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“We (user) tend to view smart phones in the same way that business views IT. What can we learn from that?”

I had my iPhone 4S for a couple of years now and it is time to select a new phone. But getting a new phone is difficult. What is important for me when selecting a new smart phone? How does it need to manage my work and my life? How does the phones actually differ? I obviously want the phone to a good price; reliability with cool apps and that is align to my demanding life a bit over my expectation – and looks cool! Note that I did not mention any technical stuff – because for me it is not important. I want the “wow”-effect at a reasonable price – great customer experience!

What does a discussion about smart phones have to do with IT performance management? Everything! This is not blog post about smart phones but based on a conclusion that we (the customer) tend to view smart phones in the same way that business views IT. Think about it. Business does not care about the technical jargon of processors, platforms, or who produced what part in what country – they what a reliable and flexible services, at reasonable price that makes them successful in their market place. They also wants great “customer” experience in order to be successful in the market. So, when we discuss business expectations on IT, we can think of our expectations on technical gadgets and phones.

A result of digitalization is that the definition of customer value has changed. A couple of years ago, the technical dimensions (platform, performance, processors) of computer or phone were the differentiator in the market. We bought Ericsson phones because it had outstanding technology. But today, it is different. We base our judgment on the customer value and the customer experience of a product linked to emotions and assumes that the technology can cope with it. Customer value is based on how we interpret and feel about a product and service (often driven by how friends view it) – not its technical or financial benefits. Technology/IT is nowadays an enabler for customer experience and not an enabler for technical performance.

When managing business value of IT, we need to understand the pre-requisites and expectations of business. Interestingly, it works in the similar way as when I try to select a new phone. How does business become successful in their market place? How does business what to use IT? What is important for business? How can IT drive business innovation? Interesting to notice is that none of these questions focus on technology (platforms, servers, outsourcing partners etc) but rather on how IT can support business success (value creation). But in many IT organizations, the answers to these are very technical – which for business is irrelevant. Business success is not based on a SAP platform upgrade but rather on how IT innovates and collaborates with business (the Business IT interface = the screen on the smart phone). That is a different ball game!

My recommendations:

  • Understand what expectations business have on the IT organization. What is important for business to be successful? What is “Great customer experience” for business and customers?
  • Do not use technical or financial jargon in a business discussion – leave that for the technicians and controllers. Try to dress the message in business language that is relevant for the audience.
  • Think about what is important for you when you purchase technical gadgets, phones and appliances. It is the technology or the experience it creates?
  • Contact The Goodwind Company for more information or support to drive discussion further.

The fact is that I did not get a new phone, as my old phone (iPhone 4S) was “good enough” for what I needed and wanted. There is no point investing money in a solution that does not contribute with additional value for me as a customer. The business case was not tempting enough to go through with the deal. But on a positive note, the sales person promoting the new phone but did not mention one single technical term or reference in our discussion. It is simply not important!

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– Hans Gillior

Hans Legend 1