By Greg Lush
With each passing year of the digital age, we ironically get further away from the significance of technology. Hey, fact is that transactional systems will always be in play, however, it is with the "valuable applications” where the last mile of value exists. If you are interested in a truly digital enterprise, you must go WAY past those frankly boring, transactional systems (finance, operations, email, file storage). Are you nodding your head? In order to transition your organization to this next step of digital adoption you must think outside of the box. It is not for everyone, no shame — achieving the first step of digital adoption is quite an accomplishment. For those of you who just know work could be executed more efficiently and are frustrated that the value you have extracted from the cloud is just barely more than you had ten years ago, read on! Contextual computing is your next step of the digital adoption continuum. The first, and for many the most difficult step, is to stop thinking about digital change in the context of software applications. Nobody gives a crap, what they really care about is their employees, clients, and businesses. Start your conversations about business aspirations or challenges. Consider framing your discussions in terms of what needs to "be done,” the "pains" and "gains" expected. Once you have framed the business context, align what you can provide via products or services. Clearly articulate what you will do to offer "pain relievers" and "gain creators.” Your background will determine the level of complexity with this exercise, and technologists may struggle the most. However, you do not, and should not, do this alone. You may consider creating the first one with you and your team for a client group. Once you have a practical example, extend this exercise as a working meeting with your clients (internal or external). Contained at the bottom of this section you will see a high-level example for a business owner with the desire to improve. To get your head in the right space, repeat this five times before your session: "listen, listen, listen and get a clear understanding of why.” Do not bite on the temptation to show the client an application which would solve their problems during this session, leave your white horse back at the office. The customer does not need to be saved, instead their words need to be translated into pragmatic solutions, which in many cases will be digitally-driven. Your main purpose is to help the client. As you delve into the value proposition exercise, these tips will help you stay on track:
- Center of the right wheel: who is the intended audience? This is absolutely your first step.
- To be done: For me this is step 1a, although you may start at any place on the diagram. Keep your words direct and to the point. Taking too narrow of an approach will make it very hard to complete the other sections, and too high level will make it tough for readers to derive action from your statement. The example, is for a transformation services business, communicating the business case, yet a bit high level to drive action and subsequent change.
- Pains: consider a few things; the pains section must communicate that you "get it,” leave enough latitude to adjust to the client’s needs and resonate with executive leadership. If you get too deep you will run out of solutions and narrow the path so tightly that the readers may not be able to get the big picture.
- Gains: while this is not the end of your value proposition, I like to think about the right side as identifying the problem while the left side is all about the solution. Before moving to the left side, you must make certain that you have clearly identified the problem or opportunity. Socialize and adjust as required, the left side is simply responding to the right side…
- Pain relievers: armed with clearly identified pains, how will you fix it? Often, I will jump to the products and services first and then complete the pain relievers and gain creators. However, this is not always the case, you will need to experiment. Regardless of which happens first, the pain relievers should address the items in the wheel to the right.
- Gain creators: you are on the home stretch and need to connect all the pieces. Keep in mind that some will only read a few of the boxes, this is always on that list. These gain creators will be leaning into your final section, products and services.
- Products and services: this is a hard section to complete as transformation is a movement and not products. However, you do not want to sound aloof either. Once you are complete, and you read the first and last box, does it make sense?
So often these value propositions are bypassed. The fact is, they are hard if your goal is to capture the customers true value from digital tools. For me it takes multiple iterations after reviewing it with as many and diverse individuals as possible. You must ask yourself, are you deploying applications or helping your clients become a transformed digital enterprise?