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According to the 2013 IBM C-Suite study, only 34% of organizations today have an in-depth understanding of their customers. However, by 2017, IBM projects that 78% of organisations will have that deep of an understanding of their most important asset: their customers.

These stats raise an important question about the state of customer intelligence today: What's currently missing from the tool set of business leaders? After all, advancements in technology have given companies more information than ever to work with. So why are the majority of companies still lacking the necessary wisdom to get closer to their customers?

Big Data is exactly that: big and data that is rear-view focused. Social media data is un-profiled and passive. Trackers provide a snapshot in time.

At a time when companies are swimming with huge amounts of data, what's missing is the ability to collect insight from customers simply, effectively and holistically. What companies are missing are the attitudes, drivers, experiences, opinions, ideas and feelings of their customers. In short, companies are missing customer intelligence.

Customer intelligence is not about research. It is more than that. When used right, the insight of your customers can in fact help drive revenue in several ways:

  1. It digs deeper. Customer intelligence helps companies answer the WHY of customer behavior. It's not just about what they've done, when and where.
  2. It changes the way companies go about doing business. Customers can verify your gut feeling, or they can tell you in advance if you're on the wrong path. Consistent customer engagement helps you get relevant data to make a more confident business decision.
  3. It enhances your relationship with customers. At its core, customer intelligence helps evolve the way companies connect with their market and how they re-establish the relationships all businesses used to foster. It's about taking your most important asset - your relationship with your customers - and driving it into the heart of everything you do. It's about leveraging the intrinsic 'feeling' of inclusion, being valued and of being a part of a real community.

Empowered customers expect to be heard, are mobile and are looking to be entertained. Competing for a share of customers' digital consumption requires marketers and business leaders to understand their customers.

One company that demonstrates how customer intelligence can drive revenue is Singtel. To bring the voice of the customer into the fast-changing world of communications technology, Singtel Group Digital L!fe looked for a solution that would allow the team to quickly engage with customers and bring their ideas to the table for marketing and managerial decisions. By engaging its various online customer communities across the Asia Pacific, Singtel has established an ongoing dialogue with digitally savvy customers that help influence strategic decisions and directions the company takes.

Just like Singtel, companies should infuse the voice of customer into the decision making process.

Imagine a day when you're part of the 34% from IBM's study that have a deep of understanding of your customers. Imagine a world where you have a trusted community of your customers that you can turn to at any time and ask any question that is important to your business today - a world where you have a highly organised way of capturing the attitudes, drivers, experiences, opinions, ideas and feelings of your customers. A world where you can dynamically collect customer wisdom and make timely business decisions. That's collective wisdom.

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