This continues a series of columns from practitioners I respect. The category "Real Deal" describes them well.
This time it is José Duarte, CEO of Unit4. José developed most of his professional career at SAP where he held multiple leadership roles, including President of the EMEA & India region as well as President of the Latin America region.
Under his leadership, UNIT4 has developed an expansive view of the service-centric economy as I posted here. Here he writes about trends in that economy which he knows extremely well having previously served as President Global Services for SAP.
The Service-centric economy is big and growing rapidly. An eclectic range of companies like Airbnb, Netflix, Amazon, Zappos, and Starbucks epitomize the digital revolution having risen above competitors through digital customer engagement and business model innovations. Their success depends on delivering flawless service, and flawless service depends on people. Their people therefore need infrastructure that helps them perform with excellence. In order to do that, today’s workforce has huge expectations for application simplicity driven by familiar and intuitive consumer applications. At the same time business has become increasingly complex. This creates a gap that service organizations strive to close. Their attempts to close this gap is driving significant churn in the enterprise software market.
Changing business models clash with increased pressure from a new breed of workers for simpler, more intuitive systems and applications. The root cause of this disconnect is that traditional business software/ERP was designed with manufacturing and products in mind, not people. As such, the service organizations driving our economy are making software concessions that result in four fundamental problems:
1. Extremely high costs of owning and maintaining software.
2. Radical slow-down in business execution
3. Bad experience for employees due to laborious processes and the inability to work smart.
4. Severe effects of business disruption, due to costly, complex and slow work needed to update systems to ongoing business change. This impacts both the organization and its customers.
The bottom line is that systems used at work hamper the ability to work smart and prevent organizations from delivering exceptional (sometimes even acceptable) customer service. The systems are clunky, slow and do not reflect the changeable reality of the business. Service organizations are looking for alternatives.
What will today’s digital disruption mean for service organizations in the future?
Service-centric businesses need to provide their people with an environment they can flourish in. To develop new ways of working based on the digital realities of people’s everyday lives. Today that means a digital workplace that delivers a tailored, intuitive user experience – based on simple, relevant and complete access to the information needed and the tasks to be done.
• Simple: Enterprise software designed to meet specific requirements of service organizations and their people. It’s time for a smarter approach that frees people from laborious administrative processes, removes unnecessary work, and lets them focus on what really matters: delivering great service.
• Relevant: Unlike their peers in product-focused businesses, those in service organizations deal with much more complex information. There are also more types of users, each needing different types of information in order to perform well and make their specific contribution to success. They need to be saved from the overwhelming array of unfiltered data and be presented with what they really need at the moment they need it. In addition, since change is a constant, information can only be truly relevant if it is a current and correct reflection of the business reality at that moment.
• Complete: Success in a service environment is not created in isolation. Systems need to support, motivate and connect people, so that they can collaborate quickly and easily, to gain the full picture that they need to be effective.
The road to digital enlightenment & great customer service
Along with a new digital mindset, enterprise software designed for service delivery is essential. Organizations can simplify user experience by digitizing and automating business processes, liberating people from tasks that provide little or no value to the business. By applying advanced analytics and intelligence, systems can streamline information, eliminate the majority of manual steps related to business processes as well as eliminating some business processes altogether.
The churn we’re seeing in the enterprise software market is driven by organizations looking for digital enlightenment. There is a better way. We’re moving towards a world where enterprise applications ‘drive’ themselves and take initiative, leaving people to focus on the things that people do best.