Many firms have used Forrester’s principles of customer obsession to guide their business and IT transformation journey, striving to be customer-led, insights-driven, fast, and connected. But in their pursuit, most firms fall short when it comes to organizational change. Rather than undertake a full organizational design exercise, firms are adopting tactical change, creating agile delivery organizations that often operate in silos. The leading customer-obsessed companies are more than agile; they are adaptive, as defined by Professor Gary Hamel of the London and Harvard Business Schools:
“. . . the capacity to reconfigure [the firm’s] underlying business concept, by dramatically rethinking its core mission, its primary value proposition, its core competencies, the markets or industries in which it competes, [and] its end customer.”
But what does being adaptive in pursuit of customer obsession mean to you as a CIO — and to overall change for your IT organization?
CIOs need to understand the impact of accelerating interactions between people and technology on their firm’s — and IT’s — operating model. Forrester’s recent report, “Beyond Agility — Adaptive Enterprises Hold The Winning Hand,” highlights the following points.
- 1. Firms can’t compete at the leading edge merely by following established business models and delivering digital technology with agility. Increasingly complex and symbiotic loops of technology-to-people relationships accelerate business change, elevating the necessity of an adaptive operating model.
- 2. Adaptive firms anticipate tomorrow’s markets and customer needs, leveraging continuous technology upgrades and arming the organization for constant change — like new ways of working, a burstable workforce, and dynamic ecosystem sourcing.
First, understand your firm’s four primary factors that impact IT operating models, as laid out in Forrester’s recent report on IT transformation drivers — customer experience, autonomy of power, unbundling of capabilities, and geographic spread. The move to customer obsession requires that the enterprise change how it operates along these lines to better understand and respond to its customers. And, in turn, your IT organization must match that change.
To help lead your firm’s move to a customer-obsessed, adaptive enterprise, you must reconfigure your IT organization’s operating model and the levers for change. Start this with an understanding of your firm’s level of customer obsession. Forrester’s report, “The Customer Obsession Assessment,” highlights that culture, talent, structure, technology, process, and metrics are the primary customer obsession levers for transformation. Work with your executive peers to identify the changes they expect to make as they move to greater customer obsession.
Next, apply Forrester’s operating model framework, taking these levers to a lower level of granularity, as described in Forrester’s recent report, “The Anatomy Of An Operating Model.” Forrester’s operating model begins with six level-1 components — customer, services, capabilities, structure, governance, and leadership — and 23 level-2 components. Map the firm’s plans for addressing the customer-obsessed levers of change to your operating model using these level-1 and level-2 components. Each of the customer-obsessed levers either is a level-2 component or maps directly to one. Culture and process are level-2 components; people maps to talent; structure to accountability; metrics to performance; and technology to data, applications, and infrastructure.