Why We Can’t Let Luddites Ruin Global Trade




It’s a term most of you know as being somebody who is backward or uninterested in learning new technology.

Actually, the Luddites were worse than this. They were a movement in England during the Industrial Revolution who had the objective of ruining machinery that was used to build products at scale. They thought factories were a threat to custom assembly of products and ultimately to the agrarian way of life (as more people were moving to urban environments).

You can imagine that if you had spent a lifetime gaining a vocational skill and being a member of a protected industry guild that you wouldn’t be happy with technological change. And if your town specialized in an industry that was being replaced the Industrial Revolution no doubt wreaked havoc.

The Luddites would ruin machinery by “throwing a spanner in the works” (or a monkey wrench to the American reader).

It’s easy to see why people of the time would have taken great issue with machinery — it left some people (industrialists) very wealthy and made people previously in control of their economics often devastated. And of course since machinery costs money and lowers the number of people required to produce a product it pitted labor vs. capital.

It’s not too controversial to look at the march of history and know that there was no way to stop the Industrial Revolution and that societies were better off figuring out how to take newfound prosperity and convert it into a just society where all could benefit. If not for altruism than at least out of invisible-hand-like motives of wanting workers who were safe & healthy. It was also quite useful to one producing products to have people gainfully employed to buy said products. It’s also infinitely better in society when people don’t live at the margins and resort to crime.

There was a grave consequence to nations who were slower to industrialize because the scale advantages wiped out entire local economies in foreign lands including Germany and France and in parts of the Middle East and Asia. People who failed to industrialize, however well intentioned one’s goals, were at a competitive disadvantage to those who had.

Nowhere is this better captured than in the most mind-opening book I’ve read recently, The Accidental Superpower by Peter Zeihan.


Zeihan’s book is a fascinating history of how country’s outcomes are determined by topography and demographics — notably the economic advantages afforded by the luck of one’s natural advantages.

He outlines each major wave of competitive advantage of technology brought about by topography such as why the Dutch and the Portuguese and ultimately the British came to rule the world due to deep-water navigation and ports mastered through their proximity to water.

And he talks specifically about how water trade lowered the costs of transportation and thus products and gave such a resounding advantage to those with great water resources that other nations struggled to keep up. American has 17,600 miles of navigable rivers (more than the rest of the world combined) and water has a 12x cost advantage to land transportation.

Industrialization. Mass transportation. Cost advantages.

The movements raised the living standards dramatically of the countries that adopted them and as a result Industrial nations developed more “surplus” wealth that allowed them to invest in new infrastructure and to create specializations in the service economy that didn’t exist en masse elsewhere (medicine, management practices, banking, accounting, higher education, scientific research, etc.).

In order to combat the losses of traditional jobs we invested in education and training and public infrastructure that enabled the growth of the middle class.

If you could look back on history you might nostalgically wish for different outcomes and of course the Industrial Revolution wreaked havoc on the under-developed parts of the world but the reality is that if any nation simply threw a spanner in the works it simply would have been devastated by neighboring nations who did not. And if you look at the standard of living of even the least wealthy amongst us it is still vastly better than pre mass manufacturing.

And this is similar to the world we face today with global trade.

There are winners and losers in NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) but it is undoubtedly better for each of the societies: The US, Mexico and Canada. The free flow of goods without tariffs leads to more trade and lower costs and thus more consumer surplus. I know not everybody will agree but I can assure you those who don’t never studied Comparative Economics or Ricardo because the theory and math are very sound.

In trade, like industrialization, there are winners and losers. As societies we face the responsibilities (even if self interested) in ameliorated the impact of change through the same means we did following the Industrial Revolution — investments in education and infrastructure and retooling those left behind by change.

Our problem isn’t trade or globalization — it’s tax policies that favor the special interests of the wealthy and a political system unable to allocate resources properly to those who need the resources most to retool themselves. Again, selfishly, if the wealthy class doesn’t realize the need to take care of those less well off you will continue to see the kind of disenfranchised revolutions you’re seeing in those supporting: Trump, Le Pen (in France) or Brexit. We have probably only seen the beginning of the chaos.

Nationalism and nativism and xenophobia are impulses of the disenfranchised far-right wing of the political spectrum and are crassly being exploited by Donald Trump and the opportunists who want to help him seize power.

But the opposite is equally true. The far left wing, whatever their intentions, have unrealistic policies that aim to throw a spanner in the works of global trade that will bring less wealth to our country — including poor people — that will only fuel the far right. I have seen the allure of some of my youngest friends to the populist messages espoused on the far left but these are the siren calls leading to lower prosperity for all.

To try and pretend we can put the genie back in the bottle on globalization is a fantasy. To promise our manufacturing towns that we will bring low-wage manufacturing back to their communities by cutting trade with China is at best a lie and at worse a huge step back for progress — even for those most affected by change.

If we cut off ourselves to world trade we’ll lower our GDP (how much we can produce) and increase the costs of goods and the people who will suffer the most are those at the bottom end of the rung.

I know the left wing of the Democratic party (and Trump also, go figure!) are championing reductions in trade agreements but they’re selling our people an unrealistic bill of goods equivalent to arguing against the Industrial Revolution.

Here’s the thing. Obama has rightly been pursuing an American-Asian trade agreement called the TPP (the Trans Pacific Partnership) aimed at reducing tariffs and increasing trade.


I’ve listened to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and many of my super liberal friends rail against TPP because they believe it will undermine lower-income jobs in the US and hurt the interest of US workers.

It’s actually more complicated than that. Of course it impacts jobs and we need to work hard to create a vibrant economy and find ways to funnel income gains to the middle and lower classes. But increased trade also lowers the costs of goods supplied to America in ways the benefit consumers greatly.

Simply ask any startup looking at the differences in manufacturing in China or Mexico versus domestic manufacturing the US. The prices points for a BOM (bill of materials) would make most of these new startup products too expensive to reach a mass market. Intuitively we know that trade is important and that lower-income jobs should go to regions with the lowest cost labor.

And if we would have sensible immigration policies our companies could attract the best-and-brightest from around the world who already study at US universities and let them stay here and innovate and create jobs like Vinod Khosla, Elon Musk, Sergey Brin and countless others have done.

And while the TPP is an imperfect agreement that does hurt real people — the reality is similar to that during the Industrial Revolution. If we don’t lead in commerce and trade by expanding products, investing abroad & at home and lowering the costs of goods — somebody else will. And they will eat our lunch. And that somebody is China. And India. And Korea. And Russia.

As a nations we compete for trade and jobs and resources and we need to be sure that we remain competitive with the world. If we don’t build global trade agreements do you expect that the Chinese will simply focus only on their own domestic economy? Do you think the TPP countries will simply say, “Oh well, the US isn’t playing ball. Let’s all just focus on our home markets like the US”?


Trade has winners and losers. Let’s focus on creating global trade agreements and then use our wealth gains to make sure that our most vulnerable are taken care of and are educated and retooled and remain productive members of society.

Our startups can be “winner take most” but our societies need not be. It’s not in your personal interests for them to be. Distribution of wealth benefits all.

And if you want to read far more comprehensively on the topics of immigration (which actually greatly benefits countries by bringing younger demographics), topographic advantages of nations and how the changes in global resources may change alliances in the next 50 years please consider reading Zeihan’s book.

(Cross-posted @ Both Sides of the Table)

Why Raising Too Much Money Can Harm Your Startup

Amongst the most often asked questions I get from founders is, “How much money should I raise?”



Reflexively founders want to raise as much money as they can because they figure it will give them more resources, better chances of competing and a longer runways before they have to do the often painful job of asking, yet again, for money. Every time you ask for money you’re faced with the possible of feeling literally and figuratively like a failure.

I understand this instinct for more capital and I have two very different personal experiences: In my first company we raised an A-round of $16.5 million and in my second company we raised only $500,000 by choice.

I have this “How much should I raise?” conversation literally every week with startups. While there is no science to it, here is how I think through the issues with founders:

1. You will spend what you raise in the same timeframes whether you raise $1.5 million or $4 million.

It is a truism that with more capital you will hire people more quickly and spend more liberally whether it’s on external contractors, PR firms, attending events, doing legal work (trademarks, patents) or whatever. You will build out features or expend to platforms — often before you have enough market feedback to warrant it.

I was reminded of this yesterday watching my friend Justin Kan on Snapchat with this 10-second reminder, “No matter how much you raise at your company you’ll end up spending it in 12–24 months”

I would probably amend it to say 12–18 months. People do what people do. You have money, you spend it. And there are consequences for spending too much money.

I was always fond of saying about fund raising, “When the hor d’oeuvres tray is passed take two and put one in your pocket for later. Just don’t take the whole tray.” My analogy was that there are markets where it’s relatively easier to raise capital and therefore you should take a little bit more but you should create a budget where you only spend 70% of what you raise on a pace of 18 months.

But people never do. Justin is right.

2. How much you raise determines valuation

I know it sounds crazy but at the earliest stages of a company your valuation often is determined by how much money you raise. There is a general guideline of how much investors want to own in order to invest in your company and the norm is 15–30% with the most common range 20–25% per early stage round.

So the temptation would be to ask for $5 million because that implies a $20 million pre-money valuation if you’re able to only give away 20% or a $15 million pre-money valuation of investors require 25%.

A $15–20 million valuation sounds better than an $8 million valuation, doesn’t it? It seems almost silly to argue that it’s better to have an $8 million valuation. But it’s actually not that silly.

For starters if you raise at an $8 million pre-money valuation you’re much more likely to raise $2–3 million and not $5 million. It’s infinitely easier to raise $2–3m than $5m so you have a higher hit-rate.

3. The larger the round, the higher the price, the harder the next hurdle is to hit

But the bigger point I want to make is what happens when the coffers are depleted and you need more money? That is where over-raising can be corrosive. What felt great when you raised it $5 million on $20 million now feels like a noose around your neck because raising at an up-round of $8–10 million at a $40–50 million pre-money valuation is stratospherically harder than raising at a $20 million valuation.


Because investors need to imagine making a minimum of 10x their invested capital and early-stage investors are shooting for even higher multiples. The data suggests that the investors have a much easier time hitting a $100–200 million outcome than a $400–500 million outcome so it’s easier to commit at lower prices.

And if you raise the “5 on 20” and don’t grow into your next-round valuation you’re stuck because venture investors HATE doing down rounds. They’re corrosive in your relationship with the early VCs, the management teams will take them if they must but they end up feeling demotivated and in a venture world where great new deals are always coming around — why commit to somebody else’s problem child?

4. Constraints can spark creativity

Of course it never feels this way when you’re the founder, but constraints can actually force creativity. Each person is the company has to personally do more vs. lead others doing work. Each person in the company has very short timeframes for making progress because you know proof-points are critical in fund raising.

And importantly — having limited resources forces you to make hard choices about what you’re build and what you won’t. It forces harder decisions about whom you’ll hire and whom you’ll delay. It forces you to negotiate harder on your office lease and take more frugal space. It forces you to keep salaries reasonable in a market where wage inflation has been the norm for years.

I like talking about it as “holding one’s feet to the fire” because it’s an idiomatic way of reminding yourself of the obligation to constantly show progress.

The two biggest measures for me of early-stage company capabilities are:

  1. The ability to hire insanely talented people relatively quickly and without overpaying
  2. The ability to ship product early and often (in enterprise even shipping internal code or beta code matters)

Mo’ money, less fire.

5. Some people can skip first base

My partner Greg Bettinelli has a sports metaphor that I’ve become fond of which is “skipping first base.” Internally at Upfront it’s an entrepreneur who has enough of a proven track record that they can raise a $5–10 million A-round based on their prior experiences.

I like the skip first base metaphor because for some entrepreneurs they really deserve to start on second base.

Maybe they worked much of their career running a startup in a sector and years later they want to go after that market again and they know from day 1 what they want to build, why and why it would work or fail.

Second-base entrepreneurs often know a large number of talented technology professionals and other executives who would gladly come back and work for him or her so team assembly is both quick and impactful.

Second-base entrepreneurs often have the credibility to raise follow-on capital due to their historic track records and/or their venture relationships so clearing the valuation bar on a subsequent round becomes easier.

When we think about second-base entrepreneurs we think in terms of being able to get to market without having to pitch 20 VCs and thus have all of your plans in the public market because we all know that word travels fast and we think in terms of being able to pull in a relatively senior team quickly.

Often second-time entrepreneurs don’t want to leave the option of a safe exit at a smallish valuation on the table. They’ve made a bit of money, they’ve had a bit of success and they really want to go big or die trying.

Out of 30–35 investments per fund we like to fund 5–6 second-base entrepreneurs but mostly we believe in capital constraints as a positive force for both investor and founder.

6. Choose wisely

The obvious consideration for you when you think about how much money to raise is also from whom you will raise the money.

Some funds are geared towards a wide aperture of first checks but aren’t big on following on to deals that don’t attract follow-ons. These funds have a view that “the market will speak” and if they don’t support you then something must be wrong. There are some great funds that operate this way and I see some merits.

Other funds have the view that they can form conviction of whether this still represents a great investment or now irrespective of what the market says. These types of firms may see your follow-on financing as a chance to “buy up ownership.”

Most firms are somewhere in the middle. Knowing the style of the partnership will tell you something about what to expect if your cash starts to deplete and you’re not yet ready for the next round. Importantly, within each firm different partners also have different styles and different levels of street cred in their respective firms to get deals done where the external market isn’t yet ready to validate things.

Knowing the style and reputation of the firm and of the partner may guide you towards the right number. If a firm is known for being supportive of initiatives that take longer, you may be willing to raise a little bit less up front.

The “feet to the fire” mentality still holds even if the partnership is supportive. You’re always better off if you can take the next round to market because it will create price pressure that helps you get a fair valuation internally if that’s the route you take. If you don’t have external interest you may still get an internal round done but probably at a lower price than you otherwise may have. So there’s a healthy balance between investor needs and founder needs if you keep the pressure on yourself as though you don’t have a supportive internal investor.


There’s no right answer, only trade offs. Most people opt for the “more money equals faster progress and less time fund raising” mentality. Often this is a mistake and one that isn’t realized for 18 months until you next need to be in market.

Fund raising isn’t fun. But it’s an important process. It’s truly a marketplace where the validity of your idea is challenged and where your progress since your last time in market is measured. Marketplaces often provide the right incentives for people to perform. Having one’s feet to the fire can be painful, it also can provide inspiration and creativity.

And while having more money makes today easier, having a lower valuation makes tomorrow easier. So just consider the trade-offs as you plot your journey.

(Cross-posted @ Both Sides of the Table)

Why Acceptance of Failure is Critical to Startup Success



I talk about failure a lot because I think it can be tremendously instructive and I think that success without failure often masks underlying lessons.

I even prefer to fund entrepreneurs who have experience some level of set-backs in their careers or startups because I think it brings a humility to decision-making that I find healthy. I have experienced many first-time entrepreneurs with too much hubris if fund-raising came easily and press was fawning and employees joined in droves and customer adoption has been rapid.

When I hear the realism that comes from founders with setback it elicits an understanding of what it takes to be successful at a startup that frankly can’t exist unless you’ve walked in those shoes before. It is these stories that helps me bond more with the team because I’ve personally experienced just about every kind of setback at my first startup:

  • Raising too much capital, too quickly & at too high of valuations
  • Hiring too quickly and too senior
  • Building too much functionality before market validation
  • Charging too much, keeping prices too high
  • Seeking too much press before we were ready for it
  • Being too driven by quarterly revenue targets that led me to make bad strategic decisions about products, customers and staff levels
  • Spending too much time on inorganic growth (M&A)
  • Expanding too rapidly to new geographies (I didn’t want competitors to become entrenched)

I could write my blog alone on the mistakes I made.

But even more important than personal lessons of failure, I believe acceptance of failure at a societal level is one of the key ingredients that allows the technology startup industry in the US to flourish. I say this as somebody who has lived in 6 countries and worked in 9 — having lived abroad for 11 years of my work life.

In my experience the US loves the narrative of the come back. We champion a storyline about an underdog who failed many times but through grit and determination have risen above the odds. One of our greatest presidents — Abraham Lincoln — lived a lifetimes of failure and setbacks before being elected as president (1). One of our greatest technology leaders (Steve Jobs) had humiliating business failure before coming back to build the most successful tech come-back of our times.

Silicon Valley itself was built on the sciences with a foundation of trial-and-error and then improving the model and trying again. I believe this scientific method and trial-and-error approach is one of Silicon Valley’s most valuable strengths.

This came to mind a couple of years ago when I had the chance to sit down with the president of South Korea and she asked a small gathering of 19 tech & business leaders for opinions about how to make the Korean economy more “creative.” The backdrop explained was that it was viewed that Korea has been tremendously successful at copying and perfecting other people’s technologies but in order to compete more effective in the future had to be more creative.

Of course as a non-Korean I can only generalize but when it was my turn I told her my experience of living in Europe and Japan where failure seemed less tolerated than my experience of living in California and working in the tech sector. In London when founders failed they were ostracized in the press and culturally I believe it became harder to raise capital. Perhaps that’s changed in the decade since I left but that was my experience when I lived there.

In France in some ways it was worse because if you failed as a startup founder you shouldered personal liabilities that don’t exist in the US under our bankruptcy laws. You also ran the risk that if you hired employees quickly and then demand wasn’t as strong as expected it was incredibility hard to fire people. So founders took fewer risks and at the societal level with fewer companies taking fewer expansion risks job creation is weaker.

Labor-force inflexibility and personal liabilities are bound dampen the entrepreneurial risk taking and a society that shuns failure is likely to kill the entrepreneurial spirit.

In my discussions with Korean friends they tell me that there is big pressure in Korea to work for large companies like Samsung over startups (this is similar to what I experienced in Japan) and that the more educated and hard working ones family was the more pressure to join a prestigious firm rather than starting a company or joining a startup. Many are no doubt trying to change this culture.

People of Korean descent in Los Angeles are amongst the most entrepreneurial people I know — in technology but also in garments, fashion, food and so forth.

So I wondered out loud with the president if the government wanted to encourage more entrepreneurship — was there a way to help promote more of a culture accepting of failure? After all, if people feel more of a safety net for trying and not succeeding more people are bound to try in the first place and more innovation is almost inevitable.

Could government establish laws the encourage more risk-taking knowing that the consequence of 98 failures but 2 massive successes were enough to transform industries and society and lead to both job and wealth creation?

Could leaders of society try to change the culture in ways that encourage acceptance of failure? Could Korea’s largest companies increase their funding of startups and provide them with initial business development deals as so often happens in Silicon Valley? Could big business accept its own creative destruction?

I’m not sure I know how societies can change to become more tolerant of failure but at a minimum an acknowledgement of a problem has got to be the starting point for making change.

I feel strongly that lowering the bar for risk-taking in all of its forms: liabilities, work-force flexibility and de-stigmatizing of businesses that don’t succeed would inevitably lead to more innovation and more job creation.

I was interviewed recently by Inc Magazine and they have been publishing snippets of this interview online. I was asked about this topic of failure and you can see my views in the short, one-minute interview below. (2)

(Cross-posted @ Both Sides of the Table)

The Corrosive Nature of Over-Introducers



In modern society we’re all over-worked and over-loaded with information and tasks and to-dos and obligations. Nowhere is this more apparent than working in a startup where you are definitionally under-resourced and trying to make big accomplishments in compressed periods of time.

That’s why focus is critical. Saying “no” often to people who want to divert you from your mission becomes obligatory if you want to make progress. Modern-society is also littered with over-networkers and over-introducers and professional conference attendees. These people are like the friend in college who always tempted you by telling you about the latest party when you were at the library studying.

I find the over-introducers especially corrosive around first-time founders who often struggle with the balance of their time between tasks like building product versus tasks like speaking at conferences or meeting with potential business development partners.

Focus is almost always the right answer. Meeting new people is critical to business success yet you must be judicious with your time.

It’s human nature to try and be helpful to others. In many instances this help is genuine, well-meaning and productive. Most of us like to help create connections between people for whom an introduction, we believe, would be mutually beneficial.

For the respectful person we usually try to assess whether the recipient of the introduction would truly find it useful and we try to filter out unnecessary connections because we know that connecting people creates a time obligation. Many of us go one step further and almost always ask the recipient if it’s ok to do an introduction before we do it. It’s often called the “double opt in” as in you make sure both sides are ok with an introduction before creating it.

Draped under the guise of “being helpful” many super-connectors create flurries of meetings for first-time founders. I try to steer entrepreneurs away from over-introducers and I often find myself wanting to be careful about them becoming an investor in companies I back.

It starts seemingly innocent enough. A person at a board meeting starts listing all the people they know at companies a, b and c. Or an angel investor starts emailing the CEO of a company with all the people they want him or her to meet.

Newer founders are often flattered to make the connections, are not experienced enough to know which people are valuable to meet or are simply too polite to say “no.” It’s hard enough building a valuable product or service in competitive global markets without spending time on unproductive tasks.

I find over-introducers are often motivated by their own self currency. Showing founders they know important people makes them feel more self important. They assume that helping senior executives meet interesting startup people will show the introduced party that they are tapped in and relevant.

Over introducers use this currency liberally because in the absence of any real operating knowledge or without actually taking the time to diagnose what the important issues are at a company and how to truly be helpful, over-introducers fall back on the easiest and often least-productive form of help.

I know some will read this as an indictment of all introductions and of course it’s not that. I introduce people constantly and it’s an important part of my job. Each time I carefully consider whether the connection would be helpful to each party and I almost always ask both sides whether it’s ok.

Mostly I just wanted to write this as a reminder to founders to be suspicious of people who constantly introduce you around. And maybe also a reminder that the library, while infinitely less exciting than the party, is where real breakthroughs occur.

(Cross-posted @ Both Sides of the Table)

CIO workshop: ROI of customer experience

Customer experience is one of those vague phrases that one hears about digital transformation (itself one of the most common jargon buzzwords of our time). There are two issues associated with customer experience: determining the meaning and quantifying the value or ROI.

To understand the meaning, let’s turn to two authoritative sources, Dion Hinchcliffe and Paul Greenberg, both of whom are fellow columnists for ZDNet.

Dion Hinchliffe positions customer experience as part of what he calls “digital experience management:”

digital experience management attempts to provide a framework — along with supporting processes and platforms — that allows us to better and more systematically organize and manage all of these touchpoints. A subset of digital experience, customer experience management (CEM), is getting most of the focus today since the customer audience is both the largest and most significant in terms of generating revenue for businesses, consequently getting the most attention and priority.

Paul Greenberg talks about engagement as a point of evolution beyond customer experience alone:

So let’s take that back to why my definition of customer engagement? I repeat it here.

“The ongoing interactions between company and customer offered by the company, chosen by the customer.”

To explain.

  1. If the interactions aren’t bidirectional (between company and customer) they aren’t interactions
  2. If they aren’t ongoing then the customer is not engaged for more than a moment, and thus the company has failed at keeping that customer involved.
  3. Offered by the company – the company has to be able to provide the customer what they want to have.
  4. Chosen by the customer

In summary, customer experience drives how that customer perceives a brand, which directly affects their loyalty, purchases over time, and referrals (or warnings) to potential buyers. When customer experience turns into engagement, all those benefits become even stronger.

Despite the intuitive benefit of creating positive experiences for customers, many organizations struggle with allocating resources in this domain. These teams need proof that investments in customer experience will yield tangible results. Despite the intuitive benefit of creating positive experiences for customers, many organizations struggle with allocating resources in this domain. These organizations need proof that investments in customer experience will yield tangible results.

Professional services firm Avanade and marketing platform developer, Sitecore, recently participated in commissioning a study to show the business value of customer experience. The results were precisely in line with what we would expect: investments in customer experience do yield an ROI.

Some of the key findings include:

  • US $3 return on investment expected for every $1 invested in customer experience
  • Almost six in ten (58%) have seen increased customer satisfaction over the last 12 months
  • Close to four in ten (37%) have seen improved sales cycles

The graph below summarizes business benefits from customer experience, including higher revenue, greater profitability, and faster sales cycles.

Customer experience ROI

Customer experience ROI

This chart shows the benefits of improving customer experience. Of course, measures such as customer loyalty and retention quickly translate into higher revenue.


Loyalty and other customer experience benefits

Loyalty and other customer experience benefits

In this research, respondents described their reasons to focus on customer experience, including being more competitive, responding to customer feedback, and lowering operational costs.


Reasons for customer experience

Reasons to improve customer experience

The obstacles, or challenges, associated with improving customer experience include outdated technology and lack of qualified personnel and skills.


Challenges to customer experience

Challenges to customer experience

Consistent with the results described so far, respondents focused on revenue and profitability as the main reasons to improve relationships with their customers.


Lifetime benefits of customer experience

Lifetime benefits of customer experience

What this means for the CIO

From a CIO perspective, we can draw several conclusions:

Improving customer experience is crucial. The value of customer experience should be obvious, but sometimes we need to hear the same message again. In this day and age, can anyone seriously question the importance of developing relationships with customers that lead to engagement?

Technology matters. Doing this right requires a range of tools, from social listening to personalization. Therefore, the CIO and IT have an important role to play.

It’s more than technology. Although technology is important, improving customer experience requires a mindset and cultural shift. It’s really about recognizing that customers are central to all business success. For the CIO, this means getting on board and helping lead this charge.

Customer experience initiatives are one of those pivotal activities that require a coordinated technology and business strategy. Therefore, it presents an ideal opportunity for CIOs to participate at both the tech and business levels.

Disclosure: Avanade is a CXOTALK partner.

(Cross-posted @ ZDNet | Beyond IT Failure Blog)