CIOs find that personalization pays off

Many CIO 100 award-winning projects focus on a more personalized customer experience. But these innovations also require CIOs to manage issues such as customer privacy, product design, business processes and enterprise architectures.

"Everything we do is about putting the customer first." If that sounds like a typical quote from a chief marketing officer, think again.

These days, you're just as likely to hear that from an IT leader, and in this case the speaker was Verizon Wireless CIO Shankar Arumugavelu. "We're putting a significant premium on personalization," he explains, echoing a theme expressed by many of our 2015 CIO 100 award winners (see "Digital Enterprises Are Getting VERY Personal With Customers"). "The entire customer experience comes together in IT."

Innovation and business value are the twin engines that drive our annual CIO 100 awards program, launched in 1988 to honor the accomplishments of IT organizations. Each year, we see the hottest business trends reflected in the winning IT projects, and this year's dominant themes revolved around the customer experience, business agility, real-time analytics and mobile applications.

For example, honoree Hilton Worldwide was recognized for developing a digital check-in system that enables guests to use their mobile devices to select their own rooms from visual floor plans at more than 4,200 hotels. "Guests now expect a level of personalization," says Hilton CIO Bill Murphy. "It's a big priority. We view it as differentiation in the market."

Yet in one of the ironies of our increasingly digital world, many companies find that there's more customer information in their Web analytics systems than there is in the heads of the employees who deal with customers face to face. As our story reveals, injecting the power of technology into personal interactions can be complex and costly--raising a host of issues around customer privacy, product design, business processes and enterprise architectures. "When you [consider personalization], you need to really understand your master data sources and your production ecosystem and get out in front of any integration or production issues early on," says CIO Mitch Hansen of Boston Heart Diagnostics, which won a CIO 100 award for its uniquely customized health reports for patients with cardiovascular disease.

In addition to recognizing our CIO 100 winners, this issue also introduces the five newest members of our CIO Hall of Fame (see "New Members of the CIO Hall of Fame Share a Pioneering Spirit"): Cisco's Rebecca Jacoby, Eli Lilly's Ina Kamenz, AECOM's Tom Peck, State Street's Chris Perretta and Avnet's Steve Phillips.

We look forward to congratulating our CIO 100 winners and new Hall of Famers in person at the CIO 100 Symposium event, Aug. 9-11 in Colorado Springs. Come join us!

This story, "CIOs find that personalization pays off" was originally published by CIO.