Tag Archives: Agile

5 things your business needs to do now to win the game of CX

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I love the now and the place we are going. It’s so exciting for businesses and customers!

Trying to understand how business is changing technology and technology is changing business is so much fun. One of the themes I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is that IT and business have changed each other so much they are now one.

Call it the digital transformation that’s the driving force, ok, but that transformation is at least in part driven by our own over-indulged interactions with our digital devices and need for the constant pulse of engagement. I think everyone in my household could use a little 12-step digital addiction counseling including me :)

What a wonderful opportunity for brands to take advantage of human nature and pervasive connectedness!

Capitalizing on this opportunity for customer engagement will rely, at least in part, on how well your organization understands your conceptual value chain and can generate the three fuels that feed success.

The conceptual value chain looks something like this:

Business outcomes from
User behaviors because of
UX = Available + Feelsfast + Usable + Enjoyable (delivered by)
Applications depending on
Services running on
Servers residing in
Datacenters

That value chain runs on these fuels:

Customer experience planning and design is customer experience management largely as defined by Forrester. And they do a very good job of publishing guidance on the processes and roles required to do this well. The concept of the truly empowered “product owner” from Agile model is a much leaner interpretation for small teams. It really comes down to who owns the customer experience and the business outcomes generated.

Customer acquisition is primarily a sales and marketing function, and frankly there should be very little light shining between the cracks. Today, marketing is sales at scale. Brand message and core value proposition should be consistent in an omni-channel world. And it is the larger customer experience design – the what we have and why people care about it – that defines the product and experience. Sales and marketing almost becomes the way we project the emotional and business impact of the planned customer experience with it’s delightful fulfillment.

Fulfillment of the user experience has a hard and soft component. The hard component is the service delivery of the application. Is it available and does it feel fast? It’s the applications running on services that use servers in different data centers hierarchy. The soft component is the result of customer experience design and driven by usability factors like utility, ease and enjoyment.

Here are 5 things your organization can do right now to create the fuel you need to win big:

1 Tie the value chain together so everyone can understand and own business outcomes.
This means the what and the why needs to be very clearly stated. What is the desired business result? What user behaviors will get us to that business result? What user experience must be delivered to drive that user behavior? and so on. This means monitoring and metrics, metrics, metrics.

2 Get serious about UX
User experience is contact patch with the customer. It’s the blender that mixes the “just right experience” by carefully combining innovative CX planning and operational service delivery. The importance of UX needs executive voice as well as support at every level of the organization. Saying get serious about UX is almost like saying get serious about winning.

3 Be a team!
Stop having the business make requirements and IT produce deliverables. We – the business and IT people – need to use information and technology to collaborate and break through traditional business perimeters. To win big you have to win as a team!

4 Go faster.
Run projects with an Agile format and adopt a DevOps approach to your test and deploy methodology. Use the cloud to dev, build, test and deploy. It takes a lot less time that ordering, racking, and configuring hardware. These are big cultural changes so pick a project to start with and show the rest of your teams how successful and fun for the team the new ways can be.

5 Leverage analytics and big data.
We all talk about data-driven decisions, but a team of analysts spending a week gathering data in Excel from systems spread all over the company for last weeks data doesn’t cut it anymore. Monitoring both the service delivery systems and customer acquisition systems at every step of the value chain with real-time granular data is needed. There are so many areas where this can impact success. Analytics are the thread of data that ties the value chain together and shows you the business the moving parts as well as the whole. Analytics and anomaly detection are an important power tool so mere humans can get help knowing what might be changing and important to pay attention to in the sea of big data. Software analytics are the silent voice of the customer pointing to product usage and frustration.

Let’s stop building software and start building amazing user experiences that people can’t wait to share!

10 rules for how businesses need to ready themselves for the Matrix

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We are in the matrix!

The digital world is now becoming more important than the real world.
We have become internet obsessed and the ubiquity that connected smartphones gives to mobile and social apps has made them ever-present in our lives.

Speaking of ubiquity, Pew Internet reports that 79% of adults between 18-29 now have a smartphone and 67% between 30-49. We are spending more time online at the expense of other activities.

Our time, both personal and professional, is shared between Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in, youtube moreso than interacting with real people. And children who were born in 2000 and later will never know a world without instant digital gratification.

Apple, Microsoft and Google were ranked #1, #3 and #4 in terms of largest market capitalizations at the end of 2013. Snapchat was just acquired by Facebook for $19B. That’s the most ever for a venture backed company. Shocked? Don’t be, they are the engines behind the digital experiences of the future.

Here’s that scene from the Matrix where Neo chooses the red pill for reality and the truth…

But there is no “red pill” for businesses. No way back to the old realities. To succeed and flourish you must change.

How do businesses need to ready themselves for the Matrix?

  1. The business needs to take ownership of the customer experience. The old bureaucracy is dead. Business can no longer afford to have bad outcomes and finger pointing. “It was ITs fault” or “We didn’t have clear requirements.” The business must be driving the ship and project managers and developers must be part of supporting the business goals.
  2. Take an integrated look at the people who are your users. Understand them and their needs. What do you need to do to keep them happy and loyal.
  3. Change the focus to outside-in. Now that you understand them better, think like the people who are your users. Construct and manage the user experience in a unified way across all the customer touch points. This means spending more time on usability.
  4. Learn to be a story teller. Traditional marketing content and tactics are becoming less and less effective. Tell a story that answers the question of “why.” Why will this help me or my company or my family or…well you get the idea :)
  5. Help your users tell your story. Send a follow up email asking them to return the product if they are not 100% happy and ask for a brief product review if they are.
  6. Be Agile. And by that I mean two things. Build the bare minimum at first. Don’t let committee scope creep thwart bringing new products to market. Try new things and be willing to fail…quickly. If the results don’t turn out as expected move on to the next thing to try.
  7. Consider gamification. Make using your product rewarding for the people who do it. Give them rankings or free credit or access to something exclusive.
  8. Use everything you know to help. I’m really avoiding big data here because I still think a terabyte is big since I built my first data warehouse with 2G fujitsu disks. But you know a lot about your users. What they purchase and what they don’t. What parts of your website they use and which parts they avoid. Probably a number of different demographics as well. Leverage all of that to help deliver the best experience possible.
  9. Start thinking about what you need to do in the future to ready yourself for when everyone walks around like a Cylon (am I allowed to make a Battlestar Galactica reference in the same post as the Matrix?) with their Google glass on and has digital assistants helping to find the products and services they want before they even think about it.
  10. Lastly, move faster. You must learn to run and operate your business in the new real-time reality of business.

What an exciting time this is to transform your business!

Hope you are starting the journey.

Ken

Healthcare.gov Was a Typical Enterprise Rollout. No Big Suprise!

I’ve been listening to the ongoing Healthcare.gov conversation since it was limpingly launched in September of last year. The poor planning, mis-teps and failures have given the media and technology community a great opportunity to share every little detail about the day to day ongoings as well as opinions for how it could have or should have been done.

But really…was Heathcare.gov really all that different from any typical large-scale enterprise systems rollout?

It did’t work right or at all for the first few weeks. Then things improved some but more work needed to be done. And it is hard to anticipate the real world completely in test. Perhaps they should have had real users test drive it before opening it to the public. Real users are not already indoctrinated in the system like QA people and have fresh eyes to see problems. Can you say uTest?

How many stories have we heard about a public company faulting their new implementation of ERP for impacting quarterly results or scrapping the project completely? I have heard several.

Like a typical enterprise system deployment of yore, it was devoid of Agile practice, web-scale readiness and unable to keep up with today’s need for real-time business…even if that was the expectation.

Did anyone really expect the government to deliver as if they were a Velocity Conference headline speaker? Really?

This is just a little post to share that I’ve been thinking about for a while.

What do you think?

Ken