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Customer Transformation – why Australia & Europe?

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By Scott Kay, Principal: Project Services, Change & Transformation

As a professional who is new to life down under, I am often reminded (on a daily basis) that I am fresh off the boat. This is often said in gest, but what I have realised, is that it gives me a unique perspective on the nuances between the Australian market, and that of the UK & Europe where I have spent all of my professional career to date.

The Australian market demands specialism. Change Directors and Program (I still can’t get used to this spelling) Directors are distinctly separate jobs. Lean and Six Sigma is around technical competency and capability – what about change management? Where is the value in streamlining processes, creating efficiencies, saving hard earned dollars – in theory, if there isn’t change implementation, adoption and continuous improvement to go with it?  In my humble opinion, this is where the real value in Lean/Six Sigma/Process improvement lies. Many of the candidates that I worked with, the clients that I recruited for in the UK would demand that these two skills come from one candidate. Is the Australian market behind the curve, or are we in fact in front and an ambassador for specialism?

For me, the biggest difference in the two markets from a change and transformation perspective is the types of programs that are hot topic. Customer, customer, customer, Omni-channel, oh did I mention customer? How do we move from a product led environment to a customer led environment? How can we have a single customer view?  How do we deal with our legacy platforms to manage customer fulfilment? These were the types of conversations I was having two/three years ago in the UK. And I’m not saying they’re not still having them, they are. Australia is behind in realising the importance of this debate (which we are now) however we’re ahead in delivering the subject matter expertise and specialisation that’s required to generate real uplift and transformation.

I have (intentionally) missed out the use of one word – DIGITAL. Digital is one of those words that if you say it enough, it will lose all meaning. All exec boards have been asking the same questions – what do we do with digital? How do we navigate the digital economy? Where does it sit? What’s the role of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO)? Should CDO replace the historic Chief Marketing Officer, or should it replace the CIO?  How do we approach digital transformation?

All are very valid questions, but they seem to throw up even more questions than answers.

I recently spoke to a chief customer officer who said to me, maybe we should work out the answers and work backwards to the question, that way we will deliver business benefits opposed to delivering outcomes that technology drive for us. I couldn’t get this out of my head, it makes perfect sense. A large proportion of business led programs that allow IT/technology to drive it often fail because there is no real benefit to utilising amazing technology that doesn’t benefit our customers. What do we really want out of business transformation:

  • Speed and efficiency to market
  • Innovative business models, products, services
  • Optimal business process
  • First in class customer experience

What I am trying to say is that maybe the word ‘digital’ has been swapped for ‘business’ and that digital transformation isn’t something new – we just have new drivers, technology and options available to us to deliver tangible and lasting business benefits.

All things considered programs are programmes, pro-jects are projects, change is change and while there are nuances between different markets, ultimately both operate in the same way with a few degrees of separation.
Scott Kay

Principal: Project Services, Change & Transformation

T.  +61 2 8014 5575  |  E.  skay@ampersand.com.au 

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