Organisations need to adapt to the needs of the empowered customer

Success means collaboration between IT and business functions, modernising and placing the customer at the centre, says Colette Staniland, consultant at Bizmod.

Johannesburg, 02 Apr 2019
Read time 3min 30sec

We currently live in a world where innovation and disruption are driving the way we think and operate. "Today, the customer is more empowered than ever. Knowledge is at their fingertips and technology is a part of their everyday life," says Bizmod consultant Colette Staniland. "The customer is no longer dependent on an organisation; the customer will define the meaning of the value of an organisation's offering."

So, what does this mean to businesses? "They need to be able to deliver more with less, and at a much faster rate," says Staniland.

Organisations have adapted, and continue to adapt, their service offerings to meet the expectations of this new and improved customer. They have recognised that success is dependent on collaboration between the IT function and the business function. They have acknowledged that intelligent automation and data analytics are crucial strategic imperatives. "Most are even attempting to adopt agile and new ways of work, working to speed up their technology delivery capability," says Staniland.

Staniland says the theory is easy enough to understand, as it is logical. Yet the landing of these practices appears to be hard and somewhat impossible at times. It is not just good enough to implement agile thinking in an organisation. It is not enough to only focus on creating feature teams.

"In isolation, technology innovation is insufficient," says Staniland. "We need to acknowledge that to deliver value to customers in this world, the way we think, lead, manage, structure, align and work needs to fundamentally change."

So where do we start? Staniland gives organisations these four tips:

* Think of it as playing a 3D puzzle game, where your puzzle is built in layers and the puzzle is augmenting with every decision you make, where the influencers and challenges within the game are constantly changing, and the time given to complete your puzzle is reducing rapidly. You can no longer play the game in isolation. You need help, and a lot of it. You need to collaborate, and you need to trust your fellow players.

* The leadership role is no longer one of direction setting, measurement and management, but rather, it is focused on the need to think expansively, to be able to listen intently and to adjust intuitively.

* Employees need to transform from being governed by processes and measurement to assuming personal accountability for value creation.

* The environment and structures in which we work need to adjust accordingly, and all of this requires a deliberate intent from all those involved.

How can we adapt our businesses to meet these new demands? Staniland recommends:

* Place your customer at the centre.

* Modernise the way you work. This starts with modernising the way you think as an organisation. Become familiar with the revolution by reading and learning and unlearning, so you can evolve your thinking.

* Replace your linear thinking. Instead of asking questions such as: "Is strategy dictating structure? Is structure dictating roles? Are roles dictating flow? Is flow dictating process?" rather try to realise how elements are connected.

* Adapt your leadership style to accommodate this new age. Your ability to imagine and enable your team to imagine is what will enable your business.

* Adjust your operating model and organisational structure to allow for fluidity in your organisation.

* Define the services you offer and build your business around these.

* Promote ways of working that support rapid solutions and execution.

* Enable your environment with modern technologies.

* Create space for your employees to evolve into knowledge workers.

Staniland concludes: "Most importantly, organisations should do all the above iteratively and concurrently. Fortune favours the brave, and in this new world of operating, fortune will not only favour the brave but also those who are prepared to think radically and act otherwise."

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Bizmod Inge Lawrence
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