I introduced filling the gap in strategy in my last blog post and want to dive in deeper on one element. Many times, people want to start with Vision or a similar exercise. The idea being that if there is a gap in your strategy then the obvious next step is to discuss your vision for it and what you are going to do. It’s an obvious step but it shouldn’t be the next step. Too often, we make decisions in a vacuum. People make decisions without enough data. I want to focus on the preferred next step which is insights. At Perficient we think of insights in three ways:
- Market: what’s happening in the marketplace?
- Business: What are the pain points with your business?
- Systems: What technology do you have today? Is it up to date? Does it work well? Is it capable of scaling? Is it agile enough to meet your needs?
You can use a variety of tools and research to get this insight. We don’t suggest you do everything but we do suggest you take the time to focus on where you are today. You want concrete reliable information that tells you if you are winning or losing and for what reasons. You can’t react to your competitors if you don’t know what they are doing and if it’s impacting you. Here’s a couple ideas on what you might do.
- Purchase research from your industry group, Forrester, Gartner, etc.
- Interview your customers who are leaving for a competitors
- Contract someone like Perficient to do a market analysis and who likely has a clients in your industry
- Do research on your own on what’s happening. Industry web sites, magazines, and even simple Google search can yield a significant amount of information
What is your business doing right? How happy are your customers? Focus on the specific area. If you are talking Customer Experience then focus on that. If you are talking about other areas or are specifically focused on a portal for example then ask relevant questions to that area. You want to understand what’s working and what’s not so you know where to focus. As always, you must focus on what’s important to the customer. There are a lot of activities you might include in this area:
- Internal surveys to gauge how needs are being met in a range of areas
- External surveys to gauge how your customers feel
- User research around the current customer experience, pain points, etc.
- Analytics to determine trends. You can even dive into predictive analytics. One customer used predictive analytics to understand when a customer is about to leave. That drove additional insights into what the business needs to change
If strategy drives you to what your next steps should be, technology tends to be an enabler of those steps. The bad news is that it tends to be expensive and no one wants to bolt on 3 different systems to meet a need unless new technology is critical to the need. You want to assess the current state and ask key questions related to your specific area.
- What are the technologies that are used in this area?
- Focus on front and back end systems. Don’t just think about the lipstick experience component.
- What will be sunset as an old technology?
- What gaps exist in your technology tools
Take the time to take a step back and understand where you are from a variety of viewpoints. Then you can move forward to decision making. It will make the overall strategy process easy and will make it more collaborative as everyone aligns to to true vs perceived inputs.