Author: Jean-Marie Zirano

The value of modeling for digital transformation


In business and IT domains, the perspective on the hickups of “modeling” – and modeling automation – over the past three decades teaches us a lot. The neverending technology innovation has had contrasted effects on the perceived value of modeling, and has clearly delineated the modeling-averse from the modeling savvy. The value of modeling surely bounces again with the digital imperative. How and why?


What modeling are we talking about?

In this post, you need to know that the “model” substantive means the representation of something. Modeling is the act of building this representation. It goes from a spoken or written word that represents what I am talking / writing about, to a drawing using graphical symbols, a painting, to a 2D model of a 3D object, etc. You get it.

Now, what can a service designer expect to be modeling-related in a customer journey mapping software? Or a product owner with a roadmapping or ideation management tool? I’d say nothing, except the act of drawing, seems to be somewhat modeling-related. I mean the modeling technique and skills are not supposed to be a painful prerequisite to successfully build the expected representation and deliver business value. All you need is to draw. It’s a matter of smartly hiding several levels of abstraction inside the tool.


Has modeling lost value over time?

Well, this value has moved in different places. Ask yourself what, in a UML-based system modeling tool should be modeling-related? Nearly everything. Same for BPMN process modeling or for any subject matter that relies on modeling standard (E.g. Archimate or DMN).

Also, remember what Mark McGregor wrote about modeling vs. mapping back in 2013, which obviously still applies: in substance Mark suggested that in certain contexts, speed and agility have immense value when using modeling software to fix business issues.

I would say that the value of modeling – computer-aided modeling – has not significantly changed for system modelers or process designers. Such roles greatly benefit from the way their tools not only comply with standards (UML, BPMN…), but also integrate their modeling skills into a productive value chain. But reversely It has changed dramatically over the past 5 to 8 years, for users of mapping tools who, consciously or not, build models with software tools that require drawing skills only. For them, the value of modeling lies in the extent to which software vendors successfully hide the complexity of modeling, to let them benefit from the business value they expect, directly in business terms.


Value in hiding complexity

Finally, certain software vendors add even more modeling value when they successfully apply modeling techniques – like combining a meta-model foundation to an agile approach – to build flexible software offerings more likely to meet and anticipate fast changing market needs.

Should you be curious as to why the Axellience software vendor belongs to the last category, just have a look at the customer journey mapping tool in their Business Transformer suite and let us know what you think. We’ll be delighted to chat.

3 critical benefits of process-related techniques on customer experience


It goes without saying: changes in the organization are intended to improve customer experience. For sure you have experienced it many times yourself: not a single organizational or IT change has ever been envisioned without measuring its effect on customer conduct and perceived value… Joke.


So, each time a change investment is planned in your organization, who measures its effect on customer experience and checks ROI? This is where you need to link organizational change scenarios to a measurable customer experience-related consequence. Somehow. And now you see me coming: how to select only those organization and process-related changes that will improve customer experience?


I’m not the only one to wonder. So does Aragon’s VP of Research and Aragon Fellow, Jim Sinur, worldwide renowned process innovation guru. One of Jim’s most challenging 2018 prediction is that “By year end 2019, processes will be dynamically aligned to customer journeys, personas, and customizations”.


From customer facing processes to journey maps “moments of truth”

Each touchpoint within the workflow of a customer journey requires the right resources to properly complete, including business processes. Hence a poorly designed process can get customers to turn to competition on what becomes a “moment of truth”. You need to locate such impacts with links between processes and touchpoints.

1. Smart process analysis reduces risks inherent to moments of truth


UX and Service designers cannot go anywhere without process maps

When rethinking a product or service offering through the digital lens, Service and UX designers need to understand where they start from, to choose the best options to go digital. Having mapped existing processes greatly helps avoid the blank page and understand which processes are a safe springboard into a digital customer experience.

2. Process maps help more quickly articulate a digital offering


Choosing between continuity or disruption to jump into digital

Successful digital transformation in highly competitive markets is more likely to be disruptive: newborn, agile competitors build a digital offering in a matter of months – e.g. Qonto or open banking – and go to market much quicker. To do the same, existing market players need to understand who does what to minimize disruption effects. Using process maps from a participant viewpoint helps understand each one’s tasks across all processes and reorganize more safely in disruptive environments.

3. Process maps greatly help for digital skills transition management


“Net-Net”: should you regard customer experience improvement as your compass into digital business, chances are all organization-related changes affect customer conduct and value proposition. With the advent of the digital era, process-related techniques and know-how surely have a new golden age coming now.


What lies behind customer experience?

It has been a recurrently observable natural phenomenon over the past 10-15 years, and also in a much more distant past: discussing with management teams, browsing all kinds of marketing material over the period, it seems that businesses regularly rediscover they have customers to take care of. Oh, really? If so – well, let’s assume it’s true! – why is customer experience both an enterprise and a customer asset?


In the recent business-related communication, “customer experience” – noble heir of terms like “customer care”, “customer relationship management” and “customer satisfaction”, is regarded as the rosetta stone of digital transformation. Just type “customer experience statistics” in your preferred search engine to get a sense of it:


A window on the world

truly, customer experience is invaluable as a windows from which to look at two directions: gaining knowledge over customer behavior helps enterprises get a sense of – and improve – their value proposition. Looking through the same windows the other way round, consumers get more insight on the product or service their are considering and make better purchase decisions.


A domain for exponential technology innovation

The customer experience market is at an inflection point where scarce literacy of the ones contrasts with advanced literature of the others. The repeated, yet invariably and fakely surprising awareness that customers’ behavior deserves attention, combines with the certainty that customer experience should be integral to the enterprise DNA as the focal point of those changes likely to improve value proposition: digital service provision, IT modernization, organizational quantum leaps, IoT integration and more generally R&D investments. As Jim Sinur underlines in Aragon Research’s “Embrace Digital Transformation in 2018 with These 10 Tips” blog post, “Placing an emphasis on an excellent customer experience—while optimizing a balance between operational efficiency and customer satisfaction—should be the goal for digital organizations”.


A place to express value

From a more visionary standpoint, today’s customer experience focus reveals how strategic systems of value are to ensure loyalty and trust. By value, I mean neither product price of value for money spent, but the extent to which a business relationship deserves esteem from a moral and intellectual viewpoint. In particular I mean what is perceived as ideal to defend or reach. Closely watching customer experience helps understand such systems of value.


Should you mean to have the upper hand over competition in your digital business, you may want to check how Axellience can help you build your digital future using customer experience as a pivot of your digital journey.