In the past, I dealt primarily with front office executives but in the age of digital transformation, this is extending out to all parties from the business to the back office.  The first step of most customer focused digital transformation strategy is to create a single view of the customer from information that is located in siloed back office systems.  I would like to tell you about one customer that needed to take a novel approach.

The company in question is a mid-sized insurance firm but the problems it was facing are typical of many in the insurance and financial services industries.  Over time, through acquisitions and organic growth, the back office had grown into a wild and chaotic set of systems.  Many of them old, some home grown, and some that were no longer supported by the vendors.  The firm was spending too much money maintaining this environment; money that could be spent on modernizing the front office.  They needed to simplify.

The traditional approach is to:

  1. Review the systems
  2. Identify common systems that can be replaced as a group
  3. Identify a new system, hopefully from a vendor, that can replace the group
  4. Schedule the implementation of the new system and the decommission old
  5. Pull the switch on a weekend
  6. Cross your fingers and hope you don’t have to turn back
  7. If you do need to revert, hope you can
  8. Repeat

This approach will result in simplification but in my experience the risk is too high.  There is a better approach.

Imagine adding a system that is as a buffer between the front and back office.  A system that can pull data from the back office and deliver it to the front office in a consistent manner.  Imagine a system that builds a common, enterprise wide view of the customer regardless of which back office system holds the specific data.

Here is the new approach:

  1. Pick a front office system. Start with a simple system so you can get a quick win.
  2. Identify which attributes it is using to perform it’s job
  3. Determine which back office systems they come from
  4. Build a mapping and expose the new customer model to the front office system
  5. Pull the switch on a weekend to get the data from the new model
  6. In the unlikely event it doesn’t work, pull the switch back and business as usual.

See the difference?  No risk to the front office.  No risk to sales or customer support.  No reduction in customer experience.

But that’s not the best part.  Let’s continue the approach

  1. Pick the next front office system
  2. Identify which data attributes it is using
  3. If you already have an attribute, do nothing.
  4. If it’s new, build a mapping and expose a new customer model
  5. Pull the switch on a weekend
  6. Repeat

Work you’ve already done for one system can be leveraged for the next.  Risk is way down.

NexJ’s Customer Data Management (CDM) product can do this for you.

Once all of the front office is using CDM to get data, you can adopt a safe, phased, evolutionary approach to retiring and decommissioning back office systems by simply mapping new systems to the existing attributes and decommissioning the old.  None of the existing front office applications need to change.

What’s more, net new front office systems, such as a hot new mobile app have quick access to customer information without IT having to take months to create a new interface.

From a planning perspective, you have immediate execution alignment to strategic initiatives and your focus is always on the front-office.

Which approach would you prefer?