Article image

Peter Weill on Digitally Driven Customer-Centricity

An Interview with the Chairman of MIT-CISR
August 19, 2013
In This Interview
Peter Weill

At a Glance

Professional Focus: The role, value, and governance of digitization in enterprises and their ecosystems

Career Highlights

2000–present, chairman and senior research scientist, Center for Information Systems Research, MIT Sloan School of Management

Foundation professor and chair of management (information systems), member of the board of directors, MBS professorial fellow, Melbourne Business School

Number 24, “The Top 100 Most Influential People in IT,” Ziff Davis, 2008

Outside Activities

Articles published in Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, and the Wall Street Journal

Peter Weill is chairman and senior research scientist at the Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He recently spoke with The Boston Consulting Group’s Benjamin Rehberg about ways that financial services companies can use digital technologies to drive customer-centricity.

Peter, you and your team have been studying digitization for some time now, and you are a thought partner of companies worldwide that are seeking to utilize digitization to achieve greater customer-centricity. In your experience, what key changes must a company make to succeed on this front, and how drastic do the changes need to be for a company to achieve sustainable advantage?

To dramatically increase the quality of the customer experience using digitization usually does require fairly radical organizational surgery. USAA, for example, added a customer experience group, organized by life events, that sits between product owners—those responsible for the company’s product lines (including credit cards, car loans, and mortgages)—and the customer. (See “Customer-Centricity in Financial Services Goes Digital,” BCG article, August 2013.) In financial services companies that use this type of arrangement, the customer experience group is responsible for ensuring a great multiproduct customer experience, measured with such metrics as the company’s Net Promoter Score and cross-selling effectiveness. The product owners are typically measured by the P&Ls for their respective products and by their degree of innovation. 

For most financial-services companies, this means a fairly radical reorganization. But if you believe, as I do, that financial services is no longer a product play—that today it is more a multiproduct customer-experience play—packaging products organized by life events, for example, makes great sense. This, however, typically requires product consolidation.