Few words have consistently buzzed around the digital age like \u201comnichannel\u201d \u2014 in response to increasing customer expectations for a seamless purchase journey, in an effort to deliver better customer experiences. CEOs themselves feel a growing responsibility to represent the best interests of their customers, according to KPMG International\u2019s 2017 CEO Outlook Survey.\nWhile multiple cross-channel interactions are important for customer engagement, they alone are not enough for companies to compete in today\u2019s environment, according to KPMG\u2019s new report, Competing for Growth, with insight from its 2017 CEO survey and KPMG-commissioned Forrester research of more than 1,200 organizations.\nThe key to growth, the report emphasizes, lies in the ability to design and deliver compelling, friction-free customer experiences. Delivering these differentiating experiences requires companies to orchestrate and connect with key stakeholders including customers, employees, partners and individuals across their own functional business units.\u00a0 The KPMG research shows that there is a set of eight integrated\u00a0 capabilities that distinguish the leaders from the laggards.\nThe bottom line is that connecting with customers and integrating the right channels is a good first step, but the rest of the business must also be fully connected, explains Julio Hernandez, partner, Global Customer Centre of Excellence Lead and U.S. Customer Advisory Practice Lead at \u200eKPMG.\n\u201cFor example, if a marketing offer promises customers they will get something overnight, but operations and supply chain can\u2019t fulfill it, then you\u2019re not executing on that promise,\u201d he says. \u201cIf your employees don\u2019t understand what kind of tone they need to take with customers and what the brand represents, executing against that vision doesn\u2019t work \u2014 even if you integrate interaction and engagement channels in the best way.\u201d\nThe Forrester research in the KPMG report, he points out, validates this hypothesis: \u201dWe found companies that actually invest in this integrated architecture actually do better,\u201d he says. Signs of success include optimizing and leveraging real-time data; optimizing the economic value of priority customers; identifying synergies with third parties; integrated payment mechanisms across channels; and a culture of innovation and agility.\n\u00a0Becoming a Connected Enterprise\nThe connected enterprise, according to the KPMG report, is able to understand what customers need and value, and achieve it by delivering the intended experience profitably. They also have the responsiveness and resiliency to evolve with the changing consumer and competitive landscape.\nFor most companies, the push to digital began in the front office \u2014 with a focus on the interaction channel and development of digital engagement applications. The challenge is this only represents a portion of what the business must do to execute on its customer promise. And while companies are recognizing they need to move beyond the interaction channel, they often fall back on a functional approach to address parts of the problem.\nThere are a handful of reasons for why companies have taken this fragmented approach, versus a more comprehensive method to becoming a fully-connected enterprise, says Hernandez. One is that companies still struggle to understand and get alignment around what their customers need, value and want. Next, many companies have tackled some of the functions around customer-centricity individually because it is easier to mobilize. However, this results in a lack a of grand vision in terms of how the different pieces work together \u2014 the architecture, the roadmap, and the blueprint. \u201cEach function may be doing something valuable, but they aren\u2019t working together,\u201d he explains. \u201cThere\u2019s a disjointed approach and it takes a great deal of discipline to weave these capabilities together as well as stay united towards the larger vision.\u201d\u00a0\nAccording to Competing for Growth, the good news is that high-performing organizations are increasing their efforts to become more connected by making significant investments across core enterprise capabilities, including:\n\nConnecting with customers with a compelling value proposition \u2014 that is, understanding what they want and how they want it.\nEmpowering employees to follow through on the value proposition.\nBreaking down silos and barriers between the front, middle and back office.\nConnecting with channel and business partners to help them understand the organization\u2019s goals and agenda.\nStaying abreast of market dynamics and digital signals \u2014 that is, being able to interpret, react and respond appropriately to the marketplace.\n\nIn order to begin to move toward a customer-centric connected enterprise, the report further emphasizes a series of key steps, including considering how you are performing today in terms of services, products and capabilities; defining the customer experience the organization wants to deliver; identifying the necessary requirements for delivering the appropriate customer experience; developing a roadmap for closing gaps; and then executing the plan and measuring progress.\nThe Value of the Customer-Centric Opportunity\nThe KPMG research in Competing for Growth found that it pays to be connected: Compared with less mature organizations, companies that invest across the eight capabilities are meeting customer expectations. In fact, 76% of mature organizations delivered against or are exceeding expectations, compared with 57% of all others. \u00a0\n\u201cWe were pleasantly surprised at how many companies are implementing these efforts and that the data supported our hypothesis that companies that connect their enterprise functions enjoy better returns and happier customers,\u201d says Hernandez. There is still more to do, of course \u2014 the research also found that only 24% are fully implementing all the essential enterprise capabilities of a connected enterprise \u2014 but he says the number of companies examining and investing in these integrated initiatives will grow.\n\u201cI think we\u2019re going to see a lot of companies moving toward this ongoing journey, using this connected framework and developing stakeholder groups that bring the organization together to properly execute,\u201d says Hernandez.