Failing at digital
We've worked with many organisations who are looking to leverage digital to enhance their organisation. To a lot of operational people digital can feel like something different and strange. Something that will somehow disrupt their business and transform the way their customers feel about them. Maybe something that will throw all of their previous processes in the air at the mercy of artificial intelligence-operated IoT.
Some companies might start by trying to improve existing processes, perhaps as a result of implementing new technologies. In reality this doesn't go far enough. Changes can be made on a small scale but true digital value needs to come from bigger, braver transformation.
I exaggerate, but the reality is that digital (as we've written about in this blog) isn’t something that you are missing out on or failing to embrace, just because your business isn’t set up like Uber or operating from a shipping container somewhere in Shoreditch.
Often customers simply want to find what they need fast and in a way that they want it. They don’t care about the digital elements per se so long as they work well and deliver the experience they need.
Digital provides you with tools to help to interact with your customers along their journey, whatever form that takes.
You can’t just buy a new suite of digital tools and expect to fix it overnight. Implementing frictionless multi-channel digital experiences needs your business to work seamlessly in all areas.
And in many ways that's the same challenge that businesses have always faced when implementing any IT solution.
We feel that whilst it's popular to talk about digital transformation it tends to not really be about the technology. Sure there can be benefits from a smarter, faster IT platform that is kept updated and better integrated with your other solutions. But the technology implementation is only really the stimulus for transformational change. That's why implementations that try and deliver big benefits cases tend to not realise them immediately - your business needs time to adapt, digest and evolve. Working practices and processes need to catch up and to be improved and sustained.
We often see organisations going about a big operating model change around the time of implementing 'digital' programmes. They look to structure themselves for success to maximise the opportunities promised by the new tools and to justify the efficiencies required from their investment.
There are examples where digitally focused organisational structures make sense. Spotify for example is well known for grouping its engineering teams into tribes with end-to-end responsibility for a function (such as the music player, or the infrastructure) and squads with responsibility for services (such as the search component of the music player). Spotify emphasises the need to define boundaries and limit the need for collaboration across squads. Similarly, the software components are isolated so they don't impact others if they fail. But feedback loops across the organisation are important to focus on the future, the now and the past.
Becoming more flexible
If your organisation is trying to become a more digital and agile we'd recommend that you don't lead with structure. You can't just adopt the Spotify model and hope it will transform your business performance. What you can do is to be critical of the seemingly monolithic blocks in your organisation. The hard divides between your operating units or the friction that exists between your processes and the handoffs across it. Break your organisation into smaller components and question how they work together.
It's not hard to see why organisations who are looking to attain greater digital agility think so much about customer experience. Starting a customer experience programme can help organisations break down divisions and get all their staff involved in the process of understanding how they contribute to delivering a distinctive customer experience. By focusing on customer journeys and internal processes that enable them organisations who truly embrace the change start to understand that these naturally cut across traditional siloes and need more collaborative ways of working between teams.
You will then start to be open to the possibilities of better aligning your structures, teams and processes to make the most of your digital tools and vice versa.
Where to go next
Leadent Digital helps organisations to achieve transformational change. We love developing apps that transform customer experience and help you deliver a more frictionless service experience across all of your contact points and channels. Why not get in touch to tell us more about your current priorities?