Operational Excellence: Delivering In The Digital Era

Personalisation and customisation are opportunities for businesses to do more, better online.

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Personalisation and customisation are opportunities for businesses to do more, better online.


Operational Excellence: Delivering In The Digital Era

Personalisation and customisation are opportunities for businesses to do more, better online.

Share this article

It is fair to say that businesses built on the traditional bricks-and-mortar model have had a tough time of late. Many retailers have borne the brunt as digitalisation has demanded organisations of all shapes and sizes adapt to a new way of working.

Last year over 40 medium-sized or large retailers fell into administration in the UK, and this year we look set to witness further casualties, with Toys ‘R’ Us among those that have already fallen by the wayside. While some of that can be put down to economics, a lot of it is the result of a continual demand for greater personalisation and customisation.

A shining example of doing that right is the streaming platform Netflix, which continues to grow exponentially by drawing on its huge source of data to personalise viewing suggestions for customers, and 80 percent of them happily coming back for more and watching what it recommends.

What is clear however, is businesses need to address this change not just from an external perspective, but also an internal one, ensuring the right processes are in place so that teams can address these new challenges holistically.

The demand for personalisation and customisation has meant employees across the board have had to change the way they operate.

As customers demand quicker and easier deliveries of products or services, teams have had to face the new reality of delivering those across more channels, with tighter deadlines and less margins for errors. Achieving operational excellence, particularly at scale, has never been more challenging.

So, what can businesses do to strive towards nirvana in the digital era?

We can learn more than you might expect from lessons of the past, and by simply applying smart thinking to the processes we see emerging in the digital world. Some businesses are busy fighting fires and being buried under a myriad of new technology options.

But if you take a strategic approach to the digital aspects of your business, you have the opportunity to steal a march on your competitors.

Understanding the new normal: personalisation and the on-demand culture

If you go back even five years, personalising a product or a service was reserved for a handful of customers who were either VIPs, or willing to pay a premium for the benefit.

Today, businesses from Netflix to your local curry house are thriving because they are tailoring their operations and solutions to meet the individual demands of customers. Many that are, are using data to fuel that, drawing on information from previous orders or online interactions with the brand.

This data can bring huge competitive advantages, helping teams to build greater trust and loyalty by using it to help send things like personalised automatic follow-up messages or a text reminder of an appointment.

Many that are doing so successfully are using technology and AI solutions that can automate these and other routine and repetitive tasks, which can free-up more time for teams to focus on value-creating activities. And time is critical in this digital age.

A recent report by Salesforce found that 80 per cent of business buyers expect companies to respond and interact with them in real-time. This expectation for immediacy has brought an end to the traditional ‘9 to 5’ job as an effective way of addressing growing customer demands, as it simply doesn’t leave enough room for agility.

One option to meet this challenge is to have a workforce that works around the clock. The other, and more preferable one, is to ensure you have the right tools and processes in place.

How can you get your processes right?

This context is heavy with challenges and calls for an equally major re-evaluation of how businesses manage expectations. Your team needs to have the right company-wide processes in place in order to cope with this increased demand - delivering high quality, customised results in less time.

These processes that allow companies to deliver and meet expectations through flawless execution is what we call ‘operational excellence’. But achieving that is no easy feat.

It requires discipline and drive by both business leaders and their employees. The key is committing to the journey and bringing everyone along with you. Making the decision to move towards this ultimate goal will be any business’ first critical step. As for what follows, we’ve identified four stages that will help you get to that end goal:

React: Most teams when they embark on this journey find themselves on the back foot, firefighting excessive workloads as a result of unstructured and often siloed processes. The start point is recognizing these inefficiencies and putting in place more coordinated, standardized processes around tasks.

Organise: At this second stage, teams should move on to adopting a Single Source of Truth for their most important work, best achieved using a collaboration or project management tool. They should set up a basic workflow to roll out to the team with comprehensive training so that everyone is using it in the right way.

Scale: The critical aspect of this stage is rolling out the new processes that were set up during the previous stage, to the entire organisation. Teams should share their success and build a culture of excellence within the business so all employees feel they can identify opportunities for improvement.

They should extend their workflow across the rest of the company, therefore increasing efficiency, speed and quality with the help of templates, custom workflows, and intelligent routing.

Optimise: This last stage should be a culmination of efforts, making sure that all the new processes and structures put in place are upheld. Like any aspect of a company’s culture, it is only sustainable if the behaviour is modelled from the top down. Living and breathing the principles of growth and continuous improvement will ensure that the company both stays competitive and delivers faultlessly to its customers.

We believe operational excellence is as much a mind-set as it is an aspiration. The path to excellence has many stages to it, a journey in every aspect of the word. The real question is whether you can afford NOT to explore these new ways of working?

Andrew Filev is CEO and founder of Wrike.

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Operational Excellence: Delivering In The Digital Era

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