History is filled with examples of how business and the mapping of new routes of exploration leading to new venues of commerce. Think of Marco Polo, the Silk Road, the quest for the Northwest Passage, and numerous explorers seeking gold and spices that we have all learned about in our school days. Today, businesses are challenged with navigating the seas and mountains of Digital and IOT, and once more the use of maps will be key to whether they will get to write their names in the history books. Digital and IOT solutions require 3 types of journeys to be mapped: Customer, Business, & System.
Over the last few years, most companies dealing with the architecture of digital solutions have readily grasped the need for making the customer experience a central theme to their efforts. The most prevalent approach adopted to do so has been of the use of Customer Journey Mapping in which understanding of how end users of their services and products interact with the company, each other and social networks. These findings are documented both as written story and a visual map format. Customer Journey Mapping is generally conducted as part of a Digital Customer Experience Assessment, which is a holistic evaluation of the current state customer experience, collaboration with key stakeholders and envisioning of the future state digital experience for your customers. The DCX Assessment includes: Current DCX trends, practices and technologies, base lining the current CX, customer journey mapping, visioning and prioritizing future state digital user experience. Customer Journey Mapping gives valuable insights to developing the right requirements when building digital apps and interfaces that users will find ease of use in experience, high in value, and thus will find themselves ready to adopt and recommend to other users…all of which are highly desired by the company that has invested in creating the digital experience channel.
But I have observed that companies and their solution development partners have additional work to do in order to successfully make the leap to becoming a “Digital Master.” They will need to start deploying two additional new types of mapping exercises to address the complexities involved with “Digital Business Model Transformation” and with “IOT Systems within Systems” type scenarios. Let’s label them simply as “Business Journey Mapping” and “System Journey Mapping.”
“Business Journey Mapping” would help a company identify what true impact becoming digital means to them. In my interactions with clients looking to deploy their first major bets in digital technologies, the “Elephant in the Room” question of “how will this impact the top and bottom line of our business by fundamentally changing how we operate as a business” is quickly brought up by a senior business leader. “Becoming Digital” will impact business processes, IT infrastructure, marketing, sales, investments, supply chain, fulfillment, invoicing and collections, and CRM, CSR, etc. Developing a standardized diagnostic to map out how a company’s current state and future state of addressing these needs would be of tremendous value. Elements of this type of diagnostic may currently exist in bits and pieces, but I believe a standardized journey mapping process and tool does not yet exist.
Similarly, we have yet to develop a good method and tool for what I will label “System Journey Mapping.” Such a tool would help a company better understand it’s position, role, and actions it must take to be successful a participant in the growing “Digital & IOT Ecosystem” where “Systems within Systems” type solutions can only be delivered through a multi-player partnership. There is a true need for a diagnostic approach for a business to be able map out a course to navigate the new contextual forces of the nature of consortium type partnerships such as rivalry among existing competitors, threat of new entrants, threat of new substitute products or services, bargaining power of suppliers, and bargaining power of buyers, etc.
I propose that the best way to develop a usable approach and tools for both business and system needs identified above is to create comparable “Mapping Diagnostics” to Customer Journey Mapping. My reasoning for proposing such a direction is as follows: There already exists accepted tools, templates and approaches to map out Customer Journeys, so it makes sense to modify these in some manner to map out Business Journeys and System Journeys. Of course there would be the need to work in the necessary variables to address the specific requirements for each type of map to be of value, but this approach would give us the benefit of having a common formatted delivery of information, both written and visual. This would be very important as that the collection of the data to be used to build the various maps would use a common language that could take place in a workshop format or other requirements gathering mechanism with a holistic understanding of how all three maps interrelate with each other. The ability to view these three variables in a common format would enable the give and take decision making by the business to find the right balance for its current and future needs in becoming a “Digital Master” and “IOT Player.”
In addition, I foresee that in the near future that since data analytics inherently reside in complex systems will also become a key factor in this new “Tri-Map” diagnostic. Some clever data scientist will come up with a new formula such as b2 + s2 = c2 and will be justly rewarded with a new “Law” named after him or her. Businesses that embrace and master mapping along these three dimensions will likely succeed in the “undiscovered territory” and generations of students will be studying these success stories as part of their MBA graduate course.