ExOs Moving from Transactions to Experiences

A relentless focus on delivering humanized digital experiences to delight its customers combined with the ability to create, build and operationalize these secure, seamless, context-aware and personalized experiences are defining characteristics of ExOs. Consider these examples:

  • Riders that use the ride-sharing service Uber remember two key interactions, the first is how they can look for and select a ride that meets their needs, hail the ride and know exactly when and where the driver will pick them up. The second interaction they remember is the hassle-free and secure way in which they paid for the ride and provided feedback to the driver
  • Fliers of Southwest Airlines are accustomed to a unique self-service check-in function that lets them decide their boarding priority that simplifies and standardizes the way they board the aircraft
  • Vacationers of the Disney Cruise Line remember the white glove experience they receive from the time they book their vacation and how it extends through their vacation and
  • People who own a Tesla speak highly about the hassle-free buying experience that lets them build and buy a car of their choice, know exactly when it will be available and have the option of having the car delivered to their doorstep or pick it up after taking a tour of the Tesla factory.

These companies have transformed routine, mundane and in many cases stressful (think buying a car at a regular car dealership) interactions into meaningful, memorable, fun, and unexpected experiences. These experiences deliver memorable interactions that span multiple channels, cut across organizational silos and boundaries of IT applications and infrastructure. In other words, ExOs deliver secure, seamless, context-aware experiences that are well orchestrated and executed consistently to provide meaningful outcomes that are not easy for competitors to replicate in the marketplace. These experiences allow companies to transcend how customers perceive an organization through daily transactional interactions and help them buy into your Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) and become loyal brand advocates. All of these experiences have five (5) things in common:

"These companies have transformed routine, mundane, and in many cases stressful interactions into meaningful, memorable, fun, and unexpected experiences."

  1. They make the customer a co-creator of the experience by keeping them informed and engaged in shaping the experience. For instance, Tesla’s car buying process engages the customer by empowering her to build and customize her car and putting her in control over several aspects of the buying process
  2. They are delivered by integrating processes that cut across organizational silos(marketing, customer service, operations etc.) within the organization and partner organizations that are part of the value stream. For instance, a Disney Cruise Vacationer who booked their cruise online is greeted by a friendly concierge when they land at the Miami Airport. This concierge has all the details of the vacation (context) and makes sure that the vacationer and their bags are delivered from the airline, onto ground transportation and all the way into their cabin on the cruise liner. This experience cuts across organizational boundaries and includes partners (limo companies, tour operators etc.) that are part of the Disney ecosystem.
  3. They are secure, seamless, context aware and delivered across one or more digital channels (web, mobile, contact center etc.). For instance, fliers of Southwest Airlines can start the booking process on the website and have it seamlessly handed off to the Southwest mobile app or to one of the electronic kiosks at the airport.
  4. They include small but significant details that are easy to overlook but when taken as part of the entire experience deliver something far more valuable. For instance, once you have hailed a ride, the Uber app always displays driver information (name, photo and contact details) and car information (color, make, model and license plate). Taken individually by themselves these attributes may seem trivial but they serve the enhance the quality of the overall experience especially when they are taken in the context of a rider looking for their specific car in the arrivals lane at a busy airport in a city that is new to them.
  5. They are all humanized digital experiences that incorporate leading edge technology and actionable data insights with a personalized human touch. All of the experiences described earlier (Tesla, Southwest, Disney or Uber) use cool technology and actionable insights but they are also delivered with the right amount of human touch that is based on empathy for the customer and the situation they are in when the encounter the experience.

In order for organizations to deliver meaningful and memorable experiences they need to understand how to identify which experiences to focus on. Exponential IT organizations can use a technique I have developed called Digital Portfolio Management (DPM) to provide a good understanding of the key experiences through which a business delivers value to its main stakeholders (customers, employees and partners). 

DPM is an effective mix of art and science that focuses on prioritizing and making business decisions, determining investment policy and mix, matching investments to business priorities, and allocating resources to enable expected business outcomes. DPM treats the key experiences and the IT industrial complex (infrastructure, applications, people, etc.) as an investment and applies professional portfolio management techniques to this investment. It helps define the intrinsic value and underlying risk of these experiences and identifies how IT assets and people contribute to the core value chain of activities that enable the experience.

In its simplest form DPM has 6 steps:

  1. Identify key user personas that interact with the services and solutions you provide. A user persona is a representation of the goals and behavior of a hypothesized group of users. For instance, here is one of the user personas we created to represent a customer service representative – “Customers come first, and I need the tools to perform flawlessly in order to provide stellar service. I deal with high volumes and transaction velocity is key. Any downtime in an application/system is downtime for the customer as well”.
  2. Identify key channels that are used by these user personas. These channels can be purely digital channels (Website, Mobile apps etc.), hybrid channels (contact centers, agency offices etc.) and analog channels (print).
  3. In order to ensure success with the DPM effort, it is critical to prioritize the personas and channels your organization wants to focus on. Once this is done, build an Experience Matrix that describes the quality of experiences that each persona has with a given channel. This matrix is a simple and color-coded 3x3 grid that plots business criticality/importance (Low, Medium, High) of any interaction on the X-axis and how often (Infrequent, Average, Frequent) the user experiences the interaction on the Y-axis. The color-coding of the text in the grid is Red, Black and Green and it represents if the experience is differentiated (Green), adequate (Black) or sub-par (Red). This matrix can be used to prioritize the experience(s) you want to work on. The order in which these experiences are prioritized for investment will vary with each organization. For instance, an organization can choose to work on the low hanging fruit and go after the easiest to implement first or they could choose to work on the sub par (red) experiences that are encountered by the user frequently etc.
  4. Use Design Thinking and User Centered Design to quickly and iteratively conduct empathy based interviews with users who represent the persona, prototype the desired experience and test and refine the prototypes. This step ensures that we are humanizing the digital experience.
  5. Develop a user journey map for the prototyped experience, which will identify the components that need to come together and deliver this experience. The user journey map also helps us connect and implement the experience across organizational silos. Here is a good example of a journey map that was developed for Rail Europe and a link to a great blog post on this topic from Chris Risdon at Adaptive Path
  6. Use the Lean Startup method to build and continuously improve the experience. This approach will help us iteratively build, measure and learn from each experience.

Source: The Anatomy of an Experience Map - Chris Risdon at Adaptive Path

Exponential Organizations (ExOs) consistently deliver on the promise of their Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) through memorable, value-added experiences. These interactions can span multiple channels and cut across organizational silos and boundaries of IT applications and infrastructure. In other words, these experiences are a collection of activities and interactions that are well orchestrated and executed consistently to deliver value-added outcomes that are hard to replicate by their competitors in the marketplace. 

A single registration gives you access to all our reports and video content. Register

I geared this article in the Exponential IT series to highlight the need to shift from transactions to experiences as we build the ExO IT organizations of the future. I will cover more on the other shifts in my future articles. 

To view the original article, please visit here.

This is article #4 of 4 articles written by Srini. Here is the listing of his other articles:

Article 1: The Traditional Model of IT is Dead - Meet Exponential IT
Article 2: The 8 Shifts in Thinking for IT Organizations and its Leadership
Article 3: Winning the War for Talent


Srini Koushik
Chief Technology Officer
Magellan Health

Read Biography

More Point of Views

George Rockett

Point of view story
Q&A: George Rockett, DatacenterDynamics

Srini Koushik

Chief Technology Officer
Magellan Health
Point of view story
The Traditional Model of IT is Dead - Meet Exponential IT

Zahl Limbuwala

CEO and Co-Founder
Point of view story
Q&A: How to Decide What Should Go to the Cloud