How Does One Go About It?
A Case Study
From Scott Gerschwer, Ph.D., Compart NA Marketing
This is a masked case study
The subject has spoken at a conference on this topic and my illustrations are drawn directly from their powerpoint slides. But who it is is less important than how they went about it and what they learned in their search for answers.
The subject/author is a print/digital document service provider that works with many well-known brands on their roster - in fact, over 400 financial institutions, insurers, telcos and others rely on them for document distribution. They are a multi-national company with thousands of employees all over the world.
The company is led by a visionary leader. He sees that the way of life that has made him a wealthy man is now changing rapidly and that he must stay ahead of these changes if his company is to remain competitive. He looks at the auto industry - he's what you might call a "car guy" - as a road map for how technology is changing everything. In short, what he sees is a world that changes "slowly...gradually...and then suddenly and all at once."
The last human being to ever need a driver's license has already been born. By the time these babies are old enough to drive they won't ever sit in the driver's seat. The car itself will do the driving.
With regard to employment, the tech future will have dire consequences. In 36 of 50 states, the number one occupation is truck driver. By 2030 there will be no truck driver jobs. Trucks will drive themselves. What will the ex-drivers do for a living?
How does one not just keep up but get ahead of the game? How is everything changing--gradually now but soon to be rapidly and all at once?
Look at mass communication
Most mass communication media follow the same pattern: it begins as a toy for the wealthy, gains mass popularity as the price goes down, achieves great and wide-spread acceptance and then fragments into a thousand specialties...think of magazines and cable television as an example. There are magazines for baseball card collectors, sneaker enthusiasts, tattooing...there are cable channels for everything you can think of, from tow truck shows to naked dating (pixilated, of course).
In the customer communication industry, mass communication no longer gets it done. A simple mailing of hundreds of thousands of pieces - the old conveyor belt paradigm - is unlikely to get a response other than hundreds of confused calls to a customer service desk asking for clarification. That is an exercise in self-defeat, nothing more. And an expensive one.
The new paradigm for customer communication looks more like a neural network than a conveyor belt. It's a matrixed environment with connections criss-crossing and touching and bouncing and criss-crossing with feedback loops and an infinite number of touchpoints and channels and the whole thing would be a confusing mess if it wasn't for some form of monitoring and control.
That's the new challenge. Added to this confusion is the mass of information that lives outside of your control, outside of your environment. Some of these elements have much to offer you - if you can bring them, however temporarily, paying for just what you use - into your environment. And then let them go.
The organization did not make any decisions in a vacuum. They consulted with many experts: the list of organizations they spoke to reads like a who's who of info-tech advisory firms: Gartner and Forrester and KPMG and CapGemini and Deloitte and Bearing Point and IBM and Accenture...
...they looked at case studies from a dozen other companies. They looked at every piece of technology. They evaluated scores of offerings from numerous vendors...
...and in the end they compiled a list of 100 technical requirements.
They made predictions about the near-term, long-term and distant future of doing business and visualized the workforce (reduced by 40%), the level of automation and AI technology (about 60% more automated, with human minds making decisions about and human hands touching less than 20% of what occurs today)...
...they looked at the cloud, they looked into virtual reality, they looked into automating routine and repetitive administrative tasks with machine learning, they looked into how to analyze volumes of data that exceed the capabilities of human beings using AI...
...they looked at channels: mobile and interactive video...
....and they mapped out a workflow that would integrate their own business information flows with the assets that existed "off campus" but would be needed to create the value they aspired to bring to their clients.
They realized that you no longer need to carry a Swiss Army knife. All you needed was to tap into the blade or functionality you need for a specific task for a limited time and then return it to its owner, to be rented again when needed. Why keep a corkscrew when you only use a corkscrew 5% of the time? Why keep a Phillip's head screwdriver in your pocket when you don't need one?
Why own it when you can rent it and pay for only what you use?
And they realized that some of the assets were legacy and already in their building but so much that they needed was "out there" and all they needed was a way to tap into it and the means to manage it, measure it, and monitor it. A little planning was needed. The days of one part of the organization having an asset but another part of the organization not knowing it and going out and buying it - those days were over. An audit was conducted. An inventory was made.
Missing pieces were allocated in the cloud and rented. All they really needed was the means of coordination and measurement. What worked, how well, what could work better.
The new connectivity meant that they would connect the world they controlled - their in-house assets -- with the world they did not control (or want to control) but could use as long as it was useful.
And that is what they decided to buy. Management and measurement. Evaluation tools and analytics. They mapped out the value chain and they went to work.
The world is a work in progress. It is not complete because it defies completeness. All you can do is manage it. You cannot conquer chaos but you can make it behave.
We are all managers now.
2019 is the year of investments. 2020 is when the vision becomes reality.
You can see it from here.