Blog word cloudI just concluded six months of research looking at how firms plan strategy in the age of the customer. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I concluded that companies that fail to adapt to increasingly powerful customers, and disruptive competition, will not simply face near-term disruption — they risk their long-term viability.

I also found evidence of firms making changes in how they plan business strategy. High-performing companies look at strategic planning as a continuous process with a focus on customer value and loyalty.

In my latest report on strategy, I identify new responsibilities for CIOs, CMOs, and business-unit leaders in strategic planning. The report focuses on three ways CIOs and CMOs must step up and serve as a shaper of customer-obsessed business strategy that generates greater loyalty and drives better performance.

To succeed in the future, CIOs need to collaborate effectively with peers across the C-suite, especially the CMO and business-unit leaders, to build strategies and a shared business technology agenda, focused on customer outcomes.

Here are four tips from the research:

1.     It's time to separate strategic planning from the annual budget cycle. Annual strategic plans hold firms back from quickly reacting to fast-evolving markets. While strategies must be funded, continuous test-and-learn approaches will more quickly reveal opportunities and weaknesses.

2.     In the age of the customer, the CMO must help executives get inside the mind of the customer. Strategies that improve the value the customer perceives from the brand relationship will win. We must map strategy to the customer journey — present and future — to win in the age of the customer.

3.     Meanwhile, technology is changing too fast for executives to keep up. CIOs must help shape strategy by revealing what's possible today and into the future; they must show how technology will become a source of customer value and help executives prepare for the future.

4.     To make effective strategy choices, business-unit leaders need to understand both their customer and how technology creates value. Only by partnering with the CMO and CIO and embracing a continuous strategic planning process will business leaders win in the age of the customer.

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