As the Director of James Fisher Asset Information Services (AIS), part of my job is getting our team focused on the most valuable and important challenges our customers face. Being focused on customer challenges, we can then shape our business to address those challenges as best we can. In other words: it is all about the customer. So, how do we prioritise our efforts?
In 2022 we are prioritising two key themes to keep us focused on our goal - Value Creation and Change Management. These sound like business buzz words - and perhaps they are - but as themes for our business they are critically important. As one of our very senior customer colleagues said, “tell me what you’re going to do tomorrow that I can’t already do today?” When it comes to digital services and the introduction of new digital products and workflows this customer’s statement really says it all. What we often forget is that all of our clients are already running their businesses successfully. They have methods, workflows, systems, and tools that allow them to operate their business safely and effectively as well as profitably. So why would they consider changing? Change is messy. Change is difficult. Change represents…uncertainty. But what we know is that all businesses are, in fact, looking to continually improve how they operate. They are looking for a bit of cost reduction here, a bit of extra margin there, and a few options for new revenue over there. Wholesale revolution is not typically what companies are after; they want to evolve in understandable, sensible ways and improve in the process. Simply, nobody comes to the first meeting of the new year and says, “This year, let’s backslide.” Organisations want move forward by doing better than last year.
So - how do we ensure we respond to the desire of our customers to do things better?
From my perspective, the most positive way to focus our energy and passion for digital services is to focus on our key themes of Value Creation and Change Management. What do I mean? Value Creation is the ability to tangibly deliver either revenue gain or cost savings to the customer. Change Management means helping company cultures change from the ‘way we’ve always done things’ to the ‘way we’re gonna do things’.
Each of these outcomes is its own type of discrete value. They are measurable and defendable, and typically form the basis of how businesses decide to invest. If you have ever proposed a new way of working inside your business and faced the question, “tell me what the return is,” you know what I mean. Your colleagues who have their hand on the money will always ask you what the return on investment (ROI) is, but without a tangible demonstration of that ROI, you are left with few options and often find yourself quickly on the defensive, even if the idea is completely sound in every other way.
What does this mean for us in AIS?
This means we must become even better at understanding what value we are creating for clients. We have to help them answer their internal ROI question and be able to deliver that story along with our digital products and services. The ‘story’ is really the economic model for adopting our product or service. It will be scrutinised and challenged - as it should be. Therefore, it needs to be rock solid. Consequently, our team goal in 2022 is to improve our understanding of our clients’ challenges so we better understand how to create real value.
Creating value is an exciting prospect for our teams - as it challenges us to find unique ways to support clients. But, even the most value-laden product or service still faces the challenge of typical human behaviour. Humans, with all of our strengths, also have a lot of weaknesses. We are generally resistant to change simply because we don’t like it. It’s uncomfortable. We have to be CONVINCED to change. We have to consider the reasons behind the change to be worthy of our attention. For a digital services company like AIS - this resistance to change can be a real barrier to the introduction of new digital tools. So how do we deal with this? We know clients are looking for ever more efficient ways of working to improve their own businesses. We also know that we provide some of the best-in-class digital workflows. However, this is not how humans think. Humans think about themselves. The principles of Change Management tell us that we must consider the individual AND the organisation, because focusing on only one or the other will result in failure. So, when we support clients with new value-adding services, we must think very carefully about how we roll out our product or service to their organisation, and simultaneously ensure individuals in the business can be even more successful in their roles. Organisations want to do better. People want to do a good job and advance in their work. Keeping both the organisation and the individual in focus during the digitisation process is vital to success. By making the customer look good, we make ourselves look good.
Throughout 2022 you will see and hear members of the AIS team talk a lot about Value Creation and Change Management on our LinkedIn channels, in whitepapers, in our blog posts, at conferences, and directly with customers. VC and CM are crucial themes that will help us focus on what is valuable and most important to our customers. And as I’ve said already, its all about the customer!