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Transformation processes: The digital future requires agility

Transformation processes: The digital future requires agility

How can companies manage the digital transformation? One important step is to introduce agility into the organization. That’s because agility and digital technology go hand in hand, as the example of Arvato CRM Solutions shows.

Arvato CRM Solutions has been aware of the potential of the digital transformation for a long time: Chatbots and artificial intelligence, for example, help service personnel when they speak with customers. Analytics allows companies to make use of large volumes of data, and robotics is used to automate standardized processes. But the implementation of these solutions can entail numerous challenges in day-to-day operations. One reason may be that the developers of solutions and the people using them don’t always speak the same language. In these cases, agility can help to reconcile the various viewpoints and approaches and achieve the common objective.

What does “agile” mean?

Agility is a mindset or attitude described in the four values of the Agile Manifesto, which was published in 2001 by a group of well-known software developers.

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  • Responding to change over following a plan.

These values are further described in a total of twelve principles. One of them is: “Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.” The principles also encourage practices such as the self-organization of teams, conveying information through face-to-face conversations, and regularly reviewing and, as appropriate, adjusting the behavior of the team. Many methods and frameworks are used to implement these principles, including Scrum, Design Thinking, daily stand-up meetings, etc. Arvato CRM Solutions uses these methods to encourage both the digital and the agile transformation.

Some time ago, the company changed its operating model and formed two new units that together drive forward the agile digital transformation. One of these units is Portfolio & Solution Design (PSD). It links other company units together, such as Sales & Business Development and IT, and serves as an accelerator and enabler of the digital transformation. The team is responsible for developing expertise and disseminating it throughout the organization with workshops and other measures. It also provides support with the design of new solutions, with customer consultations and with the subsequent implementation of solutions. The other new unit is the Project Management Office, which performs a similar function for the agile transformation. In both cases, customers and the interaction with them are at the center of all considerations and activities, and so these two units at Arvato CRM Solutions are working together more and more.

Agile and digital

The process at Arvato CRM Solutions shows how companies can approach their agile digital transformation. “The basic idea is to gradually put the whole company on a new course — sort of like the way small tugboats help large ships with their initial maneuvers,” says Dr. Miriam Sasse of the Project Management Office. The “tugboats” are pilot projects that rely on agility and demonstrate, through their results, the advantages of these approaches. “We’re in a state of transition between the ‘old’ world and the ‘new’. Not all of the familiar practices will be successful in the ‘new’ world; in many cases, however, the two will continue to coexist now and in the future. So we’ll always have to reflect on our approach, again and again, and question it,” says Sasse. “The important thing is to find a harmonious interplay and synergies from the agile approaches. It has been found, for example, that it is preferable not to create a fixed and rigid plan for the development of a complex new software system in a dynamic environment before the project has started. Instead, it is better to approach the project armed with the agile principles. “That doesn’t mean no planning. It means reacting flexibly to changes.” For example, it was only possible to program a chatbot live in just a short space of time at the CRM forum with this sort of flexibility.

There are a variety of agile digitization practices, including:

  • Design Thinking, or orientation towards customer needs. The objective is to develop solutions that the user finds valuable and appealing.
  • Customer Journey Design: the description of all touchpoints that the consumer has with a brand, a product or a service. A deep understanding of the entire customer journey is the basic prerequisite for a customer-oriented approach to marketing and sales.
  • Persona Conception. If it is not possible to communicate directly with the end customer when designing the customer journey, personas help you to put yourself in the position of the target audience.
  • Customer Journey Mapping: the identification of potential for optimization and innovation in the customer experience in order to develop corresponding solutions.

All of these methods and approaches can only lead to success, however, if the “corporate supertanker” is ready to change course and is open to seeing things in new ways. Arvato CRM Solutions is therefore raising awareness of the existing agile tools with a variety of internal measures. These include events such as Open Spaces, regular give-and-take with managers, and the introduction of agile practices in other parts of the company.

Author: Editorial team Future. Customer.
Image: © metamoworks – AdobeStock

Tags for this article Agility (5) CRM (108) Digitization (167)


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