Posts tagged ‘digital service’

 

In our first post we introduced the notion of service-based investment as a way of managing the maturity of digital into ‘interactional’ (not transactional) services.

Our second post looked more directly at what we see as the impacts of the investment approach on the ICT Management Model and organisational design, specifically:

  • Interactional service drives a new integrated investment, and opportunity.
  • Parallel organisations within an organisation can’t remain. The investment model for interactional services demands that ICT integrates itself into business investment planning, so that business understands what the total investment in their service offering is, from their end-to-end.
  • The organizational investment model needs to be re-thought and re-positioned as Integrated Service Investment.

In this third post we look specifically at what this service reality means for the ICT Management Model. We suggest that not only investment management but the ICT Management structure itself needs to course correct – to ensure it supports Integrated Service Investment of the future public service organization.

 

 

Evolving from Information to Investment – ICT Management Model Evolution

After the emergence and settling of the notion of digital as a disruptor, when talking with CIOs and business leaders we work with, the current management debate seems to be focused on a couple of key questions:

  • Should ‘ICT’ and ‘Digital’ be separated in terms of strategy and delivery?
  • How close should ICT be to the business?
  • What role does the business have in ICT strategy?
  • Why is a CIO even called a CIO?1

#Disclaimer 1 – we made that one up, but seriously, Chief Information Officer – what does that even mean in the current construct?

The ongoing integration of key ICT roles or even teams and investment from ICT to Digital, or Digital and ICT to the business, is a deck chair game that doesn’t really answer the real questions about quality and direction of investment in relation to services.

Even considering moving the CIO into the business undermines the scale of investment and operations that are currently being managed by those roles. Like it or not, large-scale enterprise-wide platforms, products, applications and infrastructure are here for the long haul, and they need to be managed.

Conversely, the Chief Digital Officer (CDO), who right now must drive digital strategy and execution, isn’t a role that will replace the traditional Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Those roles will likely always continue because of their specialization and because the management of, and investment in, technology must continue. ICT is a heavily invested resource and public service organisations in particular are dependent on its execution, stability and scalability.

 

The new CIO – Chief ‘Investment’ Officer, investing in service, not simply ICT

What might change though, is the focus of the CIO.

The role must stay in the ‘technology’ business. But it must be answerable, in an integrated way, to the overarching aims of the organisation – to deliver service, not to accumulate enterprise technology.

The CIO’s measure is to respond with the business (i.e. the service strategists and deliverers). The CIO needs to answer more than just, what is our technology direction and how is it being managed. They need to answer:

  • How does our ICT investment map to the business’ interactional service strategy?
  • How does our internal delivery match the service promise the business is making?
  • How does our technology investment and management pre-empt transaction and enable interaction?
  • What return (not just expense) is our ICT investment giving to the organisation in terms of evolving the service model and the organisation’s future capability?

The CTO then, can continue to manage the ICT Services implementation – the solutions, products, platforms that drive the CIOs investment platform above.

 

The Chief Digital Officer – assimilating digital into the business as service

The role of CDO to embrace digital platforms, steward organizations to be digitally savvy and get the house in digital order is absolutely necessary, for now. Digital requires the organization to get sorted on immediate investment, capability and competency upskilling, complex vendor management and innovation/disruption as the norm.

That said, does a Chief Digital Officer even exist in the future? We believe, through our experiences, that it will not. We believe the ‘Chief Digital Officer’ is actually a transitional title for the evolution of the digital business – driven by technology opportunities – to the interactional service business.

Rather than the CDO morphing into the CIO role, we see the CDO role integrating into the service strategy part of the business. Inherent in this observation is our position that the modern public service organisation does not need to make the distinction between its business and digital. They are the same.

Essential to this is that the importance of a CDO stops being about a ‘person’ or a position, and starts being about the competency of the next generation of public service leaders (in the business).2 Leaders who plan, strategise, administer and deliver services. Business owners who say ‘I will take care of the law, compliance, communication, HR, my stakeholders but I expect ICT and the CDO to deliver the innovative solution to my service needs’ are inadequate. All elements of the service are their business.

#Disclaimer 2 – we are NOT inventing a role called Chief Service Officer. Enough with the C-Roles. We simply believe that the modern public service executive should be both a service strategist and delivery expert and this encompasses the digital component.

 

 

Roles are important, but it’s language that drives action

If the modern ICT capability is driven by a CIO focused on service investment, a CTO who retains the role of pure technologist, and the CDO who is replaced by the business, how does that shape the organisation itself?

Encouraging business to re-engage with strategic notion of services is key to:

  • break down the parallel organisation.
  • invest in service, not technology accumulation.
  • support interactional service design, delivery, sustainment and evolution.
  • Truly honour client and staff experience, right through to service delivery technology solutions.

But this is difficult when ICT language dominates the strategic conversation. Disciplines must have language, but ICT language, the language of Enterprise, Agile, SCRUM, Waterfall, ITIL, SIAM, TOGAF, et al is seen as prevalent often, because it exists and is codified. Other than standard project delivery language (which has also come to be owned largely by ICT) the business doesn’t have a neat descriptor of why and how it goes about its work – it just ‘delivers’.

The issue this poses for the organisation is that with ICT language dominating, and methodologies such as Agile being invested in, the organisation is still simply ramping up the ICT investment while business investment shrinks. These ICT terms and methodologies, whilst increasingly aware of business outcomes, are still, in essence, ICT product delivery methods.

If the organisation only invests in these, expecting them to take care of broader experience measures they are in for a shock. There have been plenty of well-documented ICT-based issues in the past six months that highlight relying on ICT methodologies alone can harm the reputation of a public service agency.

One way for business to ‘win’ the language battle, and to end the parallel organisation, is to take back terminology that has drifted to ICT.

A classic language example is the term ‘architecture’

Somewhere in the 1990s the term architecture in any public sector organisation became an ICT term. Enterprise architects are critical to an organisation’s success, but even they would argue that their level of architecture is only a systemic representation of the implementation of the overarching of business strategy.

What business hires the world’s leading architect to only work on the foundation.

Architecture isn’t an ICT domain, it’s an organizational scaffold.

The answer is to not take architecture off anyone, but to share the language. Recognise that multiple levels of architecture exist in an organisation and that the top of the architecture tree in the public service is, the service architecture.

  • Service Architecture (staff and client – the experience layer)
  • Business Architecture (Delivery – the organisational layer)
  • Enterprise Architecture (ICT – the solution enabling layer)

A direct line of sight between all three layers must be visible:

  • This is our service offering.
  • Therefore we are organised to deliver as such.
  • And delivery is enabled (and often led) by the ICT systems, platforms, applications and infrastructure we have in place).

If this kind of shared language isn’t possible, there is simply no way an organisation can deliver sustainable, available client and staff experiences through service.

Once language (business and ICT) is acknowledged and addressed, and the conditions of a business-led service organisation are recognized, the final question to be answered is ‘what shape are we in to deliver this’.

 

Taking on language, investment, and organisational structure is a big task. Starting from scratch is a lock-in to kicking off one of those ‘transformation’ projects that (in our opinion (and experience)) rarely work. So how do organisations start the process of evolving to this new reality?

In our final post we will expand on our belief that the course correction starts with a diagnostic of where the organisation sits in relation to interactional service, ICT and digital maturity. We’ll introduce you to the DMA Service Diagnostic – a tool for executives to start the evolution they need to make.

As a senior executive said to us once when we undertook a diagnostic on his ICT organisation end-to-end with a service perspective:

“I always thought this was what our business looked like, but because I hadn’t seen it mapped out in that way I couldn’t manage it or measure it.”

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The public sector tends to organise in very similar ways and wrestle with very similar questions. Increasingly, as technology advances they are wrestling with questions like:

• What is our digital strategy?
• Where should our Chief Digital Officer sit?
• How do we manage digital in comparison with legacy IT?

After a number of years of deep engagement with ICT sections of small and large public and private sector organisations we’ve come to the realisation that these are increasingly the wrong questions to begin with.

Digital has matured. Digital is real. Digital is not an app. And it is not an add-on.

Digital is the underpinning of the service relationship organisations have with their customers and clients.

The question isn’t “where should our Chief Digital Officer sit?” The question is, “By understanding that digital is embedded and enabling our entire business, what is our service offer?”

In this, the first of three four related posts, we explore how we have seen the notion of digital evolve – from front-facing ICT component to business and service strategy driver.


The Evolving Digital Definition

As recently as last week we were in a room listening to a senior ICT Executive presenting on the differences and separation between his and the digital world.

While his views seemed to sit well with much of the IT-leaning audience, we firmly believe that the idea that digital is the outward-facing part of technology, or a ‘blue-sky’ technology strategy, has shifted significantly.

The digital promise has become the business reality.

The introduction of digital as a concept historically was positioned as a way of refining an existing, under pressure ICT model. Where ICT had been seen as a reliable but large and hard to navigate enabling capability for the delivery of services, the digital promise embodied the speedy, competitively advantaged, ‘responsive to customer world’ capability that business was looking for. Business needed this kind of technology response and ICT also needed this view of digital to reinvigorate investment outside of large legacy funding.

Digital has now evolved even beyond the legacy ICT ‘cut through’ that it was first introduced as. With the evolution and refinement of what comprises digital it has now moved to process and strategy. Digital is increasingly less important as a separate technology option and more as a service strategy – a business strategy.

The importance of this evolution, within a context of existing (probably for some time to come) legacy ICT and large infrastructure, is as much about the ‘business’ understanding that it is the master of digital, and the ICT section just happens to be its technology home.

Business isn’t the ‘user’ of digital. Business IS digital.

This realisation that digital is now the business reality, due to maturity and embedded digital practices within the business, is also as critical as the emerging realisation that business is still about service (a staff and client experience).

In the evolved digital model, digital isn’t simply the automation of a historical process on a device; it is the reconsideration and reinvention of the relationship with the customer before that interface is even designed.

 

Services enable a customer to achieve their goal

For a public service, that goal is hardly ever the resolution of the immediate service itself. The service exists to allow the customer to:

  • Access something
  • Do something
  • Confirm something
  • Meet an obligation that’s an input to something bigger such as how they live their life or within their family’s life.

The decades-old introduction of service design and organisational co-design intent has meant we’re able to better describe the customer and user needs in the context of how the organisation is set-up to deliver on that articulation. Balancing what’s desirable (human factors), viable (business factors), and feasible (technical factors).

Our professional experiences at DMA have been working at a time where online, on-the-phone, at-the-counter channel strategies were critical for an organisation to make sense of services and service delivery.

But the mantra of “IT can do anything you want – just describe it” sat uncomfortably with the reality of “we can’t change the wording in that letter because it’s hardcoded in the system, so we’ll need to develop a workaround”. Until digital became a watchword for improvement, this view hadn’t changed that much.

As digital has matured, we see it less as an opportunity for ICT improvement and more as an evolution of the very definition of the service.

 

Digital changes the transactional nature of services to ‘interactional’

For a service delivered by an organisation to take advantage of digital being embedded the definition of service needs to move:

  • From a transactional service – “We offer the following services, which then means we have a service delivery commitment and our clients respond to the service”
  • To an interactional service – “Because digital automates and can prepopulate data, we enable our customers to manage the service to achieve their outcome from whichever direction they choose to approach it”.

In this definition, resolution of the customer need – via the service – is supported by data, history, automation, accuracy, feedback, access etc.

In ‘interactional services’, the evolution of digital is integrated across business and service strategy, (not as an ICT add-on):

  • Customer decision-making is supported (choose this, buy this, consider this, compare this, complete this, confirm this).
  • Steps and actions of the decision-making are automated in real time (we’ve done this, you do this, now this, now you’re here, you’re done).
  • Support is within the customer’s own context (their device, their patterns of interaction/transaction/enquiry).
  • The customer for their part, affords the service deliverer permission to change, evolve, improve, even get rid of the service.

And importantly, staff have the technology, business processes and permission to support this service approach (through changed management models and performance measurement).

This is critical, because as important as the early digital promise has been, organisations aren’t in business to be digital.

They are in business, or exist, to deliver services, and in a complex service system that means digital can inform how customers interact, how the organisation interacts and is supported, and how a business-eye is always kept on “what’s next”.

Only once digital is acknowledged as ‘the’ business delivering interactional services, can the organisation evolve beyond the business/ICT construct and the transactional service delivery model with clients.

 

 

If digital moves beyond technology, what does it move to?
For us, from a public sector service design perspective, digital is the realisation and representation that public services (regardless of channel of delivery) ARE user-, data- and then technology-driven.

A mature digital business is one where there is no demarcation between the business and ICT, because digital has blurred the lines between business process and technology, and this is actually being driven by what people need from a service in order to comply, not what internal organisational units think is required or policy positions set out.

Good digital businesses already use technology to enable outcomes and enable people to appreciate their services (think SmartGate at airports) – future digital businesses are using a digital mindset to ensure the people seeking outcomes are, and can, inform and drive the service focus, design and outcomes. And in doing so, this mindset is no longer ‘digital’, it’s just ‘good business’.

When digital has been done right organisations have focused on responding to user needs. Digital is not a channel. It’s how organisations organise run and deliver their business. It’s how organisations interact with their customers. It’s how staff and stakeholders interact within and into their organisations.

 

Service-Led
The evolution of the new business reality in terms of the digital promise leads naturally to the question – so what does lead the organisation if digital is now just ‘how we work’?

We believe that it is not about an organisation being design-led, or becoming a digital organisation, or innovative for innovation’s sake.

It’s about public sector organisations being truly service-led.

As service designers we can see – and our experience in complex ICT helps us understand uniquely – that the intention for customer-led, co-designed, joined-up service experiences and the need for ICT to enable that utilising digital has a gap that digital strategy and Chief Digital Officers haven’t been able to fill to this point.

Whilst digital has been seen as an ‘add-on’ or a new thing, it has been exactly that – an add on. But the digital strategies of the future are actually business strategies – that assume the digital promise has been met and that the power of the digital promise is inherent in the services offered.

To explore this our next post will look at what interactional services and the new business reality means for the public sector organisation.

 

 

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digital

The digital steam train (or is that light rail) continues to career ahead. Every day Ministers, Department Heads, policy officers articulate the need for services to go digital.

A significant part of our work is looking at digital services strategically and developing digital services for clients. As we are currently in the headspace because of a digitisation project across the broadest of customer groups who regularly interact with non-government digital products and services, we wanted to capture the lessons we’ve learnt about what digital even means in a public sector service setting.

 

What is a service, What is a digital service?

A service is the seeking and receipt of a specific outcome of a customer/user across a range of interactions and touchpoints over time. The value of the service is as much about the quality of the experience for all the people involved (customer, service provider) as it is about the resolution.

To us, a digital service is simply where any aspect of that service, as defined above, utilises any aspect of ICT to enable and/or deliver the desired outcome to the customer. The value of the service is enhanced by the use of digital technology, not marked out by it.

 

What we think it means when government says it wants a digital service

While there are many areas of government that are digital converts for the right reasons, the drivers that send government to digital aren’t always about the service part of digital service.

The desire for digital services is generally wrapped in the customer-friendly language of ‘access and ease of use’, but invariably the motivation for ‘having a digital service’ seems to still be a range of factors that are very much from the government (at any level) point of view:

  • “We need to reduce costs and digital will be cheaper because the service is online and I’ll need less people.”
  • “The digital service will be entirely automated which will enable (or force) customers and clients to ‘self-manage’ which puts them in charge of their service experience.”
  • “We’re expected to reduce red tape and move things to digital to suit a whole-of-government directive.”

We think that when government uses the words ‘digital service’ it is often referring to transaction, not the broader definition of service. But part of the drive to digital from government must be that it is done for the right reason – a better service experience or outcome.

 

Four* lessons we’ve learned

A digital channel is critical. Crucial. Not optional for any organisation. But we’re service designers, not UXers, nor interaction designers or even technologists. What we see, and have been lucky enough to do when creating digital services from scratch are captured in these four un-ordered lessons:

  1. Digital service not only extends beyond the interaction or channel, it extends beyond what the public sector might even define as the service. This means that when a client asks for a transaction or data collection activity (i.e. form filing) to be digitsed where they actually need to start is by understanding the services system in order to change and improve what the service actually is from the customer perspective.
  2. Conversely, it’s not good enough for the public sector service deliverer to only think of digitising a transaction, they need to think about the designed service within which the transaction is available. This comes from our experience, and from the frustrations of clients who come to us having to build on platforms and decisions that don’t understand how they actually operate or their capabilities. It means the expectation that existing core digital platforms can even cope with the introduction of a range of digital services should be explored early – if the experience is to be a so-called seamless one.
  3. There is a an educated expectation on the part of customers that moving a service online means customers expect to see a corresponding, if not direct, drop in charges. This means service deliverers are dealing with government- and digital service-savvy customers who believe that digital is cheaper for the public sector to run and deliver.
  4. Probably don’t make it an app. This means make it device-agnostic, and consider the volume of transactions and regularity of the use of the service to determine whether the customer is willing to engage with it on the valuable digital real estate that carry around with them daily. Post-script to this lesson is make sure your organisation has a policy of responsive development for multi-device delivery.

 

Digital isn’t the end game, it’s just another in a long line of service game-changers – albeit a huge one. So making sure the service is designed – with customers, users and organisational sustainability in mind – should always be the starting point.

*as always, we have four lessons now, but we reserve the right to learn more!

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