There’s been talk, for years now, about concepts like Enterprise 2.0 and Web 2.0.  We are all so enamored with technology, we sometimes forget that it is about the customer.  There is a Customer 2.0 in here, and I’d like to speak to her.

Have you met Kai?  Kai is the name that we (the MS IT EA Team) are thinking of giving to Customer 2.0.  She is young and lively and one of the most demanding customers we’ve had to deal with on the web.  Know why?  Because she expects us all to grow up.

Geeks and Nerds: Kai is calling to you.  She is calling to you to make her internet experience Fun, Social, and Engaging.  If she uses your services today, that does not mean she will use them tomorrow.  She is brand loyal, but your site will hold her attention primarily if it holds the attention of her community.  Her group.  Her peeps.  Welcome to the fad.

No more expecting Kai to live with badly designed sites.  She learned about programming in high school (or middle school) and is unafraid of making her own mashups.  That said, she doesn’t need to.  You will provide something beautiful to her.  She is outright offended when she sees a site or service that she feels is not professional or trustworthy.  She’d never hand her friends over to something klunky. 

A few demographics will bring this into focus.  Kai may live in a western country… or not.  She is as likely to be speaking Mandarin Chinese or Hindi as she is to be speaking Spanish or English.  Gabriel Morgan put up a good post on the facts surrounding this interesting new person.  (link fixed –nm)

In Enterprise Architecture, we are innovators.  We talk about, and hopefully practice, the fine are of alignment.  We want the business and IT investments to align.  But we cannot possible do that unless the IT team is drawn towards the same destination as the business is.  We have to understand the aspirations of the business, and then understand the needs of the customer.  Only then can we look at where her needs coincide with the services we offer.  Only then can we justify the investments we are making.  That is alignment.

In order to go after a customer like Kai, we need to be a different company, and we need our IT department to change.  This is the crux of Enterprise Architecture.  It is not just about aligning to the business… it is about aligning with the business to the same end goal: the customer.

The first step towards building a new Enterprise Architecture is understanding how different we need to be in order to meet Kai’s needs.  So we wrote down Kai’s needs.  (Marketing to validate).  From that, we looked at how the business will need to react to meet Kai’s needs.  Then we looked at how that will create or exacerbate the forces on IT. 

Honestly, unless we change, we will snap into pieces.  IT cannot possible hope to deliver to a rapidly innovating business model without changing the way we do business.  And that is where EA comes in.  If we are to change… how do we do it?  Change without a goal is chaos.  It is up to EA to envision not only the application infrastructure, but also the organizational roles and responsibilities within IT, that will make IT successful as we work, as a company, to win over Kai.

This new customer, and our desire to chase her, is the compelling event that drives SOA, and that pushes us towards a coordination model.  That understanding lives in EA.  And honestly, no where else.

By Nick Malik

Former CIO and present Strategic Architect, Nick Malik is a Seattle based business and technology advisor with over 30 years of professional experience in management, systems, and technology. He is the co-author of the influential paper "Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture" with Dr. Brian Cameron that effectively defined modern Enterprise Architecture practices, and he is frequent speaker at public gatherings on Enterprise Architecture and related topics. He coauthored a book on Visual Storytelling with Martin Sykes and Mark West titled "Stories That Move Mountains".

13 thoughts on “Focusing on Customer 2.0”
  1. I found your post when someone Twittered it. As a teacher, I’m thinking a lot about what we are calling 21st Century Literacy, of how to prepare my students for the world they will live in.  I hadn’t even thought about them as customers.  My brain did a thump when I read it.  This is an interesting concept to explore; I think you are exactly right.

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