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October 31, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

What is Your Service Brand?

October 31, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

What is Your Service Brand?

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By Tom Paquin

In their book about navigating the collapse of the US Auto Industry, Branding Iron, Charlie Hughes and William Jeanes describe a brand as “A promise, wrapped in an experience.”

That’s always stuck with me, and it’s been a lens by which I’ve viewed brand ever since I read those words. A brand, at its best, is clear, simple, and focused, based on a balance of outward messaging from the organization, and inward perception from the customer.

Think about a brand with which you interact on a day-to-day basis. What is the core message at its heart? Typically, that messaging can be diluted into a few very broad categories: A brand can be affordable, or high-quality, or have a social consciousness, or illicit a feeling of nostalgia, and so on, but a brand, at its best, takes the many moving parts that make up a business and points them towards a singular focus.

This is harder to conceptualize for companies that deliver some form of service. How do you centralize a brand that both sells physical products and provides service? How can you create a singular thread that passes through both business functions in a meaningful way?

The easiest way to see this done well (and poorly) is to go to your local shopping mall. Brick and mortar businesses are eager to servitize themselves, and in doing so, are helping to create unified brand experiences that encompass both products and services.

Step into the Apple store and pick up a phone that is considered easy and accessible, or walk to the back of the store, where customer support is engineered to be just as easy and accessible. Sephora and other makeup stores like it provide a mid-scale beauty solution, and patently mid-scale makeup artists to slap it on there for you. LEGOs offer hours of creativity and imagination for kids, and a gigantic mess and foot injuries for parents, and the LEGO store certainly captures that unique energy. Look, too, at the way that Toys “R” Us is rebranding itself. It’s making service part of its DNA, and trying to capture the same fun and excitement of the toys that they sell.

That’s fine with retail, sure, but can brand synergy like that really happen in the field? I’d argue that it needs to, for all businesses. In many cases, your service technician will be the only way that a customer will interact with your brand in person, at all. How do you want that interaction to be perceived? What should the outcome be? How can this be used as a differentiator?

A service brand can’t just be a fast turnaround time when things go wrong and making scheduling easy. That’s the bare minimum of expectations for any service firm today. The way to best unify your brand is to see service as a product. This product, sitting alongside other products in your portfolio, will have certain attributes that tie it to the brand’s promise, and differentiate it versus its competitors. Perhaps this will require a consideration not just of the act of service, but of the outcomes that service provides, or it’ll require a thoughtful and functional audit of what customers actually think about you to begin with.

We’ve previously discussed Spencer Technologies on Future of Field Service, and they’re a company that understands their brand promise implicitly. They’re ostensibly a pure services company, providing setup, teardown, and support to retail clients of all sizes. They pride themselves on their unobtrusive service always delivered by a technician in a Spencer van, never a contractor. They deliver on this brand promise for service in a simple way: Creating dashboards powered by their customers’ SLA agreement and providing visibility of service duration, technician information, and turnaround directly to the client, who often is remotely associated with the issue at a specific retail outlet themselves. So—a little forward thinking and the right technology is more than enough to align your service with the brand promise.

You might be wondering where to start with this, and I’d say there are three steps:

  • Start by getting a picture of how your service business runs. That’s not just to say the actual service delivery, but also the serviceable assets, the contractor network, if it exists, and also what you want your service practice to actually say about you.
  • From there, adjust the business parameters surrounding service and consider whether contracts should be adjusted from break-fix to outcomes-oriented.
  • After that, think about any technologies that can help you thread the needle, what tech is currently in place to support that today, and how you can bridge that gap.

October 30, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Managing a Mature Service Organization

October 30, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Managing a Mature Service Organization

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David Douglas, VP of Service Management at Scientific Games, talks with Sarah about how to focus on continuous improvement and innovation in a mature service organization.

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October 28, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

4 Observations of Innovation in Practice Among Today’s Service Organizations

October 28, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

4 Observations of Innovation in Practice Among Today’s Service Organizations

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

Last week I was invited to give a keynote presentation at DHL’s The Future of The Services Supply Chain event at the company’s brand-new Americas Innovation Center in Chicago. The 28,000-square foot facility featuring hands-on displays of cutting-edge technologies such as robotics, 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality, and many more was quite impressive. DHL put together a great lineup of speakers for a day full of learning, networking, and experiencing the interactive displaces the Innovation Center has to offer.

As I listened in to the other speakers, including DHL customers that provide critical services in a variety of industries, I was able to pick up on some themes around how these companies are fostering, embracing, and harnessing innovation within their businesses today. Here are four key observations:

#1: Innovation Begins With Aligning Company Culture

The way service-based businesses have traditionally operated versus how you need to operate in an innovation-driven world are in many ways at odds with one another. Operational excellence is important, but the leadership and thinking of an operationally-driven business is different than that of an innovative one. In order to successfully innovate, you need to determine how to strike an appropriate balance between these two aspects and look at what adjustments might need to be made within your culture to promote more innovation. If your workforce is accustomed to being measured based on optimal efficiency and lowest cost, they aren’t likely to focus on innovating. This doesn’t mean you stop focusing on efficiency and costs, it just means that you need to examine how to empower your employees to think outside of the box and be a part of the company’s innovation – because innovation is an everyone job. “We focus on having a broad stakeholder community, and promoting a collaborative culture,” Roger Perry, Senior Manager of Digitalization Strategy at Cisco said at the event.

#2: Innovation Must Be Outside-In

Some companies make the mistake of innovating inside-out, meaning focusing on their products or services and brainstorming about how to do things better or differently. This is the wrong approach, because it is the voice of your customers that matter most. Therefore, you need to focus on innovating outside-in. This means seeking input from your customers on what it is they want, need, value, and find important- not just related to the service you provide today, but even beyond (so that you get ideas not only on how to improve on your present-day business, but also to think about what your future may look like). Joe Beck, VP of Global Supply Chain at Medtronic, shared a heartwarming presentation on how the company approaches innovation, which is always with the customer in mind. “Our customers are the lens through which we view every decision we make at Medtronic,” he said.

#3: Advanced Technology Is Ready For You

We’ve written quite a bit on Future of Field Service about how you need to have a strong technological foundation from which to build on more advanced applications. But for those of you with a good foundation in place, those advanced technologies are available for the taking and have some very impressive business cases. The tour of the Innovation Center was eye-opening for me because it showcased technologies like robotics, AI, 3D printing, and AR in real-world business scenarios that DHL has developed with its customers. It’s one thing to see these technologies showcased in a vendor’s fictional sales demo, but to see the tangible applications that DHL has built to provide value to its customers was really interesting and brought to mind for me how prime-time ready these tools really are for the businesses that are ready to adopt them. The companies in attendance that are innovating have trained themselves to become accustomed to a more fluid, agile way of experimenting with new technologies. “We’ve developed a see/decide/act methodology and have migrated to more methodical releases versus big-bang,” said Perry. At Lenovo, innovation is spurred by the willingness and ability to try new things. “We run many small pilots to test out new ideas, concepts, and tools – if they work, we quickly scale,” said Julio Pineta Ortiz, Director of LAS Services at Lenovo. The idea – and action – of constantly experimenting and scaling what works is again a fundamental shift for many companies, but one that is key to successful innovation.

#4: Innovation Is Data-Centric

“The next growth engine is digitalization,” said Gina Chung, Head of Innovation Americas at DHL, as she kicked off the morning sessions. We know that data is our most powerful tool today and will only become increasingly important in the future. Data is critical not only when it comes to measuring our own innovation efforts to determine success and learn from failures, but also in terms of looking at how we will use data as an asset for our customers. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” said Ortiz. “We focus 80% measurement on strategic KPIs, and 20% on tactical.” For most organizations, making data-driven business decisions isn’t new – but for many it is still very reactive. In order to keep pace with the industry, we need to focus heavily on getting ahead of the data to be able to use it more proactively. “The goal is to move from using data in hindsight to using data as foresight,” says Jaime Hooker, VP Americans Service Logistics at DHL.

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October 24, 2019 | 5 Mins Read

Breaking the Business as Usual Mentality

October 24, 2019 | 5 Mins Read

Breaking the Business as Usual Mentality

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By Greg Lush

Your interview went fantastic and you remain to be pleasantly surprised on how forward-thinking everyone appears to be — this may be a great career fit. With the first round of meetings behind you, they invite you back to "get a feel" for the company by spending a day with several future teammates. Edgar, the accounting manager, welcomes you into his office. He is warm and inviting, and after some small talk suggests that you look at a presentation about the company. As he shuffles through the stack of folders on his desk your enthusiasm begins to wane. "Ahh, here it is," Edgar announces as he pulls the tattered paper copy of PowerPoint 1997 slides. Progressing through the slides, covered with early 2000’s clipart, you tell yourself it is all okay as you look forward to meeting with Angela from Sales. Certainly, the front of the company must be using tools from this decade! Angela did not disappoint, we met in a small conference room with a 48" Microsoft Surface touchscreen. Standing next to the screen, Angela starts the conversation, bouncing from email to email and navigating to her cloud-based file management tool DropBox. Something is off. Why is it that this company, which appears to be only using Office 365, is using other file tools? My sense is an organization that has invested and mastered the ability to "talk a good story;" however, when the first layer is peeled back, they appear to be culturally stuck 20 years back. While they may be innovative on their core business, it appears that business practices take a back seat. Your goal is to land on a company that has some staying power, and these folks are on a fast-moving train headed to 1980, so you decide it’s not for you.

Have I just described your organization? I suppose if we polled folks at your company, we would get many different responses. As you contemplate "alignment," which is necessary for successful digital transformation, the habits of the company, leadership/management team, department leads, and individuals will need to be altered. Achieving transformation for an organization is not a trivial task. Contrary to popular belief, this does not have to be a top-down edict. As a matter of fact, the top-down approach will get folks to change their ways; yet, typically change will be limited to the vision of those "barking the orders.” Unfortunately, this is not transformation, it is simply compliance. Mentioned previously, and important to say again, extracting value from your digital investments is one-part technology and nine parts people. Positioning yourself to be immersed in how the business operates will afford you the opportunity to correlate micro-processes to the available technology stack. Certainly, the idea of translating business speak to technology speak is not new — the real change is the velocity of new products, code-free digital tool configuration, heightened expectations of clients, employees and partners. So how do we look at and respond to this challenge to get us closer down the path of true digital transformation? Here are a few important points to consider.

  • Adoption of transactional systems
    • Most business challenges today will require technology solutions. To be clear, a business challenge is not defined as upgrading an existing system, while these actions need to be addressed, they do not generally require transformation. Instead, upgrades of transactional systems can be bunched into two buckets: implementation (readiness) and deployment (go-live). Although our experience is littered with these types of examples, and we may have even convinced ourselves that we "drove adoption," the fact is we checked the box once the system was live and moved on to the next crisis.
  • Examining daily routines
    • The idiom "you know what you know" comes to mind when I think about folks' daily routines. If I walked up to you and asked, "Frank, how can I help you become more efficient by using your digital tools better?" His response may be, "I am good, thanks for asking." Instead, I would ask, "Frank, if you think about all of the actions that you take with your computer over the course of a week, which is the most inconvenient?" By the way, this does not always work, as having never been asked that question, it can be challenging to answer. A back-up position if the person seems stumped — ask them to show you what tools (digital and paper) they use through the course of the workday.
  • If your organization has or is planning on deploying a cloud platform (ie: Office 365), then you are in a great spot. These holistic cloud platforms are packed with applications, many of which are bundled into the most common licenses. To solve everyday problems, you must put the effort into learning your cloud platform’s technology stack and how these tools can impact your business. The combination of your keen understanding of the technology stack and connection with the business leveraging your new-found listening skills, you should be in good shape. Transformation can only occur when the seed has been planted, in most cases coached out of the business user, and methodically cultivated to become a strong and reliable part of each person’s daily habits.
  • Changing the "way" that you compute
    • Don't just change the computer system, change the way that people compute! Sure, I have heard it all and the excuses like "we will never get them to use the tools" and "this is a training issue" are, well, a bunch of crap. Those may have had some applicability in the past, when a strong separation existed between your enterprise software, IT, and the business. Now the lines are way too fuzzy — who would have ever thought that a marketing department would be tasked with leading digital change? If that is not a sign, I don't know what is. Come on, smell the coffee! How does that Pink Floyd lyric go? "Nobody told you when to run?" Hey, knock, knock… RUN!

The next time that you lead a meeting, make sure that you are using your available digital tools. For instance, in the past you may have brought in your paper notebook and #2 pencil. Instead, consider using the notebook tool (no notepad, old-timer) on your computer along with a modern meeting invitation and task management application. You will be amazed how just one person, changing the way that they compute, can influence a community of people. If you are on any social platform, you know how simple it is to get a movement started — many are more comfortable following than leading. Yet someone must start, how about you?

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October 23, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Preparing for The World of Digital Service

October 23, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Preparing for The World of Digital Service

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Jon Barr, Head of IT Americas at KONE talks with Sarah about how themes like agility, culture, AI and ML, and collaboration play an important role for any company looking to seize the opportunity of digital services.

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October 21, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

The Dichotomy of Exceptional Service Leadership

October 21, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

The Dichotomy of Exceptional Service Leadership

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

When discussing service leadership traditionally, topics such as strong communication and a focus on change management and employee engagement have been top of mind. These things remain incredibly important, but the reality is, what is demanded of service leadership today has evolved along with the industry. In the experience economy with service as a strategic differentiator, innovation is essential. And it turns out, the traits that make a strong operational leader are not the same as those that leaders of innovation possess — in fact, they are often at odds with one another.

One of my favorite sessions from IFS World Conference this October in Boston was by Linda Hill, Co-Founder of Paradox Strategies and Harvard Business School Professor who specializes in innovation. Linda brought to light a number of points on how to effectively lead innovation that I think are especially important for service leaders to be considering. She talked about the concept of the performance gap versus the opportunity gap – the performance gap being the difference between where you are now and were you think you should go, which is a value creator. The opportunity gap is the difference between where you are now and were you could go, which is a game changer. On the topic of building competitive advantage, Linda reviewed a scale of today versus tomorrow. Moving from execution to innovation, from setting direction to shaping context. From focusing on where we’re going to focusing on who we are. Maximizing differences, rather than minimizing them. Shifting from followers that execute to communities who innovate. Building that sense of community, according to Linda, is the intersection of purpose (why you exist); shared values (what we agree is important) – such as bold ambition, collaboration, responsibility, and learning; and the rules of engagement (how we interact with each other) – such as respect, trust, influence, seeing the whole, questioning everything, and being data-driven. A culture of innovation is a big adjustment for many service organizations – an evolution from doing to thinking, from effectiveness to experience, and from delivery to discovery. But moreover, it’s a challenging call for service leaders. The strengths that made these leaders successful at operational excellence and managing change are still incredibly valuable, but far different from the strengths needed to successfully lead innovation. “Leading change is about getting people to follow – using muscles. Innovation is far different – rather than minimizing differences, you want to amplify them,” says Linda. She also points out that innovation is meant to be done collectively, it is an everyone job. “Innovation is emotionally and intellectually taxing, so you need a sense of community. With innovation, there’s no such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen – every viewpoint is valuable. It’s the leaders job to balance and harness this,” Linda says. She went on to discuss some of the aspects of innovation culture that a leader will want to unleash versus harness:

  • Unleash the individual, harness the collective
  • Unleash support, harness confrontation
  • Unleash learning and development, harness performance
  • Unleash improvisation, harness structure
  • Unleash patience, harness urgency
  • Unleash bottom-up thinking, harness top-down

I think another important element of building a culture of innovation is to eliminate the fear of failure and make clear the desire for all opinions and contributions. Many service teams have been programmed, intentionally or unintentionally, to “do their jobs” and not ask too many questions. This is the complete opposite of how you want to promote innovative thinking. You want to make it clear to your employees that you welcome and value all of their thoughts, opinions, and ideas and you want to take the pressure of failure off of their shoulders, because that fear of failure will inhibit innovative thinking. There’s no denying that service leaders today are challenged! I highly suggest checking out Linda Hill’s work – this brief synopsis of her World Conference session I’m sure doesn’t do justice to the wealth of knowledge that she is. You can learn more at http://www.paradoxstrategies.com/.

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October 18, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

How secure is IoT?

October 18, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

How secure is IoT?

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By Ross Coundon

The IoT reality

IoT is growing quickly, but are you prepared for what that means in reality?

The Internet of Things (IoT) involves an increasing prevalence of objects and entities (things) provided with unique identifiers to transfer data over a network. A lot of the increase in IoT communication comes from devices such as computers, sensors, machine to machine (M2M) communication, smart energy grids, smart homes and buildings, vehicle to vehicle communications or wearable devices.

This wave of technology is connecting more and more aspects of our lives to the internet. It is anticipated that over the next few years, over 25 billion devices will be connected. Forbes expects the IoT industry to surpass threefold growth before 2025. All these connections are aimed to improve and enhance our daily lives, but when you stop to think about the fact that even your TV is collecting and sharing your personal data things can start to feel a bit scary.

Humans are the biggest threat to IoT

We as humans can be the biggest threat to ourselves. People can feel there is no more capacity left to take control of an ever-expanding network of devices and sensors, let alone make sense of what they are all doing. And when it comes to security, human error is so often the downfall. We find it hard to protect ourselves in a pre-IoT world, so why do we think we are ready for everything and anything to be connected?

You only have to take WannaCry as an example. Back in May 2017 a malicious campaign crippled hundreds of organisations across the globe within just one day. Every device that is connected to the internet is another opportunity for a hacker. By expanding the number of devices connected, we are creating millions of gateways. All it takes is one skilled hacker to exploit a weakness in one of those devices, and it could compromise not just your home or office but potentially your autonomous vehicle.

Your customers have concerns over IoT security

These security issues need to be taken seriously by organisations considering implementing an IoT strategy. People like to be in control, especially when it comes to their personal data, and it is your responsibility to make them feel that way. You need to take them with you on the digital journey, encouraging and inspiring them to embrace new technology. Address their fears however rational, or irrational, they may seem and reassure them by giving them the facts the rumours or media often leave out.

However, when it comes to IoT security there is no silver bullet. Ensuring you have good application design as well as adapting your existing IT security will go some way to helping to protect against IoT threats.

How big is the issue?

In 2018 some 21% of companies reported a data breach or cyberattack due to unsecured IoT devices. Ensuring security in the face of this trend should be a significant concern but some businesses still have their head in the sand that it won't happen to them. IoT devices can be extremely hard to patch. In many cases they don’t have a physical user interface or a screen and it can be hard for users to understand how updates are to be made.

recent survey suggested that more than 80% of respondents believe a cyberattack or data breach from unsecured IoT devices is likely to hit them in the next two years. Make sure your business isn't one of them!

Need help?

Working with many field service organisations, at Leadent we have helped organisations design, develop and pilot and implement IoT in the right way.

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October 16, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Keeping Field Service Human, Personal, and Compassionate

October 16, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Keeping Field Service Human, Personal, and Compassionate

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October 14, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

Challenging the Service Status Quo

October 14, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

Challenging the Service Status Quo

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

Last week was an action-packed week in Boston at IFS World Conference 2019. The event theme was “for the challengers,’ which I must say is a message I can really get behind. There’s a personal appeal, in the sense that I’ve always considered myself to be somewhat of a “challenger” — someone who asks a lot of questions, tries to think outside the box, and doesn’t back down in the face of resistance. But moreover, “challenger” is an identifier I think more companies need to take on if they want to find success in the increasingly complex and ever-evolving world we’re living in today.

The immense opportunity that service presents was front and center at WoCo. IFS announced plans to acquire field service management provider Astea. Interest in servitization from companies that haven’t traditionally focused on service was apparent. And the service organizations in attendance were all excited about the potential that exists for those that embrace the challenger mindset and fight complacency.

I had the honor of moderating a couple of customer panels, including participants such as Eickhoff, Anticimex, Spencer Technologies, and Reliance Home Comfort. These were great conversations that showcased not only the excitement around how service is evolving and expanding, but also some tactical advice for what it takes to seize this opportunity successfully. I thought it would be helpful for me to summarize some of the key points these challengers feel it will take to bring the service potential to fruition.

1: Challengers Are Letting Go of The Past

Rule number one of a challenger is to break out of the “this is how we’ve always done it” mentality. This I know sounds so simple, but the reality is that many service organizations have a deep-rooted past that can make this simple-sounding feat nearly impossible. But those committed to winning know this is necessary and are working at all costs to embrace and evangelize the need to do things differently. Fighting the status quo looks a little different for each company depending on their own history, leadership, culture, and customer base – but there is an overarching need to look at the business with a fresh view. To think about how service delivery and even business models might be changed to better deliver on customer wants and needs. To look for inspiration beyond your own industry and recognize the fact that you aren’t limited by what has been the “norm.” Innovation was an important topic at WoCo and it’s incredibly relevant for those in service who understand that the time is now to push out of their comfort zones and focus on the possibilities instead of the barriers.

2: Challengers Are Focused on Culture and People

If there was a resounding message I heard from the customers I spoke with, it was the acknowledgement that their people and their company culture is where their success lies. They know that investing time, energy, and resources on their people is absolutely critical and they are making this a priority. We discussed a variety of ways that failing to focus on your people will present barriers to accomplishing your goals. This included a discussion around the correlation between employee engagement and satisfaction and customer satisfaction – not being able to deliver on a superior customer experience if you haven’t taken the time to ensure your people are bought into your mission and happy themselves. We discussed the importance of communicating the “why” behind the company’s goals and initiatives as well as the need to articulate realistic, measurable expectations so that employees know both what is being asked of them as well as how they’re performing. We also discussed the fact that from a technology standpoint, focusing on the voice of your employees and centering tools around their needs is essential to adoption and proper use. It can be easy to speed through the day-to-day and not slow down enough to focus on the state of your culture and your employees’ morale, but it is evident that challengers are making this a priority.

3: Challengers Are Building a Logical Technology Strategy

When Christian Pederson, Chief Product Officer at IFS delivered his keynote at WoCo in which he discussed the company’s technology roadmap, he commented that while IFS is working to incorporate all sorts of new features and functionality, customers shouldn’t be focused on the trends and acronyms but rather the business value they provide. In talking with customers at the event, it was clear that this is indeed the challenger approach. These companies aren’t caught up in the trends or buzzwords just for the sake of what’s “cool” – they are hyper-focused on what will provide their businesses, and more importantly their customers, value. They know that to succeed with digital transformation, you must first build a strong foundation of core functionality from which to build. They recognize that the technology strategy for the company needs to be cohesive, not siloed. They are intent on following value, not trends. And they are cognizant of the fact that there’s a greater need than ever for both technology and skills that will allow companies to fully utilize data both internally and in a customer-facing manner.

I truly enjoyed hearing how these companies are balancing their efforts around strategy, culture, and technology to take their businesses to new heights. If you have thoughts on how your company is embracing the challenger mentality, I’d love to hear your story!

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October 10, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

Alignment: The Key to True Digital Transformation Success

October 10, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

Alignment: The Key to True Digital Transformation Success

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By Greg Lush

You have already experienced change and value in applying the former stages of the hierarchy of digital adoption to your businesses: digital trust, contextual computing, and insights. The final component of the hierarchy we will discuss will propel us over the finish line as we take digital trust, contextual computing, and insights stages momentum to alter our business habits. Often the word "transformation" is bandied about, but who really knows what this term means? If Henry Ford, as he was contemplating the horseless carriage, had asked any person in Detroit what they wanted, most would have answered "a faster horse.” For me, transformation occurs as we permanently alter our institutional habits to leverage the digital enterprise. We achieve this by embracing the final stage of my Hierarchy of Digital Transformation: Alignment.

This series was written for all types of digital evangelists and advocates, and for most of you one of the four stages I’ve covered will be comfortable and the others will present some level of discomfort. Our first stage, digital trust, started our journey and required you to apply your emotional intelligence (EQ) over your technical skills. Generally speaking, if you are a hard-core technologist the first section on digital trust was awkward. The final section of alignment is also people-centric with a heavy dose of understanding the business. Technologists, who have been relegated to the data center or IT shop, and really interested in keeping the infrastructure live, will find this section challenging. Conversely, those in business management roles, who shined in the "insights" stage, will also find this final stage "alignment" hard to master. Hey, we are talking about the elusive "transformation,” a state of business rarely obtained.

So, what needs to happen to drive success through this final stage if nobody will be comfortable? The answer is just the point, we must align with one another. Digital transformation, a term which will likely fizzle out, is about us all rowing in the same direction. Alignment, a word which suggests teamwork, will continue to stand the test of time. Businesses have attempted to achieve alignment across their employees, clients, and partners, for decades; how is this 'alignment' anything more than letters on a page? As we get older, theoretically we get wiser. Life experiences, including success and failure (critical), no matter how trivial, are all contributors.

Yet, it is more than that, and therefore alignment, and eventually transformation, has a fighting chance. The answer to this riddle, you ask, is perspective. As humans we gain perspectives through experience, listening, social-economic factors; all of which eventually contribute to our perspectives. However, if we could take our perspectives, actions, and approaches and merge those with others, wouldn't that provide additional insight? Now, mix in trends, which in all honesty today are considered "hunches," by accessing artificial intelligence tools like algorithms, machine and deep learning, and myriad cognitive tools.  Imagine the perspective you could gain, learning things that you didn't know to ask, literally obliterating the idiom "you only know what you know."

I’m excited to share with you some final stories in the coming weeks, centered around alignment, and designed to get you thinking about how you may apply these concepts directly to your business. Hopefully, executing these in sequence as they are all designed to work into one another. Over the next few weeks, we will explore:

  • Business as unusual: understanding and aligning business priorities
  • Our story:
    • Algorithms; getting ready to share your story with a data scientist
    • Data; move past your historical references and how to handle internal and external data
    • Assumptions; seeing things differently, transitioning assumptions to action
  • Speed Learning
    • Learning like never before
    • From predictions to prescriptions

I look forward to diving into this final phase of the hierarchy of digital transformation with you!

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