“Less is More” is increasingly apt in today’s digital economy
For many business execs, digital transformation feels like the ‘big bang’: from the simplest beginnings, we’re now seeing massively complex technologies bursting outwards in every direction.
From enormous volumes of data, to connected devices, artificial intelligence, hyper-speed networks, and ubiquitous mobility, the current set of emerging technologies is careering off in so many different directions. And it is doing so with incredible intensity and complexity.
All of this cosmic energy is igniting new business models, operational processes and customer experiences.
But amidst all this complexity, how can we hone in on what really matters? How can we apply the right technologies to achieve the right kind of business transformation? These are the questions many leaders are now asking. And while the answers may not be easy, there are some guiding principles to help declutter our digital thinking:
Pureness of vision
No technology should be deployed ‘for the sake of it’; and building new digital platforms is of limited value unless they’re attached to a powerful vision or purpose for every product/service that they will support.
The vision for each product becomes a practical expression of the high-level corporate strategy (which on its own can be too ethereal to implement). It’s then translated into Epics, Stories and Tasks to guide resource allocation and team priorities. An Epic simply represents some strategic intent or objective such as “Provide a quick quote, so that we can qualify more target customers for more of our products”.
With so many technologies to choose from, so many directions in which to pivot one’s business, having a crystal-clear vision is the only way to avoid being pulled in a million different directions. It’s the only way to resist the allure of shiny new technologies, which may be exciting, but perhaps not relevant to your strategy.
Customer journey mapping
McKinsey* highlights the importance of “launching an integrated operational improvement program organized around customer journeys (the set of interactions a customer has with a company) as well as the internal journeys (end-to-end processes inside the company).”
Delivering exceptional customer experiences is only possible by simplifying processes down to their most essential elements and removing unnecessary noise. This could be as ambitious as integrating machine learning, or as basic as pre-populating online forms (based on analysis of one’s ID number).
The reality is that seamless customer experiences at the front-end will only be possible by creating frictionless back-end processes, built around well-defined customer journey mapping. It’s critical to deconstruct your organisation’s processes, define all the journeys, identify gaps, inefficiencies, and realise where you’re missing the opportunity to gather valuable data. But this can be done, one interaction at a time, allowing validation of customer desires and behaviours.
Intelligent Process Automation
The concept of Business Process Reengineering will change completely in the future – infused with an exciting array of emerging technologies and philosophies: from deep learning and cognitive technology, to design thinking, natural language processing and more.
By automating many aspects of one’s operations, the customer journeys can be sped up and simplified. It sets the foundation for more autonomous decision-making on the part of ‘cognitive agents’, based on rules and policies. Ultimately, this can evolve into true artificial intelligence in our systems. Again, the simple start is with the way operational people work today. They apply their own automation by exporting datasets to excel and manipulating these for management decision making that can easily be digitised.
For leaders, this is the absolute essence of simplicity: no longer needing to be involved in day-to-day operations at all.
With these principles guiding one’s thinking, we can turn our attention to the applications that will help keep the IT estate simple and agile. Low-code digital platforms enter the conversation, empowering you to rapidly build, evolve and scale your business applications.
In-built API accelerators close the gaps identified in the customer journey mapping, and enable the fast delivery of new interfaces to users (seamlessly delivered across mobile, online, wearable and other touchpoints).
Ultimately, these platforms give business leaders greater control over their IT estate, giving them the freedom to quickly prototype, develop, or terminate projects or products. By abstracting the complexity of their systems, even the largest of organisations can become surprisingly fleet-footed.
As the TM Forum** writes in a recent note to its members: “Early leaders in digital transformation have shown that simplicity is key to progress – supporting the speed and scale required to be successful in the digital world.”
Simplicity, speed and scale are inextricably linked in our quest for digital transformation, each one playing a crucial role in positioning your business for emerging digital opportunities.
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