You need a transformation roadmap -- once you learn what it is

May 10, 2017

No organization can achieve a successful digital transformation without first understanding the end-to-end experiences across marketing, sales and customer service of its customers and employees. It's a self-evident truth in the opinion of Seema Jain, director of experience strategy and design at Bluewolf, an IBM-owned cloud consultancy that builds experiences based on the Salesforce technology platform.

To adequately document and then interpret those experiences requires the creation of a transformation roadmap. "Experience maps identify critical moments in a customer's journey that leave lasting positive or negative impressions that create opportunities for innovation," said Jain, who is presenting a session at IBM InterConnect in Las Vegas. IBM InterConnect is an annual event that brings together Fortune 500 leaders with more than 20,000 partners, clients and developers. The conference program lists more than 2,000 sessions, labs and panels.

Jain's conference session explores her five-step process for developing a transformation roadmap through the process of mapping customer and employee experiences.

"The real value of going through a process like this is that we're ensuring that all of our technology innovation is aligned to users and meets their needs, versus being very feature and function driven," Jain said.

One technique used in collection of the knowledge needed to build a transformation roadmap is interviewing customers and employees about their experiences, a process known as journey mapping, she said. In a guest article written for The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania's Knowledge@Wharton thought-leadership series, Siddharth Gaikwad, practice head of digital experience at NTT DATA, may have put it best, describing the journey map as an "illustrated representation of a customer's expectations, experiences and reflections as it unfolds over time across multiple stages and touch points while using a product or consuming a service."

"Journey mapping is our tool that enables us to tell the story about the customer and employee experiences from initial contact through the process of engagement and into a long-term relationship," Jain said. The experiences documented in the journey map are then used as a component in the transformation roadmap to identify corresponding interactions that a customer or employee has with an organization, teams and systems.

Developers can benefit most

Though the building of a transformation roadmap could be easily dismissed as a practice not applicable to -- or appreciated by -- applications developers, that would be a mistake, Jain said. She believes that developers, typically removed from understanding the underlying processes and experiences that propel a business forward, may be the group that can benefit the most.

"Gone are the days when we can look at technology solely from a feature and function level," Jain said. "Developers who have approached that way can really benefit from this fresh perspective that goes beyond BizDevOps and onto design thinking." Design thinking takes an iterative approach to problem-solving, incorporating different skills and experiences into the process.

Five steps with dependencies

Building a transformation roadmap involves five steps that build upon each other, Jain said. "The first step identifies initiatives that align to the overall business strategy while delivering against measurable business outcomes," Jain said.

The second step revolves around the concept of generating empathy for customers through the documentation of experiences and pain points, then aligning that with the needs of the business.

"The third step involves the employee experience," Jain said, "taking a closer look at what drives the customer experience relative to the employee's own experience, including internal processes, people, groups, systems and tools." Step four is called ideation, a pivot point that moves from the previous steps of identifying problems to creating solutions. "Ideation is the rapid generation of concepts and ideas that solve a problem." The final step, Jain said, is prioritization. "We complete the five-step process by plotting all of the generated ideas against a prioritization grid." Doing so provides a clear picture of which ideas hit the "sweet spot" and best fit into the corporate roadmap.

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