If the buzzwords “business transformation” were a song, it would be a chart-topper that’s been stuck in everyone’s heads for years now. Ninety-three percent of U.S.-based multi-national companies are undergoing some kind of transformation program. Companies that have undergone transformation have seen, on average, an 8% surge in profits, and even those that properly understand digital transformation earn 26% more profit than others.
Why? Constant and rapid change has become a rule, not an exception. New technologies consistently offer up new and better capabilities for businesses to enhance customer experience and differentiate themselves from the competition. Newer, digital-first service organisations wow their customers with eye-catching, multi-channel, platform-agnostic experiences that work exactly how they want them to. They are setting the bar for customer expectations that can evolve faster than other companies can keep up. In the midst of this upheaval, traditional business and marketing models are struggling to stay relevant.
Clearly, business transformation is a hot topic that’s continued to thrive for good reason. And looking at how smash hits are made can actually shed some light on how business transformation propels companies to the top.
So, work isn’t working. When is it time for a tune-up?
The reality is that many traditional companies are simply not prepared for the challenges they face. Typically, they are held back by out-dated ways of working and problems that are inherent to company structure. These constraints make it difficult to remain relevant in a competitive environment. Now, many companies are faced with the reality of having to transform or die. In this environment, only the most agile and innovative companies can survive.
Their issues are many: siloed skillsets and functions (e.g. business, IT and design teams working separately with minimal interaction), waterfall project management, monolithic architectures that are difficult to change, backlogs that do not prioritise business value or customer value, and inconsistent customer experiences across channels.
Here are some ways business transformation can improve on these issues:
- Siloed teams — Cross-functional, co-located teams
- Waterfall delivery — Agile delivery
- Slow time to market — Continuous and rapid improvements
- Not customer-led — Best in class omni-channel customer experience
- Lack of measurement — Measuring what matters
- Backlogs without metrics — Backlog driven by metrics, customer experience and business value
These transformations spur dramatic improvements for customers, for employees and for the bottom line. How do companies achieve them? While many have invested in transformation programs that implement agile ways of working or improved strategic design, not all have witnessed transformational effects. They were clearly missing something. Establishing cross-functional teams is a crucial first step.
How tight is the band? Why cross-functional teams work.
Here’s where the smash hits come back in. Do bands become successful when each member only practices with other people who play their own instrument? Of course not!
True transformation can only happen when all skillsets are present in a room together. In a recent interview, Ringo Starr commented on how tight The Beatles were as a band and how they fed off each other’s energy and talent to create amazing music. They were almost telepathic in understanding one another.
That same idea of tightness and cross-functional skillsets coming together is what companies need to strive for if they want to begin reaping the rewards of transformation. A key problem at the heart of low-impact transformation programs is that companies’ investments in new ways of working have continued to be made under their existing siloed structures. Business, design and technology are traditionally considered to run in parallel and never meet if companies don’t make the effort to reconfigure themselves.
In business as in music, the sum must be greater than the component parts. Great outcomes come from teams working in harmony. For a band, the common goal is the song. For a company it should be the customer journey.
Customer journeys establish a foundation upon which business, design and technology teams can work together on a common goal that creates real value. Where do you find loyal fans? Deliver a well-defined, consistent, omni-channel experience for your customers and you have a smash hit.
Band bootcamp – our model for business transformation.
At Wipro Digital, we centre our transformation model around customer journeys using a three-step roadmap: Ignite, Accelerate and Embed. This is our tried-and-tested approach that enables our partners to break free from their constraints and deliver smash hits in customer experience, time to market and revenue.
Most companies will have multiple customer journeys in their portfolio and each one of these journeys will have different levels of importance for the business. To ignite transformation in the organisation, it’s a good idea to start with one or two high-value customer journeys and use them as the template and catalyst for restructuring, learning and improving. Key stakeholders set the foundations in a discovery and alignment phase that establishes working teams and leadership sponsorship for the road ahead.
Now we’re really jamming – developing skillsets in sprints.
Next come iterative improvements on these specific customer journeys. Each has a key requirement for cross-functional and co-located business, design and delivery teams with sole responsibility for that customer journey on all channels. The harmonised team works together in an iterative fashion, designing (and redesigning) the journey around an omni-channel experience that delivers value for both the customer and the business.
Digital fluency is built into each sprint of developing the customer journey, developing skillsets in areas including, Design, DevOps, Architecture, Metrics, Agile and Business Strategy. Because teams are building these together in unison, they achieve the sum-greater-than-the-parts effect of cross-functional teams.
Thinking back to The Beatles – John, Paul, George and Ringo were so in sync musically that they could likely have played each other’s instruments. This is why sprints aim for a cross-pollination of skillsets. Designers learn about the business, developers learn about design, and so on.
Not only does this spur greater alignment, efficiency and innovation, it ultimately leads to transformative customer experiences, faster time to market and increased revenue. It also leads to a thriving culture where everyone on the team has full visibility and inclusion in the end-to-end process from concept to delivery. The team is getting tight, they are beginning to rock and they know it.
Layering on the tracks – creating cross-functional artefacts.
New customer journeys can be visually represented in cross-functional artefacts such as Customer Journey Maps, Experience Maps and Service Blueprints. These dynamic artefacts are constantly updated with new learning and understanding and enable cross-functional teams to communicate effectively.
These artefacts visually merge customer experience with business metrics and technical systems to provide a holistic view, where opportunity spaces and challenges are clearly highlighted for everyone to see. This enables prioritisation of the initiatives that provide the most customer and business value.
Practice makes perfect – embedding and scaling.
The Beatles honed their skills not by isolating themselves to practice their instruments, but by playing live gigs night after night until their sound was perfect. The beauty of learning by doing is that these initial customer journey teams can leverage their skillsets onto other customer journeys – with the ultimate goal of restructuring the organisation around customer journeys. The company’s operating model, demand function and governance become aligned to the new way of working.
The backstage experience – what we’ll be exploring next…
Done right, transformation results in immersive customer experiences, accelerated time-to-market and real business value delivered. This model can only happen when cross-functional teams are equipped with the right methods and tools – which is the subject of my next blog post. Stay tuned for the next release!