Client Stories

Now at warp speed: Digitization

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One of the recent publications from the IBM Institute for Business Value (Digital Reinvention – cited by Christian Bieck) used the title “Now at Warp Speed: Digitization as a header for one of its sections. I liked it… and… I ”borrowed” it… If you haven’t read the white paper, you should. In any case, I find a connection to that study in this writing.

I was working with a client on their transformational vision to move from a product centric operation to a customer centric operation. It’s a necessary objective (survival level) and it is being led by the new CEO (a good sign). It will not be an easy effort but I have faith that they are on their way by paying attention to lessons learned from those who have tried before them.

As part of the work with the client we covered points of view on the trends and insights on customer closeness and what is required to become customer centric. The good news is that customer centric is the right direction. The not-so-good news is that there may already be a paradigm shift and the customer centric business model may soon be replaced (read the white paper). One thing is certain, warp speed.

Like many in the industry I am old enough to have the perspective of what personal technology was like before our current digital tsunami.  I recall that a couple decades ago, if you wanted to experience the most powerful and recent developments in technology, those were found in the work place. Technology at home trailed. Simply, because of cost, personal technology was not as available to many of us – at ;least like we see today.

Warp speed. The times have changed. In today’s environment people now hold more computing power and digital capability in their hands than they may find available in the work place. Their personal digital world enables them to be more connected and empowered then they have ever been before.

The mobility and miniaturization of technology have transformed customer expectations and given the individual a new power. They now have input on what they experience. How? They can now register their opinion at ‘warp speed’ — point a ‘thumbs-down’ on any experiences that do not meet their needs/interest with a “click of the mouse” vote. In retail it may be known as voting with your shoes, in digital is is voting with the mouse.

The new digital capabilities have given rise to increased expectations about information access, connectivity, and transparency. The consumer of today has learned that they can connect on their terms; when (24/7), where (access level of their choice), how (device of their choice), and for how long (control of the connection).

In the new economy of everyone-to-everyone we find a whole new set of environmental factors pressing industries to innovate on the customers level – deliver how they want to see it.  This is a cross industry experience where electronic valet services are beginning to anticipate a consumer’s needs.

In a revealing development, one insurance carrier has recently pushed out a logical example of digital technology already available. Esurance© (an Allstate Company) has introduced video chat – for claims adjusting. By itself, this is pretty good – not overwhelming, but pretty good. But I register this as a notable milestone. Esurance© is taking what is understood as a moment of truth situation (a property loss by a customer) and is providing an actual face to the situation (albeit – virtual). Their push into this capability is providing the virtual experience of standing next to the customer and a sense that they are “there” for them, when they need it most. And, while it is too early to understand how popular this particular feature might be, it is one of the growing number of  approaches to customize the  experience.

Over the past three years we have seen organizations shift from applying technology as a way to reduce operating expenses, to using technology as the transformational agent to their business models. There is renewed focus on the customer relationship and that emphasis is seeking to offer innovative capabilities to enrich the customer experiences.

I believe we are seeing the employment of newly available and emerging technological capabilities to create enhanced customer experiences. Moreover, the pursuit of world-class customer experiences is being built with seamless integration is seamless, transparency, flexibility, and responsiveness. The delivery goal has become a table stakes requirement – create the compelling customer experience. All of this is being driven by digitization,… now at warp speed.

Senior Managing Consultant - Insurance: S&T

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