Earlier this month I was in Dubai workshopping with 30 seasoned bankers from Africa and the Middle East – CEOs, CMOs, Product owners, Digital Banking experts, Marketers, Analytics teams, Legal & Compliance teams, Process & Operations teams. All of them in one room for 2 days to learn how their latest Personalization & Attribution Tech acquisition will be implemented and how that will help them achieve their business objectives.
That’s over 300 years of combined banking experience in one room! Phew!
I, along with a team of Tech experts, were going to take the audacious liberty to speak to this enthusiastic group about their own business and how our Tech solution fits into that ecosystem. No pressure, right?
Needless to say, it was an absolutely fantastic experience but also humbling in equal measure.
If I had to venture a guess on one thing that keeps Tech Implementation managers up at night, then it would have to be the dreaded combination of Adoption & Churn.
What could possibly be worse than when after months of painful preparation, integration and realignment of 173 legacy systems & process, you find that usage is at an all-time low?
I’ll tell you what’s worse. There’s a new shiny object that clients have found which promises them rainbows and unicorns and pots of gold and just like that you are on your way to becoming the spurned ex. Of course, you get the customary, “It’s not you, it’s me” – but more often than not you find yourself asking “Is that really true?”.
Today I’ll share my views on how we as transformation agents can avoid these horrors down the road simply by starting the story on the right note.
Storytelling is a highly underrated aspect of solutioning that we often tend to relegate to the backdrop as an unnecessary luxury, but the two days have strengthened my belief in the Power of Storytelling and I’ll attempt to address how good storytelling can help us avoid the common pitfalls of Tech Implementation.
Context is king
One of the key advantages of Tech is that it is region, language and industry agnostic. This is also its foremost pitfall. While Tech is definitely region and industry agnostic, businesses are not, customers are not, end-users are not. Every region’s customers have their own nuances, specific idiosyncrasies, socio-economic conditions which determine their usage of a product.
For example, in Singapore every individual has their own personal mobile device but in a regular African family there is usually one laptop that is shared among family members. There goes your favorite website personalization idea out of the window!
E-commerce has a shorter fulfillment journey than Personal Loans – the app journey that works for Amazon does not work for HSBC, PII data restrictions that apply to HSBC does not apply in equal measure to Amazon. Suddenly those lookalike audience modules don’t seem to make much sense, do they?
Show the audience that you have made the effort to familiarize yourself with the region, industry and customer context – it will make your tech solutions infinitely more appealing and make you stand out in the crowd of similar platforms. Avoid template solutions and global case studies.
Understand, appreciate & acknowledge the problem – Empathize, don’t sympathize
Understanding a problem is half the solution, the most important half I believe. Managers rarely face specific problems, they are usually dealing with dynamic situations with layered nuance, like a mess with multiple dimensions. Problems are abstractions extracted from these messes by analysis.
As Tech consultants we must help clients articulate their problems from big picture vision to specific on-ground realities. We must put ourselves in their shoes and appreciate the challenges they face – lack of human resources, too much to do in too little time, budget cuts, rising sales targets – these are their real problems which may or may not have immediate solutions but definitely don’t deserve to be overlooked.
Tech needs to fit itself in this complex ecosystem, so it must first empathize with the challenges of this ecosystem.
Be cognizant of maturity levels
In the world of digital transformation, nothing is obvious and no terminology is too basic. Always remember that you are addressing the lowest common denominator in the room and that it is your responsibility to set a common language and bring everyone to the same baseline. There is nothing that puts off an audience as much as the feeling that everyone else knows more than them and “obviously” they should have known this.
So, the next time you are tempted to wax eloquent about the virtues of “First-touch View through Attribution Analysis”, remember to start with explaining what is a display ad, what is a click and what is an impression, from there build up the blocks. What is obvious to you is basic to them, respect their learning curve and they will appreciate you that much better for it.
Tech is only an enabler, not the solution itself – Remember to connect the dots
Often tech heavy presentation tends to leave the audience more overwhelmed than empowered. “I have 20 more reports and 30 more data points than I had before. But what do I do with them?” – is a common outcome of new Tech Implementations and also one of the most common causes of poor adoption.In our excitement to be data-driven we tend to focus a lot more on the “data” part and far less on the “driving” part.
What differentiates a good tech consultant is their ability to answer the “so what?”. If my problem is to make more people buy credit cards, then how can Attribution Analysis help me achieve that? What good is Cohort Analysis if it cannot help me get more customers at a lower cost?
Unless we are able to map tech solutions to real business impact, we are bound to fail when rubber hits the road. Help clients build use cases, work with them to ideate and not just inspire, break out of your tech bubble and question your understanding till you find the answer to the “so what?”. No amount of platform training can achieve higher adoption unless people know why they are doing what they are doing.
Everybody likes a simple story – Take people along on a solutioning journey
As you wrap up, start putting the pieces of the jigsaw together, along with your clients. Nobody expects you or your Tech to have a magic solution, don’t be fooled into that pride. Build a narrative for your audience, take them along on that journey, paint a vision for them and show them what they can achieve.
Why do you think these before-after apps on Facebook do so well? Because there’s nothing people like more than a transformation story with a happy ending. Write that story for them, make them and their situation the hero.
Your tech platform may be the proverbial knight in shining armour but remember Rapunzel needs to let her hair down or there’s no story at all. What’s the name of the knight again? It didn’t matter, did it?