Published on January 11, 2021
Chasing Rainbows – Looking for Experience Economy Nirvana
When you are pioneering out in the new frontier you are constantly looking for the elusive leprechaun’s pot of gold. Personally, this is all part of the challenge and the fun of being an entrepreneur. As Einstein said “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing”.
You are searching for something new, constantly asking why? and pushing the boundaries of the art of the possible, often to the soundtrack of the word “no” with many dismissing you for just chasing rainbows.
The pot of gold we are seeking is the digital equivalent of the employee experience nirvana (and I am not talking the band here, but what a great band!). It is fundamentally rethinking how we engage and interact with technology at work to deliver the core business, a paradigm-shift to where we are today.
Being brave and thinking big is all part of the journey, so read on…
Cloud SaaS ERP systems supports our work but does not reflect the way an Organisation delivers its core business
The first generation of Cloud SaaS applications saw the creation of specific functional modules for human resources, payroll, finance, procurement and supply chain. Many were stand alone, but a few like Oracle Cloud delivered a fully integrated solution on a single data model with a modern look and feel for user experience. But even for an industry which, I conservatively calculate, has invested around $150-200 billion in research and development activities over the past 10 years, the journey is never over and SaaS innovation drives constant evolution as the world continues to change around us.
So did we lead everyone down the garden path regarding Cloud SaaS applications over the past ten years? Absolutely not. The benefits of moving to the Cloud for the back office and adopting standardised business processes are well documented.
We continuously promote the many benefits of Cloud SaaS ERP systems, and it is a personal frustration fo me when I see organisations still delaying in migrating to the Cloud. Opportunity missed? Absolutely, as they are denying themselves to a wealth of innovation. For some, the stubborn refusal not to invest in either their front or back office technology platforms has in my mind been a contributing factor for them having to close their doors forever due to the pandemic and the accelerated shift to digital as they could not modify their business operations fast enough.
Looking back to the beginning of SaaS applications a completely logical place to start was always to re-engineer and redesign the underlying business functions for HCM, Payroll, Finance, Procurement and Supply Chain that are all required to support core business operations.
The correct way to implement Cloud SaaS is for an organisation to adopt, not adapt the SaaS standardised business processes, but with the exception of the professional user whose job requires them to spend most of their time inside one of these modules the majority of employees have little interaction with such systems on a regular basis.
The irony being that a significant part of any SaaS implementation project’s budget is allocated and spent on business transformation activities where we target this same audience. Once the project has finished this becomes a sunk cost as we often see that the change hasn’t stuck and then we ask why?
A new direction? No, it’s just evolution…
Today it is still rare to find an organisation’s front office systems that interact with customers directly or the systems that are used by employees internally to enable core business delivery to the end customer are connected to the back office ERP systems.
The vast majority of front office transactions will initiate a back office ERP transaction. Consequently through the lack of digital integration it exposes a number of inefficiencies in an organisation’s business operation.
Even with current modern Cloud SaaS applications, the work an individual undertakes is still disjointed across a number of distinct front and back office systems. Ironically, this has been compounded further by those who have already moved to SaaS for their back office and subsequently compounded even further if an organisation has decided to use multiple different functional systems from different suppliers for their ERP platform.
The human drives the machine, and this creates inefficiencies in the workplace as individuals spend considerable amounts of time undertaking non-productive work in driving processes rather than focusing upon those value-add strategic tasks that require human thinking and business relationships.
The systems we use do not reflect the way an organisation executes its core business and also do not reflect critical “human” elements that contribute to an organisations culture.
Finding Nirvana – The Algorithm of Business & the Human Pulse of the Organisation
So what are we looking for? Fundamentally, we all want to be successful at work, regardless of whether we work in the private, public or the 3rd sector. To do that, we have to be constantly connected with what is going on around us both inside and outside the organisation as this influences and impacts the way we execute and deliver our core business.
Consequently, it is necessary that we have relevant accurate information immediately in order to take action in a timely fashion. Being able to execute a service on the go that has an interactive experience completed anywhere between 30 and 60 seconds before we have moved on is imperative.
Why? because we have developed, thanks to the internet, an insatiable human behaviour for immediacy, before we are distracted and our attention has moved on. Our time is our most valuable asset and to be effective we want to maximise it. People compete for our time and our attention.
You have to look no further than basic business strategy and algorithm of business of “Better, Cheaper, Faster” that is underpinning the evolution of SaaS.
Imagine a scenario where you as an individual didn’t have to change; a place where the technology you access adapts to you as an individual and reflects your behaviours. True individual personalisation not just based upon one’s persona or role within an organisation but something that is dynamically tailored to you individually relevant at a point in time enabling you to operate at peak performance subconsciously in regard to effectiveness and efficiency at work.
Technology should be an extension of oneself. I am already at the point in my thinking where there is a digital chatbot of me, reflecting my personality – now that would be interesting. Think Tron! (for those that don’t know who Tron was, find the time to sit down and watch the wonderful Disney movies Tron (1982) and more recently and applicably Tron Legacy (2010)).
A step to far? Not really, the concept of a digital avatar of oneself as a robot running around an organisation’s digital systems on one’s behalf is quite feasible and not that far away.
Technology driven experiences are a multi-dimensional entity that changes constantly over time and any digital nirvana will have the following characteristics:
There is a strong phycological human behavioural and cognitive element to finding the employee experience nirvana. It is this that needs to be understood on an individual basis as part of the design.
Technology that contributes to an Organisations Culture
Great technology should contribute positively to an organisation. It should be something that customers and employees can embrace, the interaction creating a positive experience with the organisation.
Enterprise Service Management (ESM) – the starting point but not the final destination
The platform vendors are now looking and already beginning to provide enhanced customer and employee experiences across the enterprise, breaking down the silo functionality of back office systems and bringing the work to the user by using technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, adaptive analytics and leveraging interoperability.
Labelled as Enterprise Service Management (ESM) this is really only the beginning of the journey, as the workplace Cloud based technology agenda is now set for the next decade. ESM in my opinion is just the first stepping-stone on the journey and not the final destination.
ESM Cloud solutions like ServiceNow and Salesforce are leading the technology charge into the new frontier connecting customers and employees creating connected experiences.
You only have to look at the R&D investment highlighted on earning calls and in the wider media as well as the acquisitions being made to accelerate platform functionality to acknowledge that the direction of travel has already been set.
The experience economy nirvana is achieved by creating value by delivering personalised experiences over standardised business processes across an enterprise. To do that Enterprise Service Management Cloud solutions provide the platform to facilitate the necessary integration into the leading ERP Cloud platforms.
The technical architecture equation is simple… Experience Economy Nirvana = ESM + ERP
It’s all about Leverage – Recognise, React and Realise
As evidenced Cloud SaaS applications are evolving and we are clearly moving out of functional silo’s and across the enterprise by the addition of an experience layer within an organisations technical architecture. The direction of travel has already been set however the gap now exists in regard to delivery and implementation capability to make these solutions work. Customers who are becoming the early adopters are going to find that delivery of such experiences are not going to come pre-packaged and just jump out of the box, rather they are toolsets that need to be assembled and installed across the enterprise. In time this will change as the platform vendors and the Independent Software Vendor (ISV) community create industry wide experiences. However, once an organisation has invested in this hybrid Cloud infrastructure connecting front office to back, they will be on the road to the experience economy nirvana. The trick being to become an intelligent customer and leverage the platform vendors and ISV R&D investment and not build everything yourself.
As this journey continues there will be numerous twists and turns in the road ahead with many new chapters still to be written…in many ways we have only just begun.