Within my experience, the following three points find great relevance. Now days companies usually have innovation as one of their core Values- but the backend operations vertical has not embraced that culture. Their teams follow the predefined processes which are proven to deliver work in the given timelines. They have little room to try out new skills, programs or processes. Secondly, the backend operations teams are always racing against the time in order to meet deadlines. There is no dedicated time or space for innovation. There can be out of the box solutions which might require more time to design and build the capabilities at present but may prove to be beneficial in the longer run by cutting downtime and create USP’s for the team. To inculcate changes, there is a need for an organizational behavior change within the IT operations function. Moreover, the tight deadlines do not leave a scope to measure the overall experience for the user- the teams focus on the functionality required out of the product feature to be delivered in time and hardly efforts are made to gain user insights.

1) The vicious cycle of Asset Trap: (a) The Compulsive Need for innovation: Assets can be tangible (physical) or intangible (processes) – with the qualifying criterion being their ability to contribute to company’s profits/ revenue/ brand equity. Their impact may be measurable in present or future. With the advent of a digital era and social platforms, business dynamics are changing faster than ever before and companies are presented with a fresh set of challenges in terms of competition from highly innovative businesses. To survive or sustain and flourish in this highly competitive market, businesses have to innovate continuously to develop capabilities to thrive.

(b) How assets can become a roadblock for innovation-the ‘asset trap’: As an organization establishes itself into a successful and mature business, its risk appetite decreases as their hard-earned brand image and reputation comes on stake while they try out new ideas or implement new processes or procedures. They are already reaping profits out of their mature product lines and any changes or new processes are seen as a threat or risk by the managers. This is especially true for manufacturing sector where in companies might have invested in heavy machinery and their assets may be highly specified- which means they are difficult to replace and difficult to sell off in secondary markets. These companies place a high importance to utilization of assets. This leads to a ‘Mind Trap’, with the managers focusing on ‘utilization of assets’ and not on innovative ways bypassing those assets. Their performance is judged on how effectively they adhere to the current processes or procedures laid out by the company. Asset trap is more likely to impact mature organizations than the new entrants or incubators in the industry, which are in the initial phases where products and processes are yet evolving, and they have a huge room for experiment while not being heavily invested in assets.

2) Innovation bereft of a conducive Organizational Culture is no virtue: Organizational culture is defined by shared Values and Norms. While norms are guidelines (generally laid out as a Code of conduct or standard practices) defining what is desirable versus what is unacceptable (work ethics and human behavior) for the organization; “Values” are more intangible in nature-difficult to identify and communicate – as they are the beliefs and ethos of the organization–ingrained within the organizational DNA. To inculcate a culture of innovation, the leadership has to align people to share the common set of beliefs. Organizational values can then be translated into a highly productive work environment and measurable successes for the organization.

3)The difference between just a “service” and an ‘experience’: A customer experience is the sum of all the interactions the customer has with the business – with the ‘service’ representing just one facet of that experience. The interactions may include searching for the product/ service, referring to advertisements, researching its features, comparison with competitors, stepping into a physical store, the ambience, going through product catalogue, speaking to sales reps, billing process, installation/user guidance, after sales service. While achieving excellence at the ‘Service’; it is the ‘experience’ the businesses have to stay focused upon – since that’s what contributes to brand building. Because when a customer purchases a service, a set of intangible activities are carried out for her by the business; however, while buying an experience, she’s buying a memorable time and a set of pleasant events which she sees as something very personal to her.

Core elements of customer “Experience”: include Product or services (tangible /intangible “things”), Environment (ambience created to engage the customer); Behavior- of people engaging the customer; Communication–the messages being sent to the customer through the above.

How to create a meaningful user experience? A business has to gain insights that bring deeper understanding about its customers’ psyche, her likes, dislikes, her troubles, convenience, her social settings, her insecurities, access to digital platform- and use these insights to understand her and empathize with her , with the final goal to eliminate the pain points and inconveniences and bring about a delightful experience through innovation.

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