• Sadasivan Arun

The Route to Eldorado



Eldorado means any place of great riches or opportunity. There was a city in South America with that name and was a much sought out land by treasure hunters during the 16th century. The journey of Digital Transformation or otherwise DT is quite similar to the path to Eldorado. There are no shortcuts and in fact no fixed maps that lead to the treasure itself. One has to carefully plan, trace the path already taken by him/her, understand the mistakes committed before and learn to avoid them or get better. At times, one might even have to pivot or retire from the path taken in order to re invent a new path altogether.


Digital transformation is a mindset.

It is the process of re-imagining and modelling the various business practices of a company to achieve the end vision. Moreover, DT is done keeping the customer as the center of focus. After all, what is a service if it cannot be experienced by the intended

I have had the chance to speak with a few of my friends from different product/service companies that has embarked on digital transformation. The pattern is the same and everybody has climbed the final state through a four stage process.


The Unconscious Incompetent

Everything has to start somewhere and we do the same. We have an idea and we think its going to bring in some value to the user. Hey, its an awesome idea isn’t it? Thats what my friends told me over a few drinks. Thats again what my family said too.

We think we have good enough validations to start with and we start. We plan up a product idea or service and we build something and deploy it. For a while its going good. We get cheered by our family and friends. They are our first customers as well. Things are going great for a while.

As months go-by, you notice that things are starting to get slower. The customers are not coming back again. The general cheer has come down. And to top it all, we are clueless. This is the first stage. The era of the Unconscious Incompetent.

We are un aware about whats happening. We are also incompetent as we don’t have a product that could be used by the client with their eyes shut. There are no strategies yet and the product vision is more or less aligned with the company mission which in most case is to get profit or break even early.


The Conscious Incompetent

As soon as things get topsy turvy, we become conscious about the situation. We are now aware that there is something wrong and yet, we don’t know how to get over it. The profit and loss margin gives us indication that we are running towards closure and out of panic we decide to give the work to someone.

We look for a vendor. We go through a lot of presentations and finally confide the work to someone who will talk a great deal about their company being “agile” in nature and brags about “sprint”, “JIRA” and “user stories”. The work is given, our hands are now clean and we feel safe and yet, until now, there is no mention about the “customer” who is going to use the product.

We are conscious yet we are not capable of driving towards the experience that the customer is expecting. The vision is more or less reactive in nature. The strategy is to wait for someone to complain so that we realise there is a gap and then fix it.


The Conscious Competent

By now, product might have lost precedence and the company would have decided to retire. The remaining few that are still standing would have realised that the problems at the moment are more or less because they didn’t think about the customer in the first place.

This is a crucial point because it is at this moment that the need to empathise with the end user is considered for the first time. A dedicated UX team is formed that does the discovery to understand the critical problems the end user is facing. The problems are aggregated and solutions are identified with the help of user interviews. A strategy is created to prioritise the problems and a plan is made. Small independant teams are deployed that would take care of the problems.

The solutions thus created are then tested with the customer and validated.

We now have silos of team capable of considering independent problem areas and work on it. The vision is getting aligned and strategies are focussed towards creating a proactive user experience. The product is shared with the customer and feedback is taken regularly

The Unconscious Competent

As time progress, the team shifts the focus from solving problems to understanding the experience of the customer and the product. The product and services evolve based on the insights derived from end users through feedback.

The siloed teams are now interacting with each other to bring in the ultimate experience for the user. The customer has a product that is now proactively sending him/her recommendations based on how the service was earlier used by user or by other similar users.


The product strategy is to derive insights from the data that is being fed to the system. The vision is towards improving the customer experience more than the problems and all this is happening by a very competent team and that too without even realising. The growth is automatic, the learning and skill enhancement has become a norm. The team has reached Digital Transformation.


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