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Understanding the Importance of an Adaptive Organization

In today’s business environment, it’s vital to consider organizational and operational innovation as a key driver of success. Innovation means reinventing the marketing organization. It redefines our ways of working to be as adaptive as possible, embracing uncertainty, managing unpredictability, and being fully customer-obsessed, even in the face of constant disruption. Ultimately, adaptive organizations constantly optimize their ability to deliver value across all touchpoints in the total customer experience (CX), continuously reinventing that experience to match ever-accelerating changes in consumer attitudes and behaviors.

Building an adaptive organization begins with a focus on three key areas of strategy: 

  • Define the customer enterprise 

Delivering customer value seamlessly across a complete and connected set of experiences requires a business to harmonize what are often disparate functions through a customer lens. This connected ecosystem is the new customer enterprise.

The holistic approach requires an ecosystem of capabilities that harmonize seamlessly to derive full value from connected data transformation and digital transformation processes. Beyond simply removing silos, this requires close and clear collaboration across every function that plays any role in the meeting (hopefully exceeding) customer expectations – from marketing to sales to commerce to service.

Most touchpoints have the potential to become actionable “moments,” in real time – a buying moment, a sharing moment, a service moment, a feedback moment. Because of this, brands need coordinated and enterprise-wide processes that can adapt, evolve, and be (re)defined to match with ever-shifting customer journeys. This connected ecosystem is the new customer enterprise – the businesses as seen through the eyes of the customer and designed to work in the way most likely to deliver value at each step of their journey.

When building the customer enterprise, follow these steps:

  • Build a customer experience (CX) strategy that clearly describes the customer needs to be met. This is a set of principles that defines the way the brand thinks about its customers, rather than a journey-by-journey map of how the business will react.
  • Define the decisions that need to be made within the business (at varying degrees of cadence) to make this a reality, and identify where each person, team, or functional area fits within these decision-making points.
  • Define the customer measures used to track progress on those experiences, which in turn drive the desired outcomes both for the business and for the customer. For example, if a state-owned health care system doesn’t define “care” as a core experience objective (and thus has no measures in place to track it), healing patients might quickly become an unmeasured consequence rather than the primary outcome. 
  • Measure what matters 
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Continuous realignment of customer activities that deliver market-leading customer value and exceed customer needs requires a clear and precise understanding of the desired outcomes. You get what you measure – so measuring what really matters is crucial to customer success.

For the customer enterprise to harmonize and function as a connected ecosystem, measurement has a more pivotal strategic role to play than largely backward-looking channel- and activity-based reporting metrics focused on the “how.” Customer-obsessed brands view measurement as the key to unlocking the “what” and the “why” of CX transformation, and they use these benchmarks to accelerate their transformation toward a customer enterprise.

The ability to clearly link actions to those measures – and to make measurement a pivot point – can change the perspective of the enterprise from hindsight to foresight. It replaces hollow measures that don’t improve customer value delivery with measures that can drive true competitive advantage. 

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  • Building operational adaptiveness 

Adaptiveness requires new ways of working, such as continuous improvement toward greater speed, iteration, and optimization; sourcing strategies to enable more flexibility and scalability; the redistribution and ownership of key results; and empowerment through cultural independence to deliver more effective collaboration.

The fastest-growing companies today aren’t content to incrementally tweak their experience strategy, value proposition, or marketing practices. Instead, they’re building agility and mastering adaptiveness across fundamental areas of operation to configure (and constantly reconfigure) operations around the outcomes, not strictly capabilities.

Operating models designed around an entrenched set of marketing or CX capabilities aren’t suitable for environments that need toadapt to high variability. Rather than build operations around a defined customer journey, channel, or product life cycle, CMOs must focus on the vital core of their work – delivering to the real needs of customers. They must collaborate across the enterprise to anticipate shifting customer behaviors and recalibrate offerings, value propositions, and experiences accordingly. 

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Operational innovation toward adaptiveness (producing outputs that matter, quickly and collaboratively) is critical to the successful outcome of data and digital transformation.

Adaptive organizations constantly reconfigure themselves to drive continuous change. They orient operations around customer obsession – not the structures, systems, processes, and core capabilities required to deliver it. They leverage iterative leaps in technology to deliver value with greater speed, impact, andefficiency. They are better equipped to guide investments in digital touchpoints and moments that matter most to customers. In the end, adaptiveness enables customer-obsessed firms towin future markets in the face of today’s immense uncertainty.

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