Carlo Bussen, CIO of NALCO (National Aluminium), says the ICT team works "extensively" with both internal and external customers. This is a "balancing act" with regards to resourcing, he says. "Internally we need to provide robust systems and efficient processes and on the other side we have the salespeople, who are looking for innovative solutions for their customers. From a customer perspective both are important, we need reliable manufacturing and delivery systems and we must make it easy for the customer to do business with us."
For Simon Casey of real estate firm Barfoot & Thompson, these trends provide a different set of challenges for the salesforce. If the salespeople don't have easy access to great information, potential customers may be more knowledgeable about a particular property. "This starts to challenge the salesperson's role."
"I would say traditionally some companies have been able to build their relationship based on their knowledge," says Casey. "But nowadays, a customer might have the knowledge and so the salesperson has to provide other services as their strength such as marketing expertise."
Mobile and machine-to machine
For the CIO panellists, consumerisation of technology has brought a range of benefits.
For Aaron O'Brien, CIO at Les Mills International, it meant reduced call rates to IT staff. "They don't have network admin access but they can do whatever they want," he says, on the devices issued to staff.
"The only thing that we've banned is Torrent software," says O'Brien. "And giving that freedom, actually the responsibility came back on them and they started to really take ownership."
He says that after giving people Apple devices there was a reduction in the number of dropped phones. "They really started taking care of their equipment," he says.
He says that the call rates after introducing Macs were "surprisingly low".
"It was almost like people really want a Mac and then they're embarrassed to call the help desk if it doesn't work. Or, they can figure something out. They're going to ask their mate, 'How do you do this?' Our call rates have actually gone down as our headcount has gone up."
For Doug Wilson, CIO at Automobile Association New Zealand, the deployment of mobile apps helped automate transactions that would have otherwise gone to the call centre.
"We have experimented with [location-based] apps on mobiles," says Wilson, noting that younger people are more comfortable with this technology.
"We have been doing a lot of work with voice recognition in order to take out costs so that when people ring us we know what they want and can provide that information to the operator," he adds.
"Interestingly, we have some data when we experimented a year or two ago with asking people if they are ringing from home. We don't always know because they might be on a mobile and we cut out about 30 percent of their calls by just asking that question.
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