Digital business transformation has been producing great results for many organizations, at the beginning with ERPs and global platform’s integrations, now through automation by creating outstanding productivity results and in the future with AI, machine learning and cognitive capabilities, the sky is the limit. While there are many cases in which technology has transformed customers’ experience not only positive but also highly innovative ways, it is by creating value for shareholders that technology made its most remarkable achievement for organizations. Today companies compete not only at the marketplace but also stock’s market and need to be successful at both fronts to ensure their sustainability. Although technology establishes the baseline not only for customer’s experience but also creating value for shareholders through productivity, it is through people and their use of technology that organizations can excel and differentiate from their competitors by creating memorable customer journey as well as making the most of available systems and automation solutions. However, organizations face an underlying risk of becoming “technology centric” by putting systems and automation solutions at the centre instead of their people. Moreover, this risk might have an impact not only on the ability of the organization to generate value for customers and employees, but also in the long-term will damage the capacity of the organization to create value for shareholders as well.
Powering people through technology and vice versa
First and foremost, companies must decide whether to be centred on technology or people not only within organizational designs but also in their operational models. Moreover, within a “technology centric” organization, technology comes first and then people, therefore no change management is deployed because people should cope with technological upgrades on their own, since value is believed to be produced by technology itself, people’s role is avoid to interfere with value generation and only to serve systems and automations requirements. Furthermore, this approach completely disempowers people and consequently will bring disengagement with a negative impact not only on people’s productivity but also on their innovation capacity. On the other hand, when organizations put people at the centre, technology becomes an enabler from which they can do the most through streamline processes and innovative new ways of working. What is more, inspired people not only will perform better, but also they also collaborate effectively by sharing knowledge, best practices and lessons learnt, it is not hard to imagine how much more value can be created by an engaged an enabled community of practice from standard systems and automation solutions.
Improving business results through empathetic customer experience management
Another aspect to consider, is the impact on customer’s experience that has an organization which is centred on technology. Moreover, an organization which decides to “push” technology on their people, will do the same with its customers by pushing products and services, becoming a “product centric” organizations. Whether for people or organizations “beliefs become thoughts, thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become habits, habits become values and values become destiny” as Gandhi stated. Therefore, values can’t be faked neither to customers nor to employees because they are closely related with “actions” and become organizational “habits” that can’t be disguised. On the other hand, a customer centric organization will ensure a human touch even when their core product or service were technology based. We know that customer journey encompasses much more than customer service and within customer experience management are benefits not only for customer but organization as well. For instance, an effective customer onboarding will reduce help support demands and customer service costs, as well as proactive consulting services can increase not only customer’s experience but also drive up and cross selling. Furthermore, a people centric organization is more capable of establishing an empathic relationship with their customers that will allow not only to identify unique selling propositions to increase new business sales but also key drivers for sustaining persistency and customer’s relations in the long-term.
Ensuring sustainable productivity framework and organizational agility
When an organization becomes technology centric usually is prioritizing value creation for shareholders at the cost of delivering the value for employees and customers. Therefore, a state of unsustainable productivity is created where objectives of maximizing value and revenue from FTEs become a priority over Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Employee Promoter Score (EPS). However, this scenario where value is created and delivered through highly productive but standard technology as well will lead the organization not only to lose their market differentiators in front of customers but also competitive advantages derived from its unique way of working. Therefore, companies following this path will become commodities’ organizations able to compete only by pricing which no matter how productive and scalable they have become through technology, will end up by eroding margins and profits. Furthermore, not only the organization will damage its ability to create value for shareholders but also its capacity to cope with change, since technology centric organizations tends to become rigid. In contrast, people centric organization will create a sustainable productivity framework by delivering value for shareholders, customers and employees not only looking forward to reaching out a balance but also by creating positive feedback loops within a virtuous cycle. Moreover, since people are essential to drive agility within organizations, a people centric organization will cope with change in a much more effective way than a rigid organization which relies only in technology. To conclude, I would like to share a quote by Mr. Fujio Cho, former chairman of Toyota: “First we build people, then we build cars”. I believe in these words is contained the essence of a people centric organization which has exported not only its organizational design called “Lean Enterprise” but also their operational model known as “Lean Management”.
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