The Hybrid Window
Over the last decade, advances in digital technology have made it an integral part of life and business over most of the globe. However the transformation from offline to online is still far from complete. Today we live in a hybrid of the online and offline worlds. The “hybrid window” is the intersection between the offline and online worlds. This is where the customer today interacts with an organization. This window offers the potential of allowing organizations to revolutionize customer experience through new channels, technologies & services while keeping in touch with time-tested business model constructs.
The advent of the Internet sparked potentially radical changes in business operations, leading to the phenomenon now called the Internet bubble. It resulted in a “gold-rush” offering riches beyond compare. Basic business sense was forgotten and it was assumed you could build global enterprises without a sound business model. When the bubble finally burst, there was a significant “shake out,” with only solid Internet companies with a business model that worked, remaining intact.
How is the “Hybrid window” different to this earlier ‘bubble’? Firstly the rules have changed – the Internet itself has grown and consolidated, the business models that work within the new digital paradigms is much better understood (although still constantly shifting); Telecommunication and mobile technologies have become more mature and widely available. Secondly the actors have matured – the customers are now more flexible to adapt to this fast changing environment led by technology savvy “millennials”.
The shift in mindset has been evident in shopping trends or in the way music and film distribution has changed. For example, the paradigm shift from illegal downloads to offering music online with iTunes and Spotify. Social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have also pioneered entirely new ways of communication and doing business.
The new reality
Organizations that continue to follow old business models can often wind up being less viable and flexible. The days of the ‘one-size-fits-all’ mindset are over. Companies unwilling to invest in and embrace new ideas and technology are in danger of being eliminated or sidelined. However putting in new business models by simply extending or tweaking the old is unlikely to offer the right platform for new services. Organizations need to understand the changing customer demands and creating the relevant business strategy that connects them with those customers.
Two worlds in one
The next phase of digital transformation has already arrived and a critical mass achieved. This should be the key to drive the strategy forward. Organizations have to mobilize and adapt themselves for the rapid changes that will happen in the enterprise landscape.
We believe that quite a few companies and government agencies have reached a point where they need to adapt to changing customer demand or die out – that adaption could be through the use of smart phones and tablets, social media, or through personalized “face-to-face” moments. However this does not mean that organizations need to completely dismantle their current processes and technologies. Given the rate of change and frequent strategic reorientations, organizations will be rebuilding or updating their operational, business and IT models every couple of years, some even more frequently. Organizations want to have the capabilities to do this but without dismantling their core business models and technology investments.
So, what do we do? We need to help organizations improve their “business adaptability”. This means making organizations capable of responding to change quickly across the organization. A hybrid strategy will allow an organization to straddle two worlds: the online and the personalized face to face interactions. This will provide customers the freedom to determine when and where they cross from the online world into the physical world. For instance if it concerns an order, a request for a quote, a tax return, or a new membership, the customer should be free to choose the means of communication – whether online or “Face to Face”
The Hybrid Window is an opportunity to provide flexibility where it is needed and to facilitate the amalgamation of the various process streams of the online and physical world. This will enable minimization of paperwork and unnecessary time lags, while simultaneously providing a seamless coordinated interaction and information flow between organizations and customers.