Avoiding the Failure Chasm: Gaining The Most Value Possible From Digital Transformation

Whether you are a CEO, a CIO, a CTO, a CMO or the head of Customer Experience, Customer Service or Digital Transformation, you know software can be an amazing invention. It can be part of the key to digitally transforming your businesses in so many ways. In fact, here’s just a few of the ways digital transformations can take shape…

Digital Transformation and Software can help in the area of human capital by:

  • Increasing employee engagement, creating a passionate culture, increasing productivity and motivation
  • Attracting the top talent, making your organization the sought after place to work and an awesome culture to be envied
  • Reducing attrition of talent you want to keep to make sure you are able to produce the best possible business results.

Digital Transformation and software can help business generate revenue by:

  • Developing incremental innovation of products or services from receiving feedback from employees and customers
  • Co-creating new products with input from customers and employees
  • Developing new business models by creating new products and services that didn’t exist in the company’s line of business
  • Generating new applications and uses for existing technology, products & services, i.e., moving them from the core business and finding adjacent/new markets
  • Increasing the customer lifetime value, i.e., increasing the amount and frequency of purchases per customer over the lifetime of a customer
  • Increasing customer acquisition by increasing market awareness of the company, it’s products and services by engaging customers and brand ambassadors through delivering content at the top, the middle and the end of the funnel through two-way texting, email, digital ads, banners, digital and social media… and
  • Increasing the brand’s equity, reputation and preventing a PR crisis and brand intervention projects and so much more…

Digital Transformation and software can help business reduce costs by:

  • Creating new products and services with more agile processes (vs. waterfall processes)
  • Improving an exiting process or eliminating redundant processes / steps
  • Reducing the cost of products or services that fail in the marketplace because now they have feedback from customers and employees way before the product hits the market
  • Reducing the cost of bugs or flaws in the product or service because of using more agile processes and outcome-based thinking
  • Reduction in contact center costs by increasing first contact resolution (FCR) by using the most innovative ways to engage customers and
  • Reduce customer churn by increasing customer satisfaction by better customer experiences and hence increasing customer retention….

Why Do Company’s Fail At Digital Transformation?

So just from that short list it’s clear there are so many ways software can enable a business to function at it’s very best. However, there is something that can get in the way of the effectiveness and efficiency of the actual software’s ability to deliver on the promise. What might that be? If the software is good, then it’s not the software. So what is it? How can you realize your company’s vision through digital transformation when over 80% of digital transformations fail. Nobody wants to spend the time, the money and the effort getting a project approved, implementing it only to find a year or five later that it didn’t produce the results it was supposed to. But surprisingly, this still does happen. Some of those reasons include:

  • The absence of a clear plan to achieve digital transformation
  • Lack of alignment between business and IT
  • Legacy systems
  • Siloed data
  • Gaps in talent and skills
  • Cultural resistance to change and
  • Group think (seeing the problem from the same perspective.)

How Smart Companies Are Avoiding the Digital Transformation Failure Chasm

Smart leaders need all the efforts of all their employees, as well as, feedback from their customers so they don’t fall into the digital transformation failure chasm. However, often times they are so busy doing what they have always done, they they might not see a new way of looking at things. That’s where another pair of eyes or hands or even a team can help. You’ve experienced this probably yourself. You are trying to solve something. You feel you’ve looked at it hundred different ways and nothing really new comes about. You might even show a friend or a team mate and they are stuck, too. Why does this happen? You are not alone. In fact, it’s quite common.

1962, Abraham Kaplan, then a Professor of Philosophy, was giving a speech to scientists in which he urged scientists to carefully consider their methods for their research. He emphasized that – just because certain methods happen to be handy, or one has been trained to use a specific method or trained to look at a problem from a certain perspective -it doesn’t mean that that method will produce the best outcomes. Sometimes people formulate problems that reach solutions by using those techniques they are especially skilled in. In other words, we tend to formulate our problems in ways that make it seem the solutions to those problems demand precisely what we already happen to have at hand. In Abraham Maslow’s The Psychology of Science, published in 1966,  stated, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” The issue is the reliance or over-reliance on the familiar or the habit of using the same perspective.

Taking this concept into software development and implementation, José M. Gilgado, wrote a law  that is still relevant and highly applicable in 21st century. He observed, often times software developers and implementors, “tend to use the same known tools to do a completely new and different project with new constraints.” Why? They blamed it on what he calls the comfort zone, a state where we don’t want to change anything to avoid risk. What’s the problem with using the same tools every time? We get good at those tools and we like using what we are good at, right? The issue can become that you don’t have enough diversity when discussing the problem (because you are using the same perspective you’ve always used) so the exchange of diverging or opposite views is limited and the choices to look at the problem from different points of view are limited because there’s nothing new to compare it to. What would be better if is… to look for the best possible choice with varying perspectives, even if we aren’t very familiar with them. But we rarely do that. Rather, we fall into group-think.

There’s some very interesting research by a professor at the University of Michigan, Scott E. Page who studies complexity theory. In his book, The Difference, he shows how the power of diversity creates better groups, firms and business outcomes. We all differ in how we see and interpret the world. How we code things is our “perspective.”  Scholars from a variety of disciplines have studied how people and groups make breakthroughs. The bottom-line? Encouraging and working with diverse perspectives. For example, do you know how pins came to be manufactured? Adam Smith ran one of the first brush factories. Someone saw that the bristles could be cut off and made into pins. That’s what I mean about seeing things differently. Most people would have looked at a brush factory and saw a brush factory. But the first pin factory was imagined by seeing that diverse perspective – seeing the world differently – seeing the world as a forest of pins – provided the seeds of innovation.

What does your team need? You’ll want to engage and partner with a new set of diverse senior advisors and specialists who are dedicated to your success, who use unrivaled expertise, processes and methods to make your business more agile. You’ll want to make sure they are the kind of people who thrive on guiding your team so your team learns the key principles to create and sustain change. And you’ll want to choose the most powerful technology platform to be the basis to fuel your transformation for today and far into the future. With all of that, and a collaborative team culture you can:

  • Align key leaders around a digital transformation strategy
  • Implement the right framework to move forward
  • Create the agility needed in today’s digital environment and
  • Adopt new technologies faster to keep pace with change.

Often it is –outside, diverse points of view– that are just what is required to steer you clear of the failure chasm, and instead have an immersive engagement based on a proven approach that combines people, expertise, culture, and technology. You want to be working with people who are uniquely able to help a business realize their visions and co-create the future by:

  • Exploring the art of the possible by
    • Leading with out-comes based thinking (OBT begins with defining a desired outcome, no matter how bold or provocative. It’s fundamentally different from problem solving, which looks at the current state and attempts to improve it)
    • Inspiring design-led thinking (instead of solving a problem, your team becomes solution-focused and action-oriented towards creating a preferred future)
    • Testing new strategies (vs. setting a plan and sticking to it for a year and then realizing they’ve wasted a year or more on something that isn’t going to work; maybe even trying a little experimentation to see if something could even work)
    • Sparking agility throughout the organization, igniting the whole culture’s motivation in whole new ways, giving them a renewed sense of purpose and outlook on the future and feeling they have the dream job and a reason for showing up other than a paycheck!
  • Building your digital capabilities by
    • Improving your operating model (and maybe even shifting the revenue model to something you’ve never considered, but it was the innovation that was needed to grow the company exponentially)
    • Growing the competitive advantage; as the Blue Ocean Author’s would say, you’ll want to create new, uncontested market spaces making the competition irrelevant
    • Stimulating breakthrough ideas that transform business as usual and
  • Creating sustainable transformation by
    • Creating a customer-first culture
    • Managing complex changes and
    • Continuing the processes required to innovate, iterate, pivot and grow.

How do you find such a group? Look at their DNA. Is it digital? Are they a natively global, mobile, social, cloud, community-oriented company? Are they trusted advisors who put the customer first and teach them to fish? Do they experiment, try new things, iterate and pivot quickly when it doesn’t work and tweak things till they hum? Do other companies desire to be like them and wonder what technology they use to be so innovative and wonder how is it, they do what they do? Are they super customer focused? As my friend and colleague, Peter Coffee would say, “Do they create a sense of urgency, hope and glory? Or conviction, belief and desire in your team? Are they all about (and seriously about this, it’s not just some words on a website or a brochure) connection, collaboration and innovation?” If you want to learn more about how one group guides business through digital transformation, here’s more info on that!

Until next time, here’s to realizing your vision and the best possible future for your company, your employees, your stakeholders and the planet. It’s all of our jobs to make the world a better place. And what better place to do that than starting with businesses? That’s where people spend a great deal of their time! So make it a fabulous experience for employees and the customers will feel the love. You will be their go to source for all your customer’s products and services. Don’t give them reasons to leave you, Give them reasons they can’t possibly give you up. Because… at the end of the day, that is what drives customer lifetime value. No customers, no business. It’s really that simple.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff

VP, Program Executive, Innovation and Transformation Center, Salesforce.com

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What’s the Number One Number Thing Today’s CEO’s Must Do? Do the OODA Loop Faster and More Innovatively

What’s the Newest Requirement for a CEO? Do the OODA Loop Faster and Better!

You would think it would to generate revenue, profits and reduce costs. Think again. It’s all about iterating and pivoting like a start-up. And who better than a former fighter pilot to teach CEO’s a thing or two about making quick. So I want you to meet John Boyd, who was among many things, a military strategist, colonel and fighter pilot whose theories are highly influential in the military, sports and business.

So why bring up Colonel Boyd in the context of CEO’s and their need to be nimble? Because investors and boards have transitioned from desiring quarterly profits (something that has driven Wall Street and corporations for many years) to searching for leaders to those who have the ability to disrupt their industry or die. What did the fighter pilot, Colonel Boyd used to make those decisions to do something out of the ordinary? He created a framework known as the OODA Loop:

  • Observe (M—ake the best use of the information and other intelligence resources available right now)
  • Orient (Quickly put the new observations into a context with the old)
  • Decide (Make quick decisions and take the “next actions” based on a combination of observations, current knowledge and intuition), and then
  • Act on those decisions to carry out the selected action(s), ideally— while the competitor is still observing your last action so you beat them to the punch!

OODA Loop

                                         Photo Source: Larry Paul

Above is a video from Ralph Mroz on the OODA Loop as applied to business if you want more information!

Observe, Orient, Decide and Act Is Known as John Boyd’s OODA Loop

As a fighter pilot, John had to make decisions in nano-seconds. With this framework of observe, orient, decide and act he way able to describe a way to iterate and pivot, very quickly, and decide if the object in front of them is friend or foe. Not doing so could mean life or death. It could also mean the end to a critical mission.  What does the OODA Loop mean to a CEO? Iterating and pivoting is also mission critical. Just ask the CEO of Ford Motor Company, Chief Executive Mark Fields. He was a 28 year old veteran of the business and was replaced by someone the business thought would be able to disrupt the automotive industry very quickly!

The Message is Simple: Do the OODA Loop Faster or Die

While Mr. Field’s did what most board’s used to expect of a CEO’s, i.e., he returned consistent profits, he did’t make enough changes fast enough. His OODA loop was too slow. But he didn’t know what he didn’t know. He, as many other CEO’s don’t realize that the winds of change are changing all around us. Like in most any industry, the car market has entered into the era of transportation.

It’s no longer just about building and selling a car. It’s about car-as-a-service. Think: ride-sharing (think Lyft, Tesla and ReachNow (by BMW.) It’s also about taking the traditional gasoline engine and transforming it’s power source to be an electric vehicle. And it doesn’t stop there. Some companies are disrupting the industry by experimenting with self-driving technology, making investments in connected cities (think BMW and Santa Monica, CA.) And at the same time Ford’s stock sank. 

How Fast Does Your CEO do The OODA Loop?

How fast do decisions get made? How fast can the ship be turned? Today, with the need to act quickly, the message is simple. We are in an age of rapid disruption by the software and tech industries. A leader of any company has to pick up the tempo and make riskier bets sooner… or die. While it was Mr. Field’s intention to set Ford on a path to be part of the new, emerging auto industry, he just didn’t do it fast enough.

Since Mr. Field’s took over three years ago, the share price of Ford is down 40%. As a CEO, as yourself, “Are you disrupting yourself, your company and your products fast enough? Are you really changing anything or are you just doing the old stuff just faster?” These are not easy questions, but ones that we all need to contend with. Consider you are one company and your are disrupting yourself faster than your competitor. What happens to the competitor?

ooda loop faster to drive innovation @drnatalie

                                                             Photo Source: Larry Paul

As a CEO, Are You On Track?

In military operations, OODA loops takes place in nano-seconds. In corporations, its decisions are often slower. In the old days, strategy was rigidly followed till next years’ planning cycle. But today, that’s no longer an acceptable mindset. And it’s critical to validate we’re on track and if not, correct it. Using a model like the OODA Loop, along with design-thinking which requires to you go and talk to your customers, your employees, customer’s of your competitors, to industries that are similar to your and industries that have nothing to do with yours.

It’s where the kernel of the seeds of innovation are hatched, born and grown into a full idea. The results of your actions become the observations to re-orient you to make your next decision. Quickly repeating the OODA loop equals success. And as you are doing this, you want to make sure you are making real-time changes that are just changes to make changes, but change to create a “Blue Ocean Strategy.” As defined by the author’s of the book, Blue Ocean Strategy, CEO’s need to quickly create an uncontested marketplace, where the competition is irrelevant.

Who’s Slow to the OODA Loop?

According to the article by Christopher Mims of the Wall Street JournalRonald Boire of Barnes & Noble, GNC Holdings’ Mike Archbold and top executives at three of the six major Hollywood studios making changes faster is very important. Where to look for inspiration? According to Mr. Mims, unlike large corporations, startups don’t need decades to make the changes the businesses need to succeed in the new world. They are nimble, they are always iterating, pivoting, changing, trying new things, not being afraid of conflict…

What does this mean for established companies? They will need to take drastic measures to do the OODA loop faster. What kind of drastic measures? According to the article, these CEO’s must be willing to tell their stakeholders they may have to lose money and cannibalize existing products and services, while scaling up new technologies and methods. Not the same old dog chow most CEO’s having been dishing out.

How Can a CEO Get On Track?

It used to be that you could acquire the start-up that was trying to put you out of business. But in today’s market it takes more than that. Companies that are disrupting the marketplace are growing so quickly, capturing so much market share, they don’t want or need to be acquired. And they can become too valuable to buy or are unwilling to sell. So the questions for you, as a CEO, “Is do you have systems to monitor/measure what employees know, think & feel about what is going on in the business?”

They are often the ones on the front line that really know what is going on and what needs to be done, or at least what isn’t working. “Do you really know what your customers know, think & feel? Or do you have a cordial relationship where the “real deal” is not really discussed?” Honest, conscious conversation is where it all starts. Many people have made careers by learning how to manage-up well. That’s not a bad thing, except when you aren’t telling the CEO the truth about what the troops think, feel and know. But there has to be a cultural environment that always you to be able to safely say the things. That’s not always the case.

And, as a CEO, “Do you take that information that you have gathered from your employees, your customers, all kinds of sources and integrate it into your company?” One of the best ways to stay on top of the game is to monitor social and digital media. If you have a digital / social media command center, where all the top news and information is brought into one central place, you can begin to digest a new picture of the quickly changing landscape very easily. You’ll also want to keep your ear closely attuned to what is happening in the start-up world, regardless of whether it is Silicon Valley or Silicon Beach or Silicon Edge or…

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

To me, all of this sounds like something very familiar to those of us who came from the voice of the customer or quality. Remember Deming, the father of Quality who was pushed out of the American Auto Industry? And then only to be invited to Japan and make their automative industry soar? What was his secret sauce? To listen to their customers and the employees. To make really changes to their products and services based on that feedback!

Start Incubating Innovation

Today, companies must incubate disruptive ideas within their own corporate cultures. And this is not easy, because often it means supporting them as they grow into something truly disruptive. The company might have to absorb their losses. For example, for its first 20 years Amazon made almost no profit. But iterating, pivoting and incubating is not enough. A CEO must maintain the existing business at the same time as they innovate. This is a new and rare skill.

So where best to learn how to think like an OODA Loop CEO? Find a group that help take you through thinking differently, through a design-thinking process where you never know what will come out of it, but it always spurs innovation. You have to cross the chasm, from how you normally do things, to how things have never been done before. That’s a lot of change, so it’s also important to develop those ideas and new innovations in the culture where change and honestly is accepted and appreciated.

@drnatalie

VP, Program Executive, in the Innovation and Transformation Center 
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Digital Disruption is Gonna Get You Unless You Prepare Your Brand Now

Disruption surrounds the marketplace. As companies face disruption in their industry, the race to stay ahead of or beat the competition is quickening. Software is one of the ways companies competitively automate, manage and analyze business processes, data and content and scale operations. And to successfully compete in this increasingly digital world, enterprises need to transform slow, error-prone operations from manual, analog processes to automated digital workflows and document generation.

However, as various departments in companies buy software applications, often the lines of business are choosing the best of breed solutions and platforms which don’t necessarily easily integrate with each other or the main IT systems. This results in companies having many separate software systems. With people distributed over large geographies, it can be difficult to coordinate work across the business and thus defend against competitors.

While obtaining the right software for each department and use case is important, this often leaves the organization without a way to easily connect the work flows across departments and lines of business to get the return on investment. What is the key to winning the digital transformation race? A digital business process flow platform.

Businesses that drive process efficiency and effectiveness across desperate software solutions and across every aspect of their business will be uniquely qualified to position themselves to exceed and excel. To do this, companies need a platform to digitally integrate, sync and create sophisticated business processes independent of the variety of different software solutions throughout the various departments in a company.

The issue is however, not just to connect SaaS applications, but to also provide process automation to make sure the processes from each of those applications work together well. Without a digital workflow and content automation (WCA) platform and corresponding analytics, it can be very difficult to make sure the investments the organization has made in separate software solutions are actually returning the investment. Nintex does just that.

Competitive Positioning

Nintex’s key differentiator is they offer a digital transformation platform comprised of Nintex Workflow Cloud and Nintex Hawkeye. The host of Nintex’s digital SaaS connectors allows clients to rapidly build and deploy a digital workflow and content automation (WCA) and cloud transformation platform without having to write code. The business result is the ability to acquire customers faster, increase the pace of innovation, as well as control and manage expenses. The platform allows organizations to automate their business processes quickly and easily. And the drag and drop interface encourages quicker adoption of the Nintex solution. Importantly, any workflow automated with Nintex Workflow can be deployed to native mobile platforms (Android, iOS and Windows) in a rapid and simple manner.

The Nintex platform automates processes on and between enterprise content management systems and collaboration platforms, connecting on-premises, cloud workflows and mobile users. Two hundred of the Fortune 500 companies use Nintex, including more than 7,000 public and private organizations in 90 countries, running millions of workflows daily.

For companies that are not ready to move everything to the cloud, Nintex also allows companies to create workflows that stretch across both cloud-based and on-premises systems and services, to distribute work to multiple sites for multiple purposes and move data and workflows to the cloud when they are ready.

Nintex’s overall power is as a Digital Business Platform (DBP). Nintex combines powerful Workflow and Content Automation (WCA) capabilities in one platform. (Editor’s Note: WCA is an emerging technology category that consolidates the legacy technology markets of Business Process Management (BPM) and Customer Communications Management (CCM).) Nintex offers advanced WCA for its easy-to-use workflow and document generation capabilities and workflow analytics (workflow process intelligence).

Target Markets and Industry Vertical Solutions

Target markets include Communications and Media, Education, Financial Services, Government, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Legal, Manufacturing, Professionals Services, Retail Services and Technology industries. Nintex solutions are designed for a range of lines of business within organizations, including Sales and Marketing, Finance, Human Resources, IT and Administration, Customer Service, Field Service and Safety.

High-payback document processes that are faster to implement with a system like Nintex include those in Table 1, customer-facing processes as well as back-office processes (see Table 2a and 2b.) What’s important to note is that the implementation timeframe and costs are fractions of a traditional enterprise-level IT system and instead of using a single, formal, top-down development effort, they are evolved with rapid iterations. This takes a page out of the lean-process, design-thinking community, where rapid iterations and pivoting is key to success and gives large organizations not used to the start-up mentality the edge to be more competitive, quicker.

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Customer References

In speaking to Nintex customers our research found that many of the gains came from having an easy way to process and execute their digital transformations. This might include moving to the cloud, reducing the number and complexity of workflows like creating and approving a press release, signing and approving contracts, reducing resources and reassigning them to more important jobs as well as reducing the number of software applications used by the company.

The savings in time for enhanced workflows advanced the company’s position in the marketplace, allowed them to get to market faster and beat the competition. In addition, IT departments were able to be more focused on the needs of the business versus being taxed with the maintenance of many separate software applications. These typical IT responsibilities took IT’s time and focus away from the direct needs of the business. By implementing Nintex, the relationship between the lines of business and IT were greatly improved. With the ever changing dynamics in IT, the IT department needs to be highly agile and flexible in the solutions they provide for the business. Nintex provides IT with what they need to deliver to the business. This makes IT more relevant than ever, which is especially key when many lines of business are buying their own software. Now, more than ever, IT can play a key role in the success of the business.

Are you looking to digitally transform your business? Have you determined which processes are slowing the digital transformation of your business? And do you have a solution to take those manual, error-prone processes and digitally enable them? This report will help you in choosing a vendor that can help you with just that.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, www.ConstellationR.com

Covering customer and employee applications that empower digital workplaces

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