Welcome to the Age of the Customer!

Posted by John H. Heinrichs

Dec 6

Today's consumers are more socially and digitally connected.  Thus, as such, these better informed consumers can have tremendous influence in the decision process regarding acquiring various products and services. These consumers research information about various products and services using the internet.  In fact, today, 34.3% of the world’s population is digitally connected and uses the internet for a variety of purposes. (1)  These consumers share their opinions and insights via comments, tweets, or on blog posts.  In fact, Forrester Research defines this shifting trend as the start of “The Age of the Customer”. (2)  This new age is demanding a renewed and innovative focus on the definition of the role and responsibilities of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) in organizations.

Enter Information Systems and Management (ISM) Professionals

To begin embracing these knowledgeable consumers in this new age is nothing short of a tremendous challenge for the organization's CMO.  Given the tremendous power and insight generation capability that information technology can provide the CMO and their teams, astute and savvy CMOs are rapidly turned to information technology as an enabling tool to reach and engage with these consumers.  In fact, Gartner predicts that by “2017, the CMO will spend more on IT (Information Technology) than the CIO (Chief Information Officer).” (3)  CMOs are spending on new personalized, responsive, and dynamic websites that can be created to reach consumers when and where they want to be reached.  These effective websites can be used to reach these individual consumers in a highly relevant and personalized fashion on the devices that these consumers choose to use.  Given that the CMO is responsible to reach these consumers and that information technology tools and applications can provide CMOs the ability to perform their responsibilities effectively and cost efficiently, it is no wonder that the CMOs are spending more on IT than the CIO and that CMOs are hiring these ISM professionals that can deliver the results.  



After all, as shown in the above graph, the competitive landscape has shifted, and it’s no longer "marketing" that drives organizational growth – but rather, it is "digital marketing" to empowered consumers that drives this growth.  The CMO must understand how to position their organization in cyberspace. Key to this positioning is understanding that with this inbound information technology, the consumer chooses when to come to you. Because of that, CMOs require a team that is skilled in search engine optimization (SEO), developing inbound links to the website, creating engaging content via blogging, tagging the content correctly, and using social media appropriately.

Typically, the first contact that these digital consumers have with the organization is with their website.  Since this is the first touchpoint, organizations must deliver an amazing responsive, personalized, and interactive experience that the consumer finds compelling.  The consumers are demanding it.

How does the CMO know that consumers are demanding a responsive experience? 

Consider that "88% of U.S. adults own a cell phone of some kind and more than half of these cell owners (55%) use their phone to go online,” or that "45% of those who use the internet on their phones prefer web browsing on their mobile devices," or that "17% of the U.S. cell phone adult users prefer going online by using their phones instead of desktops, laptops, or tablets." (4) 

How does the CMO know that consumers are demanding a personalized experience? 

Ask Gravity. Gravity delivers delivers personalized content to visitors of sites and reports that these partner sites say that "click through rates have grown two to three times", that "site loyalty, as measured by monthly return rate, is up three fold", and that "its partners have seen pageviews increase more than 40 percent on average". Enough said. 

If the organization does not provide a personalized website experience for for the new age consumer, they will go elsewhere - probably to your competitor!  If the organization does not have a responsive and personalized wesite experience, it is at a competitive disadvantage with organizations that are proactive. Developing this personalized website experience for consumers depends upon skilled inbound information technology individuals. 

Consider Your Future:

Consider entering this dynamic and rapidly changing field. Success is not guaranteed.  You must update your Inbound Information Technology skills.  So, consider looking into the Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Information Systems and Management (PBISM) .  Explore our the site to find out more information about web design and development.  Learn about Inbound Information TechnologyClick on the link below.  Enjoy! 



  1. Miniwatts Marketing Group, (Accessed: August 26, 2013), Internet usage statistics. http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm
  2. Forrester Research, http://www.forrester.com/aboutus
  3. Laura McLellan, (January 2012), By 2017 the CMO will Spend More on IT Than the CIO, http://my.gartner.com/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=202&mode=2&PageID=5553&resId=1871515
  4. Aaron Smith, (June 2012),  Pew Internet & American Life Project, http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Cell-Internet-Use-2012.aspx
  5. Michael Carney, (March 2012), Gravity’s Early Stats Show that Users Prefer the Personalized Web, Whether They Know It or Not, http://pandodaily.com/2012/03/24/gravitys-early-stats-show-that-users-prefer-the-personalized-web-whether-they-know-it-or-not/
  6. Paul Downey, The Web at Your Service WWW, on Flickr, the image was from http://www.flickr.com/photos/psd/263092176/,  it is used in this blog post following the posted creative license - http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en
  7. Trip Kucera, (January 2012), Aberdeen Group, Targeting and Personalization Drives the Marketing Executive’s Agenda for 2013
  8. Francois Laxalt, (April, 2013), CMOs: With Your New Great Power Comes New Great ROI Responsibilities, http://www.business2community.com/marketing/cmos-with-your-new-great-power-comes-new-great-roi-responsibilities-0453556
  9. Tracy Stokes, (October 2013), In The Age Of The Customer, Superior Customer Experience Differentiates Retail Brand Leaders, http://blogs.forrester.com/tracy_stokes/13-10-23-in_the_age_of_the_customer_superior_customer_experience_differentiates_retail_brand_leaders

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(October 2013)
(Accessed: August 26, 2013)

Topics: Inbound Information Technology

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