Artificial intelligence (AI) is here and is no longer the stuff of science fiction novels or Iron Man movies. It’s real, it’s now, it’s predicted to have massive economic impact and transform business and our lives. All the hype and excitement surrounding AI make it hard not to jump on the AI bandwagon. It seems like every organization these days would like to leverage AI, and for good reason. AI can play an important role in digital transformation, improve customer experience, and contribute to an overall more successful business. Before you rush to add AI to your IT stack, pump the breaks for a minute and spend time doing some general research and thoughtful planning to gain meaningful value from AI and greater success down the road.
Getting organized before going AI
Organizing your data, although not a sexy, hot initiative like AI, should come before embarking on an AI project. It might not be glamourous, but if your data is messy and you know it needs cleanup, now is the time to do so before building a successful AI program. It’s important to know your systems, processes, IT portfolio, and where and how your data is stored and collected before implementing AI – especially if you’re planning to use AI for capturing information, process automation, and data collection.
Another must-do is determine what business challenges you’re hoping to solve with AI. The more focused and specific your goals are for an AI program, the more likely you are to succeed and demonstrate real value. It’s easy to desire unrealistic outcomes and hope AI will be the silver bullet for many business challenges, but it’s better to be laser focused on the goals for your AI program. It’s okay to think of big, exciting future transformations AI can support, but you’ll see the most success with AI from starting off by tackling smaller, specific challenges you’d like to overcome.
Who should own AI initiatives?
In Teradata’s “State of Artificial Intelligence for Enterprises” report, 34% of respondents felt a major barrier to AI adoption was lack of access to talent and understanding. “Companies will overcome these barriers with more executive-level awareness and an enterprise-wide strategy for AI implementation and use. This is ushering in a shift within the C-suite: Today, AI strategy is typically under the scope of a CIO or CTO, but, in the near future, the majority of businesses surveyed plan to install a dedicated Chief AI Officer to lead the effort.” The report also determined “business leaders must re-imagine how AI will exist in their enterprise. It has the capacity to disrupt all areas of a business, from the boardroom down to the data center. Adopting a clear and agile strategy will help these decision-makers realize AI’s potential by delivering new insights, creating efficiencies and innovating faster than the competition.”
AI brings digital transformation, not job loss
Many people share the concern that advancements in AI will put their jobs in jeopardy and soon robots will take over their role and people in the workplace will become obsolete. It’s unfortunate this misconception persists because AI is about transforming business and operational processes and complementing humans at work, not replacing them. At this year’s Gartner Enterprise Architecture & Technology Innovation Summit, Gartner shared its prediction that in 2020, AI becomes a positive net job motivator; creating 2.3 million jobs while only eliminating 1.8 million positions. This illustrates AI programs can partner with humans and work alongside us to accelerate digital transformation, improve customer experience, bring products to market faster, and provide value to so many aspects of a company without eliminating humans from the workplace.
In an article about AI assumptions versus the truth, Anthony Macciola, CIO at ABBYY, reminds us, “In reality, AI replaces mundane, repetitive and error-prone tasks so humans can focus on value-added processes that require creativity, problem solving and flexibility. However, workers carry unique characteristics like empathy and judgment that robots lack.” He goes on to point out, “Whether it’s revitalizing the digital mailroom, streamlining the onboarding of new customers via mobile apps and smartphones, or expediting the processing of medical claims and invoices, organizations will use AI to retrain existing customers and acquire new customers. After all, digital transformation is in large part the desire to create an optimal customer experience.”
On your mark, get set, go AI
Now that AI is here, has the potential to make a massive economic impact, and is seen as a trend that’s only getting started, it might be worth examining how AI could serve your business needs. Harness AI’s power but do so in a thoughtful, planned, and organized manner. Starting with good data, a solid IT infrastructure, knowledge of your IT portfolio, and defined business goals and strategies will save you time, money, and frustration in the long run. Establishing concrete expectations for your AI initiative, along with having a strong desire to innovate and transform your business, are two additional pieces that should make embarking on an AI project successful and rewarding for both you and the business. Stay abreast of the latest trends in AI because this industry is moving, and it’s moving fast!
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“The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.” That’s what Elbert Hubbard, an American writer, artist and philosopher, said more than 100 years ago, when the world was still in the manufacturing era and long before the fast pace of today’s digital age.
His words are more than applicable today, especially if a company is challenged to respond quickly to increased competition and changing customer demands. If that’s the case, customer journey mapping can help the company improve the customer experience, build brand loyalty, and become a market leader.
The power has shifted from companies to customers, who have the ability to easily compare products and switch brand loyalty at the click of a mouse. This increases pressure to innovate faster and deliver the best customer experience -- better than one offered by the competition.
But, it is not always easy to enlist executive support for the initiatives that will benefit the company the most. How can you persuade your executives that investing in customer journey mapping may be the smartest decision they make this year?
Here are five steps can help build the case to improve the customer experience through customer journey mapping:
1. Define where you want to go
What are the most important goals for your company today, in six months, in a year, etc? Does your company:
understand how your buyers expect to interact with your company
know the reasons why customers leave during the purchase cycle
meet fast-changing customer needs by adjusting your business processes quickly
go to market quickly with new products geared to what buyers want
What will your company’s customer base look like in the future? How do your executives define success with customers and how do they measure it?
Each stakeholder may define success differently. Various metrics … saving money, saving time, increasing revenues, reducing risks … may have a different value for each stakeholder. If you translate the value you see in transformation via customer journey mapping into the benefits each stakeholder appreciates, it’s easier to gain approval for a company-changing initiative.
2. Define where you are
In order to better communicate the value customer journey mapping can provide to your company, it is important to consider some of the better known concerns customers have expressed.
What are the major business challenges that your company faces?
a high number of potential customers who abandon the buying process before they complete a purchase
customers who don’t return for repeat purchases and customer ratings that are low in surveys and on social media
interaction with customers that is handled by many siloed business units within the company
When you clearly define your challenges related to customer interactions, you can also define precisely how customer journey mapping can used to support the resolution of each one. Additionally, it is important to highlight the value of using customer journey mapping to uncover unknown challenges customers face.
3. Identify your decision makers and stakeholders
It’s important to identify all of your stakeholders and find out what matters most to each of them.
For example, your call center, web sales team, mobile app and customer support unit may engage with the same customer in completely different ways. But the buyer wants a seamless, personalized experience each time, which is only possible with a well-defined and designed customer experience that transcends department lines.
The board and shareholders want to see healthy, steady sales and revenue growth while recognizing that the expense of continuously seeking new customers has grown too high. Without knowing the characteristics of repeat buyers and one-timers, the company can’t target new customer segments that are most likely to become brand loyal.
What is priceless to each of your stakeholders?
4. Create your value statements
Many try to pitch an idea within the company by framing it in what they see as the most important benefit to their role, while budget decision makers really want to understand how it will advance business goals.
How about using benefit statements in a new way to increase your success in getting buy-in from your budget decision makers? Begin with what matters most to them, then let them decide how much more detail they want on advantages that are created for different roles within the company.
Using your company’s challenges, goals and strategies, create your value statement for your decision makers and stakeholders, using the stakeholder benefit based approach.
5. Demonstrate the value of customer journey mapping and ways to measure it
Some executives measure their company’s success in terms of enterprise value: sales revenue growth, profit margin, earnings per share. Others dive deeper and look closely at value by business unit, market share or customer retention.
However your company determines the value of investments, every budget request will be compared with others. Not all will be approved, so often the decision is made based on which ones can be expected to deliver the most value to the company. Then it is even more important to show that the value of customer journey mapping can be measured and demonstrated.
Some of the benefits of customer journey mapping that can be estimated may include:
lower customer acquisition costs
increase sales and profits through better brand loyalty
higher customer satisfaction ratings - communicated through social media
reduced time-to-market for new products
more efficient and less expensive business processes related to customer interactions
improved competitive position in the market
increased customer privacy and data protection
Putting it all together
With a good grasp on company goals, challenges, what’s important to your stakeholders, a way to share the value of customer journey mapping, and how it can help your company achieve its digital transformation goals, you can build a business case for customer journey mapping and help your company move confidently into the future.
This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network.
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What might have been ‘elementary’ for the fictional detective isn’t always apparent to business leaders facing challenging circumstances. Companies today possess large amounts of data, but don’t necessarily have the context with which to draw valuable insight. That’s where enterprise architecture can help.
For example, consider one of our customers, a very large corporation that planned to sell several brands. Needing a smaller workforce, the company wanted to be fair to loyal employees through early retirement offers rather than layoffs. However, because they didn’t establish a model to provide context, the company learned later that the workforce they ended up with wasn’t matched to the brands they kept.
They failed to cross reference the HR retirement eligibility data with company architecture – work processes, org charts, needed skills, etc. – to determine if retirements would leave them with the right people with the right skills for the jobs that remained.
In an article in Harvard Business Review about lessons he learned from Nelson Mandela about the value of context, Bhaskar Chakravorti, author of The Slow Pace of Fast Change, said, “context is, indeed, king. You should embrace it, understand it, and make it central to your business model analysis; most importantly, you should not ignore or fight it.”
To test the importance of context, the Washington Post sent Grammy Award winning violinist Joshua Bell to play in a subway station. Hundreds of people passed by without a glance at him, yet Bell had played a concert just days before where tickets were $100 plus. Interviewed later, many subway riders said had they known his identity, they would have stopped. Years later, Bell returned to the DC Metro and played to a very large, appreciative audience because it was publicized in advance. This audience was given the context for his second subway appearance.
How can companies understand the context of their operations? It begins with having correct, up-to-date information about the processes, resources, outputs, skills, strategies, assets and risks of the company. When this information is collected company-wide and stored centrally so you have a ‘single source of truth’, it’s easier to evaluate and visualize the effects that change in one area can have on others. Enterprise architecture is the corporate practice that can paint this comprehensive picture and lead executives to better decisions.
Another customer, a manufacturer, faced a cost mystery. The company consistently exceeded its operational budget, but couldn’t explain why. As management dug into the details, they saw that overages appeared on the one day per week the plant shut down. This led them to the false conclusion that the overage was simply a necessary factor of this weekly shutdown. When the company paired the operational data with the process details from their architecture, they determined that the overages appeared at the same point in the process. A little deeper look, leveraging the context from the architecture, allowed them to see that a missing signal between two segments of the manufacturing plant resulted in material flow problems. Correcting the signal, at a cost of just pennies, put the operational budget back on track.
This was a textbook case of how many companies still run today, without clear visibility – and the context – of the operation as a whole.
I’ll leave you with one final story about the insight that context provides. It involves a New York City parking ticket mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes.Data analyst Ben Wellington found the worst place to park in NYC.After collecting data on parking tickets, he then geographically mapped the top 250 grossing fire hydrants in terms of parking tickets. He found that one location generated more than $55,000 in fines each year.
This was a clear outlier and required a more in depth physical review. A drive past this spot showed lines for a parking space clearly painted on the street in front of the hydrant. Adding to the confusion, the hydrant, unlike most, sat several feet back from the street. This made drivers think it was a legit parking spot. Without context – the map and visit to that hydrant to visualize the actual situation – NYC drivers would have continued to get parking tickets at this hydrant.
This article was originaly published in cio.com as part of the IDG Contributor Network.
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It all starts with a vision. This is literally the most difficult aspect of a digital transformation and its importance shouldn’t be underestimated. You have to know where you want to go and who you want to be before attempting to make broad changes.
Establishing and validating the vision is a process itself. It’s critical to understand where your vision fits in the market landscape. What are competitors doing? What are the trends in the industry? What customer expectations exist? You use the answers to these questions to build a customer journey map that will help you execute the vision, as well as lead the transformation. It’s one thing to have a vision and articulate it to others, but you also have to capture it in a way that you can work on it, build on it, refine it and communicate it throughout the organization.
At what point can you be confident in your vision and that your organization is prepared to undertake the changes necessary to achieve it? A company’s readiness for digital transformation depends greatly on its digital maturity.
Most people think of "Stairway to Heaven" as the 1971 song by the rock legends of British band Led Zeppelin. But, in a recent blog post, Geoffrey Moore, noted author and advisor to start-ups as well as established technology companies, referenced the Carnegie Mellon systems maturity model and provided his version of what it could be today. “The digital systems maturity model is presented as a stairway to heaven … an escalating series of steps, each building on the one prior, each enabling the one subsequent.” Moore’s stairway of systems begins at the bottom with systems of record, and moves up to systems of engagement, then systems of analytics, systems of intelligence and finally systems of disruption on the top step.
Moore’s idea of the digital disruption maturity model is “intended to help you and your colleagues diagnose your enterprise’s current state and help you target your desired future state, all with the proviso of taking things one step at a time.”
You can move up to the systems of disruption step when the other systems are all functioning well enough so that you can actually consider changes to the business model — a move that can be risky if not done right.
Observations of success
Consider a real example of how one company approached digital transformation, relying on a solid position at the top of the stairway to undertake major change.
It started with a vision to become an agile organization. That didn’t mean doing an agile project here and there, but actually transforming the company as a whole to be agile. This change would lead the company from its position as a health insurance company to one as a health management company.
It meant that processes and technology would need to change, so that the company could react more rapidly. Some capabilities would no longer be necessary, new ones were needed and others would have to change, all in order to support this new vision and direction.
During this transition, this company reviewed capability models and customer journey maps against the current state as well as the market expectations of where they wanted to take the company. They looked at the three styles of systems: record, engagement and insight. They realized that these systems move and transform at different speeds. So they established a pace-layered approach so they could have systems of record update somewhat slow and systems of engagement and insight more rapidly, but still ensure that the dependencies that existed between them were managed to evolve at the right points of time and synchronize at certain milestones.
With this in place, the question became, “how do we drive agile, rapid change to make the initial transformation and enable the company to become agile in and of itself?” They decided to leverage the Scaled Agile Framework in order to lay out an architectural runway, and drive continuous intentional architecture. This included using a capability model to establish high level guidelines to enable the many agile projects to end up where they need to be, even as they pivot.
Typical discussions around agile projects are usually done one at a time. This is OK with one project or one technology. But large organizations, with hundreds of projects running in parallel, need to be sure that the final outcome, after all the pivots, is a set of technologies that work together in a seamless manner to deliver expected capabilities. Having that vision to articulate an intentional architecture with an architecture runway is extremely valuable.
This is what the health management company did to speed up change. With the other systems running well, they were able to reimagine disruption to the business model to change who they were and deliver the original vision. They climbed their own stairway to heaven and were rewarded with an organization that was positioned to achieve their digital goals.
This article was originaly published in cio.com as part of the IDG Contributor Network.
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Several years ago, the Staples Easy Button became a popular advertising gimmick for the office supplies company. Originally just a picture in Staples ads, people clamored for a real Easy Button, so the chain made more than 1.5 million plastic buttons that repeated, “That was easy” when you tapped it.
It’s the kind of magic that company executives would like now to solve their GDPR challenge. Companies that weren’t doing a good job of data privacy protection before this new regulation face even larger hurdles now. And, there seems to be a scarcity of data privacy and legal experts available to help: at least 28,000 data privacy officers (DPO) will be needed in Europe alone.
Personal data protection laws were first established in the 1990’s. But complying with the GDPR means changes in business practices and processes on a far greater scale. Today’s common business practices, like the more sophisticated CRM programs adopted by most companies, contribute greatly to the complexity of meeting GDPR requirements. And, countless measures that companies plan to take to comply are expected to fall short in many cases.
According to SC Magazine, “A recent study found 37 percent of global organizations are unsure if they need to comply with the EU's GDPR standards.”
Gartner research showed that, “more than 50 percent of companies affected by the GDPR will not be in full compliance with its requirements.”
GDPR is catch-up compliance. The data, processes and IT environment of most companies are not structured for these requirements. For example, they don’t know which data they possess is forgettable or how to validate that the ‘forget’ has occurred.
Article 25 of the GDPR addresses the notion of privacy by design, which calls for minimal personal data collection and retention. In other words, collect only what’s absolutely needed for your business so you don’t have to create extensive measures to monitor or forget it.
How often do we all fill out online forms that seem to ask for far more personal data than they’d ever use: name, address, phone, email, age, first pet, color of your house, best man at your wedding, what type of pizza you last had, etc.?
Companies haven’t been careful about collecting information; they ask for everything even if there’s no identified need for it. Once the GDPR is in place, data protection by design will become standard when companies develop future business processes. In fact, data collection and retention processes, with privacy and security in mind, will be part of digital transformation initiatives that improve all parts of business operations, not just compliance.
But, right now, in the fall of 2017, everyone is focused on how to quickly achieve compliance.
So, how do you get started, or correct your course, if these next eight months don’t seem to give you enough time to get ready?
There are a number of people and products that suggest really large scale, cumbersome ways to reach compliance. There’s probably not enough time for these and they may represent a much larger investment than is needed.
I envision that GDPR compliance can be accomplished in just six steps.
conduct a preliminary GDPR impact assessment to understand the potential impacts of GDPR and determine what processes require further assessment
identify your compliance priorities … the processes that use sensitive data … and gaps where you aren’t compliant
complete the Data Privacy Impact Assessment (DPIA) and describe what measures will be used to mitigate impacts
implement a remediation plan that secures business processes and applications processing to support privacy rights
track incidents of non-compliance and take the necessary steps to correct
demonstrate compliance through key reports on processing activities, data breaches and more
With a carefully planned and structured approach such as this, along with tools that can help you carry out these steps, you may not need the Forget Button. Instead, after next May, tap the Easy Button and listen to it say, “That was easy!”
This article was originaly published in cio.com as part of the IDG Contributor Network
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Gartner has introduced a new event to Symposium ITxpo this year, Byte Size Insights Speaking Sessions. These short and informative sessions will cover innovative products and services and presented by industry experts to help you accelerate your digital journey. My topic, Speed Up Decision-Making for Digital Investments, will include starting with a digital vision ̶ you’ll need to first determine the direction you want to take: optimize or transform (i.e. a better you or a new you). Based on your chosen path, I’ll illustrate how you should incorporate a top-down and bottom-up holistic approach, then conclude with how you can leverage EA to speed up your decision-making. Additionally, I will discuss how Aetna combined agile methods with pace-layering to accelerate their digital transformation with MEGA. All this in 10 minutes, followed by a 5-minute Q&A session. So, be sure to mark your calendars for Monday, Oct. 2nd at 4:15 PM on Stage 4 in the Pacific Terrace.
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I might equate the loyalty of customers to individual companies today with the loyalty demonstrated in GoT. Loyalties last only as long as the relationship serves those who pledge their loyalty. If there’s a poor encounter with a company or a bad interaction with a king, all bets are off.
What does this mean for companies trying to cultivate loyalty from their customers?
Even if you have the biggest, best, clearest, cutest, fastest, first, most advanced mousetrap, if customers experience friction with your company… some difficulty or frustration finding it, ordering it, paying for it, getting it delivered, assembling it, accessing customer support, etc. … you have problems in your customer journey that need attention. If the total experience … all along the journey … isn’t good, your buyers may abandon their buying trip at any point along the way.
This led me to think about what long-standing customer satisfaction research has revealed … that satisfied customers will tell a friend about a good experience, but unsatisfied customers will tell nine people. Today, with the power of social media, it could be millions of people who hear bad things about your company, negatively affecting your net promotion score.
If we go back to GoT, if the king doesn’t know when his loyal followers become unhappy, he could be dethroned or face a war. So, it behooves him to find out what his followers like and dislike if he wants to remain the leader of his kingdom, The same holds true for every company today if they want to remain market leaders. Too many companies still focus only on creating the next product, and don’t pay enough attention to interactions with customers. Others don’t bother to check on customer touchpoints all along the journey; they take for granted that their customers are sufficiently happy with their experiences.
Managing the customer journey is how market leaders remain leaders.
They actively craft positive customer experiences so that buyers choose them over competitors. They don’t focus solely on how many mousetraps were shipped that day, but pay very close attention to how they interact with customers throughout the entire journey.
What can you do so that you know what your customers want and expect?
Be sure your company has the capability and the proper tools to identify and map the customer journey and every touchpoint along the way where customers interact with your company.
Identify touchpoints that create unhappy customers and repair them quickly. Don’t dismiss problems in touchpoints that deal with delivery, payments, access, etc. by saying they don’t matter ... they often matter as much, or more, than the product.
Recognize the moments of truth, when you could actually lose the customer.
Find the places where you can innovate with new products or services and use your customer journey tools to understand how this may change your processes and the need for different resources. Carefully consider how these new touchpoints may affect buyer loyalty and incorporate them quickly into the complete map of the customer journey.
Going even further, understanding the customer journey can help you develop your digital vision that can then make it possible to understand future customer expectations … what customers dream about getting from you and how they get it.
By mapping the end-to-end customer experience and ranking touchpoints, you’ll get a clear view of where you need to optimize the customer journey and invest in changes or improvements. You can go even further and link this information with data about your company’s internal processes and business resources so that you can make well-supported decisions going forward.
Most companies aren’t dealing today with kings or dragons, dark secrets or betrayals, but there’s much in GoT that tells us we should continuously demonstrate customer excellence. We can only do that if we understand each step of the customer journey.
This article was originaly published in cio.com as part of the IDG Contributor Network.
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Many may know the words of Bob Dylan in his 1964 inspirational anthem, The Times They Are-a-Changin'. If ever a song’s lyrics applied to the changes companies need to make through business transformation today, this is the one.
The rapid-fire changes that companies encounter today are like nothing that businesses have ever experienced. And, without a solid plan for understanding and navigating the waters ahead, chances are that even today’s high flyers may not exist in three or five years.
Who would have thought that Dylan in the '60s would foreshadow the business world 50 years later? He spoke to people then about the importance of getting ahead of the widespread changes that were happening throughout the world:
"Come gather 'round people Wherever you roam And admit that the waters around you have grown And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone If your time to you Is worth savin' Then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone For the times they are a-changin'"
This is the same message that businesses should be heeding today. The Dylan lyrics continue with, "and the first one now will later be last." It's certainly happened before – remember Polaroid, Blockbuster, Enron, Pan Am Airways, Bethlehem Steel and hundreds of others whose names we can barely recall?
Those companies were too late to their business transformation. With markets evolving at the speed of light and customer demands and preferences shifting swiftly, companies should feel an immediate urgency to:
Innovate fresh ideas for customers
Manage continuous change
Develop business capabilities that will carry them into tomorrow
Identify and manage new risks that will arise from transformation
I saw a bumper sticker recently: "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." Attributed at different times to Derek Bok, former president of Harvard, and Ann Landers, this quote could be changed slightly for businesses: "if you think transformation is expensive, try disruption." Because the times are changing so rapidly, we don’t have the choice to stand still and let our companies be disrupted by others, unless we want to doom our businesses to failure.
Leading companies across the globe have realized that there are certain strategic actions that are necessary for a business to truly transform. These include some basic measures:
Understand the customer journey and adapt business operations to keep buyers on the trek
Develop, evolve and map capabilities to better plan needed resources; match technology with operations and streamline the business
Cultivate an effective, standard way to identify and reduce transformation risks
Architect for transformation so you can facilitate necessary business adaptations
Focus on data as a critical asset to monetize and turn it into revenue streams
Foster agility throughout the organization, so that each division, department, group and employee can turn on a dime to get new products to market
But, what’s most important to transformation success? Leaders who are completely on board with transformation and who can drive their vision for change and lead cultural shifts. I see some of our customers succeed in transformation, but others who fail. The difference is usually leadership, or the lack of it. A leader has to be effective; transformation can’t be driven bottom up only.
If your leaders haven’t emerged to lead, if your company hasn’t begun to change with the times, or maybe had a setback with a transformation initiative, it isn’t too late – yet. Anyone in that situation can hum along with Dylan as he sings, "For the loser now may be later to win. For the times they are a-changin'."
This article was originaly published in cio.com as part of the IDG Contributor Network.
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I see Fortune 1000 companies take on transformation initiatives, integrating technology and business, to propel their business forward – and sometime reinvent their business - in today’s modern markets. I also witness changes in their operations and methodologies to develop and deploy new business capabilities. In doing so, they must also adapt current strategies to manage risk.
One thing that is obvious to me is that, in a transformative company, IT is a strategic business partner, essential to the success of the company. They focus on the business’ goals and architect business capabilities that will foster change and agility. They recognize that agility is requisite and change is perpetual in a digital world. They also recognize that ongoing evolution of architecture, sometimes referred to as continuous architecture, is not without concern.
I often hear from critics of this movement that continuous change increases risk for the business. Their belief is that frequent and ongoing changes will create instability and vulnerability over time. However, I believe that risk may be avoided or more easily mitigated. Here’s why …
Business transformation is an iterative process and by architecting for a specific outcome, one that has been vetted with the business, risks are more easily managed. Project scope is smaller and the visibility is greater, making it easier to identify and mitigate risk.
In an agile environment, development and testing is completed in shortened time intervals – sometimes in two week increments. These intervals serve as check-ins throughout the change process, and this enables the business to identify and manage unexpected risks before they become a problem.
Incremental changes can also help identify the systems of most value to the business, which in turn can create a clear path from legacy resources and functional silos to a service-oriented approach. The days where projects were conceived, designed and implemented over years with minimal to no change in requirements are gone, even if the business changed around it.
Markets are evolving too quickly and businesses must be nimble because the biggest risk to any company is status quo.
I believe that intimate knowledge of the business – the technology, processes and people, and an understanding of “what if” scenarios – can aid IT in developing business capabilities that can sustain continuous evolution. In the age of business transformation, enterprise architecture should be a strategic asset. Knowing how applications, processes and people are connected provides valuable insights that can help identify, monitor and mitigate the risks tied to continuous architecture and drive business transformation.
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Buyers today have more choices and more influence over when and where and from whom they buy. Therefore, it’s critical for you to know how they ‘journey’ through your company, from initial encounter to purchase (or repeat purchase).
How you carry out your customer journey mapping will make a difference in whether it will be a useful tool or an academic exercise that doesn’t provide value.
Here are five common mistakes companies make in customer journey mapping:
They left out critical touchpoints in the customer journey.
The touchpoints you leave out could be the ones where most customers exit the journey.
They relied only on what they thought was important to customers.
Find out for sure; ask your customers or you could be dead wrong!
They assumed ‘one size fits all’, even when there were significant characteristic differences between customers.
Follow one map for homogeneous personas, but adapt it when there are differences. Two groups of customers may set out at the same place and travel the first three touchpoints together, but then diverge into multiple paths.
They didn’t consult with the people who had the right information for the journey map.
A small group, even one that is very knowledgeable, isn’t always effective when it comes to assumptions about customers. Include everyone who has any information about, interaction with, or insight into the behaviors of customers.
They failed to review or revise the customer journey map after it was first completed.
Review, revise, repeat. Keep looking at it as your company changes, but more importantly, as the world around you changes.
It is the age of the customer. They have more influence, control and power than ever before. As we transform our businesses to stay more connected to customers, we should keep in mind the lessons others have learned before us and not repeat their mistakes.
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Companies like Amazon, Airbnb, Netflix, and others carved out huge market share by being at the forefront of innovation. They created astonishing market changes by delivering products and services that enticed customers to abandon their previous choices, even for similar or the same products and services. Functionally, what was delivered to the customer wasn’t necessarily different … watching a rented video at home … paying for a ride from here to there … sleeping in a room overnight when away from home.
What did change was how people accessed, received or interacted with the product or service. And, that’s where mobile, social media, cloud and other newer technologies came in. These companies leveraged technology in new ways to satisfy changing customer desires without necessarily inventing new technology themselves, but using it to re-envision existing markets.
Many are how using the verb ‘blockbustered’ to describe this phenomenon.
There are more than a few execs who are losing sleep at night, wondering if their company isn’t able to innovate enough to stay ahead and if they’ll be blockbustered. They are overstressed trying to come up with the right roadmap to insure not just their survival, but new growth and profitability … they want to be the new Instagram, Tesla, or Venmo.
How can they meet this very large challenge? How can they transform … from doing things the old way to the new?
For most companies today, IT is the key. If your IT department isn’t able to support business needs as they evolve at light speed … if it can’t provide new technology (or bring technology together in new ways) to gather customers and partners closer to you … if it doesn’t transform from an antiquated cost center to helping generate new revenues … you may face a very rapid decline.
In the past, IT provided technology resources for the company, but how and what IT offered wasn’t always based on what business groups … who were trying to develop and improve products and services to go to market faster … really needed.
Fast forward to today, when the very best IT teams are agile enough to evolve and adapt what they provide to the business, so that innovation is fostered and enabled throughout the company. This innovation drives new revenue streams, increases profits, reduces risk and creates a thriving, competitive company.
So, how do the very smartest companies make the transition?
Because IT drives most businesses today, IT portfolio management is often a key step in business transformation. Most IT departments have to deal with legacy applications, more requests than they can fulfill, limited budgets, shadow IT and many versions of the same application across department lines. Compounding these needs is the fact that the entire business has to embrace digital technologies to push forward and stay competitive in its markets.
IT portfolio management helps you evaluate the business value, cost, risk and performance of each IT asset and create a roadmap that shows how to add and retire technologies at the right time. It helps streamline and predict IT investments, and avoid costly redundancies or obsolescence.
But, IT can only be transformed if you take a strategic approach and use a proven methodology and the right tools. IT portfolio management and enterprise architecture used to be considered as tools to sort out duplicate applications and a confusing maze of operational processes.
Today, however, both have become strategic assets necessary to unite IT with processes and business needs, allowing companies to meet new digital goals. It is the way companies are making sure they are not ‘blockbustered’.
After the IT portfolio is on sound footing and can better support innovation on the business side, an enterprise architecture initiative takes the company fully into business transformation. Enterprise architecture provides the comprehensive overview of the organization, allowing you to establish an innovative vision, improve business processes, optimize operating frameworks, build transition plans and foresee the impacts of change.
With this knowledge, you can respond faster to market changes and opportunities and determine how to change company operations to meet business needs.
The digital age has ushered in more changes faster than any other technological advance of the past century. To manage them properly, and insure that you aren’t blockbustered, it’s past the time to embrace the new digital era.
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Here’s a generic (far-fetched, but relevant) scenario:
CEO: “I want predictive analytics.”
CIO: “Ok, I hear you.”
The CIO shares the request with his team.
CIO’s team to CIO: “In order to provide predictive analytics, we need to upgrade our ERP system.”
CIO to his team: “Ok, we’ll upgrade the ERP.”
A dialogue goes on about funding between the CxOs.
CEO: “Here’s $5 million to put towards your project.”
CIO: “Thanks. I’ll meet with my staff about getting this project done.”
In this scenario, the conversation quickly shifted from a high-level need for predictive analytics to an implementation choice of upgrading the ERP. Someone, somewhere, will get a chunk of the funding to implement various systems, technologies, or practices – including that ERP system. Unfortunately, this has become a glorified game of telephone, where no one is paying attention to the original goal of providing predictive analytics for the executives. Here’s the problem: the disconnect has already happened. The IT team works hard to achieve the goal of the project - upgrade the ERP. Months later, they host a small party to celebrate a successful upgrade to their ERP. Of course, steps or tactics are required to deliver business outcomes. In this case, the company needs to upgrade their ERP to deliver predictive analytics. Unfortunately, as happens at many organizations, the focus shifted from the business capability onto the tactic, and through no fault of their own, the team lost sight of the original goal.
Let’s consider this scenario with agility added to the mix of project execution. Early and often, choices are made where the project’s path can be altered irreparably. In our example, the conversation veered off-course when the main objective shifted to become the safe delivery of the ERP upgrade. If your target was set based on a technological choice intended to achieve an outcome, and not the specific outcome itself, then you risk making decisions and taking actions that don’t contribute to achieving the original goal. At each step, remember to ask yourself, “Are we on the right track to deliver the business outcome the executives expect? Did something change?” Even further, are these questions being asked in the context of supporting a capability or are they in the context of deploying a project? Context matters because the answers will drastically differ depending on the actual goal.
Working sessions and meetings could result in pivot points that might change the course of the project. If you start the project with smaller pieces (milestones) in mind that are defined in the context of the capability evolution (business outcome), then the pivots are made to stay in alignment with executive expectations. If you are measuring success based on the achievement of the capability evolution then you won’t lose sight of the project’s original intention. You’ve changed your mode of thinking. The project still exists, but it will be funded through capability evolution. When procuring technology to support the evolution of the business capability, you’re buying/enabling abilities with a business outcome-driven mindset, not just technology for the sake of technology.
Gartner 1 states that “by 2017, 60% of Global 1000 organizations will execute on at least one revolutionary and currently unimaginable business transformation effort.” The ability to track strategy as it relates to concerns, business drivers, influencers, and issues is directly related to projects making or missing their mark. A capability-based approach to project execution is your answer to tracking strategy. According to Gartner, “almost 90% of transformation projects miss their mark.” Organizations that fund business capability evolution will close the gap between strategy and failed implementation. It’s important to detach your thoughts from legacy constraints because, when you’re tied to implementation, your scope can become very narrow. Looking at questions or concerns from a capability perspective is an abstraction of thought. Don’t focus on “how” you do it. Focus on “what” it is that you’re doing.
The Enterprisers Project states that “when faced with a business challenge, business leaders often have a good idea where they need to go and how they must evolve. But there is often a mismatch in how prepared they perceive their organization to be, and the cold, hard reality within their walls.” Let’s take a step back and look at the initial conversation about the request for project funding. When trying to get funding, stop talking about projects or technologies or roadmaps or backlogs. Instead, focus the conversation on capabilities. If you talk about, and lead with, capabilities, then to some degree, technology ends up being what enables everything. You’re bound to get much farther in the conversation and become the bridge between reality and perception.
Business leaders seek to manage complexity and create visibility into and traceability of their business and IT landscape, but what does that really mean to the funding and evolution of business capabilities? Keeping a focus on capabilities that are delivered is critical to success.
1. Source: Gartner. “Digital Business Architecture Fuels Digital Business Strategy.” Betsy Burton. October 2015.
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