Managing Customer-Centric Information: The Challenges of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Deployment in Service Environments

Managing Customer-Centric Information: The Challenges of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Deployment in Service Environments

Martin R. Fellenz, Mairead Brady
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/jal.2010070105
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Despite many years of business-orientated information and communication technology (ICT) deployment, contemporary organisations continue to struggle with customer-centric implementation of new technologies that are profitable and contribute to sustainable service business success. This paper reviews the difficulties inherent in using ICTs to manage customer-related information, and identifies the particular challenges for customer-centric deployment of ICTs. It provides a model of different levels of customer centric information use in organizations. The authors review implications for future research in this emerging area and conclude that the challenges of ICT deployment and use must be addressed with an uncompromising focus on customer value as the central principle of both ICT design and deployment, and of information management in service organizations.
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In the current strategic environment, business success depends on a company’s ability to understand service-based value creation for customers. One core requirement is the ability to transform customer-related data into information and ultimately into usable knowledge. Winning companies will be those that not only successfully install information and communication technology (ICT), but that also focus on the management of information rather than the management of technology, recognizing information as the strategic asset that can help them gain competitive advantage (Davenport, 2006; Fisher, Raman, & McClelland, 2000; Glazer, 1991; Greenyer, 2006; Myburg, 2000).

In this chapter we discuss the challenges for companies of adopting customer-centric information management involving ICT. The core premise of this chapter is that to achieve sustainable service-based business success, all firms need to adopt a service-dominant logic (Vargo & Lusch, 2004, 2008) as the basis for organizing and managing their internal and market oriented activities. This in turn necessitates a customer centric orientation throughout the organization, which demands significant changes to the predominant functional organizing principles as well as to predominantly functionally oriented mindsets still found in most service organizations. Such a customer centric orientation in formal (e.g., structural) and informal (e.g., cultural, behavioral) aspects of service organizations requires and – in turn – is supported by customer-centric ICT deployment and use, as well as customer centric information management (see Figure 1).

Figure 1.

The role of customer centric ICT deployment, use and information management for sustained service-based business success


The reciprocal relationship between such ICT deployment and use on the one hand, and customer centric information management on the other, is the central focus of this chapter. More specifically, we identify and consider challenges involved in deploying and using ICT in service environments to enable customer centric information management.

The chapter is structured as follows: We briefly consider the dynamics of sustained service-based business success by discussing the service dominant logic and customer centricity. In the light of this discussion we then consider in more detail the requirements for ICT deployment and use, and in particular the role of customer centric information management, in service organizations. We present a model of different levels of customer centric information use that highlights the differences between product and customer centric approaches. We then present suggestions for further research to advance understanding of these crucial issues.


The Service Imperative And Business Success: The Service Dominant Logic

Business challenges are growing due to the intensifying pressure of a globalised networked world, with increased market diversity, intense competition, a major financial and credit crisis leading to global recession, demanding and well informed customers and advances in technology. Customer centricity provides the best means to develop and grow business by staying close to and understanding customer’s needs and wants. This also allows service providers to co-create innovative new needs and wants with customers that can prove to be transformational for both customer and company. As Gerard Kleisterlee, President and CEO of Royal Philips Electronics said ‘we live in a world where business success and failure is increasingly dependent on a company’s ability to align its resources around the customer’ (McClune, 2003). Within these parameters the management and use of customer information becomes crucial. Companies need to ensure that they are ‘getting their people to embrace the right behaviors and values for working with information” (Fisher, 2000, p. 70).

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