23 May 2018

Great Companies Center Their Tech Strategy Around Customers

A January 2018 Forrester report discusses the increasing importance of being intensely customer focused when developing a tech strategy. This reflects what we’re seeing while working with various customers in Banking, Healthcare and Retail.

The report is well worth reading, and summarises key take-aways from interviewing almost 8,000 business executives on the customer alignment. It also raises the challenge of striking the right balance between the business, the developer, and tech management priorities. Often stakeholders have wildly divergent objectives, constraints and expectations, so it can be very difficult to take all of these into considerations, and take everyone to the same destination.

Technology and business leaders are more aligned than before

There is encouraging news though – that the goals of technology and business leaders are better aligned now that they have in the past. The researchers have found that CIOs, CTOs, and Infrastructure / Operations leads are no longer focusing solely on cost savings and operational efficiency, as they are embracing the objectives of increasing revenue, improving customer experience and building better products. They are also better able to take their business colleagues on the journey with them by communicating their value and their priorities.

An illustrative diagram shows how priorities are synching up, around the shared objectives of 1) increasing revenues, 2) improving customer experience, 3) improving products or services, 4) addressing rising customer expectations and 5) reducing costs.

Customer-led design thinking

Forrester offers some useful tips around incorporating customer-led design thinking to quickly build and test new initiatives. It is clear that this approach will be a challenge for most cross-functional teams, but that laying this groundwork will be essential. Re-thinking communications, project funding, updating strategy & portfolio, and incorporating frequent feedback loops are some of the key points here.

The pillars of this approach are defined as a focus on continuously understanding customers, insights-driven testing, speed and collaboration. The requirements on an organisation to deliver this approach are onerous and will undoubtedly require new skills business among technology teams.

Collaboration and communication is key

Ongoing collaboration and constant communication and synching up will be required. A good approach suggested in the report is to develop contextual KPIs that communicate value for each audience. Flux and change will have to be built in to the plan – as you can expect to update the strategic plan every 3 month.

To get the this new approach started, it is possible to add customer-led design objectives to existing plans, withouthaving to start from scratch. These will flesh out the existing strategy and help adjust funding and budgets.

One last quote to emphasise the importance of making the necessary shifts quickly –

“No-one will wait for you to set a customer-obsessed tech strategy…”

We’ll be taking on board the findings from this paper – get all the details and download it for yourself here.