In a recent Clarizen virtual summit called Embracing Uncertainty (which is available on-demand), guest speaker Brian Hopkins, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester, highlighted three core factors that will enable enterprises to emerge from the coronavirus crisis stronger and better: adaptability, resiliency, and customer engagement. Below is a deeper look at Brian’s timely advice:
Adaptive enterprises are constantly assessing and rethinking themselves, and becoming an organization that can shape, morph and shift. There are four expressions of adaptability that are especially vital:
- Building an ecosystem rooted in a closed-loop system of insight to determine what products and services to offer, and how to deliver them into the marketplace.
- Making investments in technologies that accelerate the ability to rapidly change solutions in light of unexpected internal and external shifts.
- Positioning people in the right roles and places, so that performance and productivity are enhanced rather than impeded by extensive automation..
- Focusing on employee experience by equipping people with the tools and the management they need to thrive and feel engaged in a highly automated workforce.
When these pillars are in place, adaptive enterprises build off of an agile delivery foundation that is responsive to acceleration in the business environment, and exploits uncertainty by creating results-driven change.
Resilient enterprises confidently and intelligently respond — rather than fearfully and rashly react — to the disruptive capabilities that new technologies have on changing business models, as well as the constantly changing needs of customers and employees. There are three integrated aspects that need to be optimized to make resiliency a competitive advantage:
- Using instrumentation to generate penetrating insights into what the enterprise is doing, what employees are doing, and what customers are doing — ultimately to understand and respond in real-time to unplanned changes.
- Using flexible technology stacks and leveraging ecosystem partnerships to accelerate processes, and quickly re-allocate them to different partners based on changing scenarios.
- Building fluid management structures that address key questions like: how good is our organization at responding to that uncertainty that cannot be predicted because of the systemic risks? How would our organization change and continue operating if people had to move from one place to another?
Central to these inquiries is the understanding that workforce shifts are not just technology issues, but that they also have significant management and reporting implications. The approach and mindset must be holistic, rather than modular.
Enterprises demonstrate customer engagement (which Brian Hopkins refers to as organizations with a “creative EQ” and “future fit”) by:
- Using closed loop data driven decision-making to test hypotheses about customers, and then applying these actionable insights to create winning models that attract and retain customers.
- Rapidly responding and developing capabilities through measures like agile development, rapid testing and learning, and continuous delivery.
- Linking to their ecosystem through connectivity technology on both the front end (channel, sales, marketing, digital experience apps used by customers, etc.) and the back end (current support for products and services and how support is being developed in the future).
- Enabling their creative “brand energy” — i.e. the emotional appeal and equity of their brand — to flow all the way down into customer service, so that the full brand voice is expressed in end-to-end customer experience delivery.
- Generating workforce data to acquire and retain the adaptive talent needed to navigate uncertainty and remain customer obsessed when disruption occurs, and plans need to be recalibrated or re-invented.
Ultimately, enterprises that establish engagement with customers in today’s uncertain climate are not merely customer-aware. Instead, they are customer-obsessed, and demonstrate this by building an ecosystem around a set of known customer values, and working with partners to deliver against those values.
The Bottom Line
The coronavirus crisis is far from over, and not even the most confident of business pundits and prognosticators are declaring precisely what the “new normal” will look like (at this time, the only consensus is that it will be a “new abnormal”). However, one thing is abundantly clear: uncertainty is no longer an occasional event on the business landscape, but an ongoing and defining characteristic.
Enterprises that wisely heed Brian Hopkins’ advice and become more adaptative, resilient and customer engaged will thrive and lead the way. Alternatively, enterprises that cling to old world paradigms and approaches that no longer apply will struggle to compete — and in the long run, may disappear.