This is part 3 of filling the gap in strategy. You can find a general introduction and a deeper dive into insights if you want to catch up. We believe that there tends to be a gap in strategy when a business strategy meets the operational elements. In other words, a beautiful strategy may point you in the right direction, but you typically need a plan on how you will implement the strategy. That plan cannot start with a roadmap, though. You have to understand where you are and how you are going to get there.
Today we are going to transition from insights to ideas. In other words, how to create your plan by making critical decisions from a business and technology standpoint. Think of it in terms of some friendly descriptors:
- Explore: explore options, define your customers’ experience, understand what you are trying to achieve
- Iterate: Dive deeper, engage both customers and a range of employees in your organization, map capabilities to what you are trying to achieve
- Decide: Make operations and technology decisions that align with your defined customer experience and plan.
Now that probably sounds a bit soft. You can’t make a plan on explore, iterate, and decide. You can use these as guiding principals. Specifically, you want to do the following:
- Experience: What experience do you want to create for your customers? What experience will employees need to make that experience?
- Operations: What capabilities do you need to create the experiences defined above?
- Technology: Which technologies will enable those capabilities and experiences?
I’ve referenced before that you can’t start with vision and goals. Now is the time to state your vision based on your overarching business strategy and the insights you gained from the previous strategy phase. So do it, define your vision. Make goals on how you can measure success. Once that’s done, then use a few tools that ensure you know where you are going. If you are creating a customer experience with both front end interfaces powered by back end systems, then define the journey for these customers.
At the same time, don’t forget about your employees. What do they need to create those experiences? Do they need sales tools? Relationship management tools? Hardware? Training? Define it and make all of that part of your plan.
Finally, you can experiment in this phase. Perhaps you need to prototype a few systems or tools just to ensure that your plans are possible.
You have to focus on operations to make all this work. While governance and process mapping sound boring, they drive success. We suggest three high-level activities:
- Digital Capabilities: Look at your experience and define the capabilities needed to deliver that experience. For example, if you are a retail shop and want to provide digital commerce to the store, what does that look like? What capabilities do you need to allow someone to order a customized product and arrive in the store? What do employees need to create an excellent experience for that customer when he walks in to pick up the product? Do you need additional tools in the store to do final customization? Create a capabilities map on this and the entire spectrum. At the same time, begin to prioritize what brings the most significant business value.
- Business Process Mapping: map out the process. How will you do the intake? What can be automated? Who needs to participate?
- Digital Operating Model: The model is the full set of operating elements. Bring it all together, so you know how you will address the needs.
As always, we expect technology to fulfill a large part of your plan. Whether it be grassroots systems like storage and automation, a new mobile app, or better and more scalable experience driven by AI, you need to map digital capabilities to technology. Start with what you have. What can you reuse or upgrade? With the gaps, define which products will get you moving fastest. Choose the new tools and create the standards for their use. Remember that business has a seat at the table too. If they can’t see the technology meeting the need, they will go buy their own tools. That can and will create inefficiencies.
What Perficient calls “Ideas” represents an intermediate step. Here you make decisions that drive experience, matures your business, and aligns technology. You haven’t reached your end state from a strategic perspective. You still need to define your specific outcomes, create your program, and represent a roadmap. But this phase gives you the building blocks that will allow you to make those final blocks.