Digital success: 3 areas where you need to broaden your horizons

Organizations such as Allianz look far beyond the boundaries that defined traditional tech projects

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Credit: Jon Phillips

Allianz innovation executive Christian Locher, speaking at the Transform With the Best conference on digital business transformation, shared how his organization transformed itself through a digital initiative. There's something Allianz and other successful organizations do. They all look far beyond the boundaries of traditional tech projects. In fact, they have broadened their horizons in three specific areas:

  1. Strategic themes
  2. Reservoir
  3. Technologies

Here's a closer look at each.

Strategic themes

Derived from corporate strategy, there may be strategic themes that your organization wants to pursue. Today, strategic themes are not limited to things like "just in time" and "relationship management." Today, a strategic theme could be "a delightful customer experience," which would involve customer engagements with tech and nontech elements and may include internal processes. A strategic theme could be much bigger and more impactful like "customer-centricity," which would typically include new customer value delivery through new or better products and services.

While the number of potential themes has risen, it's important to pick only those derived from your organization's strategy. Having said that, there are rare cases where innovation combined with technology actually suggested a new strategy.

Reservoir

A "simple, engaging customer experience" is a theme at Allianz. So here's what Allianz did. They identified 140 customer journeys, each spanning several touchpoints. I call this initial set lead. From the lead, they selected about 25 of the most urgent ones. I call this reservoir.

Like an oil reservoir, the reservoir that Allianz just found is promising — it has the potential to eventually generate strategic outcomes. Based on understanding at the time of its discovery, the reservoir encompasses processes that will be integrally designed to realize the theme.

Clearly, a reservoir's boundaries are not the boundaries of a piece of tech somebody proposed. Depending on the strategic theme, a reservoir might comprise channels such as marketing, sales and distribution. Or it could be a lot broader, comprising an entire division in your organization — if you want to rethink the business model. It could even include processes that traditionally belonged to a different industry.

The reservoir is central in any digital initiative. When discovered, it shows strategic potential. When designed purposefully with innovation and new digital tech, it has virtually realized the strategic potential. When operational, it generates strategic outcomes.

The strategic theme should guide you as you discover and design the reservoir.

Technologies

Organizations today consider not only cloud, mobile, analytics and social. They also check out stuff like geolocation-tracking, the internet of things, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

If the right tech exists but an organization can't quickly develop it, they partner with the organization that already has it. Allianz is an insurance and asset management company. So they partnered with Panasonic to launch what might at first appear like an unrelated service: "Panasonic Smart Home and Allianz Assist." This service links Panasonic’s monitoring-and-control tech with Allianz's home protection services.

So there are a lot of new technologies and a lot of new ways to put them to work.

Summary

Choose a strategic theme that's linked to corporate strategy. Use the strategic theme to discover and design your reservoir. Choose technologies that can make a strategic contribution. Thankfully, you have a lot of options in each area — if you are willing to look.

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