM.

IBM?s recent report shows that executives are struggling to figure out how to integrate social and digital channels, but that they value the importance of the mediums and therefore plan to invest more. Another key finding from the report is that 94 percent of chief marketing officers believe that mobile applications will play a big role in helping companies realize their goals.

?In business overall, mobile is becoming more and more important,? said John Kennedy, vice president of marketing for global business services at IBM, Armonk, NY. ?According to the study, 94 percent of CMOs interviewed think mobile applications will play a significant role in helping them reach their goals over the next three to five years, which is up from 80 percent three years ago. 

?As individuals and consumers increasingly use their mobile phones on a personal and business level, companies are realizing that they need to focus on marketing on a mobile platform in order to reach their target audiences,? he said.

?CMOs are seeing mobile applications as key to future success. We found that outperforming CMOs have been able to harness the power of mobile solutions and are better able to conduct business anywhere and at any time.?

IBM?s ?The Customer-activated Enterprise: Insights from the Global C-Suite Study? draws its findings from 4,183 interviews with C-suite executives from more than 20 industries in 70 countries.

Digital meets physical
Executives are realizing that the digital and physical worlds are merging with technology such as 3D printers, smart pills and smartphone heart monitors. CMOs in particular are seeing the importance in merging the two dimensions and as a result find it critical to put a digital strategy in place.

Sixteen percent of CMOs see the importance in integrating cross-channel touchpoints, and 87 percent think this will be important in three to five years. Thirteen percent see the importance in leveraging analytics to capture customer insights, with 83 percent expecting this to be important in three to five years.

Additionally, 20 percent value the use of social networks to foster collaboration, with 78 percent expecting this to be important in three to five years.

CIOs also value the integration of digital channels, with four-fifths aiming to digitize their front offices within the next few years to sync with customers more effectively. Additionally, 84 percent of CIOs include new, mobile means of interacting with customers in their top five plans for enhancing their organizations? competitiveness in the next few years.

For instance, Enrico Lardelli, CIO of PostFinance, Switzerland is quoted in the report as saying, ?A big opportunity for us lies in establishing new business models and new digital services. We?re investing in digital wallets, digital goods and mobile banking.?

While executives express the significance of mobile and digital, two-thirds of enterprises still have a weak digital-physical strategy, or none at all.

One of the biggest challenges for these executives is adding social media to the mix. Sixty-three percent of executives said that a lack of a cohesive social media plan was their biggest barrier to an integrated digital-physical strategy.

Additionally, 67 percent of CMOs feel underprepared for social media, compared to 68 percent in 2011.

CxOs in particular do not know how to find the right balance between the social, digital and physical worlds. They have a hard time understanding the ROI of social and do not understand how to treat it as a unique, separate beast.

Still, almost seven in ten CxOs recognize the importance of a shift to social and digital interaction, and more than half realize that they need to understand and engage consumers as individuals rather than as a category or market segment.

Another executive, Mike Frueh, director of VA Home Loan Program for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, United States, said, ?We?re investing in mobile technologies specifically to create individualized, tailored experiences based on each customer?s situation or anticipated needs.?

While there is still a long way to go, executives are showing progress in mobile and digital.

In 2012, 57 percent of CEOs expected digital channels to become one of their company?s key means of interacting with customers within the next five years. In 2013, 52 percent of CxOs say they are already there.

?From the study, we learned that outperforming CMOs are thinking of mobile as just one part of creating cross-channel customer experiences, so CMOs should approach their mobile strategy from the standpoint of its role in the overall customer journey versus as a stand-alone application for a mobile device,? Mr. Kennedy said.

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York