The Challenge: enable a team of engineers to create a compelling business case for developing a new customer solution
The Outcome: established a program with budget and mandate to define, prototype and test the solution
Communicating the value proposition of the business opportunity you’ve spotted in a big company can often be more challenging than defining the opportunity itself. Carrying out research across the organization, seeking help to test your idea, confirming the need with customers, proving the opportunity to sales leaders and simply getting attention from the necessary stakeholders can be daunting.
We worked with the engineering teams to reframe their concept to present a business benefit to a broader set of stakeholders than their core product group and the sales teams that relied on them to help close deals. We facilitated a value proposition design workshop, where they were able to define target customer segments and specific jobs that their solution could help.
We then brought them through an initial business model design exercise, with the primary purpose of identifying new partners within the business that could sponsor their idea. Using a business model canvas, we completed an initial business model framework.
The team presented it visually - on one page - giving their new stakeholders a quick and easy reference document to start to sell the idea on their behalf to other interested parties and leaders from across the business.
We quickly identified new ‘radical collaborators’ for the engineering team: partners that they suspected existed but did not know nor knew how to communicate with. The common language of the value proposition and business model canvases quickly overcame this challenge and soon they had a swell of new support.
The outcome was that the engineering team now had collaborators with different skill sets to whom they could both delegate tasks and rely on to complete gaps in their business model picture.
By defining and then designing the opportunity with a cross-functional group of collaborators, the project went from being a hunch that the engineers had to a business project with executive sponsors and effective budget within a short period of time.
TRANSFORM AN EXECUTIVE BRIEFING PROGRAM
The Challenge: re-define the value of the program to overcome a perception that the EBC represented a poor return on investment, then build a new operating model without adding significant cost.
The Outcome: via a design thinking workshop and a one-month engagement, we reframed the value proposition of the EBC as a business development program for the entire company, gaining new stakeholders to help validate its newly defined mandate.
The Impact: the reputation of the program was completely overhauled as several new stakeholders saw value in the new 'customer engagement as-a-service' that the EBC provided. The EBC gained new sponsors and additional investment.
A global company had spent several million dollars building out a new Executive Briefing Program with centers in three global locations and didn’t know how to measure the effectiveness of the program. The EBC management team knew how to administer a good experience, but weren’t succeeding in communicating the value to the stakeholders.
The EBC team faced several challenges: they lacked resource, they lacked the language to communicate the value of the EBC to their stakeholders and they lacked a broader base of natural stakeholders from across the business because, typically, EBCs report to sales or marketing functions. A whole world of interesting ideas and opportunities were discussed with customers inside the EBC every day, but only those with immediate revenue outcomes were pursued.
We worked with the EBC team to understand the expectations of their existing stakeholders (sales and marketing). We interviewed the sales and marketing leadership to understand how they wished to measure the EBC and discovered that they had no clear metric other than volume of briefings. There was no service charter or definition of the program and the EBC team was trying to juggle multiple incoming requests while being shorthanded and having no design constraints in place to help them determine priority of requests. The EBC is just one touchpoint along the customer journey, albeit a powerful one, but the team had no way of qualifying their impact.
We ran a design thinking workshop with the EBC team to imagine how they might deliver an EBC program that met the fullest potential of both their ability as a team and the broadest scope of the customer conversations that typically occurred every day.
As we sorted through the ideas, we noticed the potential interest for several new stakeholders from across the business in some of the conversations that were going unpursued by sales.
Over the next 30 days, we worked with the EBC team to prototype and test some of our findings. We discovered that many of the organizations who were newly interested in the capability of the EBC didn’t typically assume a sponsorship role in the program. We set out to interview those potential new stakeholders – consulting, CTO office, M&A group, customer service etc. – to see if they would value having access to customers face to face in the EBC. Furthermore, we asked them if they would be prepared to sponsor the EBC if the program were to refine its value proposition and business models with a view to enabling a broader set of customer and sponsor outcomes. We also asked the stakeholders to identify what their metric for success from an EBC would be, so that the program could begin to design a clear charter of services with accompanying definitions and measurements.
Soon, the EBC’s new internal partners, realizing the rich value of live customer access via the EBC, began to request speaking slots and suggest new topics of discussion for sales and marketing to drive with customers. The EBC itself began to get positive reviews on social media from customers, which the EBC team used as proof to lock in its budget needs. There was no longer a need for extra headcount, because the EBC proved its value as a stage for other parts of the company. Traffic to the EBC rose significantly and the EBC offered a more differentiated and interesting program for customers and partners than the company’s competitors.
Net satisfaction with the team and with the program turned around rapidly and instead of searching for ideas and then trying to pull in customers and sales teams to use the program, the EBC team put in place a system for refining and delivering ideas that aligned directly with the priorities of each of their stakeholders.
ENABLE AN IT PROCUREMENT TEAM
The Challenge: enable an IT Procurement team to better understand the strategies it was supporting, to design a new approach to IT vendor management and reframe it as a valuable business partner for the CIO.
The Outcome: via a value proposition workshop, we enabled the procurement team to understand how vendors proposed their discreet products and services into complex solution environments. We developed a new RFP framework to help them negotiate more effectively.
The Impact: the procurement team learned how to determine the best vendor mix to support the CIO's blueprint, in the process overcoming a negative perception amongst the IT staff and becoming a valuable partner.
The procurement team for a mid-sized retail company is excellent at negotiating favorable deals. IT vendors, however, love to sell on features and functions and IT staff are famously loyal to certain brands. A particular challenge in the SMB space, is that IT vendors can sometimes be weak on strategy and simply fail to have a focused business conversation with the client. The procurement guys needed a system for understanding what represented the best strategic value when negotiating IT product and service acquisitions in support of the CIO’s strategy.
Using a value proposition design model, we worked to ‘reverse engineer’ the value proposals made by some of the key vendors. We did this by looking at the broader business strategy that the IT department was hoping to support with solutions developed across a broad portfolio of technologies. The model looks at the job functions of the customer and, using this, we were able to make a list of questions that vendors would have to satisfy to prove they could help address the challenges that the CIO faced.
By coming at the situation from this perspective, the procurement team was able to get around some of the dynamics and relationships that existed between elements of their IT team and certain vendors and was able to evaluate the strategic strengths and weaknesses of the various vendors. The gaps and risks associated with various approaches quickly became apparent.
We also used the business model canvas to help the procurement team to understand how vendors would partner with each other to best meet the company’s goals and to shape the RFPs. The value of this approach was to help the procurement team refine their vendor management strategy and completely cut through marketing data to review only the most pertinent information.
The team was able to develop a much more focused RFP template which resulted in a significantly shorter time for submission and review of RFPs. The Procurement team was reframed as a strong partner to the CIO.
IT SERVICES MARKETING STRATEGY
The Challenge: help an IT Services company redefine marketing strategy to support a new ITaaS business strategy, organizing its teams and information to enable the new business model.
The Outcome: restructured the pre-sales engagement model entirely as complimentary stages of an IT-as-a-Service strategy.
The Impact: within 12 months of the design and launch of the strategy the company’s revenue had grown by 33% and there was significantly better linkage between their strategy and outcomes.
Disruptive technologies and business strategies rapidly change the way we live and work, especially for companies within the IT sector itself. The growth in cloud and SaaS-based business models presents a particular set of challenges for companies in the IT re-seller market. Most of these companies’ primary value was based on being a local channel for global technology vendors and being able to deliver compelling technology deals to local businesses. Cloud and ‘as-a-service’ models remove much of the perceived need for re-sellers, so these companies have to rapidly re-frame their value to both vendors and customers to succeed.
The company had designed a strong customer value proposition around positioning IT organizations for success as business partners within their companies. What we needed to do now was to work the customer-facing consulting teams to re-organize them to ensure that the roles, capabilities and information within the company were fully aligned with the new business model. The key design principle was that the organization and work of the team should enable the business strategy at all times and that there should be no ‘orphan’ work projects going on that did not support the overall business goals. This meant that every piece of work, no matter how small, would always have a cross- or up-sell path that customers were likely to pursue.
We worked with the individual consulting teams to re-calibrate their knowledge and ways of working in the context of a business model for each IT practice, with core value propositions that comprised key components of the overall business strategy.
We reviewed the products and services they were each responsible for and designed a matrix that showed what they would offer and to whom at particular points along a maturity model. We then brought the group together in a business model workshop to imagine how we might position all the practices in alignment to support the new corporate business model.
We built a library of complimentary case studies and references and designed a focused social media strategy that would enable non-competitive technology peers working for companies in the local area to come together frequently with our client’s labs and expertise as the hub. Customers would quickly understand where they were on the ‘journey’ and who else they could collaborate with to get there with less risk.
Finally, we built a handbook with four component models for the ongoing operation of the strategy. These models included two templates to help the team design future plans – for Value Proposition and Business Model generation - and two templates to help them execute future plans – a logical workflow model and a business enablement platform or layer-cake. We were now able to tie every customer initiative with a capability, product or service. The team’s work became significantly more efficient as each new project could be categorized according to a specific offering. Time to delivery of results was significantly enhanced, leading to opportunities for higher efficiency and productivity.