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What personal technology can teach enterprise technology

By:  Bob Picone, Business Transformation Consultant, Hewlett Packard Company

 

Consumer retail store.jpgThe need for change management leadership

As a business transformation consultant at HP Enterprise Services, I spend a lot of time helping Fortune 500 customers streamline their operations and improve their business goals by way of new IT infrastructure. Over time, I’ve noticed a few trends when it comes to struggling or underperforming engagements; the biggest being a lack of solid change management leadership.

 

And I’m not alone. A McKinsey & Co study (Change Management That Pays, McKinsey Quarterly, 2002) shows organizations that have little maturity in change management have the lowest project ROI (on average 35%). Inversely, organizations with greater maturity in change management attain the highest ROI (on average 143%) and achieve the largest proportion of the project's initially set objectives. With numbers like these, you’d think change management would be at the forefront of every executive’s mind when investing in any initiative that risks change to the business. Yet, change management plans are often pushed so far downstream on a project plan, they are rendered useless.

 

Holistic understanding of customer’s needs

So where’s the disconnect? Maybe we need to review the way our counterparts in personal technology address change management. They do it through a holistic understanding of the customer’s needs. I believe enterprise technology needs to reframe the change management argument under the same light. However, there are challenges to this concept. To adequately compare the two industries requires an understanding of their differences as well as what it might take to bridge the gap.

 

For starters, personal technologies are sold to individuals who arguably come to the table with a more aligned understanding for why they need a technology. Enterprise technology clients come to the table with a diverse set of stakeholders who have different agendas and incentives for why they need a technology. For example, the decision maker stakeholder is predominately interested in solutions that standardize operations to increase efficiencies across global networks. However, end user and end customer stakeholders are far more interested in customized solutions that enable individual operations to be as responsive to local needs as possible. These diverging agendas are real issues and if the enterprise service firm doesn’t address them holistically, the individual groups within the client will fight the change and the solution will never be sustained.

 

Creating a unified customer experience

Now, if we dissect the customer within the personal technology industry, we will see a few new ways to think about this same struggle.  Personal technology customers have a more unified set of internal stakeholders. However, that doesn’t necessarily make them any less complex. If you’ve ever purchased a smart phone, printer or laptop, you know what I’m talking about. These customers want to touch the products before they buy them. They want to compare them; learn how to use them; and most importantly, they want to understand how these technologies impact their daily lives so they can determine what changes they personally need to make or obstacles they personally need to overcome to fully embrace their new smart phone, printer or laptop. Additionally, if the customer ever runs into trouble, they know where they can go to receive personalized support to help get them back on track. This is one of the many reasons why the personal technology industry invests so heavily in retail outlets. In short, the personal technology industry understands its customer’s internal struggles and they’ve developed an extremely holistic, unified customer experience that satisfies these concerns at every phase of the customer lifecycle.

 

There is an important lesson for the enterprise technology industry in all of this. At the end of the day, are we really that different from our personal technology counterparts? Aren’t we all just technology companies providing solutions to customers (personal, enterprise, or otherwise) in hopes we can help them improve their situations and achieve their goals? If so, shouldn’t our solutions be relatively similar?

 

By thinking like our counterparts in the personal technology industry we can drive better results for enterprises; we just need to spend more time understanding their internal needs and conflicts:

  • Stakeholder alignment to unify decision makers, end users, end customers and everyone in between
  • Business process mapping, both formal and informal, to ensure business acceptance
  • Expertise in assessing culture to understand how end users and end customers will (or will not) implement these new technologies on a daily basis
  • A vision of unified success, and not one that’s somewhere at the end of some project plan
  • A unified vision at every phase of the project cycle, just like our counterparts in personal technology provide through their retail outlets 

After all, if you personally wouldn’t purchase a $200 smart phone without addressing your concerns at the retail outlet first, why would you invest millions of dollars in IT solutions without doing the same for your enterprise?

 

About the Author

 

BP Head Shot.jpgBob Picone, Business Transformation Consultant, Hewlett Packard Company

Bob is a Business Transformation Consultant in HP Enterprise Services. He has a Master degree in Business Administration from the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University and a Master degree in Organizational Behavior from the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He can be reached at bob.picone@hp.com

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