As companies take steps toward digital business-ship, CIOs are increasingly being called upon to optimize customer-facing processes. And they're turning to business process management principles to make that happen. One useful tenet of BPM: deciding which of three core value disciplines -- operational excellence, product leadership and customer intimacy -- is most important to the business and then adopting the characteristics of that discipline.
In this webcast presentation, Ken Lewis, ITIL consultant at PA Consulting Group, drills down into the product leadership value discipline, laying out goals for a company that prioritizes it above the others.
Editor's note: The following is a transcript of the second of four excerpts of Lewis' webcast presentation on business process management for business outcomes. It has been edited for clarity and length.
Questions about this webcast excerpt on product leadership? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transcript - BPM drilldown: Product leadership value discipline
Ken Lewis: In the product and service leader proposition space, firms that provide products and services that stand out in the marketplace attract customers looking for inventive solutions to their needs. In this case, the customers are demanding of their products [and have] high continual ongoing service of those products they purchase.
I look at Digital Equipment Corp. as a customer many years ago when I was managing IT infrastructure as a [company] that always had something new and something that I didn't expect, and I had relied on it immensely. So, I always looked for its leadership. I would be looking for its product data features when I was going to order something new, if it was something I was going to use or could leverage. I could customize the product orders. Generally, [the company's employees were] highly skilled knowledge workers.
The important processes of the lifecycle are around the product catalog information processes.
[In] the ordering process, [there's] configuration knowledge [to determine, for instance, whether you can] mix and match: "Can I put this drive with this particular server?"
[And there are] technology service management processes. In many cases, when you bring something brand new that's in the marketplace into your facility, for example -- I'm going to use computer services because I'm familiar with this space -- they would have their service management folks in care of your systems.
This is not just for technology firms. I had one client that delivered [financial] data to customers. The way they did it was they delivered their own technology into the sites of their customers to provide linkage back to their data sources, since they were responsible for those services and computers that were sitting in the remote sites. They were being product leaders delivering information quickly to customers and by the same token, actually needing to understand their service management processes on the external facing space.
Now, governance in this space has to be active and agile because in this process in this kind of firm, the companies always try to invent something new that basically obsoletes something they already have. So, you have to have your ordering processes or your servicing processes and the like be able to … swiftly change the content that they're dealing with and [have a very fast] delivery model … because they're trying to stay ahead of the competition. So, agile is … important … in this space.
[In terms of] metrics, order throughput, speed and accuracy of the supplied product data to the customer [are important]. I want to make sure I've got the latest information.
The technology used in this space and supported in your business process needs to be flexible. You've [also] got to leverage the technology to deliver, service and replace the firm's offerings. … Product information [and] technical feedback [are] important.
[Last on the list of BPM distinctions for product leadership is] on-site product configuration: This goes back to the fact that you may have your product sitting in somebody else's site that you have to service.
One element of this thing that we look at is the lifecycle -- in this space, the marketing realm is more of a one-way street to the customer. The firm tends to want to deliver to the marketplace something new and different and … they want to get ahead of what the customer wants. So, the engagement process at the front end tends to be forward-looking -- or I should say a one-way street -- in most cases. But you've got to remember, they have to still be somewhat customer-intimate just to be competent in that space.