Posts tagged ‘service’

 

Previously, in The Digital Promise is now the Business Reality, we discussed how we have seen ‘digital’ mature and drive a service evolution – to make it possible to move from transactional to interactional services.

The interactional service construct highlighted in our first post described a public service where:

  • ‘The Business’ within a public service agency should set the direction and outcome; ICT should enable interaction and resolution.
  • The notion of ‘digital’ as a separate end-to-end service won’t last but its significance won’t go away.
  • Interactional Services are based on the notion that digital transforms the service relationship (both inside the organisation and with clients and users), it doesn’t just automate current processes or service offerings.
  • Internal and external customers of public service ICT shops will continue to rely on traditional ICT disciplines for platforms, applications and infrastructure but use ICT professionals’ knowledge and expectations of how technology and data can transform the service relationship to develop business direction.

#Disclaimer 1 – we aren’t saying that these conditions don’t exist in some agencies now, but we are saying the service direction tends to currently be set and defined by ICT because of investment in technology, not because of a strong service view from ‘the business’.

Interactional service drives a new integrated investment

It’s called the ‘public service’ for a reason. Government chooses, through the collection of topics in portfolios, to offer services to the public as the means for compliance with the rules and regulations of the land.

Some of those services are supportive, some restrictive. All require a range of interactions from information to transaction to compliance and should be about supporting both people to deliver the service, and to be supported in their experience of a service.

When we say ‘Government chooses’ it’s important to remember that Government chooses what services it offers. For example, no one in the public wants to register a business name – they are told they have to. Therefore, this means the public service’s management of service must be constant, reliable and professional.

We have seen the public service become the public sector – where large tranches within organisations find it harder to tie a direct line between themselves and the services they have chosen to deliver, becoming an industry unto themselves. This industry can then become easily removed from the notion of public service. This is particularly relevant when looking at how ICT as an industry drives the public sector organisation.

But interaction services demand more, they demand integration or investment because often the technology and business component can’t easily be separated.

­­

‘Buckets’ of money

The current operating reality in the public service is that investment has been given in ‘buckets’ to the ICT Shop. These buckets are managed by asking the ‘business’ for candidates for technology design, build and delivery. The effective outsourcing of service build by agency Executive teams to the CIO has been gradual and is reflective of the move to enterprise ICT from the mid-90’s on.

The result of this approach to managing investment is that the candidate-based approach supports individualistic approaches to funding (which we would say is not true investment). The strategic direction of the organisation itself is also at risk as programs of ‘build projects’ create a disconnect from the service offering the organisation has made to the public.

This investment approach results in the standard BaU versus Change argument. As business candidates build up, supply can’t meet demand (often because of poor project management by ICT and poor project ownership by Business) and the only solution is an organisation-wide transformation program to get things ‘back on track’.

In short – transformation is sometimes just code for losing the link between ICT investment and the service strategy for the organisation.

But interactional services offer a much more integrated investment opportunity.

 

This view shows no run and change, no BAU versus new business. It simply implies that ALL investment is part of a balanced program of work – driven by the service offering of the organisation. In this model, an organisation:

  • Doesn’t ask about candidates; they ask about total investment in service.
  • Sees a reduction in the investment in the now and running, optimising, improving.
  • Sees an increase in the investment in the new, the evolving, the innovation.

This approach to total investment is key to getting away from the annual candidate shopping mentality of change projects that underpins modern, enterprise ICT program management.

Parallel Organisation’s within an Organisation

The outcome of the current investment model is that the Business and ICT become so large in spite of each other that they start to mirror their operations. Almost forming parallel organisations within the one.

Anyone who thinks this is an exaggeration should remember that once your business project gets approval, it almost always requires ICT approval to actually proceed.

The key to dealing with the parallel organisation is to call it out. Map it. Make it clear that it isn’t business that is transparent and ICT that gets to be a multi-billion dollar black box.

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. That is, policy > user need > service touchpoints > outcome > measures, not from Deployment to support.

From Parallel to Integrated

In a traditional organisation with transactional services the candidate-based, program management style investment in ICT works fine. Utilising ICT disciplines as discrete enablers of a business strategy makes sense and this matches the notion of traditional waterfall (and even some Agile) development approaches.

But interactional services operate in an integrated way they are not a ‘direct’ product offering from the organisation to the client. They are:

  • Often data initiated.
  • Automated, not just at task-level but pre-emptive of customer need.
  • Customer-controlled at start and end points.
  • Outcome-facilitated by systems working with systems.

Crucially, this means internally, ICT is not just responding to business on a ‘cost for delivery’ model for discrete projects or products. It has to be able to quantify what the existing investment is by the organisation in the interactional service (from customer-facing interfaces right through the mid-range and COTS to infrastructure and cloud).

This is because the transformative nature of interactional service means that elements of the digital capability might have initiated the service without waiting for a transaction point to occur. The trigger for the service is the underlying knowledge of the client transformed into a service proposition that matches the organisation’s business goals (compliance, information, registration, payment).

Therefore, the organisational investment model needs to be re-thought and re-positioned as Integrated Service Investment.

In our next post we’ll expand on how this investment model influences both the ICT Management Model and broader public service organisational design.

4 Comments

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.

 

 

4 Comments

AboveBeyond

When we look at the work we do we always think of our clients as design partners. As partners we work with them to discover insights and opportunities to improve or create new services. In that partnership we bring technique and approaches that can often push them beyond their comfort zone and enable decisions that we (or rather the outcome of the work) might recommend or suggest. Much of the time we provide evidence for a design and spend time encouraging our clients to implement change.

That’s why we were so pleasantly surprised recently when the client pushed beyond the envelope of innovation and decision making we’d presented to them.

We are working on digitising a financial service for a local Statutory Authority. Our research has shown – on this and other similar projects – that users of government services are coming to expect ‘rewards’ for using a digital instead of face-to-face service. This makes sense in the context of online being seen as cheaper and placing more responsibility on the user to ‘get things right in their time’.

So with our current client we suggested thinking about how to make the digital service less onerous for people. In this case one of the large overheads for users is bearing the onus of proving their identity and their connection to an amount of money. Based on our work with them we suggested an amount that should apply to trigger a more streamlined burden of proof, and the service description of what should happen for people who fall into the category and asked the client to think about it.

They went back to their desks and, armed with the insights and the logic of ‘reward as reducing red tape’ that we had built for them, looked at their data.

Not only did they call us back to say that they agreed with the recommendation, they suggested – with a clear business rationale – a limit of more than twice the size of our suggestion. Effectively opening up the concept of ‘reward’ to even more of their clients.

When a client is not only a design partner, but is enabled to improve their own business decision-making and innovation parameters, we know that design as evidence for change has done its job.

Leave a comment