Chapter 5: How You Embrace Technology

Digital-First, Lean, and Ethical by Design

Adapting to a digital-first world requires fundamental rethinking of the essence of the company.

Brian Moynihan, Bank of America’s CEO, said it best: “We’re a technology company wrapped around a great bank.” You could be a bank, telco, retailer, or healthcare company, but soon you’ll have to be a digital company wrapped around that organization, with your own versions of the tools and approaches that software companies use every day.

This means you need to move from having lots of departmental IT to having an enterprise digital operating model. Think of it as moving towards having the leanest possible tech stack.

Align IT and the Business Around the Holistic Digital Operating Model
Start by articulating the digital operating model that will bring to life your digital customer strategy. This should be a joint effort with a strategic investment plan owned by both business leaders and IT leaders. The investment plan should be prioritized after fully defining the new capabilities needed in both the business and IT, with agreement on the most critical outcomes needed how those will be measured.

For most businesses, this flip starts with a simplification program that reduces the number of apps, and moves as much as possible into the public cloud. You build capabilities once well, with the intention of infinite reuse. 

Teams can then leverage shared data, processes, apps, and APIs to create capabilities quickly. Development is agile, leveraging “devops” teams who deeply understand the business. Low-code and no-code tools empower business analysts to build the capabilities they need.

Create a Single Enterprise Digital Governance Model
The next step is to define a governance model that underpins the digital operating model. In many companies, the core challenge with simplifying their technology is that different departments have wildly different levels of understanding and comfort with technology solutions. This results in teams working in silos, without a “single source of truth” for customer data, and running multiple initiatives across the business that don’t reuse apps or or other development components.

Our most successful customers structure a governance model that includes a Digital Transformation Office to oversee program management and ensure alignment across multiple tech initiatives. This team focuses on three strategic objectives: 

  • Empower teams to create more seamless and frictionless customer experiences
  • Maintain the company’s overall technology architecture and create visualizations to assess the value of initiatives in the strategic investment plan
  • Provide technology expertise to help business leaders understand how to maximize shared processes, APIs, and data, and reuse them across the company
Build a Deliberate Path to a Single Source of Customer Truth
In a recent Salesforce-commissioned study of nearly 500 business leaders, Forrester Consulting found 80% agreed that a single source of customer truth would create “significant” or “indispensable” value for their company.

For many companies, not having a single view of customer data across touchpoints makes it impossible to deliver personalized experiences. 

Imagine a customer calls support to ask about a back-ordered item. The call center agent can’t see the actions that customer has already taken online,  only a static customer record. So the agent misses a chance to give the customer confidence in one of the alternate items sitting in their cart. And these missed opportunities just continue to pile up if call notes require logging in to another app. No one gets a full picture of what the customer is trying to achieve and can’t take action that could deepen the relationship.

Here, your CRM platform plays a critical role. That’s because it:

  • Consolidates the number of tools needed for your workforce to do their work
  • Empowers employees closest to customers to deliver the right experiences at the right time
  • Delivers insights and recommendations, not just data
  • Makes customer data easily shareable
  • Keeps you flexible and connected in an age of APIs, IoT, and the platform economy
Be deliberate about building an ever-deeper customer profile. Map the journeys you want customers, employees, and partners to take. Then figure out how to find the data that can help you achieve specific outcomes along those journeys. Connect the islands of data living in different departments through reusable APIs. Purposefully design the experiences employees have inputting data so they are easy and friction-free. This increases people’s comfort level and  adoption of new solutions. Last, determine data access by considering  similar roles across the company, rather than department by department.
Key Actions to Take
  •  Use technology to unite teams
  • Bring together business and IT leaders to act as one team focused on customer success. 
  • Unite silos by sharing information across teams, using collaboration tools and forming cross-functional processes.
  •  Create reusable APIs, data sets, and processes.
  • Accelerate development by building a shared library of common data sets and processes. 
  • Share the library across business teams and train people on how to use them. 
  • Use those best practices to accelerate delivery and improve flexible systems.
  •  Leverage APIs to deliver additional value. 
  • In addition to sharing across internal teams, make APIs available across your entire ecosystem to launch new solutions faster. 
  • Encourage nimble processes, people and technology strategies that allow you to quickly adjust to customer needs.
Ensuring the Ethical Design, Development, and Use of Technology

In making your process lean, it’s also critical to ensure your technology is used ethically. This helps prevent future development issues and ensure responsible and innovative use of your technology.

Just like transformation itself, technology ethics is not a checklist, it’s a mindset. These are complex, human issues, and the prize is a culture in which everyone owns thinking through the consequences of  technology. Two factors to consider are:

One practice that can help is Consequence Scanning, an agile methodology created by DotEveryone that engages employees in envisioning potential unintended outcomes of releasing a new feature and determining a plan to mitigate them. It’s lightweight for all teams — see how in this article.

In technology, there’s often demand for fast innovation. But the pressure to act quickly does not eliminate the need to be thoughtful. Designing with civil liberties and human rights in mind will lead to greater trust, engagement, and adoption with your customers. Consider making ethics by design part of how to conduct business, and integral to the day-to-day work of designing, developing, and implementing your technology.

Key Actions to Take
  •  Elevate diverse perspectives.
  • Let your employees, customers, and communities know you welcome and value their opinions.
  • Bring together a cross-functional group with varied experiences to make decisions, design, and review products.
  •  Actively listen and challenge assumptions.
  • Solicit diverse feedback, including from external partners, to identify the unintended consequences, biases, and gaps in your product or solution. Begin with active listening and asking hard questions.
  •  Empower employees.

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