Customer Experience – It’s the full journey that matters most

We all know that individual touchpoints with customers matter, but ultimately it’s the complete experience that companies fail to focus on – and what really makes the difference. The Harvard Business Review covers this in their white paper, “The Truth About Customer Experience” by Alex Rawson, Ewan Duncan and Conor Jones.

The benefits of improving customer journeys include enhanced customer and employee satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenues, lowered costs, and improved collaboration across the company.

We have found this to be true in working with our insurance clients – an effective omni-channel customer engagement solution streamlines interaction over time and across touchpoints because each customer scripts their own journey.

Read the full white paper

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The Return on Intelligence Free Library

Welcome to our blog-site:  Perhaps you’ve already read a post like Jim Anderson’s The Case for Feature Driven Development.  Or perhaps this post is the impetus for your first visit? Regardless, you should know that the site includes more than blog posts.  Introducing the Return on Intelligence Free Library – its open 24×7.

You are invited to visit and contribute content, comments and questions as often as you like. There are currently 200 links in the library.  It has doubled since it opened in July.  The materials are from a wide array of sources covering topics from Lean, Innovation and Disruption, through Security, Wearables and Smart Machines, to each element of I-SMAC. If you want to read something a bit off the beaten path, but interesting and useful nonetheless, read (and watch) Leadership Lessons from the Dancing Guy.

Free Library

If you have material that is relevant to technology, its transformative potential or impact, we’d like to have it. You can simply put a link or a set of links into a comment at the bottom of this post or any post.  Or, the most desirable method is to use the link at the top of the library shown below:

Free Library

Please make use of this and similar links to add to the shared resource.  The resource will be richer the more contributions we get from more people, each with their unique view into what may be useful.  Whether you contribute or not please use the Return on Intelligence Free Library.  Whether you start an investigation there, or end there on the off chance there’s something you missed, it will be available.

Doug Brockway
Partner, Management Consulting/Research Institute
Return on Intelligence, Inc.

PS – and do use the comments fields to let us know what you think.

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You Are HERE

Now what?..

The Internet of Everything has recently joined Big Data Analytics, Social and Mobile technologies and the Cloud as subjects that one can bring up in a general business or social situation and be reasonably sure people will know what it is or quickly understand it.  What is also becoming generally understood is that these elements are connected.  We call them I-SMAC.  They feed on each other and the combinations are creating new businesses and “disrupting” old ones.

That there is a new opportunity, or, if you’re of a different mind-set, a new threat, raises the question among business leaders, “where are we and what should we be doing?”  There’s a framework that dates back to the days before “Enterprise IT” was called Enterprise IT that can help.  First laid out in a Harvard Business Review article in the mid-70’s, the “Stages Theory” proposes four “growth processes” that managers can use to track the evolution of IT in support of business.

On the “Demand Side” are included the Using Community, their use, participation and understanding of technology, and the “Applications Portfolio”, now including both applications and services, that make up the functional, now including process and analytic capabilities that an organization (or market) does or could use.

Growth Processes

On the “Supply Side” are the Resources brought to bear:  technologies, personnel inside and, now, outside the organization, and other elements like facilities and supplies, along with Management Practices which range from strategy and governance through development and support to daily operation and break/fix.

On a cross-industry basis the Applications Portfolio for I-SMAC is still in an early stage.  In some companies and industries, like retail bookselling or personal photography, it has passed the early experimentation stage and a full ramp up in capability is underway.  In no case are these portfolios “mature” Stage IV portfolios. Over recent months we have seen a subtle but clear shift in the awareness of I-SMAC opportunities.  Still, the Using community tends to be either unaware or artificially enthusiastic or doubtful and combative.  This is consistent with the early stage nature of the portfolios.  Lots of promise but not yet enough history to show unquestioned benefit.

For the most parts the Resources being brought to bear are new and rapidly changing.  There is a very short half-life of the preferred vendor or technology for a given task, or there is not yet an implicit and emerging standard, in most cases.  The staff, in-house or in service providers, are skilled in what they are working on but, as the technologies around them are kaleidoscopically changing, are having to spend large amounts of time keeping up.  Management Practices are currently updates-with-Band-Aids of what went before.  The best way to build I-SMAC systems and to manage them at scale is not yet proven.

You Are HERE Stages

What should you do in your case?  First, set a baseline that reflects your industry or market overall and shows the position of your company.  However detailed and analytic you wish or need to make it, the baseline should cover the state of each of the Growth Processes.  You will typically find that they are at a similar stage, but not identical.  Spend more think time if one growth process is Stage III and one Stage I.  Such mis-matches are trouble.  Do a compare-and-contrast analysis between your status and an industry synopsis.  Make decisions about whether you are ahead or behind and what you should do about it.

Second, with a “light touch,” explore the I-SMAC efforts underway within your company today. This basic inventory, by the way, is a Stage II practice. You are building organizational awareness of how you are trying to take advantage of, or face down a threat from I-SMAC.  You need to know what these efforts are, but as they are almost certainly early-Stage efforts you need to avoid the urge to pull the plug because you can’t yet see the mature market value. Make sure you’re in the game. If you are not at least trying to make use of some combination of Internet of Everything generated Data via Mobile platforms, leveraging Social technology via the Cloud you are exposed to competitors and new entrants who will.

Douglas Brockway
July 15, 2013


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Experience and Best Practices – Keys To Software Implementability

Implementing software into a complex insurance carrier environment can be risky and fraught with impediments that increase cost and timelines. Return On Intelligence, having managed software implementations on a global basis, asked ourselves the question:  Are there any experiences or best practices that if employed can lower the risk of software implementation to ensure a rapid and cost effective implementation?

What we learned after looking at a wide sample of implementations suggests that a foundation for implementation success consists of experience in three categories:

  1. Insurance Knowledge. Broad and deep;
  2. Understanding the data. To be processed and its relationship to the business;
  3. Technical acumen.  Not just with the software product alone, but the conversion and interfaces required.

In addition to these three categories, we found that focusing on a number of best practices increases the chances of a successful core systems implementation project:

  1. Organizational Readiness. Assessing the readiness levels of all participating parties as they relate to planning and timeframes, as well as the required participation of the recipient department or departments;
  2. Governance. Managing overall governance of the software implementation and adherence to agreed priorities;
  3. Accelerators. The proper choice and use of any “implementation accelerators” such as data conversion or testing tools.

Our conclusion is that when undertaking a core systems transformation, the focus on experience and best practices should be required considerations, and may in fact contribute to avoiding protracted and costly software implementations that endanger the progress of the carrier’s strategy at the least, and its profitability at the most.

Jim Janavich



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Why Innovation Matters

In any competitive market innovation is a requirement. Whenever a product or service is introduced it must struggle to catch on with the market.  Once it does there is a near magical window of time when the company that offers the product has an open field without material competition. This is the Land of Opportunity:

Opportunity to Exposure on Life Cycle

But, success breeds imitation and soon there are multiple similar offerings and the competitive advantage transitions from the unique product to unique customer service to uniquely – commodity product or service.  Unless something is done company revenues from the product will decline even as unit sales increase.  This is the land of Exposure.

Someone is going to come up with something better; a newer product with broader applications and features.  It could be the original company, it could be a competitor, it could be a new entry from outside the industry.  What is certain is that the revenue growth from the current offering will peak and the long-term winners are companies that are working on and introducing the next innovation as the market is approaching the peak.  It is those companies that ride the next upsurge in revenues when competitors are fewer and margins are at their best.  Any company that can continuously take advantage of the next market before their current products are commoditized is a winner.  Just ask Apple.

At the same time, one can over innovate, reach too far.  A company with too little coordination and discipline regarding what ideas are being worked on, which are being placed into the market and how much of the company’s future is tied up in their success or failure is asking for trouble.  Just ask AIG.

Innovation matters because for most businesses in most industries it is the key to sustained success.  Without it management is steering a path to a long decline and eventual exit from the market.  Innovation matters because it can be directed.  Management can say how much of current revenue to retain for the next idea, what kinds of idea to foster, what kinds to look for in customer requests and the ideas and actions of competitors and tinkerers alike. Innovation matters because left unguided it can damage and even break entire companies.

Innovation matters.

Doug Brockway

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