söndag 20 juni 2021

Your path to a digital business



Digital business is a generous term.  It can mean many things. In the end, it’s the things that provide true business value in terms of shorter lead times, higher quality and improved efficiency. These are the foundations for better margins, higher profitability and a sound work environment in your business that make a real difference. Faster, better and cheaper has been the holy grail for business improvement and management consulting over the past 50 years. But what does it actually mean in real terms and how can you leverage the use of your own into a superior customer experience?

Shorter lead times – a fancy way of saying faster

It could also mean that your response times in internal as well as external tasks make your business the obvious choice for your customer. Who would choose to wait for an insurance quote by post instead of an online quote with the option to connect e-invoicing directly via your bank? There are endless opportunities to improve information handling in businesses of all sizes, in all sectors. The only question is: Will your competitors make the move to the next level before you?

Better – a subjective area in many ways

Leaving comparative hard metrics such as ”battery life” or ”miles per gallon” aside. It is often the communication around the product or service that makes the customer experience stand out as better.  If we experience good service, an inferior product with great proactive support and customer care could actually be preferred over a market leader with lousy service and poor understanding of customer challenges.

Cheaper – not to be confused with pricing or market positioning

This is about margins. Finding ways of raising efficiencies without tampering with quality or customer experience in a degrading way.  It could involve finding alternative suppliers to support your supply chain, making it more resilient, lowering your warehousing and logistics costs.  Or involve enabling hyperautomation and process driven workflows that minimize repetitive, inhuman tasks. The reduction in cost can be improved margins, investment capital for further improvements to the business, or shared with your customers to put pressure on your competition.

Leapfrog – or improve your business continuously over time

In some ways, you can say that businesses that start up today have an advantage over existing ones. There’s no legacy of infrastructure and platforms that need maintenance or upgrades. They can start out as cloud-native and app -driven, right from the start, tailor their business model to suit a data-driven customer-experience centric approach. This is sometimes referred to as leapfrogging – skipping and jumping over preceding technology levels to make use of the best features the cutting-edge of innovation has to offer.  A similar comparison can be made with the expansion of phone networks in some developing countries; they build and run cellular networks for mobile phones without going through the landline copper-wire based stage as a first step.

The lack of existing customers and funding from mature recurring revenue streams present in up-and-running businesses is of course the downside.  But what would you do if you could start all over again? Would you rush headlong and bet all on black (in this case the new black is cloud-based, containerized edge-computing powered microservices with AI enabled realtime analysis of app-fed ­customer behavior.) . Or would you, with the realization and benefit of hindsight from the IT market and trends over time, approach technology in a slightly different way?  Where the fad and hype of the moment takes a back seat to a constructive, healthy way of working with information, technology and infrastructure in a way that serves the business and customer requirements first hand?

Focus - put data first

No doubt, there will be new trends, discoveries and technologies that change how we think, prioritize and behave. So investing heavily in a specific setup may be a risky way of utilizing technology for the business.  An alternative approach could be to secure the information streams (data, information, processes, knowledge) within the business on the meta level first: 

Make sure that there are no conflicts between the core objects that make up the backbone of your macro processes -  ID’s, properties, attributes and records stored. For example: 

  • customers
  • parts
  • suppliers
  • invoices
  • employees
Regardless of which system of record they are stored in, or system of interaction they are displayed and updated in. There may be several angles of attack to remedy that kind of problem. Master data management, integration, API management, data virtualization for example. However, before a choice of technology is considered, the blueprint and architecture need to be in place.

Analogies can often be blunt but before you decide on joining materials when building a house, you need to consider the design, architecture, combination of materials, load and finish. Building a house of information that supports, shelters and lets your business grow is not that different. 

Begin with the end in mind

You need to begin with the end; purpose, utilization, business need and benefit in mind, while designing and implementing with maximum flexibility, as the world around us is constantly and at an ever-increasing speed changing. To successfully hit the moving targets of customer satisfaction in combination with a growing, thriving, profitable business where people want to work, technology is a servant supporting the information needs of the functions in the business. Components are interconnected, interchangeable, easy to transition in and out of using applications or services that fit into your constantly evolving enterprise landscape.

That may be all good and well, if one would start out anew. But we’re in a complicated as-is situation that cannot be left by the wayside. There are complexities in all ongoing operations but you can choose mindset, perspective, and approach to support the flexibility you need in the future, today.

Are you looking for ways to leverage technology to benefit your business and outsmart the competition?  Get in touch - every step forward starts with a constructive and thorough discussion!