Behavioural scientists may seem an unlikely source of insight for organisations planning a digital transformation.
But Mason Davies thinks organisations that successfully change to become digital businesses learn how to work with behavioural scientists, digital anthropologists, privacy and ethics specialists and traditional disciplines (such as experience designers and technologists), emerging as connected enterprises that can align many teams and capabilities to deliver.
Davies is a partner at big four management consulting firm KPMG with their Digital Delta practice that works with clients to re-imagine and re-invent their organisations to become world class digital enterprises using advanced technologies, data and human insights.
“Successful digital strategy considers how to put in place structures which integrate the technology, the data, the people, the processes, the skills, and the operating model,” Davies says. Such structures need connections throughout an enterprise, so that all the teams involved can work together to improve the business and deliver solutions which are fully successful, not just ‘digitally’.
“Organisations need design principles to connect their business functions, across front and middle and back office in order to serve a customer need, and match it with an effective employee experience and streamlined, automated operations, which extends into their partners and beyond.”
Davies thinks data is the key to make that happen.
“If you join up many available forms of data, not just internally but from 3rd parties and public sources, you can integrate disparate parts of the business together to really understand what's going on with customers and the broader market. You can understand the main drivers of success for that business unit, and also the state, performance and digitisation levels of the teams that support that unit.”
“That means linking everything from finance to supply chain to contact centre.”
One of Davies’ recent engagements, with an internet service provider, demonstrates the power of this approach.
Davies said the client was growing quickly, but also growing its workforce: the only way it had found to reliably scale was to add new staff to respond to customer growth. That approach had its limits, because as the company grew the pressures on its people and its networks changed.
The company instead started to look for opportunities to scale its customer service using data and automation and to understand in more detail, its current and desired future performance. Some of that came from network operations. Supply chain data indicating likely future customer growth was incorporated. Legacy system data was tapped. Even social media mentions were measured, to better understand customer sentiment and its impact on customer service.
The company moved to a model where this data is analysed and correlated from all these systems in real-time through AI, and notifications are made to the relevant functions to take action – whether this be the network operations group, the fraud department, contact centre and maintenance teams.
Among the outcomes of this effort was a significant drop in calls to contact centres, allowing the company to break the link between adding customers and adding staff. That benefit came in part thanks to integration with network operations teams allowed the company to issue pro-active and detailed notifications of network difficulties of outages, reducing the need for customers to contact support staff.
Those staff were also armed with better tools to assist customers whatever their query was.
“Customer service could consider any customer scenario and offer advice about incident triage time based on real-time, historic and predictive data. It was a loop from data ingest all the way through to analytics back out to the channel again.”
Additional benefits included a better ability to detect and anticipate fraud, and more accurately adjust bandwidth allocation that reduced the amount of network capacity the company needed to build.
Australian sports streaming company Kayo has connected systems to deliver similar outcomes. As iTnews revealed in November 2019, the company has linked its own video diagnostics apps, Salesforce, messaging tools and a customer-facing chatbot called “K-Bot” that has become a frontline customer service tool.
Connecting those systems has led to over 90 percent of customer inquiries being resolved with self-service, 20 percent of them after assistance from K-Bot.
The company now plans pro-active service.
“So instead of asking what the customer is having an issue with or what they need help with, with the data that we have access to, we’ll preempt what they have got in contact with us for,” Product manager and Salesforce platform lead Ron Pena told Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference.
At the University of Melbourne, connecting student management data, lecture timetables, asset management systems and data from footfall sensors delivered the outcome of more efficient use of real estate. Drawing data from those systems made it possible to understand that a 350-capacity lecture theatre was sometimes allocated classes attended by just 80 students.
A further benefit is expected to come from analysis of attendance data and online learning management systems, to understand how students choose to interact and why they may prefer to do so online rather than in a lecture theatre. Those insights may make it easier for the University to attract and retain students.
“We wanted to provide students with rich campus-based learning opportunities and it also highlights that we need to take advantage of the various technologies that are being deployed across our campus to provide greater learning outcomes for the students and also open up new research avenues,” the University’s solution architect Ganesh Krishnan told a Sydney Dell Boomi conference in early 2019.
Both the University of Melbourne and Kayo use cloud-based tools to achieve their integration, an approach KPMG’s Davies recommends because it allows analysis without investment in dedicated infrastructure.
Cloud, however, also highlights that such projects require new thinking and skills. Davies points out that cloud architects are a still a relatively new role, skilled practitioners are scarce and traditional IT departments may struggle to integrate them into teams.
Davies also advises that reaping the rewards of building a connected enterprise requires highly trained people who are always up-to-date on the latest cloud services.
“Interpretation of the data and understanding what to do with is part of the equation, performing the action but then learning from the result is critical,” he says, citing an example of a Government department that created dashboards that presented a variety of connected data sources, but didn’t train its intended users on how to interpret them.
“They didn't know what to do with it. If you just give data to someone, they need to be skilled to interpret the dashboard. Or in most cases, present the insight and recommend and action for them to approve or alter. Not everyone in a front-line should be skilled in data – but they can apply their experience to decide on a course of action”
Davies recommends that solutions and training focus on the most impactful actions.
“It sounds obvious but there's usually a small group of actions that are really going to make the material difference. Giving someone mountains of data or decisions to make won’t turn the dial on a business result. So I think that's the critical piece – knowing the actions that are going to have the most impact on a customer or business outcome, and making sure you build a connected enterprise that tells business what they need to do in that particular area.”
Davies says that KPMG applies five lenses that they believe organisations should look through when considering future success:
“Are you connecting your customers with compelling value propositions, opportunities and interactions?
Are you connecting and empowering your employees to deliver on the customer promise?
Are you connecting your front, middle and back offices to execute the customer growth agenda?
Are you connecting your ecosystem of business partners to jointly deliver on commitments to customers?
Are you connecting to market dynamics and digital signals?”