It’s not about more, it’s about different: Uniting tech, data and human ingenuity

Written by Steven Herod, Chief Technology Officer, Accenture Salesforce Business Group

Marketing image of a woman using a mobile phone, tagline ‘It’s not about more, its about different’.
It’s not about more, it’s about different. Uniting Tech, Data and Human Ingenuity

Technology is the ultimate enabler of human activity, a tool like a wheel; its purpose is to serve humanity and make us ‘more’. Of course, we’ve moved past stone tools and the wheel to bits and bytes, a digital world full of digital tools, offering to make us more than more through every web application, data lake, mobile app and chatbot.

That’s the dream; of course, it’s not always successful. Poorly executed technology doesn’t make us more; it makes us spend more, it makes us do more, like any good sci-fi movie, seems to take on a life of its own (and without necessarily our best interests at heart).

These challenges are real, they are persistent, and they are no doubt recognized by any reader.

In this, the tech challenge is like an iceberg. The outcomes businesses care about sit above the surface. The unseen portion below, making up most of the bulk, where technology toils, keeps the visible portion afloat, with a disproportionate amount of the mass.

To move an iceberg from its surface to its deepest depths, you need more than purpose-washing and Customer Experience initiatives; You need the unification of business and technology around a broader sense of purpose and vision. You need less more; you need more different.

And this is amongst the themes of Accenture’s Business of Experience (BX) report, which explores the fundamental change that the past year is driving in business, along with the societal demand for real change, the demand for businesses to be fully focused on their customer’s true needs.

An evolution of CX, BX is more holistic. Seeking to make organizations become customer-obsessed and reignite growth. Whereas CX was limited to specific roles, like Chief Marketing Officer, BX is a CEO priority because it ties back to every aspect of a company’s operations; in fact, according to the report, 77% of CEOs said their company would profoundly alter the way it engages and interacts with its customers1.

The report covers a lot of ground, but the area of my greatest interest is its fourth point, about investing differently, and that’s where it intersects with my other great passion, Salesforce.

I’ve been working in technology for over 25 years, and I’ve spent that entire time working and operating in an internet-connected technology environment. For the last 10 of these years, I’ve worked exclusively with Software as a Service and Salesforce’s clouds.

What drew me to Salesforce (and kept me) has been its ability to eliminate so much of the unseen technology iceberg and focus on delivering visible value. The report states that:

“BX leaders rewire data, tech and people to enable agility that continuously unlocks efficiencies that can be reinvested in new opportunities for performance and growth. This allows them to improve their experiences and give customers exactly what they desire without trading profitability and sustainability.”

In this context, Salesforce is the tech stack that I’ve seen address all three parts of the puzzle. It offers tools to shrink the iceberg’s unseen portion by providing a technology platform that delivers in days and weeks. Through its AI and data platforms (Einstein and Tableau), it allows a business to gain insights through data, unlock customers’ unmet needs, and engage people through tools like Trailhead and the way Salesforce project can be delivered — through co-creation with end-users and the business.

We’ve built multiple secure sites for my own clients across government for critical COVID-19 needs, getting Salesforce tech stacks live in under a week (or two) to deliver outcomes to citizens, and then constantly evolving them as circumstances, policy, and the pandemic evolves. These kinds of solutions have delivered real outcomes for real people, and I can’t imagine having accomplished it with any other tech stack as quickly, as securely and with so much inherent functionality.

But like any technology, Salesforce was a base enabler; a tool, like a wheel, it helps you get there faster, but it won’t guide you to your destination. This is why you need to understand the Business of Experience and its four pillars:

  • Synchronized with your tech, data and human agendas,
  • Expand the experience remit across your organization,
  • Make innovation an everyday habit and above all:
  • Obsess about customer needs.

It’s this customer obsession that is the compass that guides you to your destination.

There is much more to unpack on becoming a business of experience. Connect with me on LinkedIn, and let’s continue the conversation.

  1. Accenture C-level BX Survey; data collected from November 2019 to January 2020, with a refresh in May-June 2020

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