Monday, July 15, 2013

EA as Customer Evangelist: How to Architect a Customer-Centric Organization


"There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer."  -Peter Drucker

The goal to architect a customer-centric organization is to bring value to customers in ways that are beneficial for them while also creating additional value for the company itself. However, customer experience comes from all touch points, yet organizations are structured by departments and it hinders company’s ability to create value. Most organizations are organized in silos. How would you ensure that all structures, processes and strategy align around an excellent customer experience to result in a profitable and evolving business? How would you model different value propositions to different customer segments yet developing and offering the product and services using the same or similar business capabilities? What approach do you take to architect a customer centric organization? What architecture artifacts and building blocks do you create to support such business transformation? Are there any EA frameworks and tools available to architect customer centric enterprise? What’re the perspectives for an outside-in, customer centric business?

  1. "Client Intimacy" (customer centric) is a combined cultural, business, and technology issue. All three aspects need to be addressed in order to achieve "client intimacy". To be truly customer centric, organizations need to re-focus their thinking, culture, behavior, processes, and systems. Companies that have definition of customer experience and decisions could use this definition in everyday decision making. However, organizations need to determine the optimal balance point between adding value to customers and adding value to the company. 
  1. Customer-focused enterprise vision, strategy and governance model should enforce alignment of the various silos towards customer-centric products and delivery mechanisms. This also provides the potential for enterprise effectiveness and efficiency. 
  1. Engaging customers directly and on an ongoing basis to see how their goals are changing might be a good way to predict future behavior. There is also lots of potential for customers to influence designs directly. Approaches to building business intelligence on customers tend to look at the past behavior of individuals to try to determine the segments that they belong to and forecast future behavior (building intelligence on tastes and wants). 
  1. Customer experience depends very much on employee’s behavior and knowledge/skills they possess. So, companies should develop training program to equip their employees to deliver the customer experience so that they could offer support and advice to their customers with the right information at the right time. Moreover, companies should develop partnership program between various organization units (marketing, HR, IT and Operations) to define and deliver the customer experience. Every department must have an individual or a stakeholder/group with a customer role.  
  1. Customer Satisfaction measure is dependent upon various factors and other measures. Organization should also architect Measures and dependency of measures on other measures like lead time, sales volume, product price, customer promise indicator etc. Increase in product price may lean to decrease in customer satisfaction. This means architecting all touchpoint of customers to offer total experience.  
  1. A "customer centric architecture" should be
    • Business requirements centric
    • Simplification around silos: People over time have created complexity by dividing functions and now need to get them back within the whole.
    • Ensure the "traceability" of the transformation of these business requirements to make them handled by the proper organization (of processes) and its related information systems; 
    • Guarantee the proper INTEGRATION of the result of the transformation in the existing EA
    • Guarantee the full CONSISTENCY of both the organization and its information system with the requirements and (by transitivity), the full consistency of the organization with the information system, such as it is actually implemented. 
  2. Different EA Models & Measures: 
1) Value Reference Models: Understand the customer's value perspectives because value is so situational and contextual. You can also develop value reference model from organizational perspective, such as the tools and methods used to define the value chain that supports the customer experience. Or it’s about an "outside - in" perspective that describes the customer's interactions with the business.

2) Business Capability Model is so important to create the WHOLE architecture of the enterprise. Capability Modeling offers a normalized view of business functions too. But then capability model is not the end, it has to be realized through the resources that are working together to perform an activity or function to add value to customer.

3) Performance Reference Models are 'how are we doing measured against something or other' models. They are something which is done as a means of measuring performance of operating models. Or you can create a Measures Reference Model to align the business strategy with architecture road map. Measures work like a glue in connecting strategy (Goals/Objectives) to the capabilities being developed in a given time frame. Metrics are time bound as well. Use metrics to assess capability maturity. It is the measures (value) reference model that tie multiple goals/objectives and strategic evolution with the capabilities needed to move to the future state.

There’re still many challenges facing EA and business today in driving transformation: How to transform from and inside-out operation driven to outside-in customer centric organization, how to transform an IT centric EA to customer and business centric EA? How would you manage the business transformation; what tools and artifacts (road-mapping etc) would you create to ensure that business is evolving towards the customer centric vision? How would you build the EA models differently to architect a customer centric organization? Or do you need to have a completely new approach and thinking for architecting a customer centric organization. 



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