What causes disruption to your evolving digital business?


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There are a number of disruptions that create havoc and chaos to your evolving digital business. Either individually and in combination, they could inflict a death spiral. Despite the way it sounds, this is not hyperbole. This is not a myth. This is serious.

Here are a few to think about. There are others.

  • Technological innovations (technology-induced), which are more impactful than ever before. However, again, it’s not the technology that drives the disruption. It’s how it is used and adopted by customers, partners, competitors and various stakeholders. Technologies with clear disruption potential include IoT, artificial intelligence, edge computing, virtual and augmented reality and blockchain. However, the most disruptive potential occurs when they get combined and enable new applications as we see in the convergence of AI, IoT and big data analytics. In industrial change the convergence of IT and OT is also a game changer.
  • Customer behavior and demands. Customers can be pesky creatures creating so-called customer-induced disruption that is not necessarily related to technology. Technology often enables or, as just mentioned, causes it, when adopted and turned into business challenges. An example of a force that drives digital change and is not caused by technology but merely strengthened by it in combination with other factors: the demand of customers for ease of use and simplicity in dealing with businesses is far older than today. It goes back to times when even the Internet didn’t exist. In that sense, digital change can be simply catching up too because businesses don’t have another option anymore (it’s not as if they didn’t know the importance of making interactions and support for customers easy and frictionless decades ago).
  • Innovation- and invention-induced. Entirely novel approaches to human and business challenges, as well as innovations and inventions that create a new reality, whether it’s in science, business, technology or even a non-technological context of true innovation can be disruptive. The invention of medicines that change healthcare and society (as has happened several times in the past), the printing press, the train, what can be next? Your best bet is probably in life sciences and the application of technology within the human body and mind.
  • Ecosystem-induced. Economical changes, demands from partners who want you to adapt, evolutions towards collaborations in business ecosystems, regulatory changes (consider the impact of the GDPR, for example), geo-political changes, the list is endless. Regulators are not just looking at the impact of digital technologies from a personal data protection perspective as they do with the GDPR in the EU of course. The world is full of new regulations and they do require approaches on the level of people, processes, strategies AND technologies as anyone who has been serious about GDPR compliance can tell you. There are calls to regulate the IoT in the US and other countries, calls to regulate blockchain, the usage of IoT is already being limited in the upcoming EU ePrivacy Regulation (and GDPR), all across the globe energy efficiency and ecology are driving the agenda in smart buildings and smart cities (e.g. the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive in the EU that demands the usage of smart technologies and additional support for electrical cars), banking regulations are changing, the list is really endless.

Digital disruption overlapAnd this ecosystem aspect brings us again to this essential aspect of digital business change: the interdependency and interconnectedness of everything.

It all overlaps and is connected; from disruption, business processes and models to business activities and each single activity of the organization and the broader ecosystem in which it operates. The butterfly effect in action. Think about how virtually all business processes de facto are linked, the interconnectedness of business activities from the customer perspective, the way information runs across all digital transformations and much more.


If my company invests in the customer experience, will it work?


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Customer Experience LeadersIt is reasonable to ask, if my company invests in the customer experience, will it work?

This question drove Watermark Consulting to evaluate the macro impact of customer experience excellence. They’ve accomplished this over the years by studying the total returns for two model stock portfolios comprised of the Top 10 (“Leaders”) and Bottom 10 (“Laggards”) publicly traded companies in Forrester Research’s annual Customer Experience Index ranking. The results are stunning.

For the 6-year period from 2007 to 2012, the Customer Experience Leaders in their study outperformed the broader market, generating a total return that was three times higher on average than the S&P 500 Index. Furthermore, while the Customer Experience Leaders handily beat the S&P 500, the Laggards trailed it by a wide margin.

Keep in mind, this analysis reflects more than half a decade of performance results.  It spans an entire economic cycle, from the pre-recession market peak in 2007 to the post-recession recovery that continues today. The Customer Experience Leaders in this study are clearly enjoying the many benefits that happy, loyal customers deliver:  better retention, greater wallet share, lower acquisition costs and more cost-efficient service.

And the Laggards?  They are being crushed under the weight of high customer turnover, escalating acquisition costs and an uncompetitive cost structure that is inflated by each customer complaint and avoidable inquiry.

As a digital executive, do you want to be a leader or a laggard? You can be a hero and lead the way to an amazing ROI. Your customers will love you for it.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start by beginning to measure your customer experience by using the Customer Experience Index.
  2. Begin by reporting results, focus on gaps and continuously improve the experience.
  3. Encourage a culture focused on building loyalty at every point of the customer journey.
  4. Agree on how to measure improvement.
  5. Tie loyalty to “bottom line” results.
  6. Involve customer experience ambassadors at every level of the organization.
  7. Identify budget constraints in investment decisions.

SMART transformation goals for the donor experience are time-bound


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The fifth criterion for SMART goals stresses the importance of grounding goals within a time frame, giving them a target date. A commitment to a deadline helps a donor experience team focus their efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date. This part of the SMART goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by the day-to-day crises that invariably arise in an organization. A time-bound goal is intended to establish a sense of urgency and give realistic time frames need to produce the results desired.

A time-bound goal will usually answer the question:

  1. When can this be accomplished?
  2. What can I do six months from now?
  3. What can I do six weeks from now?
  4. What can I do today and next week?

For the digital executive focused on the donor experience, it is important to know that most business goals are lagging indicators as well. Lagging indicators confirm long-term trends, but they do not predict them. In the economic world, some examples are unemployment, corporate profits and labor cost per unit of output. Interest rates are another good lagging economic indicator; rates change after severe market changes. Goals tend to focus on results after the fact. Well written strategies focus on rhe donor experience that produces the results and are leading indicators.

Lagging indicators are typically “output” oriented, easy to measure but hard to improve or influence while leading indicators are typically input oriented, hard to measure and easy to influence.

Source: KPI Library

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start with how long it will realistically take to produce the results in the donor experience you want.
  2. Begin with the end in mind.
  3. Encourage narrowing the time frame down into shorter not longer increments.
  4. Know what the bigger goal is, if there is one.
  5. Communicate clearly why the goal is important. Never assume that people understand why.
  6. All employees affected by the goal should buy into it and should be willing to be held accountable for producing the results in the timeframe agreed upon.

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What is digital disruption?


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We live in a wonderful world of buzzwords. Everyone is talking about digital transformation. Digital transformation has a brother. His brothers name is digital disruption.

And so … what is digital disruption? In a business, it is when your way of doing business is challenged by someone else in such a way as to “disrupt” your way of business and change your overall future profitability. It is another business that changes the expectations of the customer as to make your approach seem irrelevant. When you are disrupted, you must quickly change your strategy to survive.

For the most part, while technology is playing a huge role here. Disruption for the most part is about changing customer expectations. Uber changed my expectation on how to get around when I am in another city on business. Yellow Cabs, even though cheaper, cannot compete in my mind.

Disruption in the end is a shift in power in relationships. Disruption, as a human phenomenon, is caused by shifts in, among others, the way people use technologies and about changes in their behavior and expectations. These changes can be induced by new technologies and how they are adopted or leveraged by disruptive newcomers. However, the change can also have a broader context that has nothing to do with technologies. Is that still ‘digital disruption’? No. Yet, in some cases digital technologies could be leveraged to address those changes in behavior or expectations/needs and so forth.

Source: Charlene Li

Disruption is about the real connection to the customer and leveraging what others don’t get about their expectations. This can come from the edges, i.e., our digital ecosystem, for example. Who is closest to the customer? How can technology be adopted to the customer’s advantage? That is what becomes disruptive.

Some technology has been more inclined to be disruptive than others. That is one reason traditional IT departments are always leading the way here. Social networks were one of the early influencers. So was mobile technologies. Cloud based eCommerce (think Amazon) is still going strong. Amazon Go will change the game even more. The cloud, in general, leverages technology exclusively for the benefit of the customer.

And now, big data and analytics are definitely required to understand the customer. AI is starting to make a strong push. Voice based customer interfaces are moving fast.

There is a clear next phase to all of this. The Internet of Things and connecting devices into a real customer ecosystem will march along endlessly. Smart won’t just be about our phones. When combining technologies, like the IoT and AI, and voice interfaces, those are the game changers that may cripple your business model. It is going to happen more and more. Digital disruption will be fueled by the amazing world of digitally integrated systems.

When focused on customer needs, technologies will continue to disrupt.


Digital journey and hyper-connectedness: focus on the edges


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There are a number of variables as we take our journey to becoming a digital business. There are some edges that define the journey very well. The customer and the customer experience, purpose, end goals, partners, internal stakeholders, the last mile of standard business process and disruption are often at the edges of the digital business journey. It is tempting to just narrow things down to the customer experience as the sole driver. That leaves out some very important end goals.

It is clear that the end goals of the customer do drive our daily agenda. The inertia involved in breaking down silos and connecting the dots is real. Interconnected challenges are not to be ignored for the benefit of the customer. Internal silo’s often impede the digital business goals we have in mind.

The shift to the edges might have us focus moving faster. They could require we think about integrating data better and seeing our business as an ecosystem. Are we leveraging an ‘as-a-service’ approach? Do we spend enough time on our culture? Do we have the right digital leaders on the bus?

Another edge to look at is the decentralization of work and our inherent business models. Just think about how data analysis is moving to the edge and giving more and more tools to front line managers and employees. Just think about how digital technologies can be implemented (perhaps not effectively) without the traditional IT department.

While there are a number of challenges at the edges, strategic digital business leadership is at the core. The holistic nature of the culture is at risk if we leave at the edges. While many experiments can occur in an isolated, ad hoc and silo oriented approach, there is a real risk to the long term success of the digital business if they remain at the edges.

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What is the planning framework that a digital business should look at?


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The buzz is all around “digital transformation”. Is transformation what your business needs right now. Maybe but probably not. You are already on the path to being digital. What is the framework you should look at from a planning point of view?

Below is a model of the stages a company may go through in being a digital business. It may help to see a “digital business” as a framework or ecosystem that is valuable for strategic planning. Some companies may choose to stop at stage 3. Others may push toward 4 and eventually 5. Stage 5 will clearly require a massive transformation if you at stage 1 right now. If you are at stage 1, it makes sense to move as rapidly as possible to stage 2. That is doable. That will give you traction to keep going.

  1. Digital Resister (Ad Hoc) – Business and IT digital initiatives are disconnected and poorly aligned with an enterprise strategy, and not focused on customer experiences. Business Outcome – Business is a laggard, providing weak customer experiences and using digital technology only to counter threats.
  2. Digital Explorer (Opportunistic) – Business has identified a need to develop a digitally enhanced, customer-driven business strategy, but execution is on a project basis. Progress is not predictable or repeatable. Business Outcome – Digitally enabled customer experiences and products are inconsistent and poorly integrated.
  3. Digital Player (Repeatable) – Business IT goals are aligned at the enterprise level around the creation of digital products and customer experiences, but not yet focused on the disruptive potential of digital initiatives. Business Outcome – Business provides consistent but not truly innovative products, services and customer experiences.
  4. Digital Leader (Managed) – Integrated, synergistic business IT management disciplines deliver digitally enabled product/service experiences on a continuous basis. Business Outcome – Business is a leader in its markets, providing world-class digital products, services, and experiences.
  5. Digital Disrupter (Optimized) – The disrupter is aggressive, at the enterprise level, to be disruptive in the use of new digital technologies and business models to affect markets. Ecosystem awareness and feedback is a constant input to business innovation. Customer expectations are significantly affected by the disrupters in the market place. Business Outcome – The business remakes existing markets and creates new ones to its own advantage and is a fast moving target for the competition.

Business Transformation

“Most CEOs don’t fully understand the impact emerging digital technologies will have on their industry in the next ten years.” ~Nigel Fenwick


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This may be your reality. You see a business (not technical) imperative to be a digital business. Your CEO and the C-Suite may not.

What if this is your reality? The first level of work is to “create a burning platform” and help change the way of thinking.

Your CEO may be the exception that proves the rule. But most CEOs don’t fully understand the impact emerging digital technologies will have on their industry in the next ten years. They think they do, but they typically limit their thinking through no fault of their own. If changing your business to become a digital business is not the number one goal of your CEO, he doesn’t yet understand digital.

What’s worse, the Boards of public companies are filled with executives who also don’t get it. If they did, they would realize their number one responsibility is to ensure shareholders have a viable business in future years by making sure digital transformation the number one priority of the CEO.

I spend a lot of time working with clients on how to think about digital differently. Digital is not a website. Digital is not a mobile app. Digital is not social media. Digital is a way of thinking, a way looking at the business differently; it requires a broad understanding of how technology will change the world, and the ability to meld that understanding with a passion for creating value for customers.

Source: DTQuickBytes: Your CEO Doesn’t Really Understand Digital

Digital Ecosystem

Are we all speaking the same language when it comes to building a digital business?


Are we all speaking the same language when it comes to building a digital business? It helps to look at what a digital business is not.

  • Improving your digital business is not just about digital marketing. That’s an important part of the business activities and it’s the context in which digital business is often used. A digital business will cut across most every business function and department. What is your plan to prioritize investments across the enterprise? Where do you need different leadership than you have in place today?
  • Improving your digital business is not just about digital customer behavior, although it plays a role and customers are increasingly ‘digital and mobile’. It is also heavily about employee behavior. Do you have the right people on the bus?
  • Improving your digital business is not just about technological disruptions because the disruptions are always about customers, workers, markets, competitors and stakeholders. Even if is related to technological evolutions and knowing that ’emerging’ technologies indeed can have a ‘disruptive’ effect, it is not just about the technology. Do you have the kind of culture to move faster, invest quicker and innovate sooner?
  • Improving your digital business is not just about the movement of paper into digital information as originally meant nor the digitization of information (flows) and business processes, which is simply a condition sine quod non.

Finally, the reason why we would prefer to speak about accelerated business improvement or, if needed, digital business improvement, is that it’s just a matter of time before no one makes a distinction between digital and physical or offline and online. Customers, for instance, don’t think in these terms at all, nor in the terms of channels. For example, customers may be in your physical store checking out pricing info in real time.

Here is a perfect example of digital and physical completely disappearing as being relevant. Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. Amazon created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. With their Just Walk Out Shopping experience, customers simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products they want, and go! No lines, no checkout. (No, seriously.)

Their checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. Amazon’s Just Walk Out Technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, Amazon will send them a receipt and charge their Amazon account.

The world of a digital business is moving fast. Consumer expectations will continue to put the pressure on your company to be a part of this world. Are you ready?


Amazon Go – No lines … No checkout

The customer conniption! Identifying and doing something about the ‘final straw’ moment.


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We’ve all been there. We’ve all experienced it. It is the conniption fit. It is the final straw. A great customer experience identifies these moments in advance and tries to prevent them. It also identifies the activities/indicators that lead up to it.

As humans, we can sense it. We can also, if allowed to by “corporate HQ”, do much to head it off.

Every day, every week, every month, every year, I learn something new. It is one of the reasons I obsess with calling myself a ‘specialist’, not an ‘expert’. Specialists never stop learning and I am regularly reminded that there nuggets of knowledge waiting around every corner. A few weeks ago, a fellow Customer Experience Specialist – an amazing lady called Jan Richards – passed on one such nugget. On this occasion, Jan did so unintentionally. Despite that, it is a nugget that has refused to leave my memory banks ever since – which has led to me deciding to write about it today.

I cannot remember the exact context of the conversation. Whether we were talking about a customer, colleague, peer or friend is almost irrelevant. What I remember distinctly is Jan saying something along the lines of:

They will have a CONNIPTION if they see that!

Source: The customer conniption! Identifying the ‘final straw’ moment | CustomerThink

Revelation: Many Companies Are Simply Too Busy To Pursue Digital Change


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Are we ready? Even if we aren’t, should we just start out anyway? What is the risk of not starting compared to delays from a competitive point of view? What if we get further behind the competition?

This is not getting any easier the longer we delay. There are technologies we can’t realistically ignore. These technologies—artificial intelligence, robotics, infinite computing, ubiquitous broadband networks, digital manufacturing, nanomaterials and synthetic biology—that will enable us to make greater gains in the next two decades than we have in the past 200. They will have a radical impact that hard for us to imagine today. The will happen whether our company is ready or not.

The C-Suite needs to get it. The rate of change is too hard to fathom. But they need to be aware that many of today’s Fortune 500 are in danger. A study from the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University estimates that 40 percent of today’s F500 companies on the S&P 500 will no longer exist in 10 years. That is staggering.

Digital transformation may be the promised land for many forward-looking enterprises, but few are actually ready for it. There are many organizational and cultural issues to address — getting executive and employee buy-in, determining what processes need to be digitized, and getting people to rethink their roles. If that isn’t enough, technical issues also appear to be getting in the way as well. Scalability issues, resource issues, and application backlogs are quickly getting in the way of making progress on the journey.

That’s the latest revelation of a survey of 463 business and IT leaders released by Appian and conducted by DevOps.com, which show organizations don’t quite appear to be ready to do the heavy lifting that digital transformation requires. The Appian/DevOps.com survey explored the technical issues, and its authors conclude that organizations are too “overwhelmed by mounting technical debt and the number of software applications needed to support changing IT environments.

Source: Revelation: Many Are Simply Too Busy To Pursue Digital Change

Photo: Joe McKendrick

Digital change: on everybody’s mind, but a difficult commitment.


Why digital change project figures don’t add up



Is there an ROI to digital upgrades? Do we, as leaders, know what we are getting for our investment? If we think we are going to save money, do we? If we think our investment will generate business results, are they quantified in advance and then measured regularly?

Despite businesses investing in digital change to reduce costs, they aren’t achieving the savings they expected according to research by the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) and hybrid IT provider Ensono.

Over two thirds of the 250 business and IT decision makers questioned said saving money was a key driver for undertaking digital projects, yet only 51% of are using this as a metric of success. Customer satisfaction, on the other hand, was used as a KPI by 52% of the organisations in the study, yet only 40% said it was a key driver for digital change.

“It is promising to see that nearly all organisations are measuring the success of their projects. However, the objectives and KPIs do not align, indicating a bigger problem,” Simon Ratcliffe, principal consultant at Ensono said. “Either the strategy is not tied down and organisations are ‘doing’ digital transformation for the sake of it, or the strategy is not being communicated adequately.”

Source: Why digital transformation project figures don’t add up | IT PRO

The coming conflict between millennials and boomers


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This is a very curious trend with disturbing implications. As a boomer, I’ve had a sense about this issue but had not connected the shrinking jobs part of this. I have warned my children about the financial obligations that are looming as more and more Boomers retire.

The U.S. is headed for a potentially dangerous new social rift, this time between millennials and baby boomers, each wrestling for diminishing jobs and shrinking government assistance, according to a new paper.

Quick take: In the next decade or so, automation and demographics will become a new dimension to the economic and social pressures already roiling the U.S. and societies around the world, according to the study released today by Bain. This new conflict will pit millennial workers displaced by machines against boomers living on Social Security and Medicare. “Who votes, who wins, and who goes to the polls become a highly politicized issue potentially,” says Karen Harris, managing director of Bain’s Macro Trends Group.

Bain paints the following picture of the years up to around 2030: 

  • The U.S. population is aging fast, and many older workers are staying on the job longer.
  • With the labor force shrinking and needed skills hard to find, companies will rapidly automate.
  • 20%-25% of current jobs will be wiped out, adding up to some 40 million workers, many in the least-advanced positions, often millennials.

This will set up generational conflicts, says Bain. Chiefly, it will pit millennials against boomers for jobs, and for differing government assistance: millennials will require job retraining and perhaps a basic income to compensate for low or no wages; and older Americans will demand the Social Security and health care that are bedrocks of current society. This will all be set against the backdrop of a government strapped by enormous deficits racked up since the start of the century.

“The question is what decisions are made on who gets the first call” on the government budget, Harris tells Axios. “That will bring tension between the working-age population and retirees.”

Source: The coming conflict between millennials and boomers – Axios

Can Your Business Compete in the Digital Age?


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In this 30-minute webinar with digital strategist David Rogers, you’ll learn:

– Why digital business is actually not about technology

– How companies like Walmart, Disney, Dominos, and Ford are proving that legacy businesses can still compete with Silicon Valley

– The five domains of the strategy rulebook that have been rewritten by the digital revolution

– What every leader must do to guide digital change in their own enterprise

This is sponsored by Columbia Business School. It is presented by David Rogers. His book can be found here.

In the book, he discusses how every business begun before the Internet now faces the same challenge: How to transform to compete in a digital economy?

Globally recognized digital expert David L. Rogers argues that digital transformation is not about updating your technology but about upgrading your strategic thinking. Based on Rogers’s decade of research and teaching at Columbia Business School, and his consulting for businesses around the world, The Digital Transformation Playbook shows how pre-digital-era companies can reinvigorate their game plans and capture the new opportunities of the digital world.

Rogers shows why traditional businesses need to rethink their underlying assumptions in five domains of strategy—customers, competition, data, innovation, and value. He reveals how to harness customer networks, platforms, big data, rapid experimentation, and disruptive business models—and how to integrate these into your existing business and organization.

Rogers illustrates every strategy in this playbook with real-world case studies, from Google to GE, from Airbnb to the New York Times. With practical frameworks and nine step-by-step planning tools, he distills the lessons of today’s greatest digital innovators and makes them usable for businesses at any stage.

Many books offer advice for digital start-ups, but The Digital Transformation Playbook is the first complete treatment of how legacy businesses can transform to thrive in the digital age. It is an indispensable guide for executives looking to take their firms to the next stage of profitable growth.


Google Launches Its First Cybersecurity Company, Chronicle


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Now this is serious. Google tends to play for keeps. It is interesting that is funded as a “moonshot” initiative with no initial expectation of profitability. Exactly how Amazon had been run until recently. It will definitely require keeping an eye on what the launch as a part of this.

At the end of January, Alphabet, the parent company of Google, announced that it would launch its first cybersecurity company, which it is calling Chronicle.

Chronicle will be a subsidiary of Alphabet (the same way that Google is), after originally being incubated in Alphabet’s so called “X” unit (AKA The Moonshot Factory) dedicated to inventing and launching “moonshot” technologies that Alphabet hopes “could someday make the world a radically better place.” (“Moonshot” refers to ground-breaking technology projects that are undertaken without any expectation of achieving profitability or some other benefit in the foreseeable future.)

As announced in a blog post, Chronicle will initially offer two services: The VirusTotal anti-malware intelligence service (acquired by Google more than half a decade ago, and run by Google and Alphabet since that time), and a cybersecurity intelligence and analytics platform that will help enterprises better manage and understand their own information-security-related data.

Source: Google Launches Its First Cybersecurity Company, Chronicle | Inc.com

What does a digital business and its evolution look like for you?


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Thinking and planning through the evolution of your digital business requires some holistic and strategic thinking. It is a core function of the C-Suite and the CEO is accountable to the Board of Directors for the results. So, what are some of the areas to consider?

  • Business departments/functions: marketing, operations, human resources, administration, customer service, etc.
  • Business processes: one or more connected operations, activities and sets to achieve a specific business goal, whereby business process management, business process optimization and business process automation come into the picture. Business process optimization is essential in digital business strategies and in some industries and cases is essentially customer-facing today, whereas in others internal goals come first in initial stages.
  • Business models: how businesses function, from the go-to-market approach and value proposition to the ways it seeks to make money and effectively transforms its core business, tapping into novel revenue sources and approaches, sometimes even dropping the traditional core business after a while.
  • Business ecosystems: the networks of partners and stakeholders, as well as contextual factors affecting the business such as regulatory or economic priorities and evolutions. New ecosystems are built between companies with various background upon the fabric of digital business, information, whereby data and actionable intelligence become innovation assets.
  • Business asset management: whereby the focus lies on traditional assets but, increasingly, on less ‘tangible’ assets such as information and customers (enhancing customer experience is a leading goal of many digital business “projects” and information is the lifeblood of business, technological evolution and of any human relationship). Both customers and information need to be treated as real assets in all perspectives.
  • Organizational culture, whereby there is a clear customer-centric, agile and hyper-aware goal which is achieved by acquiring core competencies across the board in areas such as digital maturity, leadership, knowledge worker silos and so forth.
  • Ecosystem and partnership models, with among others a rise of co-opetive, collaborative, co-creating and, last but not lost, entirely new business ecosystem approaches, leading to new business models and revenue sources.
  • Customer, worker and partner approaches. Digital business strategy puts people and strategy before technology. The changing behavior, expectations and needs of any stakeholder are crucial. This is expressed in many change sub-projects whereby customer-centricity, user experience, worker empowerment, new workplace models, changing channel partner dynamics etc. (can) all come in the picture. It’s important to note that digital technologies never are the sole answer to tackle any of these human aspects, from worker satisfaction to customer experience enhancement. People involve, respect and empower other people in the first place, technology is an additional enabler and part of the equation of choice and fundamental needs.

This list is not exhaustive and de facto the several mentioned aspects are connected and overlap. We do look at some less business-related ‘digital evolution’ phenomena and at so-called disruptions but the focus is on the business, which by definition means a holistic digital strategic view whereby aspects such as customer experience, technological evolutions and innovation with a clear purpose, instead of a buzzword, are crucial elements.

So, the evolution of your digital business strategy is certainly not just about disruption or technology alone. It is even not just about transforming for a digital age. If it were the latter, one has to realize that this digital age exists since quite some time and is relatively vague.

Why does the holistic picture matter in becoming a digital business?


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We read a lot about digital transformation. Transformation is really only part of the picture. The end game is to be a digital business. That may require what some see as transformation but that sounds way too hard to a lot of people so they get stuck. The digital business journey may be more like “crawl, walk then run”.

In that light, it is important to always think through what the holistic picture looks like. Some of it may always be fuzzy, but thinking it through will help. As a company begins to explore digital opportunities, it will help to know as you grow, do you to provide consistent but not truly innovative products, services and customer experiences. Or, do you want to be a market leader and eventually a market disrupter.

Being a digital business is a whole lot about culture. Is being interconnected more important than department silos? Is being fast more important than being steady? Is innovation and market disruption desirable? Is the customer experience the top of mind and top of performance expectations?

It is a C-Suite and leadership responsibility to see the digital business holistically. Customer service can’t make up for finance department systems that are riddled with errors. These digital systems have to connect to a common vision. They also have to have the right leadership. “Old World” leaders may need to find something else to do. New roles may need to be created with very talented leaders.

The six steps to build a successful digital business (chart below) are a good framework to the holistic approach needed.

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So what are some of the characteristics of a holistic digital business?

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Want to understand Bitcoin? Try this children’s book


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Square uses the style of a children's book to explain Bitcoin
Screenshot of “My First Bitcoin: And the Legend of Satoshi Nakamoto” from cash.me/bitcoin

Talk of Bitcoins and blockchains is unavoidable these days, but it can be tough to join the conversation if you don’t speak the lingo.

There’s lots of ways to get up to speed, but the most simple could be this children’s book-style introduction from Square.

Source: Login – Axios

Who holds the future in their hands?


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We have choices to make about where to work, what to buy and what to invest in. Many are conspiring to get you to believe that isn’t true. To insist it is true is a fabrication and perhaps even a lie. “They” know it. There is a lot to be lost.

There is an advantage to living and thinking in a different way. It is a power thing, for sure, to prevent you from seeing the world differently. Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle and others have invested trillions to get you to believe you don’t have a choice. At one point they were the future.

In technology, and now our digital world in general, the speed of change is staggering. Consider the simple world of web browsers. In 2009, Internet Explorer (Microsoft) had 70% of the market. By 2012, 4 short years later, they were tied with Chrome (Google) at 30%. Chrome now in 2017 has a 62% share.

But the question is, who will dominate next? It is unlikely it will be Google. If you dominate your industry now, who is going to disrupt you? Can you disrupt yourself? Corporate life and death is dependent on this issue.

This can be multiplied industry by industry. What has digital transformation brought forth in the market place?

The simple answer is massive, speedy disruption and obsolescence?

The good news is; you have lots of choices. Don’t let “them” make you believe otherwise.


What is the role of the customer experience team for the new marketing launch?



Our marketing department has a real focus and wants to launch a new campaign. They  have done a lot of research and believe it will drive sustained growth with existing customers.

What is the role of the customer experience team for the new launch? A key function is to assess whether employees believe we can keep the implicit and explicit promises that will be made to the customer. A quick journey map may do the job.

Can we validate what will be different for the customer? Is that a good thing? If it isn’t in the best interest of the customer, how can we change it to make it better?

All questions to be asked. Nothing worse than unintended consequences for our marketing efforts.

Digital Marketing


“It’s very difficult to reason with someone if their hair is on fire.” ~Seth Godin


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This customer service summary from Seth Godin is right on target. We have all, way to often, experienced the opposite of what he is advocating for here. It seems the be the norm, just based on the customer service calls I make.

These suggestions are pretty basic, it doesn’t take long to learn them or teach them.

It’s very difficult to reason with someone if their hair is on fire. Customer service (whether you’re a school principal, a call center or a consultant) can’t begin until the person you’re working with believes that you’re going to help them put out the fire on their head.

Basic principles worth considering (are you listening, Verizon?)

The first promises kept are hints that you will keep future promises. Putting people on endless hold, bad voice trees, live chat that isn’t actually live, an uncomfortable chair in the waiting room, a nasty receptionist, unclear directions to your office, bad line management… all of these things escalate stress and decrease trust.

Don’t underestimate the power of a good sign, a take-a-number deli machine and a thoughtful welcome.

Don’t deny that the customer/patient/student has a problem. If they think they have a problem, they have a problem. It might be that your job is to help them see (over time) that the thing that’s bothering them isn’t actually a problem, but denying the problem doesn’t de-escalate it.

Leave the legal arguments at home. It’s entirely possible that your terms of service or fine print or HIPA or lawyers have come up with some sort of clause that prevents you from solving the problem the way the customer wants it solved. You can’t do anything about that. But bringing it up now, in this moment of escalation, merely makes the problem worse.

The goal is to open doors, not close them. To gain engagement and productive interaction, not to have the customer become enraged and walk away.

Empathize with their frustration. It’s entirely possible that you think the patient’s problem is ridiculous. That the customer is asking for too much. That you’re going to be unable to solve the problem. Understood. But right now, the objective is de-escalation. That’s the problem that needs to be solved before the presented problem can be solved. Acknowledging that the person is disappointed, angry or frustrated, and confirming that your goal is to help with that feeling means that you’ve seen the person in front of you. “Ouch,” and “Oh no,” are two useful ways to respond to someone sharing their feelings.

One minute later, then, here’s what’s happened:

You were welcoming and open.

You didn’t pick a fight.

You saw and heard the problem.

Wow. That’s a lot to accomplish in sixty seconds.

Do you think the rest of the interaction will go better? Do you think it’s likely that the person at the airplane counter, the examining table or on the phone with you is more likely to work with you to a useful conclusion?

Source: Seth’s Blog: First, de-escalate

The Experience When Business Meets Design


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Brian Solis

Brian Solis was invited to present at FIC (Festival de Interatividade e Comunicação) in Porto Alegre, Brazil. While he couldn’t be there live, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to present on a topic that he’s passionate about to an audience equally passionate about it…”the experience when business meets design.” After all, that’s the name of his most recent best-seller.

The event theme was, “The Experience Economy,” inspired by Joe Pine. Brian’s job was to help the audience understand the meaning and sensation of experience and how to bring them to life in brands, products and everyday ways of business and customer and employee engagement.

The presentation focuses on three different pillars of experience, 1) Technology, 2) Brand and 3) Design. But more importantly, his approach to experience architecture, centers on human beings and the relationship between these three pillars and emotional reaction and memories to them.

Experiences, the best and worst of them, become memories. People are going to feel something at every moment, so why leave those moments and ultimately, memories to chance?

The best experiences are intentional, connected, and personal. That takes design…human-centered design.


What is LaaS (Leadership as a Service) all about?


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The chaos and intrusion caused by traditional consulting firms often makes things worse long before they get better. More importantly, the learning curve required by often inexperienced consultants is a costly risk to any client. If those firms do finally begin to bring value, it is always compromised by their use of a library of reusable work product and templates designed to standardize your solution. In other words, these standard templates help them make more money while using teams with far less experience. Unfortunately, the answer to your problem will always require educated decisions to be made, and they are not equipped to do so.

Fortium’s revolutionary executive services model is superior to traditional consulting. LaaS (Leadership as a Service) can benefit you immediately. While others leverage teams with a mix of experienced and inexperienced consultants and use live client situations to train them on real world situations, Fortium aligns one individual or a small team of experienced (25 years or more) executives to the conditions of your specific engagement. Our partners, among the best technology and digital leaders in the world, bring the credentials, deep-industry expertise and hands-on experience to confront risks and opportunities with the skills and commitment they demand. And while consulting firms consistently look for opportunities to expand their presence within your organization, Fortium is there to help you solve problems and move on to your next challenge.

Your situation may not demand a small army of consultants. Fortium aligns the delivery model with your need. For very focused situations, the best approach may be to help you through project leadership. In other conditions, it may be best to place the Fortium partner in the CIO, CTO, CDO or CISO seat or other strategic leadership role on a short-term or long-term interim basis. When you’re ready, the Fortium partner can be replaced by a permanent resource without the complexity and cost associated with termination of a permanent, long-term employee. Throughout the delivery process, you and the Fortium partner have the immediate support and expertise of our entire firm of technology experts to fulfill your needs and minimize your risk. Would LaaS (Leadership as a Service) benefit you?

Fortium Partners offers what no one else can: instant access to some of the world’s most experienced technology and digital leaders (CIOs, CDOs, CTOs, and CISOs). Our clients often need interim leadership, fractional/part-time leadership, strategic program management and guidance, coaching, or other roles that expand the capabilities of the management team. Fortium clients get the technology and digital leadership they need in a matter of days, obtaining an immediate competitive edge, often at a lower cost with more return. We also offer specific solutions to address your technology and digital challenges.

Missing Your Technology or Digital Leader? Break from Tradition

What if you could fill your technology leadership slot (CIO, CDO, CTO, or CISO) immediately, in a matter of hours? What if you could guarantee that your new technology leader would be a true strategy partner with more than 25 years of experience, and not just an technology operational generalist? What if you never had to pay for search fees, employee benefits or severance? What if you had immediate access to a technology and digital executive with exactly the right experience to help guide your team toward a new strategic direction? Leadership as a Service (LaaS) can help immediately.

Enter Fortium Partners

Fortium’s partners have served in C-suites of the most respected companies in the world. Unlike consulting firms, with Fortium your service level is exactly what you need and you will never be subject to unnecessary fee expansion or lower-level resources. Best of all, our Partner becomes your company’s CIO, CDO, CTO, or CISO – a dedicated member of your senior staff reporting directly to executive leadership, yet equipped with world-class processes of the largest provider of technology and digital leadership services in the world.

Fortium Partners can reduce a 12-16 month lag time to onboard technology executives down to a matter of days. 

Strategic Issues in the LaaS Model

Strategic issues to be considered in the LaaS model is having a knowledge that digital invaders exist and that they are experts at rapid disruption. As a result, the entire C-suite now sees digital as the biggest game-changer. It can fuel growth, but drastically change the landscape.

While most CxOs believe they see the “Big Picture,” few actually know how to create that view and execute a series of initiatives to get there.  Industry leaders are looking beyond the immediate future, and employing a full range of strategies.

Strategic Imperatives

Coming to market second or third is a luxury few can afford. Creating a business model that offers both speed and scale can be tricky. Nonetheless, some leading enterprises are using their resources to out think the competition.

Do you want to:

  • Be First – this approach is costly and risky but may be your cup of tea. If so, we have ideas that no one else has tried yet that could catapult you ahead.
  • Be Best – this approach has costs but excelling in most areas, particularly the giving and post giving experience will pay off.
  • Be left behind – this approach is to be avoided. Unbeknownst to you, someone may be about to disrupt your business model.

Please contact me so I can learn more

“There is nothing that a Big-Hearted Leader can do that is more important than turning his or her company or organization into a force for good.” ~Donn Sorensen



The customer experience, at its core, is a matter of the heart that is obsessed with serving the customer. Donn Sorensen is executive vice president of operations of Mercy Health System is one of the largest Catholic health systems in the United States. Donn is on to something.

A heart-felt leader will make a difference. Are you ready to lead the charge?

There is nothing that a Big-Hearted Leader can do that is more important than turning his or her company or organization into a force for good.” ~Donn Sorensen

Source: Leadership Lesson: It Comes From The Heart


“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” – Jeff Bezos


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What is the urgency of transforming (changing) the digital customer experience. Just think of the many customer experience fails that were magnified to thousands or millions of potential customers.

There is a benefit to transforming (changing), there is also a risk. Is it worth it? Think about it some more. Is it really worth it?

If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” – Jeff Bezos

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“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi


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We all want to deliver amazing customer experiences. It our greatest desire. There is much that gets in the way of that noble goal. Executive leadership has to focus on clearing the obstacles out of the way.

We need more employees, not less, that can lose themselves in the pleasure of service. We need to unshackle our employees. In their heart and soul they want to service. Nothing gives them more pleasure than creating experiences that lead loyalty and growth.

Imagine going home at the end of the day knowing we were able to love a customer or two. How great is that?

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. – Mahatma Gandhi

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Digital Transformation has a problem. Transformation has a brother named Fear of Change. Transformation also has a sister named Change Management.


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Digital Transformation has a problem. Transformation means massive change or at least it sounds that way. If you said to your spouse, I want to fundamentally transform you, how do you think they would feel. It doesn’t sound good. At least when you are the other side.

Transformation has a brother named Fear of Change. Most of us don’t like change. Say about 10% do and 90% are quite happy the way things are. Things are comfortable. Why do we need to change? What’s wrong with the way we are doing things today? Maybe just a few tweaks here and there.

Transformation also has a sister named Change Management. Change management is difficult because it starts with “the need” to change and the challenge of “I don’t want to”. Running a marathon is daunting. Two tenths of one percent of the U.S. adult population accomplish it annually. It may not seem worth it considering all the effort that will have to be put into it. I  will have to get up early. Training will be painful. I won’t have time to do other things I am used to doing. Power walking a few days, like I am doing now, seems more attractive. A marathon runner only runs 3 miles a day on average (with one long run a week and 2 days of rest) to get ready for the 26.2 miles need for the victory. It takes 18 weeks to get ready and finish.

The challenge with “change management” is that it is typically used on minor or small scale initiatives. Digital transformation is an extreme approach that is not easily achieved. It requires an approach to change that can handle massive number of initiatives and heavily culture oriented change.

There is an approach that may be helpful. It is called the “Agile Methodology” and it is used extensively in software development. Building a new application or significantly updating an existing one is an overwhelming task. This approach essentially breaks the massive number of tasks down into small deliverables that can be accomplished in three week increments. When you line up the sprints one after another, after a while you have made some significant changes. It is a little more complicated than I make it out to be but a fundamental level, the approach works.

If it wasn’t a “technology approach”, we would call it change management but that might be mislabeled as well. This methodology actually moves the ball down the field, incrementally, toward a touchdown.

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What does an amazing “unboxing experience” look like?


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Today’s customers are shopping online much more often than in past years. This change has had a profound impact on companies who now have fewer chances to interact with their customers. Because the number of touchpoints within the customer journey has decreased, companies face increased pressure to impress buyers during each interaction.

One of the most important moments that brands communicate with their customers is when a buyer receives and opens their package. The most successful businesses understand that creating loyal customers means providing exceptional order fulfillment services, down to the packaging of their product offerings.

Making little tweaks to the experience of getting a package in the mail can really change the way that customers view your brand and their shopping experience. Interesting packaging can also help your company stand out in a competitive marketplace. Examples of small but impressive changes businesses can implement include sending personalized thank you notes along with packages and offering unique packaging designs like fun colors and branded tissue paper. Prioritizing these types of details can help set you apart from competitors!

Red Stag Fulfillment developed a list of the most important tips to create the perfect unboxing experience for your consumer. Read on to learn the best practices for providing an exceptional packaging experience, no matter your industry or product type.

perfect unboxing experience

Are our digital donor experience goals relevant?


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The fourth criterion for SMART goals stresses the importance of choosing goals that really make a difference in improving the donor experience. A digital executive’s goal to “Make 50 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by 2:00pm” may be specific, measurable, attainable, and time-bound, but lacks relevance to the donor. Many times you will need support to accomplish a goal: resources, a champion voice, someone to knock down obstacles. Goals that are relevant to your boss, your team, your organization and but most importantly, your donor, will receive that needed support. Being able to frame up simply how it will benefit the donor is very powerful.

Relevant goals (when met) drive the team, department, and organization forward in creating stunning experiences for the donor. A goal that supports or is in alignment with other donor goals would be considered a relevant goal.

A relevant goal can answer yes to these questions:

  1. Does this seem worthwhile to the donor?
  2. Is this the right time in the donor experience lifecycle?
  3. Does this match our other donor journey efforts/needs?
  4. Are you the right person/team to focus on this?
  5. Is it applicable in current socio- economic- technical environment? Will it move digital change (transformation) ahead to the next phase?

How many times have we been “handed” a goal and we all have said, this isn’t going to move the needle. It’s just not relevant. Having employees and donors engaged is a “big deal”. Relevance is the key.

Without relevance, it is hard to know what we want to accomplish. When a goal is irrelevant, we all see the air go out of the balloon. There is nothing more demoralizing.

The digital executive is responsible for accessing “does it pass” the relevance test. This cannot be delegated. Having a pulse of donor goals helps a lot. Even if it is not relevant to an employee, a case should be made that it is relevant to the donor. How relevant it is becomes the driver.

Relevance can be given a score so that ideas that produce the best results are funded. We may need to do a series of quick tests to determine the winners. With limited funds and budget, the digital executive must focus resources.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start focusing employees on the issue of donor relevance.
  2. Begin testing and scoring the results of ideas.
  3. Encourage listening to donors to know what is relevant to them.
  4. Have clear goals for testing programs.
  5. Know why this is important to the donor.
  6. Involve donors and employees in generating ideas.
  7. Be clear about resource constraints.

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What is the state of Customer Experience metrics for 2017?



The State of CX Metrics, 2017

December 2017

Temkin Group does really great work. They surveyed 169 companies to learn about how they use customer experience (CX) metrics and then compared their answers with similar studies they’ve conducted annually since 2011. They also had them complete the CX Metrics Program Assessmentthat evaluates the degree to which these efforts are ConsistentImpactfulIntegrated, and Continuous.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Only 11% of CX metrics programs received “strong” or “very strong” ratings, while 64% of companies received “weak” or “very weak” ratings. Only one out of five companies earned at least a moderate rating for being Integrated.
  • Sixty-five percent of companies are good at collecting and calculating metrics, but less than 20% are good at using analytics to predict future changes in the CX metric.
  • Satisfaction and likelihood to recommend remain the most popular CX metrics, with satisfaction at a transactional level delivering the most positive impact.
  • Only 10% of companies always or almost always make explicit tradeoffs between CX metrics and financial results.
  • Companies identified the lack of taking action based on CX metrics as a top obstacle to their programs. The identification of this as a top problem increased the most between 2016 (54%) and 2017 (62%).
  • We asked companies about their effectiveness at measuring 19 different elements of customer experience. They are most effective at measuring customer service, phone interactions, and customers who are using their products and services. They are least effective at measuring the experiences of prospects, customers who have defected, and multi-channel interactions.
  • When we compared companies with stronger CX metrics programs with those with weaker efforts, we found that the stronger firms have better overall CX results, more frequently use and get value from likelihood to recommend metrics, and report fewer obstacles.

Source: The State of CX Metrics, 2017

The customer experience

Three things marketers must do to better serve customers in 2018


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Marketing is playing a greater and increasingly significant role in the customer experience. Some companies are struggling with how to integrate the customer experience enterprise wide. Absent a dedicated Customer Strategy team, marketing does own many, but not all, of the customer touch points.

Here are some valuable suggestions from Martech Today: Three things marketers must do to better serve customers in 2018

1. Own all customer touch points

Marketers must be acutely aware of every touch point that impacts existing customers, even when they fall far outside the traditional marketing purview.

For example, many companies are trying to scale their interactions with the use of AI-powered bots that will help guide customers. In most companies, it is IT, or perhaps a customer account department, that drives this kind of project. If marketing doesn’t have a clear understanding of how this is impacting the customer experience, then it’s not stepping up to being the shepherd of the end-to-end customer experience.

2. Existing customers are worthy of your best everything

All of the things that are important to attracting new customers are just as important to retaining existing customers. AI, personalization, consistency of interactions and alignment of people in the company across the customer experience function are all critical components of retention.

Perhaps most important of all is constantly seeking and acting on feedback to not just increase sales but to also create the kind of loyalty and advocacy that help mold the perceptions of other existing customers and pull in new ones.

3. Find the metrics that matter most to the customer experience

Relying on the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to measure customer loyalty is no longer enough. It’s too general and static a measure for today’s fast-moving customer environments. What’s necessary is to also understand the sentiment of each customer as an individual.

Again, the solution is to constantly seek feedback on how you are doing in meeting each individual’s increasing expectations through the lens of the customer experience. This can be accomplished as easily as presenting a simple emoji scale for customers to score their satisfaction with every interaction.

Thus armed, you can measure such things as ease of purchase, satisfaction with sales and service, the value of your content and so on. This data can then be combined with data on repurchase rates, number of advocates created and so on, to provide a more complete, accurate and timely picture of marketing effectiveness across the customer journey.

84 Percent of U.S. Healthcare Providers Have No Cyber Security Leader


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Do you find this a little concerning?

Eighty-four percent of U.S. healthcare providers don’t have a cyber security officer, and only 11 percent plan to add one in 2018, according to a recent Black Book Research survey of 323 strategic decision makers at U.S. healthcare provider and payer organizations.

At healthcare payer organizations, the outlook is slightly better — 31 percent have an established cyber security manager, and 44 percent plan to hire one in the coming year.

Just 15 percent of all responding organizations currently have a CISO in place.

The critical role of medical facilities, combined with poor security practices and lack of resources, make them vulnerable to financially and politically motivated attacks,” Black Book managing partner Doug Brown said in a statement.

Source: 84 Percent of U.S. Healthcare Providers Have No Cyber Security Leader

84 Percent of U.S. Healthcare Providers Have No Cyber Security Leader

“Creating a digital culture isn’t about who’s in charge.” ~Julie Woods-Moss


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Let’s face it, a lot of posturing about culture is about “who is in charge”. We don’t like to admit it but is true. We want our shiny object to be the next new thing. If it is the next new thing, rest assured it won’t last long. The C-Suite will move on from it, maybe faster than we think could happen.

Being obsessed about the customer and focusing the real change on digital improvements is about the customer experience. We all own that and the CEO is in charge of all aspects of making it happen. In companies focused on that as their culture, the results are geometrically better than companies not focused on it. There is plenty of data that demonstrates that. At some point we need to believe it and act on it.

Employee and customer expectations are changing fast. Faster than any of us want to admit. Other companies are out investing us in digital experiences that change the game for all of us. Have we created an agile culture of change? Have I done what I could to make it a focus with my work group?

Creating a digital culture isn’t about who’s in charge — it’s about building an agile structure that can adjust to changing employee and customer needs as new technologies and platforms emerge to fuel another shift in this constant cycle of change. ~Julie Woods-Moss, Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Marketing Officer at Tata Communications.

Source: Creating A Culture That Fosters Digital Transformation

Is trust going to be a casualty in the war on cyber crime?


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None of us are safe it seems. Cyber criminals attack without any consideration of our corporate or individual status in life. It is cruel and it is systematic. And we know it is only going to get worse.

But it seems it is not only we can’t trust the criminals, we can’t seem to even trust the victims. What could Equifax done to prevent the intrusion? Why did Uber hid their breach for a full year?

Companies are going to proved stronger authentication which will be slightly inconvenient for us all. Two factor authentication is gaining traction. While it can slow a transaction down a minute or so, it will be worth it. At least I hope so.

And what about our partners, suppliers and service providers. Should we trust them? Probably not. We are going to see more security audits. Awareness will increase that our greatest vulnerability may be the people we trusted the most historically. Ugh!

The U.S. government has banned the use of Kaspersky software in government agencies because it believes the risk of Russian influence to compromise the software too high. Similar actions by other countries are likely in 2018. 

Other countries have shown similar nationalistic tendencies such as China and its recently passed, far-reaching cybersecurity law that requires access to vendor source code. We predict that the U.S. Executive Branch will show similar tendencies and direct government agencies to exercise procurement preference for vendors with development and manufacturing in the U.S. or allied countries,” says PAS Global’s Habibi.

The environment of mistrust will present opportunities for companies that can show genuine concern for protecting data and that they have proper security infrastructure in place. In other words, earned trust becomes an asset when consumers and other organizations are willing to do business with you because they feel secure doing so.

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How do you measure results for cyber security investment?


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With over 400 global business and security executives participating in a benchmark survey called The 2017 State Of Cybersecurity Metrics Annual Report, more than half of respondents scored an “F” or “D” grade when evaluating their efforts to measure their cybersecurity investments and performance against best practices.

Based on internationally accepted standards for security embodied in ISO 27001, as well as best practices from industry experts and professional associations, the Security Measurement Index benchmark survey provides a comprehensive way to define how well an organization is measuring the effectiveness of its IT security.

Findings from this Cyber Security Metrics survey include:

Failures in planning

  • 1 in 3 companies invests in cybersecurity technologies without any way to measure their value or effectiveness.
  • 4 out of 5 fail to include business stakeholders in cybersecurity investment decisions.
  • 4 out 5 companies don’t know where their sensitive data is located, and how to secure it.

Failures in performance

  • 2 out of 3 companies don’t fully measure whether their disaster recovery will work as planned.
  • 4 out of 5 never measure the success of security training investments.
  • While 80% of breaches involve stolen or weak credentials 60% of companies still do not adequately protect privileged accounts—their keys to the kingdom.

In general:

  • 58 percent of companies are failing in their efforts to measure the effectiveness of their cybersecurity investments and performance against best practices.
  • 4 out of 5 companies worldwide are not fully satisfied with their cybersecurity metrics.

Most survey respondents do not feel confident about how they are measuring the value of their cybersecurity investments, and 80% stated that they are not fully satisfied with the metrics available.

You may think your business doesn’t need a formal, documented IT security policy based on cogent cybersecurity metrics. After all, documentation and worrying about information security is just for big unwieldy mega-corporations, right?

Cyber Security

Donor Experience SMART goals are realistic and attainable


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Goals should be both realistic and attainable for the digital nonprofit. While an attainable goal may stretch a team in order to achieve it, the goal is not extreme in nature. We all should have some expectation that it can be achieved.  Goals are neither out of reach nor below standard performance, as these may be considered meaningless.

When you identify goals that are most important to your donors, you begin to figure out ways you can make the goals come true. You and your team develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. An attainable goal may cause goal-setters to identify previously overlooked opportunities to bring themselves closer to the achievement of their goals. Attainable goals help focus everyone’s efforts on what is important to the donor.

Goals should be motivating. They should galvanize the whole team to accomplish something great. They certainly can be aspirational. The work of transforming a nonprofit is not easy. Everyone knows that. Everyone wants to be motivated and your transformation goals are important in the donor experience work. If they are not attainable, they become demotivating. We all must have a sense that we can reach the goal.

The purpose of a goal is to actually accomplish the result we have in mind. There is never a purpose that is useful to suggest something that we know can’t be done be a goal. It does happen, however, where a result is suggested and then nothing else is “taken off the plate” or resources aren’t devoted to making it happen. In those cases, it is common that everyone involved knows they are being set up for failure. That is, of course, devastating.

Senior management has a special responsibility to make sure that donor experience goals can, in fact, be reached. Employees may suggest goals that are beyond stretch and not attainable. Or employees may suggest goals that are a “cake walk”. In either case, realistic conversations need to occur to level set and make sure everyone is comfortable that strategies and tactics are in place to get us to the destination. It may be very difficult, if senior management sets a goal that is clearly unattainable, for employees to push back and talk about why that is true.

In setting an attainable goal, great consideration needs to be given to what resources need to be devoted to making it happen. Return on investment is real. To expect a return, with no investment, is a fool’s errand. Want something great to happen? What cost are you willing to bear to realize it?

Do you need more staff? Do you need a different kind of staff with different skills? Do priorities need to be set so it is clear this goal is important? Do other initiatives need to be eliminated or delayed to focus on this goal? Making a goal attainable may be about the resources and focus to make it attainable.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Goals should stretch our performance but be realistic and attainable.
  2. Goals should not be easily attained.
  3. Goals should not be added, one on top of another, so that it becomes impossible to achieve any of them.
  4. Resources need to be devoted to achieve the goals.

Attainable Goal

“Make sure your core technology platform offers the agility to continually test, modify, and improve processes to stay tuned to the new business environment.”  ~ Katherine Kostereva


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Digital transformation is about several things.

Digital transformation is about being bold. Companies don’t have to be high-tech to use the best technologies to drive better productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction but it is imperative to keep in mind that digital transformation is not a one-time event or project. It’s a bold commitment to a perpetual transformation. It is about becoming more mature in our approach. Incremental improvement is better than going for the “big bang” and then loosing momentum.

Digital transformation is about being agile. Don’t be fooled by some of the digital transformation buzz out there, digital transformation is a business discipline or company philosophy, not a project. And companies that want long-term success need to maintain focus on becoming more agile so you are ready to take on anything that the future can throw at you.

Make sure your core technology platform offers the agility to continually test, modify, and improve processes to stay tuned to the new business environment.  ~ Katherine Kostereva

Source: The Real Meaning Of Digital Transformation: Increased Agility

“Innovation can’t and shouldn’t be tech for the sake of tech, it should always be solving real human problem.” ~Healy Cypher


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Innovation continues to be the big thing. CEO’s seem very enamored by it. Recently I  saw a CEO create a Chief Innovation Officer position.

Seeing the person who filled the job, I would have thought he just got promoted to CIO as in the head of technology.

Being obsessed with the customer starts with the customer. How easy was it for them to do X? Painful? How can we solve that problem?

That will create a lot of traction for the customer experience. Maybe we need a metric focused on how many customer problems we permanently solve this month.

Innovation can’t and shouldn’t be tech for the sake of tech, it should always be solving real human problem.” ~Healy Cypher, founder and CEO of OAK Labs.

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“There is only one boss. The customer.” – Sam Walton


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We all know it is true. Our efforts should be focused on the customer and customer experience.

Great company C-Suite executives and staff down the line know, remember and serve the customer. Over the long haul, there are a handful of these companies and leaders. It is easy, on any given day, to get distracted.

Today, all of us get to choose what to focus on. There may be tons of mandates on high, but there will be a chance, somewhere along the way to stick up for the customer.

We get to choose to do that and no one can take that away from us.

There is only one boss. The customer.” – Sam Walton

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Donor Experience SMART transformation goals are measurable


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How will you know “when you have arrived”? How will you measure progress in improving the donor experience? What does success look like for the donor and their goals? When will we know that we have transformed our nonprofit?

We all want concrete criteria for what success looks like in our transformation efforts. To be effective as digital executives, our teams need to how progress will be measured. SMART goals are always measurable. Measuring progress will help a team stay on track, reach its target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs it on to continued effort required to reach the ultimate goal.

A measurable transformation goal will usually answer questions such as:

  1. How much transformation should we achieve?
  2. How many initiatives should we tackle?
  3. How will I know when it is accomplished?

Indicators should be quantifiable. Measurable goals are important for several reasons.

  1. Motivation is increased.
  2. Weaknesses will be uncovered.
  3. Problems will be reduced.
  4. Stronger teams will be created.
  5. Value for teams and individuals is demonstrated.

It is the leader’s responsibility to make sure that goals are specific and measurable. Anyone, however, can ask the right questions to gain clarification if they are not. If the requirements aren’t clear or constraints identified, it is our responsibility to make sure the goal is restated to make if very measurable.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Make sure the goal is very specific and can be measured.
  2. Once you think you have it measurable, rework it again to take it to the next level.
  3. Recognize that the measurable goal is probably a “lagging indicator” and begin to think about the 2 or 3 strategic levers that will produce the right outcome.

Measurable Goal

Donor Experience SMART goals are specific and unambiguous


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Donor Experience SMART goals are specific. Does your goal sound too general? It is probably not a SMART goal yet.  The aim is for something very clear and absolutely unambiguous. SMART goals are stripped of vagaries, platitudes and jargon. They must tell a team exactly what is expected, why is it important to your donors, who’s involved, where is it going to happen and what experiences are important to the donor.

A specific goal will usually answer the five “W” questions:

  1. What: What do I want to accomplish?
  2. Why: What are the specific reasons, purpose or benefits to the donor of accomplishing the goal?
  3. Who: What donors will be involved?
  4. Where: Where is the location? Digital? Physical? Both?
  5. Which: What are requirements and constraints?

It is important to be specific. For example, your goal may be to grow your business. That is pretty general. It would be more specific to say you want to acquire 3 new donors for your nonprofit. Or you might say you want to increase revenue from X to Y. A digital approach might to increase revenue from online donations from X to Y.

Being specific brings greater clarity in know what is to be accomplished. Clarity is the key. When you are building a digital nonprofit, as a leader, the more specific you can be about your goal, the better. It isn’t a goal to say we need to have a great presence on Facebook. What is the outcome you want on Facebook? Likes? Driving people to your content? Do you want donors to take some kind of action? What are the outcomes that your donors want? What does that experience look like?

In any kind of business, we can’t do everything. Resources are very limited and constrained. Getting specific with our goals creates great focus and great experiences for our donors.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Create goals that are very, very specific
  2. Think through the digital outcome that will amaze your donors
  3. Focus the outcome on your donors goals

Create SMART Donor Experience goals before developing strategy


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Goals are very important to the digital executive who is dedicated to improving the donor experience. SMART goals provide the direction on where to go and it is not just anywhere. It is to somewhere specific. It is measurable. It is fixed in time. If you want something that isn’t measurable, create a mission statement or think up your vision. Goals should be concrete.

Goals come before strategy. Strategy focuses on how to reach the goal. On their own, strategy absent a goal, is useless.

The best example of great goals is the SMART goal concept. SMART is an acronym, which over the years, has stood for different words. The most common now are:

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Attainable

R = Relevant

T = Time Bound

Creating donor experience SMART goals gives the digital executive a level of credibility that those who do not use this type of process never achieve. There is nothing fun about floundering around. Creating donor experience goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound has a huge payoff for everyone. It creates a sense that we know what is expected of us.

Most of us want to know where we are going and why are we going there. Donor experience SMART goals create that sense of direction that is so important for our daily work. SMART goals give us “the why” of our daily work. Without SMART goals, we will wander around aimlessly with no sense of purpose.

We all need to be involved in coming up with SMART goals for the donor experience. The digital executive focuses time and energy in managing the process. That is true leadership to give direction. Beyond the executive though, there are times any of us can lead if our direction isn’t clear. In those cases, this framework becomes pivotal.

Donor experience SMART goals can be created at any level of the organization. They may start at a corporate level or not. Even in the absence of clear corporate goals, we all can create them and use them as a way to gain commitment of the next level up or down. When the SMART goal is written down, it creates agreement or disagreement. Either of these is helpful. Always, visually, keeping at the top of what we do, helps create that type of commitment.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Write the goal down and make sure it is clear.
  2. Use the goal to gain agreement and commitment.
  3. In addition to being specific, make sure they measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound.

Europe has a million more developers than U.S.


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No, Silicon Valley isn’t moving to London, or Berlin or Stockholm.

However, a new report from Atomico claims that there are now 5.4 million developers in Europe, compared with 4.4 million in the U.S. Plus, it says Europe gained more than 500,000 developers in the last year alone.

“We’re leaving the U.S. behind,” Atomico partner Tom Wehmeier said at Slush on Thursday.

This might be taking things a bit far. The center of the universe remains in the birthplace of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. But it is a warning sign that others are taking the challenge of creating a tech-savvy workforce more seriously than the U.S.

Are Your Donor Experience Goals lead or lag indicators?


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Lagging indicators is a concept used a lot in the economic world. For the donor experience executive, it is important to know that most donor experience goals are lagging indicators as well. Lagging indicators confirm long-term trends, but they do not predict them.

In the economic world, some examples of lag indicators are unemployment, corporate profits and labor cost per unit of output. Interest rates are another good lagging economic indicator; rates change after severe market changes.

In a donor experience sense, increasing revenue, year over year or month over month, is a lagging indicator. In a digital nonprofit business, increasing the number of unique visitors to your website is a lagging indicator.

Goals that are lagging indicators are the result but certainly not a predictor of the result. Well written strategies are usually leading indicators. Lagging indicators always report the outcome but it is too late to do anything about it. Strategy (leading indicators) should predict the goal, i.e. the outcome.

Lagging indicators are metrics that measure end-state objectives or desired outcomes. They include all financial metrics. Nonprofit and public sector enterprises have additional nonfinancial lagging indicators that measure desired outcomes, such as students who graduate, incidence of crime and lives lost to terrorism. Leading indicators are a defined set of metrics that are predictive of financial or other desired outcomes. Source: Gartner

Donor experience goals (and SMART goals) should always proceed developing strategy. The clarity of the end result, even if it is a lag indicator, cannot be overstated. Strategy, absent a clear goal, is usually useless. Unfortunately, for leaders building a digital donor experience, it is easy to get distracted with a strategy, without know why (i.e. the real donor experience) is important. Having a clear goal clarifies why the strategy is important.

What are some example of lead indicators?

  • number of visits to major gift donor prospects made this month
  • number of major donors who attended our cultivation event and will be added to our prospect list
  • total number of potential grant funders researched

It is very important to involve and consult with as many people as you can in framing and understanding the donor experience goal. At the end of the day, however, it is leadership’s responsibility to make the final decision on what the goals are and to inform the relevant people the decision that has been made.

Goals can be set at all levels. Certain goals set at the department or location level should tie out to overall digital donor experience goals. Others may be specific to a department or location and may not tie out to the overall nonprofit goal. It is important to not focus on too many goals at one time.

Donor experience goals should be specific and using the SMART goal framework helps give the goal the focus that is much needed so that a goal doesn’t sound like a vague generality. Being inspirational but not effective is a real challenge. If the goal can’t become SMART it may be more like a vision or mission statement.

One of the best books on this topic is “The Four Disciplines of Execution” written by Chris McChesneySean Covey, and Jim Huling . More information is available on this site.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Most goals are lagging indicators.
  2. Use the SMART goal framework to make sure the goal is focused on clear outcomes.
  3. Gaining consensus is helpful but make a decision as a leader.


“Everything is both simpler than we can imagine, and more complicated that we can conceive.” ~Goethe


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Simplicity it the key. We live in a complex world but to be able to translate that complex simply is extremely valuable.

It is easy to get lost in the complexity. Some days it seems like we drown in it. Most every goal has multiple strategies, involves way too many people and has very complicated processes. Then we layer technology after technology on top of it.

What to do? At least back up and start with “why”!

“Everything is both simpler than we can imagine, and more complicated that we can conceive.” ~~Goethe

A Donor Experience Approach to Strategy, People, Process and Technology


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Having an approach or a framework for the work of the nonprofit digital executive is very important. Being passionate about our donors is great but a scattered approach will not get the kind of traction we need long term.

I am suggesting a framework that I have seen, over the years, that works for many of us. If this isn’t the approach that works for you and your donors, I do suggest finding one that does.

The approach is to organize and execute around the following:

  1. Goals, strategies and execution
  2. People
  3. Process
  4. Technology

It is natural to want to leap to one or another of these and focus there to the exclusion of some other important issues in improving the donor experience. Some people want to focus on the technology. But technology may be the wrong issue if the goals and strategies aren’t clear.

You might have a great donor strategy. Does the strategy require change? Have you addressed the change management issues that people are having with the strategy? If not, no strategy alone will overcome change management issues that people have with what you want to do.

There is a sequence to all of this. The best results come from starting with clear goals and strategies. People come next. Processes come after that. Technology, while very important, comes after we have planned for the preceding three focus areas for our donors.

I am advocating for a holistic and unified approach. Moving from the flavor of the day to the next creates a level of frustration that is hard for donors to overcome.  It is impossible to organize and execute around priorities if at least these four focus areas aren’t somehow in alignment. In our gut, we know that alignment is important. Alignment creates momentum that is impossible to stop or overcome.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Use a framework like strategy, people, process and technology.
  2. Create alignment through a holistic approach.
  3. Start with clear goals and strategies.

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The Customer Experience of AI: Five Principles to Foster Engagement, Innovation and Trust


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Artificial Intelligence is not going away and it will have a profound impact on the customer experience. Will they be the right experiences? We need to think that through carefully. Now is the time to begin that conversation.

Altimeter is reporting that “In the next five years, machine intelligence will become ubiquitous, and technology innovations, such as Internet of Things (IoT), chatbots, and augmented reality, will proliferate.

“This report explores the impact of AI on the customer experience, lays out a set of operating principles, and includes insight from technology users, developers, academics, designers, and other experts on how to design customer-centric experiences in the age of AI.

“More than anything, business leaders today should begin to treat AI as fundamental to the customer experience. This means thinking about the values it perpetuates as an essential and eventually indistinguishable expression of product, services and the brand experience.”

Key insights from the report include:

  • AI is changing the relationship between consumers and brands. Experiences are different when they are informed or delivered by systems using machine learning algorithms.
  • Norms that govern normal business interactions are being upended. This has created the need for guiding principles on how to deliver customer-centric AI that take into account: utility, empathy and respect, trust, fairness and safety and accountability.
  • Building a culture of customer-centric AI has unique challenges and opportunities. To address these, leading organizations need to look at culture and community, design, data and methodology, and governance as part of organizational readiness.
  • A checklist to help organizations think through issues related to AI and the customer experience. The checklist is based on interviews with experts in data science, engineering, customer experience, design and academics.

You can get the report here: http://www2.prophet.com/customer-experience-of-AI

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Tech industry on how to use AI responsibly


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Axios  has put together some great info on artificial intelligence. It’s use will continue to expand. Consideration of the ethics of it’s use is important.

“The Information Technology Industry Council — a D.C.-based group representing the likes of IBM, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple — is releasing a set of ethical principles today on how artificial intelligence systems should be developed.

“The tech industry is trying to get ahead of growing anxieties about the societal impact of AI technologies and this is an acknowledgement on companies’ part that their data-hungry products are causing sweeping changes in the way we work and live.

“Why it matters: The companies hope by pledging to handle their power responsibly they can stave off government regulation.

“Why now: ITI president Dean Garfield told Kim that the industry has learned painful lessons by staying on the sidelines of past debates about technology-driven societal shifts. “Sometimes our instinct is to just put our heads down and do our work, to develop, design and innovate,” he said. “But there’s a recognition that our ability to innovate is going to be affected by how society perceives it.”

The principles include:

  • Ensure the responsible design and deployment of AI systems, including taking “steps to avoid the reasonably predictable misuse of this technology by committing to ethics by design.”
  • Promote the responsible use of data and test for potentially harmful bias in the deployment of AI systems.
  • Commit to mitigating bias, inequity and other potential harms in automated decision-making systems.
  • Agree to develop a “reasonable accountability framework” to address concerns about liability issues created when autonomous decision-making replaces decisions made by humans.
“Other efforts: Last week, Intel laid out its own public policy principles for AI, including setting aside R&D funds for testing the technologies and creating new human employment opportunities as AI changes the way people work. The biggest tech companies (as well as smaller AI firms) started the Partnership on AI, a non-profit aimed at developing industry best practices.”

Source: Login – Axios

It is not about the data, it is about unifying the experience for the customer


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Customer Experience LifecycleThis is not all about data. At the end of the day, customers will expect a great (unified) experience across multiple channels. While it takes data to know the customer and systems to remember them, only great experiences lead to amazing service.

If I call you, I reasonable expect you have a history of my transactions regardless of channel and how long I have been your customer. I also probable expect for you to remember other issues and challenges I’ve had and how they were resolved. A breakdown in that at any point creates painful experiences.

This speaks to having worked through the customer journey, what is working and what isn’t, and improving the experience for the customer. This journey should identify data that is useful to know and insights that can create for you in delivering stunning service.

While journey maps are about much more than data, it is important to look at what data you have, what data you could use and what insight that could create in improving the whole experience.

Pay particular attention to data (structure and unstructured) that you already have from customers via your call center, web site, social media comments and email responses. There is a richness here that can inform the customer journey and the data that can used to improve it.

Improving the experience for the customer by providing front line staff better insights is foundational to the digital executive obsessed with the customer.  Journey maps without great data and insight could just be someone’s opinion.

Staff who are closest to the customer usually have a handle on what data and insight would be most useful to the journey mapping process. Be sure to engage them regularly.

Journey maps can be tedious and budgets may be constrained to bring in external resources to help. Consider an investment in training at least one of your staff who be the subject matter expert and facilitate the process, even if it just part time.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start with one segment or persona and develop a simple journey map.
  2. Begin by identify data that you have or gaps that exist in providing great insight.
  3. Encourage a focus on insight and improving the journey.
  4. See this as a holistic process integral to your ecosystem.
  5. Involve staff closest to the customer.