AI predictions for the next 2 – 5 years range from, it doesn’t exist today and won’t, to 2018 game changer. Most think we will be deploying machine learning rather than AI. RPA is like pouring concrete on your processes, or the ultimate tool for enabling an agile business. Chatbots are with us now and performing well in certain circumstances but the ROI is difficult to prove. Messaging is the dark horse and we’re only just starting to realise the benefits, especially when done in tandem with communities.
As predicted, all are highlighting the need for a new approach to working practises and knowledge management. Finally, and painfully, the last question is often, do I really have to do this and who am I doing it for?
What are your views? And what will you learn from listening to the views of others? If you are interested in taking part in our best practice programme do get in touch.
More info here or email us to find out more
Digital technologies offer almost limitless opportunities for customer experience. Which is great, but at the same time not terribly helpful.
At the QoE, we’re halfway through our first discussion of 2017 focusing on digital experience. A key observation emerging from the first session was how easily we jump to the extremes when discussing digital experiences. Developments in artificial intelligence, drone deliveries, and driverless cars are all very well. But these extremes can make it difficult to focus on what digital means for our company and our customers.
Making good decisions
Should we strive to be bold and deliver state-of-the-art digital experiences? Or should we use digital to make marginal gains that will incrementally improve the lives of our customers? How do we identify what is the best course of action in the specific context of our business? To make effective decisions, we need to:
- obtain a clearer picture of our customers’ evolving needs
- understand the extent to which our business can fulfil those needs
If we align these two criteria, we can give customers what they want (a good experience) while also satisfying the needs of the business (a cost-effective and relatively easy response).
What is your experience?
So how do we get to a place where we can see clearly what to do next, and engage employees effectively in the process? Or, to be more precise, how do you do it?
We want to hear about your experiences in this area. How are you bringing your approach to customer experience into a ‘digital first’ environment? What specific challenges and opportunities does digital present for you, your company and your industry?
If you can spare a few minutes we’d love to hear your opinions. Book your place at the next discussion group on 23rd February in London, or just send us a quick email or message on social media.
One last thing – if you haven’t yet got a copy of Carl’s book Perpetual Experience and you’d like one, just let us know your address and we’ll put a signed copy in the post for you.
Two problematic areas for today’s organisations are employee engagement and digital transformation.
Although organisations want employees to share knowledge, care about their work, and embrace digital ways of working, they often try to impose these desires on top of the existing culture of work. And attempts to impose culture change from above will always be met with resistance.
The problem is that we have two sets of forces pushing against each other: an outdated, hierarchical view of work based on a 20th century industrial model of organisation, and a ‘socialised’ view of work stemming from a desire to harness the power of online communities and networks.
These two opposing approaches to organisation are fundamentally incompatible, and this is a key reason why many organisations are struggling with digital transformation. Digital provides an entirely new way to approach work, collaboration, and organisation, but if transformation is undertaken with a 20th century industrial mindset then it will not reap the full benefits that digital offers. This is not a new problem, as Cham (2014) notes by referencing the argument made by Marshal McLuhan back in the 1960s:
“If we try to understand digital transformation with an industrial mindset we are ‘walking backwards into the future”
In the hyperconnected 21st century, we should be designing organisations around community, not work. Millenials have grown up in a hyperconnected age, they instinctively participate in a wide variety of communities, and they expect the modern workplace to function in the same way as their connected personal existence. So it is no surprise that they often become quickly disengaged when confronted with bureaucratic, hierarchical organisations using outdated technologies that bear little resemblance to the community-oriented tools to which they are accustomed.
How can we design work around community?
If you look at start-ups, community happens automatically. Everyone knows everyone else, and has a good idea what they are working on. There are never enough people to do the work that needs to be done, so everyone has to help each other out on a daily basis. There is a strong sense of shared purpose, and an urgency that binds the team together. Each employee has to make important decisions under pressure, giving them a strong sense of connection to the vision and purpose of the start-up. Autonomy and initiative are essential.
And most of all, people talk to each other all the time. There is almost no hierarchy to quash the inherent creativity of the team. All ideas regarding how to improve the business are welcomed, discussed, adapted and implemented.
The challenge for larger organistions and businesses is how to reimagine their operational model around principles of community. If we designed our organisations around community, not just around work, things could be very different.
“Putting community at the centre of the organisation fundamentally changes the motivation to do work”
Communities develop around a clear purpose, and this purpose is what drives people to engage with the community. Establishing a clear purpose for an organisation (beyond simply making money for shareholders) is therefore a valuable way of tackling the problem of a disengaged workforce. Designing an organisation as a community turns it into a place where people are emotionally engaged, share knowledge instinctively, and collaborate on shared projects with a strong sense of purpose. And in a knowledge economy, these three factors are fundamental to an effective, engaged, and digitally literate workforce.
Digital transformation represents an attempt to harness the innate human desire to share useful information and participate in purposeful communities. But any digital transformation strategy that focuses on platforms instead of people is almost certain to fail – successful transformation is dependent on understanding what motivates people to participate in communities.
2014 Cham, K.L. “”Virtually An Alternative ? The Medium, The Message and The User Experience; Collective Agency in Digital Spaces and Embodied Social Change”, 5th LAEMOS Colloquium on Organization Studies Constructing Alternatives: How can we organize for alternative social, economic, and ecological balance?, Havana, Cuba http://laemos.com
This post was co-written with Tony Reeves, Digital Research Lead (Customer Experience), The QoE.
It’s increasingly evident that digital disruption is wreaking havoc across many sectors. But to understand how digital technology is changing customer experience, it’s useful to consider how digital is changing human experience in its entirety:
And my personal favourite:
I recently came across a story about gazeMetrix, an image recognition technology that scans photos online and uses social intelligence software to identify the context in which a particular product is most found. The implications of this are profound.
“It is becoming possible to search human experience in ways that have have not been possible before.”
This opens up a whole new frontier for our ability to understand how (and where) customers actually use products and services, and to engage with them in new and innovative ways. More importantly, it highlights how we need to think differently in response to the affordances of digital technologies.
This is why digital has to be at the heart of every customer engagement strategy, and increasingly every business model. If people are already talking about the ‘post-digital age’ in which digital technologies will become absorbed into the very fabric of our everyday lives, then the digital age is already firmly established.
Industrial Age vs Information Age mindset
But despite the rapid, radical digital transformation of human experience in the last ten years, many organisations remain stuck in an Industrial Age mindset. Gerry McGovern recently went as far as to say that the traditional organisation is not fit for purpose anymore, and that achieving a seamless customer experience is not possible without seamless organisations. Arguing that organisational models that encourage internal competition are no longer appropriate, McGovern highlights how internal silos create a disjointed customer experience that does not reflect the hyperconnected reality outside the organisation.
As far back as 2010, Harvard Professor Bill George highlighted that the challenges facing businesses today are “too complex to be solved by individuals or even single organizations”. George argues that “collaboration — within the organization and with customers, suppliers, and even competitors — is required to achieve lasting solutions”.
Digital has transformed human experience forever. Surviving the disruption of the Information Age requires a mindset that puts digital at the core of human – and customer – experience.
This article was co-written with Tony Reeves, Digital Research Lead (Customer Experience), The QoE.