Change your organizational priorities and operations to be more customer-centric
Today’s technology executives operate in a rapidly changing market than it was just three years ago. In this context of accelerated change, however, the differentiation provided by technology is shrinking. Many organizations have a stagnant customer experience (CX) that results from pervasive digital uniformity. For example, food delivery apps now all have similar interfaces and restaurants. The only things that create differentiation are fee structures and discounts.
In addition to the lack of technology-driven differentiation, we are not seeing productivity gains from technology investments, even though technology investments have increased every decade. Thus, it becomes exponentially more expensive to innovate effectively and efficiently. When you consider that all of these technology investments often come with increased cost and complexity, today’s technology leaders need to know how to manage and move their organization and business forward.
SEE: Recruitment Kit: Customer Experience Agent (TechRepublic Premium)
Future adaptive technology organizations thrive in the face of these market dynamics
Fortunately, all is not catastrophic. There are technology leaders around the world who are successfully navigating these choppy waters. What is the secret of their success? It’s because they’re ready for the future, that they’re shifting their technology organization away from digital sameness and efficiency and instead focusing on delivering results for customers. Technology leaders who rethink the purpose of their organization, from enabling operations to creating customer value through adaptive, creative and resilient capabilities, will do better in a post-pandemic business climate.
Based on our research, we see technology leaders becoming agents of change for their organizations when they specifically engage in the following initiatives that lead to better customer outcomes.
Place the customer at the center of the organization. Technology leaders who are rethinking the purpose of the organization in creating value for the customer have a whole new way of framing decisions. Deliverables are no longer project-centric and results-based but provide specific, measurable results for clients. Roadmaps should demonstrate how technology investment aligns with strategic goals.
Always plan and be ready to adapt. The old days of having to agree on a budget and an annual plan are over. They don’t make sense in an adaptive organization where you want to respond quickly to emerging customer demand and effectively manage innovation risk. Technology leaders who embrace agile strategic portfolio planning with faster review cycles and iterative delivery can ensure customer-centric results are delivered and can redirect resources where necessary.
Make sure a customer-obsessed culture is key to success. Cultural change comes from above, but you cannot dictate a new culture; instead, you need to evolve it. Leaders change their culture to align it with the values they share with their customers, a self-reinforcing cycle of continuously making the customer centered in your organization. Embedding a customer-obsessed culture means communicating how customer obsession shapes your organization’s decisions and actions. For example, demonstrating how a technology manager changed his mind about a course of action in light of new information about customer needs shows how leaders don’t just talk, they walk.
In order to successfully achieve these results for clients, these technology leaders use the principles of future fitness, including:
Apply information to differentiate between products and CX. Top technology leaders will leverage insights to drive action. Technical executives are well positioned to work with decision makers to identify needed insights and expose the value of internal data, as well as to drive data-driven practices across the technology organization. According to Forrester, advanced insights-driven companies are 1.4 times more likely than newbies to say increased business innovation is a top benefit of using data and analytics and 1.7 times more likely to say improving their ability to innovate is their most critical priority.
Sustain innovation to create value. Technology leaders can and should inspire business leaders to embark on shared transformational journeys through their passion for technology and enterprise-wide knowledge. It’s the way to unlock the value of technology and data to improve the customer experience. They do this through sustained innovation practices, including a collaborative culture where all employees participate in innovation with a license to experiment.
Experiment and create value with emerging technologies. While many businesses follow the adage that technology follows business, for true forward-thinkers it’s the other way around: technology can drive business. While many organizations seek to insert technology into their organization, where they can adapt it to a known capability or risk, technology change agents seek future and emerging customer needs when innovating, adopting a external approach to reflect on the disruptive potential of a new technology to influence customer research. They apply this expansive research process with rigorous, hypothesis-driven experimentation that raises new questions and pushes innovation toward creating customer value.
Leverage platforms for speed and innovation. Leaders use platforms to function as the centers of their technology stacks, simplifying management, reducing proliferation, and extending innovative services to users in the process. For example, Ping An Insurance established Ping An Technology as a high-tech hub and technology business incubator to design, develop and operate its technology platforms and services. These platforms have shortened time-to-market lifecycles by 35% and use intelligent automation through customer service bots that answer 860 million calls, while improving Net Promoter Score℠ (NPS) by the company by 16.5%.
Where does the change agent technology leader begin?
Change agent technology leaders must act quickly and drive innovation to succeed in this rapidly changing future. It will be essential for technology leaders to prepare their organization for change. Build organizational capacity to absorb change by examining your culture. Celebrate innovation and experimentation, and continually invest in learning and development that empowers your people to actively embrace an innovative culture and create value.
Learn more about how technology executives can accelerate growth and differentiation here.
Fiona Mark is a Principal Analyst whose research focuses on preparing CTOs to be successful in leading technology innovation, building partnerships across the organization, and delivering the best products; how diversity, inclusion and equity are relevant for technology leaders; and how technology leaders can derive more value from partnerships. Fiona has over 15 years of technology experience in various industries and consulting and is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh in the UK.