Success Lies In Knowing the Needs of the Customer

Success Lies In Knowing the Needs of the Customer

By Steve Ambrose, CIO, DTE Energy

Steve Ambrose, CIO, DTE Energy

Technology challenges in meeting enterprise needs

Technology is deeply integrated into our company's daily work, and the IT experience affects our customers and our employees. We seek to provide our employees with positive IT experiences so that technology enables them to do their work well, rather than slowing down their progress.

Corporate IT can and should have a "consumer grade experience" and by that I mean, it just works. The corporate devices and software that employees use should be as intuitive to use as the consumer products and platforms at home. I expect providers to more thoroughly enable this "it just works" approach, and we need to enable that positive experience throughout the enterprise.

Current challenges in the business

With the commoditization of technology, the little things are often the big things. Gaps become more apparent and one-offs are sometimes seen as tempting workarounds. In some cases, a straightforward technology roll-out is reasonable, and in most cases an "80 percent solution" is within reach. But much of what keeps me awake at night are our opportunities to think differently about how we respond.

Technology trends that influence the enterprise

We are actively pursuing ways to better  understand our customers' specific needs and to offer them more choices to interact with us when and how they choose. This customer channel strategy both challenges and enables our business to better understand and satisfy our customers' needs. We look forward to evolve through process innovation and creativity.

"My advice is to recognize that the game is never over"

The changing role of a CIO

The energy sector is a mature and asset-intensive industry. Maintaining those assets is core to our business, and one of my roles is to ensure we manage our IT-related assets with the same level of care. This positions us to be deliberate in prioritizing our projects and asset investments over time.

My broader role is that of a senior leader who brings both IT and business experience to the enterprise table. I partner with my colleagues to help the company move forward, and as appropriate we leverage technology as part of that journey.

The technical acumen in our company continues to rise, thanks to the consumerization of technology, BYOD policies, and cloud solutions among other factors. As a result, my role has shifted from "just" aligning IT-enabled solutions with our corporate strategies to establishing an ongoing dialogue that enables us to co-create our digital future.

My advice for CIOs

As a culture we are committed to evolve. We encourage employees to surface the problems they see every day, suggest improvements, and rapidly experiment with process and technology solutions. As an example, for over five years we have offset inflationary cost pressures and maintained favorable performance. IT-enabled continuous improvement has helped us achieve those strong results by driving out waste, improving quality, and gaining productivity.

My advice is to recognize that the game is never over, and to activate the latent energy in your employees to surface opportunities both big and small. Let them experiment with IT solutions throughout the process of discovery and learning, and often truly amazing results will emerge.

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