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The future of multichannel integration and customer engagement

The future of multichannel integration and customer engagement is nigh -- is your company prepared? In this #CIOChat recap, read tweet chatters' tips and predictions.

Tablets and mobile devices today; wearable devices tomorrow. The channels through which customers communicate are proliferating, and companies must move quickly in order to catch up with them -- and survive in today's business climate.

Organizations might be aware of this multi-device reality, but are they prepared for multichannel integration? Participants in SearchCIO's recent tweet chat agreed there are still hurdles for companies looking to improve their customers' experiences. In this #CIOChat recap, find out what participants and our editors predicted about the future of multichannel integration and customer engagement, and how companies can best prepare for it.

What does the future of multichannel customer engagement look like?

Nielsen's 2014 Digital Consumer Report indicates that retail via mobile devices shows no signs of slowing down, with 87% of smartphone and tablet users using their device for shopping activities. Given the opportunities it affords companies and brands, participant Will Lassalle pointed to mobile to kick off the conversation around the future of multichannel engagement:

Wearable devices are already on the rise, and SearchCIO Senior Managing Editor Rachel Lebeaux thinks their manufacturers have their sights set squarely on current -- and future -- customer engagement opportunities:

Wearables such as Apple iWatch and Google Glass could improve more than the consumer experience. A recent study found that integrating wearable tech into the workplace can increase productivity by about 8.5% and employee satisfaction by 3.5%, which means "store workers can now look up the information they need without abandoning the customer or visiting a stationary terminal," according to Salesforce. The study also revealed the inroads smartwatches are making in payment processing.

Executive Editor Linda Tucci highlighted the personalization of the customer experience, using such methods as geofencing, as an area to which multichannel engagement will migrate in the future:

IT consultant Sarah Griffin cautions that companies face a number of questions in improving in-store personalization, such as how many access points each brick-and-mortar store needs, as well as what types of devices businesses plan to account for.

It's one thing to have all the systems necessary to support a multichannel system; it's quite another for companies to collectively use that information, a point that Lebeaux drives home and that Lassalle underscores as a competitive advantage:

In the pursuit of multichannel integration and customer engagement, businesses often mistakenly focus on trailing customers using various touch points instead of the overarching customer experience, noted chat participant Mark Lorion:

CIOs can start measuring their marketing campaigns' success by determining which channels contribute to improving their customers' experience, according to Forrester analyst Peter Burris. "The channel becomes a crucial source of value in and of itself. It becomes intrinsic to the value of the product," he said.

Another challenge CIOs face in the quest for a multichannel integration and engagement? Working successfully with the marketing team. Lorion and participant Tim Bourgeois asserted that the chief digital officer (CDO) role, one that essentially blends technology and business, is a key player in bridging that gap:

Case in point: CDO Tanya Cordrey at The Guardian, a media property that has gone through a digital overhaul with her role as "digital facilitator." "Technology is just an enabler," she said.

Bourgeois went on to say that multichannel engagement should be part of a broader discussion that includes digital transformation:

How is your business faring in catching up with your multichannel customers? How are you working with the marketing team to make that happen? Sound off in the comments section below.

This tweet recap is part of our #CIOChat on multichannel customer engagement, hosted by SearchCIO. For more recaps or further information on our next tweet jam, follow @SearchCIO on Twitter.

Next Steps

Check out another recap to learn the benefits of a multichannel strategy and how to tackle the challenges of multichannel engagement. Then, read more about CIOs who are keeping up with their multichannel customers.

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How is your IT team collaborating with marketing on multichannel integration or other initiatives?
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They collaborate very closely. Marketing decides how we want to reach people, while IT focuses on supporting that and letting Marketing know when to reconsider what they're currently doing. It's worked out quite well, actually. 
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