For success from Business Technology investments, firms must learn to look inward as well as outward

With the customer becoming more and more central to a business, addressing top line and bottom line pressures means balancing internal effectiveness and customer centricity

Jaisundar Venkat
Updated: Dec 21, 2015 08:51:40 AM UTC

A process professional with nearly 20 years’ experience in delivering business technology solutions to organizations, Jaisundar Venkat is Consulting Partner at Wipro Technologies where he leads Business Process Management (BPM) consulting. In this role, he helps global companies achieve benefits of BPM by empowering business through IT. Starting off with consultative selling of MRP II in India (yes, consultative selling of MRP II!) in the 90’s, Jaisundar has worn the dual hat of business and technology consulting in areas including ERP, SFA, CRM, Self Service, Online Payments, SCM and Corporate Performance Management. He has worked closely with large Indian firms formulating strategies for Sales Management, Field Service, Revenue and Corporate Performance Management. Jaisundar’s personal crusade for ‘applied technology’ – getting IT to deliver true value – led him to Process Management during the early 2000s and he has since been a self-confessed fanatic of BPM. He is recognized as a thought leader and industry influencer in business technology, specifically BPM. Jaisundar is active on twitter on topics related to BPM, Digital & Big Data and you can find him @bouncingthots He also writes for several online publications and at his own blog site, Bouncing Thoughts The views expressed in these blog posts do not reflect those of his employer.

The ingredients to success come from thoughtfully aligning expectations from outside – i.e. markets, customers, partners, with internal factors – product design, operational efficiency, cost of execution

Image: Shutterstock

With the digital revolution, almost all industries are in the grip of delivering a superior experience to customers. Delivering to outside-in considerations such as customer experience, engagement and expectations have become more important than ever.

While it is well known that the success of a digital or a business technology initiative is measured by the business value it delivers, it is important to keep in mind that the business value we talk about is not limited to aspects that directly impact customer engagement, but also covers internally-focussed factors that deliver value to our own businesses.

Looking Outward When we look outward, and look at outside-in drivers of our organisations, it becomes apparent that the very purpose of the enterprise is to provide products or services that buyers need. Delivering to that demand from customers forms the pivot to the outside-in approach. The idea of cost margins and profits become a subset of these drivers.

The outside-in approach has been a very powerful tool for several organisations taking up business technology initiatives to better engage and manage customers. It focuses on the need to be customer centric, to be able to add value to customers, and provide superior customer experience and delight.

The ingredients to success come from thoughtfully aligning expectations from outside—markets, customers, partners—with internal factors—product design, operational efficiency, cost of execution etc.

Looking Inward
The inside-out approach builds on the idea that internal skill, capabilities, resources, etc. define competitiveness and that managing these drivers effectively leads to higher efficiencies and better profits.

Some of these drivers could be cost reduction, efficiency improvements, risk reduction and so on.

These two views above are definitive aspects of business value that will position enterprises to be able to deliver to the external world and stay competitive.

A Balanced Approach
An ever intensifying competitive landscape and increasingly demanding customer expectations have made it important to take an approach that is dual in nature—one that is firmly rooted on outside-in drivers, yet is focussed in aligning inside-out considerations to achieve optimal success from transformation initiatives.

Therefore, whether you are taking on Business Process Management, CRM, digital programmes or other business technology initiatives, a balanced approach towards both internal and external drivers, significantly influences the success of business technology initiatives.

A Target Operating Model as the Glue
Ensuring alignment of outside-in and inside-out tends to be a challenge for many organisations. The most basic task for that alignment is to look at traditional internal processes in a completely new perspective and that tends to become a significant cultural challenge.

Traditionally inward-focussed organisations especially, have to shed years of siloed functional approach towards work to think about a process that cuts across multiple departments or functions.

Creating ‘Target Operating Models’ therefore becomes a crucial step in bringing about a shift in functional thinking as it helps to adapt to a more customer-centric organisation.

At the end of the day, there is no customer without the business and there is no business without the customer.

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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