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Why companies must excel at digital value delivery

We must design systems that enhance experiences seamlessly


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Mobile technologies and communications have changed the game for businesses of all kinds and all sizes. With the introduction and proliferation of smartphones, tablets, kiosks and other “in the moment” technologies, we have seen companies race to provide digital touch points to their customers, employees and business partners. Most are striving to find value in digital, but too often they look at value in specific, sometimes dated silos: increased efficiencies, more engagement or a measurable return.

But that was the last decade.

To lead the field in the next wave of consumer and employee expectations, companies must find a way to successfully blend the physical and digital to create one seamless, personalized, convenient 360-degree experience. For companies born long before digital technologies, this is a challenge that requires innovation and evolution on a scale many find uncomfortable.

What is a 360-degree experience? A great example is the current wave of activity and fitness monitors, and our vision of what they need to become. Current models do a great job at keeping track of certain things, but too many activities require additional, inconvenient steps to input data or communicate with the system.

Such inconveniences limit both the usefulness and enjoyment of the products and ultimately hinder the ability of the system to deliver an ongoing positive experience for the user. A 360-degree viewpoints starts with the desire of the user and fills in the experience. Instead of adding steps — like entering diet or other data — we need to imagine and design systems that enhance experiences silently and seamlessly.

Let’s use a potential golf scoring and analysis system as an example. An app that keeps score, allows user to input the selected club for every shot and then processes that data might help golfers improve their game. But if every player has to enter data after every shot, the app probably won’t get much use for very long.

Rather, imagine a system that can read data from sensors in the balls and club heads and automatically enter it into a smartphone with no user action required. Not only does that unburden users to enjoy their game in the moment, it extends the experience, allowing friends to compare shots and measure improvement long after the game is over — not to mention settling all the post-game, in-bar arguments over who had the longest drive off number 11!

To successfully develop and use such systems, companies must stay ahead of technologies that merge the physical and digital and remove friction from the lives of the people in an always-on, constant-demand environment. These technologies are changing, evolving, getting smarter and enabling more. To take advantage, businesses must be lean and agile and must structure themselves to meet the changing consumption habits and expectations of the people they want to connect with.

The largest hurdle to success is of the culture of many of the businesses themselves. Structured in a world where digital didn’t exist, many companies struggle to transform in order to deliver and evolve experiences – both digital and physical. Most organizations still struggle to realize value from their digital products. Delivering valuable digital products requires complex coordination and understanding across the entire organization. They struggle with achieving the right mindsets – not just in how they do things but, more importantly, in how they think.

We examined a number of organizations who are leading the way in digital value delivery and found they share a number of key cultural mindsets:

  • Value-Driven: The organizations are structured around the delivery of value to customers by empowering individuals across an organization to make business decisions.
  • Innovation: Successful organizations have a sustainable method of introducing innovation throughout the product lifecycle.
  • Experience: Companies must create and re-create user, customer and organizational experiences that engage and delight individuals from all touch points while maintaining a focused commitment to the organization’s mission, vision and values.
  • Lean-Agile: Lean thinking helps organizations develop the tools they need to scale Agile beyond individual development teams to the entire enterprise.
  • Culturally Responsive: It is critical to identify, leverage and respond to internal and external cultural influences to maximize value.
  • Data-Driven: Success comes from planning and evaluating business using appropriate tools to look at carefully curated data to tell stories with direct and actionable insights.
  • Continuous Delivery: Software becomes valuable once it is delivered, so the delivery process must be streamlined in order to release frequently and continuously.
  • Operational Excellence: Success comes from a focus not only on the creation of digital experiences but also on how those experiences are supported, maintained and scaled to meet the needs of its customers.

Through our research we have found the successful integration of these traits into a company culture leads to organizations who can provide true, sustained value for their customers, employees and partners versus those who continue to have low user acceptance for new digital features.

Brett Cortese is founder, president and CEO of Universal Mind, an independent, digital consulting and services firm focused on enhancing human experiences and solving problems through technology with offices in Denver and other major U.S. markets.

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