Chapter 5: How You Embrace Technology

Be Digital-First, Lean, and Ethical by Design

Time to read: 6 minutes
Adapting to a digital-first world requires a 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.” No matter your industry, soon you’ll have to be a digital company wrapped around the organization, with your own versions of the tools and approaches that software companies use every day. This means you need an enterprise-wide digital operating model, which improves revenue, customer experience, and cost by combining digital technologies and operations capabilities.

Think of it as moving towards having the leanest possible tech stack.

Align IT and the Business Around a Holistic Digital Operating Model

Start by articulating the digital operating model that brings your digital customer strategy to life. This should be a joint effort with a strategic investment plan owned by both business and IT leaders, with agreement on the most critical required outcomes and how you plan to measure them.

Moving from siloed IT buyers to IT as a full business partner makes it possible to allocate fewer resources to keeping the lights on and more to innovating. 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. Then, you build capabilities well once, with the intention of infinite reuse. Teams can then leverage shared data, processes, apps, and APIs to create capabilities quickly.

Innovate on an Ongoing Basis

It’s time to move away from a mindset of projects with start and end dates or big-batch delivery. Instead, adopt a continuous innovation approach with continuous planning and delivery.

This way of working helps you adapt to market and customer needs faster by:

  • Embracing agile development and leveraging “DevOps” teams who deeply understand the business and low-code or no-code tools required to build the right capabilities.
  • Giving leaders the power to drive adoption, and ensuring they know how to drive change management.
  • Measuring progress on outcome achievement, not perfection. Don’t just focus on the end result; instead, measure success more frequently by focusing on key milestones.

Enlightened Embraces Technology

Enlightened used to just guess which flavors of ice cream would hit it big with wellness-minded consumers. Today the better-for-you treat and dessert company harnesses Salesforce technology to deliver can’t-miss products through a digital-first strategy.

Create a Single Enterprise Digital Governance Model

Next, define a governance model that supports the digital operating model. The core challenge with simplifying technology is that different departments can have wildly different levels of understanding and comfort with technology solutions. This results in teams working without a “single source of truth” for customer data, and working on projects across the business that don’t reuse apps or other development components.

Our most successful customers create 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 technical expertise to help business leaders understand how to maximize shared processes, APIs, and data, and how to 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 that 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 the customer has already taken online, just 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 continue to pile up if call notes require logging in to another app. As a result, no one gets a complete picture of what the customer is trying to achieve, so they can’t take action that could deepen the relationship.

Your CRM platform plays a critical role in a situation like this. 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
  • Enables a single source of truth when there’s an enterprise-wide solution

Adopting a platform mindset allows you to work differently. As much as possible, use industry best practices through out-of-the-box capabilities such as those available through AppExchange and low-code or no-code tools.

  • Create consistent company-wide standards for how you use Salesforce, such as setup and naming formats.
  • Solve for the organization’s needs rather than the exact solution teams might request, thinking about how information flows across the entire customer and employee experience.
  • Be deliberate about building an ever-expanding customer profile. Begin by mapping the journeys you want customers, employees, and partners to take.
  • Then, figure out how to find the data to help you achieve specific outcomes along those journeys and connect the islands of data living in different departments through reusable APIs.
  • Next, purposefully design your employees’ data input processes to be easy and friction-free. This increases people’s comfort level and the adoption of new solutions.
  • Lastly, 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 adjust to customer needs quickly.

Build Ethical Design, Development, and Use of Technology

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

  • Consequence Scanning: This practice, created by DotEveryone, 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 — learn how it works in this article.
  • Ethics by Design: In technology, there’s often a 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 and 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.

  • Have a strong “why,” guiding principles, and framework. Ensure you’re able to collect feedback from stakeholders and employees through multiple channels, such as office hours or an anonymous hotline.

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