“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
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All innovation happens close to the customer/the citizen/the soldier. The goal of a customer driven organization in the modern world is to harness that innovation to create and sustain a digital customer. All of the organization, not just technologists must make the switch to starting with a digital customer and understand that customer in the different environments, journeys and ecosystems where they interact, buy, sell and complete the jobs they have to do. It is no longer acceptable to simply create a product and sell it for a profit, as products and services are being used and blended with a much more complicated ecosystem within which the customer lives and acts.
A digital customer is one who has blended technology into their lifestyle, product, service choices and personality to the degree that non-digital business models including government and non-profits cannot meet their needs.
Take for example the business person who needs to give a presentation at a conference. An airline might want to market and sell her a seat, but that is not enough to truly imagine the digital customer. The customer’s journey is a part of a much broader job that she needs done, and that is not flying on an airline, but being rested and present at the conference on time. That involves multiple vendors in the ecosystem, hotels, taxis, restaurants and many more. To lead and to achieve true customer led business initiatives the airline must be able to imagine and participate in this ecosystem and help the customer get her real job done in a way that is valuable to both parties and matches the airlines digital business model. To be effective this must be a multi-disciplinary effort with strong technical leadership to be truly competitive.
To imagine the digital customer you have to remove yourself from traditional business/IT thinking and begin to understand the behavior of your customer/citizen in the value stream and ecosystem. Understanding their behavior, understanding their jobs to be done and their feelings as they accomplish it. It is important to understand that just one innovator or group cannot hope to create the systemic change that is necessary to lead and that technologists are as or more important than other business units to making this transition to digital advantage successful. No longer can there be a distinction between ‘the business’, there must be a blended team at the strategic and customer-focused levels to deliver value on a regular basis.
The IT as a service model from years ago has littered business with thinking about the internal customer. This language confuses the definition of stakeholder with customer. The customer is always external. The user may be internal, the stakeholder may be internal, but the customer is always the customer. Technologists must change their language or forever remain order-takers.
The Iasa ITABoK defines an architectural approach to comprehensive and systemic digital advantage which far surpasses the disjoint and IT-focused bodies of knowledge in the space and provides collaborative tools that are effective across multiple boundaries. Architecture as a practice includes the kinds of systemic change necessary to grow beyond digital transformation and become a transformational company consistently seeking digital advantage and value.
The ITABoK includes numerous best practices taken from multiple approaches to customer driven innovation and marries that with the innovation basis for delivering those technical strategies, measuring their outcomes and continuously improving over time.
Understanding the Value to the Project
The goal of the ITABoK is to be as valuable to a single project team doing architecture work as it is to a huge team for a large enterprise, though normally less of it is used. Imagining a Digital Customer is at the heart of every innovative digitally native organization, from the time they started to the largest examples like Amazon. Jeff Bezos is famous for his relentless focus on the customer and the average software team should be as well.
What About the Internal Team
Many technology driven products and services are internally driven and these tools can be addapted to stakeholder driven approaches.
If you don’t get in the mind and the feelings of your customer you will never really understand their needs and will miss opportunities that others are able to see. It all starts with understanding your customer and the work they need to do. The ITABoK recommends the use of persona cards to understand your customer in depth and bring them to life with their own personal story. It also brings in an empathy map and the beginnings of the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework (https://strategyn.com/jobs-to-be-done/jobs-to-be-done-theory/) which helps you understand the real work of the customer much like the business executive in the above example.
Personas should be used both at the strategic and the execution level to help drive decisions throughout the architecture team.
Managing the Personas
Personas can include a huge variety of information about the customer. They are best managed by a joint team of marketing and cross-team stakeholders. There is no right number of personas which a company will use, but the business model should drive the use of personas within a particular space. Within that business models customers can be segmented into useful divisions and engagement principle is to have one persona per customer segment. This is an area where marketing should drive while the architecture team manages only the persona information necessary to understand the customer journeys, ecosystem and environment by which technology strategy is delivered.
Customer Personas/Stakeholder Personas and Requirements/Stories
Enterprise applications vary to their degree of compatibility and impact on customer personas and many are based on stakeholders, not customers. The architect team should be very clear which impact areas they are addressing in decisions and within the value model. However, many if not all stakeholder driven applications and tools can have direct impact to customer personas and these should be well understood within extended teams and solution architects. The ASRs and/or ARSs that are impacted should be highly prioritized within assignment and within the architecture objectives.
“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”, Theodore Roosevelt. The impact of empathy in understanding and creating customers cannot be underestimated. The customer’s mood and feeling in many ways guide their behavior and the view they have of the company. Using empathy to guide decisions related to specific parts for the technology strategy.
The goal of customer empathy mapping is to get into the hearts and minds of the customer. By better understanding their situation the architect team can respond or predict their behavior in certain scenarios as well as derive architecturally significant requirements and constraints based on real market evidence but personalize it to be more meaningful to the team and stakeholders.
What does your customer really think about the job?
- Taking out the trash is never fun
- Buying food can be a chore
- Paying for dinner may be to impress a client
What do they feel while they do it? Before? After?
Use the thinking and feeling section to really understand and identify with your customer
The Iasa Persona Card has been built with an empathy map built in but you may download the customer empathy map from gamestorming.com for use in other scenarios.
Understanding the Customers Jobs-to-be-Done
“A customer doesn’t want a quarter inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole.”, Theodore Levitt. The JBTD framework is a way of understanding what a customer is attempting to achieve when they buy/hire a product or service. For example, a customer doesn’t want a drill they want the outcome of using the drill, a hole.
The JBTD framework is built directly into the cards and canvases Iasa uses to understand the real job of the customer in a particular phase or set of actions with the organization. The goal is to allow teams to better understand the outcomes the customer is expecting all the way from initially hiring a product or service to even small actions within the total customer journey.
Architects must be able to envision the entire set of stages and interactions of a customer within the ecosystem and within the particular customer journey they are on. Here is an example of a customer journey for traveling on a train. The journey is broken into discrete stages and represent a customer’s entire series of interactions related to a single job to be done.
It is possible to have multiple journeys within the customer ecosystem as is the case in the following example from KLM.
Customer Journeys and the Value Stream
It is easy to confuse the customer journey and value stream mapping. The ITABoK describes the relationship between these as operational versus customer focused. The value stream maps and models are primarily used in lean enterprise thinking and help to organize around value creation with the customer in mind. The customer journey is used to understand how that value stream looks to the customer throughout the lifecycle. They should be used in tandem to understand internal and external optimization for both operational concerns as well as customer outcomes.
The customer ecosystem is the total environment within which the organization and its customers operate but with the focus on the customers view. It allows the architecture team to understand customer pressures, competitive pressures, as well as elements like market drivers and PESTLE. The ecosystem helps to offset the operation views and internal views inherent in business modeling and value stream mapping.
Ecosystem work in the ITABoK uses many of the ideas from the Platform Design Toolkit and adapted to architecture team usage within the broader context of the enterprise.
The Imagining a Digital Customer is not just for for-profit organizations selling standard tools and services but can be adapted for internal ecosystems of stakeholders, as well as non-profits, governments and military. The methods for adaptation are based in the use of slightly modified cards and canvases. For example, empathy mapping is also done for stakeholders. Missions have enemies, engagements and combatants and only small changes are necessary to the cards and canvases to use the same innovative approaches. Many of these tools are under development now.
ITABoK 3.0 by ITABoK 3.0 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Based on a work at https://itabok.iasaglobal.org/itabok3_0/.