The gap between what customers want and what organisations can deliver is ever-widening. Imagine an enterprise whose consumers use WhatsApp to ask queries and provide feedback. But instead of responding via WhatsApp, the enterprise communicates solely through individual letters sent by mail. Yet if the enterprise were to measure responsiveness by the number of messages it responds to, its responsiveness would be pretty high.
While this hypothetical enterprise may seem ridiculous, it would be a classic case of ‘operation successful, patient dead.’ The core struggle that enterprises are going through today is to overcome this consumer expectation gap. They understand what they are doing, and why they are doing it. But what about the "how"?
New technologies, new customer needs
Airbnb, Uber, Netflix, Zappos, Spotify. These are just a few of the digitally disruptive businesses that are delivering customer and business value an order of magnitude better than traditional organisations. Computational capability has rapidly evolved from being the provider of system of record, to system of insight, to now enabling systems of engagement in a rapid journey towards systems of intelligence.
Consumer behaviours are evolving at such a rapid pace that projects and programs being run with the old ways of working are seeing increasing failure rates. Consumer ‘moments of truth’ now include both animate and inanimate systems and competitive differentiation is in the agility of the enterprise to sense and respond.
Technology at scale is available to everybody. Netflix’s business model is simple, yet none of the traditional enterprises have been able to replicate it! Many organisations are now measuring success based on the impact of the application (not meeting the budget or the pre-determined milestones), and therefore going back to finding new sources of inspiration to bring continuous innovation to their clients. New ‘ways of working’ are fast becoming the core differentiator.
New customer needs, new ways of working
You may be wondering, is this just a fancy term for having open offices with whiteboards, beanbags, foosball tables or does it go beyond that? While physical spaces are an ingredient, these new ‘ways of working’ go far beyond that. They are the difference between clients who try to ‘do digital’ and those who are ‘being digital’.
The enterprise isn’t the centre of the customer’s world – rather the customer truly is the centre of the enterprise’s world. But this world isn’t easy to master. It requires unique capabilities, processes and culture.
Here are four key elements to the new ways of working:
- Take a human-centric approach.
Design products and services around the needs of the customer. The more unique and scalable the insight, the more strategic the potential for differentiation.
- Enable cross-functional collaboration.
Bringing together different subject matter experts will manifest the design into a viable product and service. This requires collaboration across organisational silos and redefining structures to streamline the flow of work and insights across the organisation.
- Make way for a paradigm shift.
Traditionally, business has dealt with the customers while IT has serviced business needs. With technology now being both the driver for changing customer behaviour and the system of engagement with customers, what was earlier an exclusive business domain is now a melting pot of design, domain, systems thinking and IT. This is where the art of possible goes through the lens of business viability and technology feasibility, and is tested through a working hypothesis (often referred to as the MVP- minimum viable product).
- Adapt and iterate.
It isn’t enough to just manifest insight rapidly into a product or service but to be able to do it continuously using customer insight to adapt in real time.
Adopting these four elements in how we define, design and deliver work is essentially the new way of working.
How you work = how you succeed
To be successful in these new ways of working, organisations and individuals need a significant amount of unlearning of attitudes, expectations and behaviours and learning of new skills, delivery methods and collaboration techniques. In Wipro Digital, we refer to these learnings as the 4Ms. Curious to know what these are? Watch out for my next post.
And by the way, those bean bags and whiteboards? Conference rooms and PPTs foster negotiations and provide a forum for people to debate – whereas bean bags and whiteboards foster collaboration and trust.