Customers Should Be at Center of Digital Strategy Credit: Chart image via Shutterstock

Does your business have a digital strategy? If not, it may be falling behind, new research finds.

A new study released by IBM revealed that more than half of midmarket companies lack an integrated digital strategy — but many are on the move to change that.

In a survey of more than 300 midmarket C-level executives, IBM's study addressed several business issues, including the expanding role of customer engagement, organizational management, marketing and economic priorities, and future strategic growth plans. With technology becoming the dominant driver of business change, many companies are poised to adopt digitalization, the study found.

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The study revealed that the majority of midmarket chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) plan to digitize their offices over the next few years. This digitization aims to focus on the customer experience, the survey found.

"Understanding what resonates well with these customers can bring valuable insights to the development of new products, services and promotions, enabling smaller businesses to break through in this challenging and influential segment," said John Mason, general manager at IBM Midmarket Business. "Smaller companies which use their agility to place customers front and center in their ecosystem, [and] embrace cloud, social and engagement marketing strategies could end up huge winners."

To successfully implement an integrated digital strategy, midmarket C-level leaders' top priorities include Big Data analytics to gain customer insights, identification of emerging trends, and the use of mobile and cloud technologies, the study found.

The study also revealed that there should be a focus on executing a cohesive social media plan — 65 percent of respondents said that not having one is the biggest barrier towards digitalization. A strong digital strategy should also recognize social networks as a channel for fostering collaboration, and there is also a need to better understand how to measure social media return on investment (ROI), the study found.

Combined, analytics, mobile and cloud technologies, and social media give businesses access to the most powerful segment of consumers, the study revealed. Such digitalization enables brands to reach influential customers who have a significant interest in their products and services, which opens doors for creating deeper connections, better engagement and the conversion of customers into influencers.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.