On November 6th over 45 Belgian digital leaders gathered at Kinepolis in Antwerp to discuss how CIOs should prepare for the imperative of companies to focus on their customers first, instead of their operations.
The business environment is changing fast and dramatically. Leading companies need to think of themselves as a platform, integrating their ecosystem at the core their operations in order to get as close to their customers as possible, offering them a unique, personalised experience. This has a profound impact on how IT operates.
The two case-studies we discussed at the event showed how CIOs can prepare for this fundamental shift.
For Bjorn Van Reet, CIO of Kinepolis Group, a company running 98 cinema complexes in 8 countries, the ultimate focus is on understanding the customer’s experience. Not only by collecting as much information as possible about them, but also putting himself and his team amidst their customers, physically.
Leading by example, Bjorn spent the first few weeks as CIO selling popcorn, staffing the welcome desk and serving as a security guard. It helped him to determine the right priorities for his IT team in order to ensure an optimal customer experience, from building an enhanced predictive model on how many customers to expect at any given time –which in itself leads important operational decisions such as the amount of popcorn in the shelves- to an extreme thinking on how to automate processes –over 60% of all the things bought throughout the cinema experience is done without human intervention.
Filip Michiels, CIO of travel and leisure group TUI Europe, works in a highly competitive environment as well. Facing new competitors in each of the domains they cover, from Uber to Booking.com, even Tesla and Airbnb, the groups has shifted the value proposition to its customers. Instead of being a provider of a tightly packaged, all-in journey, they are making the transition to a content provider, offering their clients ways to build their own travel experience, whatever it consists of, on one single platform.
This creates some friction between the flexibility the customer wants, and the back-end processes IT needs to maintain. But according to Filip it’s not even a matter of choice. If the company wants to keep its pace of growth, IT needs to constantly adapt. Filip showed how he prepared for this transition by building new technological capabilities in the organisation, but also by adapting his organisational model to keep up with the constantly evolving needs of their customers.
Did you miss the conference? Keep track of this post, the slides of the presentations will be made available soon. In the meantime, you can experience what you have missed at the event, the exclusive guided tour behind the scenes of Kinepolis and the ultimate 4Dx movie experience the attendees were invited to.
A special thanks to Bjorn Van Reet who kindly organised this experience for the CIONET members!