The next-generation operating model for the digital world

Posted on: April 21st, 2017 by bobmorris

Here is a brief excerpt from an article written by Albert Bollard, Elixabete Larrea, Alex Singla, and Rohit Sood for the McKinsey Quarterly, published by McKinsey & Company. To read the complete article, check out other resources, learn more about the firm, obtain subscription information, and register to receive email alerts, please click here.

To learn more about the McKinsey Quarterly, please click here.

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Companies need to increase revenues, lower costs, and delight customers. Doing that requires reinventing the operating model.

Companies know where they want to go. They want to be more agile, quicker to react, and more effective. They want to deliver great customer experiences, take advantage of new technologies to cut costs, improve quality and transparency, and build value.

The problem is that while most companies are trying to get better, the results tend to fall short: one-off initiatives in separate units that don’t have a big enterprise-wide impact; adoption of the improvement method of the day, which almost invariably yields disappointing results; and programs that provide temporary gains but aren’t sustainable.

We have found that for companies to build value and provide compelling customer experiences at lower cost, they need to commit to a next-generation operating model. This operating model is a new way of running the organization that combines digital technologies and operations capabilities in an integrated, well-sequenced way to achieve step-change improvements in revenue, customer experience, and cost.

A simple way to visualize this operating model is to think of it as having two parts, each requiring companies to adopt major changes in the way they work:

o The first part involves a shift from running uncoordinated efforts within siloes to launching an integrated operational-improvement program organized around customer journeys (the set of interactions a customer has with a company when making a purchase or receiving services) as well as the internal journeys (end-to-end processes inside the company). Examples of customer journeys include a homeowner filing an insurance claim, a cable-TV subscriber signing up for a premium channel, or a shopper looking to buy a gift online. Examples of internal-process journeys include Order-to-Cash or Record-to-Report.

o The second part is a shift from using individual technologies, operations capabilities, and approaches in a piecemeal manner inside siloes to applying them to journeys in combination and in the right sequence to achieve compound impact.

Let’s look at [the first] element of the model and the necessary shifts in more detail:

Shift #1: From running uncoordinated efforts within siloes to launching an integrated operational-improvement program organized around journeys

Many organizations have multiple independent initiatives underway to improve performance, usually housed within separate organizational groups (e.g. front and back office). This can make it easier to deliver incremental gains within individual units, but the overall impact is most often underwhelming and hard to sustain. Tangible benefits to customers—in the form of faster turnaround or better service—can get lost due to hand-offs between units. These become black holes in the process, often involving multiple back-and-forth steps and long lag times. As a result, it’s common to see individual functions reporting that they’ve achieved notable operational improvements, but customer satisfaction and overall costs remain unchanged.

Instead of working on separate initiatives inside organizational units, companies have to think holistically about how their operations can contribute to delivering a distinctive customer experience. The best way to do this is to focus on customer journeys and the internal processes that support them. These naturally cut across organizational siloes—for example, you need marketing, operations, credit, and IT to support a customer opening a bank account. Journeys—both customer-facing and end-to-end internal processes—are therefore the preferred organizing principle.

Transitioning to the next-generation operating model starts with classifying and mapping key journeys. At a bank, for example, customer-facing journeys can typically be divided into seven categories: signing up for a new account; setting up the account and getting it running; adding a new product or account; using the account; receiving and managing statements; making changes to accounts; and resolving problems. Journeys can vary by product/service line and customer segment. In our experience, targeting about 15–20 top journeys can unlock the most value in the shortest possible time.

We often find that companies fall into the trap of simply trying to improve existing processes. Instead, they should focus on entirely reimagining the customer experience, which often reveals opportunities to simplify and streamline journeys and processes that unlock massive value. Concepts from behavioral economics can inform the redesign process in ingenious ways. Examples include astute use of default settings on forms, limiting choice to keep customers from feeling overwhelmed, and paying special attention to the final touchpoint in a series, since that’s the one that will be remembered the most.

In 2014, a major European bank announced a multiyear plan to revamp its operating model to improve customer satisfaction and reduce overall costs by up to 35 percent. The bank targeted the ten most important journeys, including the mortgage process, onboarding of new business and personal customers, and retirement planning. Eighteen months in, operating costs are lower, the number of online customers is up nearly 20 percent, and the number using its mobile app has risen more than 50 percent. (For more on reinventing customer journeys, see “Putting customer experience at the heart of next-generation operating models,” forthcoming on McKinsey.com.)

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

Albert Bollard is an associate partner in McKinsey’s New York office; Elixabete Larrea is an associate partner in the Boston office; Alex Singla is a senior partner in the Chicago office, and Rohit Sood is a partner in the Toronto office.

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