Kliendikogemuse ja kaubanduse lähitulevik

Lugesin hiljuti Columbuse blogist kliendikogemuse trendidest mis sel aastal võiksid jalad alla saada. Lugesin ja mõtlesin kaasa. Paar mõtet on allpool.

Ühendatud kliendikogemus suunab tõenäoliselt veel ühte suunda kaubanduses. Suured brändid muudavad suure tõenäosusega oma senised kauplused digitaalse brändi füüsiliseks esinduseks. Seda on näha juba Londoni suurimat ostutänavat, Oxford Street’i pidi jalutades. Need on kohad, mille eesmärk ei ole müüa maksimaalselt karpe, vaid luua kliendile võimalusi tutvuda võimalustega ning brändi ekspertide abil endale isikustatud tooteid looma (highly personalised co-creation), maksimaalselt kahepäevane kojutoimetamisaeg, võimalus näha oma toodet valmimas ning brändi sotsiaalmeediakanali on selle kogemuse kohustuslikud osad. Kui aga klient otsustab standardmudeli kasuks, ei pea ta kotitäit karpe ise koju tassima, vaid need jõuavad talle koju sama päeva õhtuks. Kogu suhtlemine väljaspool ostutemplit toimub aga veebi või äpi abil.

Näen et selline kliendikogemus kaotab lähiaastatel eksklusiivsuse ning muutub tavaks. Seda toetavad 3D trükitud toote omahinna langus, äriprotsesside automatiseerimine ning eelkõige (potentsiaalse) kliendi soov erineda ning silma paista.

See suund nõuab õigel suunal ning mahus investeeringuid nii protsessidesse kui ka tehnoloogiasse. Suurem osa ettevõtteid saavad võitjatena sellest situatsioonist väljuda aga ainult tugeva digipartneri abiga. Nõus?

IT strategy

One of the topics that keeps coming up in the social events I go to, is an effective IT strategy.

A short answer, given by a few friends and colleagues – if in doubt, look at organisation strategy and and align with this. You can always build on that as your IT capability matures and you take on more responsibilities. I’d argue it’s more important to start with a solid vision and mission statements for your IT organisation. Relevant strategies (architecture, development, demand, delivery, operations, CSI et al) can be built on those statements. Not to be forgotten that mostly the IT is enabling function. If it doesn’t deliver the basics well enough it becomes irrelevant – either the organisation neglect it and seek help elsewhere or go out of business.

Some of the best IT strategy examples I’ve seen are displayed on a single page. There the focus is on the following items:

  • core purpose of IT (kind of obvious but often lost in translation)
  • key capabilities and operating model (what IT does and doesn’t do)
  • core values (how the unit behaves)

These areas provide answers to basic questions – what IT is, why it exists and how IT operates. I’ve run workshops in the past with aim of defining the IT strategy. We’ve started with the three points above using familiar language to the organisation. As an example it could read:

“The purpose of organisation X IT department is to ensure the IT systems and services consumed by the organisation meet its needs by being designed with the user in mind, adequately provisioned, secure, available and resilient. The IT department does this by developing mix of in-house and external capabilities. We partner with subject matter experts in the field to develop and support key business applications, and integrate those via API interface with supply chain and customer facing resources.”

Or something similar that is relevant to your case.

Choose your right operating model

What makes a suitable operating model for your organisation?

It is really down to you to define. Whilst the statement may seem blunt you shouldn’t try to emulate your competitors or other types of organisation you are not.

IT leadership need to understand the mission of the organisation theirs is key part of and become one with it. Not just align, but be integral part of. It helps to write down the purpose of an IT organisation / department / team and ensure everyone (at least in it and wider SLT) buy into it. The purpose stems from what the parent organisation needs IT for and at what level.

IT vision could read as “IT is to ensure company X will reach market domination within 5 years. This will be achieved by continuously investing into robust products and services that form the backbone for the company. IT aspire to become the partner of choice for the organisation when it comes to [your strengths] enterprise architecture [cloud platforms, integration of data, reporting], business processes [improvement, automation] and … We do this by understanding the business challenges and aspirations, and partnering with the right organisations to deliver desired outcomes.”

So the operating model need to reflect the capabilities parent company need IT to provide. It does help to have the IT organisation development mapped out. Regardless of aspirations being honest with oneself is a must here. We may choose to believe the business views IT as trusted partner or peer, but its unlikely to be that if we fail to provide basic services and lack processes around demand, commercial and change management. Hiding behind failing service provider will only reduce the value of IT in the eyes of those approving investments.

Depending on the size and type of the organisation there are some key areas to keep in house and to outsource.

Once you have defined the desired future state you need to work out how to get there. That’s about developing delivery strategy.

Workplace and people

A friend penned a post on millennial workforce and currently prevalent business culture asking a number of questions at each section. I thought about it and felt need to chip in. As I do.

First things first. I think the behaviours Nicolas describes in his post do not only apply to the Generation Y and Z, they are seen to take root across the business landscape. Not everyone is directly contributing to digital economy yet many are affected by the changes it has brought about. Take any traditional trade. A brief look at its state today shows how much has changed within past 15 years. Supply chain has become global, primary distribution channel is online, delivery often by gig-economy workers who get paid per delivery and are not seen taking pride in their work as the quality suffers. Many early retirees have returned after realising the type of lifestyle their pension actually supports. Many are freelancing – not out of choice but necessity. Often they have no option but to as the organisations they work with (not for!) have their business models dependent on reduced staff overheads. Add what we sued to call “cost of doing the business” and you have no business. In some areas its global trade, in others high business rates. We have moved from stable, permanent positions to short term contracts. Many of us who have spent around 20 years working have changed their jobs three times at least, some even more. Even those of us on permanent positions don’t tend to stay with the organisations for more than three years on average. Careers built merely on longevity are out, sharp minds and clear objectives in. Or at least should be so. We are likely to see inequality in workplace for some time until the Big Reset comes. And it will come, either in form of Universal Income or nationalisation of (by then still traditional) industries.

I personally favour UI route. When set at 70% minimum wage it will enable people to just get by (on council property – hey, different topic!) and top up their earnings by freelancing and working with the organisations of their choosing. Some argue that it should be minimum wage, though latter camp will have hard time standardising this even in EU context (€1400 as minimum in France is above average in Estonia). Money will be digitised and all income over certain threshold is taxed as now, hopefully reducing incentive and options for fraud. Getting rid of physical money will also reduce the asset ownership cost to central bank and thus should again leave more to fund UI. Quartz @ Work has a very timely piece on full employment and fulfillment. Full employment is felt as cornerstone for Western society and people find usually hard explaining the gaps in their careers. Instead being out of work should choice when people feel they need a break followed by successful return to work provided people have necessary skills and attitude to perform as expected.

The themes Nicolas writes about are well covered by many – empowerment, ownership, flexibility, purpose, opportunities and new types of work. Let’s look at each once more then.

Many, not just younger expect to be empowered to make and have ownership about their decision making and outcomes. They expect to be treated as equals. Not equally capable and experienced but to get equal opportunities. Many have argued, especially about apprenticeships schemes that it’s all about them and not us, the employers. But this statement is untrue. The young, when motivated and allowed to make small mistakes, learn from them and not be punished will pay back with energy they have and willingness to throw all they have to complete the project on time. They are willing to shed that shy self in order to achieve the deadlines. Many more seasoned colleagues would try to delegate the task to someone else and stay in mediocristan. Working with apprentices 18 years ago in my own small IT business and recently with fast -streamers has shown me time and again how much value these young people can deliver with right level of coaching, delegation and independence. But wait, this applies equally to more seasoned employees as well. To ensure they don’t actively avoid decision making and taking ownership however, the organisation need to have reached necessary level of maturity. Not quite teal level, but micro-management must be out and trust in.

Flexibility in workplace is nothing new. Also not new is the notion of flexibility when it comes to choosing the place of work. I have a few friends who have been working from home study since mid-nineties. Fine, their jobs enabled this (editor, consultant, marketer, software programmer) but were never seen as revolutionary, rather as their choice. What is new is not just where but when we choose to work. Dan Pink spoke in recent RSA event about timing. I can attest to his conclusion of timing the work. There are generally three stages – peak, through and recovery. In my case its a bit like this:

image

I’m usually switched on in the mornings and can stay focused for long periods of time until noon. Sometimes longer. This is the time to work on analysis and produce written content. Then comes the slump where I’n not the sharpest pencil in the box. That’s the good time for admin. Neither of the periods is suitable for meetings. When we are in focus mode, we find hard to accept others’ ideas. During the through we are simply unable to absorb any information. This is worst time for any meetings or workshops. Hence I try to schedule all my meetings (virtual or in person) either right before lunch or after 15:00. When the recovery kicks in, we are all more agreeable. This is flexibility we should grant to all our colleagues. We should deploy tools that allow people to submit the best time they are ready to collaborate in, and avoid any meetings outside this space.

You could say that people fall into two categories. First is static, second dynamic. The second crowd are after opportunities to prove how good they are. Get some testosterone going, tick that thing off the list and get dopamine kick. Feels good, right? It tends to be the younger crowd who are looking for ways to either gain some new knowledge or participate in that new venture. Perhaps it pays off. And if it didn’t, no biggie. Next time they’ll try again. What we need to encourage is looking for opportunities in the organisation. These may be incremental improvements to the process or product that drive our businessesuu forward. It’s very rare when a groundbreaking change is introduced and effectively managed to production. Th rest of the time everything is in beta. And changing. We need to create culture where risk is seen as both threat and opportunity, not just first.

Take all of these and… nothing works when people don’t have purpose in their working lives. Purpose and meaning is much coveted topic for the jobs over the threshold where increase in pay will have no effect on quality of output.

The types of work that existed in the fringe have become mainstream in Western economies and those previously taken for granted have disappeared. Manufacturing is a good example. Working for Saint-Gobain in late 90’s and first part of 21st century I saw automation and streamlining of supply chains in order to reduce the cost of product. Robotics found its way into assembly previously required highly skilled workforce performing tasks demanding precision. Need to reduce waste and not optimise but maximise output at highest level of quality will see new plants employing a handful of highly skilled operators work of many machines.

We used to cook at home and only occasionally order takeaway food. Especially in urban environment this has become mainstream – people value their time and are willing to pay for food and delivery. The delivery has often been outsourced to likes of Deliveroo and fulfilled by men on bikes searching their way through maze. They are often as lost as Über drivers. Everyone as taxi driver on their spare time? That’s not really valuing ones time, it may be seen as the only option to earn enough to live in a modern metropolis. Are these jobs going to be here in 10 years? Probably not, technology will develop along with legal framework to automate these jobs.

What will the future of work look like for us in the knowledge work? We’ll have many jobs over our working lives, quite possibly will be looking for work every few years and working for and with many different organisations. This raises need to be adaptable to the change. I thought learning enough but not mastering a single skill was not sufficient. Shallow generalist over highly skilled specialist? A recent Medium post by Michael Simmons nicely builds the case for polymath as probably best placed to survive in the unknown future. It’s not just transferable skills we need. We need to be able to synthesise useful elements from different disciplines to meet the future challenges.

 

I hope this sparks some debate.

I don’t really know what to make of this ad though something is just wrong with it. The slogan can go as well to describe life changing accident…

Surveillance and sales pitch

I stumbled upon an article on a new trend in he US to scan the streets with cars equipped with thermal cameras. It’s all in the interest of public and energy providers to tell the homeowners how inefficient their house is and how much or little it leaks.

Reading this raise two questions for me.

1. How accurate is the measurement as the buildings are scanned mainly from the front. Will the rest be rough guesstimate or scientifically calculated accurate u figure?

2. How will the results be used? Will it be to advise homeowners of potential savings they may be making? Or will the aim be more sinister – to sell the information to insulation installers and impose fines on those who won’t budge?

On the surface nothing seems to be wrong with this initiative. However it’s likely to face resistance from the privacy advocates. As this comes as extra cost to the energy suppliers, someone has to pay for this. My money is on customer.

Links

Article – http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/e-innovation/energy-leaks-sniffer-cars-158626

u value – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R-value_(insulation)

Books on work

I have been checwing through a list of books on work and workspace. Read, thought about, considered and discussed with other like-mind individuals:

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

The Smarter Working Manifesto

The Joy of Work?: Jobs, Happiness and You

Business Reimagined: Why work isn’t working and what you can do about it

First book on the list was kind starting point thinking about the work and workplace/workspace as such. What really motivates us to do what we do and how we do those activities. Finding flow as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes here is a truly rewarding feeling, however can be exhaustive after long periods.

Smarter Working Manifesto is discussion about the finding the most appropriate place for tasks we perform – office, home, caffe shop, library, etc. This also lists good amount of food for thought for those planning to offer flexible working to their workforce.

The Joy of Work discusses our relationship with work – why we prefer to work rather than sit idle. Loads of references and long list of suggested reading. Best to read it and conclude whether applicable to your situation or not – Amazon reviews help.

And still to go through:

Planning Office Spaces: A Practical Guide for Managers and Designers

Workplace by Design: Mapping the High-Performance Workscape

Sound Business: How to Use Sound to Grow Profits and Brand Value

The Human Fabric

A Brief History of Tomorrow: The Future Past and Present

Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies

Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness

The Future of Management

The Shift

Windows 8 tablet as my one and only PC!?

I have toyed with the idea for a while. Starting last year when more mobile staff started asking for iPads to get job done when away from the office. Their Toshiba R600/700 laptops were lightweight, but lacked in battery life department and remote connectivity was not something to brag about.

They wanted tablets, however I didn’t like the idea of having whole heap of devices (the same staff had also desktop computers). Why? Well, paying double for all support (we outsourced all our IT support) and software licensing is not my ideal way of running the business.

Over many discussions the brief was formulated. The device to be used needed to:

  • Be lightweight
  • Have a reasonably good battery life
  • Be able to connect to internet via WiFi and 3G/4G (directly or via smartphone tethering)
  • Have a good screen resolution
  • Be usable as product/literature demo device

I also added a business continuity – when office goes offline (post Office365 implementation!), you work from wherever it’s most suitable for you.

Then back in December 2012 HP was debuting its ElitePad 900. Shortly after came Dell Latitude 10. I went with the latter for Windows 8 Pro pilot. Two months later it was clear that Dell Latitude 10 is not fit for purpose. It is designed to hold with two hands, has no proper keyboard folio and Windows 8 drains battery very quickly on standby. Proprietary connectors didn’t help either. Dock was a nice option, but I wanted to connect two monitors instead of just one. Anyway the setup looked awkward and I handed the tablet to a colleague to use during her holidays.

As an interesting side-note I took a phone call form HP earlier this week and our discussion went over mobility. The sales rep was rather adamant that 32GB storage is adequate as “tablets are not storage devices”. I explained the way I see market going and we agreed that event device trail would be wasted time for me.

Looking at options available to us I got an iPad to play with. It’s good and has excellent battery life, delivers my email and works as an entertainment device. And that’s where it pretty much stops. Yes, I agree, there’s an app for anything, but business apps cost as much as on PC on average. Conclusion – It’s a companion device as I knew before and was telling all around me.

Earlier this year I took decision to move from Blackberry phones to new Nokia Lumia 920 handsets running Windows Phone 8. As most of our mobile workforce is now well familiarised with the interface and know what to expect from the handset, supplying Windows 8 Pro tablets seemed suddenly like an option again.

Last month I started investigating the topic again and looked at various devices from Lenovo Yoga to Microsoft Surface Pro. Considering weight, SSD size and screen resolution I got one Surface Pro with 256GB SSD and HP Port Replicator 3 (USB3 version). Running it currently as a pilot the setup includes tablet with two 1080p monitors and USB3 port replicator when in the office and with Microsoft Type keyboard when out. All this under £1000 looks reasonable deal. We’ll deliver Office365 project to all staff within next two months which means roaming users will have access to their files via tablet, smartphone or web browser. All other software is web based and available via secure access.

The only downside of Microsoft tablets (both Surface and Surface Pro) is lack of mobile internet. Some see this as cost cutting mechanism and prefer tethering internet via mobile phone. Let’s hope that whatever surfaces from Microsoft workshop next will be lighter, better connected and have longer battery life.

Weekly reading list – social, cloud and brains

Alongside meetings and events I have come across a number of interesting articles.

Here’s the list:

Mobile is The New Face of engagement – an executive summary by Forrester research (http://docs.media.bitpipe.com/io_10x/io_105129/item_542878/Mobile_Is_The_New_Face_Of.pdf)

Why Amazon and Salesforce are pulling away from the cloud pack – good article and follow-up discussion on #cloud, #saas, #paas and disruptive technologies (http://gigaom.com/cloud/why-amazon-and-salesforce-are-pulling-away-from-the-cloud-pack/)

Three Ways to Think Deeply at Work – how to use short disruptive tasks to focus on larger problems and working in four hour blocks uninterrupted to achieve result. (http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/09/three_ways_to_think_deeply_at_work.html)

5 Ways To Transform Meetings With Tablets – some disruptive ideas for the enterprise. However I still favour one screen and NO laptops nor tablets in an engaging meeting. Big screen – yes, digital whiteboard – even better! That’s at least what we use for internal development meetings. (http://www.businesscomputingworld.co.uk/5-ways-to-transform-meetings-with-tablets/)

EC sets out strategy for EU cloud data and standards – more centralised thinking coming form the #EC. Good if this is to set out ONE framework and member states need to abolish their own #cloud legislation. However there’s one massive flaw here (as well as in #EU in general) – none of the member states are usually forced to follow this framework and larger players don’t want to let go of their own. Good initiative anyway. (http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240164009/EC-sets-out-strategy-for-EU-cloud-data-and-standards)