Innovation Rises to Meet High Customer Expectations in Global IT
According to Salesforce’s second annual State of IT report, global IT departments are at the crossroads of change as they evolve into strategic partners for marketing, sales, customer service and other business units. To succeed in this customer-centric era, IT teams are embracing artificial intelligence (AI) and seeking innovative methods to improve the speed of development cycles. In the midst of this change, IT is struggling to keep up with technological innovations while maintaining a secure environment that meets customers’ changing needs.
Ready or Not, Here Comes AI
The Salesforce study polled more than 2,200 global IT leaders to offer insight into how AI may impact organizations. While businesses vary in their preparedness for AI, the majority of companies could benefit from a confidence boost when it comes to implementing the technology. Only 25 percent of sales, service and marketing leaders said they were completely confident in the technical skills needed to execute an AI business strategy.
These fears don’t appear to be hampering the technology’s near-term growth, however. IT teams forecast 30 percent growth in AI over the next 12 to 18 months, the survey found. Over the next 36 months, sales teams anticipate a staggering 139 percent growth in AI systems that automatically recommend products to customers based on their preferences.
Because sales teams are more bullish on AI, IT leaders “may need to play catch-up to some of their counterparts when it comes to the impact of these technologies,” the Salesforce study notes.
Lines Blur Between Business and IT
With customer satisfaction playing an increasingly larger role in digital-age business strategies, IT has become the control center that drives business success. For instance, IT often plays a pivotal role in determining how business units leverage customer data, as well as in improving cross-departmental processes.
As a result, the role of CIO is evolving into a business leadership position. According to Salesforce, 77 percent of IT leaders say their department operates as a partner or an extension of business units, rather than as a separate entity.
Given this finding, it’s not surprising that 66 percent of IT teams say better collaboration with other lines of business is a high priority — second only to improving security policies and practices.
Confidence Is Key
The Salesforce report also reveals how high-performing IT teams operate differently from underperformers. If these labels sound harsh, keep in mind that they’re self-selective: High performers rate their teams as excellent compared to the competition, whereas underperformers rate their performance as average, below-average or poor.
In this way, the Salesforce study illustrates the virtues of self-confidence in IT. High-performing teams were roughly three to four times more likely than underperformers to rate innovating for disruption, improving the employee experience and gaining a single view of the customer as critical priorities.
In short, IT leaders are becoming ever more open to new technologies and innovations. This attribute will be essential to success in the era of tighter collaboration between IT and business.