Technology Wishlists

Information Week reports from Microsoft’s annual CEO summit with some quotes of what users want:

“What I expect from our IT systems is to be reconfigurable and adjustable to a full group of users,” said Klaus Kleinfeld, president and CEO of Siemens USA. “If I have people sitting in Sweden who specialize in offshore oil drilling, and I have a customer sitting in Texas who wants to do some offshore oil drilling, I need to make sure, in the shortest time possible, that the data flows.” There’s huge potential for companies that can figure out how to tap more quickly into the knowledge of individual employees, he said.

While much of the payback in recent years has gone to the bottom line, the target going forward will be customer-oriented initiatives, predicted Accenture chairman and CEO Joe Forehand. “If you look at the whole area of customer relationships, the cost of acquiring and servicing customers is higher than ever,” he said. “And brand loyalty is at a lower point than we’ve ever seen.” What’s required to win customers is deeper integration of marketing, channel, and customer-support functions combined with better business intelligence, Forehand said. “We need to get true insights, with the whole branding and channel strategies, right to the people who are directly serving the customer.”

Among the biggest and most basic problems encountered in companies is that the most popular collaboration tool, E-mail, can suck productivity from workers just as easily as it helps them. “We still struggle with the issue of E-mail in our [corporate] culture,” Siemens’ Kleinfeld said. “We have wonderful, beautiful tools that have made access to information very easy. That’s a blessing. On the other hand, we haven’t established rules, which makes this a burden on us and partially a curse.”

E-mail and other desktop applications could be more intuitive and easier to use. “Make it simple,” Marks implored Raikes. “You’re killing us” with features people don’t or can’t use. He joked that Flextronics would pay a premium for light versions of Microsoft’s apps. “We need to simplify those kinds of products, where people spend less time interacting with the product and more time meeting with customers and getting the job done.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.