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Digital – a word or a world view?

Those of us who work in the world of technology and change know that all too often new terms come along and suddenly ‘everyone’ is using them with a frequency that belies their level of relevance and understanding. And, so it is with the new term on the block - ‘digital’. Everywhere you look you find proponents offering ‘digital’ as a means of ensuring business or personal success. In short, to ignore ‘digital’, is to put your business or job at risk.

Yet, is there any consistency in the understanding of the term ‘digital’? The spectrum for the digital concept seems to extend from a process that incorporates technology all the way to an entire online business. However, do either of these positions really uncover what it means for a business to be ‘digital’? 

In thinking about this, it seems that there are a number of elements to be encompassed by a digital enterprise, whether the proposition concerns a particular process, service, system, division, or an entire organisation. All of these elements need to contribute to the digital offering. These elements may be summarised as:

The digital enterprise uses technology and technological services to:

  • Enable engaged, responsive customer experiences (Customers)
  • Uncover trends based on data and analytics (Analytics)
  • Provide customised and personalised services (Services)
  • Build new ways of working rather than just moving offline processes online (Processes)
  • Offer automated responses, information and feedback where possible and helpful (Responses)
  • Innovate and improve on a continuous basis (Innovations)

This world view may be summarised in the acronym CASPRI (Customer, Analytics, Services, Processes, Responses, Innovations). Together, these elements provide a clear and holistic world view that is needed if the enterprise, and its customers, are to benefit from the advantages a ‘digital’ proposition can offer.

Interestingly, if we examine the nature of these elements they all require effective business analysis. For example, understanding the customer experience requirements or identifying opportunities for new, innovative working practices. 

This suggests that there is a symbiotic relationship between the digital enterprise and the business analyst role. To grasp the opportunities that ‘digital’ offers for business analysts, we need to look at CASPRI and consider the business analyst skill requirements though. It won’t be enough to rely on standard tried and tested techniques – we need to explore other possibilities that help illuminate situations and needs. A great example is value network analysis (see reference below) which helps to identify the customer ‘touchpoints’.

The opportunities exist for organisations and their customers to benefit from a digital offering. As business analysts, we need to ensure that digital isn’t just a word but an all-embracing world view.

The Future of Knowledge: Increasing Prosperity Through Value Networks by Verna Allee

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