From Functional Excellence to Integral Collaboration

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Paper maps have been a staple in my luggage when I travel as I rely on them to get myself oriented in a new city. In my recent trip to France, I managed to rely fully on my smartphone. Prior to departure, I did some research to get myself oriented in Lyon, got an idea on where the Airbnb apartment was and the locations of a few monuments I wanted to see. When I arrived in Lyon, my smartphone was my best friend. The experience was gratifying. Behind that seamless digital experience, businesses spend tremendous effort to ensure that their customers are able to fulfil their needs.

Timeliness is a crucial customer satisfaction factor in the digital world. In order to deliver timely services, businesses need to move beyond functional excellence. Collaboration across functional groups is a core requirement.

The following examples illustrate how a lack of collaboration undermines the intent of digital transformation.

  • Clunky website navigation

Customers are quick to abandon a clunky website as there are so many options available to them.

My bank pushes email alerts to my online account. Recently, I read a notice about a new feature which I was thrilled about. Unfortunately, I simply could not find the new feature when I attempted to use it. The email alert provided the name of the tab which is buried somewhere.

The web developer might have done a great job in appending the new feature and building the linkages needed to pull the relevant data from my accounts. However, did he involve the user interface design engineer or the customer support group to test usability? Functional soundness does not imply usability.

  • Disjointed transaction processing

Processing transactions used to be considered as the responsibility of discrete functional groups. Each area does the work within its realm and then passes the transaction to the next functional area.

Consider onboarding a new employee. On her first day, she is presented with numerous forms to complete. These forms include tax deductions, benefits application, time sheet, and so on. In automating the onboarding process, the new employee receives a user ID to enter the needed information online. Instead of entering her name once, she has to repeat it on each screen designated for accounting, human resources, and time reporting.

Building the intelligence to streamline the data capture requires the accounting and human resources teams to identify the common data fields. Then, the programmer can create the data references to minimize duplication.

  • Fragmented customer support

Customer support in the digital world has become more complex as businesses introduce new channels and approaches to serve their customers.

When a restaurant uses the OpenTable software to manage reservations, it needs to create continuity in following up on unusual requests. A dinner reservation for a large group requires the restaurant to plan ahead. It involves more than reviewing the seating capacity of the restaurant. The preferred dining time could affect the earlier seating, servers assignment, and of course, the kitchen. If OpenTable is designed to return an email notifying a “pending” status, who is responsible for the follow up and determine whether the reservation could be accommodated?

A digital front-end customer interaction needs to be designed with input from everyone affected. Otherwise, the outcome could be disappointing.

There are ample examples that demonstrate how collaboration is integral to successful digital transformation. Without the collaboration, businesses would not be able to optimize the return on their digital transformation efforts.

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