Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year

May 2018 be a better year for you and all of those you hold dear. Stay close to your loved ones and pray for good health. May you be granted all the good things you desire in 2018. I hope to share ideas with all those who pursue digital outcomes.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Top10 Digtial Trends for 2018

2018 is a pivotal year for organizations going digital. Since organizations have had a long gestation period and a number of  years for experimentation. there better be implementation of action plans. 2018 promises to be a year of action and extraordinary change. There will be new ways of working, new habits,  new technologies and new challenges. This is a people challenge as well as an organizational challenge. Nobody is exempt.

Digital Accelerates:

2018 is the year of doing digital. While planning and experimenting with digital was important and will continue in the background, this is the time for delivering real organizational  and personal outcomes. Understanding where digital is gaining traction and applying it for results will be the theme for 2018. Success will breed success in 2018, so getting started quickly will be more important this year than ever before to continue momentum. 

Customers are Everything:

For obvious cost and revenue reasons keeping customers loyal is crucial. The emphasis on customer experience completed in the most delightful way while optimizing a balance between operational efficiency and customer satisfaction is the goal for digital organizations. Outcomes that revolve around customer, employee and partner satisfaction is the end game of digital done right. The ideal is for customers to have a customized interactions in order to maintain relations for life.

Automate It Baby:

Organizations will focus on automating low skill tasks and jobs by adding smarts and processes that can deal with emerging conditions and contexts. As more success occurs, higher level of jobs will be impacted by automation or automated assists. Operations will become leaner because fewer workers will be needed to do the same work. Human insight will still dominate for generalized work, but savings are ripe for the picking. 

Make AI Real & Democratized:

Augmented intelligence will become the most important step towards full A/I. There will be a new collaboration between people, machines and software that is aimed finding important patterns, make complicated decisions and take appropriate actions as fast as possible. Augmented intelligence will become popular because of the benefits that people will experience through extending their intelligence. This will build confidence for A/I to become more autonomous and pervasive. 

Industrial Cloud Dominates:

Cloud will no longer be just an operational destination to create presence and reduce cost. Cloud will provide a level of security and intelligence that organizations will not likely deliver on their own. Right now there is a lot of momentum for private cloud. but the temptation of an intelligent and secure cloud will move more organizations to a more public presence. 

Software Eats the Cloud:

While the cloud will become more potent, it is an operational platform and does not allow of organizational differentiation provided by unique business models, processes/applications or customer experiences. Overtime the cloud will become commodity and the war will be on price. This means that the software that resides on the cloud will make the real differences for organizations and individuals. 

Deliver on Data:

It make no difference if the data is big, fast or dark, organizations will start delivering on the value of the data they actually have. While IoT and emerging processes will greatly contribute to the volume and speed of data, just gathering data will not be good enough. Finding the bright spots in the mostly dark data for operation improvement and customer care will be the focus. 

Eliminate Speed Limits:

The speed to action will become a key differentiators for both product/service design as well as responses to customers. employees and partners. This means that the speed to sensing will be key even if there is no IoT contribution to the process or application. IoT will add more of the need for speed and the ability to absorb complicated patterns of sense and respond. This will put an emphasis faster decisions and actions. 

Context is Everything:

Knowing the how to respond is one thing, but understanding the effect of the response in context is quite different and important. This is particularly important when the context is new and emergent or the combination of contexts might change the response. This is why human and A/I judgment needs policies, rules and constraints to keep responses proper for the situation. Proper management and governance to guide interaction is a key consideration. 

Action at the Edge: 

There is a trend to take action  closer to where the patterns are sensed. This means that a pure centralized control model will not add as much value as breaking down large processes and applications into micro services and process snippets that reside at the edge to sense and respond close to where the event occurred. Quite often this is at the edge, closer to customers and controllers/sensors where decisions and actions can occur with high levels of freedom.

Net; Net:

The proof of digital will show up in a big way in 2018 and will lay the foundation for years to come. Organizations have money to invest into new digital directions and digital skills. 2018 will be the year that many organizations will point to as a turning point up or down. Digital will make the difference, but we will have to learn how to properly combine these trends productively over time. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Attracting the Digitally Skilled

Like it or not, your organization is in a battle to attract people that have or can quickly grow digtial skills. How do you stack the deck in your favor in a world that is well informed? The best resources for digital growth are young fresh minds, but they are not easily fooled nor are they going to trust your organization or the word in your sales pitches. Folks with potential digital prowess will leverage digital resources well. They can easily determine your real culture by checking Ladders, Glassdoor, and Linkedin. They can talk with people that know about the reality of your organization through social media. They will not go on faith like previous generations. What can you do to attract them?

Show Them Likely Career Progression Opportunities:

The digitally savvy want to know how they can quickly grow into more reward and responsibitlity. This means that you have to have documented and proven paths to success for them. While they will be committed to your business/organizational outcomes, they want you to be committed to their desired outcomes when they deliver the goods. They do not trust companies and they have more choices than ever.

Show Them Your Fun Facilites:

The digitally savvy will be working around the clock at times and will be focused on speedy delivery. They want facilities, games, easy accesses to good food and drink. They want fun events, games and opportunities for interactions. Your facility will be a home away from home, so show them that you are committed to pleasing them.

Show Them Training Opportunities: 

These folks want to keep learning and growing, so they are not satisfiefd with organizations tapping their skills for just money. They want to grow and get better for themselves first which will likely benefit the organization they work for at the moment. Your organization had better have lots of learning opportunities that go beyond learning on the job.

Net; Net:

Ths young people have seen organizations back away from supporting workers for a life time and have accepted their own responsibility for their own development and financial success. This means your organization better be ready to partner with them to this end.

Additional Reading: 

Digital Skills in Demand

Approaches to Finding Digital Skills

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Happy Holidays to Everyone

We wish you the best of the holiday season this year. We, at the Sinur home. celebrate Gods gift to us this Christmas in his Son. We especially count our many blessings this time of year. We hope you have a great holiday season and enjoy your loved ones :) 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Skill Yourself Digital Now

It is important to have yourself prepared to participate well in the digital world where speed of upgrade is essential. The first step is to identify the top skills that organizations are likely to want. The second step would be to select the skills that best match your passion and abilities. The third step is to decide to be proactive in acquiring those skills. Since few organizations today are investing getting their people to a participating digital level, you are pretty much on your own. If you happen to work for an organization that invests in people, take full advantage of any education and training you can get. If you don't maybe it's time to change jobs. In any event, you are likely to have to aggressively pursue skills on your own. You are in charge of your own digital transformation!!

TOP DIGITAL SKILLS:                          

Business Skills: 

Strategy & Planning

These skills revolve around creating mater plans and designing the measurements and operations to get to the desired outcomes. This usually means establishing policies, action plans and key performance indicators.

Digital Product Creation & Ownership

This involves skills related to oversight and development of new online products or services from inception to delivery.  Using result data, manage improvements to enhance the digital product or service.

Digital Content Creation & Marketing

This form of marketing is focused on creating, publishing and distributing digital content such as videos, podcasts, infographics, social media and blogs for a target audience. This content is often used to attract and generate leads for future customers while increasing brand awareness or credibility

Business / Technical Skills:

Digital Experience Design

Designing compelling interactions for people is essential for digital success. Focusing on journeys and persona's while optimizing the touch points for both people and the organization is an essential suite of skills.

New Wave Analytics

Applying the most useful analytics to big and fast data is essential to outflank competitors and intercept key trends. These "aha moments"allow for better decisions and actions that get to better outcomes.

Agile Project Management / SCRUM

Project management involves planning, executing, controlling and finishing the work of a team to achieve specific deliverables within time and quality specifications. Iterative and sandbox like methods are popular in digital efforts.

Next Generation Machine Learning

AI requires changes in managing projects, process and applications. Teaching machines to learn is one area of concentration, but guiding and improving truly intelligent and agile systems that can self change will be at the edge of digital

Technical Skills:

Full Stack Architecture

Because the rapidly changing and complex technology landscape, architecture is shifting to include fluency across all technology components that support digital efforts in development and operations,

Programming & DevOps

This involves new digital development models, languages and scripting languages to support rapid development and agile digital solutions. With the advent of cloud computing and agile infrastructure, the configuration and programming skills necessary to optimize operations will be in great demand.

Systems Administrators

The ability to manage the care and feeding of IT infrastructures, processes and applications will be in short supply. This is especially true in highly distributed organizations with local resources.

Net; Net: 

If you want to excel in the new digital age, you will need to develop a plan for yourself and assertively execute on a plan to become a great digital resource in your areas of interest and abilities. This means you search for resources online and consume as many videos, follow key blogs, link to great social resources and even read key digital books.  The ball is in your court, so step up and strike it.

Additional Competency Related Posts:

Corporate Skill Acquisition
Top Corporate Digital Competencies
Digital Planning

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Visual Research is the Future

Last week, Aragon announced that we will be making all of our research notes visual, which means they will all have embedded video. No other research firm is doing this and no one will for quite a while. Why? The short answer is that it’s time intensive. Over the past three years, we’ve spent our time developing and fine-tuning our methodology that allows us to create compelling videos, on-demand. But it took a lot of experimentation to figure out what worked and what didn’t.

Digital Transformation Calls for More than Text Research:

While text documents will never go away, today, the fastest way to learn is through visual content. This is one of the reasons why video is so popular with consumers, and why many enterprises are being inundated with demands from users to support more video. Aragon is responding to this need by introducing Visual Research:
Why Visual Rearch Now?
On Facebook, 100 million hours of video are watched every day, and YouTube has over a billion users, almost one-third of all people on the Internet . Users like video because it’s fun and provides information in an accelerated format, and Visual Research is about just that: learning and absorbing knowledge faster.
The benefits of video learning are numerous. People can process visual images faster than text—in just 13 milliseconds (source: MIT). Traditional text documents need to be read multiple times to burned into memory, but when we watch videos, we 95% of what we saw.
For enterprises the benefits cannot be ignored:
  • Increases learner engagement, participation, and satisfaction
  • Immediate Recognition: video images are processed 60,000x faster than text
  • Visual Recall: up to 80% recall of videos seen in the last 30 days
  • Fastest way to learn and recall a complex or new topic
Net; Net:

In the era of Digital Transformation, there is no better time to empower your people to increase their knowledge. Visual Research can help you minimize the learning curve when it comes to competitive insights. Reach out directly to us to see the difference Visual Research will make in your enterprise.
Editor’s Note: Visual Research is a Trademark of Aragon Research.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Pragmatic Digital Skill Building

The ideal for attaining digital transformation is to build digital competencies and skills. While some can write big checks to the large consultancy firms, most organizations want a more affordable and incremental approach to build digital skills that eventually lead to excellent competencies. Let's explore a couple of approaches for developing digital skills incrementally. Before implementing any approach, it is essential to pick digital on ramps or mini digital journeys to target to focus areas of priority for your organization. See research that identifies 32 digital on ramps   Once a focus is selected, there are three helpful approaches.

Focused Outside Hires:

If you are lucky enough to find a digital resource in your area of focus that you can afford, jump at the opportunity. Unfortunately there is a shortage of digital skills and there is dearth of real implementation experience, so this approach as a primary strategy is a luxury at this point in time. Gaining an advantage by hiring young and hungry talent from digitally focused schools will play out in the long haul, however something needs to be done now.

Rent Spot Digital Skills:

While your organization might not want the big bang large consultancy approach, there is no reason not to rent digital skills from consultancies that focus on knowledge transfer; not knowledge hoarding. Finding a consultant that can grow digital skills in your employees while delivering results is ideal. However focusing on results and viral skill building simultaneously might be a bit much.

Building Skills Through Training:

If you can find training, organizations can bring send selected employees out to training or bring trainers in for mass training.  However this approach can be expensive in terms of cash flow and time off the job. Scheduling these skill interventions can be difficult, so self paced learning opportunities are best, if you can find sources. Online learning organizations have digital offerings worthy of investigation.

Net; Net:

Your organizations digital efforts will likely use a combination of all of the three approaches, so the challenge is find the right mix for your choice of digital on ramps or mini-journeys.

Additional Resources:

Digital On Ramps
Skillsoft’s Digital Transformation Learning Solution
Digital Competencies
Digital Skills

Monday, November 13, 2017

Selecting Digital On-Ramps to Accelerate Transformation: An Index to Digital

The discussion surrounding digital has been much more pervasive than complete Digital Transformations. Since transformations are journeys, they take a bit longer than normal projects. While digital has been the buzz for the past five years, “digital doing”—taking tactical steps or smaller journeys in order to attain an emerging digital strategy—will be the emphasis in the near term. Making the leap  Digital On Ramps Here 

The buzz around Digital is strong and it’s clear that digital has significant effects on organizational cultures, organizational competencies, and organizational beliefs and skills over time. While the speed of delivering digital is slower than expected, there are good reasons for it. The protracted rate of change is due in part to a significant number of new and emerging technologies that must be used together to reach the lofty goals of continual customer delight, increasingly effective/efficient business operations with work management, and continuous product/service potentially leading to new business models.

While there are many digital methods, techniques, and technologies that claim to aid in the transformation process, to date, there has not been a clear cut way to classify them and determine at what point in the process they should be used. These digital efforts now have had enough time in implementations to help others identify potential benefits, risks, and companion efforts that help accelerate individual digital implementations that lead to more successful and linked digital journey steps. There is a high likelihood that digital is quickly approaching an inflection point that spells disruption.   32 Digital On Ramps Described and Rated 

Linking Digital On Ramps into Process Focused Journeys:

Register for 3 Key Steps to Aligning Business Processes with Your Digital Transformation Journey by Clicking Here 

Digital Transformation is a journey, and it doesn’t happen overnight. So how do we begin to understand these technologies and align our Business Processes with our Digital Transformation journey? The answer is digital on-ramps – a clear and optimized mapping of technology to meet the specific needs of each unique cases.
Join me and TimelinePI for a live webinar on December 5th, 2017 at 11am EDT to learn how to identify 3 digital on-ramps that can be built on over time on your Digital Transformation journey - while delivering practical benefits now. You’ll also see real-life examples of these on-ramps being put into production by organizations like yours.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Make Proceses Work Harder For You

Processes/Cases are essential to most organizations, but few organizations are tapping them for real digital leverage. We all know that customer journeys are supported by processes that can affect how our customers feel about maintaining their relationship with us over the long haul. We also know that processes are ripe for operational improvements. Is your organization taking the right steps to leverage processes in your digital journey?  We think it would help your organization attend a free webinar on process scheduled for December 5th that will help you manage processes better by measuring actual results. Your organization needs to manage work better with processes.

Register for 3 Key Steps to Aligning Business Processes with Your Digital Transformation Journey by Clicking Here 

Digital Transformation is a journey, and it doesn’t happen overnight. The problem is that, while there are many technologies that claim to aid in the transformation process there has been no clear methodology for classifying them and at what point in the process they should be used. Without this understanding, organizations with even the best intentions can end up wasting significant amounts of time and resources applying these potential solutions in suboptimal ways often preventing them from ever achieving real transformation.
So how do we begin to understand these technologies and align our Business Processes with our Digital Transformation journey? The answer is digital on-ramps – a clear and optimized mapping of technology to meet the specific needs of each unique cases. Join me and TimelinePI for a live webinar on December 5th, 2017 at 11am EDT to learn how to identify 3 digital on-ramps that can be built on over time on your Digital Transformation journey - while delivering practical benefits now. You’ll also see real-life examples of these on-ramps being put into production by organizations like yours.

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Three Most Common Approaches to Digital Transformation

While most organizations approaches to digital are multi-faced, we have identified three basic approaches to Digital Transformation. The dominant approach in any organization will tie to the organizations culture and current powers in charge in an organization. 

 I.                    Wait for Proof of Digital Success:

This approach exercises a skeptical eye towards digital efforts or placates change adverse cultures. This approach will help organizations that are focused on empirical results who are risk adverse in nature. The problem with this approach is that there is a large risk in doing nothing when digital catches fire and digital journey success enables competitors to distance themselves and accelerate fast. This approach is a large bet against digital transformation.  Since most organizations will have a hybrid of digital and non-digital solutions eventually, this approach seems to be weak.

II.                     Develop a Holistic Digital Strategy:

This approach concentrates on getting the strategy right and as complete as possible up front. This requires a bold long term orientation that counteracts short term financial performance. This approach concentrates on changing the culture and implementing change in a rapid and agile fashion. This requires and appetite for risk and great patience. This approach is usually quite expensive and assumes that the target is more stable. There are some key stable activities that make sense to target and communicate, but there are dangers.

III .                 Exercise Digital Dexterity Utilizing Incremental Delivery:

This approach concentrates on delivering benefits along the way to a potential changing digital destination. While some an initial target is identified and a possible route to the target is selected, lessons-learned and new inputs are considered to alter the target and path to the destination can change. This leverages on-ramps in an exploitative fashion and build / morphs into an overall journey or sets of journeys. Organizations are encouraged to have a solid, but mold able strategy that will not be perfect at the start, but will evolve with industry and organizational lessons-learned. Competencies and skills will evolve and create a new digital culture. 

Net; Net: 

Most organizations will have folks that will try to represent each of these approaches. It is dangerous to develop a holistic approach until there is a base of competencies, skills and experiences related to digital, but it a more dangerous to not have consistent executive strategy for digital. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Tibco Now 2017

This year Tibco split it's well attended conference with three regional conferences. The Asia version was in Spring in Sinapore, the Euro version in Berlin and the US version in San Diego. This time there was a test on the progress of their vision in terms of  digital journeys and Tibco plans to help our shared customers. Aragon named Tibco as a leader in the Digital Business Platform Technical Spectrum. For a free copy of the report click here 

Tibco has traditionally had a portfolio of strong and visionary products and has had a sweet spots in connecting/integrating and business intelligence. While these themes were still Strong there were some new themes that are emerging. The integration (interconnect everything) and the business intelligence (augment intelligence) are still a driver, but with new scopes and levels of intelligence. The most impressive case studies were around BI (Jet Blue and the Mercedes Racing Team). There were some case studies around cloud conversions, but they are still in progress. The theme of distributed intelligence (smarts on the edge) was new to me. Discussions around customer journeys leveraging a more intelligent customer experience was boiling under the surface.

While the underlying themes were still there, the management team believes that digital will change things. In fact they pointed to survey based conclusions to stay data driven showing the revenue, profit and stock value gaps without digital. 

Edge Presence and Intelligence:

With an augmented approach to leveraging Flogo, Tibco will be leveraging it's intelligence even at the chip level. The case for complexity of connections requires decisions at the point of event detection was a common theme. To that end Tibco has proof points of having Statisica (connected data science platform) and Google Tensor Flow (AI) operating at the lowest capacity chip level with a tiny footprint. Intelligence at the edge is for real, now case studies have to emerge leveraging the Tibco approach. Partnerships with Amazon and the leverage of Lamda looks a sure thing. As Tibco starts working with Microsoft, watch for more options. 

Skunk Work Teases:

Tibco had some hints in the presentations and some demos on the floor that pointed to some promising emerging technologies. I was very impressed by Tibco graph data base and I saw a NLP approach to leveraging the nodes on this ontological based data base for intelligence that emerges and remembers context as the query turns it's attention to new things. I also heard rumors of partnerships with big players leveraging distributed smarts.

Bottom Line:

Tibco sees the opportunity with digital and will make the right investments to help existing clients while attracting new one. Tibco will lead with their strengths in integration and intelligence, but they are more than a two trick pony now.

There was no risk to naming them a Digital Business Platform leader. Now will they continue to move their customer base along. We all will be watching

Monday, October 2, 2017

Customer Journey Mapping Vendors Rated

We all know that the Digital Transformation Age that we are currently in gives us a chance to treat customers in a much better way while becoming more operationally effective. There are a number of vendors that can use analytics to map out present journeys to look for operational opportunities. While these are necessary, they are not sufficient. The best Customer Journey Mapping Tools combine actual use data (clickstreams, logs, audit trails etc.) to mine customer journeys plus emotional data (surveys, discusions and focus groups) to create a holistic journey map. Aragon Research now has a rating of these complete vendors or those that are aimed in that direction. Using the Aragon trade marked Technical Spectrum (TS) methodology and visualization, this sector of complete journey mapping vendors are now rated here.

Free Research and Webinar on Customer Journey Mapping 

Additional Reading:

Customer Cultures 
Proud of Your CX
Future Proof CX
Journey Listening
Existing Process Problems
Customer Journeys and Organizational Silos
Journey Mapping for All
Journey Mapping Case Study

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Celebrating the High Fives

Everyone has “high five” moments that make you think about where you have been, where you are and where you are going. September 2017 caused me to do just that as five “high five” moments have come together, all at once. Writing about them will help me deal with them as they are significant. 

Five Decades Leveraging IT to Help Organizations:
It started on September 27th, 1967 when I graduated from Electronic Computer Programming Institute (ECPI) at the age of 18 after spending a year learning how to wire EAMs, program IBM 1400 series computers and building COBOL skills. Green around the gills and draft eligible put me in a corner, so I took a part time job while attend school full time pursuing a Business Data Processing Degree from Milwaukee Area technical College (MATC).  The part time job became more than full time along with 15+ credits each semester. Thus started my long and storied IT career that funded two degrees.

Five Blue Ribbon Companies:

Wehr Steel: Supported conversions from IBM 1440 AUTOCODER to Honeywell 3000 COBOL

Northwestern Mutual Life:  Supported conversions from 7080 to PL/1 for Tax Deferred Annuity and Variable Annuity applications. Pioneered online systems for payment and Bond/Security Systems. Pioneered Computer Aided Software Engineering (CASE), Data Administration and AI guided persona based workbenches.

American Express: Director that supported the world’s largest model driven and code generated system leveraging rule based approaches for international variations in a merchant management system. Directed Data Administration, Model Management and Case Tool Management.

Gartner: VP and Distinguished Analyst that supported Application Development, Meta Data Management, Legacy Leverage, Business Process Management and Business Rules Systems. Support 17000 career inquiries, two time winner of sales support awards and a thought leadership award.

Independent Research: CEO supporting Business Process Management, Robotic Process Automation, Digital Business Platforms and Customer Journey Mapping.

Five New Markets Defined:

Business Process Analysis / Enterprise Architecture
Intelligent Business Process Management
Business Rule Management
Digital Business Platforms
Customer Journey Mapping

Five Hundred Thousand Hits on My Personal Blog:

Covering topics like digital, process management, business rules, digital business platforms, customer centric cultures, digital competencies / skills, artificial intelligence, legacy leverage and case studies.

Five Art Skills Generating Revenue:

Starting in late 2008, my art career has led to having my art in 30 private collections. Was fortunate enough to participate and flourish in 15+ exhibitions / contests. Highlights include one piece shown in Muse De Louvre, several pieces shown in Times Square, several pieces Art Basel Miami and one piece on Ashley Red’s music CD.

Oil Paintings
Water Color
Fractals / Digital
3D Fractals

Net; Net:

The biggest life accomplishment are my kids who have turned out to be diligent and loving humans. The biggest “high five”!!!  I did tell you about my eight grandchildren, the oldest turning 21 this month  I’m not sure if deserve all of this, but I am certainly eternally thankful J

Monday, September 25, 2017

Types of Customer Centric Cultures

Believe it or not when someone mentions "customer centric culture", there are probably multiple definitions of what a customer centric culture really is in todays world. New digital technology combinations gives us a shot at creating better customer focused solutions, but isn't the end game defining a customer centric culture? There are three major types of customer centric cultures I have seen, but there are shades of grey uncertainty that make it important for executives to define what they really want when they target customer centric cusltures. The three kinds of cultures are community based, chameleon based and commodity based that all affect how satisfied customers, employees and partners are in the long run.

Community Based Customer Culture:

The community based culture makes you feel special about beibg a part of the organization. This can be described as feeling that you are a part of a family at one end of the spectrum or feeling part of something really special at the other end of the spectrum. This is the kind of culture that is inclusive ans makes you feel appreciated and even wanted or respected. I find that these kind of customer cultures used to be prevalent, but are few and far between these days. In fact many companies abuse your time and patience to optimize their costs and profitability and create and "us versus them" mentality instead of a community.  If your customers belong by treating them special over the long term, they will stick with you.

Chameleon Based Customer Culture:

The Chameleon based culture changes it's expreience with you as it learns who you are and what your immediate, mid term and long term goals are going forward. This kind of culture appears to you as something you need and can change and renew paths and goals as new information or contexts are detected. It is a responsive culture that is aimed at dynamic need fullfillment. It offers a foregiving and encouraging experience that adapts to changing conditions in real time. If your customers belong to you, help the fullfill their needs in ways that fit them.

Commodity Based Customer Culture: 

Definable, standard and repeatable are the watch words of this culture. It's all about leverage standard and practiced responses for the best effeciency. This culture is usuallly tipped to help the organization; not the customer. The customer tends to feel like a commondity and has to deal with well worn paths to an outcome. This lind of cutlture aims to make money. If your customers belong to you, you should be effecient for all parties sake. However taken to an extreme will drive folks away.

Net; Net: 

Like it or not our executives have to define the kind of target customer centric culture they want their organization to represent. Most likely a great and balanced customer culture will have some of each basis built into them over time. The mistake would be to keep going towards a customer centric culture and not make it clear what you are targeting. You won't be rowing in the same direction at a sustainable pace. Digital transformations should help create and mainting a balanced and positive customer culture while targeting effeciency and gaining loyalty.

Additional Reading:

Proud of Your CX
Future Proof CX
Journey Listening
Existing Process Problems
Customer Journeys and Organizational Silos
Journey Mapping for All
Journey Mapping Case Study

Monday, September 18, 2017

Do You Need Technology to Assist Journey Mapping?

There are organizations that believe that the investment in customer journey mapping includes buying technology to assist in creating and maintaining the best customer journeys for a variety of customer needs and goals. There are also organizations that do not believe technology is necessary to deliver top notch journey maps. This writing will explore both approaches. Of course there are organizations that don't believe in journey maps and think that standard systems are good enough, but most of us wouldn't want to work for that kind of organization.

The Case for No Technology Assists:

Technology is not needed to deliver great journeys for customers. employees and partners. A good war room, post it notes and a sequestered group of experts with some survey data should be good enough to deliver a really great journey. While this is old school, it still works, so why complicate things with technology. In fact buying a jump start template and service provider with knowledge in particular knowledge world should be a good enough starting point.

The Case for Technology Assists: 

Technology is an absolute necessity for creating and maintaining the best journeys over a long period of time in a dynamic world.

Technology for Capturing Maps -  Journeys can be captured manually or generated from actual experiences for various logs. For organizations that are looking to plan out their journeys ahead of time with the intent of adjusting later, they will likely capture journeys in a manual fashion assisted by friendly software, through visualization tools or voice annotation capabilities.

Technology for Collaborating on Maps-  Journeys have to be shared across the whole organization for review, commenting, and creating consensus. Ideally, this secure software can be leveraged in the cloud for multiple geographical organizations.

Technology for Gathering and Integrating Various Data Sources - Journeys imply a goodly number of data sources that need to be brought together in order to evaluate and design better approaches to servicing customers, engaging employees, and enabling partners. The information sources include, but are not limited to, touchpoints, processes, systems, personas, surveys, scores, audit trails, and mining sources. 

Technology for Analyzing Data Sources -  Engaging journey visualization and analysis are the keys to designing and improving the user experience in an ongoing basis. Visualization gives perspectives that are typically horizontal and relational in respect to reach conclusions and point to alternative actions to improve the user experience. 

Technology for Visualizing Information Results - Examples of typical visualization approaches include actor step action maps, heat maps, statistical representations/scores, persona views, life cycle maps, and a day in the lifetime lines - all with drill down capabilities. Deeper analysis can promise potential changes in net promoter scores, a greater return on investment, and workload impacts. The better tools allow for the integration of additional outside analytical capabilities.

Net; Net: 

If you are considering a small scope journey or a highly standardized journey, maybe you can skip technology assists. It has been my experience that wider scoped journeys with a variety of views will definitely need technology assists. If real time adaptations are highly desired, technology assists are a necessity.

Additional Reading:

Proud of Your CX
Future Proof CX
Journey Listening
Existing Process Problems
Customer Journeys and Organizational Silos
Journey Mapping for All
Journey Mapping Case Study

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Are You Proud of Your Customer Experience?

Most top executives are not! According to a Harvard Business Review Analytic Services study with in-depth interviews, completed recently, with 680 top performing executives, there is a lot to be desired. Only 15 percent of the executives thought their customer experience was very effective. I'm sure the effective ones were basing their opinion on internal organization created surveys. This is disturbing in an era where the catch phrase is "A Customer for Life". The reality of the situation does not stack up to the desires. The study found there were three key success factors for the customer experience transformation necessary to keep customers. They were a customer centric culture, management/leadership buy in and getting real visibility into the actual customer experience.

Customer Centric Culture:

While 90 percent of the executives thought that a customer centric culture was important, only 45 percent thought they were effective. If you talk with the employees, I think you mind find the 45 percent number inflated. The accountants and the lawyers are chipping away at cost and governance creating a stiff head wind to traverse to the destination of an effective customer experience. It starts with the organizational charter and gets magnified by the CEO and executive team. Words are often there, but they get diluted by the time it reaches the actual customer experience. Often the customer service representatives are the shock absorbers between poor customer journeys supported by tired process and systems and the actual customer. They are the heros here.

Management/Leadership Buy In:

A goodly number of executives, 88 percent, thought leadership buy in was key, but only 49 percent thought they were effective. It's because nobody really measures it and gets rewards based on real customer satisfaction. Net Promoter Scores (NPS) are not the real measures in a stand alone way. There are other measures to track and reward. Of, course all executives want customer satisfaction, but is becomes lip service under fire. If it was important, it would be a bonus/reward factor for everyone.

Visibility and Real Understanding:

This is where the survey hit the skids. While 87 percent said that visibility was important, only 35 percent they were effective at visibility. Three-quarters of the companies were not able to act on the majority of data they collect because of disjoint systems and artificial stove pipes. Only 13 percent had a single source of customer intelligence though 30 percent were pursuing it. Only 23 percent of the managers were free to act on the data they collected. I would also guess few performed customer journey analysis in this mix.

Net; Net:

Customer experience is a crucial step in the digital transformation that can't be skipped or band-aided for long. If executives were serious the customer journey mapping and mining technology vendors would be over loaded with new business. It is not the case yet.  It's time to leverage some profits to help us walk the talk with better customer experiences. In all the companies I do business with, not one is even close to a good experience, much less a great and engaging one. In the mean time we all make due as customers.

Additional Reading:

Future Proof CX
Journey Listening
Existing Process Problems
Customer Journeys and Organizational Silos
Journey Mapping for All
Journey Mapping Case Study

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Future Proof Your Customer Experience

Nearly all organizations want a "Customer for Life" unless a particular customer is just plain toxic and difficult to work with over time. If you want the best customers, you have to treat your customers the best in your industry sector minimum.. In order to maximize the lifetime value of a customer, you have to be proactive to attract repeat business. This means you need to explore the ways to improve and future proof your customer experiences. While better leverage of websites, mobile / social channels, CRM systems and self service tasks will always be additive, but these efforts will not future proof your customer experience like the efforts below.

Improving Customer Journeys with Mapping:

There is a big disconnect between what customers want and what organizations provide at key touch points in a customer's journey. Customers want to have organizations know them, what they want and adjust to their special needs. What customers get instead is the challenge of navigating organizational silos, dealing with standard transaction focused systems and the privilege of  repeating the history to a customer service representative that has no freedom to handle exceptions. Worst of all customers have to answer rigid surveys that really do not allow for intimate feedback. Journey mapping is a great way to explore alternative approaches that can be implemented in a phased way.

Anticipating and Personalizing with Analytics:

Leveraging analytics that look at past journeys / cases and learn from them is a great first step, however that is not predictive, but reactive. While it is better than doing nothing, steps should be taken to predict what customers will want and how they will behave. Also exceptions can be anticipated categorized and predicted in terms of arrival rates and potential responses. Better customer partitioning combined with predictive analytics will allow for more precise personalization. Being able to predict and personalize in real time combined with more flexible processes and applications, will win customers hearts.

Leveraging New Senses with Intelligence: 

Utilizing voice and vision will be key in the coming years. Chatbots are helpful, but intelligent / AI driven digital assistants that leverage location and smart devices will help customers be more effective in helping themselves. Voice recognition, natural language and AI will be used powerfully together to improve the lives of customers in the most customer centric organizations. Image recognition, immersive reality and AI will also be used proactively minded organizations.

Net; Net: 

While not all organizations will jump on the most advanced approaches mentioned above, all organizations will have to move from customer service as usual. Sitting still is no longer a viable long term option. A credible mobile presence is table stakes, but to get into the game customer journey mapping combined with new intelligent approaches will get organizations in the game of long lasting customer loyalty.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Journey Listening: The Newest Digital Era Skill

Today most organizations have a "let them eat cake" approach to customer service.  Organizations, today, set up the touchpoints and how the customer is supposed to interact with the systems and the people, if they are lucky enough to talk to a real human with the right skills. We all have our stories about really poor service and it's getting worse these days. This is just not acceptable, going forward, in the new Digital Era.

Listening within Existing and Constrained Journeys (reactive):

Often there are existing systems and procedures in place that were designed to save time and money for the organization. Good customer service folks will listen to the customers and try to find the best solution for the customers needs and goals. Often the best people know the ways to soothe the customer despite the difficult and unresponsive systems. This a reactive approach to listening and the customer service staff become the shock absorbers between the unfriendly / frustrating systems or procedures and customer needs.

Listening for New Approaches to Journeys (predictive):

Customers will let you know their needs over time and this information can be gathered and leveraged to design a better set of touchpoints and interactions. Systems and procedures can be improved to intercept a better net promoter score. The question is how radical of change will be necessary will be needed to move the needle in a positive direction. Leveraging customers along the way to final solution is often a technique that is leveraged in these situations.

Listening for Catch Points in Existing Journeys (proactive change):

It matters not if organizations are stuck with existing touch points bound by past decisions or organizations have newer customer experiences, there should be ongoing analysis of actual journeys that have been or are being captured in logs. These data points should be mapped into journeys over time-lines and coordinated with satisfaction scores. The most proactive organizations will leverage process intelligence and compare and contrast alternatives to suggest, implement and test changes with the goal of better customer, employe and partner journeys.


Journey listening is not only a skill for the future, journey listening will become an organizational capability that will make a difference in a hyper competitive world. Those organizations that believe that product / service design and low cost will carry the day in the new digital are sadly mistaken. When customers can buy from so many sources, the game is changing. The differentiator in extreme competition is the customer experience. Good journey listening to you all.

Additional Reading:

Existing Process Problems
Customer Journeys and Organizational Silos
Journey Mapping for All
Journey Mapping Case Study

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Customer Journeys Show the Trouble with Organizational SIlos

Every organization practices labor and skill specialization because of the limits of what people can do, organizations of people can do and the constraints of systems. The basic tenets of problem breakdown feed right into creating silos of activities and the skills that support them. We were all taught to break problems down into their smallest components. Isolation of tasks and functions are the basis of the Industrial Revolution and the Information Age. It becomes obvious when your study customer journeys that they do not fall into neat little containers of tasks or organizational and software boundaries. Will this be any different in the Digital Age? It should be and here is why.

The Abilities of Human Workers Will be Extended:

We now have the ability with AI to augment workers so that their knowledge and power can be extended. LIke robots on a modern production line, knowledge can be leveraged for workers to expand beyond their degrees of speciality and experience base. Over time people can become generalists to service customers across a number specific domains of tasks and work. This allows for better customer journeys as handoffs almost disappear except in the most difficult of situations. The side benefit of this approach is that workers can keep learning and not become speciality drones.

The Ability to Customize the Customer's Unique Journey is Here: 

Right now we force customers down standard paths that they have to self select with precision. Imagine the ability to handle multiple customer requests with one service stop with a generalized customer communications savvy support person. This support person, with the help of AI & Bots could handle the customers needs in a one stop fashion for a majority of the cases. The customer's history, likes and disposition at any specific point in time could be taken into account for a customized experience. This will create customers for life most likely.

The Constraints of Process /Tasks Will No Longer Hinder:

Right now, processes that guide the customer experience are rather rigid and slow. With the advent of case management and real time speed to knowledge, bot assisted or not, the software and the processes controlling that software no longer have to be rigid. They can be pliable and speedy, so the time to resolution can be reduced. "Flex, Fast and Ever Learning" should be our new motto for software assistance as well. Software can get a similar boost in intelligence and intelligence gathering in the context of flexible processes or cases.

Net; Net:

Don't let your customers or your employees for that matter, suffocate in your silos.
The Digital Age presents a great opportunity to change the way we treat customers while still being operationally effective and efficient. We would be foolish to fumble this opportunity. While the we will have to live with temporary bridges and transformations as we head to these targets, it is now possible to break down or dampen the effect of silos.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Are Bots the Second Coming of BPM?

Right now RPA (bots) are the talk of the digital world with the promise of the replacement of low level tasks initially and the assistance of human activity later. "Bots got the hots", right now and process (BPM) scares off folks with high levels of investment and commitment implied. This post will make the case for both sides of this argument and hopefully settle this question.

The Case for Bots:

Bots are gaining momentum as they show great promise in proof of concepts projects. As organizations ramp up larger bot projects, the benefits will multiply. This is a the same phenomena as workflow and BPM had shown early in their roll out to organizations. The difference here is bots can be leveraged and scattered quickly while independently scooping up benefits and rapidly displacing low level and redundant work. Making these bots smart empower them even more useful and can feed off the AI frenzy going on simultaneously starting with applying machine intelligence to point problems. The issues of bot management and updates don't show up for a long period of time, so bots put down roots way before the problems emerge. It's hard to turn down tactical benefits and keep the big picture in mind, so the impact of bots will last.

The Case for BPM:

Processes are essential to represent the flow and balance of work and of course they go across organizational and technology boundaries. The problem comes in instrumenting a flow to handle multiple technology and software stacks while trying to deliver on the complex goals of multiple job roles and organizational units. This takes more start up time and doesn't necessarily deliver short hit benefits right away. While these kind of efforts deliver later, they are necessary to support great customer journeys and other necessary cross organizational flows. The benefits here can be significantly higher, but they take longer. Combine this with the fact that BPM is no longer attractive as a term, it seems like BPM is the long shot. The impact of workflows and processes are here to stay and the benefits flow to the patient.

The Case for Convergence: 

We really need both of these technologies working together. The tasks that complete work have to be as automated as possible and work does flow from speciality to speciality in most organizations. There may come a day where one person or bot can handle all of the knowledge, data and work necessary to complete a business outcome, but right now we need both cooperating intimately. There may be a day that independent and intelligent bots cooperatively bid to complete outcomes, but swarming agents/ bots are not ready for prime time yet. The proof of cooperation is the near recent buying and partnering activity. Kofax bought Kapow, Pega bought OpenSpan, Blue Prism is partnering with Appian and IBM is partnering with Automation Anywhere.

Net; Net: 

BPM & Bots will work together skillfully over time and will eventually participate in or as a digital business platform (DBP) to create timely and complex outcomes with great visibility. This will become obvious over time as organizations deliver on their paths of digital transformation with positive business outcomes.

Additional Reading: 

Elastic Workforce
Bots R Us
Swarming Agents