Digital Age: The Fourth Wave of Technology

Cigna's CIO, Carmen Casagranda, looks at the digital age, data and the 'customer obsession.'

Carmen Casagranda, Cigna. Source: CxO Disrupt, Wellington.

Disruption is more than just a buzzword, it’s now a social norm, and it hinges on the role of data analytics in the age of the customer.

Carmen Casagranda, Chief Information Officer at Cigna New Zealand, explored the importance of finding a balance between how organisations interact with disruption, data and a term that Casagranda herself calls ‘customer obsession’.

“It is not a dichotomy… it’s an absolute fusion of data, it is the need to engage disruption.”

The New Type of Customer

Casagranda states that organisations need to put more focus on their customers as this is ultimately where their business value lies.

She believes that rather than segmenting markets on age groups, it is time companies begin looking at how they can engage with customers in the connected world we live in.

“Even the way in which we talk to our customer has changed. It’s not so much about talking to Millennials or talking to Gen Y’s or Gen X’s, actually there is a new generation of customers out there: the Gen C’s.

“They’re the generation of connected consumers. They transcend geographies, lifestyles, age, ethnicity.”

Due to their fluidity, organisations must learn to predict, understand and react to customer behaviour in order to remain relevant to them. With all organisations looking to go digital, differentiating your experience from competitors will ensure success.

“The company that reaches the top is the one also using technology to enhance the customer experience.”

Statistics show that there are 3.7 billion people on the internet and 4.9 billion people using mobiles. With 80% of these customers wanting a personalised experience, using digital capabilities to achieve this is more important than ever.

“We’re on the fourth wave of technology. We started with the industrial age, we moved into the IT age, we moved into the internet age, we’ve now moved into the digital age,” Casagranda claimed.

While the industrial age was worth US$0.3 trillion of gross world revenue, the digital age is now worth US$90 trillion dollars which is an indication of the mass uptake of this trend.

Therefore, Casagranda states that the best method to identify with the ‘connected customer’ is by engaging in digital platforms.

New Era of Disruption

After viewing the importance of digital in underpinning this disruption, Casagranda argued there was a new era of disruption driven by a fusion of digital, data and analytics.

One example was replacing colonoscopies with a pill-cam that can transmit 150 thousand high-resolution, digital photos of a person’s colon and intestines within 10 hours. Ultimately, these three aspects feed into all areas of our lives and should, therefore, be a key focus for organisations looking to move forward.

Analysing data is especially important as this is what provides the information an organisation needs to understand their customers and respond to their interactions.

Casagranda suggested unstructured data is difficult to understand.

Despite the fact that data in the past was largely structured, Casagranda emphasised that “80% of the world’s data is now unstructured.” This makes it difficult to understand the relevance of each interaction.

For example, Twitter posts often use colloquial language, have poor spelling and are written in different languages meaning collecting data regarding these customer interactions are more complicated.

Clearly, it is crucial that organisations not only understand this data, but also add value to the data in order to utilise it for their business strategy. This comes down to a range of aspects.

“Ultimately, the way in which we analyse this data fundamentally needs to change. We need to be able to be backward-looking and forward-looking. It’s a mixture of statistical analysis, computational analysis, science and ultimately art,” Casagranda explained.

Customer Obsession

Personalisation has clearly transformed the customer experience, but Casagranda also noted another two key drivers of change: accessibility and omnichannel experiences.

“How do we offer our customers the right products at the right time through the right channel? That’s what I like to call customer obsession.”

According to Casagranda, blockchain will soon move out of the experimental phase and become crucial in creating seamless experiences for customers.

She drew on the example of a car crash in which the weather, number plates, speed and the guilty party can all be processed through blockchain. This would then deal with the insurance claim, pay it out to your bank and communicate with the mechanic about the after-effects. In summary, human interaction would not be necessary.

Similarly, she praised Amazon for their confidence in their predictive analytics about customers.

“Amazon patented anticipatory shipping. They have so much faith in their predictive models that they believe are 98% accurate that they can anticipate what you are going to buy before you’ve even clicked ‘buy now.’”

Hence, data, analytics and digital experiences are all key to preventing digital disruption as the overall goal is to please the customer.

Casagranda says that to fully understand the customer, we must look at what motivates them. This can be achieved by using all of this information and creating an ecosystem.

“What if we created a marketplace model, used data analytics and insight and created an ecosystem.”

The ecosystem of organisations would surround each motivating model, and those organisations collectively use data analytics and insight to make a personalised bundled offer to customers. Essentially, it is sharing their insights to create a proactive customer obsession with no effort for the customer.

Overall, everything revolves around the customer. Gen C’s are looking for connectivity, accessibility and personalisation via digital mediums. Finding a healthy customer obsession and working towards these goals will prevent organisations being disrupted.