Digital Strategies with Customer-centric Mindset
New opportunities technology is presenting for businesses
Let’s start by thinking about the background: What has technology done for enterprises over the last several decades? The focus has been on investing in new technology which helps firms to become more productive, mainly in operational areas such as in finance, HR and other back-end functions.
In the last 3-4 years, there has been a fundamental shift. New technologies are now central to the business value proposition of a firm and have caused a change in focus from back-end productivity to front-end innovation. Technology is now an enabler for firms to recreate their value propositions for customers and the markets they play in.
This has had a massive impact in terms of how people are thinking about what technology can do for the enterprise. At HCL we have been focused on helping customers identify how to use new technology as a fundamental driver of change, not just to become more productive but also enable them to better compete in their markets using technology as a disruptor, all with a customer-centric approach.
Digital Strategies being implemented in organizations
There are broadly three types of initiative taking place:
Building a flexible, agile, and scalable technology foundation: The first involves migrating to agile architectures that are more flexible, adapt fast to changes needed by a business or a process, and infinitely more interconnected than was previously possible with large monolithic applications. We’re seeing significant work in all our clients on getting this basic element right, and creating a foundation which is fit for the future.
Here we see cloud (IaaS, SaaS or Paas) is being configured at the heart of the foundation. Data, which was earlier siloed and disparate, is being better managed across enterprise to enable insight and decisions. Digital technologies like AI are enabling this explosion of data and connected devices to be managed at an unimaginable scale.
All these initiatives are enabling digital technologies to create value based on customer-centric strategy ensuring the organization can interact more effectively with its customers, by harnessing data effectively.
Improving work and experience for employees and consumers to deliver significant-efficiency and productivity for the enterprise: The second type of initiative involves programs that allow value creation through efficient ways of working, with significant improvement in user experience across mobile, social and other channels. Often operational areas within a business are using systems that have been created over multiple years and are inefficient and monolithic. Typically, different systems do not talk to each other and are not easily updated to keep pace with business changes.
There is now a fundamental shift from monolithic systems toward an end-to-end perspective across different operations and functions. Organizations are asking how they can reimagine processes using new technologies to make them significantly more adaptive to business changes. How can all of this be brought together so that the user interface is significantly intuitive, and has a coherent end-to-end experience?
There are some very interesting case studies in this space. For example, we have worked with police forces to help them reduce the administrative burden on police officers. There is typically a lot of time spent on paperwork, with systems that can only be accessed in the office. Forces have been looking at how mobile technologies can enable many of these administrative tasks to be completed remotely while an officer is out on the street, releasing as much as two or three hours of their time per day. I’m very excited by these types of examples where we can see how technology unleashes productivity for users and makes the whole organization more productive and effective.
Similarly, we are helping many of our customers leverage technologies that help them redesign processes and make them more agile, efficient, and user-friendly.
Transforming business in the eyes of the customer: The third area is customer-centric digital strategy that leverage technology to help a firm redefine its value proposition to its clients, and in some cases redefine the business itself. There are some interesting examples where we are seeing innovation driven by the boards and CEOs, in experimenting with new business models.
In one case a large HCL customer in the transport and logistics industry created a unit to analyze their top ten costs across the business (such as transport, labor, and packaging), and create platforms which can better manage the demand/supply sides, and reconfigure each of these cost areas. They have looked across their operations, using the technologies available today, and are taking a platform or circular economy approach to undertake each activity more efficiently. The customer has been smart enough to extend these platforms for use by their suppliers and customers as well. For instance, they can now sell services to companies working in the packaging area, who can use the same platform for procurement.
Another example is the work that HCL has done for Manchester United Football Club. The business model today exists largely in the physical realm, with fans attending matches, and sponsors spending money on kits, advertising in the stadium etc. But taking a different perspective, Manchester United—which has a worldwide following of 650 million fans—can now conceive itself as a fan experience company which is almost half of Facebook! So, by reimagining itself in a Facebook setting, but keeping an authentic football-centric focus for fans, it can enable fans to consume Manchester United on a digital platform. This opens opportunities to offer a lot of services interactively which makes sense to fans, and overtime to partners as well.
So, companies are going beyond thinking about ‘what technology can do for me’ in terms of internal efficiencies and are now thinking about ‘what technology can do for my customers’ in terms of interacting and creating value for customers.
Creating value from data
The whole focus is on how data can deliver impact. Data can help people to make more informed decisions—whether as consumers or as organizational decision-makers or workers—and make those decisions in real-time as the data they need is available to them immediately.
In the term information technology, the emphasis now lies with the information, and the technology is the enabler.
The combination of powerful new digital technologies along with the ability to connect data across platforms is opening up new opportunities for businesses to place customers at the heart of their business strategy. Ultimately a customer-centric mindset is a key to new value creation.
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