Suzanne Galletly and Sigrid Jansen tell ITNOW why VeriSM’s focus on understanding consumer needs and expectations through data analysis, is one way to approach transformation.

VeriSM is an acronym, standing for: value-driven, evolving, responsive, integrated service management. It’s been created to help organisations to achieve a service management approach that is unique
to them.

VeriSM is owned by an organisation called the IFDC - the International Foundation for Digital Competences. BCS is one of the stakeholders and founding members of the IFDC. Other partners of the IFDC include 4me, 6point6 Cloud Gateway, APMG, Cranford Group, DANSK IT, EXIN, HCL, itSMF International, IVI, Open Group,, Perspectium and Van Haren Publishing .

ITNOW recently caught up with Sigrid Jansen and Suzanne Galletly from the IFDC. Galletly is a VeriSM contributor and its chief examiner of IFDC and Portfolio Director at EXIN.

What problem is VeriSM looking to solve? 

SG: The world has become much more complex. In a simple environment it was easy to look for a simple answer. There were different best practices. You could follow prescriptive patterns to solve your problems. In the digital age, things are a lot more complex.

Today, organisations are trying to take advantage of digital. There are massive opportunities to grow and transform a business. But there are lots of challenges too.

VeriSM provides guidance for digital transformation. How can you organise effectively for digital transformation? What’s that mindset that you need to have? It helps you to make sense of that confusing landscape of best practices and emerging technologies.

What has changed over the last ten years? Is it technology? Is it customer expectation? 

SG: Technology has changed a lot. But I think it’s more than that. It’s also the power of the consumer and social media. Consumers have very high expectations. They make or break a brand. They expect to be able to do business anytime, anywhere. They expect to be able to engage in an interactive way and in a personalised way.

And also, the pace of change. To survive and thrive in the digital age, organisations need to be able to embrace change.

Can you explain to us the idea of a demand-driven economy? 

SG: I think in the past organisations were very internally focused. Products were designed and then businesses tried to promote them and to get attention for them. That just doesn’t work now. Consumers have the power. If you don’t design products and services - with the consumer at the forefront of your mind all the time - you’re just not going to meet the mark. You’re not going to be able to differentiate, you’re not going to be able to keep up with the competition… you’ll get left behind.

If you think about it, approaches like lean, and agile come from that perspective. Lean looks at processes or value streams from the perspective of the customer. What adds value to the customer? If I’m doing something that doesn’t add value for them, I need to question whether I should be doing it at all. Maybe I’m just doing it because it’s something that we always did internally?

How do you define digital transformation? 

SJ: If you asked ten experts, you’ll get ten different answers! From a VeriSM perspective there’s a differentiation between digital optimisation and digital transformation. Digital optimisation is basically continuing to do the same things, but in a different way. You’ll probably automate processes, you’ll digitise them, you’ll increase efficiency and maybe even reduce costs. It’s a first step in a digital transformation journey and it’s low risk.

The real value for digital transformation goes further than this and comes from taking a completely different approach to what you do and how you do it - potentially even disrupting your own business before someone else does! It is partly about embedding the use of data in your organisation. It’s about how you make use of data, to then engage with your customers in a different way. If you’re making use of data in a good way, you’re creating wisdom and this will help you to personalise products and services for customers.

Is digital transformation a journey with an end? 

SG: There’s never an end state because everything is evolving. VeriSM is very much about evolving. The ‘e’ of VeriSM stands for evolving because you can never say, ‘Oh, we’ve digitally transformed, let’s sit back and enjoy it!’

Think about how quickly the world is changing today. You can never say: ‘We’re done. And we’re ready.’ The next challenge is always around the corner. The next disruption is never far away. You need to be continually evolving and continually re-evaluating the situation and thinking: ‘What practices and what technologies do I need to make use of? How do I exploit new technology to meet those new challenges?’ If you don’t, you’re going to stand still and we know what standing still means...

From a VeriSM perspective what does a good transformation look like?

SG: Every organisation is unique. They’ll have a different organisational culture. They’ll have different things that they find important - speed to market and agility versus, for example, compliance and security. So, there’s never going to be a scenario where one size fits all. But, there are certain organisational capabilities that all organisations need to have to be successful.

Leadership is part of that. And leadership in a digital age - a good digital leader - is very different from leaders in the past because organisational structures change. They have become a lot flatter. The leader has to recognise that employees are what can make the difference. In the digital economy, organisational structures change and the employees take a lot more responsibility and direct ownership for the work that they’re doing.

A good transformation is also about being able to make very good use of data and embedding that into the organisational culture.

SJ: It starts and ends with the consumer and if that has been the case, then it’s a good transformation

What skills would an organisation need to foster in order to flourish? 

SG: The professional of today doesn’t only need techie skills, they need to have a lot of business acumen and business knowhow. They also need collaborative skills and flexibility in how they work. It’s a lot of behavioural stuff. The sort of skills that a technical worker had to have ten years ago are almost incomparable with the broad range of skills that professionals need today.

SJ: In short, it’s the T-shaped professional that you’re describing, with specialist skills but also a broad scope of knowledge and skills across the board. That’s really what’s needed to respond to the digital age and where VeriSM could help.

Where does business intelligence, data, and analytics fit into digital transformation? 

SG: For an organisation to thrive in the digital age it must turn data into wisdom. It’s not a new concept - gathering data and turning it into intelligence. But in the digital age it becomes a lot more relevant. Data helps you to understand your customer because it helps you know who they are, what they expect and how you can engage with them. It’s also about the knowledge management practices - the processes that help you take that data and transform it into intelligence... into wisdom. Big data is an extremely valuable asset but research has shown that most organisations struggle to turn data into usable business intelligence. Organisations that manage to do so, have a strong competitive advantage.

When an organisation comes to understand that it needs to transform, what are the biggest barriers?

SJ: I think they’re cultural. At the end of the day, you can buy technology. You can insource it. You can buy a tool. You can change processes and procedures. But, in the end, it all comes down to the people. People need to make the change and the change is in a mindset. It’s about developing the service mindset that you need for the digital age.

SG: Yes. Cultural change, that’s all about the people. Leadership needs to support people taking true ownership of their role and their work. When they take true ownership, they take risks sometimes and they’ll make mistakes, but they’ll also feel very responsible for failing fast and correcting it.

So, leadership needs to support those behaviours so they can be embedded into the organisation. That counts when you’re selecting new people too. If you don’t have that ownership culture and service mindset, it’s definitely going to be a big barrier. On the other hand, if you have the right people with the right skills, you are already half way to achieving success.